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The Show Goes On

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The Show Goes On With The Boston Red Sox

It’s officially August, the time of the year when baseball games finally start to mean something. The crisp and aromatic October air will soon pervade Fenway Park. This is also when a motley bunch of unilateral teammates will coalesce into the team they will be, come playoff time. In the aftermath of the MLB trade-deadline, we see a Boston Red Sox team that is a kaleidoscope of a picture. It looks something like if Picasso did the team photo and he switched heads with behinds, and arms with legs (and put some foots in mouths).

Exclusively grading them, I’d give the organization’s deadline moves a super-solid B. This grading comes retroactively, and for a reason. With recent developments behind us, the acquisition of versatile chess-piece Eduardo Nunez and the possibly premature promotion of Rafael Devers appears to be a very coherent decision on management’s part. Unfortunately, it is a decision amplified by the fact that Dustin Pedroia is not healthy. This team needs help on both sides of the ball, urgently.

In a press-conference on Monday, a melancholy, yet steady, John Farrell declared that the Red Sox “can’t rule out the DL” for Pedroia and his knee which was operated on in the off-season. This unnerving tidbit comes on the coattails of a 3-game benching of the acclaimed “dirt-dog”. This is not good. It is entirely uncommon to see Pedroia sit on the bench, and his doing so speaks to the seriousness of the injury. Knee-cartilage is not regenerative. When it starts to go, it goes. Hence the importance of the newly introduced Boston young-bloods: Eduardo Nunez and Rafael Devers.

These two will be expected to supplement the play of an inveterate staple of our team. Although his leadership has been in question, as of late, Pedroia is a crown-jewel of this franchise. Despite his height (that’s right no one’s off limits), temporarily replacing him will be no small task.

Meet the New Guys

Eduardo Nunez: maybe, through the osmosis of national media, you’ve heard the name. But did any of us have an extensive scouting-report on this guy when he was acquired? Rafael Devers: if you’ve absorbed the farm-system at all, you knew he’d probably make a nice contribution in the near future. In the midst of a minor-crisis, these two near no-names are making an invaluable impact.

Starting with the bright-eyed 20-year-old, Devers has simply been tearing the cover off the ball. In 27 plate-appearances (PA) he has a .417 BA while slugging the ball at an incredible average of .750, polish that off with 2 HRs and 4 RBI’s. That type of production, from a newly called-up prospect, comes at a time when the Sox were desperately exploring the roster, and the market, for any iota of power-hitting. This conversationally “free” needle in the haystack is of immeasurable worth to this team right now. Devers represents only half of this Frankenstein-esque Green Monster. The other half: Eduardo Nunez.

He’s a very well traveled rolling-stone, but Nunez has been able to ingratiate himself, in an abbreviated fashion, to many a franchise. From the seemingly futile reclamation attempt in San Francisco, he comes to a more promising situation in Boston. In his 19 PA’s with the club, Eduardo has socked his way to a .417 BA, while cranking the ball at a clobbering slugging-percentage of .971. In this small sample size, he also has 2 dingers and a formidable 7 RBI’s. We acquired all of this high-leverage productivity for a “Sweet Caroline” of a song. Who can begin to complain?

Looking at the defensive outfit of these two, now not so hidden-gems, Devers presents a slight liability in the hot-corner. During his short time with the club, the young third-baseman has committed a nearly inconsequential handful of errors. Bare in mind, the kid has a high ceiling. The plays he has fumbled were those of a budding player clearly trying too hard. What redeems this corner of the infield? Nunez at second, who is a well-rounded glove that can comfortably assume any position within the diamond.

The Future is Now

As constituted, our infield without Dustin Pedroia would not win a collective Gold Glove. Defensively, Nunez’s optimal position is third base. But, as it’s outweighed by the current surge in offensive production, we’re not looking too shabby on the doorstep of August.

Sure, the impending loss of Pedroia severely hurts this team. What mitigates this publically unforeseeable damage is the well-timed insertion of Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez into the lineup. Although a bum-knee, at the ripe age of 33 years old, for Dustin Pedroia does not spell retirement, it’s nice to see a version of this team that can succeed in his absence. We have not found our long-term Sox without the “laser show” solution. But the show must go on, and we’ve been lucky enough to find an under-qualified combination of players stepping up to put on a helluva performance.

Columnist operating out of Manchester, NH. Retired pitcher (unprofessional not amateur). Voracious consumer of all things Celtics and Red Sox. Sometimes I produce content as well.

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Do Not Need To Get A Big Bat

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Many have stated their wishes that the Boston Red Sox will go out and get a big-time bat for the heart of their order. A bat that they seemingly need to help protect the likes of Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez in the lineup. One of the bigger names connected to the team is Giancarlo Stanton, but reports show that idea as a longshot with Stanton not looking at Boston as a possibility.

Another name, Jose Abreu, is also reportedly out of the running with Ken Rosenthal reporting that the White Sox will not trade their slugger before the start of the season. With the potential list shortening with JD Martinez and Eric Hosmer leading the running, maybe Boston should sit still this offseason.

That is sort of a controversial take, but the notion of Hosmer or Martinez doesn’t get the juices flowing, and ultimately will cost the Red Sox more then they are worth.

So what is the answer, Boston still needs a first basemen for next season. A position that could be filled with Sam Travis and Hanley Ramirez given the idea that Dustin Pedroia will find some time at the DH spot next season with Eduardo Nunez getting some quality time at second base. Another possibility is Rafael Devers not panning out at third base and needing to move to first base or DH at times.

Also in the cards is prospect Michael Chavis who should find himself in AAA Pawtucket at some point next season and maybe in Boston at third base or first. Then comes the possibility of Blake Swihart or my favorite, Bryce Brentz. Both were getting trained at first base with Pawtucket last season and could see reps at first base if Dave Dombrowski opts to not sign a big-time bat.

Of course, these solutions are not as flashy and will not present an immediate threat for Boston in the heart of their order. But betting on the current roster to bounce back at the plate and see an emergence of another young player might be a route to take.

Worse case scenario they get the same amount of production and end up right around 90 wins like they were this past season. But the upside of keeping the financial flexibility going forward while trying out prospects might be the best thing for Boston to do instead of overreacting to fan pressure.

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Bottom Line: Boston Red Sox Need Stanton

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Boston Red Sox Team President Dave Dombrowski isn’t a great talent evaluator. Throughout his entire career, he has built his success by acquiring proven big league talent. Betting on that changing anytime soon is foolish, so why not make another move for proven talent?

Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins has long been rumored to be on the trade block and Boston is just one of his potential destinations. Reports have stated thought that Stanton would prefer a trade to a team like the Dodgers despite “advisers” pushing for Boston.

The Stanton vs Judge potential is enough to get any baseball fans heart racing. But should Boston present Miami a god offer? Some have balked at the potential of trading any more prospects but let me tell you a very well known secret, Boston’s farm system has been pillaged. Jay Groome and Michael Chavis are considered the best two prospects remaining under Dombrowski.

So any thought of depleting the farm system anymore should be tossed out the window as there isn’t much left there, to begin with. On top of that, the current makeup of the team and the organization is winning now, a strategy that is far from working given the current talent in the lineup. Last season the Red Sox lacked true pop in their lineup after the retirement of David Ortiz. Many at the time sold it as the 2015 Royals who nickeled and dimed their way to a world series title. But when it came down to it the 2017 Boston Red Sox lacked balls.

Boston needs a power bat in the heart of their order. Not just for the home runs from that player, but for the protection they would offer the other hitters in the lineup. If you were a pitcher facing the Red Sox last season almost every hitter in the lineup could be pitched too. The only exception might be Hanley Ramirez, but the BIG HR simply was set up to fail to have to step in for Ortiz with no protection around him.

Stanton would instantly bring in pop, lineup protection, and the much needed “it” factor that will help drive fans to the team. Without this type of move, it is hard to see how next season will be any different.

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Minimum Expectations for the 2018 Red Sox

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Last year, it was Chris Sale; in 2016, the exorbitantly expensive David Price was all the hype. Both of these roundly heralded saviors produced the same underwhelming results. Another short-winded trip to the playoffs; another bummer of a year.

The Red Sox simply cannot afford a third consecutive first-round exit, in the 2018 postseason. And it seems that Dave Dombrowski knows this. In an attempt to prevent car-flipping anarchy in the streets, he fired the overseer of all this recent failure (his direct subordinate) – John Farrell.

Now the Sox will be heading into next season with a newfangled remedy. No, it’s not a hundred-million dollar player. This time around, management has received the upgrade. It’s the newly hired manager, Alex Cora, who will be charged with the burden of resurrecting one of the most venerated franchises in professional sports.

On Monday, Cora was formally introduced to Boston as the new manager (or scapegoat).

Good luck, buddy! You’re gonna need it.  

Should Boston fans really expect an appreciable change to be affected by just one man? After all, this is exactly what we’ve done, to no avail, for the past few years. And if Cora really represents the end-all-be-all solution, what is a realistic accomplishment for him, and his club, in the first season of his tenure?

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