Baseball has specialized skills and the Boston Red Sox have used the specialization of speed off the bench in the past. Does Rajai Davis represent that possibility?
Is there a place for a 38-year-old outfielder who is obviously at the end of his baseball shelf life? The New York Metropolitans, who are also known as the Mets or “Mutts” to their detractors, have cut ties with veteran Rajai Davis.
Davis was briefly a member of the Red Sox in 2017 where he did not exactly dazzle anyone with a .250 average in 17 games. Davis moved on to Cleveland in the offseason and the Indians were rewarded with a .224 average and Davis was rewarded by becoming a free agent. Davis offers one unique survival tool that is still àpropos at his advanced baseball age – speed.
Davis was with the Mets Triple-A farm club in picturesque Syracuse New York and pilfered 14 bases while being nailed just twice. During his major league career, Davis five times swiped 40+ bases and led the American League with 43 as recently as 2016 while serving another tour of duty with the Indians. Results are showing the man can still motor.
The reality is the Red Sox do not need Davis at this point, but there is also a storage depot for Davis and that is Pawtucket. A bit of depth is most certainly a needed commodity, but with Davis, it is his one particular skill – speed – that has some historical connotations to the Red Sox past.
Another similar situation transpired in 2004 when the Red Sox made one of the greatest deals in their history by trading Henri Stanley to the Dodgers for Dave Roberts. Roberts, like Davis, also was a burner on the base paths and had 33 steals with The Blue against only one caught stealing when he was shipped east.
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Roberts contribution with his specialized skill – speed – became the thing of legends with a memorable steal of second base against the Yankees in the ALCS. That started a series of surprising circumstances that eventually culminated in a historic (or hysteric) four-game comeback and a trashing of the Cardinals in the World Series to put to rest “The Curse.”
History does repeat itself and in 2013 the Red Sox had another opportunity to get a little known player with the specialized ability to steal a base. Enter one Quintin Berry who was buried in the Royals system. In 2012 Berry was with the Tigers as a rookie and stole 21 bases without being caught. In the playoffs Berry stole three bases – one in each series as the Red Sox won their third title of this century.
The opportunity is now available for another speedster to possibly contribute. The cost is minimal and the roster manipulation is certainly unnecessary unless the Red Sox eventually add Davis to the 40-man.
If Boston makes the playoffs you have a squeeze of the roster with the number of pitchers being limited based on projected short series. This creates an opportunity for a specialist and twice the Red Sox have done this with success. Maybe a repeat?