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.