With it unlikely that the MLB season will be played in full, the Boston Red Sox should treat this year as a long spring training and focus on 2021.
As the world watches each and every day as more news comes out about COVID-19, we look to sports as a way to escape, even for a moment. The Red Sox should be preparing for Opening Day as it was scheduled to be this week, but we won’t be celebrating as usual. With the major sports leagues shutting down to try and keep everyone safe, baseball won’t be happening anytime soon.
Commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners alike have expressed a desire to play something that resembles a full season, but with estimations of a return not until late May or early June, that’s highly unlikely. Once leagues and teams get the all-clear to resume operations, players will need what will be the second round of spring training to get back to form. And with baseball hinging on good weather, the calendar will only offer so many nice days.
There’s always the possibility of more double-headers, but I’m sure the players and MLBPA will quickly shoot that down. It’s enough of a beating on the body to play out the schedule as is, there’s no need to heighten the risk of injury by cramming in more games.
As for the Red Sox, this season already felt lost before it even began. Mookie Betts and David Price are now wearing Dodger Blue and Chris Sale is set to get Tommy John surgery in the near future. So with Boston losing two of its top pitchers and a former MVP generational player, 2020 felt like a major punt by the organization.
So, how should they handle the regular season if it is able to be played in 2020? Simple, treat it just like you would spring training. Many will shout about player incentives in contracts but with there being almost zero chance of a full season ahead of us, the contracts are almost worthless. I sure as hell don’t want to be in the league office or the MLBPA when it comes to contract talks surrounding 2020.
The Red Sox find themselves in a place right now where they have not only a strong young core on the 40-man roster but a handful of prospects knocking at the door. A shorter season with already little hope at a championship could open that door to those prospects getting a majority of the playing time. This could also be a scenario that allows Chaim Bloom to wheel and deal some players that were heading for free agency next winter.
If Boston goes into whatever the 2020 season winds up being with the mindset that they want to focus on the future, that might be their best course of action. Bloom can deal away a Jackie Bradley Jr. for a prospect or draft picks and instantly have Jarren Duran ready to fill the void as the future of centerfield. He also has the opportunity to test out some of his pitching prospects as the rotation and bullpen are in need right now.
It’s no secret that the Red Sox are in a transitional period under Bloom and this situation could allow him to put his thumbprint on this organization. He achieved his first goal of resetting the CBT penalties and now must build a contender. He’s proven he can do just that by using Moneyball tactics and promising prospects, I have faith he can do it again.
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With that pesky CBT back where the ownership group wants it to be, I do hope they splash a massive offer to Markus Lynn next winter. He looks terrible in that Dodger uniform and he needs to come back to the safe confines of Fenway Park. Also, being in his mid-20’s, he’d fit perfectly with the new-look Red Sox that are nothing but youth and promise.
We don’t know what the 2020 season will look like and even if there will be one, but we have to keep the faith. I’m sure Chaim and FSG are having frequent talks about their gameplan for this season if we’re able to have one. I’d be surprised if they aren’t hatching a plan to get their top prospects as much Major League action as they can ahead of 2021, when many may be called upon.
To me, the best plan of action for the Red Sox in 2020 would be to keep things just as they did in spring training. They most likely won’t be able to extend their roster, but they could always tweak it in order to beef up the prospect numbers. This’ll allow Ron Roenicke a chance to not overwork guys with a condensed calendar while giving the organization a strong glance at their future.
The coronavirus is a serious thing and people should treat it as such. But if you’re anything like me, you’re begging for even the smallest escape right now. Hell, I’m missing baseball so much I’ve been watching full games on Youtube just to scratch the itch. I’m hoping we get something of a season, even if it’s only 60 or so games, I need it and I’m sure many of you do as well. The Red Sox have a chance to showcase their future if we get a 2020 season, and they need to take it.