…continuing on. Skipping the bullpen for now because I don’t want to be sick to my stomach. Actually, it works better on the word count for each column related to the roster projection, but I prefer to ignore that fact here. The bullpen is truly wretched. And should (WILL?!) make many fans sick this upcoming season.
Unquestioned starter: Christian Vazquez
Bench: Kevin Plawecki
Actual prospects that may contribute this season: None
Additional flotsam possibly seeing major league time this season: Jonathan Lucroy
Comments: Speaking of players unlikely to duplicate their 2019 performance…here comes Vasky!! 10 homers in parts of 4 major league seasons prior to last, then he hits 23. .246 career batting average, then .276 in 2019. Etc.
Actually, I like Vazquez and certainly wanted him playing over Sandy Leon last season at all costs. Just don’t expect any kind of repeat in 2020.
Plawecki. Leon, Lucroy…what’s the difference? I guess if Vazquez is going to catch 85-90% of the games, there is none.
Unquestioned starters: Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B)
Questioned starters: Mitch Moreland (1B), Jose Peraza (2B)
Bench: Michael Chavis (1B/2B/3B), Tzu-Wei Lin (2B/SS/3B/OF), Jonathan Arauz (2B/SS/3B)
DL: Dustin Pedroia (2B)
Actual prospects that may contribute this season: Bobby Dalbec (#3, 3B/1B), C.J. Chatham (#13, SS/2B)
Additional flotsam possibly seeing major league time this season: Marco Hernandez, Yairo Munoz
Comments: Devers had a breakout season last year at age 22. 54 doubles, 32 dingers, 201 hits, led the MAJORS in total bases and perhaps more surprisingly, had a .311 batting average (.254 in his first two years). Wow. Is that an early peak, or can we expect more big things going forward?
I think we would all be happy with simply a duplicate season. Devers has always been regarded as a great talent. But to even expect a duplicate season may still be a stretch.
That being said, let’s also see where his head is at, seeing that the Sox brass decided to reward him for last season by renewing his contract for less than 700k. No one asked the Sox to give him a fat long term extension. But to lowball him like that cannot be good. Just ask Mookie Betts how he liked it when the team did it to him.
I’d say Bogaerts had a breakout season as well. But he seemed to be trending that way after his very good 2018.
No question though that he took another giant leap forward. Then he actually signed a pretty team friendly long term extension himself. Surprising, but maybe that was pretty good foresight if he wants to settle here, what with the state of the organization…and the world…these days.
Even if they come back to Earth a bit, I don’t think we will have to worry too much about X and Raffy. Though the additional burden of trying to carry this team could pull them down a bit. Make no mistake, these guys will be expected to be the big producers. What about J.D. helping ease some of that burden, you ask? More on that later.
There seems to be some feel good stories about Peraza coming out now. I am not sure I care. As long as he can play a little defense, I should be good with anyone at that position. Well, except Pedroia, who still doesn’t know when it is time to retire. My feelings on Pedey are well known. So let’s move on…
Moreland was re-signed…and…I am actually ok with it. I can’t believe I just wrote this either. But for 2.5 mil and a 3 mil club option, really not a bad deal. Especially now, with the shortened season likely. He’s useful against right handed pitching, plays good defense, seems to be a good team/clubhouse guy and all that.
We don’t know what to expect from Chavis over a full season yet. Chavis is probably going to spend some time at second and perhaps third base as well. Dalbec is not likely ready this year, if ever. We are at least a couple of years away from Triston Casas (#2 Sox prospect). One more year of Mitch ain’t gonna kill anyone.
Lin makes the team because he is out of options and Arauz because he was a Rule V pick who needs to stay on the roster for the full season or be offered back to the club he was claimed from for half of the purchase price. You really don’t need both, so the expanded rosters at the start of the season, plus some injuries should give the team enough time to decide on which one to keep. Lin has been dabbling in the outfield the past year or so, so this may make him even more useful at the beginning of the season.
Hernandez has gotten some major league time and there is actually something about him I like. No idea why. But he was designated for assignment over the winter himself. No team in the majors appeared to like him as much as I did, so he will be toiling in Pawtucket for the time being. As will Munoz, a late spring signee after being dumped by the Cards. Can’t blame the Cards for dumping him actually. Yairo apparently felt that he wasn’t going to make the team (the first week of March he felt this) and just decided to fly back home to the Dominican Republic…without notifying anyone in the St. Louis organization. That’s a pretty solid way for a fungible reserve to get released, I would say.
I’d say that based on the circumstances, we will not see any of #1 prospect and the supposed jewel of the Mookie trade, Jeter Downs, this season. I am not sure we would have seen him anyway if this was a normal season.
And if you were hoping that Chad de la Guerra or Jantzen Witte were finally going to make it to the bigs, I’d say you’re bound to be disappointed as well. Sorry for this news.
Next: The conclusion…
We’ve covered the pitching, let’s move on to the rest of the roster:
Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez
No need to rock the boat here. Other than having Vazquez take more playing time away from Leon, that is. Last year, they essentially split time and hopefully that will be adjusted a smidge in the upcoming year. It would appear that these two will be the tandem again. I can live with that. Defensively, they are a solid duo. They threw out about 40% of base stealers, an impressive number in this era. Swihart at one point was a “can’t miss” prospect. Think that one missed. He will be 26 in April and catchers supposedly do develop late. But he has been injured in recent years and also jerked around by the team position-wise. His bat was his primary asset as a potential pretty good offensive catcher, but .190 in almost 200 at-bats in Pawtucket last year does not inspire confidence. I’m not sure if he has options left. If he does, he will likely go back to Pawtucket. If not, it wouldn’t surprise me if he played a ton in the spring to try to pump up his value and then shipped elsewhere before the season starts. Too bad.
Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Marco Hernandez (UT), Brock Holt (UT), Tzu-Wei Lin (UT), Deven Marrero (UT), Dustin Pedroia (2B), Hanley Ramirez (1B), Sam Travis (1B)
This is where some work needs to be done. Based on what the rest of the 25-man roster would look like all around at this very point in time, it would appear 7 of these 9 would have to make the squad. With Pedroia out injured until around June, that would seemingly leave everyone else but Lin on the major league roster. Not ideal. Bogaerts and Devers obviously set on the left side of the infield. Ramirez, in this scenario, remains the designated hitter. That puts Travis full-time at first. And a combination of Hernandez, Holt and Marrero holding the fort at second until Pedroia comes back. Ugh…
Dave Dombrowski insists that Hanley will be ready to play first base next spring. That may well be true in a physical sense. But does anyone really think that Hanley will be up for that plan? Travis looks like he may be able to hit a little. But I’m not sure he is the full-time solution. I don’t think the Sox think he is either. And that is a positive, because it would seem to spur the team on to make a major move involving a 1B or DH. Or an outfielder, but we will cover that in a second.
Speaking of second, I can even live with that combination of stiffs at second base for 60 games or so until Pedroia comes back. Does it really makes sense to go out and (re)sign a guy like Eduardo Nunez to a decent sized deal when you are locked into Dustin for like 14 per until 2021? I think not. I’d personally try to move Pedroia, but the knees, age, contract and 10/5 veto rights pretty much make that impossible. Dombrowski has been talking up Marco recently. But maybe that’s for trade purposes, who knows?
The move to be made at 1B/DH? Could be Eric Hosmer. But I’m not sure I want to spend a ton of dough on a good glove but someone who (other than batting average) may not even be a better hitter than what you had there last year in Mitch Moreland. Carlos Santana? Meh. Again, would seem to be too much money for not much of an upgrade. I don’t care how many home runs Logan Morrison had last year, he’s probably the last guy I want them to sign. Lucas Duda? Surely, you jest.
Hopefully there are some big bats that may be available that we don’t know about. Because I can’t say I totally love the names being thrown out there now.
Oh, and Xander? Part of me (actually, most of me at the present time) wants to unload him now. Underachievement for the last year and a half. Frustrating. But the rest of me tells me they have to keep him. 25-year-old shortstop that presumably has his best years ahead of him. Push comes to shove, I’d probably deal him in the right situation. But it has to be EXTREMELY right. I’m not giving him away. Though I really wanted to last year…
Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley (CF), Bryce Brentz (LF/RF)
On the surface, Benintendi-Bradley-Betts left to right would seem to suffice, right? But when teams are searching for a power bat, that bat may be in the outfield. Which would necessitate some sort of adjustment to this outfield alignment.
And no, even though Brentz hit 31 homers in Pawtucket last year, he is not the “power bat” that the Sox are looking to add. Or he shouldn’t be anyway. It’s a nice story, since Brentz was designated for assignment last summer and anyone could have claimed him for nothing. But a nice story is all it is. Dombrowski has been talking Brentz up as the 4th outfielder too. But I’m not even buying that at this time.
Obviously, newly minted National League Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton is the hot name out there for the power bat. All sorts of reports on him this past week…he wants to play on the West Coast and won’t approve of a trade to the Sox; that his reps are trying to get him to Boston because they think it will be the best fit, on and off the field; the Marlins want the world for him, even though he has almost 300 million left on his contract and on and on.
Stanton is the easy answer. He plays right field though. Right field in Fenway? I suppose if that’s what he wants. You could move Mookie back to center and keep Benny in left. Maybe Stanton would agree to play left and then you would move Benny to center. Giancarlo could of course DH, but he may not be ready to do that. Either way, if he comes here, those “problems” will likely work themselves out.
I’m all for Giancarlo, even if the price is somewhat high. I suppose it depends what “high” is, but the Sox should explore all options to get this done. J.D. Martinez? Ok…it’s only money for him I suppose. And the Sox print money. If it’s a fallback option, I guess you could do worse. Other names? Haven’t heard much. Again, you never know who may be available, so maybe it’s a name we haven’t heard yet.
Any way you slice it, a big bat is absolutely imperative. The Sox never really replaced David Ortiz last year. Huge hole there, to state the obvious. Where that bat comes in positionally, it doesn’t really matter. Things could be maneuvered to make it work. Bradley is one way things can be maneuvered. I’d look to move him. His ceiling has been reached. Especially offensively. His glove is nice, but can Mookie or Benintendi do at least 90% of that? I think so. And that should work out fine. There has been rumored interest in JBJ. If that is truly the case, I would strike while the iron is hot.
I’d actually like two bats, even if one is a little inferior to the other. Can’t have enough power. But, all in all, this may be the only move the Sox have to make. Some tweaks to the pitching staff, sure. But the big bat should be the one move the Sox should be all in on. Anything else after that should be gravy, no?