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Boston Red Sox Roster Projection…

…that time of year again.  Kind of…I guess COVID-19 will tell us when it’s that time again…

In any event, we were planning to do this three, four, five weeks or so ago (I have kind of lost track of time, to be honest), before MLB shut down.  Let’s do it anyway.  Not sure how much change there will be in the end regardless.

And based on the bums listed on the pitching staff on the current 40-man roster, I imagine we will see most of them throughout the year at some point anyway…on top of several others not on the 40-man or not even here, to be honest.  One right off the bat, sad to say.

Actually, looking at the Red Sox active roster as it stands, it looks like the roster is actually set.  There are only 28 names on it.  Once the season starts, I believe that teams will be able to carry 29 guys for at least a short period of time.  So there’s that.

For these purposes, we will go with the original rule of having 26 guys on the Opening Day roster.  Still not going to make much of a difference.

Who knows when the season will start, or if there even will be a season?  The prospects for the 2020 Boston Red Sox season weren’t exactly glowing anyway.  Maybe a shortened season would help them?

There is talk about still trying to play as many games as possible.  With playing 7 inning doubleheaders.  Games in neutral spots.  All teams playing in one, perhaps remote location with no fans, and players sitting six feet apart in the stands.  Pitch clocks and different changes that NO ONE in baseball would EVER consider in a normal season.  A player even suggested playing the only the 10th inning in a tie game, then having a Home Run Derby to decide the outcome.  Amazing.  Baseball hasn’t exactly been quick to adopt any changes over the years to catch up with other sports.  To get young people back interested in the game.  And all that.

I mean, the changes would only be temporary.  This season only, more than likely.  But if some of these potential changes work, perhaps they can be long term changes as well?

But back to the Sox.  Maybe some of these proposed changes help them.  After trading Mookie Betts (doesn’t that seem like 3 years ago now?) and David Price, losing Chris Sale for the season, letting Rick Porcello go while adding no real relievers (or starters either, now that I think of it), most people think that their prospects for success are minimal this season.  Myself included.

The lineup should still be stout enough.  But the pitching frightens me.  And I absolutely wanted Price out of town at any cost.  The minor leagues should not provide a ton of help anytime soon.  So 2020 appears to be a “bridge year”.  Or the first of a few bridge years, to be honest.

There will be more analysis on the actual season once we get closer to figuring out if there is an actual season.  For now, we will just focus on who projects to break camp with the big club.

Starting with the aforementioned bums on the pitching staff:

Starting Rotation:

The far from “Fearsome Five”:  Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Ryan Weber, Brian Johnson

DL:  Chris Sale, Collin McHugh

Actual prospects that may make starts this season:  Tanner Houck (#10 Red Sox prospect), Kyle Hart

Additional flotsam likely to make a start or five this season:  I honestly do not see anyone else inside the organization on the current 40-man roster, any of the non-roster Spring Training invitees or on the Top 30 prospect list that would be a candidate to start any games with the big club this season.  Would have to be someone from outside the organization.  Or a collection of “openers”.  Or one guy that will start in the bullpen this season that we will talk more about in that group.  This, my friends, is quite frightening.  And, quite frankly, unacceptable.  Especially for a big market club with plenty of resources.  Sigh…

Comments:  Yikes!!  Eddie Rodriguez goes from a nice depth starter, someone with potential but who seemed to always have nagging injuries that kept him out way longer than it seemed they should, to a staff ace?  Hard to figure.  Sure, E-Rod had a real nice year last year.  And should have won 20 games, if it wasn’t for Matty Barnes in his last start.  But all of a sudden to anoint him the “ace” seems a bit much.  That being said, what is the other choice??

Eovaldi will always be remembered warmly in this region, and certainly by myself, for his performance in the 2018 playoffs.  But he is also injury-prone.  And has thrown more than 155 innings ONCE in his career.  Now he’s cemented into the #2 slot.

Perez is eminently average.  Weber has pitched 42 major league games and only 11 of them are starts.  It appears that the most innings he has pitched in a season is 128.  That was in 2015.  And 100 of them were in AA & AAA.  Plus, he stinks.

Speaking of stinking, Johnson seemed to have the lead for the #5 spot when we last were paying attention.  BRIAN F’NG JOHNSON?!!  This guy couldn’t break a pane of glass.  More importantly, he really has never been able to get anyone out.  Not to mention the fact that he was designated for assignment over the winter by the Sox…and not a single team wanted anything to do with him.  So he is back on a minor league deal.  And appears to be the #5 starter.  This is incredible to me.

Additionally, the Sox have no one “waiting in the wings” to actually provide competition once one or (likely) more of these guys fail or get hurt.  Houck is only 23 years old and MAYBE has potential.  Hart is 27 and it’s doubtful he does.

Sale is on the Injured List, as we know.  Waiting until late March to have the Tommy John surgery he needed probably 6 plus months ago (giving him the benefit of the doubt here) will cost him this season and at least part of the 2021 slate.  McHugh?  Are we really counting on him to add to the rotation?  Whenever he gets back from his injury, that is.  Last time I read something on him, no one even knew when that would be.

This is an absolute DISASTER.  Even if Chief Baseball Office Chaim Bloom brings the “opener” strategy with him from Tampa, this is still ugly.  With all the money owner John Henry has and Boston being a big market team, this is laughable.  I cannot even comprehend how these guys think entering the season with this rotation is an option.

But it’s happening.  Brace yourself.

Next:  Some of the bats.

Pure Unadulterated Gibberish…Conclusion…

Continuing on with more nonsense from the piece the other day…

*While we were talking about trade deadlines for the Celtics, we are less than impressed with the Danny Ainge’s winter partner, Boston Bruins GM Donnie Sweeney’s performance.

Donnie Hockey was able to unload Danton Heinen and his putrid contract (that Sweeney gave Heinen of course).  But Ondrej Kase?  Nick Ritchie?

Underwhelming.

Yeah, they both have “term” left on their contracts.  Love how “term” has become a hot word at each NHL trading deadline in recent years.  But a first round pick for Kase?

I guess unloading David Backes in that deal was a positive too…but the Bs are still on the hook for 3 mil of his dough.

And Kase doesn’t exactly have a storied NHL history, except for being injured.  Haven’t seen him do much since he’s been here either…other than him getting sent to the box for embellishment on Saturday night.

Sure it’s only been a handful of games.  But Kase isn’t what I envisioned for a second line right wing.  The pundits seem to love the deal and him in particular, so I guess I’ll have to give it time.  What else can I do?

Ritchie…whatever.  Heinen is gone and that makes his deal an overall plus.  But he’s miscast on the second line, I can tell you that much.

The Bruins needed scoring and they simply didn’t get it.  With Jake DeBrusk in a long funk and the Bruin power play scuffling a bit in recent games, the lack of scoring punch has been exacerbated perhaps.

I suppose nothing will matter if Tuukka plays like he has been for the most part recently…giving up some nice softies.

The Bs will be alright.  But how far “alright” takes a team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen.  At least they didn’t give up any of their highly touted kids.  Though a lot of their most recent highly touted kids haven’t exactly panned out…so there’s that.

Especially if they suffer from the “President’s Trophy Curse.”  Also especially, if the Tampa Bay Lightning are on a mission to avenge the first round sweep last season after winning the President’s Trophy last year and setting records in the process.  With or without Steven Stamkos.

*NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION SOCCER!!!  Started Saturday.  I’m excited!!  Are you??!!

Wait a minute, no I’m not.

And guess what?  They played to a tie in their opener.

Shocker.

*XFL.  Still no interest.

Moving on.

*The Patriots have OTHER free agents besides Tom Brady?

GO FIGURE!!

We kind of went through it all 6 weeks ago or so.  But we will take another look as the onset of free agency is upon us.

It goes without saying that I don’t think anyone really cares about the likes of Phillip Dorsett, Elandon Roberts and Shilique Calhoun.  Or even Danny Shelton, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner or Justin Bethel.  I’d say the same about Ted Karras.

At least I feel that way.

After Brady, the key four are Joe Thuney, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Devin McCourty.  Love to have them all back.  And I may actually pay Van Noy.  And slightly overpay McCourty for his leadership.

I have a hard time seeing any of that though.  Especially if Brady leaves.  The Pats may let them ALL walk as part of a total rebuild.

Thuney for sure is gone.  He will command huge dollars.  And the Pats already paid their other guard, Shaq Mason, huge dollars.  Even though the offensive line was fairly putrid overall last season, the feeling here is that they can plug in another serviceable guard for a fraction of Thuney’s cost.

I’d be wary of handing Collins another huge contract.  He wanted one the first time around here.  Got dealt for pennies on the dollar.  Then signed a huge deal with Cleveland.  And didn’t seem to make much of an impact.  He was dominant on a cheap contract early last year.  But the competition was weak.  He sort of disappeared as the schedule got tougher.

I really would consider paying Van Noy.  He fits well in the system and has turned into a very good player.  But at 16 mil plus, will the Pats pay him?  I have my doubts.

If anyone gets overpaid, it’s Devin.  But how much is too much?  He was extremely overpaid in his last deal.  He is getting up there in age.  Who is going to open the vault for him?  His leadership is invaluable, but how much is that worth?  His brother Jason is due 5.5 mil, a ton for him.  The Pats are supposed to keep him at that number.  But what if they don’t?

I do feel like Devin and the Pats work something out.  Maybe at the expense of all the other free agents.  But maybe for the leadership, it will be worth it.

That all being said, it still comes down to Brady.  If he walks, this team could possibly look entirely different next season.  Even if Brady stays it will look different.  But it could be drastic if he goes.

Fun times indeed!

*Last but not least, YOUR BOSTON RED SOX!!

Speaking of fun times!!

This honestly will be a whole nutha column upcoming.

But the Chris Sale situation last week was fun, wasn’t it?

Look, I am not a doctor, but the guy is still going to need Tommy John surgery at some point, no?  So why are they messing around?  Just do it, get him recovered and back for…I guess 2022.  He honestly should have had it last year.  All reports seem to indicate that anyway.

Ownership and Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom can call it what they want.  But this year is some sort of bridge year, right?

The offense should still be fine.  But the pitching staff?  Gross.  Especially if Sale eventually is shut down…which EVERYBODY expects.

Eduardo Rodriguez had an awesome year last year.  But would anyone be surprised if he goes something like 13-11, 4.28 this year?  I won’t.

Counting on Nathan Eovaldi to be a key guy?  Not a great idea.

And the nickel and diming the Sox brass just did to Rafael Devers?  In case you missed it, the team “came to an agreement” with all of their pre-arbitration players on contracts.  Like 20 of them or something.

The Sox “renewed” Devers’ contract.

Big difference.

Yes, the Red Sox are completely within their rights to renew contracts when they can’t come to an agreement otherwise.

But to do it to one of your best players?  Stupid.

If Raffy was asking for 10 million this year, ok.  But I am betting he wasn’t.  Probably more than the almost 700k he got.  But seeing as how all these players have to kind of “pay their dues” before they get PAID, I am betting it wasn’t an outrageous ask.  Something should have been able to have been worked out with his agent.

Again, stupid.  Great way to alienate your players.

Just ask Mookie Betts.

Just like Betts, and especially if he keeps trending up, Devers is going to remember this one.

Guaranteed.

Again, more on the Sox coming up.

But who is excited about the upcoming season?

Not many, I am afraid…

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.

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