Red Sox path to pitching mediocrity continues unabated

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 25: Blake Treinen #49 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after striking out Willy Adames of the Tampa Bay Rays to secure the 4-2 victory in Game Five of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 25, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 25: Blake Treinen #49 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after striking out Willy Adames of the Tampa Bay Rays to secure the 4-2 victory in Game Five of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 25, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Red Sox pitching additions tend to be quantity over quality.

Alphonse Karr, editor of Le Figaro, is credited with “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” or the more things change the more they stay the same. That is where the status of the Boston Red Sox bullpen stands as the team prepares for the upcoming season. What is personally fearful is I may be understating the bullpen’s condition.

The Red Sox relievers owe a world of gratitude to the Seattle Mariners whose bullpen corps, or more aptly titled corpse, finished the 2020 season with an -1.5 fWAR. The Red Sox could stand proud in the American League by capturing fourteenth place with a less than sparkling -0.6 fWAR. In a moment of profound clarity, I picture a necessary room for improvement.

Boston employed a shuffle strategy in 2020 with players entering and exiting the roster – the bullpen potion – at a prolific or maybe horrific rate. The Chaim Bloom approach was pure toss it against the wall and see what sticks and little did. A slightly built righty Phillips Valdez had some moderate success and was not tossed back to the scrapyard. The rest? A depressing collection, although catcher Kevin Plawecki did look sharp in a relief role.

Boston’s first order of business was to sign Matt Barnes to a $4.5 MM contract that Barnes gleefully signed when the Red Sox did not surprisingly terminate his services. The shock value in Red Sox Nation – at least from what I examined on social media – was did Chaim Bloom have a stroke? Barnes is now the presumed closer for 2021 unless Bloom can find someone – anyone – that may a bit more promise for the faithful.

Examining the transaction wire, the phrases that jump out is “claimed” and “invited non-roster.” The claim is simply junk – a harsh, but accurate term – that was disposed of by other teams. A cleansing of the roster. Non-invited is the “talent” already on board that has been given a bit of enticement by going to spring training to succeed or fail. Guess which option my money is on?

Management has dabbled in the free-agent market by signing right-hander Matt Andriese for one-year at $1.85 MM with an option in case Andriese suddenly morphs into Bob Stanley. Andriese has scuffled around for six lukewarm seasons with three major league teams producing a career 4.57 ERA/4.23 FIP. At 31-years old what you see is what you get – Barnes with better control and less speed. Andriese can also start with Martin Perez type results.

I will make a leap of faith and Boston will sign a closer who does have some legitimate success in that role. Brad Hand, Kirby Yates, and Trevor Rosenthal are all available and that would move Barnes back into a non-closer role to share duties with Andriese and others, but who are the others? Have to have a fallback option regarding the bullpen “depth.” I will try to erase memories of Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith.

More from Red Sox News

The free-agent list and is a pitching smorgasbord of veteran talent at various career stages. Andriese was just removed with his Boston contract. Some have a bullpen resume and others as starters and almost all at variable degrees of risk/reward. The two that remain in the impressive category are Blake Treinen and Alex Colome. Treinen’s results in 2020 were mixed with great velocity (97 MPH) and a positive 64 GB% the high points. Treinen can also close and one notched 38 saves for Oakland. Great insurance that may cost if MLBTR is correct – two-years at $14 MM.

Colome is especially intriguing since he can adapt to any bullpen role and has a successful track record as a closer (138/161). Colome also could fulfill the closer role in case Boston slides off the higher profiled options or if Barnes blows up. There are a few other choices for bullpen stability and all three have a Red Sox connection.

Nathan Eovaldi has been a starter for his career, but Eovaldi may be needed in the rotation awaiting the recovery of Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez. Eovaldi is pricey for someone that is a non-starter unless Boston experiments with the tender arm of Eovaldi as closer. In any bullpen role, Eovaldi would be a step up. Much of any switch would be the progress of Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck who both showed promise in 2020. Eovaldi would be contingent on the rotation being in reasonable shape.

Now for the more bizarre and I will start with a player who would be ideal if healthy – Collin McHugh. He had signed for 2020, but persistent arm miseries ultimately resulted in McHugh now being a free-agent. In 2018, McHugh was highly successful out of the ‘pen (6-2, 1.99 ERA/2.72 FIP), and in 2019 not so successful.

Can bizarre be accelerated? Never underestimate my ability to conjure up baseball insanity. Steven Wright has more professional and personal baggage than a Samsonite warehouse and has supposedly recovered from Tommy John surgery. Wright’s career disintegrated in mid-2016 after an injury and later more injuries, a court issue, and a PED suspension.

Boston’s bullpen needs to be restructured and it – at least for me – a few arms need to be added that have a higher upside – that may exclude my flight of fancy with McHugh and Wright – but Treinen, Colome, and a new closer would be a move in the right direction. No more of the same old.

Next. Marcus Semien catching the eye of Boston for second. dark

I am taking to pleading for Chaim Bloom to get me out of the negativity loop and dissipate by surfacing Fellowship of the Miserable. tendencies and restore Red Sox honor. When you raise up McHugh and Wright it is serious. Maybe Santa will be good to RSN?