Red Sox Trade Deadline: Addison Reed deal result of management failure

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 14: Matt Barnes /

The Boston Red Sox made a trade they had to make for Addison Reed.  Or did they? Years of pitching development issues have placed them in that predicament.

The Boston Red Sox acquired Addison Reed from the New York Mets mere hours before the MLB Trade deadline. Numbers, scouting reports and first-hand observation certainly confirm that Reed is an excellent pitcher who should add both depth and substance to the bullpen.

What Reed does represent is a litany of failure that extends beyond Dave Dombrowski, Ben Cherington and even to Theo Epstein. The Red Sox simply have not developed pitching.

In the last decade – give or take a handful of years – the obvious successes are Clay Buchholz, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jon Lester. The rest is a failure of promise that went unfulfilled. I thought that Daniel Bard would be the closer of the future with Manny Delcarmen being a setup pitcher to achieve an eighth and ninth inning shut down. Just how did that work out?

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Red Sox baseball operations have done an excellent job drafting and preparing position players. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Andrew Benintendi and some that have been traded elsewhere, such as Manuel Margot, have been All-Stars or soon will be. What is missing is that most important ingredient – pitching.

This is not exactly a discovery on my part of cold fusion since the topic periodically surfaces with every free agent signing, trade, draft selection and sudden arm injury. What it does do is force the team to spend needlessly. Maybe some day they will get the baseball Power Ball and have another Roger Clemens?

The Red Sox have gone outside the system at great expense.  Foreign imports such as Daisuke Matsuzaka and domestic talent as in David Price. Both players represent over $300 million in contractual obligations. Then, there are the trades that sent prospects elsewhere to plug pitching holes and that brings us to Reed and the bullpen – an almost endless construction project.

Reed was unnecessary, but that is only if  three items fell conveniently into place. The first is the internal development of relief pitching. Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and little else in the last few seasons. That dearth of bullpen talent has been costly since a string of poor decisions resulted to fortify the bullpen. No Bob Stanley on the development horizon.

Another item is Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg were brought into the Boston mix to solve the bullpen issue. Closer Craig Kimbrel provided the solid final backstop, but getting there clean is just as important. Smith and Thornburg are still like a cheap vacuum at a car wash – out of service. Hence another group of prospects is lassoed and elsewhere.

Smith especially is a questionable trade. Enough posters on this site certainly felt compelled to point out the numerous articles where scouts and baseball insiders were predicting dire consequences based on Smith’s pitching style. They were all accurate. Thornburg’s trade also raised similar issues that centered specifically on style and overuse. Thornburg is done and that may be his career.

The Thornburg trade was especially painful when examining a Brewers box score and seeing the line for Travis Shaw – our gift to Milwaukee.  Shaw is hitting more home runs and has more RBI than any player on the Red Sox. A trade that resulted in a wooden bat for a wooden arm and not a rubber arm.

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The Red Sox bullpen crew is certainly not a pathetic group of inept bindlestiffs.  Collectively, they are ranked second in the American League. Are they that good or is everyone else that bad? Six blown saves in July shows some “issues.” So maybe just a bit misleading since for July the bullpen is ranked seventh. Hence the SOS sent out to GM’s everywhere.

What they have done is a new dance called the “inconsistency.” For every good performance, a questionable one seems to surface.  With Barnes, Heath Hembree and the surprising Joe Kelly it is also a will this be a night of walks, hanging sliders or fastballs down Broadway? Then comes the neatness of simply shredding the opposition and locking up a smooth win. The bullpen can be a baseball equivalent of Sybil.

So when the blame game is in full swing and we all collectively point fingers it all comes down to drafting and development.  – the last reason for failure. The Red Sox have simply had poor selections, bad luck – they almost had Sonny Gray – and players that just seemed to stall. What is it? I am sure in the Red Sox War Room the discussion of possible cures is front and center.

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So now Reed takes a turn – a turn that would be 100% unnecessary if Smith and Thornburg were in the mix or a bullpen stud was developed.