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.

 

David Ortiz to Retire After 2016 Season

On Wednesday, Red Sox great David Ortiz announced that he will retire following the 2016 season. After a career full of drama and glory, Big Papi will hang up his spikes next fall, closing one of the greatest chapters in the history of New England sports.

David Ortiz to retire

Ortiz broke the news in a video for the Players’ Tribune, ending twenty-four hours of mounting speculation. “Every single one of us, athletes-wise, runs out of time at some point,” said Ortiz on the day he turned 40-years old. “After next season, I’m going to be done with my career and playing baseball.”

Of course, the name David Ortiz has been firmly etched into Boston sports lore for more than a decade. A bargain basement pickup from the Minnesota Twins in 2003, Ortiz was resurrected at Fenway Park, forming with Manny Ramirez the deadliest three-four punch in the modern game. Papi famously hauled the Red Sox to success with unprecedented heroics in the 2004 postseason, before establishing a new franchise single season home run record of 54 in 2006. He was also the heart and soul of championship teams in 2007 and 2013, becoming just the 14th Red Sock ever to win three World Series rings.

Along the way, David Ortiz became a hero to Red Sox Nation, adored as a fuzzy caricature of fun all over the world. Yet, I always found his on-field performance more impressive. Only five people have ever played more games for the Red Sox, and only two have hit more home runs, Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams. Ortiz also ranks seventh in hits, third in doubles, and fourth in RBI, although he could move up those lists with another productive season.

To that end, attention now turns to the Red Sox’ front office. Theoretically, Ortiz’ impending retirement should strengthen its conviction to go all-out and try to build an elite team capable of providing Big Papi with one last taste of October baseball. After all, David Ortiz is synonymous with those juggernaut Red Sox teams of the mid-2000s, so giving him a final shot at the championship would be a fitting token of appreciation. Only two players, Harry Hooper and Heinie Wagner, have ever won four World Series rings with The Olde Towne Team, and Ortiz deserves a shot at joining them.

Ultimately, 2016 will be a strange season as the retirement of a legend looms over the Red Sox. An entire generation has grown up knowing nothing other than David Ortiz in the middle of Boston’s lineup. Accordingly, it will be sad to see his career winding down, his star fading away, like an old friend moving out of town, like a favorite pet losing its spark. However, I’m determined to enjoy whatever remains of the Big Papi story, which hopefully includes a few more autumnal nights under the postseason lights at Fenway Park, where the man carved his legacy, and where his spirit will always reside.

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!

Who Will Play First Base for the 2016 Red Sox?

The recent departure of Mike Napoli to Texas opened up fresh questions about the Red Sox’ immediate future. While the slugger is enduring an awful 2015, with a poor .207/.307/.386 slash line through 98 games with the Red Sox, he at least figured to be in the team’s conversations for next year, despite being a free agent. However, by cutting Napoli loose, the Red Sox displayed their willingness to move on, which raises questions about the team’s first baseman in 2016 and beyond.

Red Sox

In recent times, Boston has enjoyed great continuity at first, with Napoli, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis holding down the fort for the past decade. However, such certainty at the position is no longer possible for the Red Sox, who face some difficult decisions in recruiting a new first-sacker.

Initially, the front office will likely consider all internal options at its disposal, which immediately draws attention to Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, two expensive free agent signings who have really struggled this year. Hanley’s transition to left field has been an unmitigated disaster, with the former shortstop ranked by Fangraphs’ metrics as the worst defensive player in all of baseball. Moreover, Sandoval has shown a shocking lack of range, and he is rated as the fourth-worst fielder presently playing in the Majors.

If the Red Sox are to compete moving forward, this situation just has to be rectified. Ramirez is clearly incapable of playing left field, while Sandoval is plainly awful at third. To seriously contend in 2016, Boston needs new players in those positions. That’s an irrefutable fact. Therefore, in an ideal world, either Sandoval or Ramirez would move to first base, a far less challenging position, where they wouldn’t hurt the team as much.

However, Red Sox management can be stubborn and, though it’s plainly obvious for the world to see, they likely won’t admit their mistakes in signing Hanley and Pablo. Quite incredibly, Ben Cherington has already said that he doesn’t foresee a position change for either player, which leaves Brock Holt and Travis Shaw as other organizational options for the first base gig next year. Holt’s greatest value is as a super utility guy, while Shaw doesn’t inspire much long-term confidence, despite a strong performance this season.

Thus, with a lack of strong internal candidates, Red Sox may once again be forced into the free agent market, which is always an adventure with this front office. Yet, aside from Napoli, the only available first baseman of note is Chris Davis, who is too inconsistent to be worth a large financial investment.

Red Sox

A few first basemen may be available via trade over the winter, with Joey Votto and Pedro Alvarez being the most intriguing chips, but the Red Sox have been hugely disinclined to move any of their top prospects in recent years, so that would also be an unlikely move.

Ultimately, the Red Sox should use the remainder of this desperately disappointing season to evaluate their internal candidates at first base, with Ramirez and Sandoval and Holt sharing time with Shaw. If they stumble upon some success, that’s great. But if they discover that none of those options are viable antidotes to the first base conundrum, at least Ben Cherington will know that it’s time to go shopping again this winter.

Sox Must Master Off-Season

justin_masterson_autograph

After a frenzy of a trade deadline moving most of the pitching staff, the Sox must master off-season free agency. By mastering free agency, the target should be signing and bringing pitcher Justin Masterson back to Boston. He began his career with the Red Sox from 2006-2009. He was later traded away to Cleveland for Victor Martinez who was supposed to have been a big back the Sox needed at the time.

Re-living the trade deadline of 2009, teams were interested in a young fire balling Daniel Bard. The Sox felt he was untouchable at the time and unloaded Masterson. What a mistake that was looking back on it! Masterson did a fine job in Cleveland, most of the time being the staff ace while he was there, until being traded recently to St Louis. Masterson won’t be a tier one free agent pitcher as those will-be-Max-Scherzer and the since departed Jon Lester.

As much as Sox fans would like to think that Lester will come back in the off-season, that isn’t going to happen. He teased Red Sox fans by saying even if traded, he would welcome a return back. After hearing owner John Henry’s comments about not signing players to long-term contracts after a player hits 30, there is your proof he is not returning. If he was going to be here, the Sox would have already signed him.

Getting back to Masterson, he could work out as a veteran addition to the staff to help with the youngsters that are going to be here. He could potentially be the Mike Napoli or Shane Victorino free agent attraction the Sox are looking for—big money, short-term three-four year deal. Three is my guess of what they would top out for him.

This would only be the case if he doesn’t go on too much of a tear for the Cardinals and prices himself out of what the Red Sox would be willing to commit to him. The Cardinals did good for themselves getting him and John Lackey to join them for the stretch run. Masterson has played for John Farrell before during his first stint here and would be a good fit in the clubhouse.

The future of the staff appears to be Ruby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman at this time. Allen Webster hasn’t shown much yet, but he will continue to get more chances. The Sox still have, and are high on, Henry Owens who is still in the minors and could be here possibly in September for a cup of coffee. With the remaining games of the year, the Sox should get a good idea of whom will be ready for 2015 and what they will need to do in free agency.