Where Will Dombrowski and the Red Sox Strike Next?

The Red Sox got their ace, and they got a solid closer as well. So, the question is now where will Dombrowski and company go from here? On paper, the team looks like a team that should be in the playoffs next year, assuming they can stay relatively healthy.

Dave Dombrowski has said that acquiring David Price will most likely be the last “major Dombrowski Red Soxmove,” but I disagree with that to an extent, and here is why: The Red Sox are not a World Series team yet. They have an ace in Price, but I believe the Red Sox still need either a number 2 starter or another solid reliever. Right now, the greater need is probably bullpen help because 2 of their key guys, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara, have struggled with inconsistencies over the past season and a half or so. And Koji is nearing the end of the line at 40 years old, so I don’t know how much gas he has left in the tank. And no team can win without a good bullpen (see: Kansas City).

True, acquiring Craig Kimbrel was a good start, but I think they still need at least one more 7th or 8th inning guy in front of Kimbrel to really shore up the back end of the pen up and take some of the pressure off Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa.

In my opinion, getting another starter behind David Price is less of a need than another bullpen help because if the starters we already have pitch like they can, then the rotation should be set. And getting Price will take the pressure off guys like Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello, as well as help the young guys we have develop, since they can definitely learn a lot from a great pitcher like David Price. If they go out and get a #2 starter, that would be good, but if it came down to it, I’d like to see the Red Sox go after another bullpen arm instead of resting on what they have now, as good as it is at the moment.

 

Red Sox Offseason Preview: Who Stays, Who Goes

The Red Sox are poised to have an interesting offseason, to say the least. Most of Red Sox Nation wouldn’t argue that the Red Sox need to look for pitching help during the offseason, but the question is how do they get said pitching help? There are a couple notable free agents available, namely David Price and Johnny Cueto. There are also a few players that could be available via trade, notably Matt Harvey, who has been mentioned a few times in connection with the Red Sox.Red Sox offseason

If they do look for a trade, which is entirely possible, the question becomes who would the team be willing to trade to get an ace or a strong reliever? It’s a question that the Red Sox will have to answer because I’m sure there will be interest in making a deal for one or more of the Red Sox promising young players. Here’s who will stay and who might go when this Red Sox offseason

Who Stays:

David Ortiz: David is one of the few that won’t be leaving. He’s 39, and at this point, it’s hard to see Ortiz finishing his career anywhere besides Fenway Park.

Dustin Pedroia: He’s the co-face of the Red Sox with David Ortiz at the moment, and he’ll be the sole face of the team when Ortiz retires. Plus, he has 6 years left on the 8-year deal he signed back in 2013 and there will be be few teams willing to take on that deal.

Mookie Betts: One of the Red Sox best young talent’s, it’s very difficult to imagine the team letting him go unless they get a very, very good return.

Xander Bogaerts: Like Betts, a very good young player, and unlikely to be traded.

Who Goes:

Blake Swihart: With Christian Vazquez coming back, Blake Swihart could be on a lot of team’s radars. I’m sure he could get a lot in return if the Red Sox do decide to trade him.

Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval: After a disappointing first year for both guys, the team could be looking to dump their massive contracts, similar to the deal they pulled of with the LA Dodgers that sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to LA.

Allen Craig: After under-performing for a season and a half, the team could be looking to deal him before next season.

Clay Buchholz: Clay has an option for next season, and even if the team picks it up, he could still be dealt. He has had injury problems through the years, and the team has to decide whether or not he is worth the injury troubles he has.

This is how I see the Red Sox offseason playing out. Of course, this is all speculation, and I could be wrong. We’ll have to wait and see, but one thing is for certain—this will be an interesting Red Sox offseason!

Red Sox Fans Now Chicago Cubs Fans

For one month, and one month only,  much of Red Sox Nation has jumped on the Chicago Cubs bandwagon. Why? Because the Cubs have suffered longer than Red Sox fans, going 107 years without a championship. After the Red Sox waited 86 years in between championships, most of Red Sox Nation can empathize with the Cubs, and were quick to jump on their bandwagon.

And when you look at the Chicago Cubs, it’s not hard to find reasons to root for them. For Chicago Cubsstarters, ex-Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, part of 2 championships, and ex-GM Theo Epstein, who built the team who broke the “Curse of the Bambino,” are both with the Cubs now. Not to mention Manny Ramirez, who won the World Series MVP in 2004, and David Ross, who was one of the leaders of the beard movement in 2013. Second, the Cubs are loaded with young talent, notably Jake Arrieta and Kris Bryant. Those are just a couple of the things the Cubs have going for them.

But the main thing? Empathy. For 86 years, the Red Sox were in the same boat as the Cubs. While our curse involved a questionable trade, being unlucky in the World Series, a missed ground ball, and a few ill-timed home runs by the New York Yankees, we eventually broke it after 86 years. The Cubs are cursed in a different way; theirs involving a goat, a tavern, and an unfortunate case of fan interference back in 2003 in the NLCS against the Florida Marlins. So, the Red Sox and Cubs are similar in that they were both cursed for long periods of time.

Personally, I really hope the Cubs finish the job. They need to break their curse, since they’re the only team left with a “curse”, and they need to win it all. They’ll face the New York Mets in the NLCS. Go Cubs.

The Red Sox Catcher Dilemma

The Red Sox have some decisions to make in the off-season. For starters, they have to decide who they want to bring on board as an ace, if they want to bring on another ace at all. They have to decide where they want to look for bullpen help as well. One decision that has been flying under the radar a bit is—who will be their everyday catcher? Blake Swihart has performed well in 2015, but the Red Sox went into the 2015 season assuming Christian Vazquez would be their regular catcher with Sandy Leon as the backup.

Of course, Vazquez was lost for the season when he had Tommy John surgery back inRed Sox catcher April, which opened the door for Blake Swihart to get the majority of the reps at catcher this season. Swihart performed pretty well at the plate, but Red Sox pitchers had a 4.51 ERA when throwing to Swihart this season, while pitchers had a 3.71 ERA throwing to Vazquez last season in limited action at the end of last season. That takes into account the fact that the Red Sox had already traded away Lon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy.

Blake Swihart played well offensively, hitting .274 with 5 home runs in 84 games, so I would say he has a slight edge on Vazquez in that respect. Christian Vazquez has a .240 average in 55 career games and only 1 home run so far, but Vazquez has the edge defensively over Swihart.

So, who will start in 2016? It’s hard to say, but I would give the edge to the defensive-minded catcher if it came down to one of them, which is Vazquez. However, I think the best case scenario would be to have them split time. If it were me, I would start Vazquez for the majority of the games, but put Swihart in when we need a little pop in the lineup.

Another distinct possibility is one of them, most likely Swihart, gets traded to bring in an ace or bullpen help. I think Swihart will get the short straw in a possible deal because if it comes down to it, the Red Sox will choose the better defensive catcher in Vazquez, and have Ryan Hanigan and Sandy Leon as back ups. I could be wrong, but time will tell.

 

Hanley Ramirez Done for the Season?

Hanley Ramirez is officially done for the season, as Torey Luvollo told ESPN that he gave Hanley permission to being his off-season rehabilitation program in Fort Lauderdale, Florida today.

Let me be the first to breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe this will end up being a good thing for Hanley Ramirezhim. Hanley Ramirez has not been playing much lately anyway, which has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It has given way to the Red Sox young guns to showcase their skills, and the Red Sox have benefited greatly from that, as they have been playing much better in the last month or so.

The question I would have is “What does this mean for Hanley’s Red Sox future?” He’s the highest paid player annually, at $22 million a year, and while the story put out by Red Sox management seems like a believable story, since Hanley’s been struggling since he collided with the Green Monster back in May, I still have to wonder about what the team’s plans are with Hanley Ramirez. Given the way some of the young guys have been playing, it seems hard to figure out where Hanley will fit it next season.

I personally think the team should give him at least one more year, but not in left field. Hanley was a shortstop before coming here, but there is no way, save for serious injury, he’ll be put in at short ahead of Xander Bogaerts. One option would be for him to platoon somewhere, either at first base with Travis Shaw, or at designated hitter with David Ortiz. I find it hard to see him getting regular playing time in the outfield with the way the 3 regular guys (Castillo, Betts, Bradley Jr) have been playing well for the most part. I also find it hard to imagine that the Red Sox cut David Ortiz or Travis Shaw out of the picture to make room for Hanley Ramirez, unless David Ortiz retires, which seems unlikely at this point.

Maybe this is the team’s way of saying he doesn’t really have a future with the team, since other players that have suffered season-ending injuries (i.e Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa) are still with the team and Hanley is back in Florida. That’s just speculation on my part though. It could also be a blessing in disguise, and he might come back next year with a renewed sense of purpose, and he’ll come back an improved player. I find it hard to believe they won’t at least try and find a place for Hanley Ramirez next season after investing a monster contract in him, but I could be wrong. We’ll just have to wait and see where this goes.

Mike Hazen named Red Sox GM

The search for a new general manager is over. The team announced Thursday that they are promoting Mike Hazen from assistant GM to general manager, according to the Boston Globe. Hazen, who has been with the team since 2006 and was named assistant GM before the start of this season, started as director of player development with the team, helping to build one of the best minor league systems in the game. He also helped construct 2 World Series championships under previous general managers Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington.

While Hazen was part of the front office team that had a hand in 3 losing seasons in 4Mike Hazen years, he is considered a good talent evaluator. Dave Dombrowski, new president of baseball operations for the team, credits him with helping find and develop young players, which we’re seeing the effects of now. A lot of our key guys now are guys the team brought up from the minors. See: Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Travis Shaw, and a few other guys who have pretty high ceilings.

The structure will be a little different, since Dave Dombrowski will still have final say on all manners, and Hazen told the Globe that he respects that. He also set the bar high for 2016, saying that he wants to win a World Series.

I’m glad he set the bar so high for the team, but they still have a lot of work to do in the off-season as an organization before they get to that point. I know I have mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again in hopes that someone from the team, maybe Mike Hazen himself, actually takes note: The Red Sox need an ace, as well as bullpen help if they want to get to that next level of being a perennial power.

In the meantime, I think the continuity will be a good thing for the Red Sox. I liked the hire of Dave Dombrowski, and still do, but Mike Hazen has been with the organization for a decade. Having someone with internal knowledge of the team will help Dombrowski do an even better job. Godspeed, Mike Hazen.