Certain Red Sox who are thriving could cost others an opportunity
The really good news for the Boston Red Sox is they will enter the post-All-Star hiatus in first place. There are, however, subplots to this remarkable (so far) season that could reverberate down the time stream. Good news for some players could be bad news for other players.
Bobby Dalbec is good news and may become a leading example of patience with younger players. Dalbec started the season stuck in the mud. That has changed recently as Dalbec has been on somewhat of an offensive tear hitting close to .300 for the last 30 days. Yes, the K% is still stratospheric, but Dalbec when he hits is among the best on the team with a 42.8 HardHit% and his 17.2 Barrell% is tops.
Of late it has been noted that Dalbec is looking to the opposite field a bit more on his swings. As the season progresses, Bobby just may get that BA up to his .263 of 2020. Those home runs will come and when they do they are majestic. Bonus points for those long bombs. Defensively, Dalbec is no Mitch Moreland but is showing steady improvement.
Dalbec is bad news for the departed Franchy Cordero. Cordero was a flop. If this was a Broadway Show, Cordero would have been closed before the second act. Now Cordero is terrorizing hurlers in the International League. A latter-day Luke Easter. Cordero is also getting reps at first base, but could be anchored in Worcester until either September callup or an ill-fated hamstring.
Connor Wong is good news. Another piece of the Mookie Betts deal got his call to “The Show” and didn’t embarrass himself. The behind the plate work was solid and Wong chipped in with a few hits before returning to Worcester with a world of confidence over his short stay.
Wong’s taste of the bigs could be bad news for backup catcher Kevin Plawecki. Plawecki departed with a touchy hammy and is now back. A solid defensive catcher with some respectable pop who could see his Red Sox days end after this season. Wong is younger, cheaper, and more versatile.
Finally. It’s about time. That is targeted to Enrique Hernández who stalled for the first two months. Hernández is good news at center field and at the top of the order. A penchant for deflating opposing pitchers with lead-off dingers. Hernández’s defense has been borderline spectacular. The Red Sox are now getting what they spent $14 MM for two years to get.
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Meanwhile down in Worcester there is bad news for the center fielder of the future – Jarren Duran. Duran has speed, power, improving defense, and has a real penchant for the dramatic. Duran, to me, is a Grady Sizemore before injuries killed his career, but he is blocked unless injuries intervene. I doubt Boston would consider Duran as part of an outfield rotation.
Good news for the Red Sox is an apparent cure has been found for the second base plague. Christian Arroyo is a well-traveled first-round pick whose travel itinerary may finally be on hold in Boston. Arroyo has done what is expected defensively and contributed some timely hitting. Arroyo’s emergence has allowed Hernandez to stay in center and keeping Marwin González with fewer (thankfully) at-bats.
Arroyo is bad news for another player from the Betts deal – Jeter Downs. He has struggled in Worcester with his average hovering in the .230 range, but the power is there with seven home runs and the speed with a dozen steals. Downs’ best position is second and he still needs some solid AAA numbers.
Garrett Whitlock has been good news – or better yet, great news. Whitlock is also in the mix for joining the rotation, but those expectations are for the future. Whitlock had demonstrated he can easily toss multiple innings and not run up his pitch count to zip code numbers. This righty could well be a solid part of the 2022 rotation.
Bad news is Whitlock’s emergence and projection could see Garrett Richards a one-and-done in Boston. Richards started fast and has since continued his trek to being pulled from the rotation. Tanner Houck is getting ready and so is Chris Sale. Look for the Red Sox to pay the $1.5 MM buyout at the season’s end.
Josh Taylor has been electrifying since the beginning of May. The lefty has been virtually untouchable and is stamped good news for giving Manager Alex Cora another high leverage option. Can Taylor go to the nest level? That, my friends, is the ultimate bullpen party platter – closer.
Taylor’s rise could be bad news for the resident closer Matt Barnes. Barnes has excelled. A few bumps in the road but being selected an All-Star says it all. Barnes is on track to be the Liam Hendriks of this off-season. Hendriks signed a massive deal with the Pale Hose and Barnes will get one in that neighborhood. So – I guess this is good news for Barnes.