…if the Big Papi tributes ever end, that is. Hey, don’t get me wrong, David Ortiz has made a tremendous impact on the Boston sports scene over his career. Big part of the Red Sox’ three World Series Championships…and hopefully soon a fourth. Tremendous in the community. Goodwill ambassador for the game. And all that. Can’t possibly say enough positive things about the man (“The Man”?). I just hate “farewell tours”, that’s all. My apologies. This applies to everyone, in any sport. It was silly to see these pregame charades going on in opposing cities during the season. Especially in cities Papi barely played in (San Diego? San Francisco? Please). Ortiz should absolutely be honored. And it should be huge. But do it some other time. And then do it again when he gets in the Hall of Fame.
Let’s really just be thankful that Jeremy Giambi was, well, Jeremy Giambi and that Ortiz got a chance to be in the lineup every day. Remember, the genius Theo Epstein loved him some Jeremy. Most of the “Theo” apologists had forgotten this long ago though.
While we are at it, you know what’s worse than farewell tours for players? Honoring broadcasters. Holy Vin Scully! Sure, Vin may have been great as what he did. But he is an ANNOUNCER! It’s not like he ever split the atom or cured cancer. He didn’t even make a difference on the field in any of the games he covered. Enough already. I’m sure he did a lot of great things for the community as well and is generally a good man. But he is just relaying what he sees on the field. Maybe throwing some cute anecdotes or something in there as well. Awesome. Hopefully the 48-year-old Scully was better than the 88-year-old Scully I heard on ESPN doing the 4th inning of a game a week or so ago. Wow. Mistakes and non-stop rambling. Kind of like all of the announcers who stay on too long…which is about every one of them actually. Jealousy? Maybe. And I sure hope to be as active as Vin at 88. But just how I feel.
I’ll definitely give the radio guys more props than the TV guys. Radio voices have to paint a sort of picture for the listener. Tougher job than just seeing what transpires on the field directly from the television set, where the viewer can already see the action. But still…
I’ll also give some props to some of the classic calls, such as Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in Miracles?!” Though nowadays when those calls are made they seem previously prepared and then when delivered therefore sound somewhat forced. Especially Jack Edwards’ ridiculous flow of words after a Boston Bruin’s victory. Half the time no one knows what the hell he is talking about.
Sssssssooooo…now that I have gone waaaaay off topic and likely pissed a lot of people off…let’s get to the upcoming matchup!
The Boston Red Sox will be playing the Cleveland Indians in one of the AL Division Series. Will Terry Francona come back and haunt his former team? One he won 2 World Series with? He might. And in reality a lot of people would love to see that due to how the team’s head honchos ran Tito out-of-town. Thanks Tito for the 2 rings…but a bad month with some chicken, beer and pain killers…and possibly a rendezvous or two with Hazel Mae (& others?)…so get the hell out? In truth, Tito had been here for 8 years and sometimes it is just time to move on. But his departure did leave a bad taste in many people’s mouths. They would love to see Tito stick it to John Henry and Tom Werner. Too bad Larry Lucchino technically isn’t involved here anymore. Because when you throw in the fact Uncle Larry essentially picked Francona’s successor doesn’t help. Most people haven’t forgiven any of the brass for the Bobby Valentine disaster.
On to the matchups on the field:
John Farrell can say what he wants about not knowing who is going Game 1 or Game 2. But with Rick Porcello going yesterday and David Price tomorrow…it’s pretty obvious. Cleveland will counter with Trevor Bauer in Game 1 and Corey Kluber in Game 2. Conventional wisdom says Sox win Game 1 and the Tribe Game 2. Trevor Bauer in Game 1??? Yikes!! Kluber is a possible Cy Young winner (again) and Price is 2-7, 5.12 career in the playoffs. BUT…Kluber hasn’t pitched since straining his quad a week or so ago and maybe Price finally finds postseason success with his 31 mil? Your guess is as good as mine.
I’m guessing Clay Buchholz in Game 3 (another Yikes!!) and Eduardo Rodriguez in Game 4. Looks like Josh Tomlin in Game 3 and no idea Game 4. Mike Clevinger? Ryan Merritt? Bauer? The Tribe suffers a lot here without Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. If those 2 guys were healthy, the Indians roll. Then again, the Sox have a history of making no-names look like household names. Wouldn’t surprise me if someone like Merritt blanks them. Steven Wright is a no-go for the Sox and Drew Pomeranz is unlikely as well. Despite Wright’s All-Star first half, these 2 guys don’t compare to the 2 injured Indian starters. Any way you look at it, the pitchers available for this matchup look like a wash to me.
I would say the Sox carry 7 arms here for the first round. One less than the regular season. Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler, Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross Jr., Joe Kelly (over Heath Hembree) and Robby Scott (over Fernando Abad) would seem the logical choices. Though it would not shock me in the least if Farrell thought it was 2013 and kept Junichi Tazawa either as the 12th or at the expense of one of the above. Scott is unproven, but lefty. And since Abad has pitched only once since September 16th, looks like he is out. Kelly still stinks. But they do still like him…better than Hembree anyway.
I’m not going to pretend I know a ton about the Indian bullpen. But what I do know is that Andrew Miller is better than anyone the Sox have. And they aren’t even using him as closer. 2 walks and 43 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings since joining the team. 9/120 in 72 2/3 IP overall. Wow. From a guy that used to never be able to find the plate earlier in his career. Compare him to Kimbrel, who this week has come in throwing gasoline on the fire and throwing the ball anywhere BUT over the plate. Just lost the game again tonight. Not encouraging.
Cody Allen is the closer. Not a lot of fanfare nationally it appears. But seems to be having a solid season. After all, they kept him at closer after the arrival of Miller. Koji has been getting the job done since his return from the DL. But hasn’t necessarily been untouchable. Farrell seems afraid to use Ziegler as much as he should. I like the Indian late inning guys a whole hell of a lot better than ours.
The rest of the Tribe bullpen? Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw, Zach McAllister…possibly Salazar. Looks like a pretty decent edge to the Indians here.
We know the Sox lineup has put up some runs this year. Looks like Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi will be the primary 3B and LF, respectively. Don’t need to say anything about Mookie Betts, Papi, Hanley and Dustin Pedroia. JBJ had a surprisingly nice year of course. Xander Bogaerts disappointed in the second half, but still needs to be considered a factor. Sandy Leon rounds it out…in the middle of a .216 September.
Cleveland has some pop in Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli (34 homers and 101 RBI for Nap? Wasn’t he DONE last year?). Some speed and a little pop in Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. Tremendous speed in Rajai Davis. A couple of serviceable players in Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin. And a catcher worse than the Sox’ (Roberto Perez). Yan Gomes is usually their catcher. But he just came back from injury and was atrocious this year anyway. Looks like it will be Perez.
The Red Sox SHOULD have a decided advantage here. What with them scoring over a hundred more runs than Cleveland. Just listing the opposing names really kind of covers the analysis here. But, as noted, the Indians do have a little power and can impact some games with their legs. Even Napoli and Santana have 5 stolen bases! If the Sox can jump out early, they should be able to keep the Tribe at bay. But any close games could result in Cleveland “stealing” games. Get it! Haha…I’m here all week…
Chris Young, Aaron Hill and Travis Shaw are the main dudes. Young and Hill specifically will play left and third, respectively, against lefties. But only Merritt is a (potential) lefty starter in this series. Backup catcher? I’d take Christian Vazquez. But guessing Farrell takes Bryan Holaday. As long as it’s not Ryan Hanigan. None of them really matter actually. 25th guy? A perfect pinch runner would be Yoan Moncada. But since he is nowhere near ready for the major leagues and made some baserunning mistakes when he did play in the final month to boot, I’m guessing Marco Hernandez takes this spot. Not to mention that I just found out they shipped Moncada back to minor league camp yesterday anyway. For what? I don’t know. I would’ve kept him along for the ride. Along with Bryce Brentz. But you already knew that.
Indians bench? Gomes or Chris Giminez at catcher. Brandon Guyer, Coco Crisp, Michael Martinez, Abraham Almonte, whoever. Uninspiring.
I’d give the edge to the Sox here. But if anyone makes any kind of contribution here on either side this series, with the possible exception of Young, I’d be a little surprised. Hill may get into games late, but hasn’t done a whole lot in the AL. Shaw has completely fallen off the map and out of the “rotation” altogether. It’s possible the Indian’s bench makes some impact with their legs, but not likely their bats. But who knows with postseason heroes coming from nowhere often.
As we speak, Cleveland has a half game lead for home field. They have one of the best home records in the majors so you may think this is a concern. The Sox have the 2nd best road record in the majors though, so it may not be. Not liking the way the Sox are choking games down the stretch, especially Kimbrel. But Farrell has been lifting Ortiz, batting Xander 6th, pitching Kelly in a save situation, etc. So he may not be that concerned about it. But speaking of Farrell, it is no secret that I don’t love him. Seems as if the Sox should have a few more wins under their belt this year. He could cost them a game in this series. The Tribe will really be hurt by not having a healthy Carrasco and Salazar, not to mention Michael Brantley. Though Brantley essentially hasn’t been there all year, so maybe his injury is irrelevant for these purposes. Indian speed could cause problems. And the bullpens could play a huge role. If Kluber can’t go or is far less than 100%? Not good.
That all being said, I’ll take the Sox in 5. Praying that Farrell keeps the bonehead moves to a minimum…
I suppose we really don’t need to rehash the first half of the Major League Baseball season, as far as the Red Sox are concerned. We all know the deal. They are a better than expected 49-38, 2 games out of first place. The offense has been largely good. The pitching has been largely a disappointment, to be kind. Young everyday players, like Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are blossoming right in front of our eyes. David Ortiz is having a monster farewell season at the age of 40. David Price and Craig Kimbrel have not made the difference their profile would suggest. Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez have been abject disasters. Steven Wright has been a revelation. Fat Panda is, well…still fat. And for his 19 mil the team got an 0 for the season. Ok, in only six at bats before his injury…but the point remains the same. Blah, blah, blah…
We know all that. Let’s focus on what one man thinks they SHOULD do in the 2nd half of this year. Before we get to that, my thinking is that Dave Dombrowski has gotten off to a pretty good start with the minor deals he has made thus far. Well, I am not sure why he felt the need to get a 33-year-old utility man who has a .199 career average in Michael Martinez. I mean, don’t we have a guy like that already in Brock Holt? And what was Marco Hernandez doing wrong? I guess the move was made because those two both bat from the left side and Martinez is a switch hitter. And they still plan to play Holt a ton in left field it would seem. Whatever.
But I like the move for Aaron Hill. I don’t mind Travis Shaw. But despite the hot start, I never considered him an everyday player…at third or at first. A bunch of at-bats off the bench at both positions? Sure. And it appears that this will be the case going forward. Hill isn’t going to hit 36 bombs like he did in 2009 with Toronto. But he will be a useful addition. At what appears to be a minimal cost…with 2 “prospects” going the other way. Wendell Rijo is only 20, so maybe he will be something. But he was hitting .186 in AA. Doesn’t look good. Aaron Wilkerson was pitching well in Pawtucket. But he’s 27 years old himself and has never made the majors. Doesn’t look like a big loss.
I also like the move for Brad Ziegler. Not a prototypical closer, but he wasn’t supposed to come here as a closer anyway. But hopefully he will close here with Kimbrel now out. As much as I love Koji Uehara, this year he has been…shaky (done?). Junichi Tazawa has apparently been battling a shoulder ailment (and is now on the DL)…but he’s never been considered a closer anyway. Robbie Ross Jr. had some saves down the stretch last year…but on a bad team. Plus John Farrell forgets he has him in his bullpen half the time. So that won’t work. The end result is that Ziegler may now be currently the best reliever in the bullpen. Yikes! But it’s a good move regardless. It doesn’t appear that Ziegler’s cost was much, though maybe a bit more than Hill’s. Jose Almonte, a 20-year-old pitcher that was in Single-A, and Luis Alejandro Basabe, a 19-year-old middle infielder that was in the same location. Young, yes. But I don’t ever recall seeing them on any “Top Prospect” lists.
After all that preamble, let’s get to the Blowhard’s suggestions. Once again, in no particular order.
*Trade for a young #1 or #2 starter using the systems’ supposed plethora of prospects. I know, I know, I know. Who wouldn’t do this? But the point is, the Sox CAN make this happen more than most other teams. According to many people around the game, the Sox have several “can’t miss” prospects. Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, Anderson Espinoza, Rafael Devers, maybe even that knucklehead Michael Kopech…yup, you’ve heard all the names.
The Sox should pick their top 2 or 3 guys and keep them. And unload anyone and everyone else. After all, for how long have we heard guys like Will Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini, Casey Kelly, Bryce Brentz (before he shot himself accidentally in the leg in 2013 maybe), Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Brian Rose, Wilton Veras and countless others were “can’t miss”? Exactly. Some of these guys won’t make it. Most of them actually. So while their names are hot, get rid of them.
OR, if they decide they will pay Xander and Mookie and not Jackie eventually, deal JBJ. Assuming Benintendi will come up and take his place at some point soon enough. OR, if the thought of engaging with Scott Boras down the road will leave them with so much distaste, trade Xander (heresy!!). Assuming Moncada will come up and take his place eventually.
Now, I am not advocating trading Xander, no, not at all. I actually would still consider trading JBJ, for the record. Still not 100% sold on him long-term. Even though I may be getting there. Anyway, ideally, I’d go with trading a boatload of prospects. But I think you get my overall point. You have things people want. You have a big hole…throughout the entire organization…with starting pitcher depth. Go get a stud. Now.
After all, wouldn’t every single person do Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. for Pedro Martinez again?
EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote the previous 900 or so words earlier, then put it aside for several hours. In the interim, the Sox apparently traded Espinoza for “All-Star” Drew Pomeranz. I use the word “All-Star” loosely of course. Listen, Pomeranz has had a nice half-year…on a poor team with no pressure…in a pitcher’s park. Not to mention that he was an injury replacement for the All-Star game this year. He has been with 3 teams in his 6 year major league career. He was essentially traded for the immortal Yonder Alonso after last season. He has never pitched more than 147 1/3 innings in a full year professionally and stands at 102 right now.
In other words, not exactly the trade I was looking for when I mentioned packaging prospects…especially top ones.
But you know what? I’ll take it. Not that I have a choice. But Pomeranz is only 27. Under team control for a couple more years. Showed some promise in 2014 with Oakland (I know, another pressure cooker!) before he punched a chair after a bad start. Stupid, I know…but who knows, maybe if Kopech makes it to Boston someday they can hang out. More importantly, Espinoza is 18 YEARS OLD. Who the hell knows what he will be? Some people were all worked up the Sox gave up 17-year-old Engel Beltre back in the Eric Gagne trade. Who? Exactly.
Espinoza could be the next Pedro Martinez, sure. But the odds are way better that he becomes the next Casey Kelly…or Brian Rose. Plus…anything can happen before he gets to the majors. Specifically injury…like a major arm kind. He’s a loooooooooooong ways away folks. I’d rather bet on some of the positional prospects than the pitching prospects, if I had to. In any event, maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t. We shall see.
I’m still going after the #1 or #2 type guy as well though…moving on…
*Release Clay Buchholz. Goes without saying. And I’ve still said it a ton. But Farrell is making noise about putting him back in the rotation eventually. Maybe the acquisition of Pomeranz changes that thinking. Either way, it’s well past time. Coincidentally, they need to make space on the 40-man roster for Pomeranz. Someone has to go. Maybe it is finally him? I’m looking at the 40-man and the obvious choice to me is to DFA Sean O’Sullivan. But he is on the 15 day DL, so I don’t know if they CAN make that move. Maybe Josh Rutledge is transferred to the 60 day DL. Or same for Chris Young. But there aren’t many options at this point. DFA Clay? Let’s get everyone on board!!
*Get one other 5th or 6th starter type. This shouldn’t cost much. If the Sox got a number #2 guy this month as I mentioned above, the rotation would look like this: Price, #2, Porcello, Pomeranz, Wright. Eduardo Rodriguez would theoretically be the #6 guy. He’s been terrible, but no one should be giving him away or counting him out now. Plenty of promise there. And he has at least some positive major league history. This other guy would actually be #7. Better than Buchholz. Or Joe Kelly. Or Owens. Good to have some more depth.
*Add another top-notch bullpen guy and a veteran “middle inning” guy. As of right this second, with Taz and Kimbrel (Carson Smith too of course) on the DL, the bullpen consists of: Buchholz, William Cuevas, Tommy Layne, Heath Hembree, Ross, Koji, Matt Barnes and Ziegler…Double Yikes!! Matt Barnes may be your second best reliever now. Ugh.
We’ve gone over Bucky. Cuevas, (also Noe Ramirez, Pat Light, Roenis Elias)? Not any kind of answer. Layne has been ok, but is fungible. No bigger Hembree guy than me. But who knows with him? He’s never been around long enough to know how he will hold up in a pennant race. Ross is ok, but Koji may be done. Barnes? Not a fan myself. Hopefully Ziegler can do something. But…a lot of question marks as you can see.
Perhaps Joe Kelly is that “middle inning” guy? Maybe. Can’t be worse than some of the aforementioned dudes. It appears he will get a chance. I’m ok with it.
If they get the 2 bullpen guys, then the 7 they carry until either injured guys come back and/or September callups can be something like: Kelly/vet, Ross, Barnes, Layne, Koji, Bullpen trade target, Ziegler…still questionable, but if the guy you get is awesome, then that will be a major boost. Hate to leave Hembree out, but you can stash him in Pawtucket like Kelly for a few weeks if you have to. The vet could be a 13th type of pitcher with experience and he could also be in AAA for now. Maybe give Koji a “rest” on the DL. Just mix and match arms until Taz and Kimbrel come back. Then in September you have a lot of half decent arms out there. Anchored by Kimbrel, Ziegler, Taz and trade guy. With depth in Koji, Barnes, Ross, Kelly, other vet, Hembree, etc. And no Noe’s or Light’s in sight either.
Bottom line? Never hurts to have more than enough bullpen arms. The Sox bullpen won’t become like the back-end of the Royals or Yankees…this year anyway. But if they can just have more available options than what has sometimes paraded through the mound for them up to this point, it will help close the gap.
*Fire John Farrell. Ok, that’s not going to happen. He’s here for the season now I feel. Like it or not. And honestly, firing him at this point will probably not accomplish much. Oh well.
What else? Nothing actually. Pitching, pitching, pitching. That’s it.
The Sox can live with Sandy Leon/Ryan Hanigan/Christian Vazquez/Blake Swihart(?) behind the plate. Especially if Leon continues to hit .455. That’s possible, right?
They can also live with Holt/Brentz/Young/Swihart(?)/Shaw(?) in left field I believe. Maybe Benintendi comes up in September and adds to that mix. Pretty sure they wouldn’t want to add him to the 40-man roster before they have to. But perhaps he forces the issue.
The biggest thing they have to do on offense I feel is to keep the Big Guy healthy. Give him a day off a week if you have to. They should be able to work their way around that with the bodies they have. Big Papi’s sick numbers are bound to regress a little anyway. So let’s keep him fresh for the stretch run. I know, he’s only a DH and gets up 4-5 times a game. How much can that affect him? I would normally agree with that thinking. And have argued that over the years. But now he is 40…old for sports. Let’s err on the side of caution in his final year.
There are a lot of teams in the mix all across baseball. But, especially in the AL, I don’t believe one team stands head and shoulders above the rest. The World Series is a realistic goal. When World Series aspirations are realistic, you need to go for it. Let’s leave no stone unturned in order to get there.
In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game selections being announced Tuesday, I present my American League All-Star picks. 21 position players, 13 pitchers, with each team represented (I don’t necessarily love this rule…but…it is the rule). (S) for starter. Comments below each position.
C: Salvador Perez, KC (S)
There will be three catchers selected for the actual game. How they are going to pick the other two is beyond me. Have you seen the list of all the AL catchers? There is no one else even remotely qualified. So I am not picking more than one here. There are two other guys that I pick later for my team that have catching experience. They can be my backups if necessary. You know, if this game was played on more than this “paper” I “write” on. Perez likes to catch every inning of every game anyway. Done.
1B: Miguel Cabrera, Det (S), Chris Davis, Bal, Eric Hosmer, KC
Cabrera’s year seems to be flying a little under the radar. Maybe because it’s not as insane as usual. But he’s putting up some numbers again, in case you didn’t know. Davis isn’t hitting below .200 this year. .242 isn’t that exciting, but it’s enough with the power numbers he puts up. Hosmer can close out the game with his elite glove. But his offense is improved over the past season and a half and he has some good production in the first half of this year. Plus, well, KC did win the World Series last year, no?
2B: Jose Altuve, Hou (S), Robinson Cano, Sea, Ian Kinsler, Det
Altuve is having a monster year. So even though it’s a nice comeback year for Cano, Jose has to be the choice here. 1 shy of his career high already with his 14 bombs. Leads the league in average and hits. 1 shy of the league lead in steals. Nice work. Glad to see Cano is back, as noted. Kinsler seems to be the 2nd best Ian in the league this year, but it works out for him that he is the best one at his position.
3B: Josh Donaldson, Tor (S)
Looks like I am taking only one third basemen here too. But plenty of other guys on my team can (and do) play third. They are just listed elsewhere since they’ve played more at other positions. You’ll see. Oh wait, Cabrera can also play 3b of course. As can Davis! Anyway, two guys I left off here are Evan Longoria and Kyle Seager though. Close, but decided someone else would represent Tampa in Longoria’s case. And Seager was a little behind Evan. Oh, and Donaldson is one of the backup catchers on this roster too. Good thing like 8 other guys have 3b experience!
SS: Manny Machado, Bal (S), Xander Bogaerts, Bos, Eduardo Nunez, Min
This year’s shortstop crop is a lot stronger than the past couple of years. Machado and Nunez are listed here because they have both played a handful more games at short than at third. So, you see they can back up 3b on my team also. Hell, even X can, with his experience there as the immortal Stephen Drew slid into that position in Boston in 2014…for whatever reason that was. I would’ve loved to find room here also for Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. Maybe I should have anyway. But they will have plenty more chances. Nunez had to be here unfortunately because who else could you possibly take from the Twins this season? But at least his numbers are pretty good, so he was a strong consideration at some position either way. Nice utility guy…follows up very nicely on Brock Holt’s selection to the game last year.
OF: Mike Trout, LAA (S), Ian Desmond, Tex (S), Jackie Bradley Jr., Bos (S), Mark Trumbo, Bal, Mookie Betts, Bos, Carlos Beltran, NYY
Just copy and paste Trout here for at least the next decade…unless he switches leagues at some point. Desmond had a rough start, but has come on huge. His transition to the outfield from being an error machine at short has been smooth. So smooth that he is playing mostly center field now. I actually tried to find a way to NOT add JBJ to the team at all. When I was putting this together, my initial sense was that yeah, he had that 29 game hitting streak and put up sick numbers in the midst of that. But what else has he done? Well, since the streak, he has been pretty good too. He remains sixth in the league in OPS. And when you factor in the glove, that gave him the last starting spot over Trumbo…since Trumbo has served as DH for almost half his games. Mookie is actually only 20th in the league in OPS, but you can’t argue with the overall numbers. At first glance I was like, Carlos Beltran? Really? But he belongs. And not because he will be the Yankee rep either. What, you wanted Michael Saunders here?? 7th in the league in OPS, Saunders is. Surprising. But I can’t see it.
DH: David Ortiz, Bos (S), Edwin Encarnacion, Tor, Victor Martinez, Det, Nelson Cruz, Sea
4 DH’s? Yup!! But in name only…kind of. Big Papi starts because it is allegedly his final year and I said so. Not to mention he leads the AL in OPS by .118. That’s kind of a pretty good lead. Edwin has played about a third of his games this year at first. He’s another guy that can play 3rd in a pinch. Cruz has played over 40% of his games in the outfield. So he can trot out there if needed. And Victor serves as my teams’ primary backup catcher too. We will take the bats any way we can get them!
P: Chris Sale, CWS (S), Danny Salazar, Cle, Cole Hamels, Tex, Rich Hill, Oak, Michael Fulmer, Det, Steven Wright, Bos, Aaron Sanchez, Tor, Marco Estrada, Tor, Andrew Miller, NYY, Zach Britton, Bal, Wade Davis, KC, Alex Colome, TB, Will Harris, Hou
As I’ve explained in the past, my inclination is to take way more starting pitchers than closers and certainly middle relievers. Great starters are infinitely more important to their team and that is why they get the big bucks, as they say. Closers historically get hot for a year or three, but unless they are Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman, they inevitably fail and fall back into middle relief or the minors or out of baseball. Very few of the elite ones that can do it for 10 years plus. Middle relievers are usually failed starters AND closers. So even though they can be dominant, it usually doesn’t last. And if it does, they will go back to another key role.
Unfortunately, this year it seemed I HAD to take 3 full-time closers (Britton, Davis, Colome) and 2 others that have closed for at least part of the year (Miller, Harris). For the 8 starters chosen, it’s basically Sale and everyone else. Ok, Salazar and Hamels have been pretty good too. But although Hill has been pretty dominant when on the mound, he has missed some time due to injury. Really had to be Oakland’s rep though. I couldn’t possibly feel good about taking Khris Davis or Danny Valencia. But with Hill, we are talking about a guy pitching in the independent leagues less than a year ago. Fulmer has also been pretty dominant, but came up from the minors after 6 weeks in the season had passed or so. Wright has been a revelation in Boston, since the rest of the rotation has been putrid, to be kind. But he’s a knuckleballer on a nice run. And also has a ton of unearned runs, which, well…he still did give up the runs, didn’t he? Estrada is somewhat uninspiring, though Sanchez has been way more than I think even Toronto expected. Maybe Jose Quintana has an argument, but it’s like 6 of one, half-dozen of the other I would say.
But because guys like King Felix, David Price, Dallas Keuchel, Corey Kluber, Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, etc. have been mediocre, injured, downright atrocious or some combination of the three…these are your 8 starters in the All-Star Game folks!!
As for the ‘pen, Miller has been lights out since joining the Yanks last year. Almost 2 K’s per inning. Can’t argue his spot. Britton and Davis are elite closers. Colome is Tampa’s rep, for better or for worse. But he was real good before getting hurt. Harris has been an elite setup man for a couple of years in Houston now. He recently has grabbed the closer role and let’s wait and see if he has what it takes for that. But an 0.76 ERA currently would be hard to leave off the team. Sadly, I also actually gave strong consideration to another couple of middle relievers. Brad Brach of the O’s (1.01 ERA in 44 2/3 innings) and Kelvin Herrera of the Royals (1.40 ERA in 38 2/3 innings). Just couldn’t pull those triggers though.
So there you go…NL to follow soon. As I still try to process the Kevin Durant news into some coherent thoughts…