As promised, let’s moved on to the bats. Apparently, the 25 man roster was finalized Tuesday, though it won’t be announced until Opening Day to make sure no one stabs themselves with a pen or trips over a crack in the pavement or something. And…the offensive side of the ball could probably have been predicted correctly days ago by anyone who doesn’t even follow baseball. But that won’t stop the Blowhard from making his comments below!
Overall, it COULD be a strong group and SHOULD be a strong group. But there are some question marks on this side as well. But we will dive into that when we go through the positions.
Once again, we will be using the 40-man roster as a base, while adding in non-roster invitees (NRI) where (if) appropriate:
In: Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon
Comments: Well, that was easy. There are only three catchers on the 40-man roster. And one of them isn’t really a catcher anymore, I don’t think. We will talk about that in more detail later though. As for these two, you could do much worse. Both are serviceable offensively and defensively. Looks like Vasky will be around for a while for sure, as he just signed a fat extension…well, a fat one for him anyway. Leon is never going to hit like he did a couple of years back, but he won’t kill you at the dish. In this lineup, batting ninth, I don’t think we really care about their offense anyway, right?
In: Hanley Ramirez (1B), Eduardo Nunez (2B), Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Mitch Moreland
DL: Dustin Pedroia, Marco Hernandez
Minors: Tzu-Wei Lin, Sam Travis, Ivan DeJesus Jr. (NRI)
Comments: No-brainers here as well, especially after trading Deven Marrero to Arizona a few days back. Believe it or not, we will talk more about Marrero later. DeJesus had zero shot at making the team in reality. But I thought I’d give him some props in this piece since he hit almost .400 this spring. I still have no idea why the team re-signed Moreland, not to mention giving him 2 years. I know, Hanley is always a question mark and the Sox did not have J.D. Martinez in the fold yet. But I think the whole world knew that JD was eventually going to sign here. And that he was likely to spend more time DHing than in the outfield. Thus pushing Hanley to first base…I mean, if he felt like playing the field that is. Because you know he didn’t feel like playing first last year. The shoulder hurt of course. Yup.
Anyway, lots of questions here still. Which Hanley will show up? Nunez should be a more than capable substitute for Pedroia, then a more than capable reserve after Dustin comes back. But he signed late. Is there still concern about his knees? Devers splashed onto the scene last year. Can he take the next step? And perhaps most importantly, will Xander finally reach the supposed unlimited potential that he was earmarked long ago for? Or will he continue to disappoint?
My take? Hanley will be extraordinarily average. But that’s ok since we don’t want him to get the 497 plate appearances he needs to trigger his 2019 option. Goodbye already, as far as I’m concerned. Nunez will be just fine. Devers will have some ups and downs but will be spelled enough by a few guys on the roster so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed. Though I will say, it would not shock me that if he starts somewhat slow, he could find his way back to Pawtucket for more seasoning. As for Bogaerts? Your guess is as good as mine. Plenty of people think manager Alex Cora will fix him. I am not convinced. Earlier in the spring, X seemed to balk at changing his approach. You know the one where he took so many pitches right down the middle of the plate. Maybe that has changed since it looks like he has had a decent spring. But we will see when the lights shine for real.
In: Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF)
Minors: Rusney Castillo (NRI)
Comments: Defensively? Hard to top. Offensively? We will see. Benny should take another step up, in my opinion. I’m hoping Betts rebounds himself. “Rebounds”, I know. Betts finished 6th in the MVP vote last year. But, in all seriousness, did he deserve that? The Blowhard says absolutely not. But we know he has all the tools. Let’s hope he uses them to their full capacity again. Bradley flat-out stinks. He should have been traded the winter after the 2016 season after what most assuredly will be his career year. But I suppose I’m biased. I’ve never liked him. Sure, his D is awesome. But can’t Betts and/or Benintendi play center at least at 85-90% of JBJ’s ability? I think so. I’m also not saying that the Sox should have kept Bryce Brentz to play left…or even play JD full-time in the outfield. I’m just venting I guess. The 7 for 46 (.152) this spring doesn’t help either. Rusney had a good spring and he also seems like he’s a better player than when he first got here. But it looks like he will make his 12 mil again this year in Pawtucket. Just another 12 mil in 2019 and a little over 14 mil in 202o to go on his deal. Solid. Wait…maybe he won’t exercise that 202o player option…ummmmm, nevermind.
Designated Hitter (1):
In: J.D. Martinez
Comments: I honestly did not love the Martinez deal…though if it turns out to be a two-year deal, then it makes it more palatable. That being said, this dude better hit some bombs. He also better not chirp about not playing the outfield much. And Cora better not feel pressure to put him in the outfield much. Let the record show that he hit zero dingers in camp this year. I’ll give him the late start. As well as the fact that he hit over .300. But I’ll be skeptical of this signing…unless it works out of course.
In: Brock Holt, Blake Swihart
Comments: I can’t really call these guys infielders, outfielders or even catchers in Swihart’s case. These guys will play multiple positions. Well, Swihart allegedly will. We really don’t know if he actually can. We know he won’t catch much. The pitchers don’t like to throw to him. Hard to believe he will catch at all under those circumstances. I wonder if he will get much in the form of at-bats overall. Cora talks about using Blake similar to the way the Astros use Marwin Gonzalez. But 500 plate appearances? I don’t see it. Welp, the Sox have already done what they could to ruin his career, so I suppose they can tack on some more of that this year. In all fairness, I suppose the team’s hand was forced with Swihart being out of options. But still…
You were waiting for the part where we would talk more about Deven Marrero? Here it is! We think the Sox should have kept him over Holt. Marrero can’t hit worth a damn. But his glove alone was worth keeping him in tow. Especially considering the infield defense (minus Pedroia) is questionable at best. And Devers may be the first third basemen to have 100 errors in a season. Ok, a little hyperbole there. But you get the point. Holt can play several positions half-decently, but none exceptionally. Marrero could occupy the 25th spot on the roster and be a defensive replacement every game if necessary. Only let him hit when you have to. There is some value in that, believe it or not. Holt may have been useful in 2014 & 2015. But not so much in 2016 & 2017. And has some concussion/vertigo issues. We know what he is. I would’ve moved on.
So there are the initial thoughts on the 2018 Red Sox. Lots of talent, but also lots of injuries and lots of questions. There’s only one more thing to say…LET’S PLAY BALL!!
It’s been 22 days since the Blowhard wrote about what he would do at the Major League Baseball trading deadline if he ran the Boston Red Sox. If you recall, I actually proposed selling off pieces and getting a head start on next season, despite the fact that the Red Sox were in first place at that time. Just didn’t feel comfortable with the team…on and off the field. Didn’t think they had enough to compete for a World Series title, especially when it came to teams in the National League like the Dodgers and Nationals…and presumably the Cubs. I knew the team selling wouldn’t happen, but still offered up some ideas on what courses of action I would seriously consider.
What’s happened since then? The Sox have only gone 14-4. Yup, direct hit with the suggestions again. Good thing no one reads this page…
Does the recent stretch of success change my overall feeling as we head into the final 41 games of the regular season? Well actually, not at all.
I’m going to spare you the review of every original bullet point from the July column. But there are a few appropriate ones that still hold true in my eyes.
The Red Sox made one more move before the MLB trading deadline in July after the original post on 7/28. That was adding set-up man/part-time closer Addison Reed from the Mets. No, I am not counting the move that happened yesterday, losing Noe Ramirez on waivers to the Angels. And you thought I cared about the 39th-40th man on the 40-man roster! Well, yup, I do…just not today…
Reed didn’t endear himself to any of the fans when he first got here, but made it up to some people with his performance last night. Definitely a solid addition. But the fact remains that pretty much the rest of the bullpen sucks. Ok, that is harsh. But Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly don’t inspire confidence in key situations. And besides Reed and Craig Kimbrel, those two are the next in line. Brandon Workman? Perhaps. Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, Fernando Abad? Useful 10-12th (13th?) pitchers on a major league staff. But not people I’d like to see in the 7th inning of a close game against a contender, as Hembree and Scott were last night. Still some holes out there.
Speaking of holes, the predicted Drew Pomeranz injury indeed popped up last night. What happens if this lingers? Eduardo Rodriguez is too inconsistent. David Price, for better or for worse, will not be back this year. Yup, take that to the bank. I proposed seeing if some team would somehow trade for him in the last piece…then he went on the DL hours later. Trade was never going to happen, I acknowledge. But of course his injury flared up again anyway. Have the surgery already…
Oh…Doug Fister sucks…ssssssoooo…other than Chris Sale, the starting rotation still has its holes as well.
The lineup has scored some more runs over the 18 game stretch…and also has had a couple of nice comebacks against the Yankees and Cardinals. But overall, it is too inconsistent to rely on. The same issues presented a few weeks ago persist. Xander had a nice homer the other night, but has still frustrated all of Red Sox Nation. Speaking of frustration…Hanley Ramirez everyone! Rafael Devers has not cooled off, nor has Eduardo Nunez since they’ve both arrived. I imagine that has to change. And one of the teams hottest hitters in July was Dustin Pedroia. Who knows what you will get out of him the rest of the year? Mitch Moreland had a nice pinch hit last night. But he is still…Mitch Moreland. And on and on we can go…and I’m not even going to talk about the rampant putrid baserunning decisions.
Also, let’s look a little deeper into that 14-4 record. 8-0 against the White Sox, Rays and Cardinals. Not exactly the iron of the league. In fact, the White Sox should currently be playing in the International League with the roster they have now. And the Red Sox didn’t exactly smoke them in their 4 game set. That leaves a 6-4 mark against the Yankees, Indians and Royals (a team that should be better than their record). So while 14-4 is impressive indeed, it is a smidge misleading.
I think we need to see how the next 16 game stretch goes. 2 more against the Yanks at home, then 11 of 14 on the road against the Indians, Blue Jays and Yanks again. 6 more division games at home after that. Let’s take a look after the next 22 days then. The AL East is mediocre this year, but that doesn’t make the games any easier when the calendar turns to September. They should still be a tough road to hoe.
I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I am actually happy we can still talk baseball heading into September. I’m just here to throw the caution flag up. I’m not sure this team has any business competing for a championship. You might say, “well the 2013 team really shouldn’t have either”. You would be 100% correct. But the 2013 team had many players that overachieved. The 2017 team has many players underachieving. The players in 2013 seemed tighter with no clubhouse drama (that I recall anyway). And while there hasn’t been much chatter about the clubhouse in recent weeks (coincidentally, after Price went on the DL?), I wouldn’t say that things are all rosy there all of a sudden. I suppose we can say all the players are united against the media, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a great clubhouse.
John Farrell has managed both clubs. It’s a minor miracle either team was ever in the mix with him in charge…
…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…