…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):
Locks: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez
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…
Locks: Brian Johnson
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.
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