The General Manager meetings started Monday. I know the World Series has barely ended. And all of the 2017 awards have not been handed out yet. But free agency has technically started. So let’s take a look by position group to see who the Red Sox currently have and what they potentially could (should?) do.
The 40-man roster presently stands at 37. If they want to protect any prospects from the Rule V draft, they will have to do so by November 20th. But since Dave Dombrowski has basically traded all their prospects, they may not have to add anyone. This is not to bash Dombrowski, just to state a fact. I probably would have done the same thing as him. In any event, after scanning MLB.com’s list of the Top 30 Sox prospects and comparing it to the list on Soxprospects.com of eligible Rule V players, the top prospect eligible (at #16) is some lefty pitcher named Jalen Beeks. Yup, someone most have never heard of, including myself. He did go 11-8, 3.29 between AA and AAA last year and is only 24. So maybe he takes up a spot. But I’m not searching for other players that may occupy the three open spots. Doesn’t appear to be any no-brainers that NEED to be protected, but what do I know?
Let’s just dive right in:
Starting pitchers (10):
Roenis Elias, Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Hector Velasquez, Steven Wright.
Hey, don’t yell at me because Elias, Johnson and Owens are listed first. Blame the alphabet. I think most of us hope that none of these guys are in the rotation at any point during the season. Actually, I read somewhere that Johnson may be in the bullpen next year because he is out of options. That sounds awesome, no? Yeah…
In any event, barring health concerns, it appears the five starters are set heading into the season: Sale, Price, Pomeranz, Porcello and E-Rod. Presumably, Wright will have to make the squad as well. So there’s seven guys already that are locked in to begin the year. Not entirely a bad thing considering the time bomb that Price’s elbow is. Plus, you can count on E-Rod having to miss time with…something. And does anyone expect Pomeranz to hold up for a full season next year? Not to mention that Johnson doesn’t exactly stay healthy often himself.
If Price can approach a return to past All-Star form, then it’s not a bad rotation, with a little bit of depth. But what if he doesn’t? One also has to factor in that with the heavy workload Sale had last year, in addition to his annual second half regression, even he has some question marks going in. You may not know what you get out of any of these guys.
As for the rest…the way Velasquez was used at the big league level last year pretty much indicates he is a mop-up dude…maybe Elias is too. Maybe the Sox think more highly of Elias than most others do though. He was hurt pretty much all year, then they squeezed him back into a roster spot late. I have no idea why Owens is still on the roster. At some point in the past he was not only one of the Sox’ top prospects, but also one of the top prospects in all of baseball. That ship seems to have sailed however, what with his pathetic performance all of last season. Which included a demotion to AA. Where he walked 55 guys in 57 innings. Yikes!
All in all, it looks like the Red Sox hands are tied here. There will be no major free agents coming in. Maybe E-Rod gets thrown in a deal, but I’m not counting on it. I think you will see all of these characters in camp. And then probably the aforementioned seven breaking camp with the team. And I believe the Sox brass will be satisfied if that is the case.
Relief pitchers (11):
Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Williams Jerez, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Austin Maddox, Robby Scott, Carson Smith, Ben Taylor, Tyler Thornburg, Brandon Workman.
The Sox will probably bring another five or so fringe major league relievers into camp once the moves this winter are all said and done. But if Wright and Johnson make the club as swingmen, then that leaves only five spots open in the ‘pen. Some of the extra relievers will be signed to minor league deals, so they can stick with Pawtucket and be called up later if necessary. Think Blaine Boyer types. Any way you slice it, there are always a lot of arms in Spring Training.
As for the five spots? As of right now, seems easy. Barnes, Kelly, Kimbrel, Smith and either Hembree or Workman. I’d take Workman, but if he still has options left, which I don’t know if he does, then he goes to Pawtucket. I imagine Jerez and Taylor will start at Pawtucket as well. The club seemed to love Maddox at the end of the year, especially since they included him on the postseason roster. But I am sure he has options left, which puts him in the minors to start the year. Scott is fungible and likely has options himself. Thornburg of course should be in the ‘pen to start, and recent reports indicate that he may be ready for the start of Spring Training, but I’m not counting on that. How can anyone after his saga last year? There’s probably a pretty good chance they take it slow with him anyway.
I’m not expecting any major moves here this winter either. Not even a semi-major move, something like bringing Addison Reed back. I expect them to sign several more relievers, as noted above. But none that will move the needle.
I think the pitching staff that ended last year will be the bulk of the pitching staff that starts 2018. I believe that, especially in the bullpen, that the Red Sox feel that getting a couple injured guys back at full strength will account for any upgrades that need to be made. If Smith and Thornburg get back to where they were before their injuries, then they may have a case. Time will tell on all of that.
What SHOULD the Sox do on the staff? Believe it or not, I’m ok with throwing all of the above bodies up there, adding those fringe bullpen arms as well and then seeing what sticks. I’m not sure a major move needs to be made anywhere on the pitching staff. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t LOVE everyone listed, probably not even half of them. But they can get by with these guys. After all, they did win 93 games last year with plenty of time missed by a few significant pitchers noted above.
I’d say anything major being done with this team needs to be done to the offense…which we will cover soon…
It’s been 22 days since the Blowhard wrote about what he would do at the Major League Baseball trading deadline if he ran the Boston Red Sox. If you recall, I actually proposed selling off pieces and getting a head start on next season, despite the fact that the Red Sox were in first place at that time. Just didn’t feel comfortable with the team…on and off the field. Didn’t think they had enough to compete for a World Series title, especially when it came to teams in the National League like the Dodgers and Nationals…and presumably the Cubs. I knew the team selling wouldn’t happen, but still offered up some ideas on what courses of action I would seriously consider.
What’s happened since then? The Sox have only gone 14-4. Yup, direct hit with the suggestions again. Good thing no one reads this page…
Does the recent stretch of success change my overall feeling as we head into the final 41 games of the regular season? Well actually, not at all.
I’m going to spare you the review of every original bullet point from the July column. But there are a few appropriate ones that still hold true in my eyes.
The Red Sox made one more move before the MLB trading deadline in July after the original post on 7/28. That was adding set-up man/part-time closer Addison Reed from the Mets. No, I am not counting the move that happened yesterday, losing Noe Ramirez on waivers to the Angels. And you thought I cared about the 39th-40th man on the 40-man roster! Well, yup, I do…just not today…
Reed didn’t endear himself to any of the fans when he first got here, but made it up to some people with his performance last night. Definitely a solid addition. But the fact remains that pretty much the rest of the bullpen sucks. Ok, that is harsh. But Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly don’t inspire confidence in key situations. And besides Reed and Craig Kimbrel, those two are the next in line. Brandon Workman? Perhaps. Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, Fernando Abad? Useful 10-12th (13th?) pitchers on a major league staff. But not people I’d like to see in the 7th inning of a close game against a contender, as Hembree and Scott were last night. Still some holes out there.
Speaking of holes, the predicted Drew Pomeranz injury indeed popped up last night. What happens if this lingers? Eduardo Rodriguez is too inconsistent. David Price, for better or for worse, will not be back this year. Yup, take that to the bank. I proposed seeing if some team would somehow trade for him in the last piece…then he went on the DL hours later. Trade was never going to happen, I acknowledge. But of course his injury flared up again anyway. Have the surgery already…
Oh…Doug Fister sucks…ssssssoooo…other than Chris Sale, the starting rotation still has its holes as well.
The lineup has scored some more runs over the 18 game stretch…and also has had a couple of nice comebacks against the Yankees and Cardinals. But overall, it is too inconsistent to rely on. The same issues presented a few weeks ago persist. Xander had a nice homer the other night, but has still frustrated all of Red Sox Nation. Speaking of frustration…Hanley Ramirez everyone! Rafael Devers has not cooled off, nor has Eduardo Nunez since they’ve both arrived. I imagine that has to change. And one of the teams hottest hitters in July was Dustin Pedroia. Who knows what you will get out of him the rest of the year? Mitch Moreland had a nice pinch hit last night. But he is still…Mitch Moreland. And on and on we can go…and I’m not even going to talk about the rampant putrid baserunning decisions.
Also, let’s look a little deeper into that 14-4 record. 8-0 against the White Sox, Rays and Cardinals. Not exactly the iron of the league. In fact, the White Sox should currently be playing in the International League with the roster they have now. And the Red Sox didn’t exactly smoke them in their 4 game set. That leaves a 6-4 mark against the Yankees, Indians and Royals (a team that should be better than their record). So while 14-4 is impressive indeed, it is a smidge misleading.
I think we need to see how the next 16 game stretch goes. 2 more against the Yanks at home, then 11 of 14 on the road against the Indians, Blue Jays and Yanks again. 6 more division games at home after that. Let’s take a look after the next 22 days then. The AL East is mediocre this year, but that doesn’t make the games any easier when the calendar turns to September. They should still be a tough road to hoe.
I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I am actually happy we can still talk baseball heading into September. I’m just here to throw the caution flag up. I’m not sure this team has any business competing for a championship. You might say, “well the 2013 team really shouldn’t have either”. You would be 100% correct. But the 2013 team had many players that overachieved. The 2017 team has many players underachieving. The players in 2013 seemed tighter with no clubhouse drama (that I recall anyway). And while there hasn’t been much chatter about the clubhouse in recent weeks (coincidentally, after Price went on the DL?), I wouldn’t say that things are all rosy there all of a sudden. I suppose we can say all the players are united against the media, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a great clubhouse.
John Farrell has managed both clubs. It’s a minor miracle either team was ever in the mix with him in charge…
…as far as what moves the Boston Red Sox should make coming up to the Major League Baseball non-waiver trading deadline on Monday.
What, you thought Eduardo Nunez was enough?
I didn’t. Actually, I don’t even really want Nunez here. It’s not like he’s going to make a huge difference, for one. I don’t care how hot the Sox brass tells me he has been in recent weeks. There’s a bigger reason I don’t particularly want him here…and we will get to that. Since the Sox didn’t give up really anything for him (Gregory Santos? Shaun Anderson?), I suppose it can’t hurt to have him around though. I mean, with Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge, Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero still hanging around on the team or close down the road in Pawtucket, it can’t ever hurt to have more utility infielders than you can handle, right? Oh wait, Nunez and Holt are All-Stars…nevermind…
Anyway, my view of what the Red Sox should do prior to the trading deadline will be much different from what actually happens. Why? Because I’d actually consider selling. And with the Sox in first place, there is no way the organization will do that. They will be buyers.
But this team is more than another 1B/DH bat and a reliever or two away from winning a championship. In my opinion anyway. Sure, the American League is mediocre. Apparently it is Houston and everyone else at this point. So the Sox brass will surely say, “we get in the playoffs and anything can happen”. And they are probably right.
However, they won’t be the only team trying to improve themselves before Monday. In fact, the Yankees, Twins, Royals, Mariners and Rays have themselves made deals already. None of them would probably considered blockbusters, but those players should help all those clubs. In addition, I don’t believe the Indians have hit their stride as of yet. Maybe the Royals too, though their pitching is suspect, to be kind.
Then you have the National League. Which looks like the Dodgers and Nationals. Oh, and the Cubs. The Cubbies have been heating up and I expect them to continue to.
So you’ve got the competition being one reason I don’t believe the Sox are winning anything. Then you have the team itself. Which, other than a select few, is underachieving. Or are they? We think Xander Bogaerts is underachieving. But maybe he is what he is…a decent shortstop with little power, but will hit around .300 every year. Seems to me the way he is trending. Mookie Betts has some numbers, but it feels like he should be more. Jackie Bradley Jr. is definitely what he is and no more…great defensive outfielder with some power. But not really feared when he has the bat in his hands. Andrew Benintendi has had a fairly good year…but he ain’t there yet. You could do worse for catchers but they aren’t world beaters. Etc.
Bottom line is that this lineup isn’t scaring anyone. Hard to believe basically just subtracting David Ortiz from the equation caused this much of a drop off, but…
Now, the pitching. Chris Sale has been otherworldly. But he has faded down the stretch in his career. And does anyone really expect him to keep up this pace? David Price? Ugh…more on him in a moment. Rick Porcello apologists like to point to the fact that the Sox offense hasn’t scored while he was on the mound in like 10 of his starts. But they conveniently forget his mid 4 ERA. And the fact he won a lot of games in 2016 because he got like 16 runs a game to support him…therefore always pitching with a huge lead and…no pressure. And…how many bombs has he given up this year? Eduardo Rodriguez…can he be trusted? Drew Pomeranz has been better than expected. But does anyone expect him to have continued good health the rest of the way?
By the way, the rest of the starters behind them? Some combination of Brian Johnson, Doug Fister, Kyle Kendrick or Hector Velasquez. Yikes! Wait, no Henry Owens? Nope. He walked 60 guys in 69 innings in Pawtucket before getting DEMOTED to Portland (AA). He’s walked 23 in 20.2 innings down there. With a 5.23 ERA. In 5 starts. Yup, about 4 innings a start. A former can’t miss prospect…that clearly missed. Par for the course it seems with the Sox organization. Sure guys have come up and played well. But they have seemingly had so many “can’t miss” guys over they years that they refuse to trade and then they just suck in the end. Subject for a different day.
Lastly, the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel has been as awesome in his role as Sale has been in his. But that’s about it as far as bullpen arms that inspire confidence. I’m not even going through the rest of the jamokes that have rotated out there all year. The bullpen has been surprisingly good this season, I will admit, even with Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes being your other late inning guys. And sometimes Heath Hembree. But…c’mon. I don’t want those guys anywhere near the mound late in games when the pressure mounts as the playoff race heats up. Maybe Carson Smith is coming back…wait, I doubt that. Tyler Thorn…nevermind.
So combine all of the above with what I wrote yesterday…about clubhouse turmoil and an inept manager…and I’m selling at the deadline. It’s really hard for me to root for this team now. They are pretty much unlikable from top to bottom. A big part of me doesn’t even care what happens the rest of this year. I’m almost onto the Patriots already and they just opened camp. Depressing, but true.
In any event, once again, they will not sell and probably none of what is proposed here will happen in real life. But just for sh%ts and giggles, this is what has been going through my mind this week on the moves I would like to make. If not at the deadline, then maybe the offseason. In no particular order:
*Trade David Price. Yes because he is an arseclown, whiner and all of that. But also because his elbow may well explode at some point. We all know he may need Tommy John surgery at some point. If he blows out his elbow here in September and isn’t around the club all of 2018 and then opts out of his contract and gets out of Dodge, that may be a win-win situation as well. But perhaps they can cut all that off and get something for him now.
Impossible you say? Maybe not. If teams treat him like he has one year and change left on his contract and is sure to opt out when he can, maybe someone will jump. Maybe a team with World Series aspirations and deep pockets will do it anyway. Perhaps the Dodgers will bail the Sox out again? Clayton Kershaw is out for several weeks now. Hmmmmmm…the Nationals with Stephen Strasburg out, supposedly only for one start, but…the Cubs, with their rotation struggling a bit (and knowing Jake Arrieta is probably coming off the books after this year).
Price wants to be moved, that much is clear. Would the Sox consider it? Would anyone bite? I do not think it will happen. But it IS certainly possible to move that contract. More than people think. That’s what I believe anyway.
*Keep Rafael Devers in the majors and give him the majority of starts at 3B. With Nunez here I doubt he plays much and I believe he will be shipped back to Pawtucket soon enough. Too bad. What have they got to lose by playing him? Well, if he produces like Yoan Moncada did last year, maybe it’s a mistake. But you know who was absolutely putrid in 95 plate appearances in 2016 down the stretch? Aaron Judge. .179 average, .608 OPS and 42 of his 69 outs were K’s. I’m not saying Devers will be Judge next year if he gets major league experience this year. But it may be in the teams’ best interest long-term if Devers takes his lumps in the majors the rest of 2017.
*Release Mitch Moreland and Chris Young. Recall Sam Travis and…gulp…Rusney Castillo. Maybe you can trade Moreland and/or Young to a contender for some fungo bats and used baseballs. And if Moreland has truly sucked the last month or so because his toe is broken, then maybe just put him on the DL. But I have no use for these two really. Young’s contract is up after this year, and he isn’t really good. Add to the fact that this veteran was apparently one of Price’s biggest backers in the Eck thing…see ya. Let’s see if Travis can hit in the bigs. Let’s also see if Rusney can be salvaged. He seems to have been playing well in AAA and supposedly can play all the OF positions still. Why the hell not?
*Release Allen Craig, Jhonny Peralta and Pablo Sandoval. Oops…already done. So there are a few positives.
*Release Doug Fister. Kind of obvious. But I’m covering everything.
*Give Brian Johnson Price’s rotation spot through the rest of the year. This guy throws junk and I’m not convinced he will ever make it. But he has shown some flashes. Not sure what he has left to prove in the minors. He’s 26 years old. Let’s see what he can do. And if he’s truly part of the future.
*Fire John Farrell. Another obvious one. Nothing more needs to be said here.
*Trade Hanley Ramirez. Good luck. A guy that really doesn’t care. Or that cares once in a blue moon. Maybe they can sell his contract to Japan or something. Or to Manny’s Korean team.
*Trade Xander Bogaerts. WHAT?! Ok, it’s not that simple. And it’s something that should be investigated in the offseason and not over the next few days.
I have no real particular issue with X. Disappointed with his progress, or lack thereof. Maybe the reason for his poor performance lately is the ball he took off the hand. But how do we explain before that? His numbers are down across the board this year…since the All-Star Game in 2016, to be exact.
He will be 25 on October 1st. Still plenty of time to tap into that talent he supposedly has. But what do we have so far? A .300ish hitter with doubles power who plays a decent, if unspectacular shortstop? If that is what he ultimately is, will he be worth all the money that Scott Boras will want in his first big contract? Nope.
I’d rather give a boatload of money to Betts. Perhaps Andrew Benintendi earns some money down the road too. And Devers…if he pans out of course. Bradley Jr.? Sure, but he should come cheaper. If not? Work on moving him and put either Betts or Benintendi in center. That conversation can come later however.
One huge thing to consider is that the Sox need some power. How will they get it? Seems like a trade is the only way. Have to give up something to get something. If teams are still enamored by Bogaerts’ potential, doesn’t that make him a prime candidate to go? Especially considering all of the above.
Taking a look at the current 40-man roster, who is untouchable? Sale, Betts, Devers (for now), probably Benintendi and Kimbrel. Who else? Bogaerts is probably next on the list. Someone like him may be able to be packaged with a little more to get that proven power bat…whoever that may be. Everyone always points to Giancarlo Stanton, since Miami is always selling players off and he has a huge deal. But there may be someone else available for the right price that we don’t know about.
I’m not trying to run X out-of-town. But, you have to admit, something like that may make sense.
That’s about it on the suggestions. What, nothing about Dustin Pedroia? After yesterday’s piece? Yeah, trouble is, I love him on the field. Not to mention he will be 34 in August. And is a 10/5 guy. Not sure he will waive his rights to not be traded. Or if the Sox can get any value for him anyway. Looks like he is here to stay. Maybe he will eventually grow up though…