The Boston Red Sox are now in what you see is what you get with several players and that is not necessarily negative nor a positive.
To measure a major league player you need a base of information and the more information you gather the better insight you have. With several players on the Boston Red Sox roster, you have enough information to decide just what to expect. There are a solid core and the lesser lights that you can now expect certain results.
With the Red Sox, the difficult task is simply a replacement for parts that are worn or underperforming and the Sox, like every team, has their share. Money is an issue with the specter of the luxury tax but more importantly the dearth of talent from a depleted farm system.
There is nothing more consistent than inconsistency and Jackie Bradley Jr. is Mr. Inconsistency. Bradley has never been a productive hitter, but that is certainly somewhat mitigated by his defensive accomplishments. Just how far do you go with Bradley?
This season, Bradley is again mired into what usually is a prolonged slump. That is Bradley’s history and history will not change after seven seasons. Last season, Bradley was an ALCS hero and was justly rewarded with an MVP despite hitting just .200. A classic example of not how much you hit but when you hit.
Unfortunately, Bradley is just a .235 lifetime hitter. The only possible system replacement is the contract albatross known as Rusney Castillo, so Bradley will continue to be dead weight in the batting order until he gets in an inevitable hot streak. I would also expect Bradley to be a potential trade chip this season and run the risk of J.D. Martinez in the outfield.
Heath Hembree has been in Boston for a surprising six seasons. The hard-throwing right-hander has done little in six seasons to separate himself from the pack of middle relievers. At 30-years-old, Hembree is now a pitcher who when placed in high leverage situations can cause jitters. Too many walks and a propensity for allowing home runs are a career curse for Hembree and any pitcher. Hembree will continue in a role he has enjoyed in his Boston career since nothing of merit is available to replace him.
BSI’s Brendan Mizgala covered the defense liability of Rafael Devers in a recent article. With Devers’ entire career profile this is no shock. Devers simply is lousy defensively. What concerns me is his hitting. What happened? Maybe the Red Sox should consider trading Devers and just may depending on Michael Chavis’s development.
I still think that Andrew Benintendi could win a batting title, but not this year or the next or even the next. At this point in his career, Benintendi is Mike Greenwell lite. Benintendi will hit close to .300, hit with excellent extra base power, steal his share of bases, and do the job defensively. I just don’t see Benintendi elevating his game to the next level, but still, have a glimmer of hope that he will. Benintendi is a valuable trade chip, but I would most certainly hesitate to move him.
Xander Bogaerts is not going anywhere after what could be considered a team-friendly deal. With XB, the history is clear on what to expect and it is all positive with the only possible negative a rather neutral defensive performance. Bogaerts is now firmly entrenched in veteran status at just 26-years-old.
Bogaerts already has two Silver Slugger Awards, an All-Star selection, a 100+ RBI season, and two World Series rings. Bogaerts is now in a baseball comfort zone that will consistently produce a high batting average with attendant power numbers. Rico Petrocelli with less power and a higher batting average.
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The Red Sox apparently have decided that the bulk of the catching will be handled by Christian Vazquez. Blake Swihart is gone and Sandy Leon has returned, but Vaz will be number one even if his batting average resides in the low .200’s since catching depth in the system is minimal.
The one item that stands out for Vazquez is a .290 in 2017 and it seems that is simply an anomaly. What is not an anomaly is his ability to keep base runners honest with a career 41 CS%. This season the early hitting results have been positive with power and getting the little things done offensively, but don’t expect anymore close to .300 seasons.
Does winning 119 games and a World Series shield a manager from being criticized? Terry Francona eventually was “fired” after two titles and John Farrell after one. Alex Cora’s very skillful manipulation of the roster in 2018 and out managing the opposition in the playoffs may have been the best Red Sox managerial performance in this century and maybe the last century.
Things can sour quickly and the baseball axiom of “Managers are hired to be fired” is just about set in stone. Even the best of the best have been axed and a few seasons of under .500 ball or Beer and Chicken can end the romance quickly. Cora’s skills will be tested this season and could decide if he’ll be around as long as Francona.