Red Sox sign Outfielder Kevin Pillar

The Boston Red Sox recently signed outfielder Kevin Pillar to a one-year, $4.25 million deal. This Pillar signing comes following the loss of Red Sox superstar, Mookie Betts, in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While this acquisition definitely helps lessen the damage resulting from the Dodgers trade, it does cause a problem in the outfield.Kevin Pillar
In the Betts trade, the Red Sox acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo, who had a very impressive rookie campaign with the Dodgers. This deal now leaves the Red Sox with five outfielders. (Martinez, Benintendi, Bradley, Pillar, Verdugo) Assuming Martinez is the designated hitter, where does that leave everyone else?

Managing Playing Time

Last season, Kevin Pillar had arguably his best offensive year, hitting .259 with 21 home runs. Where Pillar really shines, however, is defensively. He has been a finalist for Gold Glove in center field every year he has played in the majors. His defensive ability is arguably at the same caliber of Jackie Bradley Jr. For that reason, the Red Sox can balance playing time in center between the two. Pillar can start on days a left-handed pitcher is starting against them, and Bradley can start against right-handed pitchers. This same scenario could work with Verdugo instead of Bradley, as long a Pillar is comfortable in Fenway’s right field. Pillar is also a step above Bradley offensively, which makes him a good option to use as a pinch-hitter. However, I believe that, while this option is a good one, making a trade to free-up room for Pillar to play full time is a better option.

Trading Bradley now that we have Kevin Pillar

Trade rumors involving Jackie Bradley Jr. have been circulating this off-season. I believe that now, more than ever, Jackie Bradley Jr. should be traded. Bradley is still young, has loads of talent, and would be a good piece for any team that is looking to make a playoff push this season and needs help defensively. This move would create room for Pillar, who I believe is slightly better all-around than Bradley to become a full-time player. Verdugo would also become a full-time player, which is crucial for him in this stage of his career, as he is likely yet to reach his full potential in the big leagues. Not only that, but the Sox can finally try to get some decent pitching in return for Bradley. After getting nothing in terms of pitching in the Betts deal, it is crucial that the Sox pick-up at least one or two decent arms to strengthen our subpar pitching staff.

The signing of Kevin Pillar is something that Red Sox fans should be happy about during these dark days without Mookie Betts. However, if the organization doesn’t manage the outfield situation correctly, the team will not improve as much as it should.

The Red Sox Are In Crisis

Following a 10-19 May which dumped them deep into the American League cellar, there’s a Red Sox crisis brewing. At this point, with Boston possessing the fifth-worst record in all of baseball, we’re looking at something much more worrying than a simple slow start; something much more serious than a sporadic under-performance. Quite honestly, we’re looking at fifty-one games of unspeakably bad baseball, and, stretching back to last season, eighteen months of abject failure on the part of management to build a team befitting Red Sox tradition. Ultimately, we’re looking at an institutional crisis on Yawkey Way.

Just take a look at the current roster. For a team that cost $184 million to assemble, the Red SoxRed Sox have a disproportionate share of defects and inefficiencies. Hanley Ramirez is signed through 2018, but his defense is so bad as to be nearly unplayable; Rusney Castillo is a raw neophyte being paid like a proven superstar; and prospects such as Blake Swihart and Xander Boagerts have either been grossly over-hyped or severely rushed on the road to Boston. Meanwhile, David Ortiz is lost at the plate, Koji Uehara is showing signs of age, and not a single hitter seems capable of producing with runners in scoring position. As for the starting rotation? Well, there’s not enough ink in my pen to discuss that again.

But, if this Red Sox team seems bad on paper, it’s even worse on the field. Boston currently ranks 23rd in the Majors in runs scored, 25th in slugging percentage, 26th in WHIP and 28th in ERA, despite possessing the third largest payroll. The Sox were recently swept by the Twins, before losing three of four to the Rangers in Texas, including some of the sloppiest baseball I’ve ever seen from a Boston team. In fact, the Rangers series, capped by Josh Hamilton’s walk-off heroics, felt like a new nadir for the Red Sox; a nadir that certain members of team management were fortunate to survive.

Which brings us to General Manager Ben Cherington, who, after years of poor decision-making, is really starting to feel the pressure in Boston. Admittedly, his work in constructing the 2013 Red Sox was legendary, but hitting on so many successful free agent signings in one winter looks to have been an aberration, when judged in the context of his other work.

Red SoxSince November 2013, for instance, the Red Sox’ moves have been terrible. They let Jacoby Ellsbury sign with the Yankees, and attempted to replace him with Grady Sizemore. They failed to pay Jon Lester his true market worth, and watched him join the Cubs. And, following a dismal 71-91 showing in 2014, they invested astronomical sums of money in decidedly shaky investments, such as Castillo, Uehara, Pablo Sandoval and Ramirez, who is already breaking down two months into a four-year deal. Pitching, concurrently, has been sorry afterthought in recent years, with Clay Buchholz becoming the ace of a team whose General Manager is struggling with the magnitude of his position.

Ultimately, there’s a panicked transience to everything the Red Sox are doing nowadays, whereas the mid-2000s dynasty we all so fondly recall was built with calm intelligence. Basically, after years of trying, Ben Cherington has failed to succeed Theo Epstein in honing a Boston baseball juggernaut. Accordingly, as the Red Sox crisis deepens and October baseball fades further from view, it may finally be time for John Henry to clear the decks and get back to basics.