The Wild Card offers hope to the Boston Red Sox as even a season slightly above .500 could get you a seat in the playoffs. Does this impact making moves that may be necessary?
In 2016, the Boston Red Sox won the American League East (93-69), but two other teams in the division also made the playoffs via the Wild Card. Toronto and Baltimore tied with 89 wins each and joined the postseason activities. Toronto eliminated Baltimore and eventually was dispatched by Cleveland who swept over Boston like a baseball tsunami.
The Wild Card offers opportunity and with neither the Yankees or Tampa showing signs of erosion it may be the only pathway available for Boston to have any postseason success. Each day as the calendar tosses off a page, the Wild Card standings take on added significance. I have slipped out of the “we can still win the division” mode and am spending my time fretting over the Wild Card.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is non-committal in a Boston Herald article (via NESN) on just how the Red Sox are going to approach what is quickly approaching as the halfway mark in a disappointing season. Dombrowski, speaking the expected PR line, is relishing the returns of Steven Wright (suspension) and Brian Johnson (IL). I confuse neither with Chris Sale.
Dombrowski was in complete Captain Obvious mode mentioning “somebody who can pitch with a lead late in the game” as a need. In spring training, Dombrowski was “happy” with the roster as designed and I believe that position has changed dramatically. In 2018, the Red Sox ignored bullpen help and Dombrowski became a roster genius, but that was then and this is now.
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BSI’s Brendan Mizgala had a recent article on five players who could be traded to improve the quality of the product. I doubt that a number retirement ceremony is in store for anyone on this list. Artist Edgar Degas was noted for his use of bold strokes and so is Dombrowski in baseball. Dombrowski has more than a touch of the legendary GM Frank Lane. Lane was known as “Trader Lane” and once traded home run champion Rocky Colavito for batting champion Harvey Kuenn.
The glimmer of hope that is the Wild Card may actually mute Dombrowski from initiating his own purge that will most certainly not be found on the bottom of the roster. Do you risk the ire of a good part of Red Sox Nation via a series of bold strokes? Will the overseers of Dombrowski comply? Does Dombrowski have carte blanche with any and all baseball moves?
The Red Sox have players of value, but they also have a core of young players and mid-career veterans who are signed. They also have a reigning MVP about to enter his free agency season when the schedule says 2020. The Red Sox also have younger players who are on the cusp of arbitration years. Do they risk moving Andrew Benintendi? Rafael Devers?
The next six weeks will decide just what path Dombrowski is formulating. Will he just hold? Buy? Sell? Within the time frame, the status of Nathan Eovaldi will be known as will the potential that will exist within the baseball market. The Red Sox are also strung by limited minor league talent and have no surplus such as was used to get Sale or Craig Kimbrel.
The specter of the Wild Card will hover over the team and that will be the crux for decision-making. From my view, this team certainly has pitching, which is shortened in the playoffs, to make a run but another side of me says to take advantage and start to deal.