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Hot Stove Is Heating Up…

…but where are the Boston Red Sox?

Yes, I know, Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has been tasked to slash payroll.  So he isn’t about to hand out 324 million dollar contracts to anyone, no matter how prolific a player/pitcher they may be.

But…something??

Thus far, the Sox’ moves have consisted of outrighting to AAA their third catcher from September, Juan Centeno; adding 5 guys to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule V draft; designating pitcher Brian Johnson for assignment, then outrighting him to AAA once no one claimed him (big surprise); non-tendering infielder Marco Hernandez and pitcher Josh Osich (then re-signing them to lesser deals); trading backup catcher Sandy Leon for someone light years away from the majors and losing reliever Trevor Kelley on waivers…oh and wait!  As I blink, they just selected a 21 year old Double-A SS named Jonathan Arauz in the Rule V draft!! Wow…and now I blink again and infielder Jose Peraza is in the fold too!!

Scintillating.

The biggest names have just recently signed:  Stephen Strasburg re-upping with the Nationals, Gerrit Cole with the aforementioned 324 mil from the Yankees and Anthony Rendon cashing in with the Angels.

A lot of the lesser names have signed as well.  Kevin Gausman, Michael Pineda, Kyle Gibson, Didi Gregorius, Howie Kendrick, Drew Pomeranz, Tanner Roark, etc.

Not that the Sox need any of those guys in particular.  But a little bit of a slow start to the offseason, no doubt.

I guess I shouldn’t worry all that much.  There are still plenty of bodies out there.  Then again, also not a ton of good ones either.

On top of that, Bloom’s best track to improve the team may be by trades.  Actually, that is his best move to shave salary.  Not sure he’s going to get much for most of his trade options.

For example, rumors abound that other teams may be interested in David Price since his price tag looks a lot cheaper compared to some of the silly contracts being thrown out in the last couple of weeks or so.  But those rumors also say that either the Sox would have to eat some of that cash, or “throw something of value” along with Price in order to clear that contract.  There was some mention of outfielder Andrew Benintendi being that “something of value”.  Benny had a subpar year last year.  But is young and presumably has room to grow still.  So throwing him in a deal to clear other salary seems a little steep.  Then again, the farm system is bare.  So what minor leaguer would be “something of value”?  Would they actually trade one of their few good prospects, whoever they are?

Example #2:  Rumors also abound that the Sox are “aggressively shopping Jackie Bradley Jr.”.  It’s about time.  But about three years too late.  Who’s going to give the Sox anything for a guy who can’t hit, but will make 8 figures next year through arbitration?

Unless the Sox try to trade Mookie Betts, which I have been in favor of if he truly does not want to re-sign here, or inexplicably deal someone like Xander Bogaerts or Rafael Devers, how much will they get in return for ANYONE in a trade?

I’m actually wondering if the Sox are seriously considering dealing Betts this winter.  I don’t think they are, to be honest.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  But it won’t be great if he walks for nothing next offseason.  A trade deadline deal cannot be ruled out.  But if the Sox are in contention at the deadline, how can they deal him then?

Unless this is a true “bridge year”.  But how can that be true if Betts, Bogaerts, Devers, J.D. Martinez and Benny return in that lineup?  Sure, the pitching staff is more than suspect.  But how can this group of guys not be at least competitive?

Not to mention if Bloom walks in here and they AREN’T in contention at least somewhat this season, he will not be a popular man around town.  Not without divulging some sort of future plan…which you know he will not.

The way the 40-man roster stands now, with its current 38 players, there are holes all over the place.  Even if those stud players mentioned above stay and produce, pitchers like Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi (& Price?) rebound and contribute, the fact remains that there is all kind of dead weight still from those guys on down to the end of the roster.  Not to mention several minor leaguers that aren’t ready for prime-time.

Also…please don’t try to sell us on Dustin Pedroia playing 120-130 games at second base next year either.  Actually, don’t even get me started on Pedey here right now.  You all know how I feel about him.  Great career here, feisty little player over the years, lost some respect for him in recent years with his behavior, but in the end, he is simply done due to injury and it’s time to go.

So let’s get to work Chaim.  More than Arrauz and Peraza for sure.  At least maybe re-sign Rick Porcello back to that one year deal he wants to try to reset his value.  He was brutal last year.  But at least he takes the ball every 5 days.  More than you can say for most of the rest of the starters still here…oops…shortly after I wrote this, Porcello inked a one year deal with the Mets.  Oh well…

Changing gears a smidge:

In one more piece of recent Red Sox news, Dwight Evans had a renewed chance to make the MLB Hall of Fame the other day as he appeared on the Modern Baseball Era ballot.

This committee meets “twice every five years” and covers players, managers, umpires and executives from the 1970-1987 time frame.  It gives everyone in this period a second chance at the Hall basically.

But does everyone actually deserve a second chance at the Hall?

I am not so sure.

The Modern Era’s first enshrinements were Jack Morris and Alan Trammell in 2017.  Then the “Today’s Game Era” (1988-present) committee put in Lee Smith and Harold Baines in 2018.  The winners this year the Modern Era put in Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller (Players Association head).

Are ANY of these guys Hall of Famers??!  I’d say perhaps Miller since he led the charge for collective bargaining agreements, free agency and arbitration.  But none of those players are Hall of Famers.  They just aren’t.

And that includes our old friend Dewey Evans.

Evans was a very good player.  Better in the second half of his career than the first.  Piled up almost 400 homers and 2,500 hits.  And I had no idea until recently that he had more homers in the 1980s than ANY other player.

Those are all nice.  But did anyone buy a ticket to watch Evans play baseball?

We did for Pedro.  We did for Roger (he WILL get in someday, and you know he belongs).  We did for Teddy Ballgame (well, not me, I wasn’t born, but you get the point).

I am not even sure Yaz is a Hall of Famer.  But people that watched him play in his early years swear by it.  And presumably bought a ticket to watch him play.

Not for Dewey.

Loved the guy when he wore the Sox uni.  But not once ever did I think he was a Hall of Famer.

And now, with all of these recent dudes getting in, Cooperstown is getting so watered down, it’s kind of disheartening.

Do we put Evans, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, etc. in because Baines is in?  It’s trending that way.

Evans got 8 of the 12 votes he needed for induction on this committee (75% of the 16 members).  And was next in line behind Simmons and Miller.

Does that mean he is a lock when they reconvene in 12/22?

Say it ain’t so.

You’ll hear more ranting from me soon in my annual Cooperstown column.  But that’s all for now.

2019 MLB National League Awards

…same full disclosure as previous years:  The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League.  This is probably going to be short, but sweet!

Most Valuable Player:

  1. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee
  2. Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
  3. Anthony Rendon, Washington
  4. Ketel Marte, Arizona
  5. Nolan Arenado, Colorado
  6. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
  7. Pete Alonso, NY Mets
  8. Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati
  9. Juan Soto, Washington
  10. Josh Bell, Pittsburgh

Like Mike Trout in the American League, Yelich missed the majority of the last month with injury, while the closest competitor played the whole season.  But also like Trout, Yelich’s numbers were so sick when he played, he gets the nod for me.  Plus, he had less help than Bellinger in his lineup…and entire team for that matter…and that kind of cemented the pick for me.  Rendon also had a strong season, but he was a tick behind the other two.

Marte?  Talk about coming out of nowhere.  But he deserves the #4 spot.  Arenado once again gets penalized for his home park.  But perhaps I should reconsider after what DJ LeMahieu did in New York after leaving?  Not yet…

The rest of the guys had great seasons, so you can put them in any order you want.  Charlie Blackmon and maybe Trevor Story got penalized for Coors Field, as they could be top 10 as well.  Ronald Acuna Jr. almost went 40/40 and Bryce Harper ended up straightening out his season and ended up with decent numbers.  Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant from the Cubs, Jeff McNeil from the Mets.  Max Muncy…etc.  Some players put up some pretty good numbers, per usual.  Any of them could be in the bottom half of the top ten.  I’m going with the above.

Cy Young:

  1. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
  2. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA Dodgers
  3. Max Scherzer, Washington
  4. Stephen Strasburg, Washington
  5. Jack Flaherty, St. Louis

Tougher than it looked here.  Ryu was dominant in the first half and would have been the easy choice had he not had a stretch of starts in the second half where he got shelled…then had to be rested a bit.  Max was Max, but he missed a handful of starts due to injury.  Jake’s numbers were actually pretty close to what they were in 2018 when he won the Cy.  Not having the sub-2.00 ERA may make people think otherwise, but take a look at the whole lot of them.  That pushed me to make him the choice in 2019 as well.

Strasburg had a bit of a high ERA of 3.32, but his overall numbers made me slot him in at #4, again, not including the postseason, where he was dominant and the World Series MVP.  But Flaherty, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray (seriously?), Mike Soroka and even a closer like Josh Hader or perhaps Kirby Yates could have filled out #4-5 as well.

Rookie of the Year:

  1. Pete Alonso, NY Mets
  2. Pete Alonso, NY Mets
  3. Pete Alonso, NY Mets

This one should be unanimous.  The kid hit 53 homers.  But if I had to take a #2 & #3, I take Soroka second and Dakota Hudson, starting pitcher for St. Louis 3rd.  Fernando Tatis Jr. is a finalist with Soroka in real life and no question he is a real talent.  Along with Keston Hiura of the Brewers.  But they both played 84 games, coincidentally.  And while their numbers were good, they weren’t “Yordan Alvarez good”.  So they both are a step behind.  Special mention here to Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike here as well.  The “kid” finally makes the majors at age 28 and hits 21 bombs and has a .852 OPS in 411 plate appearances.  He is out of the top 5 in the Rookie of the Year voting for sure.  And he may hit .211 with 10 homers next year.  But it’s worth a shout out here anyway.

Manager of the Year:

  1. Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
  2. Mike Shildt, St. Louis
  3. Brian Snitker, Atlanta

Counsell seemed to do more with less this year, even though his team lost 7 more games than last season.  Yelich’s injury at the end didn’t help.  Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar fell off the face of the earth.  2018 #1 starter Jhoulys Chacin collapsed, was released and ended up starting bullpen games for the pitching depleted Red Sox in September.  The three-headed monster in the bullpen (Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress) was down to one this season…Hader.  Knebel missed the entire season with injury.  Jeffress was hurt a bit then sucked when he was healthy and he too was released.  Etc.  Seems like Counsell was the most deserving choice here.

Shildt got the Cards to the playoffs, despite guys like Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and even Paul Goldschmidt taking a dip down in production.  Plus a few pitchers like Michael Wacha as well.  Snitker led a 7 win improvement while having some pitchers having good seasons in 2018 take a downturn in 2019.

Dave Roberts gets penalized for having a stacked team.  Dave Martinez led a 11 win improvement for the Nationals…and of course won the World Series.  But when looking at that roster, it makes you wonder if he could’ve done even better in the regular season.  Even after the team lost Harper.  I guess when you win the World Series, it matters not.  But I can’t vote with the postseason in mind, once again.

I actually thought of giving Mickey Callaway of the Mets some love for his 9 win improvement and keeping his team in the mix until close to the end, finishing 3 games out of the 2nd wild card spot.  But he is apparently a nut job and ended up getting fired at the end of the season.  So I guess maybe it wasn’t him that led the team to success?

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