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That’s It??!

Dave?

Serious?

There were a number of deals made by contending teams in Major League Baseball leading up to yesterday’s trading deadline.

And your Boston Red Sox got…Ian Kinsler.

Ok, we can include Nathan Eovaldi.  And even Steve Pearce if you wish.

But…once again, I ask…that’s it?!

These three dudes are probably going to be decent pieces.  Will certainly help down the stretch.  Or they should anyway.  But will these players put you over the top in the playoffs?

Hardly.

Kinsler should be ok at second base.  But he isn’t the player he once was.  And we all probably could have lived with Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez there if we had to, right?  Maybe Brandon Phill…ok, probably not him.

Pearce can be a decent bat off the bench.  And Eovaldi is some sort of arm for the staff anyway.

But none of these dudes are difference makers.

So what would the Blowhard have done?  Glad you asked!

The lineup is probably ok….what with Jackie Bradley Jr. starting to awaken…at least a little bit.  And with Blake Swihart playing more (and, in turn, hitting some).  I’m not sure the team needed Kinsler.  If you are going to add a bat, maybe get a BETTER one though?  Were the Sox really that concerned with second base defense?

I’m not sure I would have done anything with the lineup actually.  Per usual, my focus is on pitching, pitching and more pitching.  And battle-tested pitching at that.

Why?  All these so-called studs we have in the rotation have proven zero in the playoffs.

Why, Part Two?  I don’t trust any of these bums the Sox have in the current bullpen…other than Craig Kimbrel, of course.

Let’s start with the rotation though.  We know what David Price’s playoff history is.  Rick Porcello’s too.  Even Chris Sale.  Eddie Rodriguez is hurt…and we know when he gets a boo-boo, he is out for months.  Drew Pomeranz stinks this year.  Steven Wright is hurt, but are you going to trust a knuckleballer in the playoffs?  Brian Johnson?  Surely, you jest.

Eovaldi is technically a starter, but an impact one?  Nope.

Throw in Sale’s surprise disabled list stint now and that’s a whole lot of uncertainty there.

And the bullpen.  Maybe they think Tyler Thornburg is back…but with only 10 appearances under his belt this year and only a couple in high leverage, how do you know?  Heath Hembree, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier (who?), Hector Velasquez, etc….there’s a solid bunch of 6th inning relievers to me.  Ok, maybe the 7th.  But who wants these guys in the 8th inning or later in pressure situations?

Right, no one.

I know, I know, I know…the Sox have zero prospects.  Ty Buttrey, Williams Jerez and Jalen Beeks are in their mid-twenties and are probably not even good.  These are the guys that got you Kinsler and Eovaldi.  Dombrowski has emptied the farm system and there is really nothing left.  So was this the best they could do?

I don’t think so.  They have…MONEY!

Luxury tax, schmuxury tax.  Please.  John Henry would take your wallet or purse at the park entrances if he could.  The team makes a ton of money.  They can afford to take on some contracts in order to get REAL talent in return.  You know, like George Steinbrenner and the Yankees used to do.  God, I hate that the Sox have become the Steinbrenner Yankees.  But it is what it is.

But the rumors are they don’t want to go deeper into the tax.  Stupid.  What’s another few million?  Especially when the teams’ window appears short now.  Lots of Red Sox are due up contractually the next couple of years.  The pipeline is dry.

They needed to do more NOW.

Yeah, they can still make trades in August.  But it’s tougher.  And the Yankees, for one, will likely be able to block a waiver move, if they are so inclined.

I’m not saying Dombrowski didn’t try.  But the results are clearly underwhelming.  And it appears just about everyone else got better.  Not a good combination.

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Random Musings, Red Sox Style…

More bullet points!

*I know the Sox have the best record in baseball.  And maybe this alone gives Manager Alex Cora some leeway to “experiment”, if you will.  Because don’t you get the feeling he is doing that sometimes?

Well, other than with Blake Swihart…but we will chat about him in more detail later.

A couple of recent examples here.  Robby Scott has been buried in the minors all year.  He had options remaining.  But he isn’t very good either.  Cora brought him into a tie game last week in the eighth inning…when the rest of the “good” relievers were rested and available.  Scott promptly hit a guy and walked another.  Next thing you know, the game is lost.

Xander Bogaerts hurts a finger and for depth (and since the Sox were carrying 13 pitchers and only 12 position players), the team brings up Tzu-Wei Lin from Pawtucket.  Cora sticks Lin in the leadoff spot and Tzu-Wei promptly goes 0-4 with 2 K’s.  Oh, and Lin didn’t hit in his first go around here this year.  And…wait, he was at .299 in the minors?  A couple of weeks ago he was around .214.  Ok, so maybe he got hot.  But that doesn’t always translate to the majors of course.  Leadoff?!

I don’t know, sometimes it seems Cora is pulling stuff out of his arse like this often.  Like Brock Holt batting fifth in the same game as Lin hitting leadoff.  Just hope it doesn’t cost the team a game and then they lose the division by that game and as a result have to play in the Wild Card game.

*That all being said, I can’t say I have too many complaints about Cora overall this season.  Seems to be doing a pretty good job.  Of course, the league stinks.  But still…

*If there is anyone in the organization to complain about, it may be Dave Dombrowski.  The cupboard is bare in the minor leagues.  How are they going to get reinforcements for this stretch run?

Listen, I know guys like Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel are here because prospects were dealt to get them.  I also know that a proven major league player is better than a random prospect.  Many of these much-ballyhooed Red Sox prospects over the years end up being garbage.  Some are dealt before they become that.  Unfortunately, many have stayed in the Sox’ system too long and become garbage before they are moved.  But I’ll take a proven stud over a question mark most days of the week.

But damn, there appears to be less than zero left!  Their two best prospects are Jay Groome and Michael Chavis.  Groome had Tommy John surgery and Chavis got popped for PEDs.

So who is next?  Rusney Castillo?  Ugh…you just don’t hear any names for real prospects in the Sox’ system.  Does anyone have value?

I imagine we will find out over the next month or so leading up to the trading deadline.

*As for Castillo, I agree with some of the local talk radio hosts…Rusney deserves another chance in the bigs.  Well, “deserve” may be a strong word.  But have you seen the OPS’s in this lineup?

Jackie Bradley Jr., .581, Eduardo Nunez, .634, Christian Vazquez, .538…and on and on.

Can Rusney be worse?  And they are paying him like 11 mil this year anyway.  Bring him up and see what happens.

I don’t care if Bradley had three hits Sunday and Tuesday.  He has been abysmal.  And apparently has options remaining.  Yeah, the team has been winning and he plays great defense.  But enough is enough already.  Send him down to find his swing.  If he can.  I’ve said it before and will say it again:  He should have been dealt after his “All-Star” season in 2016.  Didn’t we know that’s the best we were going to get?  And that he is so damn streaky, it could only go downhill from there?  I did.  Sorry.  I did.

*If the Sox won’t bring up Castillo because they don’t want his contract to count against the luxury tax, which is what some believe, then do something else.  I say that something else is to play Blake Swihart every day for 3-4 weeks and give him a chance to get going.  Sure, his OPS of .388 is worse than everyone.  But I suppose that can happen when you are given a mere 80 plate appearances in 79 games up to this point.  While also being asked to play positions you’ve rarely played before.

I have no idea if this kid can play in the major leagues.  I have no idea why I seem to like him and really want him to play.  Perhaps because the Sox have kind of ruined his career by jerking him around?  Specifically in 2016, when he is the Opening Day catcher, drops a couple of foul balls in like the first 8 games, then they panic and dispatch him to Pawtucket (while also bringing up Vazquez, who missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery and clearly wasn’t ready to be back in the bigs at that point).  Then bring him back up later in the year and shoehorn him in the outfield and he busts his ankle in the summer.

This year, Cora says he wants Blake to be like Marwin Gonzalez…play all over the diamond and get close to 500 AB’s.  Yup…hasn’t happened.  In fact, Cora started him at catcher in one game then kind of blamed him for the pitch selection after the game.  Yup, that’s why Jalen Beeks got hammered.  Maybe he shouldn’t have given Blake the start behind the plate for the first time this year with a kid making his major league debut on the mound?

Or maybe my affinity for Blake is not to become another highly touted Sox prospect that has stayed in the organization too long and is eventually exposed and found to have no value.  Like…

*Brian Johnson!  His ship has sailed now that he is 27 years of age.  The last guy on the staff.  On top of that, clearly does not pitch well as a bullpen guy.  Maybe he wouldn’t as a regular rotation guy either.  But why bother?  Let him go to another team.

*And…Henry Owens!  Did you know Owens was completely out of baseball for a couple of weeks in May?  Me neither.  This guy was once “can’t miss”.  Boy did he miss…

*We covered Hanley a while back.  I was happy he was gone and that hasn’t changed.  But now with all this stuff coming out about him allegedly having major drug connections and all that, he has returned as a popular topic on the airwaves.  “With the Sox looking for a right-handed bat that can hit lefties, if this proves to be nothing, why wouldn’t they just re-sign him?” and “I don’t like the Sox releasing someone because of the money (if he got enough at-bats to vest his 2019 option)”…blah, blah, blah.

Hanley has not been good for most of his career here.  And not the greatest guy to have around, drug connections or no drug connections.  So please stop it!  They should have done everything they could to make sure that option didn’t vest.  It was stupid to play him every day right at the beginning of the season.

Let’s not all pretend we loved Hanley and NEED his bat.  For most of his tenure here it was “what bat?”.

*Joe Castiglione…we love you, man.  You’ve had a nice career.  But…I don’t know.  Sometimes I just can’t listen anymore.  Last week against the Twins, he was pointing out a fact that the Twins catchers had 17 RBI’s for the year.  And was seemingly surprised that the number could be so low.  Ummmmm, at the time, the Sox catchers had combined for 19 RBI’s on the year.  Just sayin’…

*I leave you with this:  With the Sox having some key contracts expire after 2018 & 2019, as well as some of their younger players due for big raises through the arbitration process.  Not to mention that barren farm system again.  My question is this:  Is it time to start taking offers on one Xander Bogaerts?  One more year of arbitration, then free agency after 2019.  Scott Boras as his agent.  A career that hasn’t taken off as many expected.

X has been decent.  But does the team break the bank to keep him under the circumstances?  Especially with the pitching staff in total flux over the next few years and no one coming from the farm?  And Mookie being due after 2020 on top of that?

I’m investigating this.  Are you?

We Interrupt…

…this prolonged period of silence to rejoice in the fact that HANLEY IS GONE!!!!  I know, the Celtics just lost Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, a truly impressive run; the Bruins are a few weeks removed from a fairly successful season of their own; the Red Sox currently have the best record in baseball and Tom Brady (plus Rob Gronkowski) is being a colossal baby.

But THIS is what brings the Blowhard out of hibernation??  Sure does!  It’s some of the better news we have gotten recently, as silly as this sounds.  But we feel the need to write something about it, no matter.  And we promise to cover the other stuff soon as well.

HANLEY IS GONE!!!  I’m sorry, that just felt good to say again.

Now, Hanley is not entirely gone yet.  Since being designated for assignment last Friday, he is still kind of in limbo.  I suppose there is always a chance Hanley could end up in Pawtucket, if he agrees to it, that is.  That would seem to be unlikely, however.  He will definitely clear waivers if he hasn’t already…no one is picking up that contract.  He could well be traded for a bag of baseballs and some batting practice pitcher screens.  But even though the club that acquires him would only be responsible for the major league minimum salary, this may not happen either.

In a few days, Ramirez will likely be released.  Ending a stint that gave the Sox .260/.326/.450 for a .776 OPS over 431 games over parts of 5 seasons with the team.  5 seasons?  Yup, Hanley had 2 AB’s (2 K’s) as a 21-year-old in 2005, the year before he was dealt as part of a trade for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and I think other flotsam.  Who remembered that?!  Not me…thank you Baseball-Reference.com!

Ok, so it’s really the 4 years, 88 mil that Hanley stole from the Sox from 2015-2018 that is the problem.  Sure, 2016 had some highlights.  But other than a few then, a colossal waste.

Left field was a disaster in 2015, and although we can’t entirely blame Ramirez because he shouldn’t have been stuck there, we CAN blame him for a complete lack of effort in trying to get better out there.  Jeez, guys like Mike Greenwell, Jim Rice and even Manny Ramirez became at least serviceable out there during there careers…for the 81 games in the small left field in Fenway anyway.  Hanley didn’t even try.

Hanley WAS serviceable at first base in 2016.  However, 2017 came and he basically refused to play there again.  There was some bogus shoulder injury or something.  Then in 2018 he comes in all ready to play first and was chirping about a 30/30 season or some nonsense along those lines.

I don’t think anyone who follows the team, specifically principal owner John Henry, wanted to see Hanley rack up the 497 plate appearances during the 2018 season, that would vest the 22 million dollar option for 2019.  Yet here he was in the lineup every day, middle of the order, and actually having a strong April.  Whoops.

Then Friday happened.  Did anyone see this one coming?  I think not.  The little leader in Dustin Pedroia was to be activated and I think everyone believed (former) prospect Blake Swihart would be the casualty.  I think the Sox took huge advantage of Hanley being 0 for his last 20 and down to .254/.313/.395 to make this move.  What if he was still hitting over .300?  Perfect timing.  I’d also call that “dodging a bullet”.

By giving Ramirez all of that playing time early on, they were playing with fire on that 2019 option.  What if he kept the hot April going and later in the year started approaching those 30/30 predictions?  Hanley looked to be in decent shape, seemed to be playing a good first base, appeared to have had a better attitude this year and all that.  You never know…especially when there is a carrot worth 22 million dangling in front of him.

The Sox lucked out that Hanley cooled off.  Simple as that.

Now, would losing Swihart have been the end of the world?  Most assuredly not.  He just would have gone on that long list of especially recent “hot prospects” that the Sox hung onto too long before everyone realized that…they weren’t really prospects after all.  So they haven’t even been able (or willing?) to trade high on them before they all flamed out.  Brian Johnson is one currently on the team.  But you know, Will Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini, Henry Owens, Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden, Ryan Lavarnway…the list is endless.  You can probably also throw in their top 2 2018 prospects in Jason Groome (Tommy John surgery recently) and Michael Chavis (80 game PED suspension)…but I digress…

Something about Blake I like though…but I could be wrong…since he is still being buried now.  We’ll see.

Ok, this looks like about 800 plus words and it was supposed to be just a few words to get back into the swing of things.  So Hanley Ramirez is gone and I am clearly happy.  But this Sox team still has a lot of the same unlikeable characters from last year.  This may explain why I am still not in love with the team despite their success thus far this year.  A story for a different day perhaps.

But if they could DFA David Price, Dustin Pedroia and Jackie Bradley Jr. also, that may help me a little bit…

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