Are the Red Sox contenders?

Well, now that I have all of the Travis Shaw stuff out of my system, it’s time to get to the team as a whole.  9 days until Opening Day, 10 until the Sox’ Opening Day.  Time to start thinking seriously about the prospects of the team this summer.

The short answer to the question posed above?  “No”.  Too many question marks still.

I also think the division will be a crapshoot once again.  It appears that Toronto is again the odds-on favorite.  Lineup is stout, no doubt.  But other than Marcus Stroman, the rest of the rotation reads (according to the depth chart on MLB.com):  Marco Estrada, RA Dickey, JA Happ & Aaron Sanchez…with Drew Hutchinson, Gavin Floyd and the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona in reserve.  Seems like a lot of 12-10 games to me.

You could probably argue any of Boston, Baltimore or the Yanks for 2nd.  The Oriole rotation may be the worst in the division.  But their lineup should be good and their bullpen looks pretty robust.  The Yanks?  Hard to say.  I despise them, being a Sox fan of course.  And I have zero love for Joe Girardi.  But I respect him immensely.  They have been getting “old” for years and don’t have the talent of the teams from the “Jeter” years.  But he wills them to be in the playoff race most years regardless, even if it seems they have no business being close.  This year I bet will be no different.  Their lineup looks average at best.  Their rotation is full of potential, but full of questions.  But if those guys can give them 5 or 6 innings consistently, the bullpen is filthy.  At least the back end.

The basement would appear to be occupied by the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays.  Their lineup is absolutely laughable.  It’s probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen.  Ok, a little hyperbole.  But it’s bad.  Bullpen looks…dicey.  Rotation COULD be good.  But that’s if the guys stay healthy.  Chris Archer was awesome for 3/4 of the season last year.  Then melted at the end, probably because he weighs 97 lbs and threw more innings than he ever had.  Alex Cobb is pretty good, but is out for a couple of months at least.  Matt Moore used to be good, then he got hurt and who knows if he will be back to even what he was.  Drew Smyly…underrated.  But had some health issues last year as well.  You get the point.  The larger point is that they will finish last.

As for the rest of the American League.  Kansas City still looks like the cream of the crop.  There appears to be no other juggernaut out there.  But the Sox need to worry about the 80 times apiece they play the teams in the AL East before they worry about the competition in the two other divisions.  That’s what I’m doing here anyway.

Ssssssooooo…on to the hometown team.  Let’s break it down the way I see it:

Lineup:

Mookie Betts RF, Dustin Pedroia 2B, Xander Bogaerts SS, David Ortiz DH, Hanley Ramirez 1B, Pablo Sandoval 3B, David Murphy (yup) LF, Blake Swihart C, Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Bench:

Travis Shaw 1B/3B/OF?, Brock Holt everywhere, Ryan Hanigan C, Chris Young OF

Analysis:

Just a gut call on Murphy here.  He has an opt-out by Sunday, so we will find out soon enough.  My feeling is that Betts is the only every day guy here.  Mookie is the real deal.  Bradley will sit against lefties.  Murphs and Young could platoon in left, at least in the short-term.  Holt can fill some gaps otherwise.  Well, at least that is what I would do.  Murphy has been a solid player for quite some time.  I don’t believe the current regime is sold on Rusney Castillo, nor should they be.  Think he starts out in Pawtucket, gets everyday at-bats and if Murphs sucks, then it’s an easy switch.  Thinking depth here too.  Murphy pretty much said he wouldn’t go to the minors.  So if they want to keep depth, like every team wants to do early on, he needs to make the club.

Been through the Shaw stuff.  Hanigan makes it over Christian Vazquez, simply because Vasky hasn’t played in over a year.  11 at-bats in the spring doesn’t help get him ready either.  Hopefully he gets back to where he was while getting steady work in Pawtucket.  Then when he is ready, they can deal Hanigan for a couple of fungo bats and Christian can return to Boston.  Allen Craig (WHY THE F IS HE STILL HERE?) is on the outside looking in as well.  Hopefully that does not shock you.

Anyway, the lineup looks pretty good on paper.  But injury questions still abound with Pedroia, Hanley and Pablo.  Love Swihart, but we will see.  Where is X’s power?  Which JBJ will show up?  Is this the year Big Papi falls off a cliff?  Is that why he is retiring?  I know, every team has questions.  But I’m here to bring up the Sox’ questions.  And tell whoever will listen that I’m not sold on this lineup over the long haul.  There is a solid chance we see entirely too much of Holt, Young, Murphy, Shaw and maybe even Deven Marrero.  Not ideal.  Hopefully they won’t have to subscribe to the “Sandy Leon” experiment again though.

Starters:

David Price, Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly, Steven Wright

Analysis:

To say it’s underwhelming after Price would be a colossal understatement.  And we have no idea how Price will be in Boston.  Big contract, rabid fan base, sensitive player, high expectations, etc.  We’ll see.  Oh, I still would’ve signed him, no question.  But still an unknown.  Don’t even get me going on that waste of talent Bucky.  Or that waste of money Porcello.  Or the continuously hyped up for no reason Kelly.  At least you will probably know what Wright will give you.  5th starter average performances.  And I’m ok with that.  Unfortunately, we will likely get 4th/5th starter performances out of the other three besides Price too.  Not good.

It’s a terrible blow that Eduardo Rodriguez will start the year on the Disabled List.  And it will be more disappointing when the team leaves him on there for longer than he should be by being overly cautious.  Then again, we really have no idea how bad he is hurt.  The whole thing is disconcerting.  The next in line prospects, Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Eduardo Escobar?  Not looking bright right now.  Ugh…let’s move on…

Bullpen:

Craig Kimbrel (closer), Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Robbie Ross Jr., Tommy Layne, Roenis Elias…and…I suppose Matt Barnes.

Analysis:

I almost went with Carlos Marmol instead of Barnes.  For the same reason pretty much as Murphy over Castillo.  Marmol has an opt-out soon.  May be intriguing to keep him and see if he has anything left.  Still supposedly has the electric arm.  But I have heard no indications that the Sox are leaning anywhere close to that, so I left him off.  Oh, Anthony Varvaro has an opt-out clause too.  But…see ya.  Brandon Workman may help later in the season.  Guys like Noe Ramirez, Pat Light, Escobar and Heath Hembree will inevitably be called upon at some point…I know, awesome!

Anyway, for the bullpen guys we care about…I had no problem dishing 4 prospects for Kimbrel.  However, I still do have concerns about his transition from NL closer to AL closer (mostly due to recurring Mark Melancon nightmares).  And how he also will handle Boston once he blows a save or two.  But he’s the least of my worries.  How much does Koji and Junichi have left?  John Farrell is still the manager, by the way.  He’s the one that pretty much blew out their arms over the past few seasons.  Carson Smith was supposed to be a key piece…but he’s on the DL too.  Ross had a nice finish with no pressure last year…but he is still Robbie Ross Jr.  Layne, Elias, Barnes…oh well, every team has middle innings reliever questions.  Barnes throws hard.  But his fastball may be even straighter than Kelly’s.  Yikes!

I think you pretty much get my gist.  I loved the hiring of Dave Dombrowski.  Not because I love the dude in particular.  But because he is a “baseball guy”.  The Red Sox ownership and the minions below were paying too much mind to the statistical side, sabermetrics, trends and what computers could tell you (Carmine!!).  And were heading too far away from physical scouting and what the eyes could tell you.  Sabermetrics and the computer certainly have a place in baseball.  But it can’t be everything.  There needs to be a balance.  I think Dombrowski will bring that.

But there is a way to go.  Too many injury concerns.  Too many bad contracts.  All of these kids we have been hearing about…not enough have developed.  A big thing for me is that John Farrell is still manager.  He should’ve been fired before the cancer last year.  And I’m not even talking about him getting it on with a reporter that is (was) in the locker room every day.  That’s not smart, but I’m sure it happens in other cities.  I’m actually surprised it was kept under wraps for so long.  Anyway, I’ve never been a fan of his in-game management.  Tazawa pitching to Nelson Cruz with a base open late in the game early last year STILL sticks in my craw.  Here’s hoping he truly is healthy…but on a very short leash on the diamond and in the dugout.

Glad that baseball is about back.  Just not feeling it for the home team…

 

Advertisements

About mpdenton

I am a passionate and life long fan of the local teams...and by local I mean New England. I remember the days of Ray Bourque, Larry Bird, Steve Grogan and Wade Boggs...meaning I have lived the highs and lows of the Boston sports scene. With all this pent up Boston sports emotion, I clearly have a lot to say about the local teams and sometimes about sports in general. Maybe even the Revolution... I appreciate you reading my blog and hope you enjoy my rants.

Posted on March 25, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I am concerned about the rotation. Price appears to be a horse, but he also appears a tad too thin skinned for this market. I know he has pitched in the AL East, but in Toronto and Tampa where fans are polite and are just happy to have a baseball team in their town. Whole new situation in the mad house that is the Boston market. After him I totally agree with you – underwhelming at best.

    Bucky will give us his usual 1-2 good months then once it gets serious he will find some injury and tap out. Porcello – loser. Kelly – bigger loser. I hope or wish that DD had gone out and found us a legit #2 starter to compliment Price.

    As for the line up, I am sure they will score lots of runs again because of the ballpark etc. But I wonder about Papi. Is Pedroia going to stay healthy? Will Hanley should consistency?

    One topic you failed to mention – Farrell. I think his little love adventures are an embarrassment for ownership. I also think his ability to manage remains in question. It will be interesting to see how the team starts.

    I am happy to see baseball back, but not holding out hope for the home town team.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: