Sunday, April 22, 2012

What can Ben Cherington do--right away

I posed this question on Saturday's game thread after another debacle and horrific loss.  The following are a number of generic reactions by a MLB general manager who has a team that is going south fast.  After each action I briefly discuss how this response fits the current Red Sox situation.

1. Stand Pat.  There are at least three reasons why this response fits the current Sox scenario. The ongoing "it is still too early to panic" theory.  The sample size though disappointingly resembling last September is still only 14 games of 162.  The next reason for doing nothing now, is to hold on until the injured stars return,  Crawford in two weeks or so, Dice-K in mid-late May, Ellsbury and Bailey hopefully by June and July respectively.  The third reason and perhaps the most compelling reason to more or less stand pat is the timing.  Very difficult to find a trade partner of any consequence in April or even early May ( this will be referenced again more than once below).

2. Shuffle the deck chairs. In other words make some moves to help the big league club from within the organization.  As far as bullpen help, the candidates at Pawtucket include Aaron Cook, Brandon Duckworth, Alex Wilson, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, Ross Ohlendorf, and bringing back Mark Melancon. One kid ( Wilson ) who should have more AAA innings and a collection of vets rehabbing physical, mechanical or emotional issues.  Bringing in Marlon Byrd for now MAY alleviate the OF depth issue, but Che-Hsuan Lin is the only real healthy option if another OF is needed, unless they want to give Lars Anderson a look in LF.

Unfortunately, the three guys everyone is clamoring for play positions where there is less of a clear opening, or there is a question if any of the three are completely ready.  I am talking about Will Middlebrooks (3B), Ryan Lavarnway ( C ), and shortstop Jose Iglesias.  Middlebrooks would take a DL stint or benching of Youkilis, Lavarnway would need a release of  Shoppach or sending Salty back to AAA ( and according to a report I heard yesterday on Comcast he does have an option left ). Iggy would require making Aviles a utility guy and cutting Punto or MacDonald.

At this time, I suspect a bullpen move or two is likely.  But I think Ben holds off on any or the positional players unless Youk does go to the DL, then you will see Middlebrooks who is cremating AAA  with 7 HRs all ready this April,

3. Scan waiver wire/make small deals.  The first deal(s) to look for must be bullpen help.  These deals would be the ilk of the Marlon Byrd deal.  This would include looking for veteran help or looking for a guy who has just been squeezed off a roster like Bowden was here. or maybe some guy who is AAA for some other club as depth. Nothing earth shattering, but just give the pen a new arm.

4. Make a medium sized trade.  This would be an attempt to bring a closer or strong setup type to help right away.  Off the top of my head maybe Brett Meyers, Huston Street, Matt Thornton, or K-Rod. Hopefully maybe someone even better than those guys.  Again the problem with this is timing. As mentioned above very hard to find a trade partner  only 15 games or so in.  Another important question is who would you trade in a "medium" size deal.  With the exception of Milwaukee's K-Rod, all of the names I threw out are on teams that would want prospects, probably at least two.  Who on the current 25 man roster could be dealt in a potential substantial but not a blockbuster deal.  I came up with these candidates: Youkilis ( would have been a blockbuster a year or two ago, but his trade value has to be low if not non existent due to injuries), Ross, Saltalamachhia, Sweeney, Aviles( who reportedly was coveted by the Phils this spring as a Utley fill-in), and maybe Aceves or Melancon ( if it was a NL team, and he was packaged with someone else).

I think the timing issue prevents from happening for a month or so at the earliest.

5. Make a blockbuster/shake up the clubhouse type deal.  In the days before such big contracts and no trade clauses this was a common way to shake some life into a team.  I will again mention the mid-April timing problem ( here more than anywhere above), but more interestingly, who would be on the list to leave town. Youkilis and Salty being mentioned above leaves the following " big name" players: Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, and Felix Doubront ( who maybe should have been included in #4 rather than here.)  Out of that list who in the hell do you trade?? Ortiz and Beckett have 10/5 rights and therefore cannot be traded with their consent.  Crawford and Ellsbury need to recover from injuries first, although if Ellsbury is back by June 1st and plays well, since his contract is up after 2013 and is a Boras client he could be a possibility at the July 31 deadline. Pedroia would cause riots in the street it seems.  Bard and Doubront are young, cost controlled and quite a ways away from free agency.

To me that leaves Gonzalez, Beckett ( despite needing his consent), Buchholz, and Lester.  Remember we were talking blockbuster, and further remember I am not necessarily advocating this. I am just giving a Red Sox spin on the standard team changing options. There would a reason to move each of the four, over and above the fact you should get a multi player package in return.  Beckett to remove a chicken and beer guy, Buchholz while he is still young enough to attract attention, but is he recovered to be the near ace we hope for,  Lester again is he an ace?? and he would bring the most return I assume.  And Gonzalez is all ready getting from some quarters the " he is soft and does not hit in the clutch" sentiment.  His contract would limit his market somewhat.

This option also fits for the let's blow this up and start over crowd.

This will not happen in April, but tune back in for June or July.

6. Fire the manager.  This has all ready been hashed over and will be again I am sure elsewhere on the blog.  But for now, let's just say this is a time honored, long standing baseball remedy to a team going badly. It happens with justification or not.  Again, I do not expect this in April, and mostly likely does not come under the category of What Would Ben Do? because if the manager is fired it will come from above the GM's chair.

In conclusion, limited options for now, but there are some options.  If anyone has other ideas, let's kick them around.


  1. Deacon Art,

    Great points all around. I am tending to lean towards your, "Move the Deck Chairs Around/Waver Wire" options. I feel like anything more than that would be seen as either reacting for the sake of reacting, or a panic move by a young GM, who in all honesty has the specter of Larry Lucchino. This is a chance for Cherrington to make some small savvy moves, that is if Lucchino can relinquish some of his control and allow Cherrington to be the true GM. Even then, if Bobby V is "their guy" then perhaps he needs some more say in player movement and acquisition. If memory serves, one famous New England coach once said, "If you want me to make the dinner, allow me to go shopping for the groceries."

  2. Great overview of the Red Sox early season options here. Unfortunately, like you said, there is not a lot you can do in the middle of April. It may be time however to shake up the bullpen. Put Tazawa in Padilla middle relief role. Send down or DFA Thomas and Albers. Call up two out of the following: Duckworth, Ohlendorf, Wilson and Miller (Hill as soon as he's ready). I know that Duckworth and Ohlendorf are starting at Pawtucket, but I would call them up and put them in the bullpen. They can't be any worse than what we've got now.

    Padilla may very well be tradeable for another pitcher of similar ability. Does anyone know how Clayton Mortensen is doing in the minors? He's the guy they got for Scutaro. Maybe he can be a bullpen option.

    I agree with J-Rod, right now they are going to have to improve from within or depend waiver wire type moves. If they are still in last place a month from now then we may be looking at a different option called a "youth movement". I also agree with J-Rod that this is an opportunity for Cherington to show some mettle and make a couple of "savvy" moves.

    Lastly, what this team needs right now is to go on the road and get out of the pressure cooker of Fenway Park and Boston. That might help them relax a little and perhaps even start to bond as a team. Hopefully they can get this thing turned around in Minnesota.

  3. I hate to keep agreeing here, but I'm with J-Rod and Barry. With the acquisition of Byrd, they have done all they can for the time being with the lineup, unless Youk does go on the DL. For now, I agree we should plug Tazawa into the 6-7 inning role previously held by Padilla. I still think Padilla can be effective in our pen. I think Tazawa, Aceves, Morales, Padilla, and dare I say Scratch my Atchison should be the only ones left in the pen this time next week. Dump Thomas and Albers and call up Ohlendorf and Miller.

    I think Barry makes a great point about needing to get away from Fenway. It will help them to not have that pressure literally on top of them in their dugout. I will also help Valentine to know every time he steps out of the dugout, he doesn't have to get cascaded with boos. Good timing for a rainout tonight. Go on the road tomorrow and start playing some lesser competition.

    One other note, a tweet I saw earlier today said the Red Sox and Cardinals once again reached out to Roy Oswalt recently. That might add some depth to the pitching staff, but I'm not through the roof about adding an over-the-hill middle of the rotation starter at this point.

  4. Barry, in answer to your Clayton Mortensen question, he has pitched 6 2/3 innings at Pawtucket with 1 win, 1 loss, and 1 save. His ERA is 1.35. He definitely should have been on the bullpen candidates list. By the way, who do you think is happier about tonight's rainout: Bobby Valentine or Terry Francona? Tito would have been in a very touch situation being required to comment on and analyze this game, especially if it went bad for Boston.

  5. It's a coin flip as to who is more thankful for the rainout. I was actually looking forward to hearing how Tito was going to tackle that issue, but I'm sure he wasn't looking forward to it. I'm sure he would have dodged the questions in typical Tito fashion.

    Mortensen's stats look pretty good even though it's a small sample size. He could be an option as well and he is on the 40 man roster so maybe he gets a crack before Ohlendorf or Duckworth.

  6. As mentioned above as a possible roster move, the Sox have recalled Lars Anderson to replace the disabled Jason Repko. So they have replaced Nate Spears and Jason Repko with Lars and Marlon Byrd. That has to be an upgrade. Now I hope the Sox stick Anderson in LF for the next few games. But at minimum it'll give them a better late inning pinch hitter than Nick Punto.

  7. Here is another perspective on Will Middlebrooks in the yahoo baseball minor league report;_ylt=Ao61HNCbWqAjTK0mj8mymJe5bZ8u