Red Sox Bullpen: Heat-Stealth-Heat


"Potential means you ain’t done nothing yet – Darrell Royal"

I have often purloined the above quote when a transaction takes place where a prized prospect or prospects is traded off for a player with some extensive and productive major league service time. The Boston Red Sox just made a classic move that meets that criteria with the Craig Kimbrel trade.

The risk is inherent in such moves. Did you just trade away Lars Anderson or Mookie Betts? The reality is that down that baseball road only time will tell if it was a clever move or a disaster. Fans, media and management can certainly pull out an extensive list of blunders and successes for each team.

My own personal perspective is you gotta give to get and give the Red Sox did with the caveat that with every departed there is a promising prospect in the wings to take their slot on the depth chart with the possible exception of Logan Allen. Yes, I have profiled Allen a few times, but the reality is, Allen is as far away from MLB as the Philippines are from my comfy home in Massachusetts.

What does this move mean to me?

Priorities come first and to Dave Dombrowski the priority is clear to somehow get a bullpen considered the bottom of the metric barrel back into serious mode. This is a quality step in that direction and, of course, it plays directly into the current sexy mantra of bullpens – heat.

You look around baseball, especially the dreaded team south of Boston and heat is the main ingredient. You bake a cake you need heat and the Red Sox heat was about as plentiful as dusk on Mars. That has dramatically changed.

The one Red Sox bullpen performer who does throw hard is Junichi Tazawa who averaged 93.5 MPH on his fastball for 2015. Tazawa also presented us with his annual late season meltdown courtsey of overuse. But even Taz is way down on the heat list. Kimbrel is listed at 97.5 MPH and that places him fifth among relievers.

One thing is throwing hard and another is throwing hard and getting batters out. Kimbrel has been quite successful on getting batters out. Just a scan of all the exotic and less exotic stats and that is shown – ERA, WHIP, xFIP, FIP, SIERA and saves. This is the real deal.

Aroldis Chapman would have been nice, but Kimbrel provides the same for a longer period of time. The contract certainly has to be considered a factor.

What comes next?

DD is not done with the bullpen. Now comes another piece and that will mean a trip to the market as in the free agent market. Will it be a left-hander such as Tony Sipp? Will it be the excellent set-up in Darren O’Day? DD is not finished.

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At this point in time, the bullpen is shaping up quite nicely for late inning duty. Taz throws hard and that means a change of pace with Koji Uehara using stealth for set-up and Kimbrell bring in death by fastball.

As an afterthought – would this move had even been necessary if the Red Sox had signed Andrew Miller?

Where is our ace?

The promise made, which Red Sox Nation considers a blood oath, is to bring to our altar an ace. With the prospects shipped out that means money. Money is the one thing that seems to infest the Red Sox like bed bugs at a flop house in NYC. The money they have – thanks to members of said Nation wishing to do anything possible to once again bring back the glory days. So expect an FA signing that will certainly bring a noted ace onboard.

This is a quality move as long as Kimbrel does not blow out his arm.

Sources: Fangraphs