Red Sox: Fish or cut bait decisions must be made for certain players

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 14: Franchy Cordero #16 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch by Tyler Duffey #21 of the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning during game two of a doubleheader at Target Field on April 14, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Red Sox defeated the Twins 7-1 in seven innings. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 14: Franchy Cordero #16 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch by Tyler Duffey #21 of the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning during game two of a doubleheader at Target Field on April 14, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Red Sox defeated the Twins 7-1 in seven innings. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox players who are approaching roster decision status

The Boston Red Sox are now in fish or cut bait status with several players. That expression has drifted over time to now encompass swift decision-making. Do you act or not act? That applies to players of whom we now have a nice sample as May approaches.

Franchy Cordero has failed in San Diego, Kansas City, and now Boston. The answer is one simple statistic – a career 36.5 K%. The potential power is note-worthy but consistent contact remains elusive. The career metrics are disappointing and this season Cordero has taken it to a new level – the sub-basement.

Hunter Renfroe is similar to Cordero only with a greater proven capacity to provide home run power. The issue is what is attendant to the occasional long ball. A low batting average and piling up whiffs. Renfroe demonstrated that in 2020 with Tampa slamming eight and hitting a paltry .156. In 2021 that has continued.

Renfroe is supposed to be in the grand plan the right-handed complement to Cordero. Both spotted to take advantage of right or left-hand pitching. That has failed at this juncture and there is nothing in the past history of Renfroe to show a sudden awakening. Another cut bait situation but who do you replace them with? Do you replace both?

Jarren Duran was the next great in spring training but was shuffled off to the minors. A left-hand hitter that has speed, power, and a reasonable defensive presence. I doubt Red Sox Nation would go into mourning if Duran replaced Cordero. Conversely, right-hand hitting Michael Chavis is also available. I would suspect Boston’s adventurism with Renfroe could be quite limited.

Bobby Dalbec’s calling card is the long ball. Collectively we saw that in 2020 and most certainly in spring training. I thought Dalbec would be a serious contender for Rookie of The Year. Despite no home runs and a 35.5 K%, I have been impressed with Dalbec’s ability to manage the strike zone. That 14 pitch at-bat was impressive. The home runs will come, the strikeouts will continue, but Dalbec should remain.

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That Martin Pérez was re-signed was a shock for me. Pérez is a classic bottom of the rotation cannon fodder. There is nothing noteworthy in his lengthy career to say otherwise. Pérez is a gamer, a no-excuse hurler, and occasionally will surprise with an excellent performance. I would cut bait but not cut Pérez except from the rotation. If we have a 50/50 shot at a win I’d rather go with Tanner Houck.

In 2019 Josh Taylor demonstrated he was the lefty future out of the bullpen. A great fastball and a better slider. Respectable control. The last two seasons Taylor has melted like a snowcone in the Sahara at noontime. At Fenway Park, Taylor has been abysmal. But you have to play 81 games there. He hasn’t been the same since having COVID in 2020 and it’s hard to see a return to form at this point.

The possible savior for Taylor is Darwinzon Hernandez. Hernandez is the other lefty option and his 22.9 BB% spells out Hernandez’s difficulties. This may come down to a choice and I would stick with Taylor and cut bait with Hernandez unless they change the plate to six feet in width.

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Adam Ottavino and Garrett Richards are tandem and to save some reading time neither gets cut. Richards is a $10 MM investment and Ottavino a touch over at $8 MM. Ottavino has shown some glimpses of what made him one of the best out of the bullpen. And Richards? Richards may get a dozen starts and much will depend on Chris Sale. In the meantime, I’d get fishing pliers ready.