The Boston Blame Game

Right now, the Red Sox are hanging on for dear life near the bottom of the division. The only real bright spot is the sweep of the Rays in Tampa. Many fans were happy that the core group from last year is back. However, many are wondering if more could have been done. Thus begins the Boston blame game.

With the departures of Joe Kelly to the Dodgers and Craig Kimbrel to the unknown, theboston blame Red Sox bullpen is a mystery. The same can be said for the rest of the roster. In the past, however, the bullpen in Boston has been a wildcard. You never know what is going to happen next.

Where Does the Boston Blame Lie?

There are so many things that have and can go wrong. There are also many things that can go right. However, for the Red Sox, not much has gone right for them. Where do we begin? How about the very quiet Boston offseason.

This past offseason following the World Series win was kind of quiet in Boston. While other teams were signing and trading, It seemed like not a lot was going on in the front office. The most that was done was the trade that brought relief pitcher, Colten Brewer to Boston. Brewer, who is entering his second season in the majors, played for the San Diego Padres last season.

Many teams were trading right off the bat. Teams such as the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays make some big moves to make their teams as successful as they are now. Probably the least shocking issues was the free agent market. With big names like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper not signing deals right away, it’s no surprise that many players are still waiting.

Still, even with most of the champs staying in Boston, it’s hard not to point fingers and blame the front office for not doing more. Dave Dombrowski basically stated that he didn’t want to do a whole lot. That was evident, especially with relievers going to other teams in free agency. I get it, you want the core team to stick together and keep winning. However, it’s almost May, and the Red Sox are falling behind.

Spring Training

It’s tough to not look at the Red Sox’s Spring Training record and question what could have gone differently. Alex Cora and company only allowed the core starters to pitch certain innings and games. This has led to a slow start for guys like Chris Sale and Rick Porcello. Both starters have been open with their struggles, and blame themselves for the lack of good pitching during their regular season starts.

The Bullpen

Anytime Red Sox Nation sees a pitcher warming up in the bullpen, we either get a good feeling, or a bad feeling. For example, in the game against the New York Yankees on April 17th, Nathan Eovaldi was pitching a good game, and was taken out in the 7th inning. Brandon Workman came in, and gave up a single, and walked two batters before being taken out with the bases loaded and one out in the inning. This led to Brett Gardner hitting the game winning grand slam off of Ryan Braiser.

As of right now, the bullpen consists of Workman, Braiser, Matt Barnes, Brewer, Heath Hembree, Travis Lakins, Tyler Thornburg and Marcus Walden. Many of these pitchers, with the exception of Lakins, have many years of major league experience. Lakins, who was called up and made his MLB debut on April 23rd against Detroit has an ERA of 3.38. He went 2.2 innings, striking out two in the loss to the Tigers.

The Future

The Red Sox have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks. With many players on the injured list, the bright spot is seeing rookie Michael Chavis contributing to the club. The infielder made his Major League debut against Tampa Bay on April 20th. So far, he is batting .214, with one home run and two RBI’s. He has also transitioned to second base, after playing third and first in the minors.

Does Red Sox Nation still trust Cora? It’s tough to tell. The Red Sox haven’t been playing their best, and when they do, it’s only one or two games. There are many factors in the Boston blame game, however, some are more evident than others.

With May right around the corner, it’s a guess that the Red Sox will turn a corner. A corner in which it shows them heading to the top. After all, we are the defending World Series Champions.

Possible Replacements for David Ortiz in 2017

As almost everybody on the planet knows, David Ortiz will retire after this season. Big Papi is off to a hot start, which is great for all concerned. However, in professional sports, it’s never too early to look ahead, especially for front office personnel paid to shape David Ortizrosters and win championships. Therefore, Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox should already be eyeing potential replacements for Ortiz, even six months before his retirement.

Since 2003, Boston has used the designated hitter spot as a regular position, with Ortiz filling the role full-time. Elsewhere in the American League, however, that isn’t always the case. A lot of teams refrain from signing a specific guy to DH and instead use the spot as a way of giving older players rest. Yankees manager Joe Girardi calls it a “half day off,” with guys unburdened from playing the field. Joe Maddon was an early proponent of the idea when he rotated several Tampa Bay Rays in and out of the DH slot to keep the team fresh.

The Red Sox could definitely go down this route in 2017 and beyond. In Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, they have two older, more athletically challenged players who could use the additional rest that comes with DH-ing every few days. Of course, either of those players could also benefit from succeeding David Ortiz in taking on the role full-time, especially with the emergence of Travis Shaw giving the front office added versatility.

Yet, Boston is a star town, and the Red Sox have always enjoyed a cast of power hitters. The future is pretty murky when it comes to Sandoval and Ramirez, so Dombrowski should at least consider other options. Also, it’s worth noting that we’re talking about replacing David Ortiz, not some ordinary veteran. Papi is one of the greatest hitters in Red Sox history, so I believe his heir should possess similar star power.

In all reality, the Red Sox aren’t going to trade for a designated hitter. The obvious lack of any defensive value from that position means that giving up a prized prospect simply isn’t worth it. However, if the front office could simply spend money on a top hitter for the position, there could be tremendous upside there.

So, who is available on the open market? Well, the main sluggers who stick out in the forthcoming free agent class are Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, the twin anchors of a potent Toronto Blue Jays lineup. Sure, the former will be 34 next season, and the latter 35, but that’s still considerably younger than David Ortiz. Besides, both Encarnacion and Bautista are still exceedingly productive. They combined to slug 79 homers and drive in 225 runs last year, and both love hitting at Fenway Park. Other free agent options include Pedro Alvarez, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Mark Trumbo, although not all of those veterans figure to be healthy and productive for much longer.

Therefore, if Dombrowski chooses to employ another full-time DH once David Ortiz rides off into the sunset, he should definitely target one of the Blue Jays’ core sluggers. The sight of either Bautista or Encarnacion in a Red Sox uniform, solely focusing on hitting every day as a full-time DH, would be scary for the league and incredibly fun for Boston fans. It would also weaken a division rival, and ensure that there will be little decline in production from a position this franchise helped revolutionize.