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?
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.
…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…
Of course it was! We are of course talking about David Price…in case that was a mystery. Well, he did sign with the Red Sox about a week ago, so maybe it was…
Sure, he has underperformed in the playoffs, to put it nicely. He has a history of listening too closely to fans/media/outside noise…not a great thing when pitching in Boston. After Game 1 against Texas this past postseason, he claimed that he is nervous in his first postseason start of the year (fair enough), but also nervous during his “first spring training start” and “first bullpen”, etc. And then used some sort of duck analogy. Ok, a little weird. So maybe some of these things are a little concerning. Or a lot concerning.
But the Sox needed an ace…and thankfully they have moved on from the “5 aces” crap of last year. Price was the best out there. The Sox have the money. This move HAD to be made.
You may say giving a 7 year contract to a 3o year old pitcher is stupid. John Henry would have said that last year, but since he changes his mind every year, he didn’t care last week. You may also say well, Jon Lester was age 30 last offseason and Henry and the Sox wouldn’t give him 7 years. I would say the Sox didn’t really want to sign him at any price. I think Larry Lucchino’s original offer of 4 years, 70 million should have told you that right from the start. We’ve covered all that before though…
Let me also ask you this: Would you rather have David Price at 7/217 or Jon Lester at 6/145 (plus 25 more in a 7th year or a 10 mil buyout)? I don’t care how well Lester pitched in Boston, especially in the playoffs. I don’t care if Lester came through the Sox’ system. I don’t care if Jon Lester loves Boston. The answer is easy…and it’s Price. Price is a clear #1. Lester, as good as he was here, really is more of a #2. Take a look at his first year in the National League too. 11-12, 3.34, 207 K’s in 205 innings. Not horrible, pretty good actually. But not worth 25 laaaaaaaaaahge. Obviously there is a long way to go to judge both of these deals. But I’d take Price any day of the week and I think most of you would too.
If you are balking at the deal because of the 217 mil, well, have you seen the other contracts out there? Greinke: 6/206.5. Yikes! But it goes way beyond that. Johnny Cueto is still unsigned. But he wants 25 mil plus. These 3 were the “Big Three” of the free agent pitchers. Fine, give them a boatload of dough. Look deeper at the next “tier”. Jordan Zimmerman: 5/110. Jeff Samardzija: 5/90. Hisashi Iwakuma: 3/45. Mike Leake: Unsigned, but looking for at least 15 mil/per. Mike Leake?? If you ask me, John Lackey’s 2/32 is a steal when compared to the above contracts. But still 16 per for a 37-year-old pitcher.
Sure, the money on the next level is less and the years are less. But I’d still take Price’s contract over any of those. Dig a little deeper. Look at these: Marco Estrada (2/26); JA Happ (3/36); Brett Anderson (1/15.8). Rich Hill had 4 meaningless September starts for the Sox and got 6 mil from one of the cheapest teams out there in Oakland. Switch gears to relievers: Darren O’Day (4/31); Ryan Madson (3/22); Joakim Soria (3/25); Shawn Kelley (who?) (3/15); Tony Sipp (3/18). Throw in position players: Ben Zobrist (4/56); Chase Utley’s corpse (1/7); Colby Rasmus (1/15.8); Asdrubel Cabrera (2/18.5). Chris Iannetta, a 32-year-old backup catcher who hit .188 last year…4.25 mil for him.
Ok, so the last paragraph was likely unnecessary. But I like numbers, so deal with it. The point has been driven home though I think. The money is being spent out there. May as well spend it on the best. Especially when you still have guys like Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Rick Porcello and Wade Mil…ummmmmm, nevermind on him…still in your rotation.
So I liked the Price signing, that’s pretty clear. Did I like the Wade Miley trade? Glad you asked! The answer is…I don’t know. But I think I do. Wade Miley is a nice #4 starter who you can seemingly lock into 30 plus starts and close to 200 innings. That is a positive for any staff. But he is still…Wade Miley. Who is to say Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Steven Wright…or any other Joe Blow can’t step into the #4/#5 starter role and replace him decently enough? Plus, as much as I am not excited about John Farrell coming back as manager next year, when Miley pulled that stunt in the dugout with him after being shelled earlier last year, well, let’s just say I didn’t love that.
So Miley should be replaceable. Maybe his replacement will be Roenis Elias…who knows? Elias is a couple of years younger, so that is a positive…for whatever that’s worth. Losing Jonathan Aro? Meh. Carson Smith? Kind of makes you wonder why Seattle would give up a cheap guy under control for several more years. But trading a reliever for a durable starter? Maybe that’s why. I often would not trade starters for relievers. But again, Miley can be replaced by…anyone. And if Smith can help solidify the back-end of the bullpen…probably worth it. I can’t really get all that worked up about it.
I AM however all worked up about trading Garin Cecchini for a bag of used balls and a couple of beat up fungo bats. Ok, I am not. I did find it surprising that Cecchini was DFA’d over a guy like Bryce Brentz…but since absolutely no one but me cares, I’ll save those thoughts for myself.
So with the signing of Price and 4th outfielder Chris Young and the trades for Smith and Craig Kimbrel, Dave Dombrowski says he is essentially done. (Aside on Kimbrel: I usually don’t love trading for closers when they can be “found” (see: Uehara, Koji). Nor do I love giving up prospects for 60-70 innings a year…4 of them to boot. But I normally would trade prospects for proven players. And I am not sure I am worried about any of the 4 prospects becoming someone the Sox regret they gave away. Even Manuel Margot. The Sox need bullpen help. Sooooo…I came to terms with it).
Anyway, Dombrowski said something to the effect of that he “doesn’t like to lie as it sets a bad example…”. I hope he is stretching the truth then anyway. There is more work to be done. I’d still like to see a solid #2 starter. Is it Eduardo Rodriguez? Maybe. But I sure as hell hope it ISN’T Clay Buchholz. I’d love to see him dealt. It isn’t Rick Porcello…though his contract doesn’t look so bad anymore, no? Maybe Ben was somewhat right on one thing at least. Anyway, there is rotation depth yes, but I’d take another upper end starter. Bullpen? Good start with Kimbrel, Uehara, Smith and Tazawa. Maybe Elias. Maybe Joe Kelly? Matt Barnes? I guess. Robbie Ross Jr. is a decent 10-11 guy I suppose. I wouldn’t mind seeing another proven guy out there though.
Hanley Ramirez has to go as well. Easier said than done, I am well aware of that. But the outfield experiment did not work last year. Do we really think the first base experiment is going to work this year? Cancer in the clubhouse…all that. Just do whatever it takes to get him out of here. I think it happens. But it’s going to take some time…and the Sox eating a lot of dough. Maybe even until spring training when someone on another team gets hurt and a team panics. I don’t know how it will happen, but it needs to. I’d also investigate trading either of Jackie Bradley Jr. or Rusney Castillo. I’m not sold on either of those guys really. Maybe trade one of them while they still have some value. Although I can live with the 4 guys (Young and Mookie Betts the other 2 of course) in the outfield if I have to.
A couple more months until Spring Training…still time to make some decent tweaks to the roster…