Two possible ways to look at the Boston Red Sox future
Truck Day is a baseball religious holiday in the Massachusetts area. The faithful gather and pay homage, genuflect, burn incense, and maybe sacrifice a few Fenway Franks. The truck is a local deity for all things Red Sox.
It is a local custom. Like putting out an old chair or your mother-in-law when you attempt to save your shoveled-out parking space after the latest two-inch blizzard. The Truck departs and the breathless, fawning, TV anchors report its movements to Florida as if it was a wheeled version of a category five hurricane.
The day is a harbinger of spring which generally fluctuates daily between March and August. The old wait a few hours and the weather will change that is appropriate for New England. The truck is loaded up with all the tools of the trade baseballs, bats, gloves, sunflower seeds, and beer and chicken. Based on what is being created in the laboratory of Mad Doctor Bloom the truck will be replaced by a Waste Management vehicle. Maybe several?
To paraphrase Lynyrd Skynyrd Gimme three players, Mister. The Red Sox needed a closer, a solid starter, and an accomplished bat. Those three items would have placed the 2021 Red Sox into the mix. To continue down the paraphrased quotes path We coulda been contenders.
This is a roster built for the future. Unfortunately, it is an apocalyptic future for the Red Sox faithful. The local cathedral the dump known as Fenway Park may have a few empty pews. I am on the verge of becoming a Red Sox atheist. This roster is built for failure and it will not disappoint.
The 2020 season was an aberration to some and not necessarily a harbinger of bad times ahead. Bad karma with COVID and missing body parts namely Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez. Polish off the rose-colored glasses and place 2019-2020 into the dustbin of history.
The idea is to create a product that one wishes to overpay to see. A team can have exciting players, dynamic players, players that fit together and are successful. And the best have that unique attraction a star.
A star just has that undefinable something and that has gone to Los Angeles. Even a team that is wretched can have that one player that makes it worth going to a game. It would take a baseball-type SETI to find a STAR on this team. A Red Sox game is as wonderful to look forward to as a colonoscopy exam. And NESN? Folks may find infomercials and Benny Hinn more attractive options.
Since baseball invariably comes down to one distinct category pitching. Anyone can throw a ball. It is a natural human reaction. Ball, rock, or any object that can be gripped and tossed. Simple.
Maybe I was naive but the first order of business was to stabilize that portion of the roster defined as the bullpen. The most important part is the closer and apparently, management feels confident, comfortable, and willing to go to baseball war with Matt Barnes.
With the war analogy firmly rooted I would say when Mr. Barnes enters, start looking for white flags. Barnes is notoriously inconsistent a most fatal of flaws for a closer. Meanwhile, the list of available closers shrunk like Wal-Mart dress pants after a good wash and dry. Boston sat, watched, ignored, saved money.
Maybe Durbin Feltman will arise from the prospect dead? I would have been in on Alex Colome or Brad Hand. But the Red Sox decided to go to New York! Adam Ottavino and $8 MM inherited. A boost for the Yankees.
The rotation is solid, but with the question marks, it may be as solid as oatmeal mush. The Red Sox needed security like Linus needed his blanket. The blanket they brought in was Martin Prez and a recovering Garrett Richards. Welcome to Boston, Mr. Richards!
In 2015 Richards banged out 207.1 innings and 15 wins. Since then? A grand total of eight wins and 198.2 innings. But, hey, Richards has a great spin-rate! Ignore the fact lefties kill this guy. They have truly lost their minds on this $10 MM deal. The rest of the additions are in the realm of the Twilight Zone.
During this offseason, the Red Sox were rumored to be connected to an extensive list of free agents. Jose Quintana, Jake Odorizzi, Corey Kluber, Jeremy Jeffress, and even Jon Lester on the pitching possibilities. If you are going to sign mediocrity at least do the high end and not the low end. And on the high end? Odorizzi and Quintana would have fit in fine.
The one player I thought would be ideal was George Springer. Springer is an excellent all-around player, a leader, and now quite wealthy thanks to an emerging power Toronto. The Red Sox didnt need Springer since Hunter Renfroe and his .228 career average would suffice.
The crevice that is known as second base apparently will remain in the hopeful category. DJ LeMahieu would have been the perfect fit. An adept defensive player, one of the best hitters in the game, and a way to poke the bear Yankees by signing him. But nooooo Boston went with Kik Hernndez.
Hernndezs 2020 season produced a -0.1 fWAR and an 83 wRC+. But it is an improvement since the entire collection at second base for Boston produced a -0.2 fWAR. But the kid can pick em at second as attested by his career -6.2 UZR/150. Forget Brock Holt. Hernndez like Holt can play anywhere and it may be needed. Maybe Bloom can clone him for three positions? Is that in the CBA? Will all three get $14 MM?
Is there a plan? I am quite dubious about the teams direction which apparently is shifting into reverse. There is little to energize the fan base. Chaim Bloom is using the Tampa approach, but I suspected he would only infuse it with a healthy cash outlay. Maybe not? Maybe theyll just wait out 2021, clear the books, take a long look at prospects, and get back in the game.
Boston is in deep trouble vis vis their relationship with their division. Toronto is serious. Toronto has youth, money, experience, and is in this race full bore. The Yankees are certainly playoff material and potential division champions. And Tampa. Year after year Tampa succeeds where others fail. A team that consistently wins on the cheap.The little engine that could. Now with Bloom Boston can lose, but certainly not on the cheap.
The Red Sox are a waning baseball power. As Great Britain demonstrated political decline the Red Sox are displaying baseball decline. The only shred of respectability is the Baltimore Orioles who could rescue the Sox from a last-place finish. Possibly. Stay the course with the navigational system showing the course direction is mediocrity. Ignore that iceberg, Mr. Bloom.
Truck rhymes with you know what and that applies to what Red Sox management is doing to the fan base. They are signing players on the low end. Signing players with high risk attached. Signing players that will not put this team over the top. No glitter with these signings. This is like putting makeup on a donkey and passing it off as a fashion model.
I dont really blame Bloom since he is the fall guy. Maybe Henry is broke, or disinterested focused on his other sporting interests, or hoping Bloom magically transforms them with spare parts building a solid team via the baseball junkyard or graveyard. Then sell. Meanwhile, the fans are expected to pay for a Broadway roadshow cast with real Broadway ticket prices. P.T. Barnum was right.
Now to go into reverse. Is there a plan? Is Chaim Bloom playing chess and most others playing checkers? The one thread of consistency is high-risk players. Ok I lied. The other is getting players ready for the MLB level prospects. Even Ottavino had Frank German tossed in. A prospect that is essentially a no-name at 24th on the Yankees prospect food chain. We have seen this before starting with the Mookie Betts deal.
Boston is building up a farm system and some that have arrived are possibly under the radar. Bloom sniffed out similar truffles when at Tampa. Tampa made value trades and value drafting. Not perfect, but just scan the Red Sox draft record and development of rotation pitchers if you wish to see failure.
Richards, Ottavino, and even Prez could have significant value. Not in Boston, but on the open market. If Richards returns to 2015 status the Red Sox can easily weave a trade to the pitching desperate in mid-season. And Richards has an option that takes him off the rental category. Ottavino back to 2019 stats and Boston could keep or sell high. And Prez? Injuries happen and he could be moved if another team has some significant issues.
The same could certainly apply to Hernndez. The Red Sox could have a solid fill-in for everywhere and if another MLB team has a hole to repair then his value goes up. Renfroe goes back to his Padre salad days you have a nice right-hand bat to keep or flip. Especially with Jarren Duran showing signs of Jacoby Ellsbury in his game.
Sands can shift rapidly in baseball and Red Sox Nation can bear witness to that phenomenon. Fist to last to first to last. A key addition here, a bit of luck there, a reject displaying some career redemption, and a rookie suddenly realizes it is the same ball as in the minors you play with. And then getting a break when some team is out cutting payroll and you have the dough. There will be some nice free-agents in the shopping bin after 2021.
The Bloom template is to tear down, simplify payroll, build up the system, and dump players approaching their walk years. In Boston, that could change drastically since the money is there. The money will flow with the expiration of albatross contracts. The reset could cause a spending spree as Henry realizes a fifth title this century is plausible.
Bloom is a baseball architect and in Tampa, his design was little houses. Now he can practice structural engineering with a fan base that goes to the game for the game and not Blue Belle Ice Cream. The one ingredient is patience and Red Sox fans have little of that. That may not be needed as this team could be just a year away or closer.
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