The Winter Meetings have come and gone and now it’s time to turn the calendar to 2019. With New Year’s right around the corner, I asked the Fenway Faithful for their wishes for the new season.
So now that we can officially turn the page on 2018 and get into the new year as 2019 is just days away, I asked our loyal fans for their thoughts. I wanted to know what you would change from 2018 going into 2019 for the Red Sox considering all of our success this past season.
I saw a variety of suggestions from both Facebook and Twitter so without further ado, let’s get to your thoughts!
This was a solid start to the mailbag and honestly a really good point from Erica. When I read this I had flashbacks to the days of Red Sox catchers past with swapping out Jason Varitek for Doug Mirabelli because he could supposedly catch a Knuckleball batter. I don’t remember his performances being so unearthly that he had to be in there, but that was then and this is now.
Erica has a great point in that swapping Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez due to pitcher preference isn’t doing the team any favors. It causes neither catcher to get into a flow because every few days they’ll either get pulled or subbed in from the bench. So if one gets hot, we risk losing their offense and risk bringing in an ice cold player at the same time.
I don’t include Blake Swihart in this convo as he is more of a utility player than a true 365-day a year catcher. So looking at the stats from 2018 between Vazquez and Leon, I have to lean to Vazquez. Christian surpasses Sandy in every major offensive category for 2018 even though he played in nine fewer games for the Red Sox. So in 2019, I’d like to see Christian Vazquez get the lion’s share of the catching duties.
Our next couple pieces of feedback came from our Facebook page. Both have a couple of similar points that I’ll take on from different angles as both contributors approach them a bit differently.
"Tom King: I think mostly we need to shore up our bullpen I don’t feel our closers/relief guys were solid enough. We had to bring in starters to pitch after the 7th inning. I really feel by doing that it’s sending a message that your bullpen isn’t good enough to to get you out of jams! We need to really find better bullpen help. I think Pedroia is still a good second baseman but I don’t think it would be a bad idea to find a second baseman that’s gonna be solid and play great defense for the future down the road after Pedroia is gone. So I think to secure certain portions on the team for the future with good deep talent is very important in the long run!"
The first thing I’ll tackle here as Tom has some solid thoughts on the Red Sox bullpen. I agree with Tom that the bullpen needs some serious love. We have so many relief pitchers and yet none seem to be truly stepping up as we need them to. The Red Sox could also use these relievers as trade pieces to try and bolster the quality over quantity.
During the end of the season and postseason, we saw Ryan Brasier come into his own a bit especially with his run-in with Gary Sanchez. I look forward to seeing him carry some of that confidence into next season. I get what Tampa and some other clubs are doing with the “opener” idea and unfortunately, it just seems gimmicky to me.
Yeah, we used Eovaldi and Porcello through the postseason but those were spot relief appearances. It wasn’t a guarantee they were coming in right away after the “opener” only goes a mandatory 2 innings. So I would like to see the Red Sox really putting the emphasis on the relief position and we are still without a closer, so those are some important gaps to fill.
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As far as Dustin Pedroia goes I recently wrote about how we should’ve put a stronger effort into getting Ian Kinsler back. I also admitted he isn’t the best option but he is an every day second baseman and could split shifts with Dustin, giving relief to both veterans. I’ve been on the Dustin Pedroia War Wagon since his rookie year in 2007, but he’s given everything he has to the Red Sox and unfortunately, his body is showing it.
I’m guessing we go with Brock Holt or Eduardo Nunez as the backups if Pedroia isn’t ready to go or needs rest. Both are more than capable but I’d prefer a full-time second baseman for the slot. The Red Sox could always go into their farm system as well, but having looked at the prospects there isn’t much there.
Thanks for your feedback, Tom!
"Owen Griswold: Having a good bullpen, cut Pedroia and get a good 2B Kinsler was trash and Pedroia’s career is over. Don’t use Sale so much, get a 3B who can hit and can play defense. Devers is pathetic and Nunez can’t hit for his life. Keep Mookie batting 1st I don’t know why Cora decided to swap him and Benintendi. Get rid of Swihart or just use him more often."
Like I said above, Owen hits on some similar points as Tom but takes the other side of the argument which I love. One thing he, Tom, and I all agree on is the Red Sox bullpen. Get some strong relievers that can be counted on. And definitely get a damn closer, as a committee just doesn’t feel like a good idea.
Getting rid of Pedroia is a tough idea for me. If anything I’d rather he get bumped to a bench player/pinch hitter. He’s such a monumental figure to the Red Sox organization and his presence this season kept that alive. I also would love to see him transition to a coaching position for the next chapter of his career.
I can agree with the limited use of Chris Sale. He doesn’t need to go as deep in games as he did in 2018. And we saw the downside to a guy that can pitch like he does as he missed damn near the entire month of September. I also agree with keeping Betts at the leadoff spot. Him getting on base further allows Benintendi to excel and then just puts the ducks on the pond for Martinez. This was the formula to the high level of success for the Red Sox in 2018.
I disagree on Devers, he is still only 22 years old. He’s young and considering his playoff appearances, he’s definitely not afraid of the bright lights. Considering the Red Sox failed attempts at third basemen post-Kevin Youkilis, I think we need to give the kid time to grow.
Nunez can be a super sub at either third or short depending on the need for him. Spot on with Swihart here as well, we don’t need a third catcher and we didn’t use him enough elsewhere. So AC needs to use him as a trade piece or use him on the team.
Thanks for your thoughts, Owen!
I’d like to thank everyone that took part in the first Bosox Injection social media mailbag! It was a blast reading your thoughts and getting to toss in my point of view as well. I’ll be doing this weekly and will post new questions each week on both Twitter and Facebook. I look forward to chatting with you all again next week. And it’s almost 2019, so let’s go, Sox!