Red Sox Mishmash
Notes on the Yankees series, the trade deadline, potential acquisitions at first base, starting pitcher, and in the bullpen, a new Sox Outsider Podcast, and what lies ahead
There’s a ton of stuff to talk about and I would’ve written this last night except I was completely exhausted from pitching 3.1 innings for my adult league team (the first three innings were fine, don’t ask about the last one) and pretty much passed out for the day. My apologies for not complaining about the Yankees series earlier!
In the meantime, if you don’t subscribe to Sox Outsider, please do! It’s free, it’s fun, it’s about the Red Sox. Hard to beat, quite honestly.
OK, let’s get to the mishmash.
New Sox Outsider Podcast!
I just published the latest Sox Outsider Podcast. This one features Chris Hatfield of Sox Prospects. Chris is fantastic and super knowledgeable when it comes to the minor leagues and the draft so I took the opportunity to discuss both with him. We hit on the Jarren Duran and Tanner Houck call-ups, the top of Boston’s draft, and some names to watch in the minors. It was a great conversation and I highly recommend it. You can find it wherever you get your podcasts, or just click here for a list of podcast providers who carry Sox Outsider.
A Lost Series
It’s probably unrealistic to expect the Red Sox to win every game against the Yankees. I mean, I want a Porsche too, but I’m not getting that either. There will be off days for the offense and there will be good pitching performances by the Yankees. That’s just what’s going to happen over the course of a long season. So would you take 7-2 against the Yankees after three series, two of which were in New York? I mean, duh. As always though, it’s the details that dig into your skin.
The just finished series in New York was nominally against the Yankees, but by the end it really was against a combination of the Yankees and the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders (which is quite a mouthful). The Yankees were down some starters to begin with, including Aaron Judge, due to a COVID situation, and then compounded that situation by losing, seemingly, a player per inning during the series. And yet, somehow, some way, some something, the Yankees managed to win two games. Their first win, game two of the series, came with Gerrit Cole on the mound in a rain-shortened affair. That’s pretty unfair. Cole doesn’t often throw complete games because no pitcher throws complete games anymore, so the way to beat him is either immediately if he doesn’t have it like the Sox did a few weeks ago, or make hay against the New York bullpen after Cole exits the game. But because of the rain and the way the Yankees delayed the start of the game even though it wasn’t raining yet (head go boom on that one), New York managed to avoid the problem of having anyone but Cole on the mound.
So, okay, fine. Against the $300 million ace at home is probably one you count as a loss before it starts. It was the third game, started by what’s left of Jameson Taillon, that was the one Boston needed to win. And they didn’t, losing 9-1.
There are always bad baseball games over the course of a 162 game season, and this was certainly one of them for Boston. It wasn’t the worst game the Red Sox have played this year, but pull out the old yearbook and look in the back for Class Superlatives, and you might find a pimpled picture of this game under Most Disappointing.
I mean, good gosh! The Yankees starting lineup included:
OK, that last guy was made up by the excellent dudes at Productive Outs.
But seriously, look at that list again. All those guys were in the Yankees starting lineup. They scored NINE runs and won by eight! It’s about 24 hours later and my neck is still sore from hours of shaking my head.
The Trade Deadline
I got a question last week from a reader and I think I’m going to address it in a podcast later this week, but in summary, it’s about the upcoming trade deadline. Three and a half months into the season, with Jarren Duran and Tanner Houck both now up, we have a broad idea of what the Red Sox need. Whether they get it or not is another matter, but right now, looking at the roster, here are three spots the Red Sox could stand to upgrade
This is probably the biggest hole on the roster. Bobby Dalbec, nice as he seems, has wholly failed this season. His production has been horrendous. He’s not particularly good defensively and he hasn’t hit at all against right-handed pitching. His slash against lefties is acceptable, slightly above average in total, but that’s barely a reason to keep him on the major league roster.
The team has tried to paper over Dalbec’s production by playing others at the position, including Danny Santana and most recently Christian Arroyo. While those guys may (or in Santana’s case, may not) represent an upgrade over Dalbec, that’s not going to get it done long term.
So it makes sense to add here above all other spots, and two names stand out on the trade market at first base. The first is old friend Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs. Rizzo will be a free agent following the 2021 season and so he might not fit in with what GM Chaim Bloom is looking to do, but he’s an above average hitter and adequate defender at first base, so would be an instant upgrade. His power hasn’t been there in the same way over the past two seasons, and he’s got a weird reverse split going this season (hitting well against lefties, and struggling against righties) but he’s a fair bet to be the best option at the position through the remainder of 2021 and into the playoffs. He’s also a certified Good Dude, a former Red Sox prospect (he was dealt to San Diego as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal centuries ago), and he’s got playoff and World Series experience on his resume. He’s bound to be expensive for all those reasons, but his acquisition would turn a negative into a positive.
The second guy on the list is Trey Mancini of the Orioles. Mancini is under team control through the 2022 season, and as such he probably better fits the Sox ethos under Bloom, which is, in a few words, team control yes please! Mancini isn’t the fielder that Rizzo is (even though their defensive numbers are similar) and he’s not the hitter Rizzo has been in his career, but he’s probably roughly as good a hitter (or even slightly better) than Rizzo right now. Mancini is, on the whole, a good above average hitter with power and the ability to take a walk, something the Red Sox could sorely use (the same could be said of Rizzo, by the way).
His extra year of team control would certainly add to his price tag, but unless the Red Sox want to run back the Bobby Dalbec experiment in 2022, that might be a price worth paying. That said, it’s difficult to see Bloom dealing major prospects from an at-best emerging system. So we’ll see on this front.
Three plus months through the rotation and it seems clear this team needs at least one league-average (or better!) starter to get them the rest of the way. Garrett Richards has struggled to reinvent himself post-sticky stuff and Martin Perez, joyous as he is, is and figures to continue being Martin Perez into the immediate future. Either (or both!) could be kicked to the bullpen to shore up long relief, or simply DFA’d; both have team options for next season but nothing the team has committed to or figures to commit to for 2022.
In their place, the Sox could add one of the names on the trade market. The big names are Max Scherzer, Jose Berrios, and Kyle Gibson. There are other lesser names as well, but big names are more fun so let’s talk about them. Scherzer will be a free agent after this season, will turn 37 in a week, and I’d be as shocked as if I touched an electric fence if the Red Sox made a play for him. He’d be the ultimate rental player and, again, just doesn’t seem to fit the Bloom Ethos. Berrios fits better, but the Twins are trying to extract a metric ton of prospect capital for him. That’s their right and more power to them, but I don’t see Bloom detonating the farm system for a year and a half of a guy with a career ERA+ of 106.
Gibson is more interesting. He’s 33, so not young (so the Sox won’t be paying for youth), not a huge name, and has a year at the reasonable rate of $7.6 million remaining on his contract. He’s also been one of the best pitchers in baseball so far by results. He’s not that, and if the Rangers try to market him that way they’ll probably fail, but if they’re willing to be reasonable, this might be the guy the Sox go after. He’s good, above league average, and he could stick around another season for relatively little money, so he fits into the plans for 2022 as well. He’s not a big strikeout guy, but he gets a ton of grounders. I can’t claim that fits well with what the Red Sox have in their infield, but in a homer-happy league, giving up ground ball singles is way better than letting guys launch homers. Gibson could be a good addition.
The Craig Kimbrel rumors are out there, but as good as Kimbrel has been this season, and he’s been vintage Kimbrel good, that isn’t happening. It’s not Bloom’s style to pay big money (or in this case prospects) for a closer, and he just re-upped Matt Barnes for that role anyway. I don’t have a ton of names here, but there are always guys who pop on bad teams and I trust Bloom & Co. to identify them. It won’t be the most exciting acquisition, and the Red Sox bullpen is fine-to-good overall already, but there’s always room for another good arm. I expect the Red Sox will make a play for one or two.
Next Up: A LOT of AL East Play
The Red Sox are still in first place, albeit by the strength of their fingernails. They face the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Rays exclusively over the next 14 days, all without a day off. The trade deadline comes after the 13th game. The Sox have dropped six of their last nine and aren’t looking particularly strong right now, but this team has been through stretches like this before and come out fighting. I’d expect that’s what will happen against the Jays.
That said, there’s a real chance that, if things go badly over the next few weeks, we could be reevaluating things right quick on Jersey Street.
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