SoSH Red Sox Chat 7/29/16

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While the Sons of Sam Horn staff works to bring you the best it can on a daily basis, we also enjoy talking about baseball. So we thought we would share with you what we discussed just a couple days before the trade deadline in our first SoSH Red Sox chat.

Lou Brown: Should the Red Sox be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? We gathered together the experts of SoSH Baseball since they chat all the time about baseball. Here’s one recent conversation, about the looming trade deadline.

Even though this series vs. DET has been a disaster, I still think this team can make the playoffs and do damage in October.

And I don’t think Dave Dombrowski wants to sell in his first year at the helm – sends a bad message to the fans.

But a bad weekend in Anaheim and it might make sense to punt and see what can be gotten for assets like Koji and Brad Ziegler.

Tony Kosinski: Agreed, I don’t think selling is an option unless they have a disastrous West Coast trip. The more interesting question is, should this team just stand pat? With Wright struggling recently, I’m not sure anything short of a bona fide ace really moves the needle on this team’s chances of winning the World Series.

Lou: I think with an offense like this one, you can hope for them to all get hot at the same time, which makes any pitching look good.

But standing pat would frustrate the fans, I think. If you aren’t going to “sell”, you have to do something even if that something is an Alejandro De Aza type move.

Rick Rowand: And with them, according to Dombrowski, not willing to give up Benintendi, Moncada, Devers, or Kopech, they won’t be able to bring in a bona fide ace. the floor for trading for pitchers is quite high. I don’t want them to trade any of those four either.

In my opinion, the offense is fine. every team is going to have games when they score three or less runs a game.

The main problem to me is still the pen, but Kimbrel’s, fingers crossed, return in a week or so will move everyone down a spot to where they should be and to where they are more comfortable in their role.

Tony: A league average left fielder that can bump Holt to a super utility role would have a lot of value with the number of games and the number of road games they have in August and September.

Rick: Yes it would, Tony. And , the starters must do better to take pressure off both the ‘pen and the offense.

Tony: If they can acquire a LF cheaply with minimal long term commitment that would be worth pursuing

Rick: Or if they decide that Benintendi is ready and bring him up prior to September.

Tony: Yes please!

Rick: Which I don’t think they will do.

Ian York: I don’t think the Detroit series tells us anything we didn’t already know. Sox starters are not terribly strong, and they gave up a bunch of runs to Miggy & crew; that doesn’t surprise me

Lou: Rick – why not? Starting the service clock, not ready for prime-time, or some other reason?

Rick: They haven’t moved him prior to him playing 60 games at each level, and please correct me if I’m wrong on that number.

Lou: Ian, do you think there’s reason to think that the heat/humidity was a factor in Wright’s performance as Farrell alluded to in his press conference?

Ian: The Red Sox record on bringing up exciting young prospects has been abysmal.

Lou: Pressure of performing in Boston, small sample size, or just bad luck?

Rick: I don’t think they’ll change their MO

Ian: Wright has said that even a minor drizzle doesn’t mess up his knuckleball, it’s only a factor if it’s soaking and he can’t dry his hands off on his uniform. So I don’t know that the humidity can be blamed

Lou: Rick – developmental process / policy being more important to the long-term health of the player and the system than the short-term benefit of “rushing” someone?

Rick: And the rosin bag will keep your hand dry

Ian: I don’t know what the problem with bringing rookies up has been, but I do think there has been a problem, and wouldn’t want to subject Benitendi to it unless there’s no choice

September callup when the rosters expand is one thing, but depending on him to perform right out of the box is dangerous

Lou: I think playing at Fenway is intimidating. Despite the minor league parks trying to look, they can’t give players “the feel” – and the bright lights are very bright.

I think it might be easier to incorporate young players in the spring, when they can get used to the look of Jet Blue Park and get to know their teammates before being subjected to the big stage – and the expectations of the fan base

Ian: Back to Sox pitching – the Sox pitchers kept the team in the game for two of three games David Price and  EdRod – giving up four runs, with this offense, is not a terrible thing.

Lou: Tony, do you think they’re playing poorly and likely to keep playing poorly in Anaheim, or do you think this recent stretch is more “bad luck” and “the way things go” in a long season?

Ian, what do you think of the theory that Price will “get better as the season wears on” given his career track record?

Ian: My feeling is that these were three bad luck games.

I don’t know what to think about Price. I think he’s been better than the box score shows, but not as good as he could be.

So I can see him improving a little throughout the year, but I’m not counting on him to suddenly be a 150 ERA+ pitcher for the rest of the season. Above average, sure; ace, maybe not

I’m more optimistic about him being an ace again in coming years, though.)

Lou: Why is that?

Ian: Basically his track record the past few years.

With no injuries to point to, I still think he should be able to put together more of those years.

So why not this year? You know I always hate psychological explanations, but I think he’s just trying too hard this year, and needs a little off time to decompress.

Lou: How do you guys see left field playing out? Chris Young should start a rehab assignment in a week or two, and Swihart is ramping up baseball activities, do you think they’re enough? At what point do they turn towards Benintendi?

Rick: Those are the other reasons I don’t see Benintendi getting called up before the normal callups in September

Ian: Agree with Rick. At the very least they’ll give Young the opportunity to continue his unexpectedly hot offense

And if he flounders, Swihart may be ready to take his turn. If both of them are pumpkins, it will just about be September anyway

Rick: And I went back to look up the number on him. Benintendi played 54 games in 2015 between low-A and High-A. In 2016 he’s played in 94 games between Salem and Portland this season. He had a really slow start in Portland but has adapted to the higher level very well and is now hitting a very respectable .281/.343/.475

And if they are still in the midst of a hot playoff run, that would really be throwing him in the fire

Tony: I don’t think their 2-5 record against the Twins and Tigers on this home stand is anything more than bad luck. But I also don’t think this team is any better than where they are right now – a fringe playoff team.

Rick: Now, if it looks like they are out of it after this trip, I could see them bringing him up to get a taste of big boy baseball. But that’s really the only way we see him in Fenway before September this year

One thing we all need to remember: The expectations almost everyone had for this team going into the season

If I recall correctly, that was to maybe, just maybe make the playoffs as a wild card team

Ian: Tony, I think that’s a very fair rating. They’re marginal for the playoffs. But as Rick says, that’s a big step forward from the past couple years

Damian Dydyn: I think the Sox are buyers, but not in the traditional sense. I think Dombrowski is posturing with the leak about not moving Moncada, Benintendi, Kopech, or Devers so I think he’ll be looking to buy, but more for the next two years than this year. So no catcher, no left fielder, no additional bullpen help. But if Sale or (more likely) Quintana can be had for two of the above four not named Moncada plus some young major league names like Swihart and Eduardo Rodriguez, I think they’ll pull the trigger.

Ian: Offense has been far better than anyone hoped; pitching has been somewhat worse.

And that’s exactly what we saw in the Detroit series.

Rick: I still don’t see them moving Benintendi with them having him play primarily LF now, they likely see him as the future in left as early as next season if he keeps hitting the way he has been. Can you imagine the OF defense with three center fielders playing out there?

As for Young. Hamstrings are about the worst non-fracture, non-surgical injury a player can have because they almost always recur. Look at Teixeira.

And I really can’t think of a worse time for these West Coast trips to be happening

Justin Gorman: I think the Sox are buyers, but the market prices on their needs are far, far too high. I think they’re done buying – they gave up a very highly regarded prospect in Espinoza for Pomeranz, and that was probably a pretty fair price. Espinoza also represented a very high risk in many ways, higher than Moncada, Benintendi, or Devers (but maybe not Kopech). The 2017 free agent class on starting pitching is hot garbage and everyone knows it, so teams will be asking for astronomical returns for any starters. I think they are technically buyers, but unless the player or players they get in return are off the charts valuable, they stand pat with what they have. Adding anything short of a superstar does not bump them above a fringe playoff team, so perhaps that’s just how they cruise in – as a wild card team. Give Papi one more playoff notch in his belt, Farrell probably gets canned, and then they start the year next year with the most solid, young group of offensive players in recent memory.

Brandon Magee: The Red Sox are not going to be sellers even if they get swept by the Angels. But, that is largely a function of the team they have. Who do they have to actually trade that isn’t a part of next year’s future? Clay Buchholz?

The Twins losses hurt more than the Detroit losses. Minnesota is not a good team. And the Red Sox lost in just painful ways. Michael Martinez may never be seen again after his complete failure in the outfield on that “triple.” However, to come back twice to the Tigers only to give up the lead late. That just stings.

The Red Sox aren’t going to be buyers either. They’ve already done their buying. They’ve brought in four new faces with three of them being directly useful (Ziegler, Pomeranz, and Hill) and Martinez being tangentially useful in that it put Marco Hernandez back in AAA where he can play regularly. Sure, a better left fielder than Brock Holt would be nice… but I don’t see the Red Sox willing to pay the price for the upgrade.

It’s not just about this upcoming 11-game road trip. It’s about the fact that the Red Sox have only 22 games left at Fenway the rest of the year. They still have more games on the road (41) than they have played (40). The fact that they are better than average thus far on the road (21-19) does not bring much solace that they can actually keep themselves in a playoff spot. At least they face the Angels first as they are under .500 at home. Of course, they’ve also won 7 of their last 10 coming into Thursday’s night game… so the Red Sox may be hitting them at the wrong time.

The wild card race is going to go down to the final day… and I’m not sure the Red Sox will be there at the end. With the exception of St. Louis, who are somehow 11 games over .500 on the road and five games under .500 at home, no team in baseball is more than six games over .500 on the road. So, let’s say the Sox hold serve the rest of the year on the road, going 21-20 on the road the rest of the way. That gives them 76 wins. What is it going to take to get the last playoff spot? If it’s 90, the Red Sox would need to go 14-8 at home the rest of the way. And that’s against the Yankees (twice), Baltimore, Toronto, and Kansas City who are all in the mix for the same playoff goal. Sure, they might be able to beat up on Tampa Bay and Arizona… but they should have been able to beat up on Minnesota and didn’t.

Damian: I disagree, Brandon. They just had a really bad stretch and look awful, but you are never as bad as your latest losing streak, or as good as your latest hot streak. The heavy road schedule is probably going to sink any hopes of winning the division, but this team is too talented to not be in the wild card hunt, barring some significant poor injury luck. They may miss the playoffs, but they will in the hunt down the stretch.

Tony: Another possible buy at the deadline is for a just above replacement level starting pitcher. Their sixth starter is buchholz and their 7th starter, I can’t even name.

Brandon: But, who Tony? Again, most teams are feasibly still in the hunt. And… the seventh starter, assuming O’Sullivan doesn’t come back, is probably Roenis Elias or William Cuevas. Not exciting, for sure.

I don’t expect the Red Sox to sink completely… but I also think that they have a lot of regression candidates offensively. Sandy Leon is already starting to regress. Holt we know doesn’t do great starting everyday. And then there are the injury concerns. Holt again. Ortiz who runs about as fast as a car with a dead battery. And, when the offense goes cold, the Red Sox lose. They don’t have team pitching that can keep the opposition from scoring a few runs.

I think when the Red Sox host Toronto in the last series of the regular season… the Red Sox will be out of the race. I’m just not feeling a good vibe.

Tony: I honestly don’t know who. I’m just identifying a need that this team has.

Brandon: I agree on the need. I just don’t see a trade partner.

At least not at the prices the Red Sox are willing to pay.

Damian: They also have some positive regression candidates. Price is a huge one. His strikeout, walk, and home run rates are all right where you’d expect them to be coming into the season – and his FIP and xFIP are still pretty good. Kimbrel, even without the injury, was a candidate for improvement as well. You also have Eduardo Rodriguez and the entire fifth starter slot that are very likely to improve going forward. If they get mostly healthy Augusts and Septembers from Koji and Tazawa, you’re already looking at a hugely improved bullpen, too.

So yeah, the offense is probably going to regress, but the pitching is very likely to balance that.

Rick: KC is in sell mode

Justin: And they have the luxury of having a great closer under control, and can fetch a huge haul or keep on with Davis

Rick: When I do stuff like this I push my fandom to the rear and try to think like a GM and be rational.

And think up to three years down the road

Damian: I wonder if KC fans are calling for Ned Yost’s head, yet. Clearly, his title run was a fluke.

Brandon: I actually think people are surprised how rational Dombrowski has been in this trade deadline as compared to the myth that surrounds him.

Tony: You’re more optimistic than I, Brandon. I know he said he wasn’t gonna trade the top four, I’m still scared.

Rick: When Kimbrel returns the pen going backwards should be: Kimbrel>Zeigler/Tazawa>Barnes/Tazawa>Ross – who can slot into different spots based on the hitter(s)>cannon fodder AKA Kelly or Buchholz

Tony: That’s a good pen as long as Tazawa is effective

Rick: Yep, the good thing is they have people to fill mutiple rolls depending on usage. Zeigler can always slot into closer if Kimbrel is tired.

Justin: And Barnes is a bona fide setup guy now.

Tony: Yup – we are all now better acquainted with Matthew Barnes.


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Featured image courtesy of Timothy Tai/Boston Globe.

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