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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…

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Infuriating…

…moving on from the Celtics to the Red Sox, as we still struggle with accepting the Bruins’ Game 7 Stanley Cup Final loss.  We will at some point and of course have plenty to say when we get there.

But for now, let’s start a running tally of random Sox thoughts that have been bouncing around the old noggin’ for a few weeks now.  Some of them are perhaps outdated.  But so be it.  Again, in no particular order.

*I’m still OUT.  Exactly halfway through the season, the Red Sox lie at 44-37.  Third place in the American League East, 8 games behind their archrival, the New York Yankees, but still in the wild card mix.

Underwhelming?

I’ll say.

Sure, a season after winning the World Series should we really complain?

Damn right we should!  From a team with the highest payroll and full of All-Stars?  Absolutely.

Most of the guys look fairly uninterested.  Maybe it’s me.  But it sure seems like it.  We will talk more about specific players later.  But we will also look at the manager.  I wouldn’t say Alex Cora is disinterested.  But there are more head-scratchers this year than last, I can tell you that much.

In any event, I certainly didn’t get excited about the team recently taking 2 out of 3 from the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.  Because they then lost 2 out of 3 to the rebuilding Toronto Blue Jays.  And haven’t exactly put away the very average Chicago White Sox over the last 2 games.

So the question is, when will I buy in?  I would guess it won’t be on or about 8/4.  The Sox play 14 games in 15 days.  ONLY against the Yankees (8) and the Tampa Bay Rays (6).  The trading deadline is right in the middle of that, on July 31st.

Ask me where I stand on August 5th.

*Speaking of the Rays, Major League Baseball has given the organization permission to investigate playing some of their home games in future seasons in Tampa and some in…Montreal?

Really?

What kind of nonsense is this?

No one goes to games in Tampa…besides opposing teams’ fans, that is.  And baseball left Montreal in 2004 because of, well, they couldn’t build a new ballpark in the city, for one.  But after revisiting the specifics of that whole fiasco, there were all sorts of other stuff going on…too much to recount here.

But one thing we did not remember was in the last couple of years, the Expos played some games in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

So that worked out well, no?

Seems like the Montreal/Tampa Bay thing should too, right?

*Don’t even get me started on the Sox and Yanks actually traveling to play in London this weekend.

Honestly, what is the point?  To satisfy owner John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group?  Ugh…

*Crickets on the David Ortiz “investigation” these days, eh?

It sucks that Big Papi got shot, no doubt about it.  How can this happen to a legend in his own country?  Well, I suppose it can happen anywhere.

It would suck even more if Ortiz was actually involved in some nefarious activities.  It doesn’t sound like he was, just some bad judgment if you believe the rumors.

But the legal process?  Certainly laughable.  First, it was an assassination attempt.  Then it was mistaken identity?  I don’t think so.

Payoffs are happening for sure.  What if Ortiz is part of that machine, covering up whatever he needs to be covering up to save his reputation?

Far fetched?  Perhaps.  But how can we rule anything out?  Especially when it doesn’t seem anyone is really chasing the truth…in the Dominican…or the United States.

*As opposed to the silence on Ortiz, I think we can all be thankful about the recent silence surrounding Dustin Pedroia.  The day to day updates on Pedey trying to come back from his knee injury.  The continuous setbacks.  Basically, everyone dancing around the fact that he is done.  Including Pedroia himself.

If the knee problems truly started when he was slid into by Manny Machado a few years back, then sure, that isn’t great.  But let’s face it, Pedroia had that kind of frame where he was bound to flame out quickly as he got older.  While his “leadership” left a lot to be desired (except for when you ask him and other Red Sox apologists), he did play the game with reckless abandon.  There was a pretty good chance he was going to break down a lot earlier than other players.

So Pedroia has stepped away from the club to ponder his future.  You would have to think that he knows this is the end of the line.  He always played hard, so I will celebrate his play on the field when the time officially comes.  I’ll try to forget some of the ridiculous words and actions that came from him over the past few years as well.

I will also guarantee you this:  He will be activated in September when rosters expand.  Probably DH once or twice (or however long it takes him to say goodbye with a hit).  Hell, the Sox may be out of it then, so they can do that for sure.  Will he be eating up a 40-man roster spot in place of someone else that could be useful for a playoff push?  Or a young kid they need to keep but isn’t ready for the majors?  Unlikely, as I can list of about 8-10 guys on the 40-man that are borderline useless now.

So he will get one more MLB at-bat, maybe more, to get that last hit.  Probably in a home game.  Then he can get pinch run for and leave the field to a standing O.

I can live with that.

*The Yankees picked up slugger Edwin Encarnacion recently for…nothing?  Just what they need, another big bat.  Sure, their starting pitching has been questionable.  But who doesn’t think that they make a huge move for a starter or two before the trade deadline?  They have plenty of young talent.  They have plenty of money…well, they always have plenty of money, but their payroll is even more flexible these days.

Get ready for that to happen.  And then any moves they make there will probably put the division out of reach.  Guess that’s why you play the games though…

To be continued…

Indifference…

…is my impression of the Boston Bruins’ moves at the trade deadline.

Sorry, that’s the best I can come up with.

What, you guys are fired up about Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson?  Doubtful.

Look, getting veteran players and putting them in places where the rotating group of kids not named Jake DeBrusk or Danton Heinen weren’t getting it done is probably not too bad of a thing.  Maybe they can be a lot more helpful.  They can’t be worse.  I think we can say that much.

Popular opinion was that the Bruins needed a third line center and a second line winger.  Again, the Sean Kuraly/Noel Acciari/Chris Wagner line is now really the teams’ third line, but we will go with them as still the fourth line since everyone else is.

Technically, Coyle and Johansson can fill those slots.  Fine enough.  Could they have aimed higher?  Surely.

But I will say that General Manager Don Sweeney did a pretty good job of not giving up roster players in his attempt to improve the team as well.  The only player given up was Ryan Donato, who had played 34 pretty uneventful games for the big club earlier this year but was down at Providence at the time of the deal for Coyle.  A fifth round pick was tossed in for Coyle, as well as a second and a fourth for Johansson.

People rail on Sweeney for giving up picks and generally tossing them around like the what the patrons at Orchids of Asia toss around down in Jupiter, FLA.  We even mentioned it in the last Bruins piece here, where we talked about the trade for Coyle.

But come to think of it, how many draft picks has Sweeney used in recent years, acquiring all these kids that were supposed to blossom?  And are STILL supposed to blossom?  They are all still here, other than Donato.  Well, in Providence anyway.  So why does he need a fourth and a fifth?  And then the second can be chalked up to the cost of doing business.

He really doesn’t.  Especially if very few of those previous picks ever pan out.  We don’t want Donnie Hockey blowing any more of them in that case.  But that is a story for a different day.

So give Sweens props for not giving up much.  Though Donato has 4 points in 3 games with the Wild.  That will bear watching.  As previously noted here, Ryan was the kid we probably least likely wanted to trade.  Because he showed something last year.  Could be an impressive offensive player, especially in today’s NHL.  Then again, if he doesn’t put on weight, he may not last in any kind of NHL.  Seems like he got pushed around a little bit, especially in the playoffs last season, where everyone’s flaws are usually exposed.

But let’s not bad mouth Donato here, because yes, we would still have liked to hold onto him to see how he developed over time.

So should Sweeney have swung for the fences here?  Depends on who you ask.  And depends on who was available.  The Bruins have plenty to offer in the form of young talent.  But undeveloped talent that may never make it.  And who wants that?  Perhaps no one really did want some of that supposed “young talent”?  Boy, that would be a telltale sign.

If they were truly going after REAL difference makers, then are you talking about giving up roster players such as DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy.  No thank you.  And who else is on the actual roster are you giving up in a trade?  No one that will actually bring anything back.  Torey Krug?  Very useful piece, but probably not getting a ton in return.  Despite what people may want to tell us.  Offer up Kuraly and Wagner (and Backes!!) all you want, but they ain’t bringing studs back either.

Also consider the fact that, despite the Bruins having the 3rd best record in the league, they are light years behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Sure, in the playoffs, anything can happen.  But, barring injury or something else catastrophic, this may be Tampa’s year since they are so far ahead of everyone.

Plus…what are the odds that Tuukka Rask gets hot like a goalie can and steal you a Cup?  You know what I think…

So give Donnie Hockey some credit there too.  Why empty the cupboard when your available talent to give up is either too far along to trade, not ready at all or may never be ready.  And when you may not have a chance based on a juggernaut existing in the league.  Especially when you are probably relying on a goalie that has no stones anyway.

Let’s not even revisit what we spoke about last time as well…David Pastrnak’s injury.  How long will it take to come back and what he will look like when (if?) he does.  Does the team know something we don’t?

In any event, all we can do now is see how it plays out.  I mean, the team is 10-0-4 in its last 14 games.  Seems pretty good.

Let’s see where Pasta ends up when he comes back too.  There could be some mixing and matching.  Does he go back to his normal spot with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron?  Does he pick up where he left off on the David Krejci/DeBrusk line?

I’ll tell you one thing:  If Coyle plays on the line like he did last night, with David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom, then it won’t matter how good Coyle is.  That third line is still going to stink.  And Danton Heinen may be better off playing with Marchy and Bergy, because you may then get something out of him.  Backes/Coyle/Heinen could stink too.  And Heinen didn’t exactly work out well with Krejci and DeBrusk either early in the season.

Sssssoooo…time will tell…just like with anything else.  But I raised the question last time, to ask me Monday night (or I suppose anytime right after the deadline) if I thought the Bruins were true contenders or not.

The answer?  I still don’t know.  They are better than before the deadline.  But they need Pastrnak to come back full strength.  And of course, no other injuries.  Major ones anyway.

But to get off the fence, I would normally say that, yes, they are true contenders.  I feel like this team can make a run.  But then I remember that Rask is in net.  And I have zero faith in him come playoff time.  Unless Tuuks really craps himself down the stretch, he will be the guy in April.  And that scares the bejesus out of me.

I am hoping that if Tuuks is bad at any time in the playoffs, Coach Bruce Cassidy will have no hesitation in going to Jaroslav Halak.  Cassidy seems to be the type of guy that will have no problem pulling the trigger.  But that remains to be seen when push comes to shove.

Then again, if a team is juggling goaltenders in the playoffs, that cannot bode well…

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