Beantown's Dilemma

A Brief Look at the Needs of the Red Sox 

By Stevil, November 11th, 2016

David Ortiz saying it all with a simple t-shirt. Photo from The Players Tribune.

 

The best offense in MLB last season belonged to the Boston Red Sox with 878 runs scored--101 more than the Cleveland, who came in second on the list of AL teams with 777. One of the best offenses in MLB history was that of the 2016 Red Sox. David Ortiz was significant part of that, and he is now gone. Most people believe his departure left a gaping hole in Boston's offense. He may have the appearance of a giant, humanoid-hand grenade, and he destroyed many-a-baseballs over his career, but I would argue that Boston's hole resembles a mud puddle in a suburban street, more so than that of a crater left by any kind of bomb. Here's why:

Dave Dombrowski had inherited an organization ripe with talent, though not without it's warts (sexually transmitted, or otherwise). Amidst the inheritance of bumps, lumps, and thugs, were two eye-sores from the previous regime that complicated things: Hanley Ramírez and Pablo Sandoval. While moving Ramírez to 1st base has generally worked out, Sandoval remains troublesome. Nobody is going to trade for him with that ridiculous contract, unless Boston eats a ton of dough (or beans, if you prefer the bad pun). So what do you do with him?

Plug him in at DH, I say. Give him a window to rebound and try to move him at the deadline. Easier said than done, but that might be the best approach. It might be the only  realistic approach. The Red Sox need a DH and they have an internal option who could be replaced by other internal options should he fail. In the event of failure, I could foresee an off-field incident taking place, resulting in a suspension and forfeiture of pay for Sandoval, or an "accident" which sends him straight to the DL. They don't play fair in Boston, Pablo. Beware! A public head-shaving and roast would surely be in the cards as well.

So, what should Boston realistically do if Sandoval fails to produce you ask?

Answer: see above. That, or call up Moncada; rotate DH accordingly. Sam Travis would be an alternative minor leaguer they could call-up, while Travis Shaw would remain a bench option that could take many of the PA's. They could essentially switch Shaw and Sandoval in bench roles. 

Point is, no external move is necessary to address the departure of the Big Papi. There is no need to go out and spend on Beltran or Encarnacion. There shouldn't be a dilemma.

With that out of the way, let's look at more notable craters: starting pitching and setup men.

The Red Sox acquired a very capable future closer in Carson Smith last offseason. Unfortunately, he got into a fist-fight with a bouncer at local strip club and tore up his elbow, which required season-ending surgery. I might be remembering the details of his injury incorrectly, so don't quote me on that, as it's possible he felt discomfort after a pitch and MRI's revealed a tear that required knife-work. But regardless of how and why he's on the DL, his absence leaves Boston with little to choose from for a setup role. 

Free agency features a few proven closers that any team would want on their roster. But they'll come at a hefty price, and that would seemingly be money unwisely spent. They'll be getting Smith back, they just don't know when. So who might make a good stopgap?

Joe Blanton and Trevor Cahill would be interesting. Greg Holland could be another target. But finding a late innings reliever would be far less challenging than finding starting pitchers, and Boston probably needs two. So let's take a look at that...

With 3 solid RHSP's in the rotation, finding at least one southpaw would make some sense. Johnson may get a shot at some point, but a free agent such as Rich Hill could prove to be a great fit. They don't necessarily need a long term answer, and while Hill will likely command a high AAV, his contract shouldn't involve a lot of years given his injury history. That should be attractive for the Red Sox . A trade involving Devers for a controllable back-end starter would seem feasible as well, though I won't speculate who that might be. I'll speculate over just about anything else--and I have--but I'm short on time, so I'll cut this short and leave you to fill in the blanks. I reserve the right to ridicule your ideas and implant my own at a later point in time.

The bottom line is that Boston really doesn't have a lot of work to do. They have the guns, they just need a few arms to tighten up. Specifically a late innings reliever, and a couple of starting pitchers. They have internal options virtually everywhere else.

With that said, here's to hoping for a 2017 of humiliation of the Yankees.

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