Expect the Red Sox to make a move for bullpen help and it will be painful to watch top prospects depart.
Is Red Sox Nation ready for Larry Andersen to walk through that bullpen door?
For those steeped or not in Red Sox history, Andersen was added to the roster on 8/30/1990 for additional bullpen help as the Red Sox made the push – eventually successful – for the division title. Andersen did just as expected, appearing in 15 games and posting a 1.23 ERA during the regular season, before losing a playoff game as the Sox were swept away by Oakland. Andersen then became a free agent and was gone.
The price for Andersen was a player who the Red Sox valued, but was expendable in the minor league menagerie and that was Jeff Bagwell – who will eventually be in the Hall of Fame. Do you want bullpen help? Expect to pay a price and a premium one at that since it is a seller’s market.
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Everyone knows the value of pitching and the quick way it can erode with injuries, poor performance and unexplained maladies that mysteriously impact the last line of defense. The Red Sox made strategic moves in the off-season to bolster the ‘pen with moderate successes, as a key ingredient – Carson Smith – went down with injury, forcing on the fly adjustments.
Hindsight is 100% useless in evaluating the current state of affairs regarding Boston pitching. Finger pointing and a pant load of “shoulda’s” accomplish absolutely nothing, since it neither addresses nor solves the current problem. The problem is the here and now.
The Red Sox have the talent at Pawtucket and some have already surfaced in Boston. I doubt the lineups in Toronto and Baltimore are quivering over the opportunity to face Pat Light or Noe Ramirez. The rest of the Triple-A team has some dependable talent, but dependable only for the competition of the International League. Anthony Varvaro, Kyle Martin, Roman Mendez, Robby Scott and the rest of the pitching crew have nothing to provide any substance for Boston.
Pay the price, Dave Dombrowski.
Pitching is certainly available, but that is all predicated on a willingness to pay a price that some would classify as exorbitant. Is there a willingness to part with a top prospect or prospects? Red Sox fans create a delusional love fest with prospects and have an ingrained tendency to overvalue one and all within the system. To get you must give and it will not be Deven Marrero or Bryce Brentz.
Teams on the outside looking in at the playoffs, such as Houston, the Twins, Reds and a few others, are always ready to do the old Monty Hall and “Let’s make a deal.” Each team has some arms that have performed reasonably well and one can rattle off names such as Will Harris, Boone Logan, Fernando Abad, Blake Wood, and a pile more. Maybe go into the division and talk to the Rays about Xavier Cedeno or Alex Colome? And – naturally – all possible options also have their own collection of question marks, but just a few less for this season. The future? Spam or rib eye – you never know.
I could certainly create a nice click bait list of prospective pitching targets that could provide a baseball version of Paxil for a fast becoming distraught situation, but anyone can simply do that. Where it is crucial is – again – the willingness to take a plunge off the pier and either drown or float into the playoffs.
Simply put, the Red Sox are in a pitching quandary with starters in a flux of inconsistency. If each starter could consistently go deeper than the issue of the bullpen would be somewhat mitigated – don’t expect that to happen, as erosion seems to be the phrase to describe the lower end of the rotation. So the burden falls upon a bullpen and that means extra innings, overwork, and flaws that are exposed.
The Red Sox are in a baseball ADM (Additional Dealer Markup) situation that is a gimmick that auto dealers use simply as a bargaining tool or if someone is naïve enough to pay a premium for a vehicle that is in demand. Other GM’s will just need a mask and gun to finish the robbery the Red Sox will have to pay.
Dombrowski will be tested in the next month and historically is rarely one who blinks. DD has shown zero difficulties in shipping out promising but yet unproven talent for help that is needed. Expect that to happen and expect that prospect watch list to shift dramatically.