Sunday, April 9, 2017

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- April 2017

Another baseball season is in its infancy and as the new campaign commences, it is time to look at the top 30 kids in the Red Sox system.  Spring training performances and assignments have made some changes to our pre season rankings. Each player is listed with their Opening Day assignment, and in { } is their pre season ranking.

1. Andrew Benintendi, LF Boston {1}.  As expected Benintendi was the Opening Day starting left fielder for Boston, batting second in the potent lineup. Benny Baseball celebrated by capping a Sox win with a three run home run.  During April, Benintendi will go over 130 major league at bats and will lose his prospect status. As Andrew leaves this list, he will rocket to the top of the list of AL Rookie of the Year candidates.

2. Rafael Devers, 3B Portland {2}. Devers is poised to move to the number one spot in our May rankings.  He has something else in common with Andrew Benintendi, which was an Opening Day home run.  In his first AA at bat, Devers cracked a 400+ foot home run to right field at Hadlock Field. Unless Rafael destroys AA, he may well spend all of 2017 in Maine since he is only 20.  But do not bet against Devers torching the Eastern League pitching and forcing Boston's hand.

3. Jay Groome, LHP Greenville{3}. Like Boston has done with other highly regarded teenagers in recent years, the Red Sox assigned Groome to Greenville. At age 18, last year's first round pick, is skipping Lowell and going to a full season club.  Groome is expected to have each start capped at five innings to protect the young arm.  But a number of baseball people around the game feel with his explosive fastball and plus-plus curveball, Groome could flash through the minor leagues and be big league ready sooner than his age would indicate.

4. Sam Travis, 1B Pawtucket {4}. For the second year in a row, Travis excelled for the big club in the exhibition games. His goal for 2017 is to stay healthy and pile up some AAA at bats that were lost after a knee injury ended 2016 in late May. Travis' defensive work around the bag could also use some AAA reps.  By mid season Travis could force his way into the picture in Boston.

5. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Greenville {6}. This power hitting third sacker, along with Jay Groome, could make the 2016 draft one to remember.  Dalbec continued to show his power during the spring games.  Dalbec seemed to perform well enough to be pushed up to High A Salem.  But as mentioned in our pre season rankings, 2014 draftee Michael Chavis also was ticketed for Salem, so to get playing time for both, Dalbec goes to Greenville. But if Dalbec repeats his Lowell numbers from '16, he will make room for himself in Salem.

6. Marco Hernandez, INF Pawtucket {8}.  Marco had one of the best springs of anyone in the entire Red Sox camp.  At only age 24, Hernandez has not only made himself a definite top prospect, but has established himself as someone whose future includes a full time big league job.  In fact Hernandez ended up in Boston and in the lineup during the season's first week when Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts went on a brief bereavement leave. Ironically the current position considered the biggest question mark for Boston is third base.  Hernandez is the third of our top six prospects who could be a big league third baseman in the future.  In fact, Hernandez, depending on circumstances, could play a lot of third for Boston this year.

7. Josh Ockimey, 1B Salem {7}. Ockimey climbs another rung on the Red Sox ladder up to High A Salem. At age 21, this power hitter needs to put up consistent numbers throughout 2017.  Ockimey pounded the South Atlantic League in early 2016, but tailed off badly in the latter half. If Ockimey can put up an entire season of power hitting, he is one of the guys whose ascension could deepen the somewhat depleted top of the Sox system.

8. Brian Johnson, LHP Pawtucket {5}. Boston began spring training with six big league starting pitchers: Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Drew Pomeranz.  Three younger lefties were considered the depth in spots seven to nine: Henry Owens, Roenis Elias, and Johnson. Things changed while in Florida, Price is hurt and Pomeranz was set back due to some arm issues (although he is scheduled to pitch in April).  Elias was also hurt and Owens pitched so abysmally his future in Boston is a big question.  Veteran big leaguer, Kyle Kendrick came to camp on a AAA contract and pitched very well.  Kendrick is now likely the " number 6" starter. That leaves Brian Johnson.  Brian also pitched not as well as hoped in Florida, but better than Owens.  Johnson very much needs to begin his AAA season with a string of impressive outings to solidify his chance to pitch for Boston when needed this year. The Red Sox need this and Johnson needs this type of beginning in order to salvage what seemed like a certain long big league career just two years ago.

9. Roniel Raudes, RHP Salem {10}. Roniel has reached High A Salem at age 19.  Raudes has compiled impressive numbers in his career despite not having high octane stuff. Raudes has outstanding command and his game is predicated on that ability.

10. Nick Longhi, 1B Portland {11}. The second Sea Dog on this list, Longhi along with his corner infield mate, Devers, will be two of the must see guys at Hadlock this year.  To show the balance of the upper end of this list, not only are there two Sea Dogs, but counting Marco Hernandez' time in Boston this week, there are two each from Boston, Pawtucket, Salem, and Greenville also.

11. Michael Chavis,  3B Salem  {9}. Chavis reached Salem for the first time late in 2016.  In 25 at bats, Chavis hit only .160 without an extra base hit. So Chavis will go back to Salem to begin 2017, likely for the full season.  As mentioned above, Chavis may well have Bobby Dalbec breathing down his neck (not to mention Rafael Devers ahead of him in Portland).  Due to this organizational squeeze at third base it would behoove Chavis to begin to hit and hit for power as was his reputation when drafted in the first round in 2014.

12. Travis Lakins, RHP Salem {13}. A year ago Boston aggressively pushed Lakins to Salem after pitching only two innings at Lowell in 2015, the same year he was drafted from Ohio State.  In 2016 Lakins started strong at Salem but tailed off badly.  This year despite speculation Lakins would begin at Portland, the Sox pulled back on the reins and re-assigned Lakins to Salem again.  A good solid encore with the Salem Red Sox could lead Lakins to Maine very soon.

13. CJ Chatham, SS, XST {12}.  Another 2016 draftee, the second rounder was assigned to Greenville, but a late spring injury has CJ still at extended spring training for now.  Chatham is expected to join the Drive soon.

14. Robby Scott, LHP Boston {20}. This lefty's stock seemingly continues to rise in Boston. Scott made the big club out of camp.  His role was expected to be a third lefty, and maybe with a return trip to Pawtucket when some other injured players return.  But in the early games,  more than once, John Farrell has brought Scott into the 8th inning of close games. Meanwhile another lefty, veteran Fernando Abad has not appeared in a game and Robbie Ross, Jr. has been on the DL with the flu. Scott apparently has a chance to solidify his spot in the Boston bullpen.

15. Ben Taylor, RHP Boston {40}. Who the hell is Ben Taylor? Well, we here at RSM didn't miss Ben entirely having him down near the end of our honorable mention list for our pre-season rankings, but that was about it. Who the hell is Ben Taylor? The Sox drafted Taylor in the 7th round of the 2015 draft.  Under the current draft rules and dollar amounts assigned to the top ten rounds, it has become customary in rounds five through ten or so to draft college seniors and offer them $10,000. to sign. This is to save some money to overspend for other picks.  Taylor was a senior at South Alabama, and he signed for the $10,000.  Ben split 2015 between Lowell and Greenville with 54 strikeouts in 55 innings.  The 6'3', 240 pound righty reached Portland by the end of 2016.  His fastball reaches the mid 90's, especially when pitching short outings from the pen. Taylor also was expected to spend a week in Boston and go back to AAA after other pitchers get healthy.  But Taylor, over two appearances, struck out the first three batters he faced in the big leagues: Ian Kinsler, Miguel Carbrera, and Victor Martinez! Taylor may or may not see AAA in the days and weeks to come.

16. Trey Ball, LHP Portland {14}. A torrent of words have been written and spoken about Trey Ball since he was drafted seventh overall in the 2013 draft.  To be brief, Ball has failed to live up to that spot in the draft.  But Ball has reached AA Portland after two years at Salem. So often AA is the make or break level for many pitchers and hitters, Ball will likely join that long list.  Hopefully the Maine air will inflate Ball's career.

17. Shaun Anderson, RHP Greenville {17}.  The Red Sox will give the former Univ. of Florida closer every chance to be a starting pitcher.  Anderson is one of several college pitchers Boston grabbed in last June's draft.

18. Mike Shawaryn, RHP  Greenville {18}.  Shawaryn is another of those college hurlers drafted last June and he will join Anderson in the Grenville Drive rotation.  Either or both of Anderson or Shawaryn could push up to Salem before 2017 ends, with strong first halves for the Drive.

19. Chandler Shepherd, RHP  Pawtucket {16}. Shepherd was one of four minor league relief pitchers who shone in Boston's big league camp. Shepherd nearly made the big club, being edged out by Ben Taylor. If Shepherd continues with strong outings at Pawtucket, he is definitely in the mix to be called up to Boston during 2017.

20. Kyle Martin, RHP Pawtucket {15}. Martin will be a big part of the Paw Sox bullpen for a second season in a row. But during Boston's spring camp, Martin was outperformed by several other relievers including Taylor, Shepherd, and a couple of others coming up shortly on this list.  Martin could certainly restore his spot on the pecking order of possible recalls with a strong AAA season.

21. Jake Cosart, RHP Portland {22} The Sox moved Cosart to the bullpen full time in 2016.  He began the campaign at Greenville, and was a rousing success striking out 76 batters in 52.2 innings. His ERA for the Drive was 2.05, and Jake was promoted to Salem where he ended the year with an ERA of 1.00 in eight games with 28 more K's in 18 innings.  This cameo in Salem may end his class A career, as he will begin 2017 in Portland.  If Cosart can continue to harness his big fastball, the former college third baseman could be on a fast track to Boston.

22. Jamie Callahan, RHP Portland{38}. Another of the quartet of bullpen arms specifically praised by name by Sox skipper John Farrell.  Callahan stayed in Boston camp until the very end of spring training.  Callahan was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft, but had a string of very pedestrian numbers never reaching AA.  Jamie will begin 2017 at Portland, and it will be of interest to see if Callahan can build on his strong spring camp of '17.

23. Austin Maddox, RHP Portland {39}. Maddox is the fourth and final bullpen arm who received Manager Farrell's praise and surprisingly stayed with Boston until the final cut.  As with Callahan, Maddox was drafted in 2012.  Maddox was taken in the third round after a two way career at the University of Florida.  The Sox put him in the bullpen right away. In 2016, Maddox pitched across three levels from Salem to Pawtucket.  Maddox began 2017 at Portland, but was called to Pawtucket in the first week.  This may be a temporary promotion due to the injuries and illnesses in Boston, but either way Maddox needs a big 2017 to solidify his standing in the Boston bullpen hierarchy.

24. Jalen Beeks, LHP Portland {24} This University of Arkansas product, caught a break during a Red Sox-Team USA exhibition game this spring.  Team USA was using Sox minor league pitchers to save their staff.  Beeks was one of the pitchers to go for Team USA. Roenis Elias was scheduled to start for Boston.  Elias was injured in pre game and Beeks was selected to start for Boston.  Jalen pitched two very effective innings catching everyone's eye.  Beeks, who reached AA last season and started 13 Sea Dogs games with an ERA of 4.68, will return to Portland with a hope to further improve his organizational standing.

25. Tate Matheny, OF Salem {21}. Matheny continues to climb up the Sox system reaching High A Salem. Opinion is split on how much of a major league prospect the son of the Cardinals manager is. A strong start at Salem could give the 23 year old right handed hitter a chance at AA before '17 is over.

26. Yankory Pimental, RHP Salem {19}. Pimental somewhat surprisingly has been sent back to Salem, where he pitched all of 2016. This assignment is the main reason for his seven spot tumble down our list. The 23 year old righty now has a number of other relief prospects ahead of him.  2017 will be a challenge to Pimental to get back in that mix of top bullpen candidates in the system.

27. Luis Ysla, LHP Portland {26} Ysla has also been sent back to the level where he pitched last year, except for one '16 game for Pawtucket.  But Ysla is on the 40 man roster and is a lefty arm, so he may yet factor into a major league bullpen.

28. Kyri Washington, OF Salem {25} After a power display at Greenville in 2016, Kyri brings his bat to High A Salem. If Washington could match the 16 homers from last season with an improvement on the .262 average, the future could be brightening for the 2015 23rd round draftee from little Longwood College.

29. Bryan Mata, RHP, XST {33}. The Red Sox signed this Venezuelan in January of 2016. At 6'3" 160 pounds much of Mata's ranking is based on projecting what his skill set will become when he fills out his frame.  Mata spend 2016 with the Red Sox Dominican Summer League team, and with Mata turning 18 in May, he could report to either the GCL team or possibly to Lowell in June.

30. Lorenzo Cedrola, OF Greenville {NR}. A newcomer to our RSM list. Cedrola turned 19 in January and after spending 2015 and 2016 in the DSL and GCL, respectively, was assigned to the Drive.  Cedrola's top asset is his blazing, top of the line speed. This speed also gives Lorenzo great range while playing center field.  But at 5'10', 155 there is not much pop in his offensive game as of yet. Cedrola is another product of Venezuela, signed in 2015.

Here are another dozen names that were under consideration for this list:

Yoan Aybar, OF Greenville
Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP Portland
Steve Nogosek, RHP Greenville
Austin Glorius, RHP Salem
Aneury Tavarez, OF Portland (after the rule 5 draftee was returned by Baltimore)
Tyler Hill, OF Greenville
Austin Rei, C Salem
Gerson Bautista, RHP Salem
Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP Greenville ( Darwinzon's middle name is David, go figure)
Danny Mars, OF Portland
Christopher Acosta, RHP XST
Marc Brakeman, RHP XST

And we will end with eight more ( to make an even 50 names). These eight include some names on their way out, some free agents or acquisitions from other organizations, and newly minted Sea Dog outfielder:

Joseph Monge, OF Portland
Josh Tobias, 2B Salem (acquired for Clay Buchholz)
Williams Jerez, KHP Portland
Edgar Olmos, LHP Pawtucket
Steve Selsky, OF Pawtucket-Boston
Noe Ramirez, RHP Pawtucket-Boston
Deven Marrero, SS Pawtucket-Boston
Bryce Brentz, OF Pawtucket (He cleared waivers to get back to Rhode Island)

As 2017 winds through its yet unknown path, a number of these names will move up and down the rankings. And even after presenting 50 names, it is very likely new names will join.

Welcome Back Baseball!







Monday, April 3, 2017

Cousin Jason's 2017 Predictions

AL East
Boston- These Sox should wear out opponents offensively, let’s hope the pitching staff gets healthy and does the same
Tampa Bay- Why not the Rays? They pitch as well as any of the other AL East teams, maybe they finally can hit to match
Toronto- The Jays have plenty of pieces, can John Gibbons correctly put the puzzle together
New York- We’re a couple of years away from the next great chapter in the Sox/Yankees rivalry
Baltimore- The O’s seemingly overachieve every year, but this pitching staff will need to use more smoke and mirrors than the Great and Powerful Oz to repeat that feat in 2017

AL Central
Cleveland- Can the Lake Erie Warriors replicate 2016? Playing in the Central will help their chances, current slew of injuries will not
**Detroit- The Bengals got the band back together for one last tour, are they Hot-N-Ready to memorialize Mr. I with a pennant? Motown would go crazy, crazy if so
Minnesota- The Twins have a young nucleus that will surprise many by being consistently competitive
Chicago- The rebuild has already netted lots of future stars, a strong 2nd half from Moncada, Lopez, Giolito, and Kopech leap the South Siders out of the cellar
Kansas City- It may be more of a reload than a rebuild but the Royals sell off their potential free agents and it’s like 2007 in KC

AL West
Seattle- The M’s sniffed the playoffs last year, a better offensive unit gets them over the hump
*Houston- The ‘Stros could be MLB’s best team in 2018...which means they are a year away
Texas- The Rangers have too many question marks on their pitching staff to hang with their counterparts in a tough division
Anaheim- Halo fans will again enjoy watching Mike Trout be one of the best players in all of baseball, sadly his teammates are only mediocre at best
Oakland- The A’s could easily finish 3rd in this division if their usual off-season free agent shopping spree at Marden’s pays off and their young pitchers continue to mature, not sure that happens enough in 2017

Post Season
Wildcard Game: Verlander and the Upton’s (a pair of bombs each) lead the Tigers over the Astros
ALDS: Red Sox over Tigers in 6, Mariners over Indians in 7
ALCS: Red Sox over Mariners in 7 as home team wins each game

AL Awards
MVP Mike Trout
Cy Young Justin Verlander
Manager Scott Servais
ROY Mitch Haniger, picking Benintendi is too easy (probably correct though) so I’ll go out on a limb
HR Champion Edwin Encarnacion 44
Comeback Jacoby Ellsbury

NL East
Washington- The Nats appear to be the best team in the an improving division
**Miami- Improved pitching staff allows Marlins to jump up one spot from 2016
Philadelphia- The Phils get help from their farm system throughout the year to stay ahead of Mets and Braves
New York- The Mets have talent but the health of their pitching staff is littered with red flags
Atlanta- The Braves will be competitive but still need more seasoning

NL Central
Chicago- The Cubbies are still a juggernaut and the rest of the Central division seems to be regressing
*St. Louis- The Cards play over their heads all year, it’s still not enough to catch the Cubs
Pittsburgh- The Buccos play inconsistently but it’s good enough to finish 3rd
Milwaukee- The Brew Crew is better than the Reds but only slightly
Cincinnati- The Reds make some improvements but not enough to stay out of the basement

NL West
San Francisco- Giants break their trend of making the post season every other year
Arizona- Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo quickly bring the Rattlers up to respectability
Los Angeles- The Dodgers can’t buy their way to the top of the west this time
Colorado- The Rockies could be much better than expected but it’s a tough division
San Diego- The Padres make strides to catch their competitors but are not quite there yet

Post Season
Wildcard Game: Cardinals over Marlins
NLDS: Cubs over Cardinals in 5, Giants over Nationals in 6
NLCS: Cubs over Giants in 7

NL Awards
MVP Matt Carpenter
Cy Young Jameson Taillon
Manager Torey Lovullo
ROY Manuel Margot
HR Champion Paul Goldschmidt 41
Comeback AJ Pollock

World Series
In the epic World Series, almost one hundred years in the making, the Cubs and Red Sox play a 7 game series for the ages with the Cubbies repeating, solidifying Theo Epstein’s shrine in Cooperstown

Barry's 2017 MLB Predictions

I don't have a good track record with these predictions, so I'm going with a slightly more scaled back approach this year.  Last year's sleeper team ended up losing it's first 25 games or so (Sorry Minnesota), so let's see who's getting jinxed this year...

AL East:
1. Toronto
2. Boston*
3. Tampa
4. Orioles
5. Yankees
The Red Sox will have too many injuries to overcome, and their bullpen will be their downfall.  The pitching injuries are too much for the pitching to overcome the decrease in offensive production without Big Papi.  The Blue Jays are right there with the Red Sox talent wise and they seem to be a little more healthy and a little more experienced in the every day lineup.

AL Central:
1. Cleveland
2. Kansas City
3. Minnesota
4. Detroit
5. Chicago
This division may be the weakest in baseball, it is certainly the weakest division in the American League.  The Indians appear to be the class of the division, but I don't see any wild card teams coming out of this group.

AL West:
1. Houston
2. Seattle*
3. Texas
4. Oakland
5. LA Angels
This may be the toughest division in baseball.  The Astros didn't live up to expectations a year ago, but this year is a different story.  Seattle and Texas finish within five games of the division lead and contend for wild card spots all season with the Mariners pulling it out.

NL East:
1. Washington
2. New York*
3. Marlins
4. Philadelphia
5. Atlanta
This division has belonged to the Nationals in recent years and that will continue, but if the Mets starting pitching can stay healthy this year than they will contend all summer long.

NL Central:
1. Chicago
2. St. Louis
3. Pittsburgh
4. Cincinnati
5. Milwaukee
The Cubs may have the most young talent in baseball, but a world series hangover may be in store for them.  Look for them to get a real challenge from the Cardinals and the Pirates look to bounce back from a disappointing year last season with a veteran lineup and some good young pitching.

NL West:
1. LA Dodgers
2. San Francisco*
3. Arizona
4. Colorado
5. San Diego
The top three teams in this division will compete for playoff spots all summer long.  The Diamondbacks look to be improved under old Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo.

Playoffs:
AL Wildcard game: Boston over Seattle

ALDS: Houston over Toronto
             Boston over Cleveland
ALCS: Houston over Boston

NL Wild Card Game: New York Mets over San Francisco

NLDS: Mets over Cubs
Nationals over Dodgers

NLCS Mets over Nationals

World Series:  Astros over Mets in 7 games

AL Awards:
AL MVP: Carlos Correa
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
AL Manager of the Year: John Gibbons
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi

NL Awards:
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young: Noah Syndegard
NL Manager of the Year: Terry Collins
NL Rookie of the Year: Jameson Tallion

Brandon's MLB Predictions 2017

Here's a shot at predicting the MLB standings, playoffs, and awards for the 2017 season:

AL East
1. Boston
2. Toronto*
3. Tampa Bay
4. Baltimore
5. NY Yankees
The Rays surprisingly lead the AL east for most of the first half before fading in the second half and missing the playoffs entirely. The O's finally live down to projections for once. The Yankees are younger and more exciting, but have the worst pitching in the AL besides whatever is going on in Minnesota. The Blue Jays have too many bats and talented young arms to miss the playoffs.

AL Central
1. Cleveland
2. Kansas City
3. Detroit
4. Minnesota
5. Chicago
By far the worst division in the American League. Detroit joins the Twins and White Hose in the basement. The Royals have a resurgent run to wild card contention, but come up short. The Indians got better from 2016 and run away to win the division by 15 games.

AL West
1. Houston
2. LA Angels*
3. Seattle
4. Texas
5. Oakland
The Mariners are much more competitive in 2016, but come up short of the postseason again. The Rangers finally underperform their projection. The A's are a year or two away with another crop of young pitchers. The Astros fulfill their considerable potential and add either Jose Quintana, Chris Archer, or both to their rotation. The Angels finally have enough pieces in place around Trout to get back to the playoffs and make some noise.

AL Playoffs
Angels over Blue Jays in Wildcard game
Red Sox over Astros in 6
Angels over Indians in 7

Red Sox over Angels in 6

AL Awards
AL MVP: Mookie Betts
AL ROY: Andrew Benintendi
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber
AL Manager: AJ Hinch
Comeback: Garrett Richards

NL East
1. Washington
2. NY Mets*
3. Atlanta
4. Miami
5. Philadelphia
The Mets pitching is so strong it doesn't matter who's hitting for them. The Braves comeback begins. The Nationals get it done despite Dusty.

NL Central
1. Chicago
2. St. Louis*
3. Pittsburgh
4. Milwaukee
5. Cincinnati
The Cubbies roll through the NL central again. The Cardinals haven't been to the postseason in a year or two, so they're due for a deep run. The Reds and Beers are awful.

NL West
1. Los Angeles
2. Arizona
3. Colorado
4. San Francisco
5. San Diego
The Giants have to finish down in 4th or 5th one of these years, right? Arizona has a ton of talent on that roster. The Rockies are all bash, again. Dodgers are the class of the division.

NL Playoffs
Mets over Cardinals in wildcard game
Cubs over Mets in 4
Nationals over Dodgers in 6
Nationals over Cubs in 7

World Series
Nationals over Red Sox in 7. It's now or never for the Nationals.

NL Awards
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
NL ROY: Dansby Swanson
NL Manager: Joe Maddon (after obligatory year-long media ball-washing)
Comeback Player: Matt Harvey

Friday, March 31, 2017

Deacon Art's 2017 MLB Predictions

Baseball kicks in for real in the next day or two, and rumor has it spring may arrive someday as well. As is the annual tradition around RSM I will take a shot at predicting how each division and league playoffs will turn out.  As I tell you who will the 2017 World Series, please try to forget last year I had the Giants winning over Texas.

As always each team will have its own one line comment, followed by some other league predictions. I'll wrap with some random MLB and Red Sox thoughts/predictions.  Let's go.

American League  ( * first wild card  ** second wild card)

East

1. Boston-        Boston's B Boys Bring a Banner to Beantown.
2. Baltimore-   Birds Nest in Second, but Closer to Fifth than First
3. Toronto-      Justin- Jays Only Have Third Place Talent- Harsh but Trudeau.
4. New York-   Flip or Flop
5. Tampa Bay- Another Group of Immigrants Canada Will Take Eventually

Central

1. Kansas City- Royals Avoid July Fire Sale, Then Thrive
2. Cleveland-   Tired Twirlers Take Down Tito's Team
3. Detroit-        Post Illitch Era Decline Begins
4. Minnesota-  Mayday, Mayday
5. Chicago-      Chisox Clearance Continues

West

1. Seattle-          Mariners Build Wall Around Texas Teams
2.* Houston-     Better Team on Paper than M's- Except for Paper Mache Pitching
3. **Texas-       Gotta Root for a Team That has a Nomar
4. Los Angeles- Another Serving of Spoiled Trout
5. Oakland-       Hey Raiders, Got Room for us in Vegas

AL Post Season

Houston tops Texas 11-9 in the wild card game on a walk off Alex Bregman grand slam.

ALDS
Boston takes down Houston in four with Chris Sale winning games one and four.
Kansas City's free agents to be sweep Seattle.

ALCS

KC's post season experience from 2014-15 only goes so far and the Red Sox win their fourth AL pennant in the 2000's in six games.  Xander Bogaerts in the ALCS MVP.

AL MVP & Rookie of Year: Andrew Benintendi in a remake of Fred Lynn 1975.
AL Cy  Chris Sale   ( 24 wins make it a landslide)
Manager of the Year: Scott Servais, Seattle
Home Run Champ: Nelson Cruz 44
Comeback: Felix Hernandez  ( joins Sale as only AL 20 game winners)

National League

East

1. Washington-    Nats Won't be the Only Thing Not Passed in DC This Year.
2. Miami-            Mattingly's Marlins Mature
3. New York-      They're Still Citi
4. Atlanta-           Good at Stockpiling Young Pitchers, Like Bartolo Colon & RA Dickey.
5. Philadelphia-   Best Philly Pitcher Could Be Clay Buchholz...Fake News

Central

1. Pittsburgh- Sometimes the Best Deals are Those You Don't Make (see A. McCutchen)
2.* Chicago-  Looked Unbeatable Throughout Campaign Until Hacked by Russians
3. St. Louis-   Shoulda Grabbed a Better Cubbie Than Dexter Fowler
4. Milwaukee-Rebuild Yet to Come to a Head
5.Cincinnati- This Dick Williams Team Will Not "Win More Than We'll Lose"

West

1. Colorado-          The National's League's Best Story
2.** Los Angeles- The winner is ...La La Land!.......No Wait
3. San Francisco-   Odd/Even Year Lock Blown All to Hell, Who Knows Now
4. Arizona-            The DBacks Hazen of the NL West Comes Soon
5. San Diego-         At Least They Have Don Orsillo

NL Post Season

Cubs beat LA 4-3 when Jon Lester picks potential tying run off first base to end the game

NLDS

Cubs over Nationals in five: Trump tweets he will throw out first pitch for NLDS Game Six
Pirates sweep Rockies

NLCS

Despite the Cubs outscoring the Pirates by ten runs in the series, the Pirates win 4 games to 3.
NLCS MVP is Gerrit Cole.

NL MVP  Andrew McCutchen
NL CY     Gerrit Cole
Manager   Bud Black, Colorado
Rookie      Dansby Swanson, Braves edges out Josh Bell of Pittsburgh
Home Run Giancarlo Stanton 55
Comeback Stanton

WORLD SERIES

In a replay of the first Series ever in 1903 (although this time not a best of nine) the Pirates and Boston meet in Game One at Fenway Park.  Boston with 96 regular season wins gained the home field advantage over the 92 win Pirates.

The Red Sox win Games One and Two at home behind Chris Sale and Rick Porcello.  The Pirates go home to win the next two to tie the series.  In Game Five the Sox explode on the highly touted Buccos pitching to win 14-4 with five home runs from their outfielders, two apiece for Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley, Jr, and a three run blast from Andrew Benintendi.  The Red Sox return to Fenway and put away their fourth World Championship of the 21st century. The 3-1 win was paced by a three run double by Jackie Bradley, Jr. and David Price coming out of the bullpen to get the last six outs. JBJ is the World Series MVP, not only for his bat, but for making a back to plate Game Six saving catch reminiscent of Willie Mays in 1954( yeah, I wasn't alive then either, look it up on You Tube for chrissakes).

Other Random MLB Predictions

Thursday, March 2, 2017

David Price's Elbow Hurts and So Does My Heart

Reports are out all over Red Sox Twitter this morning that David Price has been scratched from his next start with elbow/forearm soreness. He got an MRI and apparently didn't like the results, because he's getting a second opinion. That's right, our $217 million man is visiting the dreaded office of Dr. James Andrews, Tommy John surgery extraordinaire.

So, to recap, the Red Sox signed Price to a 7 year, $217 million contract before the 2016 season. Price proceeded to underperform expectations, not pitch "like a true ace", and lost yet another postseason game running his postseason record as a starter to 0-8. And now it looks like he'll need Tommy John surgery and be out until late in the 2018 season, and really not back to top form until the 2019 season. For those counting at home, by the time April 2019 rolls around, the Red Sox will have paid Price around $90 million. It reminds this blogger of the John Lackey contract - a less-than-stellar beginning in Boston, looked like the worst contract in the history of sports for most of it, then a major injury and rehab, but rebounded to become a vital part of the 2013 championship team before being traded away. Let's hope at least that last part comes true for Price, who even before this injury was dealing with headlines in the Boston Globe like "Will Boston Ever See the Good Old David Price?"

Now, before we go any further I would like to add this important disclaimer: David Price was good last year. Really good. He led the American League in innings pitched and games started (seems like an important part of "pitching like an ace!"). His K/9 was just 0.3 less than in 2015. He won 17 games and struck out 228 batters, good for the second-highest total of his career. His control was slightly worse than normal, posting his highest BB/9 in four years (2.0), and a few more balls left the park pitching in Fenway, resulting in his highest HR/9 in his career (1.2). But David Price is still a damned good pitcher, folks. His absence hurts.

Finally, what will this do to the Red Sox rotation? Well, this article claiming that Drew Pomeranz wants zero part of being put in the bullpen might not matter, since the big lefty will most likely now be firmly entrenched in the top five. Sox rotation will shake out like this if in fact Price is out for 2017:
1. Chris Sale
2. Rick Porcello
3. Eduardo Rodriguez
4. Steven Wright
5. Drew Pomeranz

That's still a pretty damned good starting rotation. The Chris Sale trade is looking better and better. My only issue is this: what happens when another starter gets hurt? The depth beyond this is scary - anyone want to see more of Henry Owens starting games for Boston? Me either. Brian Johnson anyone? Eh. Clay Buchholz? He's wearing a Phillies uniform now. It gets scary quick down here beyond the top five. Get Brian Bannister on this quickly, we need another Rich Hill for depth.

Monday, February 13, 2017

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects Pre Spring Training Edition

Last September RSM ranked the top prospects in the Red Sox system following the 2016 season's completion. The biggest change in this ranking compared to September's is the exit of eight names due to trades, the rule 5 draft, and in one case leaving via minor league free agency. The now former Sox prospects (and their Sept. rank) are:

 1. Yoan Moncada
4. Michael Kopech These three were the bulk of the package used to acquire Chris Sale.
8. Luis Alexander Basabe

 7. Mauricio Dubon
28. Josh Pennington This pair of kids went to Milwaukee with Travis Shaw for Tyler Thornburg.

27. Justin Haley This pitcher was taken in rule 5 draft by Angels, who traded him to the Twins.

37. Aneury Tavarez Taken in Rule 5 draft by Baltimore

39. Henry Ramos Signed as a minor league free agent with the Dodgers.

So our new rankings are largely a reshuffling of the remaining names from the names presented in September, with one new name to our list down at number 20. Their September ranking is in { } and in a slight change from our past rankings, the team listed after the player is a projection of where that player will begin 2017.

1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston {2} Benintendi is still regarded a prospect because his major league plate appearances were under 130 in '16 leaving eligible as a rookie in 2017. Every major prospect ranking this off season has Benintendi as the number one prospect in all of baseball and is considered the odds on favorite to win American League Rookie of the Year. It will be a shock if Benintendi is not the everyday starting left fielder for Boston. In addition, in several interviews this winter manager John Farrell has proposed the idea of Andrew batting second in the lineup. AB will be a key component to an offense trying to replace David Ortiz' production. If you are looking for a bold, off the wall 2017 prediction for the Red Sox try this one. Andrew Benintendi not only wins AL Rookie of the Year, but matching the player he is ofter compared to Fred Lynn, he also wins AL MVP.

2. Rafael Devers, 3B, Portland {3} Devers is ranked as a top twenty prospect in the game. Unless something very unexpected happens, Devers will inherit the number one spot on this list come May, when Benintendi comes to bat enough to lose his eligibility. For all the large, three top ten prospect, package Boston parted with to get Chris Sale, multiple reports stated the White Sox continuously asked for Devers along with Moncada and Kopech. Dave Dombrowski basically confirmed this and said the Sox would not trade Devers. Devers has been invited to his first big league camp and at age 20 is scheduled to play third base for the Sea Dogs. If Devers shines at Portland, he could make the jump to Boston in 2017 a la Benintendi in 2016. Or as Mookie Betts did in 2014 start at Portland, make a stop in AAA before going to Boston. Even if Devers comes to Boston in 2018, he is still one of the best power hitting prospects in all of baseball and he is still very young.

3. Jay Groome, LHP, Greenville {5} Groome is another one of top shelf highly regarded prospects in the baseball wide rankings. But since he just came out of high school in last June's draft, Groome is further away from the big leagues than the others in the top five of this list. Groome is known for a plus fastball and a devastating curveball. Boston will be cautious with the youngster's innings this year and he will likely spend the entire campaign at low A, but beginning in 2018 Groome's ascension will be guided by his production, and despite his age could be big league ready by 2020.

4. Sam Travis, 1B, Pawtucket {6} I will admit it I am higher on Sam Travis than some others. If he had not missed more than half of 2016 with a knee injury, he could all ready be Boston's first baseman. On more than one occasion this off season the Sox brass explained not going after free agent slugger Edwin Encarnarcion by saying they did not want a long term contract to EE blocking Sam Travis (or Rafael Devers). Now I think the Sox desire to stay under the new luxury tax cap, had more to do with not pursuing the Jays DH, but I believe they are high on Sam Travis. I think any injury to or slip in production from Hanley Ramirez or newcomer Mitch Moreland could lead to promotion to Boston for Sam Travis.

5. Brian Johnson, LHP, Pawtucket {9} This will be a big, maybe even a make or break year for the former first round pick. Johnson has missed a lot of time since making a one game major league debut in the summer of 2015. Before that time his reputation was that of a solid, strike zone pounding lefty who profiles as a back of the rotation starter in the big leagues. With the Red Sox depth for starting pitching after the front six questionable, Johnson could be the first guy summoned from Pawtucket if he can return to pre-late 2015 form.

6. Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Salem {10} The projection to high A Salem may be overly aggressive and Greenville to at least start 2017 may be more likely. But the 2016 draftee tore apart Lowell and showed off his prodigious power potential. In college at Arizona, Dalbec split time between third and the mound. In fact, his pitching nearly led the Wildcats to the College World Series title. But Boston was one team that preferred him as a hitter (many teams wanted him as a pitcher), and Dalbec himself credits not having to split time pitching and hitting for his strong Lowell performance.

7. Josh Ockimey, 1B Salem {11} Ockimey had an outstanding first half of 2016 at Greenville and lagged badly in the second half. The trading of four top ten prospects this winter, has elevated Ockimey into our top seven. In 2017 at Salem, Josh will have a chance to solidify his ranking and add another power hitting legitimate prospect to the Sox system.

8. Marco Hernandez, IF, Pawtucket {13} Hernandez at times gets overlooked as a "prospect"due to his entry into the Sox system from the Cubs, where he was considered just organizational filler. Also his yo-yo ing between AAA and Boston overshadowed some of Marco's plusses. First he will play nearly all of 2017 at age 24. In his stops in Boston, Hernandez has shown an ability to hit big league pitching. If Brock Holt or another Sox infielder should suffer an injury, Marco likely is next in line. Also, if third base remains an issue for Boston, Hernandez could factor in there as well.

9. Michael Chavis, 3B, Salem {12} The 2014 first round draft pick is another player who may face a make or break 2017. Chavis is considered a potential power hitter, but his overall hit tool has been an issue in his pro career. The desire to get Chavis everyday playing time at third for Salem, could be a big factor in Bobby Dalbec having to start at Greenville rather than Salem.

10. Roniel Raudes, RHP, Salem Raudes will make his High A debut at age 19. If the Red Sox system is to push back towards the top of all MLB systems, they not only will need to add next summer strong international signees and good draft picks, but the Sox need players like Raudes to step forward. Raudes doesn't have overpowering stuff, but pitches to his spots exceptionally well. As he climbs the ladder, the question is can Raudes be successful at the higher levels using the same formula?

11. Nick Longhi, 1B, Portland {15} As Longhi reaches AA the question is can he add some power to his hitting package? Longhi had 77 RBI to lead the entire system, but has never hit the home runs associated with a corner infielder in the big leagues. With several names ahead of Longhi on the list who play a corner infield spot and who have shown power, it would behoove Nick to blast some pitches out of Hadlock Field in 2017.

12. CJ Chatham, SS, Greenville {16} Taken in the second round last June, Chatham is another player Boston is hoping can replenish their farm system. Chatham has good pop for a middle infielder, and with his college background could reach Salem before 2017 is over. Also CJ is a good candidate to rise up into the top ten on this list as the year goes on.

13. Travis Lakins, RHP, Portland {17} Last spring the Sox aggressively placed Lakins at Salem, and even though his second half at Salem was poor and somewhat injury plagued, the Sox could again push Lakins by starting his 2017 at Portland. Even if the Sox have Lakins repeat his 2016 start at Salem, a few good High A starts should move the 2015 draftee to AA.

14. Trey Ball, LHP, Portland {18} The overall number seven pick in the 2013 draft should reach AA to begin 2017. Now matter how you slice it, Ball to this point has been a disappointment. But since he was drafted from high school, he will reach Portland at age 22, and still have a chance to redeem himself. But the sands are almost out of the hourglass.

15. Kyle Martin, RHP, Pawtucket {19} Martin is a contender for the 2017 Noe Ramirez trophy. The Texas A&M product had a strong 2016 in the Pawtucket bullpen. But with no apparent openings in the Boston pen, Martin likely will spend this upcoming season bouncing back and forth from AAA to Boston. The good news for Martin is the first time he is called to help the pen in Boston will be his major league debut.

16. Chandler Shepherd, RHP, Pawtucket {20} And here is Kyle Martin's main competition in the Noe Ramirez trophy race. Unlike Martin who spent all of 2016 at AAA, Shepherd split 2016 between Portland and Pawtucket.

17. Shaun Anderson, RHP, Greenville {21} Another draftee from last June, Anderson was the closer at the Univ. of Florida. As Boston has done many times before they are stretching Anderson out and using him for now as a starter. But if Boston decides to return Anderson to the bullpen, he could rise through the system rather quickly.

18. Mike Shawaryn, RHP, Salem {23} Another product of the 2016 draft from Maryland. Many draft observers were surprised Boston was able to grab Shawaryn as low as the fifth round. Unlike the other college hurlers taken in the upper rounds of that draft, Shawaryn is considered to be able to be a starter in the big leagues.

19. Yankory Pimental, RHP, Portland {22} The 23 year old Dominican product will be one of several players on this list expected to reach Portland to start 2017. Pimental pitched effectively for Salem throughout 2016 and could be a sneaky pick to reach Boston's pen sometime in late 2017.

20. Robby Scott, LHP, Boston {NR} The one addition to our September list, Scott was elevated from just another 27 year old minor leaguer to someone on Boston's radar when the Sox surprisingly added Scott to their September roster. Scott, in the middle of a pennant race, got into seven games and did not allow an earned run in six innings pitched, while fanning seven batters. Scott, whom Boston signed from an Independent League team in 2011, comes into Boston's spring camp for the first time and seemingly will compete with Fernando Abad for a bullpen spot.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Red Sox Hot Stove Email Exchange

Hot Stove Email Exchange

Brandon TerrillWed, Dec 7, 2016 at 12:38 PM


There's been a furious flurry of hot stove action this week in Red Sox Nation, so I feel a need to have an email exchange amongst the Maineiacs to compile into a blog post. Let's kick these three prompts around for a while and see what we get:

1. I saw on Twitter today that since Dave Dombrowski has taken over, he has traded away 21 prospects from the Red Sox farm system and received 0 back in return. What do we make of this approach?

2. An article on The Ringer today by Ben Lindbergh had the following headline, "The Red Sox Just Became Prohibitive American League Favorites". Do we want to be the "winter champions" (Barry's term) heading into 2017? If not, what do we do if we are anyway?

3. What do we make of the Red Sox picking up the 2018 team option on manager John Farrell's contract in December of 2016?

Jason Allen Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 1:06 PM


It certainly has been an eventful few days. I love the idea for the post.

1. This is Dombrowski's MO. While it certainly has worked for him over the years to make his big league clubs contenders, it has also left the organizations depleted once "the window" closes. However, the Sox were able to draft and develop 21 prospects for him to trade, so as long as the minor league staffs, scouts, etc. continue to do their jobs at a high level I think the Sox will be fine in the long run. Additionally, several members on the current Sox roster were "prospects" in the recent past. Which may also be why we haven't received any prospects back? Typically, getting prospects means you are in a rebuild or overhaul which the Sox, despite all of their last places finishes in the last decade are not in the middle of.

2. I had the same thought last night that the Sox would be paper champions like the Blue Jays of a few years ago. While it certainly hasn't gone well in recent years for the teams that won the off-season, I think this is a bit of a different case, and is better than being on the other end of the off-season spectrum. As of right now, I don't see how the Sox are not the prohibitive favorite, however in my opinion they were going to at least be one of the favorites going into the season anyways. So we might as well place the crown on our heads and run with it. Weren't the Cubs the favorite all year in 2016? That worked out pretty well for Wrigleyville.

3. I don't see this as a big deal. Maybe the ownership group has learned from the 2011 saga with Tito's contract. Additionally, with Torey Lovullo now in Arizona, there is not that specter hanging over Farrell's shoulder. Is John Farrell the best manager in baseball, no, but he is also not the worst. I am also of the mindset that the players do more to effect the outcome of games than managers do. I do think that like Tito, John Farrell is a great handler of people which is paramount as a MLB manager.

Let me add a question to the mix: What becomes of Buchholz, Wright, and Pomeranz going forward? 



Terrill, Barry Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 1:13 PM


1. The weakness of this team and farm system when Dombrowski took over was pitching.  He has since brought in two stud starters and a stud reliever (Sale, Price and Kimbrel) to compliment the core of position players that already existed. Thus, turning this team into serious world series contender.  The big question mark is the rest of the bullpen outside of the closer. He had bad luck with the Carson Smith trade.  Thornburg is a stud, but he has a history of elbow problems and could be the next Carson Smith.  One knock on Dombrowski is his inability to build a bullpen. That problem is still very much an issue.

The trade off with all of these deals is long term stability.  This team could compete for a world series for 2-3 years and then turn into the Philadelphia Phillies or it could of had an Atlanta Braves type run of winning the division but never winning the world series. I'm not really sure which one of those approaches I prefer.

If injuries, bad luck or something else prevents them from winning a world series in the next 2-3 years then we could see a sharp downturn in the standings after that. But, after finishing last 3 out 5 years, I am all in on the all in mentality.  (What other choice do we have, really?!)

2. We don't want to be Winter champions. They never become the Fall champions.  But, a lot of teams were picking the Chicago Cubs last year to win it all and they came through. Which is a different thing, but still. The Red Sox of 2017 will be more than just the winter champions, they are a playoff team that added the best starting pitcher on the market.  I also really like the pick ups of Moreland and Thornburg, hopefully they will continue to build upon the bullpen through the FA market with high reward type players like Greg Holland.  

3. I'm tired of the John Farrell talk. He's the manager until he's no longer the manager.  When they pick up his extension means nothing.  


Terrill, Barry Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 1:30 PM


I'll chime in on Jason's bonus question.  Last year after the Price deal the Red Sox immediately traded Wade Miley.  I think that this year is totally different though.  All three of the pitchers that Jason mentioned have pitched out of the bullpen at different times in their careers and shown that they can be effective out of the bullpen.

I think there is a legitimate concern with Pomeranz elbow and his innings workload from last year.  He also was very good out of the bullpen in the playoffs. .  I could see him in an Andrew Miller type role for the Red Sox this season.  Right now I would give the #5 starter nod to Buchholz.  I liked the way he finished last season and he would give the rotation a little bit of R/L balance.  As a knuckleballer Wright can be the ultimate swing guy.  This guy was an All Star last year, needless to say the Red Sox don't win the division without the first half success that he had.  

Ultimately it's going to come down to which one of those three pitches better and health.  Depth in the rotation is a good problem to have especially when you know that all three can pitch out of the bullpen and be effective if necessary.  Lots of times these situations have a way of working themselves out.  

I personally would go into the season with the following 12 man pitching staff: 
5. Eduardo Rodriquez
9. Robbie Ross Jr. 

With Heath Hembree, Robbie Scott, Noe Ramirez and others around as AAA insurance (I have to admit I'm not sure about the minor league options of those three guys). Also as I mentioned I'd love to see them bring in a guy who could be a high risk high reward kind of guy like Holland to pitch the 8th inning, although Thornburg may be that guy.  

The starting pitching depth that is necessary for a full baseball season is going to have to come from the major league roster. Because there is no starting pitching depth at Pawtucket anymore (yes I'm talking to you Henry Owens).


Jason Allen Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 1:36 PM


Looks like Barry and I have similar ideas on the winter champions and John Farrell. I really like his answer on the trading of prospects as well.

As a follow-up to Barry's pitching comments, I really want Santa to deliver Greg Holland, I think he would be awesome for the bullpen. Also I believe that Heath Hembree is out of options so he either makes it or is released. Not sure about Ramirez or Scott. I also noticed that you left Carson Smith and Fernando Abad off that list. Lastly, Dombrowski in the press conference yesterday mentioned Owens and Brian Johnson as pitching depth, so put that in your smoke and pipe it, Barry!


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Winter Meetings are Here

Now that the new CBA has brought continued labor peace to baseball, the annual Winter Meetings, will go on as scheduled. The meetings run today, December 4 through the 8th.

Our focus of course is what will Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox do.  I still maintain other than signing or trading for a set up reliever, not much.  But there is an opportunity for that prediction to be very wrong.  Here are the needs for the Sox to address:

1. 8th inning reliever
2. DH to help replace David Ortiz' middle of the order bat.
3. Back of rotation/depth starting pitcher
4. Ace starting pitcher???

If something falls into Dave D's lap another possible deal could be for a third baseman good enough to replace the Pablo Sandoval-Travis Shaw-Brock Holt trio but that is less likely.

The Red Sox are expected to fill the bullpen first if possible.  Free agents Greg Holland and Luke Hochevar are mentioned as candidates.  A trade is maybe more likely, especially if the Sox lose out on Holland.

The DH candidate the Red Sox reportedly wanted the most was Carlos Beltran.  But the 40 year old vet signed with the Astros on the eve of the meetings.  Beltran signed a one year $16M deal.  If the Red Sox chose not to top that offer for a hitter they "wanted badly", then you can believe they will not throw big bucks at the top DH in the free agent market, Edwin Encarnarcion.  Dave Dombrowski said they would like a lefty bat to replace Papi's, but the market is now flooded with right handed power hitters along in age: Jose Bautista, Chris Carter, Mike Napoli, Matt Holliday, Mark Trumbo head the list.  If DD really wants a left handed bat Pedro Alvarez is on the market as well.  Many teams who want one of these FA hitters may wait and wait trying to get one of them at a reduced rate, maybe even waiting until late January.

The pitching free agent market is barren. Any starting pitcher for the back of the rotation or near the front will come from the trade market.

Speaking of the trade mart, many observers expect very heated trade activity because of the free agent market which, other than those veteran DH types, does not offer much.

Here are some teams the Red Sox could deal with:

1. Tigers. Detroit GM Al Avila has publicly stated the Tigers are looking to cut salary by trading more than one of their stars. These names rumored to be available to varying degrees include: JD Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Jordan Zimmerman, Francisco Rodriguez, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander ,   and yes Miguel Cabrera.  But the Tigers are not in a full salary dump mode, they still intend to contend. Some have speculated the Sox dealing for Verlander and Miggy would fill two needs.  But with Verlander having 3 years left at $28M per year, and Cabrera having around $220M left on his contract the Sox likely don't have the budget for them.  A more likely Tiger target for Boston would be Victor Martinez, who somewhat mimics what Carlos Beltran could give them.

2. Royals.  Royals closer Wade Davis makes $10M which could make him available.  There would be other suitors for sure, so the cost could be two very good prospects. The Royals, like the Tigers, while looking to deal a salary or two still hope to compete in 2017. There have been reports the Royals could have interest in Clay Buchholz.  Could Buch plus a Mauricio Dubon type prospect net Davis?

3. A's.  Last winter's red hot Sonny Gray rumors have nearly evaporated after a poor, somewhat injury hampered '16 for Gray.  But if the price is down from last winter, both Dombrowski and Billy Beane are known for not being shy about trading.  Left reliever Sean Doolittle could also catch Boston's eye.

4. Mets.  If Dombrowski is determined to get a lefty bat to DH, and wants someone who can play in the field sometimes the Mets have two: outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson.  The Mets would love to find a taker for Bruce as he played poorly for them after being acquired at last summer's trade deadline from Cincy.  But overall in 2016 Bruce hit 33 home runs despite a .250 BA. Most teams inquiring about the pair prefer Granderson, but either could add some punch at the Sox DH spot.

5. White Sox. I saved the best for last.  If my prediction of a slow Red Sox Winter Meetings unravels it may be with the other Sox as a trade partner.  Chris Sale.  That is the name you will hear more than any other this week.  Sale will not turn 28 until next March 30, he has a career ERA of 3.00, and struck out 1244 hitters in 1110 career innings.  And maybe best of all, Sale is signed through 2019 for a total of $38M. He is available as the White Sox are hoping to rebuild and are very rightfully so are asking for the moon.  Because it needs to be a team with a fertile farm system, the list of contenders seem to be in no particular order: Braves, Nats, Rangers, Astros,  Dodgers, Red Sox and maybe the Yankees.  The main question is do the White Sox deal Sale to the highest bidder or do they hold on to him if none of the offers suit them.

For Boston to acquire Chris Sale the package likely has to include at least four (MAYBE three) of the following: Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada, Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Rodriguez, Blake Swihart, Michael Kopech, Rafael Devers.  Most often the rumors start with JBJ and one of the two super prospects (Benintendi or Moncada), Rodriguez, and Swihart. But in reality if the Sox include JBJ they will keep Benintendi to play center. Nor would they include both of AB and Moncada.

The other factor that could determine Boston's interest at all or the package they are willing to offer, is can they acquire someone besides Sale in the trade?  There are at least three available White Sox players who can help fill Bosox needs. First is closer David Robertson, who was at one time was the 8th inning guy for the Yankees.  He could plug the 8th inning hole Dombrowski has admitted he is looking to fill. Another is 1B-DH Jose Abreu, who has big time power.  And the Red Sox were very interested in Abreu when he came from Cuba, only to be slightly outbid by Chicago.  If the Red Sox decide to pursue another third baseman, Todd Frazier, another home run hitter is available.

I actually think the most likely current Chicago player to be in Ft. Myers with Boston for spring training is Robertson.  But here is one interesting trade proposal I read recently ( note this is not a rumor just a trade package thrown out there by a reporter): Moncada, Eduardo Rodriguez, Swihart, and Michael Kopech for Sale and Abreu. I would be hesitant to deal Moncada for anyone and  if they could rework the back of package to include someone other than Kopech, this one intrigues me.

*******************************************************************************

As the meetings commence any hot Red Sox rumors will be added to this post.  It is the most wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

It's On to 2017 Part Two

We will pick up on the state of Red Sox position by position around the roster before the winter meetings arrive in  a couple of weeks.

OUTFIELD

LF Andrew Benintendi
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
RF Mookie Betts
OF Chris Young
U/OF Brock Holt
Bryce Brentz
?? Yoan Moncada

Recently during the General Managers Meetings in Arizona Sox boss Dave Dombrowski succinctly summed up the state for the Red Sox starting outfield listed above: "entrenched for a long time".
Despite the likelihood of other teams asking for Benintendi or the never dying rumor of JBJ being the centerpiece of a Chris Sale trade (with Benintendi taking over center field), it is very, very doubtful Dombrowski will break up his self described entrenched outfield.  Having a major league caliber defensive center fielder manning all three garden spots can only be a big positive for Boston going forward. Especially when all three can also be All Star caliber offensive assets as well.

Chris Young is nearly as entrenched for another year as the fourth outfielder who can rake lefties especially.  Brock Holt can fill in from time to time in his utility role as well.  Brentz showed he could be a capable platoon outfielder in a brief mid-2016 cameo, but his days in the Boston system will likely end before spring training rolls around.

Yoan Moncada is thrown in here as more of a long range outside possibility.  There are some scouts who feel Moncada cannot play either second or third well enough for the big leagues and will end up as an outfielder.  I am not sure if I buy this, but if ever did come to fruition down the road, that is when JBJ could be dealt, but not this winter.

STARTING ROTATION

David Price
Rick Porcello
Eduardo Rodriguez
Clay Buchholz
Drew Pomeranz
Steven Wright
Henry Owens
Brian Johnson
Roenis Elias
Michael Kopech

Despite those Chris Sale rumors mentioned above, Dombrowski seemingly threw a big bucket of cold water on Sale (or any other name starting pitcher)being acquired in this hot stove season.  Several Dave D. quotes again from the Arizona bases GM meetings included: "Starting pitching not much of a priority", " I would be surprised if we traded for a starter", " We are not in the market for a starter, because of the six guys we all ready have".  Let me remind you last winter Dombrowski was very forthright with the Sox needs he looked to fill.Take Dave at his word, the Red Sox are not adding a starting pitcher of any renown.

Your definite front three are David Price, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez.  When Porcello won the Cy Young Award this past week, he made a telling comment, admitting how much pitching in Boston bothered him his first year, 2015.  And Porcello is not the first to rebound in recent years with Josh Beckett and John Lackey being two other notable cases.  If David Price follows that path and shines in 2017 ( and that is a very strong possibility) this could take any pressure of Porcello to repeat his Cy campaign.But since Porcello only turns 28 two days after Christmas, he should still have several prime years ahead of him. And Rodriguez, who turns 24 on April 7 next spring, now has the better part of two MLB seasons under his belt and is a strong candidate to blossom.

The other three starters: Clay Buchholz, Drew Pomeranz, and Steven Wright will compete for the last two rotation spots with the odd man out holding a bullpen job.  Due to the nearly total lack of starting pitchers in the free agent market this winter, there is some speculation teams may coming asking for Buchholz.  If Boston was overwhelmed with an offer the may move Buch, but with only the three younger lefties (Owens, Johnson, Elias) as depth I think Dombrowski hangs on to everyone through the winter at least.

Kopech, who was dominating at times in the Arizona Fall League, will begin 2017 as the top of the rotation starter for the Portland Sea Dogs.  Kopech will be making his AA debut, so a big league appearance in 2017 is far from a lock.  But if Kopech treats the Eastern League at age 21 the way he did the AFL, he could see Boston next year.  Remember this about Dave Dombrowski, he is not afraid of bringing quality young starters to the big leagues.  In 2009, after only one minor league season, Dombrowski and the Tigers put their 2007 first rounder in their rotation at age 20.  That pitcher was Rick Porcello.

BULLPEN

Craig Kimbrel
Joe Kelly
Matt Barnes
Heath Hembree
Robbie Ross Jr.
Fernando Abad
Carson Smith
Brandon Workman

Three names not listed from the 2016 are three pitchers who are now free agents : Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler, and Junichi Tazawa.  Tazawa has been worked by the Red Sox over his career like a rented mule, and barring a major surprise his days in Boston are over.  Thank you Junichi for the big outs over the years, especially striking out Miguel Cabrera in the 2013 ALCS.

As the season ended in 2016, most observers felt the Red Sox would like to bring both Koji and the recently acquired Ziegler back as bullpen depth. Many felt Ziegler would rather find a closing job elsewhere, but if not both he and Koji would be open to a return.

Either these speculations were wrong or something has changed.  Again from the GM meetings, no direct quotes but every Boston beat writer was reporting "no enthusiasm" to bring back any of the free agents.  Instead Dombrowski talked about a power arm, shut down type pitcher needed to pitch eighth innings in front of incumbent closer Craig Kimbrel. There are major free agent closers on the market, but they are not coming to Boston ( or anywhere else) to pitch eighth innings and not close.  Names heard most often are two stalwarts of recent championship Royals bullpens: Greg Holland     ( as a free agent) and Wade Davis ( who is reportedly available in trade).

If the Red Sox get fortunate they may have an in house set up man for Kimbrel.  The pitcher who was acquired a year ago: Carson Smith.  Smith who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, is expected back in June or July.  That alone would be a great mid season boost. But the Arizona air must have made Dave Dombrowski talkative, because while holding court at the GM meetings, Dombrowski opined Smith being ready for Opening Day was not out of the question.

Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes both throw in the high 90's and could be the needed eighth inning guys.  Kelly was finally assigned to the bullpen after Boston trying to make him a starter for two years.  Kelly was very effective in his late season audition.  Barnes had an up and down 2016 as he also converted full time to relieving, but also finished well late in the year.

Hembree will be out of options in 2017, so he will make the Sox pen or have to be traded.  Workman after missing nearly all of 2015 and 2016 could be a surprise contributor if healthy.

Ross Jr., Abad, and former Indy ball pitcher, Robbie Scott will compete for one or two spots for a lefty. Abad, in particular, needs to be used strictly as a lefty on lefty specialist if he has any hope of helping.

Soon the winter meetings will be upon us.  As they near we will discuss the Sox Hot Stove rumors more in depth.  But as an early prediction, I think the Sox will be relatively quiet, adding the needed bullpen arm and some type of DH. Neither may be a big name addition.