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Winding down the disappointment…still…

…as promised (warned?), I wasn’t done from yesterday:

*Xander:  By all accounts, Xander Bogaerts has had an unbelievable season.  But has he?  Please let me preface this by saying the arrow is certainly pointed up.  And he turns just 23 in a couple of weeks.  So please do not take this as extreme criticism of the kid.  Just pointing out facts.

Before Friday’s action, he was hitting .321.  Very nice indeed.  Looks like he will compete for 2nd in batting in the AL.  Hell, Miguel Cabrera leads at .336, and currently qualifies with enough plate appearances.  But Miggy is 38 shy of the 502 necessary at season’s end and if the Tigers shut him down early, X can win it.  Ok, unlikely they will do that, but…anyway, the average is nice.

Only 25 walks puts his on-base percentage at .352.  Not horrible…still tied for 23rd in the AL.  And better than the .297 in 2014.  He’s cut down on his strikeouts from 138 to 85.  His OPS is up over a hundred points to .767.  But .767 for a #3 hitter?  That actually puts him at 38th in the AL.

The glaring thing for me is the FIVE home runs.  He even had 12 last year.  Jackie Bradley Jr. has 8.  Travis Shaw has 11.  Mookie Betts has 15.  The first two listed here have a third of X’s plate appearances.

The kid has had a nice year.  They put him back at shortstop from the start and he has responded.  The future looks very bright.  I’m a big fan.  All I am saying is let’s not get carried away like some of the local yahoo’s have and put him in Cooperstown yet.  There’s a lot more of the upside yet to be realized.  Let’s hope he realizes it before Scotty Boras shuffles him out of town in a few years.

*Fat Panda:  Having back issues.  What a big surprise.  I would love if Dave Dombrowski could unload this contract.  Fat chance of that happening, pun totally intended.

I will say, if somehow he gets in some sort of shape…I don’t have to tell you how big an “if” that is…maybe his second year in the AL goes better than the first.  If this lineup is what it should be, all he has to do is do what he did in San Francisco.  And then maybe they can unload him as the deal gets cheaper.

*Kids (offense):  Even though it may have seemed harsh above on Xander (age 22), he has taken a step up this year for sure.  Mookie (22) has as well.  JBJ (25) has shown some competence…more than previous years.  Blake Swihart (23) arrived earlier than expected and survived a rough start to get up around .275.  Rusney (28), though not as young as the rest, has flourished somewhat with regular playing time.  Shaw (25) has been a little bit of a find.  Christian Vazquez (25) missed the year of course, but in 2014 he obviously showed some promise for the future.

These are only the guys that are already here.  There are others like Manuel Margot, Rafael Devers, Yoan Moncada, et al, that may be here soon enough.  Those are the names you hear most, but according to “people who know”, there are other decent prospects in the lower levels too.

Some of the above will probably go in trades.  Can’t possibly keep them all.  But it is hard not to be excited about the talent we have already seen at the major league level.  Sprinkle in a few pieces here and there and the offense looks like the foundation is set.  Now, for the opposite…

*Rotation:  Thanks to Ben, it appears the 2016 starting rotation is just about set as well.  But ummmmm…this is not a good thing.  Rick Porcello’s 20-plus mil contract kicks in next year.  There is no way anyone is biting on that.  If someone does, Dombrowski deserves Executive of the Year in a landslide.  (How’s that Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Wilson for Porcello trade looking as well, Ben?  Ugh…).  DD has already essentially acknowledged they will pick up Clay Buchholz’ option at 13 mil, “if he is healthy”.  That’s a huge stretch for Clay of course, but at that money and with his stuff, I suppose you kind of have to pick it up.  Despite the fact that he will never be a 200/220 inning guy with 16-20 wins, like his stuff often suggests.

Wade Miley is on the hook for about 15 mil over the next 2 years.  Sadly, he will end the year as the teams’ best starter.  For that price he won’t kill you.  But he also may be tradeable at that price.  I don’t see them doing that though.  DD has already floated that he expects Joe Kelly to be a starter.  Hopefully that was just lip service.  This guy has middle relief written all over him.  Fine one time through the order, but after?  All bets are off.  Throws 98 but doesn’t miss bats.  That’s a nice 10th pitcher on any staff I say.

But there are 4 of the “5 aces” Ben put together at the start of 2015.  Mercifully, Justin Masterson is long gone.  But the other 4 mediocre guys remain.  Throw in the kids that have thrown pretty decent this year, Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens, and one that supposedly has promise in Brian Johnson.  Now all of a sudden you have a crowded rotation…and possibly no room to get that one “ace” that you really need.

Thankfully, Dombrowski is no stranger to the trade market.  And I would guess any one of the above could be had for the right price.  Not that I would just give any of those guys away…other than Porcello.  But I believe that DD will indeed land a top-notch #1 over winter.  David Price would just cost money.  But there are always those studs on small market teams that are heading to arbitration or free agency and can be had for prospects.  Gotta believe he will land that #1 somehow.  I think that interview from earlier this week about “building up the pitching staff, starting from the bullpen” is somewhat of a smokescreen.  Though we’ll talk about the ‘pen later.

What I would do?  Glad you asked!  Go get a #1 for whatever it takes.  Slot Bucky, Porcello, Miley and E-Rod 2-5 (yikes!).  Kelly goes in long relief.  Steven Wright also in ‘pen.  There are your spot starters.  Acquire 87 stout bullpen arms.  If Owens and Johnson are still here in the spring, stash in Pawtucket for the time being.  If Bucky gets off to a hot start, immediately deal him and get a reliable #2.  Try to get a reliable #2 anyway, someone proven.  Something like that anyway.  Bottom line, if Bucky gets back to exhibiting ANY trade value whatsoever…TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!

With all the contracts and limited trade value of a lot of the guys here, that may be the best we can hope for.  It’s easy to say “go get 2 #1’s and a #2, then…”.  But not entirely realistic…no matter how much money you have.

*Bullpen:  What a colossal disaster.  Combination of washed up major leaguers, “not ready” minor leaguers and veteran AAAA guys right now.  And I am not even including Rich Hill, who somehow dominated a start last week.  Get ready for 3 1/3 IP & 7 runs if he gets another one.  Look at the names:  Breslow, Cook, Mendez, Machi, Layne, Hembree, Ogando, Aro, Barnes, Ross and some dude named “Noe”.  Of course Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa are their best 2 relievers.  But, predictably, Koji is hurt and Junichi’s arm actually fell off earlier this month.  Ben clearly missed the trade window on these guys…but they aren’t the first players he missed trade windows on, ssssooooo…it just sucks that a lot of us have been pining for the return of Edward Mujica.  Ok, maybe not…but the point has been made I believe.

Solution?  Keep Koji and Taz, but don’t warm them up 3 times a game every game through June whether or not they get into the actual game.  Think the trade value on them now is low, so there is not really much choice.  Sign/trade for 2 or 3 REAL relievers, preferably ones that throw hard.  Overpay if you have to…you can, you are the Red Sox!  Load up on 5 other decent guys and then see what falls out in March.  Stash a few in AAA if you can.  Tell Barnes he is either a starter or reliever and have him prepare accordingly over the winter.  Maybe he can be salvaged.  Bullpen arms are tricky.  Never know what you are going to get from year to year.  Just toss some dough at bunch of them…can’t really give you anything more scientific than that, unfortunately.

*Kids (pitching):  At various points in 2014, think of all the young arms the organization was touting:  Owens, Barnes, Rodriguez, Allen Webster, Rubby de la Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Johnson, maybe even Drake Britton or Eduardo Escobar…maybe more.

Well, like a year later, where do these guys stand?  Not necessarily pretty.  de la Rosa was fairly decent last year.  Webster was not anywhere near that.  They both were dispatched for an average Miley.  And those 2 remain about the same in AZ.  Ranaudo was sent straight up for Robbie Ross Jr.  That should tell you all you need to know.  And Ranaudo has been shelled in TX when up this year for good measure.  Britton was terrible in Pawtucket last year in the bullpen, and was busy getting blasted in the Cubs farm system this year as well, both starting and relieving.  Escobar was hurt essentially all year.  Johnson got hurt in the 2nd half.  Though Owens has pitched ok this year overall, his stock has fallen in the past couple of years.  Barnes wasn’t very good as a starter or reliever.  The only one that came close to matching all the hype was Rodriguez.

As opposed to the kids coming up through the system as every day players, the ground has not been as fertile for the young pitchers rising up.  All the more important for DD to make the right decisions here over the winter and through into next season…guess that goes without saying…

 

 

 

 

Quick turnaround…

So the Red Sox made some swift moves after losing out on bringing Jon Lester back.  But were they good ones?  They wouldn’t overpay for Lester, but seemingly overpaid for average pitchers?

At first blush, I can’t say that I am all that excited about any of them.  They got decent pitchers, but no aces, obviously.  Let’s hope the Sox aren’t done making moves.  Because there is still a lot of work to be done.

Let’s take a look at each deal individually:

*Wade Miley to Red Sox; Allen Webster, Rubby de la Rosa and Raymel Flores to Arizona:

Miley seems to be a decent pitcher.  Lefty.  Young enough at 28.  Middle of the rotation guy.  But ummmm, that is not what they need.  Have plenty of those already.

No one seems concerned that, since being an All-Star and 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2012, his ERA and WHIP have increased every year?  And if you are a “win” guy, his wins have been cut in half?  I’m not going to hold a lot of weight on the win part, but the other trends are a little concerning…especially since he was doing this in the National League West.  Other than Colorado, aren’t the other parks pitchers’ parks?  Maybe my understanding is wrong.  The American League East seems to be no longer the powerhouse it has been for years.  But I still believe it to be stronger than the NL West.

Sure, he pitches 200 innings and his strikeout rate went up last year.  Big deal.  The Sox could get Tim Wakefield back and he could throw 200 innings.  Throwing 200 innings is nice, especially since Clay Buchholz has never done it and will not likely ever do it.  But it’s better to be actually…good.

He’s cheaper than Jon Lester sure, but his salary will go from 500k to estimates of 5 mil in his first year of arbitration.  Must be nice to regress and then cash in.

As for the departed, the one guy in all these trades that I would’ve liked to have kept is de la Rosa.  Maybe because I have no idea how Flores will turn out to be in the future.  He is only 19 years old.  I’m sure I saw him play in Lowell more than a few times last year, but he doesn’t stick out as someone that was anyone special.  But who knows with 19 year olds?

As for Rubby, most of all I liked his ability to throw gas, which is something the Sox do not have a lot of.  He showed flashes last year and has had the best performance career-wise so far of all the “kids” that the Sox supposedly have.  I thought at the very least that he could transition to the back end of the bullpen well if he didn’t work out as a starter.  I felt there was a lot to like about him and would’ve stuck him in the rotation.  Time will tell on this one.

You can have Allen Webster though.  He did pitch better the more he was in the majors, but I have never been overly impressed with him.  Despite all the praise he has received all along.  And that the Sox “stole” him from the Dodgers.  Just didn’t see it with him.

So the Sox apparently had guys like Henry Owens (obviously), Chris Johnson, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Eddy Rodriguez, etc. rated ahead of the two pitchers they dealt, and were comfortable letting them go.  And I am almost always in favor of trading “prospects” for proven major leaguers.  But is Wade Miley that “proven major leaguer”?  Felt like this was an overpayment actually.

*Justin Masterson signed to 1 year deal for 9.5 mil:

Not much to really say here, as the Sox didn’t have to give up anyone.  Just the dough.

I actually don’t mind this move, though the money seems to be a little steep, especially since he could end up in the bullpen.  Believe it can go to 12 mil with incentives.  But it’s only 1 year, so I’m not going to get too hung up on it.

Again though, it’s not like they are actually “replacing” Lester here.  They are just adding another arm.  And who’s to say that someone like Owens or Rodriguez can’t give you what Masterson will give you?  Keep one of them up and spend Justin’s money on…well, an ace!  That seemed like a better option to me.  But based on the circumstances, I will live with him for this year.

*Rick Porcello to Sox; Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier to Tigers:

Porcello seems to be a better bet than Miley…he’s younger, has pitched in the AL his whole career, has improved yearly for the most part…and all of that.  But that doesn’t make him an ace.  They also had to give up significantly more, in trade capital as well as upcoming dollars (8.5 mil last year, maybe 12 plus this year through arbitration?).  He can also be a free agent after this year.

Let’s also not go crazy about him being a “200 inning pitcher”, as everyone seems to be harping on and lauding him for.  He has thrown 200 innings in a season exactly ONCE in his 6 year career.  Sure, he was up around 175 for the other 5 pretty much.  But 200 is a significant barrier these days.  Doing it once does not make him a “horse”.  And definitely not an “ace”, as I have already said.

I’ll take him on the staff, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve never been huge on him, but of the 5 slated to start the season in the rotation (Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Miley, Masterson the others of course), I actually probably like him the best.  That’s not saying much with that crew however.

I’m a little bothered by the fact that Yoenis Cespedes only provided Porcello in return.  AND, the Sox had to throw other bodies in.  The Tigers can have Alex Wilson, though when he was in Boston he always seemed to perform.  He has been talked about as a decent prospect in the past, but you could tell how the Sox really felt about him when he did pitch.  He couldn’t crack their bullpen full time, for one.  He was a short reliever in his minor league career, did some closing as well.  But when they brought him up here, they would toss him 2 or 3 innings and then ship him back.  Definitely didn’t seem too concerned about his arm.  Bet a lot of people didn’t know he was 28 years old either.  Getting up there for someone who was supposed to be a prospect.

Same thing goes for Speier that went for Flores above.  Except he wasn’t in Lowell last year, so I know I’ve never seen him.  But who knows at age 19?  I’ve never seen either of them on “top prospect” lists either, for whatever that’s worth.

But I expected a greater haul for Yoenis…as well as no need to throw other bodies in.  The guy has POWER, of which a limited supply of that exists out there.  Sure, he has only 1 year left on his contract.  But so does Porcello.  Sure, he has pretty much made it clear he intends to test free agency.  But I imagine Porcello will too.  Sure, everyone knew that the Sox planned on playing Hanley Ramirez in left.  And that the Sox had extra outfielders.  But this shouldn’t have hurt them in the market.  Maybe he did refuse to play RF next year.  Maybe those rumors of not being “coachable” were true.  Just seems like they could’ve gotten at least a little more for him and maybe they could have waited a bit before pulling the trigger.

As I stated in my last post, I am going to refrain from going too crazy about all of these moves and non-moves until the roster is set sometime in February.  This is a decent start, though still underwhelming for an organization of this stature.  Let’s just hope this is not the finish though as well.

 

 

Addendum…Sox ideas

As promised, some thoughts on what the Red Sox should do heading toward the deadline.  I don’t care if the standings say they are 6-7 games out of a playoff spot.  Just isn’t happening.  Feels like the 2005 team.  Remember them?  World Series hangover baby.  Tito stuck with Millar and Bellhorn for waaaaay too long (cuz they were “his guys”).  Johnny Olerud was lighting it up but not playing (37 RBI in 192 plate appearances, Millar 50 RBI in 519 PA…and yes, I just looked it up).  Foulk-ie collapsed completely.  Instead of Pedro and Schill, it was Wake and Arroyo…and Matty Clement started Game 1 and got shellacked.  Guys like Blaine Neal and Chad Harville were getting time…and who remembers 39 year old Mike Remlinger giving up 14 runs in 6.2 innings over 8 games?  I didn’t…looked that up too.  But I remember Clement…and the general feeling that whole year.  Kind of applies here I think…

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to sell off ALL of the good players.  But they can certainly sell off parts.  And investigate selling off anyone.  See what the return is.  The Sox will never sell off anyone, so I don’t believe anything significant will happen.  Unless they are as bad as the Bobby V year in August and someone agrees to come in and do them a favor.  But what are the chances of THAT happening again?

*Lester.  Truth be told, I want the guy back.  I would pay him too, despite being 31 by next year.  I waffled on this for a while.  I never thought he was a #1 pitcher on a staff.  But a pretty good #2 at worst.  Pitched under the bright lights of Boston for his whole career and clearly can handle it.  Pitches great in the playoffs.  Gamer.  Thankfully, Beckett was ushered out of town and Jonny Boy seemed to get back to normal.  I was pretty appalled that Lester ended up treating Tito like garbage at the end of Tito’s tenure, when Tito treated him like a son during the cancer years.  Seems like he had his head back on straight now though.  Regardless, he is not worth what he is most assuredly asking for.  But he’s better than what Uncle Larry (Lucchino) is lowballing him with…4 for 70 mil?  Please.  I want him back for the above attributes…plus some veteran needs to help groom the kids in.  Who better than him?  That being said, if he stonewalls, maybe the Sox can see what the return is?

*Lackey.  Move him.  Today.  He’s going to retire?  Please.  He’s just pissed about pitching for 500k next year.  I suppose I would be too.  But he signed the deal.  And they paid him like 16 mil for a year he didn’t pitch.  And another 16 mil for a year Sox fans wish he didn’t.  F him.  I actually supported the signing when it happened…I mean, can you ever have enough pitching?  But then I saw him making faces and calling out his fielders and yelling at players and all that crap and hated him ever since.  Screw him.  Deal him while he is pitching well (besides last night).  Let the 500k year be someone else’s problem.

*Peavy/Mujica.  Get these guys back to the NL, where they can go back to being mediocre, but successful.  Get anything you can for these clowns.

*Buchholz.  God I would like to deal him.  Done with him all around.  Pu$$Y, simple as that.  But you ain’t getting crap for him now.  Best case scenario is him pitching great in 2nd half, with no pressure of a pennant race.  And then unloading him for hopefully something half-decent.  But wouldn’t expect a lot.

*Koji.  Tough call.  I love this dude.  Who doesn’t??  But the fact is he will be 40 this offseason.  They would have to qualify him at about 15 mil to keep him, from my understanding.  Too rich?  Maybe.  The thing I keep coming back to is that some contending team may pay you a ransom for him.  Simply because of that, it is worth considering dealing him.  It just doesn’t seem realistic that he keeps doing what he has done for the last year over the next year plus.  Doesn’t make sense.  He’s always been a damn good pitcher.  But hasn’t lasted too many full seasons.  I’d at least see what the return could be.  Take it from there.  Who closes after he goes?  Who cares?  Kevin Gregg used to save 35+ games a year. Doug Jones.  A lot of stiffs.  Someone could do it.

*Nava/Breslow.  I lump these guys together because their value was never going to be higher than last offseason.  That was the time to deal them.  Keep Breslow now though…and see if you can get a fringe prospect for Nava,  For Chrissakes, they bought Nava for a dollar years ago.  So the Sox win in the end either way.

*AJ.  Release him.  Today.  The guy is a cancer, can’t catch and was brought on to at least hit and hasn’t done that.  If you can get some kid in 3rd grade for him in a trade, fine.  Get him out of here.  Split Ross and Vazquez the rest of the year.  Mix in Butler if you have to.  Or even Lavarnway for that matter when he is healthy.  Just dump AJ.  I feel pretty strongly about this.

*Gomes.  It’s a matter of time before he starts squawking about losing PT to guys like Holt and Betts…infielders just now learning to play the outfield.  His intangibles are so totally overrated, it is laughable.  Get him out of town before he becomes a cancer like AJ…if it’s not too late.

*Carp.  Haha, who wants this joke?  Why in the world did the Sox not bite in the exhibition season, when teams were “sniffing around” him?  You can find a Mike Carp anywhere.  I think they did find him in Brock Holt…except Holt may be better.

*Drew.  Just the name is enough said.  The signing was a joke…on so many levels.  I think I covered all that.  But if you eat salary, a contender may take him.  Do everything you can to drum up interest.  And then give him away and cut your losses.  He broke up the no-hitter tonight.  See if anyone bites on that!  ANYTHING!!

*Bogaerts.  Don’t even think of dealing him!  But during this horrific stretch, is a wake up call to Pawtucket out of the question?  Although I would be surprised if it happened, I actually would not be opposed to it.  Maybe this stretch before the All-Star break is the time to do it?  May also allow them to give a stretch of time at the big league level to Cecchini as well.

*Kid pitchers.  Time to make some decisions here.  As noted yesterday, they all can’t play here.  They all won’t fit on the 40-man roster at the end of the year.  Some are going to have to be dealt.  Barnes has struggled a bit in Pawtucket.  Britton has as well, but maybe that is because he is not used to pitching out of the ‘pen.  But the others are pitching very well.  Rubby, Webster, Ranaudo, Owens, Workman up here.  Even Steven Wright (though not a kid, but maybe he is as a knuckleballer?).  Time to deal from a position of strength.  Get a young OF prospect.

Regardless, the Sox need to be active at the deadline…or before.  Wishful thinking I know.  Ratings.  Money.  Uncle Larry.  But maybe some sense is out there to be had…

 

 

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