…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…
…otherwise known as the Eastern Conference Finals.
So I was wrong about the Washington Wizards beating the Boston Celtics in the second round. Wasn’t the first time I’ve been wrong, won’t be the last. But we can all admit it the series really could have gone either way, when all was said and done. And the fact that the C’s needed a big effort in Game 7 from Kelly Olynyk, of all people, to advance to the next round should scare the bejesus out of anyone rooting for the hometown team.
Kelly Olynyk? Sweet, another thing that makes me look bad. Though I won’t feel as bad when he averages about 5 points a game in the East Finals.
In any event, the Cleveland Cavaliers and King LeBron James await. And I have to tell you, while watching Game 7 of the Wizards series, the Blowhard really wasn’t totally emotionally invested. Normally in the playoffs, especially Game 7’s, we are hanging on every shot, every rebound, every referee call…everything. All the while essentially funneling beers in the process.
But Monday night? I don’t know. It was sort of a weird feeling. In the end, I determined that my lack of emotion came down to two things:
*I felt that the Celtics were going to get screwed in the draft lottery Tuesday night. I know this has absolutely nothing to do with this year. And from all indications there are a handful of pretty good players in the draft this year who should make an impact in the NBA. So even dropping down to #4 may not have been catastrophic. But with the way the C’s and Danny Ainge have been slowly rebuilding this team, I felt like anything less than the #1 pick would be a pretty big disappointment.
*More importantly, the fact is the C’s have zero chance in this series. Yup. That’s ZERO. Not a snowball’s chance in hell. None. Nada. Zilch. Ok, enough. But part of me was like, why bother winning this series? So they can get embarrassed in the next one?
Stupid, I know. You never know what can happen in any given series, right? And when you can win a round in the playoffs, you certainly do it. But I couldn’t shake the malaise.
Truth be told, we do know what is going to happen in this series. What’s left to determine is how many games it will take for the Cavs to beat the Celtics.
Cleveland is 8-0 in the 2017 playoffs. They seem to be on a mission toward another championship…or at least an expected date with Golden State in the NBA Finals.
Who’s going to stop LeBron James? 34.4 points per game in the playoffs, up from 26.4 during the regular season. Jae Crowder? Ummmm, I don’t think so. The C’s could use his 6 fouls anyway. Obviously, despite their defensive prowess, neither Avery Bradley nor Marcus Smart will be able to do it. Jaylen Brown? Please.
Sure, they can double and triple team the King. But then Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love or J.R. Smith, or…a bunch of other guys will be running around wide open. Kyle Korver will inevitably bury countless open threes. Maybe Channing Frye too.
Tristan Thompson will undoubtedly slaughter the Celtics on the boards…along with Love and James.
I could go on, but will mercifully stop. The people who say the Celtics have a chance will point to the fact that they got the #1 seed in the East for their performance in the regular season. Key phrase? “Regular season”. Cleveland rested a lot, knowing they had a long playoff run to prepare for. They most likely coasted in other games. Then with a week left in the regular season, they came to Boston and blasted the C’s. That just cemented they did not care about seeding. They felt they could win anywhere, anytime. And they are likely right…at least through the Eastern Conference.
There’s really nothing more to say. Cleveland ends the run. This time for real. Four games to one. I actually was going to say it would be a sweep, but the C’s may steal one. Which one? Guessing that if it’s any, it’s actually Game 1 tonight. Cavs haven’t played in 10 days and may show some rust. Celts are coming off a big Game 7 win and may be carrying some of that positive energy forward with them. The game is in Boston. Who knows, maybe the players are pumped the organization got the #1 pick yesterday! Ok, not likely.
But if they don’t take Game 1, sadly it looks like a sweep. It’s been a helluva ride though.
Little late to the party on this one as well. But of course VERY deserving of comment, for sure. (Kind of) lost in the shuffle during the New England Patriots Super Bowl celebration, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien was fired…and a week later was tabbed to take over the Atlantic division first place (though Eastern Conference 5th overall) Montreal Canadiens. Yup, the HATED Canadiens. Yup, the same Canadiens that fired Claude in 2006.
I’ve written over and over again in this space that it was time for Claude to go. It had been for quite some time. Missing the playoffs the last two years is inexcusable. Especially the way they choked down the stretch both years. And then being on course for missing the playoffs a third straight year this year. Just unacceptable. How could he still have his job after all that?
Not that it has all been his fault. It has not. Cam Neely, Don Sweeney and Peter Chiarelli haven’t necessarily given him the best roster in recent years. Maybe help is on the way with some of Sweeney’s recent draftees. But we may not know that for a while.
But you know what? Neely and Chiarelli gave Julien some pretty damn good rosters early in his tenure. Sure, he won a Stanley Cup. Just one though. He had a talented team that should have competed for a Cup many other years as well. You may say, “he went to another Cup Final”. I will then tell you that this was all well and good, but in a lockout shortened season not quite the same accomplishment.
People often forget that Julien was probably an OT goal against Montreal in the first round of the Cup year from being fired that year. And in the year they lost in the Cup final, they also dodged a bullet in the first round with that miracle win against Toronto. And some other colossal playoff failures: 2008-09, 116 points in regular season, 2nd round loss to Carolina. 2009-10, 3-0 lead in 2nd round against Philadelphia and lost 4 straight to be eliminated. The loss of David Krejci in Game 4 was certainly big. But to lose that game and 3 straight after and kind of blame that injury? Nope. 2011-12, first round loss to Washington (Chiarelli said the players were “tired” from the previous years’ Cup run…ugh). 2013-14, 117 regular season points, 2nd round exit to Montreal.
It all adds up. Why don’t/didn’t a lot of people see this?
He is a good coach, maybe better than good, but not necessarily great. And certainly not legendary, as some people (you again Magoon) seem to think he is.
Amazingly enough, as recently as about 5 weeks ago, I was convinced Claude was at least here through the season. I thought Donnie Hockey was blowing smoke when he told us that he hadn’t ruled out a coaching change. Apparently he was not.
Figured the contract would keep him here through the year for the most part. The Jacobs’ don’t like to eat money. Could they have known Montreal was going to jump in and (apparently) offset some of the dough owed Julien? Did they know/sense that the Canadiens were sniffing around? I doubt it, but I guess you never know with these sorts of things.
In any event, Bruce Cassidy is now the head coach. Logged about a year and a half as a head coach of the Capitals, getting canned during the 2003-04 season. Had to wait quite a bit for his 2nd head coaching gig…longer than most. Has tallied almost 900 games as a minor league head coach, including almost 500 since the Capitals role. Spent the last 5 years in Providence. Has had some regular season success, but not a ton in the playoffs. Supposedly has a good reputation with young players. Seems to have been groomed to be the next Boston head coach, though the title is still interim at the moment. Hopefully the rep with young players is true. And that it means he will implement them in faster than Claude. I will say this for Claude, having Cassidy on the bench with him this year with the feeling that Bruce was “the next guy” couldn’t have been a warm and fuzzy feeling for Julien. I know I wouldn’t have been excited about it.
So after all of the above, I personally am not buying the “interim” thing. I think Cassidy will officially be the next head coach. Unless of course they tank horrendously down the stretch.
But is he the answer? I have no idea. Does the fact that Cassidy is 3-0 since taking over and that Julien is 0-1 in Montreal mean anything? I think it probably means squat. Though I would definitely expect a better effort from a team in the immediate aftermath of their coach just being fired. I know I have seen that out of the B’s in their three games. Having not seen the Montreal game Saturday night, I can’t really completely comment on their effort. But they lost to an average at best Winnipeg team at home. So I would guess that is not a positive.
I will say that the offensive “game plan” is certainly more aggressive. The D corps scored 18 goals in the first 55 games. They have 4 in the last 3. This is the most noticeable difference to me…the D-men are waaaaaaay more involved offensively. Now, this could certainly lead to goals being given up in bunches at the other end because of their (over)aggressiveness. But hey, they have an “All-Star” goalie in Tuukka Rask, so everything should be fine, right? Ok, maybe not.
Either way, this is great to see. 14 goals in 3 games overall? I like that too. Small sample size of course. But after watching Claude’s system for years, even the 3 game stretch is refreshing. I eventually accepted Claude’s system, since they did win that Cup and were competitive and playoff-bound most years. But it doesn’t mean I loved it.
Cassidy’s system may not work long-term. This may just be the coaching change wakeup call. But maybe some of these forwards can showcase their talents more now. Maybe this system works with a lot of the youngsters on the way. Who knows?
Time will tell. Cassidy hasn’t changed the personnel really. Anton Khudobin is back. I like it. Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban are simply not ready to play in the NHL and may never be. Khudobin has been brutal this year, but has also been hurt and buried when healthy. Maybe the stint in Providence got his head back on straight and Bruce actually gives him some time down the stretch to keep him sharp. Peter Cehlarik is the only new body among the skaters. Impressed by him thus far…along with the line of Cehlarik/Krejci/David Pastrnak. But again, only 3 games. He played Zdeno Chara over 26 minutes in the last game…still entirely too much. Hasn’t appeared to change much ice time overall among the players.
So again…we will see. But there have been some encouraging signs for sure.
Nice 4 game West Coast trip starting tonight that may shed some more light on the situation. San Jose and Anaheim seem to be tough foes. Los Angeles and Dallas perhaps not…but LA is the 2nd night of a back to back. So maybe.
Definitely intriguing to see how they play the season out, starting with the trading deadline. There are 24 games left. I have no doubt that the Jacobs clan would love at least one round of playoff gates. So perhaps we don’t see much player change until the offseason. Especially the integration of many more youngsters. I don’t think Sweeney will overpay for pieces to prepare for what he thinks will be a long playoff run at the deadline. But I also don’t think he will deal major pieces away over the next couple of weeks either. It’ll be interesting to see how they balance things the remainder of this season.
But hopefully they will be at least on a better track. And certainly more entertaining to watch…