Revisiting Red Sox needs as offseason moves along

Mar 7, 2019; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom looks on before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2019; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom looks on before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

A prioritized review of the Red Sox offseason needs

Just what are the needs of the Boston Red Sox? Which will Chaim Bloom prioritize before moving on to the next roster issue? If this were a medical triage, the team would be color-coded white, a designation of walking wounded. This is an organization that is trending upwards.

The most obvious need is pitching, as it is for just about every team in Major League Baseball. I am not precisely an earth-shattering visionary for mentioning that. The direction management chooses to take is where the interest lies.

Bandied about have been the expensive and risky such as Justin Verlander to the ordinary Andrew Heaney. The price tag for two names – lefties Steven Matz and Robbie Ray – could be excessive. Both are genetically enriched, tossing from the port side, and would be excellent replacements for Eduardo Rodríguez. Being removed from the Toronto roster would be a nice side benefit.

Remaining in limbo with the current cast of arms has an inherent risk. Is Tanner Houck the real deal? That may soon be found out. Is Garrett Whitlock best suited to remain in his current position?

Restructuring the rotation for 2021 was not one of Bloom’s shining moments. Garrett Richards and Martin Pérez were offset somewhat by Nick Pivetta, but overall the rotation needed a tune-up and oil change.

Examining internal and external options, Boston will have to do what they have done in the past – throw money at a problem. Someone will get a ridiculously fat contract to avoid having more lower rotation sludge added to the rotation. I would go with Matz and wear out the worry beads hoping Chris Sale returns to pre-operation norms.

The bullpen is a perpetual issue, and that is not unusual. Bloom executed what appeared to be yearly rebuilds while at Tampa and expected no difference in Boston. The closer remains a question mark as Matt Barnes managed to corrupt a generous contract by self-immolation.

Based on Bloom’s track record, expect not Liam Hendriks contracts to be issued. Closer may be a merry-go-round until someone settles in and controls the position. I would give the role to Barnes, and it is sink or swim. I would also get used to breathing underwater in that case.

What I expect is for me to make a terrible analogy, and you will not be disappointed. The unplugging of an abandoned oil well is a delicate process to find value where none is presumed. Bloom will do the same with his bullpen.

No largess to be doled to those on the open market with bullpen credentials. The list of possibilities is substantial, and tossing darts blindfolded at names may be as scientific as possible. Boston has inhouse probabilities, and with luck – plenty of luck – the ‘pen could slide into a top-four metrics by the conclusion of 2022.

Second base is an issue that has taken on a life of its own for several years. This is becoming similar to a yearly IRS audit and looked upon as scintillating as a colonoscopy exam. I wrote about this a while back, and that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

The outfield for Boston is good but certainly not up to the standards of a few years back. That, however, was somewhat enhanced by Mookie Betts. Defensively they are similar to junk food – filling but not satisfying. So why sign Kyle Schwarber? Schwarber would be a noted downgrade defensively, but I would risk manager Alex Cora doing his lineup shuffle for 2022 to get the best out of the honorary Waltham native.

Schwarber does little to remedy the need for a bit more luster in the speed department. MLB is starting to take on the speed aspects of the 1950s when a stolen base was as rare as a non-stale hot dog roll at Fenway Park. Rotund Christian Vázquez leading the teams in steals? Please!

Speed can be addressed either via purchase or trade of a combination hitter-defender such as Trea Turner. Can Jarren Duran accomplish that? Can Jeter Downs light it up in the Arizona Fall League? Maybe Tim Locastro can find something to do with that wooden stick he hauls to the plate?

Next. Whitlock is best served as a bullpen assassin. dark

There are riches in the mines that exist in Worcester to the Dominican Summer League. The ore is prospects, and Boston is starting to see the results of Bloom’s efforts. Most will fail, but there is a numbers game. The Red Sox can sift through and have a nice cache of trade chips or replenishment for the MLB team. The farm system is once again become a potent tool.