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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.

Leftover Weekend Nuggets…

…some random thoughts on recent events, once again, in no particular order:

*Do we even need to talk about the actual New England Patriot win over the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday night?

Not really.  But I will say a few things.

A little surprising on how easy the win was.  Isn’t Pittsburgh supposed to be a prime contender in the AFC this season?

The defense looked pretty damn good, and that was even playing without linebacker Kyle Van Noy.  There seems to be a lot of bodies out there that can contribute, that’s for sure.

The offense could have been crisper.  I mean, four field goals from Stephen Gostkowski is probably at least two too many.  Though I will take the fact that he made all of them.  He has been shaky at times recently.  And the new holder, punter Jake Bailey, hasn’t always inspired confidence thus far.

Sony Michel supposedly looked very good in training camp.  He did look very good in the very little he played in the preseason.  He did not look so hot in this game, however.  Let’s hope this changes.

But all of a sudden I am not worried about this receiving corps.  And that’s not because of the guy we will talk more about later.  I feel pretty good about Julian Edelman, of course.  I have this gut feeling that Josh Gordon will stay out of trouble this season.  If the team keeps Phillip Dorsett active, I actually feel ok about him.  I mean, I don’t think Dorsett is going for almost 100 yards and 2 TDs every game…let’s not be ridiculous.  But I think if the team doesn’t bury him now, he is trusted by Tom Brady and can be useful.  And Antoni…ok, let’s get back to him in a bit.

I think the team will miss Rob Gronkowski, don’t get me wrong.  But I am not as concerned about the tight end position as most.  There will just be a whole lot more blocking out of that group.  But I think Ben Watson and Matt LaCosse can make at least a few grabs in the passing game.

I would worry more about the offensive line.  But in reality, the Pats have such a soft schedule the first half of the season, I think by Game 7 or 8, Dante Scarnecchia and the boys will have something decent figured out.  Even if that means bringing in more bodies still.

Ok, that was more than a few things.  In the end, it was a good win.  But I am actually not going too crazy about it.  Pittsburgh may not actually be as good as we think.  Plus, I think we all thought that the Pats would be like 7-1 or 8-1 to start out the season…certainly no worse than 6-2.

It may not even be worth commenting more until we actually get some real games…especially the 19-0 talk.  It’s waaaaaaay too early for that nonsense.

*Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski got fired late Sunday night.

Questionable timing?  Perhaps.

But I think that is something else we all saw coming.  There has been some talk that maybe Dombrowski “asked for it” because he knew it too and wanted to get a jump on other opportunities that may be available in a few weeks.

I’m guessing the Sox just wanted to bury it, especially after ownership subsequently has refused to talk about it.  That last part is kind of bizarre.

Either way, is it the right move?  Most likely.  There are some moves to be made this offseason and Dombrowski may not be the right dude to be in charge of those.  Primarily because one of the moves COULD be trading Mookie Betts.  And a move of that nature will involve most likely getting a package of prospects…not exactly DD’s strong suit.  He’s better known for stripping down a farm system for major league talent.

And, by the way, I am not advocating trading Mookie.  So pipe down.  But the reality is that if he doesn’t want to sign an extension this upcoming offseason, you can’t lose a guy like that for nothing the following offseason.  So you HAVE to investigate trading him.  I’ve been pretty clear about this for quite some time now.  I’m not looking to run the guy out of town.  I hope he re-signs…even if it is for a gazillion dollars.  John Henry has the dough, after all.

In any event, how much blame does Dombrowski get for this year?  A piece for sure.  But I don’t think it is as much as people want to lay on him.

Not getting a closer has been beaten to death when pointing fingers at DD.  And that’s valid, for sure.  He didn’t have to re-sign Craig Kimbrel for a jillion dollars.  But getting SOMEONE that had ninth inning experience would have been nice.

But what else?

People like to point to re-signing Nathan Eovaldi to 17 mil per (4 years) and Steve Pearce for 6 mil this year.  And that hurt them acquiring more bullpen help.

I say that’s bogus.  Pearce was short money and he SHOULD have formed a nice platoon at first base with Mitch Moreland for this year.  Then they both go elsewhere next season.  It is a lot of money for Nate, who never stays healthy and doesn’t have a tremendous track record (other than the playoffs last year).  But someone was going to give him some dough.  And having some starting rotation depth is never a bad thing.

To top it all off, you hear more about those contracts now that both of those guys barely played this year.  Only a few naysayers on them when they were handed out.

The Chris Sale extension?  Stupid.  But I think most of us would have given him good money over 3 years (instead of the 5 he got) though, no?  And that extension starts next year, so it has nothing to do with his performance this season.  Plus…I think ownership may have had quite a bit of say in handing that one out.  My opinion.

The bullpen?  Kind of in shambles.  But doesn’t that describe the bullpen for many major league teams?  And isn’t that why these guys are in the bullpen in the first place?  They can’t start, they can’t close and they are inconsistent from year to year.

Matt Barnes is no closer, but he should be a capable bullpen arm.  So should be guys like Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree and maybe even Steven Wright.  But Wright got hurt again and Hembree missed a chunk of time as well.  Relying on Ryan Brasier was probably foolish, but then you had guys like Marcus Walden, Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez pitch pretty well instead.  Typical of the year to year inconsistencies of most bullpen arms.

The point is, Dombrowski could have gotten more bullpen arms for sure.  But would they have even worked?

I suppose the fact that he did nothing at the trade deadline may have been one final straw.  I think he should have sold.  Others think he should have bought.  But in the end, he sat on his hands.  The consensus is probably that he should have picked one way or the other and made something happen.

But I don’t believe he should have the lions share of the blame.  Manager Alex Cora then?  Some to him as well.  He hasn’t been as good as last year, but how could he top that?  We need to realize that he is just a second year manager and will make some mistakes.  I think he has acknowledged a great deal of the mistakes he has made.  He will presumably get better the more experience he gets.  I’m not blaming him a ton either.

This all lies on the players.  Some of them are putting up gaudy numbers.  But SOMETHING has been missing all year.  There is plenty of talent on this team and it should have made the playoffs.  Injuries to Sale, Eovaldi and David Price, of course, did not help.  But this roster should still be a lot better.

And Dombrowski put together that roster.  So I guess it’s all his fault…

*So the Red Sox are 9 games out of the wild card with 17 games to go.

It’s over.  We know that.  We have known that for a while.

But you still have to compete until you are officially eliminated.  Use all your best players…even if you have to use 8-10 bullpen arms because that’s all you have.

Not sure why Xander Bogaerts wasn’t in the lineup last night, but whatever…

That being said, once the team is officially eliminated from the playoff race, since the team dumped Dombrowski early, maybe they can dump a few more dudes early too?

I mean, why are we bothering with guys like Gorkys Hernandez, Chris Owings and Josh A. Smith for?  They can also let Moreland and Rick Porcello walk soon for all I care.

Let guys like Darwinzon and Marco Hernandez, Travis Lakins, Sam Travis, Trevor Kelley, Mike Shawaryn and Bobby Poyner play more.  Call up some dudes that they have to add to the 40-man roster this offseason and give them a taste.  They may not even be overwhelmed since there are plenty of minor leaguers in the majors at this time of year.

And why no Rusney Castillo?  Gorkys, Rusney, what’s the difference?  Rusney’s salary won’t hurt the luxury tax at this time of year.  May as well see if you can get SOMETHING in return for that investment.

Even if it’s a couple of late September hits.

And…I’m fairly certain I am the only one thinking about this…

*Last, but certainly not least?  Antonio Brown!!

If I still have you after 1,500 plus words, thanks for being here!  If not, well then I guess I successfully “buried the lead”.  Or is it “buried the lede”?  Either way, I’m not sure “successfully” is the proper word either.  Let’s move on…

I’m actually not going to talk much about him here.  I mean, everyone else has been talking about him non-stop.  How much more can I really add?

In a football sense, I have decided that I am ALL IN with this dude.

Make no mistake, the guy is an arseclown.  The stuff he was pulling this summer up to and including this past weekend has certainly been juvenile.  You know the list of stuff he pulled in Oakland, so we don’t need to rehash it here.  He apparently has been doing that kind of stuff his whole career.  Including the videotaping stuff in the locker room.  And how last year ended in Pittsburgh…etc., etc., etc.

I don’t THINK  he will get away with that stuff here.  I mean, one never knows, but I would think before any kind of nonsense would get to Bill Belichick, guys like Brady, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Dont’a Hightower, etc. would squash most things.

The Pats paid Brown a lot of money, so he will get more than one chance.  It’s not a risk free move, as some have been saying, but for one year it is worth the gamble.  As fans, we just have to hope he keeps in line for this one year.

Listen, I’m never going to hold any athlete as a role model.  Most of these guys are total jackwagons.  Even Brady can act bizarre at times…you know, the concussion water, avocado ice cream, etc.

I make no apologies for adding great players.  None.  Just like I make no apologies for the Patriots winning ways the past couple of decades.  People forget (or don’t even know) the doormats they were their entire existence before then.

People also compare Brown to past Patriot “headaches” such as Randy Moss, Corey Dillion, Adalius Thomas, et al.  They forget that there is one dude on the roster right now that has the potential to be a loose cannon…Michael Bennett.  There’s probably more in that locker room as well.  They just aren’t a superstar like Brown.  And as good a player as Bennett is, he’s not at Brown’s level either…I don’t think anyway.

You’re gonna have some crazies in any locker room, no matter what team you are.

What’s one more?

UNLESS…the story that broke last night about Brown being accused of rape is true.

Sadly and unfortunately, I am skeptical of a lot of those stories, especially when they come out of the blue like this one did.  And I am hoping that the story is not true of course.

But what if it is?

Now we are talking Tyreek Hill territory.  And that’s not somewhere you want to be.

As I said above, Brown has done some juvenile things over the years that kind of makes him look like a jackass.  So he’s kind of an idiot.  But is any of the stuff that has gone public really all that harmful?  Probably not.  He’s just kind of immature and pretty much a tool.

But if these new allegations are true, that changes EVERYTHING.  And Brown should be in jail, not ever on the field at Gillette Stadium.

Also, unfortunately, we may not know the truth until Brown has already played his year in New England.  So at this point maybe the only thing we can do is accept him as a player on the field.  Or at least try to.  Until that truth comes out.

Won’t be the first time this is the case for an athlete.  Which is another sad state of affairs…

Spring Training Nonsense…

…so the Blowhard has recently written about three of the four major sports teams in the local area, perhaps it’s time to cover the remaining one…the Boston Red Sox?

I know, it’s early in Spring Training and the team is puttering along (not meant to be a bad thing…just that Spring Training is too long…and…who cares what their record is in the spring anyway?!).  But we may as well get a look at all of the players in camp to see what they have.  What do we mean by “all”?  Welp, every player on the 40 man roster, every player on the non-roster invite list and…every player that has appeared in a Spring Training game as of the day this piece is written.  Yup, I did just say that last sentence.  Once again, you’ve been warned.

Of course, the 25 man roster is pretty much already all set.  Just a minor tweak here and there, specifically in the bullpen I would say.  But it can’t hurt to take a look at everyone that is in FLA anyway…because, well, I have nothing better to do at the present time.

Let’s get to it, in usual Blowhard fashion, we break down the roster by position (numbers in parenthesis next to the players on the “prospects” line are what each player is ranked by Redsox.com):

Starting Rotation:

Locks:  Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez

DL:  None…yet

Realistic additional competitors for the Opening Day roster:  None

Actual prospects on their way to the minors:  Darwinzon Hernandez (#4), Mike Shawaryn (#13) Denyi Reyes (#19), Kutter Crawford (#20), Jhonathan Diaz (#30)

Additional flotsam also ticketed for the minors:  Chandler Shepherd, Dedgar Jimenez, Kyle Hart

Comments:  Doesn’t get any simpler than this.  There has been some scuttlebutt about Eovaldi ending up in the bullpen, specifically as the closer.  But the Sox didn’t throw him 68 mil over 4 years to do that, I can make you that promise.

Sale and manager Alex Cora can rave about Darwinzon all they want.  But he’s quite some time away from the majors.  Besides, being #4 on the Red Sox’ prospect list isn’t anything to be fired up about.  What, do they have one prospect on Major League Baseball’s Top 100 prospect list?  Just one of a hundred on most lists out there.  Unimpressive…an understatement, I know.  But I suppose we can hold out some hope, at least for him.  The numbers on the rest of the “prospects” tell you that we probably don’t ever need to talk about them again.  But we will see…

Dedgar may not actually be flotsam…yet…since he is only 22.  But he isn’t even among the Sox’ top 30.  So I suppose that should automatically give us some pause.  Shepherd and Hart are 26, so their time has likely passed.

With the contracts of Sale and Porcello expiring after this season, the Sox better figure something out throughout the year and into the next offseason.  I’m hoping that they won’t be replaced in 2020 by anyone in the section immediately below.  I’m sure they won’t…but there’s not exactly anything promising coming up from the minors anytime soon either.

Then again, news has come out that Sale and the team are mutually interested in a new contract.  We will see what comes of that.  It will be interesting to see the particulars if that gets done.  Sale has been “underpaid” for years, by baseball standards.  He has not exactly been durable, often wearing down in the second halves of seasons.  Dominant when healthy, can we expect that going forward?  Not sure.

Would I give him a new contract?  Hell yes!  But would aim for a shorter term.  If they could get him at 3-4 years, even if the money is somewhat silly, I’d do it.  Once again, not much in the farm system.  And a dominant Sale for even 150 innings could be worth it.

Did you also hear though?  E-Rod is in the “best shape of his life” and looks electric!  He’s ready to take the next step!  Sigh…those “feel-good” Spring Training stories…gotta love them…

Swingmen:

Locks: Brian Johnson

DL:  None

Suspended:  Steven Wright

Realistic additional competitors for the Opening Day roster:  Hector Velasquez, Marcus Walden

Actual prospects on their way to the minors:  None

Additional flotsam also ticketed for the minors:  Erasmo Ramirez, Josh A. Smith, Domingo Tapia, Daniel McGrath, Josh Taylor

Comments:  I am making this an official category for when Sale and/or Eovaldi and/or E-Rod spend their obligatory time on the DL.  Maybe Price too, if he needs another “mental break”.  Hey, he seemed to finally break through in the playoffs last year.  But I’m not guaranteeing the page has officially been turned on him heading into this season.  Just call me skeptical, that’s all.

In any event, none of the aforementioned five starters are likely to get anywhere close to 200 innings, with the possible exception of Porcello.  So there will be starts available for this group of guys that aren’t really good enough to start but won’t have key roles in the bullpen either.

Actually, Wright may be the only one that can be considered for either.  But can you ever really trust a knuckleballer?  I would as the #5 starter on this kind of team, I will admit.  General Manager Dave Dombrowski has thrown his name into the mix at closer.  Although Wright pitched well both starting and relieving last year when healthy, I don’t think anyone wants closing games to be part of his repertoire.  Then again, I wrote this paragraph before his suspension came down.  So the point is now moot…until July anyway.

Johnson sticks because he is out of options.  And even at 28 years old now, the Sox may want to try to salvage his former status as a “top prospect”.  Most of the year he will pitch mopup though.  He’s useless out of the bullpen and has proven that time and time again.  If he’s on my roster, he is starting games.  There is no room for him for that on this team, but he will be the official #6 guy in 2019 I would predict.

Velasquez and Walden have options, I think anyway, so they will be on the outside looking in.  I’m sure we will see them at some point.  Walden is actually having himself another fantastic spring thus far, for whatever that is worth.  I’m sure we will see Erasmo at some point as well.  But he’s on a minor league deal.  So they can start him in the minors.

If we see Smith, Tapia, McGrath or Taylor at any point, that will likely spell trouble.  It’s doubtful they actually see starts if they are up, but they have been both starters and relievers in the minors, so that is why they are listed here.

Bullpen:

Locks: Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, Brandon Workman

DL:  Carson Smith, Zach Putnam

Realistic additional competitors for the Opening Day roster:  Bobby Poyner (#22), Colten Brewer (#23)

Actual prospects on their way to the minors:  Travis Lakins (#17), Matthew Gorst

Additional flotsam also ticketed for the minors:  Brian Ellington, Trevor Kelley, Adam Lau, Jenrry Mejia, Mark Montgomery, Dan Runzler, Daniel Schlereth, Hunter Smith, Jordan Weems, Ryan Weber

Comments:  Sssssooooooo…Craig Kimbrel is no longer here.  And for the regular season, that could be kind of important.  Machine Gun Joe Kelly is no longer here either.  But despite how well he pitched in the postseason last year, I could care less.  Because the fact of the matter is he still stinks.  Even late season 2017 wunderkind Austin Maddox is no longer here.  I think he’s out the whole 2019 season, but I can’t really find him anywhere.

So this is what we are left with.  Yikes!!  Kimbrel was not good in the postseason last year and can be shaky at times in the regular season.  But he is by far a better option than any of the jamokes on this list.  He is still out there.  I would consider bringing him back.  But that ship has sailed apparently.

Dombrowski has been touting Barnes, Brasier, Thornburg and Wright as potential closing options.  Really?

Barnes is barely an 8th inning guy.  Brasier had like 30 great innings last year, and most of his earlier appearances were low leverage, though he did pitch well enough in the postseason, I will allow.  Thornburg has missed the better part of the last two years with injury.  We’ve already talked about Wright…and he’s no longer an option now anyway.

Not ideal.  And completely uninspiring.

The way the “locks” have been summed up thus far, looks like 11 spots.  Wright was my eleventh initially.  But his suspension allows Workman to get one of the last spots.  Why?  Out of options, velocity supposedly up, blah, blah, blah.  Now who is #12?  Who knows?  Poyner or Velasquez I suppose would be the front runners…or Walden if he keeps doing what he’s doing.  He is becoming Mr. March, I guess?  A DL stint or two could affect things of course.

I can’t believe Carson Smith is back after he got hurt (again) last season by throwing his glove against a wall or something and then blamed Cora for pitching him and/or warming him up too much.  I guess that shows you how much demand there was for him.  That being said, if he ever gets healthy, he could possibly be an asset.  Same goes for Putnam.  But we won’t see them until the summer I would bet, at the earliest.

Lakins got some buzz for a possible call up late last year, but as a #17 prospect, I am not sure we can be too excited.  The fact that Poyner and Brewer are listed in the Top 30 is scary enough.  Gorst isn’t even listed as an “official” prospect, but I put him here because he jumped up three levels last season and pitched fairly well…including 20.1 scoreless innings in his middle stint in AA in Portland.

The last group?  Mejia is interesting enough.  But he hasn’t pitched essentially since 2015 with his own suspensions.  Worth keeping an eye on for now, but that’s about it.  Weems is interesting only because he spent the first 5 plus years of his minor league career as a catcher.  Now is 26 years old, but has only pitched for 3 years.  Many of the rest of the names listed here have some major league experience.  But I don’t think any of us should be excited to see them in a Sox uniform this summer.  They can help the Pawtucket Red Sox all they want though.

Next:  The bats

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