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.

 

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.

Red Sox Shut Down Tazawa for Season

Junichi Tazawa has had a rough couple of months for the Red Sox, after seeing his ERA balloon from 2.60 at the end of July to 4.14 right now and blowing 5 saves in his last 15 appearances. The Red Sox have decided that enough is enough and announced Wednesday that they have shut down Tazawa for the season.

This could be a case of Tazawa’s workload becoming too much for him. For most of his Red Soxtenure here, he’s been one of the most reliable options out of the pen, making the majority of his appearances as a set up man for closer Koji Uehara. If the Red Sox ever were in need of outs late in the game, Taz was always the go-to guy, and it appears all those appearances have caught up with him.

Over the Monster also points out that one of manager John Farrell’s worst habits was having him warm up, and then deciding he didn’t need him to pitch in games after all. On top of the games that he actually pitched in, the stop-and-start nature of his warm ups couldn’t have been good for his arm. Eventually, all that throwing can wear down your arm, and it appears that is the case with Tazawa, at least based on his recent appearances. He’s been pretty bad, as I mentioned above, but the Red Sox shutting him down leaves the team short in an area they already need to improve upon in the off-season.

Maybe this will end up being a good thing for Tazawa, but even if he benefits from the extra rest, the Red Sox still can’t get away with leaning on him so heavily next season, as they’ve already seen what happens when they do. The Red Sox still need to go after some bullpen help in the off-season, so they don’t end up in a scenario like this again where they have to shut someone down mid-season.

If this turns out to be good for Taz, then great, but only time will tell.

Scout Says Yoan Moncada is Close to Mike Trout

We all know what Mike Trout can do. He is one of the most complete players in baseball right now, and the Red Sox might have the next player who can come close to him in Yoan Moncada, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan quoted one scout as saying in his All-Minor League team article.

So, yeah. Not a bad comparison to draw, and one that should get Red Sox fans excited.Yoan Moncada He got off to a slow start, but picked it up in the last 56 games with the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox Single-A affiliate. He slashed .310/.415/.500 with 45 stolen bases in 48 attempts, according to Jeff Passan, but on the flip side, he also committed 23 errors at second base, including 3 in a playoff game over the weekend.

His defense right now is a concern, but Yoan Moncada is only 20 years old, meaning there’s still plenty of time to fix that part of his game. One thing is clear, I think: Once he does clean up that area, he’ll be on the fast track to be a great major league player. Will he be as good as Mike Trout, as the one scout told Jeff Passan? Maybe not, but if he’s in that ballpark, I think Red Sox fans will be happy. Mike Trout is a special player, and if Moncada becomes even close to Trout, that’s fine with me.

Right now, there’s no reason to rush Yoan Moncada up to the big leagues. Personally, I would rather see him take an extra year or so and come up a more complete player, as opposed to him rushing up before he’s ready. There’s no doubting his talent, but I’d rather him work out all of the kinks in his game before he sees any significant action with the big-league Red Sox. Don’t get me wrong, if Jeff Passan is right, then he should be exciting to watch, but right now, he needs to work through the holes in his game, as I mentioned, before he’s ready. But, at least it’s something to get excited about for the future, right?

Matt Harvey an Option for Red Sox

Since it’s never too early to start thinking off-season trades, especially with the Red Sox out of contention for the 2015 season, here’s an idea thrown out by Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe: Xander Bogaerts for Matt Harvey. It’s an interesting option, and it should be interesting to see how many Red Sox fans will be for it. Yes, Xander is one of the best young shortstops in the game, but Matt Harvey is one of the best young pitchers in the game right now.

So, what are the pros and cons of this deal? On the positive side, Matt Harvey is a Matt Harveytalented pitcher, and he is also under contract through 2019, according to the Globe, and would be a team-friendly acquisition money-wise. Matt Harvey, in my mind, is one of the big reasons why the Mets are where they are right now, 5 games ahead of the Washington Nationals atop the NL East. He’s been that good for them.

On the flip side, the Globe points out that he can be a pain and also very cocky, but they Globe is also right in pointing out that the Red Sox have had success dealing with egos like a Roger Clemens or Pedro Martinez, to an extent. You take his innings limit (which is set at 180 right now), for example. Matt Harvey has come out staunchly against being shut down with the New York Mets in the midst of a playoff race, which is understandable. I would hate the idea of being shut down as well in his position. He wants to do what he can to help his team win.

But I digress. My point is, the Red Sox could handle Matt Harvey’s sometimes-cocky attitude well because they have done it well in the past

Is the proposed Xander-for-Matt deal fair? Yes, since the Mets need offense and we need pitching, but how many fans would want to give up one of our best young players? I’m guessing not many.  Along with Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, and now Jackie Bradley Jr., many fans consider Bogaerts “untradable,” even for a talented young pitcher like Matt Harvey.

I would love to see Harvey in a Sox uniform, and they do need an ace, but there are other options that wouldn’t involve trading away one of our future stars. And the Red Sox will explore said other options as well. I don’t think Dave Dombrowksi will let the team go to Fort Myers next year without an ace.

Dustin Pedroia Activated from DL

Red Sox fans got a welcome sight at last night’s game, as Dustin Pedroia was activated from the 15-day disabled list before last night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Pedroia went 1-4 in his 1st game back since July 23rd, when he went on the DL for the second time this season.

Dustin Pedroia’s hit, a double, was one of 4 Red Sox hits last night in a 5-1 loss in 10Dustin Pedroia innings against the Blue Jays. Torey Lovulllo told MassLive.com that Pedroia didn’t argue when he was taken out after the 9th inning, which Lovullo said he was anticipating. Lovullo also said that the team will reevaluate Dustin Pedroia on a day-to-day basis, according to MassLive, but also pointed out that he saw the ball well at the plate.

I fully expect Dustin Pedroia to keep playing for the rest of the season because that’s the way he operates. Dustin Pedroia is a competitor, and I’m sure it killed him to be taken out in a tight game like Tuesday’s game, even if it was a meaningless game for the Red Sox. Even so, you don’t want to lose the face of your franchise for even part of next season, and Pedroia was placed on the DL for a second time this season because he was rushed back from his first injury. There’s no chance realistically of the Red Sox making the playoffs, even though Pedey might feel otherwise (at least that he’s told the Boston Herald), but I would hhate to lose Dustin to a major injury while he’s going after a ball in a game that doesn’t mean anything.

One thing that Dustin Pedroia will be able to do in the last 3 weeks – 1 month of the season is be a mentor for some of the young guys, and start to set the tone for the 2016 season. The 2015 season is lost, and it’s about setting up the team for success next season, and Dustin Pedroia figures to be a big part of the team’s plans for next season.