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?
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…