Spring Training Reality Check

Miami Marlins v Boston Red Sox

We’re doing this again, aren’t we? We do this every year. Spring comes around, and the collective eyes of Sox Nation overlooks the real issues because were so excited for what could happen in October. The problem is getting to October. The Red Sox have only done that twice over the last six years! We’re going to accept that in Boston? Oh, how quickly we forget what has happened over the last few years just because they won 93 games last year. Can we look at what’s really going on down at JetBlue Park?

This is the first year without David Ortiz being a cog in the lineup. That is a massive hole to fill, but I don’t know if the Sox truly understand the locker room presence he had. Ortiz was a huge personality that held together a team of different backgrounds. Don’t tell me it was a coincidence that it was Ortiz’s last year and Hanley Ramirez just so happened to hold his shit together for 147 games (his highest since 2012). The numbers he put up will obviously be hard to replicate, but losing his leadership might be a tougher task to replace.

Is everyone’s arm going to explode by the end of the season? David Price basically starred death in the eyes earlier by going to see Dr. James Andrews, yet somehow avoided surgery. I still believe his arm is a ticking time bomb that even Jack Bauer can’t stop from going off. Drew Pomeranz left Sunday’s game with arm soreness. He says he’s fine, but I still don’t think it is a good sign he couldn’t pitch through a little tightness. Tyler Thornburg, the guy they paid a steep price for in the offseason, is having shoulder issues because he hasn’t responded well to the Red Sox conditioning program. I am having Daisuke flashbacks as we speak. Oh, what about the other setup guy who basically missed the entire season last year? You might remember Carson Smith, whose arm actually did explode last year. He only just began throwing off the mound last week.

Speaking of pitching, our depth sucks. Besides Price, Chris Sale, and Rick Porcello, we have Eduardo Rodriguez who can’t seem to get it together all at once (he’ll be a stud once he does), a Tim Wakefield wanna be, and Kelly Olynyk Henry Owens. If those three don’t instill confidence, that’s ok because we have Kyle Kendrick  and Brian Johnson ready for those spot starts! Don’t remember Kyle Kendrick? That’s because he hasn’t made a major league start in 2 YEARS! (Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it…oh no…I MISS CLAY)

Here are some question marks about the everyday lineup:

  • Can we expect Mookie Betts to do what he did last year again? I’m not banking on it. Love the player, love the snarl he has, but he was historic last year and I’m not sure we can expect it again. He’ll have a good season, but just not just as good as he was last year
  • Are we going to get first half Xander Bogaerts or second half? Let’s hope it is first half. Seeing the power rise last year was great, so let’s hope we can get a mix of average and power this year not just one or the other
  • Should we be expecting Andrew Benintendi to really be the number 3 hitter? That’s a lot to ask in his first full season. I’m for it, but also would make it a short leash early. Definitely do not want to do anything to ruin his progression
  • Fat Ass Pablo Sandoval is apparently less fat now. What happens when he goes through a slump and all that’ll cheer him up is Wendy’s? I don’t care what shape he is in, just hit .270 and play above average defense. After the last two years though, how can anyone expect that?
  • Who the hell is our catcher? Out of the trio of Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart, and Sandy Leon, somebody needs to finally step up and become the catcher of the future.
  • Without Ortiz’s bat for the first time in well over a decade, this team is going to have to score runs in a different fashion. I hope they understand that. There’s no Ortiz to smash a two-run home run in the first to open up the game. How they replace the activity will be at the top of my list as the season unfolds

I feel that these issues are being overlooked because the Sox had a good season last year, but each one could become a huge problem. All of these questions could make or break this season. The Red Sox have not won a playoff game since ’13. That is unacceptable in Boston. With the acquisition of Sale, along with current contract situations, the Sox have given themselves a pseudo-three year window to win. Now, I am not expecting them to go 3-for-3 in championships, but they have to be competing for one in each of those years. I hope that with all these questions, this isn’t a wasted year. I don’t want to get into predictions just yet, but if this team doesn’t make the ALCS, it’ll be a major disappointment.

Let’s go around the MLB with some thoughts as the season gets close to opening:

  1. The World Baseball Classic has great drama. I wish we had more of this during the regular season. Why not a midseason tournament? Take the top 6 teams in each league, winner get’s automatic playoff berth? I don’t know, we need something like that. Is it perfect? No, but I don’t see you trying.
  2. Bryce Harper has had a ridiculous spring. He’s going to get paid in 2018, but this year and next will determine just how much. Keep an eye on him having another MVP year for that paper.
  3. Speaking of Washington, I love them this year. Expect them to be their with the Cubs in the end. We deserve an NL Championship Series that includes Rizzo, Bryant, Lester, Arrieta, Harper, Scherzer, Zimmerman, etc. I need a moment
  4. The marriage between the Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton has to start deteriorating soon right? It could be this year. The team is about to be sold and will probably blow again. I really hope his talent isn’t wasted down there in one of the armpits of America.
  5.  Look for Christian Yelich to have a monster year. This kid is the real deal, and could be a sneaky good candidate for NL MVP.


 

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Friday Update: Dombrowski Chooses Today Over Tomorrow

drewpom

 

When Dave Dombrowski was named Red Sox President of Baseball Operations last August, the prevailing notion was that the administrative change was a step in the right direction. Dombrowski has had a long history of building contending teams as a baseball executive, and there was no reason why he wouldn’t be able to replicate his Florida and Detroit success with a team that had more resources than many, if not all, of its competitors. Yet beneath the surface layer of cheers, there were dissenting whispers bringing up the dark side of a Dombrowski reign. “Oh, you like your prospects and organizational depth?”those whisperers said. “Well don’t get used to them. They don’t call him Dealin’ Dave for nothing”. We were warned. This is what Dombrowski does; he cashes in minor league assets for major league talent (leaving the farm system cupboard completely bare), crafts a playoff team full of All-Stars, forgets about the bullpen, and condemns the team to a cycle of near-misses in October. Continue reading

2016 Prospect Primer, Part 2

devers

If you missed yesterday’s Part 1, click here.

And now for the rest of the rankings…

Tier 1: LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH

Subcategory: CAUTION: Don’t trade, high probability it bites you in the a@#

Yoan Moncada
Age: 20
Position: 2B/3B
Level: Low A (Greenville)

The highest ranked international prospect since Xander Bogaerts in 2013, Moncada came in with a massive hype train after signing for an absurd $31.5 million, blasting through the international spending limit.  The total investment was $63 million after the 100 percent international free agency cap penalty, making Moncada the most expensive amateur free agent signing ever. After struggling to adjust in the first couple months at Greenville, Moncada caught fire, showing a rare mix of speed and an advanced approach at the plate. While the strikeout numbers were high (83 K’s in 81 games), he posted a .278 average with a .380 OBP, 42 walks, and 19 doubles. Scouts buzzed about his speed, as Moncada stole 49 bases in only 52 tries, a testament to his baseball IQ as well his athleticism. At only 20 years old, Moncada is a legit threat to be Boston’s next superstar, and he still has room to grow.

Continue reading