As promised, let’s moved on to the bats. Apparently, the 25 man roster was finalized Tuesday, though it won’t be announced until Opening Day to make sure no one stabs themselves with a pen or trips over a crack in the pavement or something. And…the offensive side of the ball could probably have been predicted correctly days ago by anyone who doesn’t even follow baseball. But that won’t stop the Blowhard from making his comments below!
Overall, it COULD be a strong group and SHOULD be a strong group. But there are some question marks on this side as well. But we will dive into that when we go through the positions.
Once again, we will be using the 40-man roster as a base, while adding in non-roster invitees (NRI) where (if) appropriate:
In: Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon
Comments: Well, that was easy. There are only three catchers on the 40-man roster. And one of them isn’t really a catcher anymore, I don’t think. We will talk about that in more detail later though. As for these two, you could do much worse. Both are serviceable offensively and defensively. Looks like Vasky will be around for a while for sure, as he just signed a fat extension…well, a fat one for him anyway. Leon is never going to hit like he did a couple of years back, but he won’t kill you at the dish. In this lineup, batting ninth, I don’t think we really care about their offense anyway, right?
In: Hanley Ramirez (1B), Eduardo Nunez (2B), Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Mitch Moreland
DL: Dustin Pedroia, Marco Hernandez
Minors: Tzu-Wei Lin, Sam Travis, Ivan DeJesus Jr. (NRI)
Comments: No-brainers here as well, especially after trading Deven Marrero to Arizona a few days back. Believe it or not, we will talk more about Marrero later. DeJesus had zero shot at making the team in reality. But I thought I’d give him some props in this piece since he hit almost .400 this spring. I still have no idea why the team re-signed Moreland, not to mention giving him 2 years. I know, Hanley is always a question mark and the Sox did not have J.D. Martinez in the fold yet. But I think the whole world knew that JD was eventually going to sign here. And that he was likely to spend more time DHing than in the outfield. Thus pushing Hanley to first base…I mean, if he felt like playing the field that is. Because you know he didn’t feel like playing first last year. The shoulder hurt of course. Yup.
Anyway, lots of questions here still. Which Hanley will show up? Nunez should be a more than capable substitute for Pedroia, then a more than capable reserve after Dustin comes back. But he signed late. Is there still concern about his knees? Devers splashed onto the scene last year. Can he take the next step? And perhaps most importantly, will Xander finally reach the supposed unlimited potential that he was earmarked long ago for? Or will he continue to disappoint?
My take? Hanley will be extraordinarily average. But that’s ok since we don’t want him to get the 497 plate appearances he needs to trigger his 2019 option. Goodbye already, as far as I’m concerned. Nunez will be just fine. Devers will have some ups and downs but will be spelled enough by a few guys on the roster so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed. Though I will say, it would not shock me that if he starts somewhat slow, he could find his way back to Pawtucket for more seasoning. As for Bogaerts? Your guess is as good as mine. Plenty of people think manager Alex Cora will fix him. I am not convinced. Earlier in the spring, X seemed to balk at changing his approach. You know the one where he took so many pitches right down the middle of the plate. Maybe that has changed since it looks like he has had a decent spring. But we will see when the lights shine for real.
In: Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF)
Minors: Rusney Castillo (NRI)
Comments: Defensively? Hard to top. Offensively? We will see. Benny should take another step up, in my opinion. I’m hoping Betts rebounds himself. “Rebounds”, I know. Betts finished 6th in the MVP vote last year. But, in all seriousness, did he deserve that? The Blowhard says absolutely not. But we know he has all the tools. Let’s hope he uses them to their full capacity again. Bradley flat-out stinks. He should have been traded the winter after the 2016 season after what most assuredly will be his career year. But I suppose I’m biased. I’ve never liked him. Sure, his D is awesome. But can’t Betts and/or Benintendi play center at least at 85-90% of JBJ’s ability? I think so. I’m also not saying that the Sox should have kept Bryce Brentz to play left…or even play JD full-time in the outfield. I’m just venting I guess. The 7 for 46 (.152) this spring doesn’t help either. Rusney had a good spring and he also seems like he’s a better player than when he first got here. But it looks like he will make his 12 mil again this year in Pawtucket. Just another 12 mil in 2019 and a little over 14 mil in 202o to go on his deal. Solid. Wait…maybe he won’t exercise that 202o player option…ummmmm, nevermind.
Designated Hitter (1):
In: J.D. Martinez
Comments: I honestly did not love the Martinez deal…though if it turns out to be a two-year deal, then it makes it more palatable. That being said, this dude better hit some bombs. He also better not chirp about not playing the outfield much. And Cora better not feel pressure to put him in the outfield much. Let the record show that he hit zero dingers in camp this year. I’ll give him the late start. As well as the fact that he hit over .300. But I’ll be skeptical of this signing…unless it works out of course.
In: Brock Holt, Blake Swihart
Comments: I can’t really call these guys infielders, outfielders or even catchers in Swihart’s case. These guys will play multiple positions. Well, Swihart allegedly will. We really don’t know if he actually can. We know he won’t catch much. The pitchers don’t like to throw to him. Hard to believe he will catch at all under those circumstances. I wonder if he will get much in the form of at-bats overall. Cora talks about using Blake similar to the way the Astros use Marwin Gonzalez. But 500 plate appearances? I don’t see it. Welp, the Sox have already done what they could to ruin his career, so I suppose they can tack on some more of that this year. In all fairness, I suppose the team’s hand was forced with Swihart being out of options. But still…
You were waiting for the part where we would talk more about Deven Marrero? Here it is! We think the Sox should have kept him over Holt. Marrero can’t hit worth a damn. But his glove alone was worth keeping him in tow. Especially considering the infield defense (minus Pedroia) is questionable at best. And Devers may be the first third basemen to have 100 errors in a season. Ok, a little hyperbole there. But you get the point. Holt can play several positions half-decently, but none exceptionally. Marrero could occupy the 25th spot on the roster and be a defensive replacement every game if necessary. Only let him hit when you have to. There is some value in that, believe it or not. Holt may have been useful in 2014 & 2015. But not so much in 2016 & 2017. And has some concussion/vertigo issues. We know what he is. I would’ve moved on.
So there are the initial thoughts on the 2018 Red Sox. Lots of talent, but also lots of injuries and lots of questions. There’s only one more thing to say…LET’S PLAY BALL!!
…as far as what moves the Boston Red Sox should make coming up to the Major League Baseball non-waiver trading deadline on Monday.
What, you thought Eduardo Nunez was enough?
I didn’t. Actually, I don’t even really want Nunez here. It’s not like he’s going to make a huge difference, for one. I don’t care how hot the Sox brass tells me he has been in recent weeks. There’s a bigger reason I don’t particularly want him here…and we will get to that. Since the Sox didn’t give up really anything for him (Gregory Santos? Shaun Anderson?), I suppose it can’t hurt to have him around though. I mean, with Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge, Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero still hanging around on the team or close down the road in Pawtucket, it can’t ever hurt to have more utility infielders than you can handle, right? Oh wait, Nunez and Holt are All-Stars…nevermind…
Anyway, my view of what the Red Sox should do prior to the trading deadline will be much different from what actually happens. Why? Because I’d actually consider selling. And with the Sox in first place, there is no way the organization will do that. They will be buyers.
But this team is more than another 1B/DH bat and a reliever or two away from winning a championship. In my opinion anyway. Sure, the American League is mediocre. Apparently it is Houston and everyone else at this point. So the Sox brass will surely say, “we get in the playoffs and anything can happen”. And they are probably right.
However, they won’t be the only team trying to improve themselves before Monday. In fact, the Yankees, Twins, Royals, Mariners and Rays have themselves made deals already. None of them would probably considered blockbusters, but those players should help all those clubs. In addition, I don’t believe the Indians have hit their stride as of yet. Maybe the Royals too, though their pitching is suspect, to be kind.
Then you have the National League. Which looks like the Dodgers and Nationals. Oh, and the Cubs. The Cubbies have been heating up and I expect them to continue to.
So you’ve got the competition being one reason I don’t believe the Sox are winning anything. Then you have the team itself. Which, other than a select few, is underachieving. Or are they? We think Xander Bogaerts is underachieving. But maybe he is what he is…a decent shortstop with little power, but will hit around .300 every year. Seems to me the way he is trending. Mookie Betts has some numbers, but it feels like he should be more. Jackie Bradley Jr. is definitely what he is and no more…great defensive outfielder with some power. But not really feared when he has the bat in his hands. Andrew Benintendi has had a fairly good year…but he ain’t there yet. You could do worse for catchers but they aren’t world beaters. Etc.
Bottom line is that this lineup isn’t scaring anyone. Hard to believe basically just subtracting David Ortiz from the equation caused this much of a drop off, but…
Now, the pitching. Chris Sale has been otherworldly. But he has faded down the stretch in his career. And does anyone really expect him to keep up this pace? David Price? Ugh…more on him in a moment. Rick Porcello apologists like to point to the fact that the Sox offense hasn’t scored while he was on the mound in like 10 of his starts. But they conveniently forget his mid 4 ERA. And the fact he won a lot of games in 2016 because he got like 16 runs a game to support him…therefore always pitching with a huge lead and…no pressure. And…how many bombs has he given up this year? Eduardo Rodriguez…can he be trusted? Drew Pomeranz has been better than expected. But does anyone expect him to have continued good health the rest of the way?
By the way, the rest of the starters behind them? Some combination of Brian Johnson, Doug Fister, Kyle Kendrick or Hector Velasquez. Yikes! Wait, no Henry Owens? Nope. He walked 60 guys in 69 innings in Pawtucket before getting DEMOTED to Portland (AA). He’s walked 23 in 20.2 innings down there. With a 5.23 ERA. In 5 starts. Yup, about 4 innings a start. A former can’t miss prospect…that clearly missed. Par for the course it seems with the Sox organization. Sure guys have come up and played well. But they have seemingly had so many “can’t miss” guys over they years that they refuse to trade and then they just suck in the end. Subject for a different day.
Lastly, the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel has been as awesome in his role as Sale has been in his. But that’s about it as far as bullpen arms that inspire confidence. I’m not even going through the rest of the jamokes that have rotated out there all year. The bullpen has been surprisingly good this season, I will admit, even with Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes being your other late inning guys. And sometimes Heath Hembree. But…c’mon. I don’t want those guys anywhere near the mound late in games when the pressure mounts as the playoff race heats up. Maybe Carson Smith is coming back…wait, I doubt that. Tyler Thorn…nevermind.
So combine all of the above with what I wrote yesterday…about clubhouse turmoil and an inept manager…and I’m selling at the deadline. It’s really hard for me to root for this team now. They are pretty much unlikable from top to bottom. A big part of me doesn’t even care what happens the rest of this year. I’m almost onto the Patriots already and they just opened camp. Depressing, but true.
In any event, once again, they will not sell and probably none of what is proposed here will happen in real life. But just for sh%ts and giggles, this is what has been going through my mind this week on the moves I would like to make. If not at the deadline, then maybe the offseason. In no particular order:
*Trade David Price. Yes because he is an arseclown, whiner and all of that. But also because his elbow may well explode at some point. We all know he may need Tommy John surgery at some point. If he blows out his elbow here in September and isn’t around the club all of 2018 and then opts out of his contract and gets out of Dodge, that may be a win-win situation as well. But perhaps they can cut all that off and get something for him now.
Impossible you say? Maybe not. If teams treat him like he has one year and change left on his contract and is sure to opt out when he can, maybe someone will jump. Maybe a team with World Series aspirations and deep pockets will do it anyway. Perhaps the Dodgers will bail the Sox out again? Clayton Kershaw is out for several weeks now. Hmmmmmm…the Nationals with Stephen Strasburg out, supposedly only for one start, but…the Cubs, with their rotation struggling a bit (and knowing Jake Arrieta is probably coming off the books after this year).
Price wants to be moved, that much is clear. Would the Sox consider it? Would anyone bite? I do not think it will happen. But it IS certainly possible to move that contract. More than people think. That’s what I believe anyway.
*Keep Rafael Devers in the majors and give him the majority of starts at 3B. With Nunez here I doubt he plays much and I believe he will be shipped back to Pawtucket soon enough. Too bad. What have they got to lose by playing him? Well, if he produces like Yoan Moncada did last year, maybe it’s a mistake. But you know who was absolutely putrid in 95 plate appearances in 2016 down the stretch? Aaron Judge. .179 average, .608 OPS and 42 of his 69 outs were K’s. I’m not saying Devers will be Judge next year if he gets major league experience this year. But it may be in the teams’ best interest long-term if Devers takes his lumps in the majors the rest of 2017.
*Release Mitch Moreland and Chris Young. Recall Sam Travis and…gulp…Rusney Castillo. Maybe you can trade Moreland and/or Young to a contender for some fungo bats and used baseballs. And if Moreland has truly sucked the last month or so because his toe is broken, then maybe just put him on the DL. But I have no use for these two really. Young’s contract is up after this year, and he isn’t really good. Add to the fact that this veteran was apparently one of Price’s biggest backers in the Eck thing…see ya. Let’s see if Travis can hit in the bigs. Let’s also see if Rusney can be salvaged. He seems to have been playing well in AAA and supposedly can play all the OF positions still. Why the hell not?
*Release Allen Craig, Jhonny Peralta and Pablo Sandoval. Oops…already done. So there are a few positives.
*Release Doug Fister. Kind of obvious. But I’m covering everything.
*Give Brian Johnson Price’s rotation spot through the rest of the year. This guy throws junk and I’m not convinced he will ever make it. But he has shown some flashes. Not sure what he has left to prove in the minors. He’s 26 years old. Let’s see what he can do. And if he’s truly part of the future.
*Fire John Farrell. Another obvious one. Nothing more needs to be said here.
*Trade Hanley Ramirez. Good luck. A guy that really doesn’t care. Or that cares once in a blue moon. Maybe they can sell his contract to Japan or something. Or to Manny’s Korean team.
*Trade Xander Bogaerts. WHAT?! Ok, it’s not that simple. And it’s something that should be investigated in the offseason and not over the next few days.
I have no real particular issue with X. Disappointed with his progress, or lack thereof. Maybe the reason for his poor performance lately is the ball he took off the hand. But how do we explain before that? His numbers are down across the board this year…since the All-Star Game in 2016, to be exact.
He will be 25 on October 1st. Still plenty of time to tap into that talent he supposedly has. But what do we have so far? A .300ish hitter with doubles power who plays a decent, if unspectacular shortstop? If that is what he ultimately is, will he be worth all the money that Scott Boras will want in his first big contract? Nope.
I’d rather give a boatload of money to Betts. Perhaps Andrew Benintendi earns some money down the road too. And Devers…if he pans out of course. Bradley Jr.? Sure, but he should come cheaper. If not? Work on moving him and put either Betts or Benintendi in center. That conversation can come later however.
One huge thing to consider is that the Sox need some power. How will they get it? Seems like a trade is the only way. Have to give up something to get something. If teams are still enamored by Bogaerts’ potential, doesn’t that make him a prime candidate to go? Especially considering all of the above.
Taking a look at the current 40-man roster, who is untouchable? Sale, Betts, Devers (for now), probably Benintendi and Kimbrel. Who else? Bogaerts is probably next on the list. Someone like him may be able to be packaged with a little more to get that proven power bat…whoever that may be. Everyone always points to Giancarlo Stanton, since Miami is always selling players off and he has a huge deal. But there may be someone else available for the right price that we don’t know about.
I’m not trying to run X out-of-town. But, you have to admit, something like that may make sense.
That’s about it on the suggestions. What, nothing about Dustin Pedroia? After yesterday’s piece? Yeah, trouble is, I love him on the field. Not to mention he will be 34 in August. And is a 10/5 guy. Not sure he will waive his rights to not be traded. Or if the Sox can get any value for him anyway. Looks like he is here to stay. Maybe he will eventually grow up though…
…well, I actually hate to use serious words for something sports related. Kind of like calling anyone in the sports world a “hero”. Sports figures are not heroes. Law enforcement personnel, doctors, soldiers…now, those are real heroes. I guess it’s how you personally choose to define the word yourself. But I am already digressing…
What we are talking about here involves the Boston Red Sox. Maybe a better word is “toxic”. I don’t know. Either way…though the Sox are in first place in the American League East, as well as having the second best record in the entire AL, something doesn’t seem right.
And it goes deeper than this whole David Price fiasco. Which David Price fiasco? Take your pick I suppose. There is the one that involves confronting Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on the team plane roughly a month ago. But once the specific details came out this week in a Boston Globe piece, the story has taken on new life. You’ve all heard and read what apparently happened, so no need to rehash those details.
But combine that with Price yelling at reporters weeks before the Eck incident, his social media whining and everything else that has gone along with him…that’s kind of the tip of the iceberg. Heck, there was even a rumor being thrown out there yesterday that Price almost came to blows with manager John Farrell at some point in the spring…with General Manager Dave Dombrowski present. I think that one may be a little far-fetched, but with Price, who knows?
What I do know is that apparently 217 mil does not give you thicker skin. Price never should have come to Boston. Sure, he couldn’t turn down the cash…and the Players Association probably wouldn’t have let him (a la A-Rod when he was going to take discounted cash to come to Boston years ago). But he clearly can’t handle Boston. And it seems as if he is trying his hardest to be moved now…though the likelihood of him being traded is slim to none…and that’s closer to none. Our best bet to be rid of this tool is for him to pitch well over the next year-plus and opt out. I know, that means another year-plus of this clown. May be the only avenue though. How many playoff losses do you think he can accumulate before then?
Enough about Price himself. The most disturbing thing about the airplane incident with the Eck is that supposedly a great deal of players applauded Price being an A-hole. So people’s feelings were hurt because Eck made some critical comments? Grow the F up. Athletes today are worse than ever. Can’t say a bad thing about them or they lash out. Please. The funny thing about it was that Eck was just commenting on a poor Eduardo Rodriguez rehab start. Just saying “yuck” when that particular pitching line came on the screen. That’s all it allegedly took for Price to lose it? Amazing. How ’bout just recognizing that it was fact? That the start was indeed actually poor? Yeah, why would anyone do that?
Eck is no doubt more critical of players than pretty much any game analyst across the country…probably in any sport. But is he THAT critical? Maybe. I don’t hear every inning of every game he calls. Or all his studio work. But I doubt it. Players are just babies now. I don’t know if it’s because it evolves from the “everyone gets a trophy as a young athlete” mentality or not. But it’s a discouraging trend to say the least. Social media ain’t helping things either.
Moving on…I didn’t want this whole piece to be about Price. Just couldn’t help myself. But when I say “toxic” as well, there is more to consider. Hanley Ramirez, for one. He’s finally playing first base on a regular basis…glad he finally agreed to. But how long will it last? I’m not counting on it being long. D-O-G. I’d love for him to be out-of-town as well. At least he’s hitting some bombs again. Though they may be the quietest 17 dingers you’ve ever seen.
John Farrell? Ship him out too. Though that is old news for me. How many times can I say it? Managing is bad, clubhouse may be bad, every time he flaps his gums…yup…bad. But you know how I feel. Nothing more needs to be said. Although…have you noticed what Torey Lovullo is doing in Arizona with essentially the same roster the team had in 2016? Just sayin’…
You know who else I am down on? Dustin Pedroia. No, say it ain’t so you will say. But things are starting to add up. On the field, he is a gamer, absolutely no doubt. Battles every second, offensively and defensively. He seems to be the only guy hitting recently, to boot.
But Pedroia “behind the scenes”? Starting to lose some luster…to me anyway. The whole Manny Machado thing earlier this year where he seemed to throw his teammates under the bus. From all reports, he apparently supports Price’s antics. Bobby Valentine was an assclown for sure. But when Pedroia confronted him with the whole “we don’t do that here…” nonsense, what was that? He’s the player, Valentine was the manager. Deal with it. Leadership? Where was ol’ Dusty back in 2011 when the team was folding down the stretch and cost that manager (Terry Francona) his job? Where was Jason Varitek’s leadership that year as well…but that’s a story for a different day.
This last paragraph may rile some people up. Too bad. Again, completely and wholeheartedly appreciate Pedroia’s game on the field. His “off-field” stuff has bothered me for a while. And this year it has seemed to elevate to a new level. My opinion…
These are the players that stick out to me…plus the manager. For the clubhouse type stuff anyway. Maybe there’s more. And there probably is. But we may never hear any specifics on those players. These veterans are kind of the easy ones to point to of course.
I will say that all the crap above is not the only reason “something doesn’t seem right”, as noted earlier. The squad essentially only lost David Ortiz from last years’ lineup. And all of a sudden the rest of them can’t hit? Kind of inexplicable, no? As noted previously, Pedroia has been in line with his career numbers and has hit very well the last month or so. But everyone else has regressed. Yes, even Mookie Betts. I have no idea what the hell is up with Xander Bogaerts. I expected another step up from last years’ numbers. Nope. You can run through the rest of the lineup and see the same things.
The trading deadline is Monday. Despite my feelings above, the Sox are indeed in first place. What would I do? Glad you asked. But since I rambled on about Price and bad mojo in general, that will have to wait another day…