Red Sox need a bat off the bench or ode to Mitch Moreland
The Boston Red Sox need a bat which may appear as a questionable comment considering the team ranks among the best in the American League in a variety of offensive categories. When you need a hit off the bench, who are you going to call? Who are you going to call when you need a bomb? I doubt any hurlers are quaking with fear when Franchy Cordero is scuffling around the bat rack.
The Red Sox do make managerial blunders and the idea is to make less than your opponents. The blunder of choice for me is not re-signing Mitch Moreland, who signed with the A’s for baseball chump change – $2.25 million.
Moreland’s history in Boston is well noted, especially his hitting heroics in the 2018 World Series. Moreland for his career has been solid in that difficult role. In 117 plate appearances, the 35-year-old lefty has hit .297 and slugged four home runs. Moreland is also a capable defensive player when tethered at first base.
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Boston’s first base aggregate has not impressed. Collectively they have a -0.1 fWAR. Bobby Dalbec is the primary culprit and the sometimes slugging right-hander is hitting just .141 against righties. Maybe Danny Santana will help? Moreland certainly would have, but that is all in the past. Moreland – to quote a notorious basketball coach – is not walking through that door.
Where do you find a Matt Stairs or Jonny Gomes? Is there a later day Smoky Burgess, Manny Mota, or Jerry Lynch who could add some potency off the bench? Possibly take a turn occasionally in the field? Add that veteran presence to the clubhouse?
I would have been all-in on the shell of a player known as Albert Pujols. Pujols signed with the Dodgers and would have been a nice fit for the Red Sox. An ultimate low risk. Play some first base, an occasional turn at Designated Hitter, and coming off the bench. Not quite Johnny Mize, but you never know.
The Red Sox are apparently committed to full versatility regarding players. Someone or someones will sit and that becomes the go-to for late-inning bat appeal. The pick of the litter historically off the bench would be Enrique Hernández. Hernandez has not hit for average in the pinch-hit role (.204) but does have six career home runs. Neither Santana or Marwin Gonzélez have shined in that task.
To me, the search is external, such as Pujols. Occasionally a bat does become available and like Pujols, it could be a player in transition as their abilities fade. This past offseason I would have taken a long look at Edwin Encarnación who loved Fenway Park. Eric Thames was worth a glance but is now in Japan.
Now that the season is moving forward I would certainly pay utmost attention to the waiver wire, trade rumors, and teams that are fading fast for sources to provide that spark off the bench. The job itself is not easy and has as much mental approach as physical, but somewhere there is a Moreland for this year’s team.