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So What Do We Do Now?

The Major League Baseball trade deadline is a little more than 24 hours away.  What are the Boston Red Sox going to do?  Anything?

Or was Andrew Cashner their big (and only) move?

Welp, I really don’t know what they are going to do.  Does anyone?  Furthermore, would you believe that I am on the fence about actually doing ANYTHING?!

I know, I know, 28 days ago, I was clearly not on the fence.  I wanted to sell.  And you know what?  Part of me still wants to sell.  Even with the Sox a mere one game out of the wild card race.

I just don’t feel that this team has “it” this year.  Inconsistency all year long, can I ever really buy in?

That 5-2 mark on the first half of a killer stint against the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees was nice, real nice (although sweeping the Yanks would have been even nicer…thanks Chris Sale!).

But who is to say they don’t go 2-5 on the last half of that?  I mean, before the 5-2 run, they lost 2 of 3 against Baltimore, the worst team in the majors at the time (they are still bad, just second worst now).

I am not sold.  Truth be told, I am not sure I ever will be.,

Not unlike the 2013 Boston Red Sox.  I was NEVER sold on them, and then they went out and won the World Series.

The big difference?  This 2019 Sox team has more talent top to bottom.  I mean, is it even close?  Not really.  Besides the bullpen maybe…and DEFINITELY the 2013 closer, Koji Uehara, who was unhittable that year, as opposed to all the flotsam closing games for the Sox in 2019.

So we all really SHOULD have some confidence in this team, despite its ups and downs this season.  But again, I am not there yet.

But if President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski goes out and adds a closer and maybe another late inning bullpen arm?

Then you may get me on board.

Barely.

But I may be back on the ship.

Publicly, Dombrowski says they aren’t actively looking for help.  They don’t want to go over the luxury tax, blah, blah, blah…

But privately, one would have to believe that he is doing his job.  He HAS to be, no?

The most popular name connected to the Sox now is closer Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets.

How do I feel about Diaz?  Welp, he was very good for the Seattle Mariners his first three years in the majors, including being lights out in 2018.  But he has apparently been just a little bit better than atrocious for the Mets this season.  Harsh analysis probably, yeah.  But the numbers aren’t very good.

One thought that doesn’t escape my mind is that he was pitching in relative anonymity in Seattle.  Now he is pitching in the big city (yeah, albeit the Mets, not Yanks…but still…The Big Apple) and not pitching well.  In the relatively average National League East division.

Is there more to that story?

Not sure, but worth thinking about.  If Diaz is not going to hold up in the pressure cooker that is Boston, well, it would be good to know before the Sox overpay for him.  And if they get him, they no doubt will have to overpay.  Specifically, because he is cheap and under team control for several more years.

What does “overpay” mean?  Just saw something earlier that the Mets may ask for Andrew Benintendi because they want Major League guys in return.  Yikes!  Benny may never develop into an All-Star, but he should be a pretty good outfielder for years to come.  If it’s Benny for Diaz and others?  I suppose I wouldn’t rule that out.  There should be plenty of offense for the Sox to survive without Benny…even if Jackie Bradley Jr. plays every day and Sandy Leon plays more than he should.

Prospects?  All…Day…Long.  Prospects for “proven” Major League Players should be done 98% of the time.  Especially when the organization may not have any “no-doubters” as prospects.  Bobby Dalbec, a third baseman by trade with pop, is currently rated the Sox’ #2 prospect.  But he is 24 years old, this is his 6th year in the minors, is hitting .230 at AA Portland…and of course would be blocked by the blossoming Rafael Devers at third by the team that plays at Fenway Park.

Dalbec is one of the popular names being talked about, but would the Mets even want him?  Not so sure.  And he is the teams’ number TWO prospect!

Give them any pitching prospects…most I have never heard of.  But also they seem to get hurt anyway (see:  Kopech, Michael; Kelly, Casey; Espinoza, Anderson; Groome, Jay, etc.).

Tristan Casas seems to be an interesting name.  He is listed as the #1 prospect.  But who really knows about him?

Michael Chavis?  On the fence.  Once again.  Part of me thinks the same as what I was told by some jamoke yesterday (“I’d drive Chavis to wherever he gets traded to.  Once he gets popped for PEDs again, he’s done…”  I am paraphrasing, of course).  The PED thing is certainly real.  And he wasn’t good the first several years in the minors, has a breakout year, then gets popped for juicing.  Certainly curious.  But perhaps he “figured things out” and “grew into his body more”…and all that nonsense?  Can’t rule it out.  Wouldn’t be the first player ever to do that.

Make no mistake, if the Red Sox land Diaz (or any closer worth his salt), they WILL overpay.

Are there other options besides Diaz?  I suppose.  Two of the most popular names on the trade market in its entirety are Ken Giles and Kirby Yates.

Giles??  No thanks.  Wildly inconsistent in his career and now has a bum elbow.  For the price the Jays will want, absolutely not.

Yates??  Also, no thanks.  He was a journeyman for years, had a good 2017, a very good 2018 (both primarily in middle relief) and is lights out this year as a closer.  But…all in San Diego.  Talk about no pressure.  And the haul of players for him could be astronomical, based on the circumstances.  All things considered, I wouldn’t love the move.  My guess is that he would come to Boston and the clock would strike midnight.  My opinion anyway.

I’m sure there are other bullpen guys out there that we don’t know about…Will Smith from the Giants is another that would come at a cost.  Last I saw though San Francisco was thinking about not moving him.  But there will be others.  Less effective for sure.  But less costly.  And probably better options than some of the guys out in the Sox bullpen right now?  Goes without saying they should be able to get someone better than Ryan Weber or Mike Shawaryn or Josh A. Smith.  But if they buy, I’d like them to get a closer AND a guy better than Heath Hembree or Marcus Walden.

Too much to ask?  Probably.  The Sox may not have the assets to do so anyway.  And of course they will be crying about the luxury tax too.  Boo-hoo.

But if they want me back on board, this is what they need to do, at a minimum.  Nathan Eovaldi is not the answer in the ‘pen, though when he gets back on track he can’t hurt.  Keep him in the mix with the Matt Barnes’ and Brandon Workmans’ and maybe again the Ryan Brasiers’ (Brasier hasn’t been great this year, but he hasn’t been awful.  His demotion seemed a bit rash.  As a 6th/7th inning guy you could do a lot worse).

Because. let’s face it, there is no chance in hell the Boston Red Sox are going to sell.  As much as I was kind of hoping for it a month ago.

Your move Dave…

Red Sox Initial Playoff Thoughts…

…yaaaaaaaawn…starting to wake up.  The Boston Red Sox have been in cruise control for several weeks now.  The playoffs have been locked up for quite some time.  Alex Cora has been throwing out Spring Training lineups and all half the time.  Why pay attention?

Well, it’s about time to take notice.  No, it’s not because the team just broke the club record for wins.  It’s not because we were all rooting for Mookie Betts to go 30/30 (homers/steals, duh!).  And no, J.D. Martinez is not going to win the Triple Crown…but we knew that, right?

It’s because the playoffs will finally be starting next week.  We can talk more about specific opponents next week.  Let’s chat about their own team for now.

Despite the fact that the team has won all those games, I have to say I can’t be that excited about their prospects in the postseason.  On one hand, maybe it is their year when they win games like the one they won against Atlanta in early September.  You know, the one where they were getting smoked with a AAA lineup and parade of awful relievers…then won the game with a late rally, capped off by 37-year-old minor league callup (?!) Brandon Phillips’ dinger.  On the other hand…THAT BULLPEN.  Ugh.  Atrocious.

I’m still pissed that Dave Dombrowski didn’t get ANYBODY at the waiver trade deadline at the end of August.  Not even a AAAA guy like Hector Velasquez or Brian Johnson or…Joe Kelly.  Sometimes those guys catch fire.  You never know.  But please Dave…anyone?

Bottom line…this bullpen will kill this team.  I don’t think that is any secret.  But it seems like there should have been a better effort to get more arms for the stretch run and October.  What they have now will not cut it.  We will get into that more a little later.

But everyone knows this about the bullpen, as I said.  I have other concerns besides that.

The first is the starting rotation.  Chris Sale has barely pitched the last few months.  David Price has a poor playoff track record.  Rick Porcello’s doesn’t inspire any confidence really either.  Eduardo Rodriguez has battled inconsistency.  And who knows what Nathan Eovaldi will do?

Also…the lineup.  You should be all set with the top four guys in Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Martinez and Xander Bogaerts.  But Benny has cooled off a bit himself.  And the way Cora has been resting guys down the stretch, is it too much?

The rest of the lineup?  Question marks.  You’re probably ok with the first base platoon of Mitch “All-Star, but hasn’t done a thing since then” Moreland and Steve Pearce.  Rafael Devers has promise, but will he even play?  The catchers can’t hit.  The second basemen?  And Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit a little recently.  But it doesn’t mean he will in October.

Let’s take a closer look at what the roster will probably look like next week.  We will give you what we think they will go with.  But I will also tell you that I won’t necessarily agree.

Starting pitchers:

In:  Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi

Out:  None, see relief pitchers because all of those guys are already there.

Comments:  I think the Sox go Eovaldi for the fourth spot.  The Blowhard would go with Eduardo Rodriguez.  Because…he’s better, simple as that.  But I think the team has liked how Eovaldi has pitched against the Yanks this year, in particular.  Plus…the Sox have E-Rod in the bullpen this final week, so that’s pretty telling.

But we also have to consider the fact that Sale has barely pitched in the second half of the season.  Not to mention that his September has been a slow-go…and also not necessarily effective.  Price is, of course, a colossal wild card.  Could probably say the same of Porcello.

I can’t say that I am overly optimistic.  But we shall see…

Relief pitchers:

In:  Craig Kimbrel (closer), Matt Barnes (8th), Ryan Brasier, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman

Out:  Joe Kelly, Tyler Thornburg, Drew Pomeranz, Hector Velasquez, Brian Johnson, Bobby Poyner, William Cuevas, Robby Scott

Comments:  Scary.  Simply frightening.  The above selections are more of an indictment of the guys who are out than who are in.  Kelly is a mess.  Pomeranz the same.  No one is talking about Thornburg, but he has pitched 3 times in September and not once in the last two weeks.  But then again, he hasn’t been great anyway.  But you know Travis Shaw has 30 homers in each of the last two seasons, right?  Ugh.  Velasquez has been here 99% of the year and Johnson 100%, but you know Cora doesn’t trust them.  Scott and Cuevas were never real considerations.  Poyner?  Was my last cut.  Him being lefty helps.  But the fact that the AL Division Series is only 5 games makes me go with 11 pitchers and 14 positional players.  But if the Sox take 12, Poyner is my guy.

So that’s how Workman gets on.  Because he has at least been serviceable, despite bouncing up and down from Pawtucket all year.  Hembree has been terrible lately, but not as bad as Kelly and the rest.

So the key guys in the ‘pen are Kimbrel, good enough, Barnes, who may be the worst “8th inning guy” in the majors, Brasier, a 31-year-old career minor leaguer and 2 starters in Wright and E-Rod.  Wright has been fantastic when healthy the last two years.  But…a knuckleballer in October??  No.  And E-Rod doesn’t have any kind of track record in relief.

Pitching…lot’s of question marks for a 100+win team.

Catchers:

In:  Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart

Out:  None

Comments:  Sandy and his .180 average seems to be the guy that will play the most.  Pitchers love throwing to him.  Sigh.  Vasky may well be in the mix, but we know Blake won’t.  He only makes it because they may have to hit for both catchers in the same game at some point in the playoffs.

Infield:

In:  Mitch Moreland/Steve Pearce (1b), Ian Kinsler/Brock Holt (2b), Xander Bogaerts (ss), Rafael Devers/Eduardo Nunez (3b)

Out:  Tzu-Wei Lin, Brandon Phillips, Sam Travis

Comments:  I’m ok with the 1b platoon.  I’m thinking though that Holt maybe should be the 2b going in.  Really?  Yeah.  If that ends up being a platoon, that would be fine though.  Devers is the future at third, but I feel like Nunez will get the playoff nod based on his…defense?  Yup.

Outfield:

In:  Andrew Benintendi (LF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF), Mookie Betts (RF), J.D. Martinez (DH)

Out:  None

Comments:  Not much to see here.  Kinda obvious.

So that’s where we are at this point.  We will dig in a little deeper when the ALDS opponent is actually known…

Opening Day Is When? Conclusion…

As promised, let’s moved on to the bats.  Apparently, the 25 man roster was finalized Tuesday, though it won’t be announced until Opening Day to make sure no one stabs themselves with a pen or trips over a crack in the pavement or something.  And…the offensive side of the ball could probably have been predicted correctly days ago by anyone who doesn’t even follow baseball.  But that won’t stop the Blowhard from making his comments below!

Overall, it COULD be a strong group and SHOULD be a strong group.  But there are some question marks on this side as well.  But we will dive into that when we go through the positions.

Once again, we will be using the 40-man roster as a base, while adding in non-roster invitees (NRI) where (if) appropriate:

Catcher (2):

In:  Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon

DL:  None

Minors:  None

Comments:  Well, that was easy.  There are only three catchers on the 40-man roster.  And one of them isn’t really a catcher anymore, I don’t think.  We will talk about that in more detail later though.  As for these two, you could do much worse.  Both are serviceable offensively and defensively.  Looks like Vasky will be around for a while for sure, as he just signed a fat extension…well, a fat one for him anyway.  Leon is never going to hit like he did a couple of years back, but he won’t kill you at the dish.  In this lineup, batting ninth, I don’t think we really care about their offense anyway, right?

Infield (5):

In:  Hanley Ramirez (1B), Eduardo Nunez (2B), Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Mitch Moreland

DL:  Dustin Pedroia, Marco Hernandez

Minors:  Tzu-Wei Lin, Sam Travis, Ivan DeJesus Jr. (NRI)

Comments:  No-brainers here as well, especially after trading Deven Marrero to Arizona a few days back.  Believe it or not, we will talk more about Marrero later.  DeJesus had zero shot at making the team in reality.  But I thought I’d give him some props in this piece since he hit almost .400 this spring.  I still have no idea why the team re-signed Moreland, not to mention giving him 2 years.  I know, Hanley is always a question mark and the Sox did not have J.D. Martinez in the fold yet.  But I think the whole world knew that JD was eventually going to sign here.  And that he was likely to spend more time DHing than in the outfield.  Thus pushing Hanley to first base…I mean, if he felt like playing the field that is.  Because you know he didn’t feel like playing first last year.  The shoulder hurt of course.  Yup.

Anyway, lots of questions here still.  Which Hanley will show up?  Nunez should be a more than capable substitute for Pedroia, then a more than capable reserve after Dustin comes back.  But he signed late.  Is there still concern about his knees?  Devers splashed onto the scene last year.  Can he take the next step?  And perhaps most importantly, will Xander finally reach the supposed unlimited potential that he was earmarked long ago for?  Or will he continue to disappoint?

My take?  Hanley will be extraordinarily average.  But that’s ok since we don’t want him to get the 497 plate appearances he needs to trigger his 2019 option.  Goodbye already, as far as I’m concerned.  Nunez will be just fine.  Devers will have some ups and downs but will be spelled enough by a few guys on the roster so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed.  Though I will say, it would not shock me that if he starts somewhat slow, he could find his way back to Pawtucket for more seasoning.  As for Bogaerts?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Plenty of people think manager Alex Cora will fix him.  I am not convinced.  Earlier in the spring, X seemed to balk at changing his approach.  You know the one where he took so many pitches right down the middle of the plate.  Maybe that has changed since it looks like he has had a decent spring.  But we will see when the lights shine for real.

Outfield (3):

In:  Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF)

DL:  None

Minors:  Rusney Castillo (NRI)

Comments:  Defensively?  Hard to top.  Offensively?  We will see.  Benny should take another step up, in my opinion.  I’m hoping Betts rebounds himself.  “Rebounds”, I know.  Betts finished 6th in the MVP vote last year.  But, in all seriousness, did he deserve that?  The Blowhard says absolutely not.  But we know he has all the tools.  Let’s hope he uses them to their full capacity again.  Bradley flat-out stinks.  He should have been traded the winter after the 2016 season after what most assuredly will be his career year.  But I suppose I’m biased.  I’ve never liked him.  Sure, his D is awesome.  But can’t Betts and/or Benintendi play center at least at 85-90% of JBJ’s ability?  I think so.  I’m also not saying that the Sox should have kept Bryce Brentz to play left…or even play JD full-time in the outfield.  I’m just venting I guess.  The 7 for 46 (.152) this spring doesn’t help either.  Rusney had a good spring and he also seems like he’s a better player than when he first got here.  But it looks like he will make his 12 mil again this year in Pawtucket.  Just another 12 mil in 2019 and a little over 14 mil in 2020 to go on his deal.  Solid.  Wait…maybe he won’t exercise that 2020 player option…ummmmm, nevermind.

Designated Hitter (1):

In:  J.D. Martinez

DL:  None

Minors:  None

Comments:  I honestly did not love the Martinez deal…though if it turns out to be a two-year deal, then it makes it more palatable.  That being said, this dude better hit some bombs.  He also better not chirp about not playing the outfield much.  And Cora better not feel pressure to put him in the outfield much.  Let the record show that he hit zero dingers in camp this year.  I’ll give him the late start.  As well as the fact that he hit over .300.  But I’ll be skeptical of this signing…unless it works out of course.

Utility (2):

In:  Brock Holt, Blake Swihart

DL:  None

Minors:  None

Comments:  I can’t really call these guys infielders, outfielders or even catchers in Swihart’s case.  These guys will play multiple positions.  Well, Swihart allegedly will.  We really don’t know if he actually can.  We know he won’t catch much.  The pitchers don’t like to throw to him.  Hard to believe he will catch at all under those circumstances.  I wonder if he will get much in the form of at-bats overall.  Cora talks about using Blake similar to the way the Astros use Marwin Gonzalez.  But 500 plate appearances?  I don’t see it.  Welp, the Sox have already done what they could to ruin his career, so I suppose they can tack on some more of that this year.  In all fairness, I suppose the team’s hand was forced with Swihart being out of options.  But still…

You were waiting for the part where we would talk more about Deven Marrero?  Here it is!  We think the Sox should have kept him over Holt.  Marrero can’t hit worth a damn.  But his glove alone was worth keeping him in tow.  Especially considering the infield defense (minus Pedroia) is questionable at best.  And Devers may be the first third basemen to have 100 errors in a season.  Ok, a little hyperbole there.  But you get the point.  Holt can play several positions half-decently, but none exceptionally.  Marrero could occupy the 25th spot on the roster and be a defensive replacement every game if necessary.  Only let him hit when you have to.  There is some value in that, believe it or not.  Holt may have been useful in 2014 & 2015.  But not so much in 2016 & 2017.  And has some concussion/vertigo issues.  We know what he is.  I would’ve moved on.

So there are the initial thoughts on the 2018 Red Sox.  Lots of talent, but also lots of injuries and lots of questions.  There’s only one more thing to say…LET’S PLAY BALL!!

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