Expect the Boston Red Sox to have a massive roster upheaval
The Boston Red Sox season is now The Walking Dead of baseball.
Of course, with a Wild Card situation, you’re never technically out of it as long as there’s that mathematical possibility. It is the exact mathematical possibility I have when buying a Mega Millions ticket. Unfortunately, I do not get the big jackpot, but occasionally, I get a number that gives me all of $2. This season the Red Sox are to harken back to Monty Hall – A Zonk!
When you pay the price to go to a baseball game, you expect to see a product worthy of that price. And if this Sox team was a Broadway show, the curtain would not rise after intermission.
But right now, the important thing for those who think this team has a future is to see glimpses of what that future could/should look like. What I have on my wish list is that certain someone is worth the exorbitant ticket prices. Winning does create excitement, and this team is about as exciting as Erik Estrada selling timeshares. A David Ortiz in a critical situation or the party atmosphere of a Pedro Martínez start. Is there another Mookie Betts buried in the farm system? Oh well, so much for reflections of the past.
The most significant aspect of baseball is pitching and what this team has presented offers little positive that the future will offer up a helping of worthy talent. When Nick Pivetta – a competent workman – is considered your most reliable starter, the future makes the most desolate apocalyptic landscape appear like a garden of Eden. The 2022 roster may be matched by the 1945 roster upheaval that at least had the ending of WW II as the catalyst.
Chaim Bloom or his possible replacement has a herculean task on hand with a reconstruction project that would make the Great Wall appear to be a beginner’s Lego set. There is little from the farm system with no Roger Clemens on the horizon. Where is Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Curt Schilling, or Julian Tavárez? OK, Tavárez was inserted to see if you were paying attention.
The trial-by-fire approach with young pitchers seems to grind to a halt. Being a young pitcher on the Red Sox is like being that unknown ensign beamed down to a hostile planet in Star Trek. We know that ensign will soon be a delightful dinner for some alien species. With the Red Sox, it is the curse of injury. So getting some innings in and having a painful introduction or limited major league growth development is on hold. Brayon Bello and presumed closer Tanner Houck are the latest, but at least Bello has returned.
The pitching is a pure Captain Obvious to even the casual Red Sox fan, and throwing money at the problem has a history of costly failure. A player trade is a potential solution, but the current administration is reluctant. David Price was purchased and Chris Sale was traded for and Sale could join Price in the dead money pool. Bloom mentioned being comfortable with in-house options regarding the team’s punch-drunk bullpen and that was on display with a flurry of notices of eviction from the roster.
For players, the remainder of the season is personal since performance will equate to future earnings. The Red Sox roster has many potential free agents that fill the baseball spectrum regarding talent and possible job futures other than the minors, Korea, Japan, or independent leagues. Once rejected by the Red Sox the performance portfolio will become a pathway to further employment or baseball oblivion. Jaylin Davis, Yolmer Sánchez, and just about every pitcher with a heartbeat need to embellish those precious numbers.
The hostile environment reflected in the abysmal standings of this season has created a social media frenzy for cleaning the house, from Bloom to Alex Cora to Kaleb Ort. The emotional knee-jerk reaction does have traction based on performance. And with you know who running away this the AL East the angst and anger are just magnified.
Giving a cursory glance at the pitching staff, the list of names for me that have a life on this roster is scant indeed. Garrett Whitlock, John Schreiber, and Matt Straham have a foundation to build upon. Josh Winckowski and Kutter Crawford have shown promise. Pivetta is a workhorse with mixed results, but what remains can do a Houdini and disappear.
Disappearing can be tricky with Matt Barnes, who is on the books for almost $9 MM in 2023. The same with James Paxton and, Hirokazu Sawamura has been given his papers, and most certainly will be part of a very large club of former Red Sox pitchers. But those seem to be the limit for contractual castaways. Chris Sale is in the midst of a massive contract and I doubt he will walk away and open up a Trek bike store.
I fervently hope Bello gets some quality MLB innings to polish his game. Is a late-season call-up for Bryan Mata worth it? To be a taste of the MLB scene could be bitter or sweet, but that trial-by-fire thing. Possibly another long look for Connor Seabold? This system is not rich in pitching talent, and I have no compulsion not to have the youngsters test the MLB waters.
Based on Bloom’s acquisition history with pitching in his Boston stay, I imagine if he purchased a car, the transmission would lock up, the oil pan disintegrate, and the cooling system would collapse. Hopefully, his luck will change since they will have to go shopping for pitching and not do it with the bum of the month process.
Is Tommy Pham a possible keeper for 2023 as a fourth or even platoon outfielder? Pham has a $6 MM option, but Rob Refsnyder could do the same role and considerably cheaper. Both are the role players you like to have on your team, especially since Jarren Duran is doing everything possible to lower the defensive bar for outfielders.
Bobby Dalbec may follow Francy Cordero into 4A status and take his 31.9 K% with him. Kevin Plawecki most certainly will be part of the exodus of players not tendered a contract. That list should be rather substantial and building up that resume is essential for the next six weeks.
What happens with core players such as Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers is an unfinished story. And speaking of Story as in Trevor Story is this migrating into another abysmal signing? Story has the ability and now has been subjected to the Red Sox medical team of Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, and Dr. Howard. If you get an injury in Boston you get a second opinion ASAP.
Christian Arroyo has become a favorite of mine just on what he has had to endure physically. I doubt arbitration would give Arroyo an atmospheric boost in salary. Conversely, I would let Enrique Hernández walk or limp away. I am leaning towards the limp option. The sweet deal in the infield is Eric Hosmer since the Padres are picking up the check – a rare item with the Red Sox not paying dead money. Naturally, Hosmer went down for the count.
Triston Casas need a long look, and September may be his time to find out if he is Bobby Guidon, Sam Horn, or (hopefully) Mo Vaughn. Casas potentially could be that fearsome power bat or another Lars Anderson dud. Otherwise, the farm system is a collection not quite ready for prime time. Do fans have the patience? Is this another bridge year thing? Bloom has stockpiled prospects but the word “fringe” seems appropriate with far too many.
The Red Sox formula of a few years back was a first to last to first cycle, and this season will fulfill the last as even the dreadful Orioles are being out dreadfulled – is that a word? – by Boston. The Red Sox are in a tough division, and the moves seem questionable, inconsistent, and failure-prone. Bloom may have to prove more than any player. Maybe Bloom is just a hipster grifter after all? I will wait for judgment on that for another year and will John Henry do the same?