…wrapping things up…
The gasoline club: Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, Marcus Walden, Josh Taylor, Darwinzon Hernandez, Austin Brice
Actual prospects that may contribute this season: I’d normally say Bryan Mata (#4), perhaps with a cup of coffee to give him a brief taste, but with the state of the world, the uncertain status of the season and the fact that he is not on the 40-man roster at the current time, the chances are probably slim. No other prospects will be up this year. Even if you are rooting for Jay Groome (#7) to make it up. Sorry.
Additional flotsam likely to make an appearance or twenty this season: Check this list out: Colten Brewer, Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, Josh Osich, Mike Shawaryn, Jeffrey Springs, Phillips Valdez, Trevor Hildenberger, Mike Kickham, Bobby Poyner…and just about anyone else off the scrap heap. Luminaries.
Comments: It would be one thing entering the season with a rotation like they are if they had a bunch of good bullpen arms.
But guess what? No can do with that.
Who in the world expects Workman to duplicate last season? Or even approach it? Barnes is useful, especially if not overworked. But what are the chances that doesn’t happen again with this motley crew? Plus, he’s nowhere near a closer. So if Workman returns to Earth, who’s next? Brasier? We’ve seen that movie before. There’s simply no one else capable of closing on the staff.
Hernandez should be in the rotation, as referred to in the starters’ analysis, despite being fairly electric out of the ‘pen last season in his stint with the club. Of course, he walked way too many guys, so there’s still some work to be done. Perhaps he should be starting games in Pawtucket this year instead of pitching the 5th-6th inning once a week in Boston. Maybe he can close? But again…the walks…
Walden had a nice run until late last year. There are reasons why guys like him and Brasier spend a decade in the minors. We are likely to see why with Marcus this year. And started to late last season. Hembree is a great 4th-6th inning guy. Taylor was a surprise and I’d like to see more. But I said that about Travis Lakins too…and Lakins is long gone. Brice? Whatever.
The last group of names starting with Brewer? Yuck. But they will all pitch innings for the big club this year. Provided there is some sort of length to the season. Actually, even with a half a season they all should make an appearance.
That should excite no one.
This entire staff is kind of putrid. And any kind of injury to one or two of the “better” arms would be an even bigger nightmare. The team is not going to trade any prospects to get better arms, so forget about that. Not sure I want them doing that anyway.
So what you see is what you will get. Once again, brace yourself…
Unquestioned starters: Andrew Benintendi (LF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF), Kevin Pillar (RF), J.D. Martinez (DH)
DL: Alex Verdugo (LF/CF/RF)
Actual prospects that may contribute this season: Marcus Wilson (#21)
Additional flotsam possibly seeing major league time this season: None
Comments: Yup, no Mookie Betts here…so I guess it is official. I suppose it truly won’t be official until we see Pillar in his spot on Opening Day. But still…and I guess by then it could still be Verdugo in right instead. Methinks that with Alex’s back injury and he being young and a big part of the Mookie deal, that the Sox will be overly cautious with him, maybe even throughout the entire season. Especially with MLB likely trying to stuff as many games as they can on the schedule.
My bigger hope is that we see Pillar in center and Verdugo in right on Opening Day, with Bradley being on a completely different team. But that’s been my hope for several years now, the latter part anyway. With any luck, he will start off hot, and at some point in the middle of that, before the trading deadline (whenever that will be), the Sox can pawn him off for something useful. Probably wishful thinking there as well. I’m still at the very least praying that the Sox let him leave when he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season.
Ok, enough about JBJ.
But speaking of the trading deadline, don’t be shocked if J.D. is moved then. I don’t believe the Sox wanted him to opt-in to his contract this past offseason. No one believes the team wanted him to opt-in. And that’s even if they were “able to keep” Mookie by cutting Martinez’ costs.
I think the Sox wanted both of them gone. For “payroll flexibility”. Along with David Price. And maybe even Nathan Eovaldi.
That’s how I see it anyway.
As for J.D., let’s hope he is able to start the year out well. I mean, he made a big deal about not being able to see video between each at bat. Does that really matter? Can’t he watch tape AFTER every game to analyze? Doesn’t matter if we think it matters. HE thinks it matters. So let’s just hope that this doesn’t get into his head and he sucks this year. Don’t ever rule this kind of stuff out with the way professional athletes are so fragile these days.
As for the actual on field product, it’s not horrible. Especially if Verdugo can pan out. Not to mention if Benintendi can actually get back on the upward trajectory again. Pillar was a great signing for the cost, positional flexibility, speed and defense. JBJ has his moments. And honestly, J.D should be fine.
Yeah, there will be no Mookie. And none of these guys will be him either. Nor will Marcus Wilson, if you were wondering. Or any other prospects…this season anyway.
With all the salary paring, will this be the year Rusney Castillo makes it back to the majors? Unlikely. Unfortunately, while he made a ton of dough on the deal, he likely cost himself a major league career at the same time.
Sure, he gets to play baseball every day for a living, albeit in the minors. But wouldn’t he have preferred to take a little less to actually see time in the majors?
Maybe he wasn’t good enough for the majors. But with the amount of stiffs floating around the major leagues, my guess is that he could have been a 4th outfielder somewhere. For some time anyway. Maybe he gets a starting gig on a bad team.
But we will never know. And for all we know, he is just counting his money and doesn’t give a rat’s arse.
There doesn’t appear to be anyone else that should see time in the outfield for the Sox this season, unless they come from outside the organization.
So if you were hoping to see #8 prospect Jarren Duran (Colby??!), you’ll have to wait at least another year or two.
Even without Mookie and with JBJ, I am not going to lose a whole lot of sleep over the outfield, or even the offense in general. It’s the pitchers that scare the bejesus out of me. Either way, here’s hoping the season will get off the ground in the first place…and soon!
Now, the bats. As with the pitchers, we will cover everyone who has appeared in a Boston Red Sox Spring Training game. This should be a lot of fun, as not only are their 50 players that have been on the diamond in a game thus far, there’s a handful of dudes that I’ve never even heard of. Let’s get to it!
Realistic additional competitors for the Opening Day roster: Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart
Actual prospects on their way to the minors: Roldani Baldwin (#29)
Additional flotsam also ticketed for the minors: Juan Centeno, Oscar Hernandez, Austin Rei, Jake Romanski, Jhon Nunez
Comments: Not as easy as last year, now that Swihart is “officially” a catcher again. None of the three guys that were around all of last year can be considered locks, I don’t feel. Why? The Red Sox have supposedly decided that carrying 3 catchers this season is not ideal. So one has to go. Who?
Vazquez signed a fairly big extension prior to last season. Then he promptly went out and underperformed during the season. He would seem to be the #1 guy, based on the combination of decent enough offense and damn good defense. But now that may be in question.
If you ask the pitchers, Leon would be the guy. Great “game caller” and also great defensively. But he simply cannot hit a lick.
Swihart still has the most upside. Better bat than the other two. Worst of the three defensively, though the team has said in recent months that he has made tremendous strides.
It would seem that Swihart, just about to turn 27, would have the most trade value. But how much actually is that nowadays. Vazquez may have some value, but I would bet the organization wants him to assert himself in the #1 role…especially since he has the biggest contract. I know, his price is not even close to exorbitant. But for him, it may be.
My guess is they keep the defensive-minded guys and trade Swihart for a fraction of what they could have traded him for a few years back. But it’s anyone’s guess as to what actually happens.
Centeno and Hernandez seem to be on track to be the Pawtucket tandem. The 4 other guys have 10 at-bats between them this spring, so I am not sure we will ever have to worry about them.
Locks: Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Brock Holt (INF/OF), Mitch Moreland (1B), Eduardo Nunez (INF), Steve Pearce (1B), Dustin Pedroia (2B),
DL: Marco Hernandez (INF)
Realistic additional competitors for the Opening Day roster: None
Actual prospects on their way to the minors: Michael Chavis (3B-#1), Bobby Dalbec (3B-#3), C.J. Chatham (SS-#9), Josh Ockimey (1B-#25), Pedro Castellanos (1B-#26)
Additional flotsam also ticketed for the minors: Tzu-Wei Lin (INF), Sam Travis (1B), Tony Renda (INF), Chad De La Guerra (INF), Mike Miller (INF), Jantzen Witte (3B), Jeremy Rivera (SS), Brett Netzer (2B), Josh Tobias (3B)
Comments: Heavy part of the roster here. But pretty cut and dried, to be honest. Moreland and Pearce platoon at first, X and Raffy on the left side most of the time. That leaves second base.
Pedroia probably thinks he can play every day. And will likely try to talk his way into doing just that. But it remains to be seen if he can even play ANY of the games. That knee is troublesome, that is no secret. And who knows if the rehab he did this winter even worked? He’s started playing a little this spring, but we will see.
Holt looks to take most of the starts at second when Pedey can’t play. Maybe Nunez too, but he stinks at second. Nunez will likely play a little third against tough lefties in place of Devers, at least that’s what I would do. Actually, I wouldn’t have given Nunez a 2 year contract last offseason, but at 5 mil, it obviously doesn’t kill them. Holt will also play a little outfield I imagine. So Holt and Nunez will get decent at-bats whether we like it or not.
Chavis is the teams’ top prospect, kind of a scary proposition. Why? He wasn’t very good his first three years in the lower minors, then hit 31 homers in 2017 after apparently finding the juice. Which caused his half-year suspension in 2018. He hit well upon his return and hit 4 homers pretty early this spring, so maybe he found the juice again. But…maybe he gets caught again. Not ruling anything out. In any event, if he hits this year and doesn’t get pinched, he could be the Sox’ regular 1B in 2020 once the contracts of the current platoon pair expire. And that should mean he gets major league AB’s this season.
We know who won’t be the Sox’ regular first basemen in 2020. Sammy Travis. Looks like the ship has sailed on that former “top prospect”. But Lin is still on the fringe. The team is working him all over the field, apparently trying to make him “Brock Holt Lite”. If that excites you.
I love Tony Renda’s Red Sox career. He was up for like a week or 10 days last summer. Scored the winning run in a Sunday Night game against the Yankees as a pinch runner. Then disappeared for the rest of the year. No other appearances before or after that one. If history repeats itself, Renda will get a World Series ring. Beautiful, no?
The rest of the prospects are too far away and the rest of the random bodies will not likely appear at Fenway this season, so I at least hope they are all enjoying the spring.
Locks: Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF), J.D. Martinez (DH)
Realistic additional competitors for the Opening Day roster: Gorkys Hernandez
Actual prospects on their way to the minors: Jarren Duran (#10)
Additional flotsam also ticketed for the minors: Rusney Castillo, Bryce Brentz, Cole Sturgeon, Tate Matheny, Danny Mars, Cole Brannen, Jagger Rusconi, Marino Campana, Tyler Esplin, Chris Madera, Joseph Monge, Kervin Suarez, Jordan Wren, Keith Curcio
Comments: Nothing to see here. Could be the best outfield in baseball. Defensively for sure anyway. Oh, did you hear that Bradley worked with a swing coach this offseason? We will see how that works out, but I am not expecting miracles. Better yet, where was this swing coach over the past several years? I would have traded JBJ after his All-Star year, as has been noted previously (probably a thousand times), but I wonder what will happen going forward? Lots of contracts up over the next two years. I can’t imagine JBJ will be anywhere in line for a lucrative extension.
Speaking of extensions, Mookie! No indication he will sign one. But I hope they are trying. Bryce Harper only got like 26 mil a year. Mookie will want more than that. But the question continues to be unanswered: Does he even want to be here long term? No one even knows.
J.D. can opt out after this year. No one knows if that will happen either. With the top guys waiting into Spring Training the last two years and not necessarily getting the dough that people thought they would, maybe he doesn’t take a chance by opting out. Especially since he is basically a designated hitter. Sure, he is listed here as an outfielder. But I didn’t want to do a whole ‘nutha section for one DH. And sure, he will see starts in the outfield to appease him a bit. But no team actually views him as one.
Gorkys may get that last spot if the Sox are serious about not carrying three catchers. He seems to be the likely choice. We know it won’t be Rusney. I’ve said that he deserves another shot. You know, since he’s making like 11 mil down in Pawtucket and has played well down there. But there were opportunities for him to come up and contribute last season. And never a sniff.
Bryce Brentz is back!! We more than likely won’t see him in Boston again though. If anyone cares. Cole Sturgeon is a name I recognize every year in Spring Training. Seems like he is 35 years old. But alas, he is only 27. And that 3-20 this year won’t help him at all. Matheny is the son of former big leaguer (and also former St. Louis manager) Mike Matheny. But that’s about all I really can say about him.
Nothing much to add about the rest of that list. I am not even sure I would add anything even if I knew who most of them actually are.
That about sums things up. Most of the team returns from last year. Not necessarily a good thing to have little turnover. Not necessarily a good thing to have a bullpen that looks like it does. But it’s a long season folks. And it should be a successful one at that. But another World Series win? I’m not betting on that…