…that time of year again. Kind of…I guess COVID-19 will tell us when it’s that time again…
In any event, we were planning to do this three, four, five weeks or so ago (I have kind of lost track of time, to be honest), before MLB shut down. Let’s do it anyway. Not sure how much change there will be in the end regardless.
And based on the bums listed on the pitching staff on the current 40-man roster, I imagine we will see most of them throughout the year at some point anyway…on top of several others not on the 40-man or not even here, to be honest. One right off the bat, sad to say.
Actually, looking at the Red Sox active roster as it stands, it looks like the roster is actually set. There are only 28 names on it. Once the season starts, I believe that teams will be able to carry 29 guys for at least a short period of time. So there’s that.
For these purposes, we will go with the original rule of having 26 guys on the Opening Day roster. Still not going to make much of a difference.
Who knows when the season will start, or if there even will be a season? The prospects for the 2020 Boston Red Sox season weren’t exactly glowing anyway. Maybe a shortened season would help them?
There is talk about still trying to play as many games as possible. With playing 7 inning doubleheaders. Games in neutral spots. All teams playing in one, perhaps remote location with no fans, and players sitting six feet apart in the stands. Pitch clocks and different changes that NO ONE in baseball would EVER consider in a normal season. A player even suggested playing the only the 10th inning in a tie game, then having a Home Run Derby to decide the outcome. Amazing. Baseball hasn’t exactly been quick to adopt any changes over the years to catch up with other sports. To get young people back interested in the game. And all that.
I mean, the changes would only be temporary. This season only, more than likely. But if some of these potential changes work, perhaps they can be long term changes as well?
But back to the Sox. Maybe some of these proposed changes help them. After trading Mookie Betts (doesn’t that seem like 3 years ago now?) and David Price, losing Chris Sale for the season, letting Rick Porcello go while adding no real relievers (or starters either, now that I think of it), most people think that their prospects for success are minimal this season. Myself included.
The lineup should still be stout enough. But the pitching frightens me. And I absolutely wanted Price out of town at any cost. The minor leagues should not provide a ton of help anytime soon. So 2020 appears to be a “bridge year”. Or the first of a few bridge years, to be honest.
There will be more analysis on the actual season once we get closer to figuring out if there is an actual season. For now, we will just focus on who projects to break camp with the big club.
Starting with the aforementioned bums on the pitching staff:
The far from “Fearsome Five”: Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Ryan Weber, Brian Johnson
DL: Chris Sale, Collin McHugh
Actual prospects that may make starts this season: Tanner Houck (#10 Red Sox prospect), Kyle Hart
Additional flotsam likely to make a start or five this season: I honestly do not see anyone else inside the organization on the current 40-man roster, any of the non-roster Spring Training invitees or on the Top 30 prospect list that would be a candidate to start any games with the big club this season. Would have to be someone from outside the organization. Or a collection of “openers”. Or one guy that will start in the bullpen this season that we will talk more about in that group. This, my friends, is quite frightening. And, quite frankly, unacceptable. Especially for a big market club with plenty of resources. Sigh…
Comments: Yikes!! Eddie Rodriguez goes from a nice depth starter, someone with potential but who seemed to always have nagging injuries that kept him out way longer than it seemed they should, to a staff ace? Hard to figure. Sure, E-Rod had a real nice year last year. And should have won 20 games, if it wasn’t for Matty Barnes in his last start. But all of a sudden to anoint him the “ace” seems a bit much. That being said, what is the other choice??
Eovaldi will always be remembered warmly in this region, and certainly by myself, for his performance in the 2018 playoffs. But he is also injury-prone. And has thrown more than 155 innings ONCE in his career. Now he’s cemented into the #2 slot.
Perez is eminently average. Weber has pitched 42 major league games and only 11 of them are starts. It appears that the most innings he has pitched in a season is 128. That was in 2015. And 100 of them were in AA & AAA. Plus, he stinks.
Speaking of stinking, Johnson seemed to have the lead for the #5 spot when we last were paying attention. BRIAN F’NG JOHNSON?!! This guy couldn’t break a pane of glass. More importantly, he really has never been able to get anyone out. Not to mention the fact that he was designated for assignment over the winter by the Sox…and not a single team wanted anything to do with him. So he is back on a minor league deal. And appears to be the #5 starter. This is incredible to me.
Additionally, the Sox have no one “waiting in the wings” to actually provide competition once one or (likely) more of these guys fail or get hurt. Houck is only 23 years old and MAYBE has potential. Hart is 27 and it’s doubtful he does.
Sale is on the Injured List, as we know. Waiting until late March to have the Tommy John surgery he needed probably 6 plus months ago (giving him the benefit of the doubt here) will cost him this season and at least part of the 2021 slate. McHugh? Are we really counting on him to add to the rotation? Whenever he gets back from his injury, that is. Last time I read something on him, no one even knew when that would be.
This is an absolute DISASTER. Even if Chief Baseball Office Chaim Bloom brings the “opener” strategy with him from Tampa, this is still ugly. With all the money owner John Henry has and Boston being a big market team, this is laughable. I cannot even comprehend how these guys think entering the season with this rotation is an option.
But it’s happening. Brace yourself.
Next: Some of the bats.
…same full disclosure as previous years: The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League. This is probably going to be short, but sweet!
Most Valuable Player:
- Christian Yelich, Milwaukee
- Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
- Anthony Rendon, Washington
- Ketel Marte, Arizona
- Nolan Arenado, Colorado
- Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
- Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati
- Juan Soto, Washington
- Josh Bell, Pittsburgh
Like Mike Trout in the American League, Yelich missed the majority of the last month with injury, while the closest competitor played the whole season. But also like Trout, Yelich’s numbers were so sick when he played, he gets the nod for me. Plus, he had less help than Bellinger in his lineup…and entire team for that matter…and that kind of cemented the pick for me. Rendon also had a strong season, but he was a tick behind the other two.
Marte? Talk about coming out of nowhere. But he deserves the #4 spot. Arenado once again gets penalized for his home park. But perhaps I should reconsider after what DJ LeMahieu did in New York after leaving? Not yet…
The rest of the guys had great seasons, so you can put them in any order you want. Charlie Blackmon and maybe Trevor Story got penalized for Coors Field, as they could be top 10 as well. Ronald Acuna Jr. almost went 40/40 and Bryce Harper ended up straightening out his season and ended up with decent numbers. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant from the Cubs, Jeff McNeil from the Mets. Max Muncy…etc. Some players put up some pretty good numbers, per usual. Any of them could be in the bottom half of the top ten. I’m going with the above.
- Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA Dodgers
- Max Scherzer, Washington
- Stephen Strasburg, Washington
- Jack Flaherty, St. Louis
Tougher than it looked here. Ryu was dominant in the first half and would have been the easy choice had he not had a stretch of starts in the second half where he got shelled…then had to be rested a bit. Max was Max, but he missed a handful of starts due to injury. Jake’s numbers were actually pretty close to what they were in 2018 when he won the Cy. Not having the sub-2.00 ERA may make people think otherwise, but take a look at the whole lot of them. That pushed me to make him the choice in 2019 as well.
Strasburg had a bit of a high ERA of 3.32, but his overall numbers made me slot him in at #4, again, not including the postseason, where he was dominant and the World Series MVP. But Flaherty, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray (seriously?), Mike Soroka and even a closer like Josh Hader or perhaps Kirby Yates could have filled out #4-5 as well.
Rookie of the Year:
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
This one should be unanimous. The kid hit 53 homers. But if I had to take a #2 & #3, I take Soroka second and Dakota Hudson, starting pitcher for St. Louis 3rd. Fernando Tatis Jr. is a finalist with Soroka in real life and no question he is a real talent. Along with Keston Hiura of the Brewers. But they both played 84 games, coincidentally. And while their numbers were good, they weren’t “Yordan Alvarez good”. So they both are a step behind. Special mention here to Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike here as well. The “kid” finally makes the majors at age 28 and hits 21 bombs and has a .852 OPS in 411 plate appearances. He is out of the top 5 in the Rookie of the Year voting for sure. And he may hit .211 with 10 homers next year. But it’s worth a shout out here anyway.
Manager of the Year:
- Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
- Mike Shildt, St. Louis
- Brian Snitker, Atlanta
Counsell seemed to do more with less this year, even though his team lost 7 more games than last season. Yelich’s injury at the end didn’t help. Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar fell off the face of the earth. 2018 #1 starter Jhoulys Chacin collapsed, was released and ended up starting bullpen games for the pitching depleted Red Sox in September. The three-headed monster in the bullpen (Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress) was down to one this season…Hader. Knebel missed the entire season with injury. Jeffress was hurt a bit then sucked when he was healthy and he too was released. Etc. Seems like Counsell was the most deserving choice here.
Shildt got the Cards to the playoffs, despite guys like Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and even Paul Goldschmidt taking a dip down in production. Plus a few pitchers like Michael Wacha as well. Snitker led a 7 win improvement while having some pitchers having good seasons in 2018 take a downturn in 2019.
Dave Roberts gets penalized for having a stacked team. Dave Martinez led a 11 win improvement for the Nationals…and of course won the World Series. But when looking at that roster, it makes you wonder if he could’ve done even better in the regular season. Even after the team lost Harper. I guess when you win the World Series, it matters not. But I can’t vote with the postseason in mind, once again.
I actually thought of giving Mickey Callaway of the Mets some love for his 9 win improvement and keeping his team in the mix until close to the end, finishing 3 games out of the 2nd wild card spot. But he is apparently a nut job and ended up getting fired at the end of the season. So I guess maybe it wasn’t him that led the team to success?
Major League Baseball will start handing out the hardware for the 2019 season next week. The finalists for all the major awards have also been announced. The Blowhard has his opinions, and the finalists in real life won’t necessarily be the finalists in this “vote”. We will list out our picks like it was a real ballot. Meaning, 10 choices for MVP, 5 for Cy Young, etc. And let’s please remember, the postseason results don’t count. Real life ballots are finalized once the regular season ends. Let’s dive right in:
Most Valuable Player:
- Mike Trout, LA Angels
- Alex Bregman, Houston
- DJ LeMahieu, NY Yankees
- Xander Bogaerts, Boston
- Nelson Cruz, Minnesota
- George Springer, Houston
- Marcus Semien, Oakland
- Rafael Devers, Boston
- Carlos Santana, Cleveland
- Jorge Soler, Kansas City
This is what I wrote last year: “There will be at least one person upset that I put Trout third. Mikey may still yet be the best player in baseball. But again, for those who don’t remember, I am an advocate for giving the MVP award to the “most valuable” instead of the “best player”. You will see from the list above that there are no players from bad teams and only one (Trout) from a mediocre team. I know, these guys are only one of nine on the field at the same time. And it’s hard to “carry” a baseball team by yourself. But look at the difference J.D. seemed to make in the Boston lineup and maybe one player can?”
Welp, I give up. Trout is the best player in baseball. He looked like he was on his way to his best season before being shut down in early September with a foot injury…and by “best season”, that is really saying something with the career he has had. It may have been his best season anyway. His team still sucked, that is nothing new. It will always make one wonder how “valuable” he actually is to the team. But that matters not anymore.
Alex Bregman would be the only other real option. But how “valuable” was he to his team? Well, he had some great numbers and showed his defensive versatility when he played a great deal of the season at shortstop. But he also had guys like Jose Altuve, George Springer, Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa to go along with a top rookie and 2 Cy Young candidates that we will talk more about later. So even though Houston won 107 games, Bregman had a lot of help.
So Trout is the choice. Some people (Pete?) would say that is abundantly clear and always has been. Perhaps that is true…but moving on…
Semien is the third finalist in real life. Helluva a year for him for sure. But 3rd seems to be a stretch. LeMahieu is my choice. DJ wasn’t even going to necessarily have a full-time job when he first started the season with the Yanks. And, silly me, I thought once he left the cozy confines of Coors Field, his numbers would take a hit. Wrong again. With all of the Yankee injuries, DJ was out there every day and his numbers, specifically his power numbers, were the best of his career.
Maybe Xander is a little high at 4th, and if you switched him and Semien…I don’t know. X was 5th in the AL in OPS and as a shortstop, I felt like that meant something. We likely would have had Cruz and Springer higher than X, but they both missed about 40 games, so we pushed them back a bit.
8-10 could have been anyone. Per usual. I thought the three here should be recognized for their awesome seasons. Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Austin Meadows, Yoan Moncada, Jose Altuve, Matt Olson, a couple of pitchers…if you put any of those guys at the back of the top 10, I would not argue with you.
- Justin Verlander, Houston
- Gerrit Cole, Houston
- Charlie Morton, Tampa Bay
- Shane Bieber, Cleveland
- Lance Lynn, Texas
It’s really Verlander 1A and Cole 1B. It was THAT close. I guess the tiebreakers included Verlanders’ lower WHIP and more consistent year. Cole started a little slow and then dominated from June on in. But if you gave the award to either you wouldn’t be wrong. Morton is a distant 3rd. Bieber could have made that spot as well. I can’t believe I am writing Lynn into the last spot. But who else would it be? Mike Minor? Lucas Giolito? Eduardo Rodriguez? A closer like Roberto Osuna? I don’t know. Does it matter?
Rookie of the Year:
- Yordan Alvarez, Houston
- Eloy Jimenez, Chi White Sox
- John Means, Baltimore
Alvarez only played 87 games. But his numbers were so off the charts, he wins in a landslide. Eloy had a better year than people think. And Means actually made the All-Star team. Though, yeah, someone had to go from the Orioles.
There were some other exciting rookies in the league this year. But they either didn’t do as well as expected (Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Oscar Mercado) or didn’t play enough (Bo Bichette). Brandon Lowe was an All-Star and is up for the real award, but he missed the majority of the second half. And didn’t have the numbers Alvarez had anyway. Michael Chavis also contributed as a rookie then he himself missed the last several weeks. Solid group here going forward though.
Manager of the Year:
- Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota
- Aaron Boone, NY Yankees
- Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay
I was tempted to give this to Boone with the way he had to navigate all the injuries the team had this year. But they are the Yankees. And have enough resources to combat injuries in the first place. It’s also impossible to ignore a 23 win improvement in your first year as manager, as the Twins did under Baldelli. Cash could win this every year. His team doesn’t spend and he has to have “bullpen games” like 3 days a week. Not to mention, his best starter, Blake Snell, missed significant time this year. But Cash always seems to keep the Rays in the mix. Bob Melvin deserves consideration for the job he did with the A’s as well. AJ Hinch gets penalized for his team being too good in the first place, unfortunately.
Next: The National League