As promised, the NL squad is below. 32 players are selected. 20 are supposed to be position players and 12 are supposed to be pitchers. I’ll stray from that a bit, as we always do here. Similar to the AL, 19 position players and 13 pitchers for the NL this year, but the reasoning is different. The Blowhard, in all seriousness, had problems coming up with the 32 players needed for the NL team. Each team is represented, as we know. Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule, but for all those spots, I suppose every team should have SOMEONE there. But there was one NL team that truly had ZERO real candidates. You’ll find that out soon enough. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: J.T. Realmuto, Mia (S), Francisco Cervelli, Pit
There were surprisingly several candidates at this position in the National League. But I’m sticking with my 2 catcher maximum. After Realmuto was a victim of taking only two catchers in the two previous years, he is the clear-cut starter this season. After that? HAD to go with Cervelli to back up. The Pittsburgh Pirates really do not have any candidates at all. Cervelli has missed some time with a concussion but has a .876 OPS when he has played. The only other Pirate player worth considering was their closer, Felipe Vazquez. 17 saves are great. But a 3.47 ERA and a WHIP of almost 1.35 is not. As for other dudes…Yadier Molina could have a case. Buster Posey always has a case. But Posey’s numbers are down from previous years.
1B: Freddie Freeman, Atl (S), Jesus Aguilar, Mil, Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Joey Votto, Cin
Aguilar is a nice story, but I’m going Freeman to start. Goldy started slow but is on fire recently. Votto’s power is down, but he’s still having a nice year. If you wanted Brandon Belt instead, fine. Jose Martinez? Sure. I won’t argue about the last slot. Take whoever you want. Except for Eric Hosmer. Wow, that was a dumb contract the Padres gave him. And he ain’t doing much to earn it.
2B: Javier Baez, ChC (S), Scooter Gennett, Cin, Ozzie Albies, Atl, Asdrubal Cabrera, NYM
Baez by a slim margin over Gennett to start. Guess Gennett’s 2017 season was not a fluke, huh? Albies had a strong first half. Asdrubal? Yup. Deserved. If you wanted to take a fifth first baseman over him, I wouldn’t complain. But I’m keeping him on my squad. And no, he isn’t the only Met, if you can believe that.
3B: Eugenio Suarez, Cin (S), Nolan Arenado, Col
This is it for third base in the NL. And this year Arenado is NOT being penalized for playing in Colorado. Suarez’ overall numbers are simply better. And Max Muncy’s 20 dingers in 196 at-bats are nice. But not sure that gets him on.
SS: Brandon Crawford, SF (S), Trevor Story, Col
And…this is it for shortstop in the NL. Story is being penalized for playing in Colorado. Trea Turner? Not this year.
OF: Matt Kemp, LAD (S), Nick Markakis, Atl (S), David Peralta, AZ (S), Rhys Hoskins, Phi, Bryce Harper, Was
Matt Kemp? Nick Markakis? What year is this? Actually, even though these guys have been around forever, Kemp has actually made only two All-Star teams and Markakis…ZERO. So good for them with what they are doing this season. Peralta? Yikes! But he was really the best option for the last starting spot. I had actually originally picked Odubel Herrera instead of Hoskins…then I realized Hoskins was now pretty much an outfielder and doesn’t play much first base anymore. So I swapped them. Plus, I wanted to say that I picked Odubel, Aaron Altherr and Hoskins as All-Stars from the Phillie outfield in consecutive years. That seems a little crazy, no? Bryce…hmmm, I know. Tough call. .218 average would knock just about everyone else out of it. But power is there and OPS is too. So I said what the hell? Plus…Brandon Nimmo? Kyle Schwarber? Anyone from above I left off? I don’t think so.
P: Max Scherzer, Was (S), Jacob deGrom, NYM, Aaron Nola, Phi, Jon Lester, ChC, Miles Mikolas, StL, Patrick Corbin, AZ, Sean Newcomb, Atl, Mike Foltynewicz, Atl, Kyle Freeland, Col, Josh Hader, Mil, Sean Doolittle, Was, Brad Hand, SD, Kenley Jansen, LAD
Ouch. And…ouch…again. Take a look at the names on this list again. Max gets the start since the game is in his home park. But you could seriously give deGrom the ball. I don’t think a lot of people know what kind of season he is having because his team sucks so bad. Nola has had a nice first half as well. The rest? Ok. But most of the names are certainly underwhelming. It’s almost like I had to take Freeland because he is a starting pitcher from Colorado and with his numbers (8-6, 3.18), you have to take that into consideration. Newcomb has backslid a bit. Mikolas is the Cards rep. Folty has fewer innings than most starters. Corbin and Lester have been solid. But who’s next, Ross Stripling? Nope.
Hader was the only middle man taken on both teams. But he did close when the Brewers regular closer, Corey Knebel, was out. And you can’t scoff at 83 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings and a 1.21 ERA. In fact, there is another middle guy on his team that probably deserves consideration in Jeremy Jeffress. Hand is the Padres rep. People have been on the Kirby Yates bandwagon. Not me. Doolittle belongs. Jansen isn’t quite as dominant as he has been in previous years, but he’s still the guy to close it out if it gets to that point. Kyle Barraclough and Adam Ottavino probably deserve consideration as middle guys as well. But I’m not doing that. Maybe Raisel Iglesias as another closer. But I’m going with these guys.
Aaaaaah…feels good to be on time…for once!
March 29th, to be exact. Thursday. In March. Boy, that sure crept up fast. I suppose that’s what happens when it is basically still winter up here in the Northeast and baseball is not top of mind when it’s 30 degrees out and plenty of snow remains on the ground. Not to mention the fact that the Bruins and Celtics are having great seasons, thereby keeping the focus on them for a while…possibly until both are out of the playoffs.
Perhaps also the expectations for the Red Sox aren’t as high this year either? I don’t know. I’m not that high on them anyway. I’m not sold on the rookie manager. Too many question marks on the pitching staff, especially relating to injuries…or injury risks. Didn’t necessarily love the J.D. Martinez deal. Hanley…everything about him. The Yankees lineup looks prodigious…and have young potential stars on the way to boot. Some of this stuff we’ve been through before. Rest assured, we will get into more detail on my hesitations in the paragraphs that follow.
Listen, the Sox should be plenty good this year. They should be in the mix for the playoffs…of course. And for the money that the players are getting, they’d better be. Alex Cora HAS to be better than John Farrell, right? If he rejuvenates the younger players in the lineup, that alone is a huge win. You know, those young players who were supposed to be the future stars and the core of this team for years to come?
So anyway, let’s start with a quick look at the roster. No, it is not officially set yet, but it’s close enough. In all likelihood, the roster was pretty much set before the spring even started, for all intents and purposes. Basically just had to be adjusted a little for any spring injuries and for those who need a little more time to recover from previous offseason surgeries and whatnot.
Now let’s be honest, I did not watch a whole ton of spring training baseball. But I read all the box scores! And more importantly, I stayed away from all those “feel-good” stories that come out every March. Didn’t need those influencing my feelings. Because you all know how I feel for the 72nd guy on the roster. Root like hell for whoever that may be! In any event, because Spring Training results are fairly useless, we probably didn’t miss much.
Let’s get to it, in usual Blowhard fashion, we break down the roster by position, using the 40-man roster as a base, but adding in non-roster invitees (NRI) where appropriate:
In: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Brian Johnson
DL: Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez
DL/Suspension: Steven Wright
In limbo: Hector Velasquez, Marcus Walden (NRI)
Minors: Jalen Beeks, Roenis Elias
Comments: If Pomeranz and E-Rod aren’t out long, then the starting five should be more than acceptable. But that’s the big part of the problem. Those two aren’t the healthiest hurlers around. They could be out only a week or two, or we could see them in June. No one ever knows with them…E-Rod specifically. Price has apparently had a nice spring. But are we out of the woods on his elbow yet? Not so sure. Johnson is in the Opening Week rotation because of all these injuries. But how about HIS injury history? Marcus Walden is only noted here because he may actually be the #5 guy at the start since Hector has been less than stellar this spring.
Bottom line? Lot’s of holes here. If the starters remain in good health, it could be a top rotation. But what are the chances of that happening?
In: Craig Kimbrel (closer), Carson Smith, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree
DL: Tyler Thornburg, Austin Maddox
In limbo: Bobby Poyner (NRI), Tommy Layne (NRI)
Minors: Brandon Workman, Robby Scott, Chandler Shepherd, Ty Buttrey, Williams Jerez
Comments: There seem to be some other guys hanging around camp, like William Cuevas, but we don’t need to talk about guys like him. They won’t be going up to Boston for Opening Day. Anyway…lots of questions here as well. Kimbrel was dominant last year, let’s hope he can do it again. But the rest? Smith resurfaced at the end of last year, but let’s see how he handles a full season now. I am no fan of Kelly and Barnes so I don’t even want to talk about them. If Thornburg can regain his health, that SHOULD help. Then again, he has pitched in Milwaukee his whole career. Who knows how he adjusts to the AL East? Workman has been a huge disappointment this spring and I have no idea what the hell is wrong with late-season darling Maddox. He hasn’t pitched all spring it looks like and I haven’t even heard his name mentioned. I have heard Poyner’s name mentioned, as he has apparently turned some heads. But the Sox had to go sign Layne in the middle of the spring. That can’t be good.
There will be a lot of bodies on and off the pitching staff all year-long. But I don’t love all the questions right out of the gate. If I had to guess, Sale, Price, Porcello, Johnson, Velasquez, Walden, Poyner, Hembree, Kelly, Barnes, Smith and Kimbrel head to Boston at the start. In case you were worried, there is one open 40-man spot for one of Walden or Poyner and another spot can be opened when someone like Dustin Pedroia goes on the 60-day DL. Or someone like Chandler Shepherd gets designated for assignment. But, as you know, I’m the only one that cares about the last 40-man roster spot…
Next: The bats
…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…