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!