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So What Do We Do Now?

The Major League Baseball trade deadline is a little more than 24 hours away.  What are the Boston Red Sox going to do?  Anything?

Or was Andrew Cashner their big (and only) move?

Welp, I really don’t know what they are going to do.  Does anyone?  Furthermore, would you believe that I am on the fence about actually doing ANYTHING?!

I know, I know, 28 days ago, I was clearly not on the fence.  I wanted to sell.  And you know what?  Part of me still wants to sell.  Even with the Sox a mere one game out of the wild card race.

I just don’t feel that this team has “it” this year.  Inconsistency all year long, can I ever really buy in?

That 5-2 mark on the first half of a killer stint against the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees was nice, real nice (although sweeping the Yanks would have been even nicer…thanks Chris Sale!).

But who is to say they don’t go 2-5 on the last half of that?  I mean, before the 5-2 run, they lost 2 of 3 against Baltimore, the worst team in the majors at the time (they are still bad, just second worst now).

I am not sold.  Truth be told, I am not sure I ever will be.,

Not unlike the 2013 Boston Red Sox.  I was NEVER sold on them, and then they went out and won the World Series.

The big difference?  This 2019 Sox team has more talent top to bottom.  I mean, is it even close?  Not really.  Besides the bullpen maybe…and DEFINITELY the 2013 closer, Koji Uehara, who was unhittable that year, as opposed to all the flotsam closing games for the Sox in 2019.

So we all really SHOULD have some confidence in this team, despite its ups and downs this season.  But again, I am not there yet.

But if President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski goes out and adds a closer and maybe another late inning bullpen arm?

Then you may get me on board.

Barely.

But I may be back on the ship.

Publicly, Dombrowski says they aren’t actively looking for help.  They don’t want to go over the luxury tax, blah, blah, blah…

But privately, one would have to believe that he is doing his job.  He HAS to be, no?

The most popular name connected to the Sox now is closer Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets.

How do I feel about Diaz?  Welp, he was very good for the Seattle Mariners his first three years in the majors, including being lights out in 2018.  But he has apparently been just a little bit better than atrocious for the Mets this season.  Harsh analysis probably, yeah.  But the numbers aren’t very good.

One thought that doesn’t escape my mind is that he was pitching in relative anonymity in Seattle.  Now he is pitching in the big city (yeah, albeit the Mets, not Yanks…but still…The Big Apple) and not pitching well.  In the relatively average National League East division.

Is there more to that story?

Not sure, but worth thinking about.  If Diaz is not going to hold up in the pressure cooker that is Boston, well, it would be good to know before the Sox overpay for him.  And if they get him, they no doubt will have to overpay.  Specifically, because he is cheap and under team control for several more years.

What does “overpay” mean?  Just saw something earlier that the Mets may ask for Andrew Benintendi because they want Major League guys in return.  Yikes!  Benny may never develop into an All-Star, but he should be a pretty good outfielder for years to come.  If it’s Benny for Diaz and others?  I suppose I wouldn’t rule that out.  There should be plenty of offense for the Sox to survive without Benny…even if Jackie Bradley Jr. plays every day and Sandy Leon plays more than he should.

Prospects?  All…Day…Long.  Prospects for “proven” Major League Players should be done 98% of the time.  Especially when the organization may not have any “no-doubters” as prospects.  Bobby Dalbec, a third baseman by trade with pop, is currently rated the Sox’ #2 prospect.  But he is 24 years old, this is his 6th year in the minors, is hitting .230 at AA Portland…and of course would be blocked by the blossoming Rafael Devers at third by the team that plays at Fenway Park.

Dalbec is one of the popular names being talked about, but would the Mets even want him?  Not so sure.  And he is the teams’ number TWO prospect!

Give them any pitching prospects…most I have never heard of.  But also they seem to get hurt anyway (see:  Kopech, Michael; Kelly, Casey; Espinoza, Anderson; Groome, Jay, etc.).

Tristan Casas seems to be an interesting name.  He is listed as the #1 prospect.  But who really knows about him?

Michael Chavis?  On the fence.  Once again.  Part of me thinks the same as what I was told by some jamoke yesterday (“I’d drive Chavis to wherever he gets traded to.  Once he gets popped for PEDs again, he’s done…”  I am paraphrasing, of course).  The PED thing is certainly real.  And he wasn’t good the first several years in the minors, has a breakout year, then gets popped for juicing.  Certainly curious.  But perhaps he “figured things out” and “grew into his body more”…and all that nonsense?  Can’t rule it out.  Wouldn’t be the first player ever to do that.

Make no mistake, if the Red Sox land Diaz (or any closer worth his salt), they WILL overpay.

Are there other options besides Diaz?  I suppose.  Two of the most popular names on the trade market in its entirety are Ken Giles and Kirby Yates.

Giles??  No thanks.  Wildly inconsistent in his career and now has a bum elbow.  For the price the Jays will want, absolutely not.

Yates??  Also, no thanks.  He was a journeyman for years, had a good 2017, a very good 2018 (both primarily in middle relief) and is lights out this year as a closer.  But…all in San Diego.  Talk about no pressure.  And the haul of players for him could be astronomical, based on the circumstances.  All things considered, I wouldn’t love the move.  My guess is that he would come to Boston and the clock would strike midnight.  My opinion anyway.

I’m sure there are other bullpen guys out there that we don’t know about…Will Smith from the Giants is another that would come at a cost.  Last I saw though San Francisco was thinking about not moving him.  But there will be others.  Less effective for sure.  But less costly.  And probably better options than some of the guys out in the Sox bullpen right now?  Goes without saying they should be able to get someone better than Ryan Weber or Mike Shawaryn or Josh A. Smith.  But if they buy, I’d like them to get a closer AND a guy better than Heath Hembree or Marcus Walden.

Too much to ask?  Probably.  The Sox may not have the assets to do so anyway.  And of course they will be crying about the luxury tax too.  Boo-hoo.

But if they want me back on board, this is what they need to do, at a minimum.  Nathan Eovaldi is not the answer in the ‘pen, though when he gets back on track he can’t hurt.  Keep him in the mix with the Matt Barnes’ and Brandon Workmans’ and maybe again the Ryan Brasiers’ (Brasier hasn’t been great this year, but he hasn’t been awful.  His demotion seemed a bit rash.  As a 6th/7th inning guy you could do a lot worse).

Because. let’s face it, there is no chance in hell the Boston Red Sox are going to sell.  As much as I was kind of hoping for it a month ago.

Your move Dave…

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SELL!!

So, that London series was fun, eh?!

29 runs given up, 21 by that vaunted bullpen that we’ve already covered ad nauseam…sweet.  Well, the Boston Red Sox DID score 21 themselves.  Of course, after they got down big in both games.  Then couldn’t get a key hit to actually come all the way back in either.

Where does this leave the team?  I say it’s time to sell off parts.

84 games in and now 11 games behind the division leading New York Yankees.  Sure, they are only 2 games out of the second wild card (4 out of the top spot).  But does this feel like a team that can make some noise come playoff time?

No F’n way.  Not to me anyway.  And I think to most of us.

We are not even at the All-Star break quite yet, why am I so ready to throw in the towel?

It’s pretty easy to understand actually.  I mean, you have seen how listless they have appeared for most of the year, right?

The players (and the manager, and the front office, and the rest of the organization…) will undoubtedly blame the long 2018 season for the way they came out of the gate for this current season…and how they have kind of sleepwalked since then.  And maybe that is a factor…though it really should be a small one.

The Red Sox brought 21 of the 25 guys back who were on the World Series roster last season.  And one of the departed, Drew Pomeranz, doesn’t even count since he didn’t even pitch for several weeks down the stretch, including the playoffs.  Ian Kinsler, Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel were essentially the only departures.  Most of the guys on the current roster were here last year as well, although not active for the World Series, or the playoffs for that matter.  But here nonetheless.

Really, when you think about it, the only two players that have played more than a minor role on this years’ team that was not involved in any way last year at all are Michael Chavis and Colton Brewer.  I’ll give you Marcus Walden too if you like.  Since he pitched a few innings early in the year and then was never to be heard from again.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  that is not enough player turnover.  You need new blood every year, but especially after winning it all.  Keeps the fire burning and everyone is presumably still hungry.

Add this to the fact that Manager Alex Cora simply did not have the team ready to go right out of Spring Training, another colossal mistake.  “We did the same thing last year…” he liked to say in April.  Welp, every year is different, so they need to be treated differently.  Even I know that.

With this, the wretched bullpen that is like FOUR arms away from being useful, four arms that aren’t anywhere near the organization at this time and everything else, my recommendation is that they make some deals at the trade deadline.  Sending guys out that is.

The team has already made it clear that they do not want to go over the luxury tax limit.  So where are they going to acquire good bullpen arms, to start?  They have no real prospects to give up, ones that other teams want anyway.  So how do they fix things?

They don’t.

Since the farm system is so barren, maybe it’s time to see what some of these players can get you?  Granted, most of these guys won’t fetch much.  But you never know.

There is one trade deadline this year, on July 31st.  No more “waiver” deadline on August 31st.  Is this a good thing?  I don’t know.  At first blush, I say no.  Some decent deals can happen in August.  There are two full months to go after the deadline as it stands this year.  That is a long time.  Still a lot of clubs that think they have a chance.  That number dwindles in August and makes things ripe for more deals.  I don’t think I like it, but let’s see how it plays out this first year in existence.

So if the Sox are going to make moves, they have to happen sooner rather than later.  And, as stated above, how can one be confident in this team as currently constituted going forward?

Not to mention that stretch in late July/early August with the 14 games in 15 days against only the Yanks and Tampa Bay.  8 of them against the Yankees, what is that 2-6 maybe?

So this will never happen at all, I will guarantee it.  The Sox have spent too much money and there is too much talent on the roster for the organization to wave the white flag.  They all will think they can turn that proverbial switch when it matters too.  But let’s take a quick look below at specific things I would do, or at least consider doing, before July 31st, by positional group:

Catcher:  No need to do anything here.  Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon are good enough.  But maybe they can get Blake Swihart back?  (I may never give this up!).  Although Blake has been even more atrocious in Arizona than he was in Boston.  That’s what happens when you play once every 10-15 days or so I guess.

Infield:  Mitch Moreland and Steven Pearce seemed like a GREAT idea to platoon at first base for the 2019 season when it started.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way.  Both of these contracts will expire at seasons end and it seems that Chavis has kind of locked in that first base role at this point anyway.  If healthy, both Moreland and Pearce can provide some value to a (real) contending team.  They won’t fetch a ton, but it should be considered.

Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez also are up at the end of the season.  These guys won’t get you anything so I guess I probably wouldn’t bother.  I don’t think I don’t want either of these dudes back next year, so maybe they can explore it.  I’d actually take Holt back, but he may be up for a decent raise…and he can never stay healthy either.  And I don’t want to see him every day at second base next year anyway.

Outfield:  Here’s the big one.  To start, let’s ship Jackie Bradley Jr. out of town as soon as possible.  He hit .315 with 5 homers and 14 RBIs in June.  .992 OPS.  There is his hot month.  He is making 8.5 mil this year, with one more year of arbitration next year.  Probably get 10-12 mil or so.  For 5 bad months and one good one.  Let’s sell high now and hope some team is dumb enough to give them something good for him.

The elephant in the room?  Mookie Betts.  I am not in favor of moving him just to move him.  But if he is really not going to sign here long term, then the reality is the Sox need to shop him.  I have no idea if he wants to re-sign here.  But it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.  And that is the popular opinion.  The Red Sox HAVE to know how he feels, way better then Joe Fan does.  If he is truly a flight risk, the Sox need to take action.  Don’t be rash, but it has to be a real option.  Although I will take a proven Major League player over prospects 100 times out of a 100, this may be an opportunity to do some replenishing on the farm.

J.D. Martinez has to be a consideration to move too.  I believe there is a pretty good chance he opts out after this year and tries to secure that one last guaranteed contract…for more than he is supposed to get the next three years.  Again, the team has to have a better idea of his feelings on opting in or out after the season.  If the sense is that he will opt out, trades would have to be explored here.

Pitching staff:  I don’t have the stomach to split out the bullpen and no one wants any of those guys anyway.  The one starter that should have some value is Rick Porcello.  Seeing he’s up after this year and the signing of Nathan Eovaldi basically ensured the Sox wouldn’t re-sign him, Porcello should be shopped.  Sure, he’s not the “Cy Young Rick Porcello” this season, but he can eat innings and contribute to a contender.  No doubt about it.

Once again, none of this will happen.  Then the Sox will squeak into the playoffs and lose in the first round.

But think about it, even if the Sox were able to unload most of the players with expiring contracts (or close to it) talked about above, they would still have a nice core of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Chris Sale, David Price, Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez (I guess), Vazquez, Chavis and I suppose a couple of bullpen arms that can work the 6th and 7th.  Maybe some decent major league players coming back in trades.  Perhaps a top (real) prospect or three.  And all of a sudden some money to spend, being not right up against the luxury tax anyway.

A World Series winning team?  Unlikely.  But making the best of a bad situation?  Perhaps…It COULD be an interesting few weeks for the Red Sox.  If they want it to be…

Spring Training Nonsense, Part II…

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!

Catcher:

Locks:  None

DL:  None

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.

Infield:

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.

Outfield:

Locks:  Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF), J.D. Martinez (DH)

DL:  None

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…

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