Red Sox are faced with making some bold strokes in July
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox playoff chances rest on reinvigorating their pitching. Any bold moves will require substantial talent sacrifice.
Do you sacrifice offense for defense? A notable comment that probably dates back to when baseball was rounders is defense wins and baseball is unique in that defense controls the ball. The most important ingredient in defense is pitching. I believe Abner Doubleday stated that good pitching stops good hitting.
The Red Sox have the offense. They collectively ranked third in the American League just behind the surprising Twins and not so surprising Astros. The Red Sox have mastered the come from behind victories and are predictably never really out of a game. Come from behind is linked back to pitching. The rotation and bullpen are ranked sixth in the AL, but more is needed.
The reams of information spewed for by media – especially social media – shows an informative professional and fan base that is finely attuned to the obvious – the rot this season begins on the mound. The concern prior to the season regarding pitching depth and ability has surfaced. With depth, it is certainly not quantity, but quality.
So what magic wand gets you talent? Actually, it would have to be a magic bat or even bats and the determination would be rotation depth, bullpen help, or both. Rotation means a capable six or seven innings and names certainly have been periodically tossed about such as Zack Greinke or even Max Scherzer. The absorption of payroll from just those two examples would drive the Red Sox into the luxury tax stratosphere. Their teams like many others such as the Red Sox are hanging by a thread of the playoffs.
More from Red Sox News
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Why Red Sox fans should be rooting for Carlos Correa’s Mets deal to go through
Once a starter leaves a game for the Red Sox the bullpen issue comes marching forward with the typical inconsistency. The proverbial box of chocolates that is called upon by manager Alex Cora whose display or at least public display of patience has been remarkable.
If you are going to do something you have to do it right. The very last thing the Red Sox need is borderline talent on the staff which will just represent a sidewards move. Dave Dombrowski has been noted for bold strokes and the current pitching status calls for just that. They do not need another Marcus Walden, Hector Velazquez, or even Matt Barnes.
Who do the Red Sox have that is available? Actually, the reality is the entire roster is vulnerable and that applies to any team and any player in “make me an offer I can’t refuse. For myself, the bait I would toss into the pond is Andrew Benintendi, but for a really big catch, it would be Mookie Betts.
With Benintendi he is replaceable, but Betts is not unless Dombrowski works magic and Mike Trout ends up in town. Betts is the big offering, but his value is somewhat depreciated by a slight slippage from 2018 and free agency after 2020.
The season is in the balance and the only pathway to the playoffs is the Wild Card. The run of three straight division titles is mathematically and logistically difficult. To get to the WC the Red Sox need to bolster defense (pitching) and that is done with sacrificing offense. Will they do it?
Since we all have opinions and feel convicted to them I will certainly share. Just a little caveat in I would not have signed J.D. Martinez and sent Rafael Devers to the minors in early May. My opinion has a 50/50 record.
I would give this team another three weeks and then if the WC is still in the distance make some selective moves – a partial cleaning of the hive and reload for 2020. The core is young and the potential prospect haul may be substantial or the haul of prime time talent and not the mush we have seen.