After the Red Sox turned the Hot Stove all the way up to 10 last Friday night with their acquisition of Craig Kimbrel, things cooled off considerably this week with reports that Dave Dombrowski and company weren’t looking to make any other big trades this offseason, as well as news that the Sox had pulled out of the running for righty reliever Joakim Soria. I covered the Kimbrel trade briefly here, and I still stand by what I said about the prospects given up in the trade. A lot has come out over the course of the week about how the Red Sox gave up way too much for the 27-year-old closer, but as far as I’m concerned, that they didn’t tap into the Yoan Moncada/Rafael Devers/Anderson Espinoza/Andrew Benintendi quartet makes all the difference.
This is one of the problems with having such a deep farm system (albeit a good problem to have); giving up a prospect of Manuel Margot’s stature is no small feat and will be treated as such, even though the Red Sox are deep enough in the outfield to make him somewhat expendable. He was blocked at the major league level by the 23-year-old Mookie Betts and he could be moved with Benintendi playing so well. Dombrowski had to choose between Margot and Benintendi, and it’s clear he chose the latter.
Really, the only major Red Sox news this week was the bombshell (if you can call a 40-year-old baseball player calling it quits a bombshell) that 2016 will be David Ortiz’s last season. Plenty has already been written about Big Papi already since the announcement, and plenty more will be written as the season progresses, so I’ll keep this brief. Ortiz is the single most important player in Red Sox history. No, he isn’t as transcendent as Ted Williams was, nor did have the longevity that Carl Yastrzemski did, and he maybe isn’t revered in quite the same way that Pedro Martinez was at Petey’s apex, but the postseason resume really does speak for itself.
Ortiz is responsible for ending the Curse. He sucked the life out of the Yankees in 2004, he won another ring in 2007, and he saved the Red Sox season in 2013 with his grand slam in the second game of the ALCS before slugging 1.188 against the Cardinals in the World Series. He’s somehow been able to stick around for what will be 14 seasons starting in April, which doesn’t make any sense when you remember he was basically brought on to back up Jeremy “Fredo” Giambi in 2003. He was the most feared hitter in baseball from 2004-2007, seemed like he was washed up from 2008-2009 and then was able to rebound and be the Red Sox most consistent bat ever since. In his nearly identical age 38 and 39 seasons, he averaged 36 HR, 106 RBI, and posted a .268/.358/.535 slash line (good for an OPS+ of 141) in 608 plate appearances. Somehow, Ortiz just keeps on chugging.
He’s had his off field issues, from interrupting press conferences to bashing dugout telephones to that whole positive drug test thing that leaked out in 2009, and there will be another time when I go into more detail about Papi’s legacy/HOF case/what he truly means to the history of this city, this franchise, and its fans. But for now, I’m still in denial that another piece of my childhood is ending, so all of that fun stuff will have to wait. In the meantime, here’s a video of Ortiz’s literal greatest hits. Try not to get too many chills:
- MLB announced their big awards this week, and I was stoked that Bryce Harper was the unanimous choice for NL MVP. Harper was a monster this year, posting the highest wRC+ since peak Barry Bonds, and there was no reason for anyone else to get a first place vote other than him. Of course, a clear cut favorite hasn’t stopped rogue voters from choosing other players for team-related reasons like making the playoffs before, and with the Nationals imploding down the stretch, I was afraid something like that would happen this year. Kudos to the BBWAA for allowing cooler heads to prevail.
- Speaking of the MVP, Josh Donaldson beat out Mike Trout for the AL award. An argument could be made for either candidate, so I have no real complaints, though I will say this: Since 2012, Trout leads all AL players in fWAR (37.8). Donaldson (24.4) is second. The 11.4 win gap between first place Trout and second place Donaldson is almost the same as the gap between Donaldson and 27th place Nelson Cruz (10.9) over that stretch. Donaldson had a great season and deserved the MVP, but Trout is still from another planet.
- Apparently Betts is going to be in the PBA World Series of Bowling, in case you needed another reason to love that guy.
- The NL Cy Young race was impossible to call, as all three candidates had historic seasons. But, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit disappointed that Clayton Kershaw only got three first place votes and two second place votes. Kershaw dominated the peripherals between Jake Arrieta and Zach Greinke, and I thought he’d get more love after being the first pitcher to strike out 300 batters in a season since 2002.
- Jose Fernandez might be on the trading block in Miami, as reports that tensions have been growing between the organization and their young phenom have begun surfacing. It’s unlikely the Marlins trade Fernandez (for now), but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did. Everyone is at fault here: Fernandez’s bad attitude isn’t a good look for him, and owner Jeffery Loria is presiding over a total joke of an organization. The whole thing is just a huge, ugly mess, and I have a feeling it’s only going to get worse.
- Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was snubbed of a Gold Glove by Rawlings, who went with the Giants’ Brandon Crawford instead. Crawford is one of my favorite players, so it was tough to be too upset, but Simmons is a savant and should win every fielding award there is for the foreseeable future. He did win Wilson’s Defensive Player of the Year for the position so there was some justice, but nobody cares about Wilson’s award so I still have the right to be annoyed by this.