Losers of five in a row, Red Sox hit the skates and it comes just at the wrong time
The timing couldn’t be worse, of course.
The Red Sox’s first four-game losing streak (and now five straight after Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to Detroit) of this season for the Red Sox comes in the wake of what can only be described as a disappointing deadline performance. exchanges from the Boston front office. .
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The Rays unceremoniously knocked out the Red Sox from the top spot in the American League East with a weekend sweep. The Blue Jays and Yankees treated their opponents the same. Boston has lost three league games against each team, and that only covers the tangible.
Nelson Cruz, Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo, Jose Berrios and Brad Hand, acquired by these contenders before the trade deadline, now compete directly with the Red Sox in the race for a division crown. Boston’s response came from Kyle Schwarber, Hansel Robles and Austin Davis – or, currently, an injured player and two indescribable relief pitchers.
Does main owner John Henry think his team are championship contenders in 2021? If actions do indeed speak louder than words, the answer would be a fairly obvious no. Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has yet to – or has been authorized to – truly unleash the power of a baseball operation backed by a $ 5.5 billion monolith in Fenway Sports Group.
Schwarber was nonsense at home in June, hitting 16 home runs in the last 19 games of the month with the Nationals. Prior to that, he had only totaled a .716 OPS in 51 games, which is lower than the .721 scored by Red Sox backup receiver Kevin Plawecki. Schwarber for his career falls somewhere in between these two versions, but don’t describe him as some sort of pivot to save programming.
As for Robles and Davis, let’s be honest. The Red Sox have taken money from the Twins in addition to the right-hander, a way to stay below the competitive balance tax this season. Davis, a left-hander, was dumped by the Pirates in the midst of what appears to be a lifelong rebuild. If you’re seriously thinking that either of these two options can get you through October, chances are you will be disappointed.
Boston took a modest approach with a 2019 squad that was ultimately going nowhere – acquiring fellow pitcher Andrew Cashner was nobody’s idea from go-to TV. The Red Sox had only needed a few nips and tucks the previous season, with their superstars and a deep starting rotation already dominating the league en route to a World Series crown. This pitching staff – ranked 20th among ERA starters – certainly could have used someone like Berrios, who has the potential to help both now and in the future.
To assume that Chris Sale will be the same pitcher as the 2017 version is both unfair to the southpaw himself and too auspicious in general. Dirty approaching two years since throwing a baseball in a Big League game, and whatever lift he gives the clubhouse with his presence alone, it will quickly fade if he is ineffective on the mound. Boston will almost certainly be a better team with Sale in the rotation, but they have at least three starters – Garrett Richards, Martin Perez and Eduardo Rodriguez – who cannot currently be trusted in any sort of must-play game.
How could the Red Sox have approached this differently? It might not have been possible. Bloom’s experience in a small market like Tampa Bay conditioned him to accumulate young players out of necessity. Henry currently supports this philosophy because it makes good business sense, and it’s something that you can apparently sell to a fan base in a large market much easier than it should be possible.
Perspectives represent the possibility, not the current reality. Health, fitness, problems off the pitch – they can all affect player development in some way. It’s not an easy or linear path to go through a system and become an impact contributor in the big leagues – and it doesn’t even address the sometimes barbaric conditions players have to endure in terms of low wages, poor housing and inadequate nutritional options.
Thanks to the good folks at SoxProspects.com, we can follow the last two decades in the club’s minor league ranks quite easily. There you will find hits like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts and many more. Boston has had quite a bit of success feeding its last four indoor championship teams.
You’ll also see names like Freddy Sanchez, Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish, Jay Groome, and Michael Chavis. At one point or another, they have all been identified as the best player in the Red Sox system. Kalish topped an April 2011 list that also included Anthony Ranaudo, Drake Britton, Stolmy Pimental, Oscar Tejada, Yamaico Navarro and Kolbrin Vittek in the top 10.
That’s not to say Boston should knock out its top five players every trade deadline and move them for the veterans. But it’s a reminder that selling when he’s cautious – like when the major league club is in contention and a 40-man roster is approaching into the offseason – may be the best bet.
That time, if it actually happened at the end of last week, is now over. The Red Sox, if they manage to regain their form in the first 103 games of the season, could still be a big factor until the fall. It’s just a little harder to see now.