Red Sox

Why the Red Sox shouldn't buy


Why the Red Sox shouldn't buy

Has it really been five days since Cody Rosss walk-off?

(Checks officially licensed, limited edition Fenway 100 wall calendar . . . )

Why yes. Yes it has. But Ill be damned if it feels like any fewer than 50. Of course, some of that has to do with all thats happened in the world around us. In the days since Rosss blast, weve seen the tragedy in Aurora, the removal of Joe Paternos statue and the punishment of Penn State football. Theres been enough news to fill an entire summer.

But even in a vacuum, what the Red Sox have accomplished in these five days is nothing short of remarkable. It usually takes them an entire month to drop this kind of disappointment on their fans.

On Thursday night, as Alfredo Aceves Gatorade shower rained down on home pate, the Sox were 48-45 and one game back in the wild card, with a three game set against the struggling Jays on the horizon. Today, theyre 48-49, back in the AL East basement and four games out of the wild card. To make matters worse, they have two more games against the Rangers, who have the second best record in baseball. Thats followed by three games against the Yankees, who have the best record in baseball. Then three games at home against the first place Tigers, who are 8-2 since the All Star Break and 13-2 in their last 15.

Lets be honest, this could get ugly. Its times like this when I thank God that I have the entire season of Red Sox Small Talk saved on my DVR. Thats about the only thing that could bring me out of this current depression.

And theres only one thing that could make it worse.

A trade.

But not just any trade. A dumb trade. A trade that might include names like Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley. Or even Ryan Kalish and Ryan Lavarnway. A trade that sacrifices the future of this club for the sake of the delusional present. A trade that screams: Were buyers! Were in this! Weve still got a shot!

First of all, let me just say that Im cool with the Sox doing nothing at the deadline. If they want to take a page from Danny Ainges playbook and roll the dice with what theyve got . . . OK, I get it. After all, the talent is there, and its not out of the realm of possibility that the Sox could go on a run that earns them a spot in the playoffs. Even if I wouldnt mind seeing them sell off a few of their more high profiles assets (i.e. sacrifice some of the present for the future), I understand if they dont want to be sellers.

But if theyre buyers. Well, thats a problem.

If the Sox are buyers, it will prove once again how out of touch ownership is with what their real fans want. It will show how stupid they think their fans really are. That they think they can just dangle Matt Garza or Josh Johnson in front of the Fenway faithful and we'll all giggle like an army of babies: "Ooooh! Aaaahhhhh!! Thank you, Fenway Sports Group!" That we're dumb enough to be distracted by the bright lights while losing sight of the big picture. That we don't understand the truth. Which is this:

It makes no sense for the Sox to buy at this year's deadline. Making a move that sacrifices their future in the name of winning now would be akin to doubling down on 13 when the dealer's showing 10. (The 10 being the Rangers, Yankees, Tigers and any number of other teams that are better suited to succeed down the stretch). Sure, there's a slight chance you draw that eight. But if so, that's luck. That's not sustainable. At some point that strategy will come back to bite you. And that's the best case scenario.

The more likely outcome is that you'll flat out bust. That you'll take a chance at the wrong time and make a bad situation worse. Then what happens on the next hand, when you're dealt an 11 and the dealer's showing six? When the odds are in your favor and reach into your pocket only to realize that you lost all your assets doubling down on 13?

Then what do you do?

Well, you do nothing. You're stuck. You shake your head, shrug your shoulders, look back and wonder: "Man, what the hell was I thinking?"

Let's hope that that's not how we remember the 2012 deadline. That for once, the Sox resist the temptation to serve their imaginary and misguided version of what fans really want and do the right thing.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.


The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.


Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.


A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.


We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.



Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers


Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.


Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel.