Blog Archives

Alex Cora…

…so I feel like I should comment on the whole cheating scandal going on in Major League Baseball.  Not only because it involves the Boston Red Sox.  But also because the New England Patriots have been known to ummmmm…push the envelope a time or three as well.  So I guess it is in the water here.  Or it’s prevalent around all leagues.  Either way…

The punishment has not come out against the Red Sox as of yet, so I am not really sure how I feel about them in particular.  Though the punishment has been levied against the Houston Astros already, they still seem to be the focus of the public somehow.  I’ll take that.

There is nothing really to write about the actual Red Sox team either.  Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has spent the offseason basically exchanging bum/unproven relievers for…bum/unproven relievers.  And NOT cutting payroll, as he was apparently “mandated” to do.  He also got rid of some AAAA infielders and signed a backup catcher.  So there’s that.  Oh, and now he has to find a manager.  Seems pretty productive thus far, right?

So instead of wasting any words on Sam Travis, Bobby Poyner, Jeffrey Springs or Matt Hall, here are some completely random thoughts on the cheating coming out of my head, in no particular order.  And I am not even guaranteeing they will make any sense either:

*As written in an ESPN article, “Cora is described by commissioner Rob Manfred as being “involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.””

YIKES!!

Yeah, based on that, I can’t say I am surprised by the Sox firing him…oops, I mean, “agreed with Alex to mutually part ways…”  Sorry about that.

But what penalty can Cora expect?  Based on the year that former Astro manager A.J. Hinch received, is there a chance Cora gets banned for life?  Is it worse than what Pete Rose did to get him banned for life?

I may be the wrong guy to ask about Rose.  Truly an abhorrable (abhorrent?) individual, he bet on his own team while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.  He may have not been the only one doing it, but he was dumb enough to get caught.  And, not to mention, dumb enough to do it in the first place.  Some may point out that he may have been showing confidence in his own team that day.  But he also likely tanked other days to assure the team was at its best the day he threw money down on them.  Or something like that.  In any event, despite being a colossal scumbag, Rose should be in the Hall of Fame as a player.  Since he would be far from the only scumbag in the Hall.

But I digress.  As for Cora…I don’t even know the answer.  It would seem kind of obvious that he would get more than Hinch.  But life?

I can’t go there unless I hear more damning evidence against him.  Perhaps that comes when the Red Sox investigation is complete.

*What does MLB do from here?  I mean, video is everywhere.  Some dude can take video from the 6th row and get valuable information, can’t he?  The Astro dude that was standing in plain view and recording in games against the Red Sox, Indians and who knows who else…was that even necessary?

I know the teams have some sort of video rooms in the back and all.  But even if they were eliminated, would that make a difference?

I’ve actually been wondering for years how on an NFL telecast in any year someone like Tony Romo, Troy Aikman or Cris Collinsworth say stuff early on like, “when we spoke to the quarterback and coaches on Friday, they told us they were going to do (this) to (combat the other team)”.  I mean, no one listens to the telecast and communicates that to the opposing sideline?  Yeah, it isn’t the whole game plan.  And maybe what was said was kind of obvious.  But still…

Video and recording devices are all around us.  How do you stop it?  I don’t know.  And I am not sure MLB does either.

*What about player suspensions?  Will we see any of those?

My guess is no.  For several reasons.  Are any of the reports going to single out any of the players?  Are there really any players that took advantage more than others?  Did some players frown upon it, but had no choice to go along with the plan due to pressure from their teammates/coaches (reports are that Hinch didn’t love what was going on and broke two monitors at some point.  But ultimately did nothing to stop it, so of course he is paying the price),

And above all, how can you suspend 25-40 players?

Perhaps heavy manager/GM penalties may discourage players from engaging in this practice going forward.  But can we count on that?

*And if they are going after General Managers, why not the owners?  I guess the draft picks and the 5 mil takes care of that part.

However, Marge Schott and George Steinbrenner faced some personal penalties years ago.  So who is to say the owners shouldn’t pay some sort of personal price here as well?

We know for these guys 5 mil is pocket change.

More questions than answers, I know.  But MLB is undoubtedly in the same spot.

And one thing is for sure, cheating is never going away…in any sport.

If it’s not video, it’s Apple watches, it’s performance enhancing drugs, it’s deflating footballs, or it’s something else.  And then something new will inevitably come along.

Sign stealing has been happening for years, in fact.  We all know that.  It’s just a little more high tech now.

So as the world becomes more complicated, busy and distracting…good luck to every sport for figuring all THAT out…

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.

SELL!!

So, that London series was fun, eh?!

29 runs given up, 21 by that vaunted bullpen that we’ve already covered ad nauseam…sweet.  Well, the Boston Red Sox DID score 21 themselves.  Of course, after they got down big in both games.  Then couldn’t get a key hit to actually come all the way back in either.

Where does this leave the team?  I say it’s time to sell off parts.

84 games in and now 11 games behind the division leading New York Yankees.  Sure, they are only 2 games out of the second wild card (4 out of the top spot).  But does this feel like a team that can make some noise come playoff time?

No F’n way.  Not to me anyway.  And I think to most of us.

We are not even at the All-Star break quite yet, why am I so ready to throw in the towel?

It’s pretty easy to understand actually.  I mean, you have seen how listless they have appeared for most of the year, right?

The players (and the manager, and the front office, and the rest of the organization…) will undoubtedly blame the long 2018 season for the way they came out of the gate for this current season…and how they have kind of sleepwalked since then.  And maybe that is a factor…though it really should be a small one.

The Red Sox brought 21 of the 25 guys back who were on the World Series roster last season.  And one of the departed, Drew Pomeranz, doesn’t even count since he didn’t even pitch for several weeks down the stretch, including the playoffs.  Ian Kinsler, Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel were essentially the only departures.  Most of the guys on the current roster were here last year as well, although not active for the World Series, or the playoffs for that matter.  But here nonetheless.

Really, when you think about it, the only two players that have played more than a minor role on this years’ team that was not involved in any way last year at all are Michael Chavis and Colton Brewer.  I’ll give you Marcus Walden too if you like.  Since he pitched a few innings early in the year and then was never to be heard from again.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  that is not enough player turnover.  You need new blood every year, but especially after winning it all.  Keeps the fire burning and everyone is presumably still hungry.

Add this to the fact that Manager Alex Cora simply did not have the team ready to go right out of Spring Training, another colossal mistake.  “We did the same thing last year…” he liked to say in April.  Welp, every year is different, so they need to be treated differently.  Even I know that.

With this, the wretched bullpen that is like FOUR arms away from being useful, four arms that aren’t anywhere near the organization at this time and everything else, my recommendation is that they make some deals at the trade deadline.  Sending guys out that is.

The team has already made it clear that they do not want to go over the luxury tax limit.  So where are they going to acquire good bullpen arms, to start?  They have no real prospects to give up, ones that other teams want anyway.  So how do they fix things?

They don’t.

Since the farm system is so barren, maybe it’s time to see what some of these players can get you?  Granted, most of these guys won’t fetch much.  But you never know.

There is one trade deadline this year, on July 31st.  No more “waiver” deadline on August 31st.  Is this a good thing?  I don’t know.  At first blush, I say no.  Some decent deals can happen in August.  There are two full months to go after the deadline as it stands this year.  That is a long time.  Still a lot of clubs that think they have a chance.  That number dwindles in August and makes things ripe for more deals.  I don’t think I like it, but let’s see how it plays out this first year in existence.

So if the Sox are going to make moves, they have to happen sooner rather than later.  And, as stated above, how can one be confident in this team as currently constituted going forward?

Not to mention that stretch in late July/early August with the 14 games in 15 days against only the Yanks and Tampa Bay.  8 of them against the Yankees, what is that 2-6 maybe?

So this will never happen at all, I will guarantee it.  The Sox have spent too much money and there is too much talent on the roster for the organization to wave the white flag.  They all will think they can turn that proverbial switch when it matters too.  But let’s take a quick look below at specific things I would do, or at least consider doing, before July 31st, by positional group:

Catcher:  No need to do anything here.  Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon are good enough.  But maybe they can get Blake Swihart back?  (I may never give this up!).  Although Blake has been even more atrocious in Arizona than he was in Boston.  That’s what happens when you play once every 10-15 days or so I guess.

Infield:  Mitch Moreland and Steven Pearce seemed like a GREAT idea to platoon at first base for the 2019 season when it started.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way.  Both of these contracts will expire at seasons end and it seems that Chavis has kind of locked in that first base role at this point anyway.  If healthy, both Moreland and Pearce can provide some value to a (real) contending team.  They won’t fetch a ton, but it should be considered.

Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez also are up at the end of the season.  These guys won’t get you anything so I guess I probably wouldn’t bother.  I don’t think I don’t want either of these dudes back next year, so maybe they can explore it.  I’d actually take Holt back, but he may be up for a decent raise…and he can never stay healthy either.  And I don’t want to see him every day at second base next year anyway.

Outfield:  Here’s the big one.  To start, let’s ship Jackie Bradley Jr. out of town as soon as possible.  He hit .315 with 5 homers and 14 RBIs in June.  .992 OPS.  There is his hot month.  He is making 8.5 mil this year, with one more year of arbitration next year.  Probably get 10-12 mil or so.  For 5 bad months and one good one.  Let’s sell high now and hope some team is dumb enough to give them something good for him.

The elephant in the room?  Mookie Betts.  I am not in favor of moving him just to move him.  But if he is really not going to sign here long term, then the reality is the Sox need to shop him.  I have no idea if he wants to re-sign here.  But it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.  And that is the popular opinion.  The Red Sox HAVE to know how he feels, way better then Joe Fan does.  If he is truly a flight risk, the Sox need to take action.  Don’t be rash, but it has to be a real option.  Although I will take a proven Major League player over prospects 100 times out of a 100, this may be an opportunity to do some replenishing on the farm.

J.D. Martinez has to be a consideration to move too.  I believe there is a pretty good chance he opts out after this year and tries to secure that one last guaranteed contract…for more than he is supposed to get the next three years.  Again, the team has to have a better idea of his feelings on opting in or out after the season.  If the sense is that he will opt out, trades would have to be explored here.

Pitching staff:  I don’t have the stomach to split out the bullpen and no one wants any of those guys anyway.  The one starter that should have some value is Rick Porcello.  Seeing he’s up after this year and the signing of Nathan Eovaldi basically ensured the Sox wouldn’t re-sign him, Porcello should be shopped.  Sure, he’s not the “Cy Young Rick Porcello” this season, but he can eat innings and contribute to a contender.  No doubt about it.

Once again, none of this will happen.  Then the Sox will squeak into the playoffs and lose in the first round.

But think about it, even if the Sox were able to unload most of the players with expiring contracts (or close to it) talked about above, they would still have a nice core of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Chris Sale, David Price, Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez (I guess), Vazquez, Chavis and I suppose a couple of bullpen arms that can work the 6th and 7th.  Maybe some decent major league players coming back in trades.  Perhaps a top (real) prospect or three.  And all of a sudden some money to spend, being not right up against the luxury tax anyway.

A World Series winning team?  Unlikely.  But making the best of a bad situation?  Perhaps…It COULD be an interesting few weeks for the Red Sox.  If they want it to be…

%d bloggers like this: