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Friday, July 09, 2021

Time To Start Thinking About This Stuff

With All Star Break nigh and the Sox riding high (oh that’s good) we are long past the point of wondering IF the Sox can be contenders and asking what they need to do to solidify themselves. There are some areas where improvement is achievable but I think it is without much quibble that the most obvious hole in the lineup is at first base.  I still hope to see Bobby Dalbec figure it all out but when you have a chance to contend it is difficult to carry the guy “hitting” .217/.264/.413.  With that in mind I thought it was worth taking a short look at some of the options the Sox have or may have in the next few weeks;

Option 1 - All is well, remain calm!

Maybe all isn’t “well” exactly but there is an argument to be made that the Sox are playing with house money in 2021 so ride it and see if you have the homegrown slugger the Sox haven’t had for so long.  Did you know Jim Rice in 1978 is the last right-handed hitter the Sox have produced with 40 homers in a season.  If you get rid of the RHB requirement then Mo Vaughn in 1998 is the last homegrown 40 home run hitter.  Of course there have been a few hitters come through in that time but still that surprises me.  Where was I? Oh yeah, ride Dalbec.  It’s risky from the standpoint of a playoff berth in 2021 but it eliminates the concern of giving up too soon or trading someone you’ll regret.

Likelihood: Low.  I’ll be shocked if Bobby Dalbec is playing regularly for the locals come August.

Option 2 - Look in house.

OK, so you don’t want Bobby D. but you don’t want to give up prospects.  No problem, what do we have in house?  Well, there is the Marwin Gonzalez option which is not really an upgrade since he has combined Dalbec’s inability to get on base with a Grebeckian lack of power.  Kike Hernandez has played 15 games there in his career so he could be moved there with Jarren Duran being called up to take over in center.  Triston Casas is the long term hope but he’s headed to the Olympics and .268/.343/.392 in AA doesn’t really translate into big league success yet.

If you’ve been following the minors this year though you know what the solution the Sox are considering is.  The hot outfield prospect hitting .365/.452/.619 in 33 games at Worcester got the start at first base Wednesday and was supposed to start there last night until Elsa arrived.  It is hard not to think that is a sign that the Sox are thinking of giving him a look.  Of course Franchy Cordero did not exactly sparkle in his time in Boston so he’s no certainty.  But I have to think that Cordero is being setup to get a look at first base sooner than later.

Likelihood: Medium.  I think the Sox are almost certainly considering this and probably soon, like after the break soon.  Give it a couple of weeks and see what they have before they go out and make a deal.

Option 3 - “THEY GOTTA MAKE A TRADE BIG O! THIS CHAIM BLOOM CHARACTER HAS BEEN RESTING ON HIS LAURELS! I’LL HANG UP AND SEE WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!”

Option 3A - Anthony Rizzo

It is not a small segment of Red Sox Nation that would happily welcome Rizzo back to the Sox.  The FA-to-be is a great fit even if you ignore the history with the team.  He’s not the player he used to be but .236/.340/.425 since the start of last year (135 games played) would still be an upgrade and with four of the last five Gold Gloves on his mantelpiece there are no concerns about that side of the ball.  Additionally as a lefty hitter he would help balance the Sox lineup a bit.

What Would it Take: Rizzo is a free agent and not a superstar.  Assuming the Cubs don’t get too hung up on nostalgia he should be fairly affordable. Maybe something like RHP Josh WInckowski and OF Freddy Valdez.  Winckowski is nearly MLB ready and could fit in the bullpen or maybe the rotation for the Cubs with Valdez acting as a lottery ticket.

Would I Do It?: Yup.

Would The Cubs?: I think it’s feasible.  I don’t know the state of their system but, again, excluding nostalgia moving Rizzo makes sense for them.

Option 3B - Trevor Story

We have already heard about the White Sox interest in Story and moving him to second base, so why couldn’t the Good Sox?  The Sox could put him at second with Arroyo moving to first or even put Story at first?  The drawback here is that neither Story nor Arroyo has played the position professionally.  Maybe you put Story at third, Devers at DH, JD in left and let Kike play first?

What Would it Take?: Story is about to be a free agent but he’s a stud and the Rockies ain’t moving him cheap.  The Sox are probably looking at a couple of decent prospects.  Maybe the Rockies would take a couple of guys a bit further away, OF Gilberto Jimenez (sorry darren) and resurgent LHP Jay Groome?

Would I Do It?: My initial thought was of course, adding a guy like Story is good.  But boy that’s a lot of moving parts without much certainty.  I feel like if the Sox are going to move highly rated prospects they should fill the need more precisely.

Likelihood of a Deal: Medium-High.  I don’t think this is a certainty but I think it’s the likeliest of the three options.  If I had to guess the move will be akin to the Steve Pearce deal (if it ends with the guy being named World Series MVP that would be nice) but short of going through every team on the downturn, fourth place teams like the Marlins or the Yankees, I’m not going to pretend to have any great insight (though Luke Voit or Jesus Aguilar might fit).

Anyway, commence to arguin’.  And as always the proposed trades aren’t absolutes, just a rough guesstimate of what it might take to make it work.

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 09, 2021 at 02:12 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Silas Wegg Posted: July 11, 2021 at 04:09 PM (#6028603)
You know perfectly well it is going to be Mitch Moreland.
   2. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 11, 2021 at 07:19 PM (#6028654)
Honestly Mitch would be perfect. I loved the line I think it was at Fangraphs that said Moreland was just going to show up at spring training and no one would realize the Sox hadn't actually signed him and he'd be in the opening day lineup.
   3. Nasty Nate Posted: July 11, 2021 at 08:43 PM (#6028666)
I've been thinking that Jonathan Schoop could be a trade target.
   4. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 12, 2021 at 10:01 AM (#6028714)
Maybe you put Story at third, Devers at DH, JD in left and let Kike play first?


Why wouldn't the Sox just play Devers at 1B? I would much rather see him there than have JD play more in the field.
   5. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 10:11 AM (#6028717)
Why wouldn't the Sox just play Devers at 1B? I would much rather see him there than have JD play more in the field.


Devers has never played first base as a pro (which he's been since age 16). I don't see any reason to think about moving him, particularly during the season. That's a hell of a big ask for a guy who let's face facts, ain't exactly a gold glover generally. More long term the first baseman of the future is Casas (hopefully) so I don't think they want to move him.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: July 12, 2021 at 10:27 AM (#6028722)
I think there is close to zero chance the Red Sox trade for Story. I wouldn't be shocked if the Yankees go for him.
   7. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 10:30 AM (#6028724)
Agreed Nate but just wanted to throw out an alternative idea.
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: July 12, 2021 at 10:36 AM (#6028725)
Agreed Nate but just wanted to throw out an alternative idea.
Yeah, he's intriguing, especially because almost none of the contenders need a SS. Although I guess he would be a huge help on the Reds. For the Red Sox and the others, his specific value skyrockets if there is a big injury up the middle.
   9. TomH Posted: July 12, 2021 at 11:21 AM (#6028732)
It would seem a good LH bat who can play some 1B (platoon with Dalbec) would be worth 5-8 runs for the 2nd half. Given how close the AL East DIV race might be, a small investment there looks prudent.
   10. Darren Posted: July 12, 2021 at 11:22 AM (#6028735)
Rizzo seems like the obvious fit and your trade package sounds pretty reasonable. I'd also include Carlos Santana in the mix since the Royals have fallen out of it. He is signed through next year, though, so he'll have a bit higher price tag.

I think it will be most interesting to see how Bloom adjusts his approach to having much greater financial resources. He obviously came in with a mandate to rebuild the farm, and he's gotten off to a really good start. With that in mind, it seems likely that he would be most likely to stay away from dealing any real prospects at the deadline. On the other hand, if he's confident in his ability to continue building the farm system, he may be willing to part with one of the team's top 5 or so guys to get a difference-making starter/1b/???
   11. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 12, 2021 at 11:50 AM (#6028744)
The Rangers Joey Gallo is reportedly on the market, along with an imputed ability to play 1st base that supposedly has the Padres showing interest.
   12. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 13, 2021 at 08:15 AM (#6028909)
One thing I love about the Benintendi trade - which has too often been miscast as Franchy-for-Benintendi - is that it actually gave us a number of assets in exchange for a guy who wasn't going to be a part of the team's long-range plans, anyway, and was starting to make money.

In this piece, both our in-house option (Franchy) and the centerpiece of a Rizzo trade (Winckowski) both came from the Benintendi trade.

Personally, I think Winckowski is the most valuable part of the trade for Benintendi, and probably represents as valuable a minor-league prospect as I'd be OK with the team trading for a rental, given that 2021 is a "bonus" year, in terms of contending.

One thing that made the Theo Epstein Red Sox so awesome is that they really got to a point where they the beast of baseball for a while - tons of money, and a monster minor-league system. I think that's where Bloom is going to take Boston again. THey've got the right team president/GM; they've got the right manager; they've got a center of the roster (Devers and Xander) as good as about any team's young one-two punch; Sale is coming back; they have virtually no money committed beyond 2022; the fan base is crazy; the minor-league system seems to be rebuilding quickly...it is an exciting time that we are at the very early stages of seeing develop, so I don't want to mess up that plan...but flags fly forever, so if we can upgrade 1B at all, cheap, you do it.
   13. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 13, 2021 at 08:18 AM (#6028911)
SBPT - Yeah I'm with you. My confidence in Bloom was high before the season started. The way this is going, man I'm feeling really good. I honestly still expect this season to drop off in the second half but I'm ready to enjoy the ride no matter what. The future is bright this year is just fun.
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: July 13, 2021 at 08:44 AM (#6028912)
One thing I love about the Benintendi trade - which has too often been miscast as Franchy-for-Benintendi - is that it actually gave us a number of assets in exchange for a guy who wasn't going to be a part of the team's long-range plans, anyway, and was starting to make money.
I don't really get the bolded part. If they didn't trade him, maybe he would have been part of long-range plans. You are almost using the trade to justify itself.
   15. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 13, 2021 at 10:59 AM (#6028924)
I say that about Benintendi for the following reasons:

It looks like that's what management was thinking - at a time when the Red Sox certainly couldn't claim they had an abundance of outfielders, nor could anybody claim they were selling high on Benintendi, they still traded him for five low-to-mid-level prospects. Certainly, Bloom didn't see Benintendi as part of the team's long-term plans.

That said, I would also argue they probably shouldn't have seen Benintendi as part of those long-term plans for several reasons. First, After his age 23 season (2018), he was a step away from being a real impact player. He had been a very promising young player through age 23: above-average speed, above-average power, above-average glove in LF, above-average plate discipline. Not "plus-plus" in any category, but above-average in a lot of things, and cheap, too. His 2019 was a step back across the board, and his 2020 was stunningly bad (albeit in a small sample size). He started making money: He was due $6.6m in 2021, and will make more than that in 2022, and then be a free agent. He has been pretty good forKansas City this season following an awful start, but he still has an OPS+ of only 107 right now, with solid defense and declining plate discipline. At this point, is he really better in 2021 than, say, Hunter Renfroe? And Renfroe will make about $3.4m this year - barely half of Benintendi, would better defense. And you get five minor-leaguers to help rebuild the minor-league system in the process.

I think Benintendi is probably a victim of expectations - he was (by baseball standards) a high-profile draft pick, a guy who was pegged from day one as one of the safest, most major-league-ready bats in the draft. He came up very quickly, and was pretty successful at a very young age. And, for Red Sox fans my age and older, it felt like the next of a long line of big-time left fielders: Ted Williams from 1939-1960; Yax from 1961-1975; Rice from 1975-1986; Greenwell (who was crazy good for a few years there) from 1987 through the early 1990s; then Manny took over in 2001-2007...it's a hell of a history. Benintendi was this smooth, natural, good-looking, young guy who could have been Fred Lynn or something. Well, he has been a perfectly fine major-leaguer who is still young enough to rebuild his value and play another 10 years if things go right. But he looks like a guy with declining plate discipline who won't have enough power, speed, defense or ability to hit for average to make up for much of a decline from his 2018 peak.

In exchange, Boston has players who are now:
- their primary next move to improve their 1st base situation
- the system's #15, #18, #33, and #44 prospects
- Hunter Renfroe
- probably saved about $500K, net, after you count Renfroe's salary plus the money they gave KC as part of the deal
   16. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 13, 2021 at 11:10 AM (#6028925)
#15 -

Renfroe was signed 2 months before Boston traded Benintendi. Maybe they *knew* they were trading Benintendi, but it's a bit disingenuous to count Renfroe in any look back at the trade.
   17. Nasty Nate Posted: July 13, 2021 at 11:40 AM (#6028928)
I say that about Benintendi for the following reasons: ....
Thank you for the reply. I understand what you mean.
   18. Darren Posted: July 20, 2021 at 01:09 PM (#6029676)
Looking at Fangraphs' trade value series, and I'm thinking about win-now moves for the Sox. Would you trade Jarren Duran for any of the following players (all of whom are in the 41-50 range on their list)?

Jeff McNeil, OF-2B (3 years of arb)
Max Kepler, OF (3 years, $25.3 mil, 1 year team option)
Dylan Carson, OF (5 years, pre-arb 2, arb 3)
Freddy Peralta, SP (5 years, $27.9 mil, 2 years are team options)


Seems like the answer should be a big yes, but emotionally it doesn't feel right.
   19. villageidiom Posted: July 20, 2021 at 04:06 PM (#6029701)
Looking at Fangraphs' trade value series, and I'm thinking about win-now moves for the Sox. Would you trade Jarren Duran for any of the following players (all of whom are in the 41-50 range on their list)?
No. I don't think any of those are win-now moves. If one of them can play 1B, sure; but if they play 1B instead of OF or SP you probably don't need to part with Duran to get them.
   20. Darren Posted: July 20, 2021 at 04:40 PM (#6029708)
No. I don't think any of those are win-now moves. If one of them can play 1B, sure; but if they play 1B instead of OF or SP you probably don't need to part with Duran to get them.


These guys are reliably good, not great, as opposed to Duran, who might be below average or very good. You have them for 3-5 years instead of 6+ with Duran. This is the kind of deal you make to win now. Maybe Duran is not the right guy though.
   21. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 21, 2021 at 11:33 AM (#6029850)
With Sale looking increasingly good to go in a few weeks (he looked healthy and excellent in Portland last night), Houck on the big league team, and even Seabold now pitching again, it appears that the team has survived thr first 60% of the season having very, very little starting pitching depth, thanks to a remarkable level of good health by their five of ERod/Pivetta/Eovaldi/Richards/Perez. The problem is that the *skill* limitation of that quintet was beginning to get exposed - but they stayed remarkably healthy. I think this takes the pressure of trading for starting pitching help largely off the table; it sort of takes the relief pitcher need off the table, too, if they intend to keep Houck largely in the Whitlock-type role. If Ryan Brasier comes back soon, that would also upgrade the back of their relief pitcher depth chart, as well. Right now, the team has three guys who you kind of hold your breath when they come in: Workman, Andriese, and Rios. They don't need all three of them, and if Brasier ends up replacing one of them, that's great.

They do need a first baseman, if they are serious about going for it in 2021, and it feels like we are in full "audition mode" to try to solve the problem in-house. Arroyo, Santana, Dalbec, Cordero...all they need is a league-average hitter who doesn't strike out 40% of the time, and it will be a serious upgrade. It would be a shame to give away legitimate prospects to achieve that modest goal, and I think Bloom is determined not to do that.

But as we approach the July 31st deadline, the team continues to accumulate mid-level prospects who are going to require 40-man protection this off-season - far too many to be able to protect them all. Just when you thought the team wouldbe more likely to trade a few of them than acquire another one, the CJ Chatham trade gets completed, and the team gets a young, pretty interesting starting pitching prospect from AA from Philadelphia. Why did they give up somebody as seemingly promising as him? Because he needs to be protected on the 40-man this off-season.

So I still think that if there is a team out there that:
1) Is not trying to get to the playoffs this year; and
2) is liek Boston last year, with some room on their 40-man, just trying to rebuild depth in their system; and
3) has a decent 1B they are willing to trade,

then Boston should be able to pull this off without much drama or pain. Is there such a team right now?
   22. Darren Posted: July 21, 2021 at 11:57 AM (#6029852)
After 3 2/3 ip, 50 pitches at AA, how close is Sale to being back? Does he go for 60-70 pitches next time out at AAA? Then on to the big leagues? That would seem to be a logical progression, but I feel like they will go a little more slowly.
   23. villageidiom Posted: July 21, 2021 at 02:08 PM (#6029875)
He pitches Sunday, again for Portland because Worcester is on the road. I'm thinking he'll have that, plus one more (Worcester at home on 7/30?). I'm targeting his return for the August series in Detroit, and then a six-man rotation for a couple weeks. If so, he starts 8/4 in Detroit, then 8/10 against the Rays, and game 1 of the 8/17 doubleheader in the Bronx. After that, maybe they go back to a five-man rotation given they have some off-days after that.
   24. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 23, 2021 at 08:47 AM (#6030113)
If you have a subscription to The Athletic (and I think it's well worth it) I HIGHLY recommend this article about the trade deadline. Long story short it breaks down 70 players in the Sox system (40 man roster plus 30 prospects) into 7 tiers;

Can't Trade: Bogaerts, Eovaldi etc...
Hard to Trade: Houck, Whitlock...
Complicated to Trade: Darwinzon, Arroyo...
Hesitant to Trade: Bello, Groome, Yorke...
Worth Trading: Bazardo, Cordero...
Lottery Tickets to Trade: Gambrell, Jordan...
Easy to Trade (if there's a market): Richards, Marwin...

Detailed and a good way of looking at it.
   25. Darren Posted: July 23, 2021 at 12:48 PM (#6030166)
Rays just added Cruz, so the floor is yours, Chaim.
   26. villageidiom Posted: July 24, 2021 at 08:23 AM (#6030244)
If they go .500 the rest of the way, Boston will finish with 92 wins.
   27. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 24, 2021 at 11:29 AM (#6030256)
I was at the game last night. Man, once the Sox took the lead there was a hanging party vibe. None of the tension you'd normally get in a tight game, just total confidence the Sox had it in the bag. I was in the left field corner, Verdugo came over at one point, chatted with a few people then tossed a ball into the crowd where it was dropped by the fan he threw it to. Verdugo threw his hands into the air, briefly mocked the guy then tossed the ball to him again (guy caught it the second time).
   28. Darren Posted: July 25, 2021 at 06:25 PM (#6030340)
Ok, I'll be honest. This team is having a good year.
   29. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 26, 2021 at 08:55 AM (#6030389)
You might be onto something here. Wow that was a game.
   30. villageidiom Posted: July 27, 2021 at 06:01 PM (#6030775)
He pitches Sunday, again for Portland because Worcester is on the road. I'm thinking he'll have that, plus one more (Worcester at home on 7/30?). I'm targeting his return for the August series in Detroit, and then a six-man rotation for a couple weeks. If so, he starts 8/4 in Detroit, then 8/10 against the Rays, and game 1 of the 8/17 doubleheader in the Bronx. After that, maybe they go back to a five-man rotation given they have some off-days after that.
Sale indeed will be pitching for Worcester, but on Saturday instead of Friday. That would line him up for the following upon his return (assuming a temporary 6-man rotation until they get through the doubleheaders):

Fri 8/6 at Toronto
Thu 8/12 vs Tampa
Wed 8/18 at NY

He doesn't end up pitching in any of the doubleheaders, which is fine. And then if they go for a 5-man rotation after that...

Wed 8/25 vs Minnesota
Mon 8/30 at Tampa
Sat 9/4 vs Cleveland
Fri 9/10 at Chicago
Wed 9/15 at Seattle
Wed 9/22 vs Mets
Wed 9/29 at Baltimore
playoff game 1 (if they make it)
   31. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 27, 2021 at 09:59 PM (#6030823)
Chaim said on the pregame show that it was definitely two more rehab starts and if all goes well then he'd be back so vi's 8/6 vs. Toronto is probably his (ideally) last rehab start with the Tampa game being the return.
   32. Jay Seaver Posted: July 28, 2021 at 09:53 PM (#6031107)
Listening to the post-game interview, Jarren Duran is really going to be something when he gets past puberty.
   33. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 29, 2021 at 07:05 AM (#6031150)
I wish every pitcher worked as quickly and efficiently as Garrett Whitlock. Obviously, he's a nice story, and he has been incredible this season - but he is also a pleasure to watch. When he is on the mound, the game's pace is appreciably faster and better.
   34. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: July 29, 2021 at 08:51 AM (#6031157)
Do you mean Houck?
   35. villageidiom Posted: July 29, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6031247)
No, Houck is already past puberty.

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