Red Sox

Dave Dombrowski "happy" with Red Sox roster despite bullpen concerns

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Dave Dombrowski "happy" with Red Sox roster despite bullpen concerns

The Boston Red Sox don't have a closer with spring training about to begin, but the architect of the team's roster still feels pretty good about where things stand.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski didn't add any marquee free agents to his roster over the winter, and he has yet to find a replacement for star closer Craig Kimbrel, who remains unsigned on the free agent market. However, Dombrowski is content with the group that will open the 2019 season.

"We are happy with where our roster is," Dombrowski said Monday on NESN's "Red Sox From Fort Myers" show. "We're in a position where, basically, positonal player-wise we have the same club back. Starting pitching-wise we really have everybody back. Bullpen, of course, is the one area which will get a lot of discussion and I'm sure will be focused on by people. But we like a lot of our arms and a lot of our people out there. But basically the club is back -- we know we should have a good club unless something happens where you get decimated by injury but you hope that never takes place. We have the foundation of having a good club, and I think they'll be prepared to come back and battle and see if we can try to repeat."

Plenty of star players are still available in free agency, including Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel and Kimbrel. The chances of the Red Sox signing any of those players are pretty small, however.

"I would say we're exploring, but not big-name free agents," Dombrowski said. "They're more apt to be a big-league invite on a minor-league contract to try to come in and compete. Of course, we'll scout during spring training. That'll be one of our focuses, our bullpen people with other organizations. But the reality is every club has an area you're probably going to address, that's the one area with ours that sticks out. But we like our people in camp, and we think they can do the job for us."

Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Thornburg and perhaps Steven Wright are among the best in-house options to be Boston's next closer. The job definitely is open entering spring training, and it could be that way into the regular season as Red Sox manager Alex Cora gets a feel for who does a good job handling the pressure of the ninth inning. 

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Eduardo Rodriguez hype is real, but one specific area of the southpaw's game needs improvement

Eduardo Rodriguez hype is real, but one specific area of the southpaw's game needs improvement

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Oftentimes, hype doesn’t translate into results. But there’s plenty of reason to believe the preseason hype surrounding Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez will.

Rodriguez has been the star of camp so far this spring. The hard-throwing southpaw has been working with ace Chris Sale on his slider, and it’s turned his live batting practice sessions into must-watch events.

"Eddie looks great, man,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on Tuesday. "Eddie's working a slider now. He understands who he is a little more. The work he put in the offseason is paying off -- repeating his delivery. You ask any of those guys, and everybody was watching -- I think he's kind of like the favorite pitcher of the whole camp. When he throws live BPs everybody is out there watching.”

Cora also said at the beginning of camp that Rodriguez is “in the best shape of his life.” You hear that a lot about a number of players this time of year, but when you see E-Rod up close and personal, you’ll know it isn’t all talk.

Also raving about the 25-year-old is Red Sox great Pedro Martinez, who called Rodriguez’s live BP on Tuesday “one of the most impressive” he’s seen, and “beautiful to watch.”

⚾️ SPRING TRAINING 2019

The question with Rodriguez — once Boston’s top pitching prospect after being acquired from Baltimore — isn’t whether he has the “stuff” to be a frontline starter. His mid-90s fastball along with a changeup that bewilders left-handed batters speaks for itself. Combine those with a slider that looks to be improving this spring, and Rodriguez could be on track to set career highs in a handful of categories just as he did last season.

Where the problem lies for Rodriguez is his inability to consistently pitch deep into games. In 2018, he pitched six innings or more in only eight of his 23 starts. Not once did he pitch through the seventh. An ankle injury suffered in July likely played a factor during the second half of the season, but early exits have been an issue throughout the Venezuelan’s young career.

In fact, both Cora and Rodriguez acknowledged the lefty's struggles with early exits last June.

“I feel there’s more there,” Cora said after Rodriguez pitched 5 2/3 innings versus Baltimore. “There’s certain games we need our starters to go deeper, and today was one of them. He gave us what he gave, but I think the next step is for him to get through six, seven innings. And he can do that.”

“That’s not a really good feeling for a starting pitcher,” Rodriguez said after the start. “You just need to keep working. It’s going to come one day, but I’ve just got to keep working to try to get deep into games.”

⚾️ SPRING TRAINING 2019

There’s still plenty of untapped potential with Rodriguez. If what we’ve seen this spring is any indication of what’s to come, Red Sox fans are in for a treat. 

But as impressive he’s been during live BP, and as nasty as his reinvented slider has looked, Rodriguez needs to show it can not only be carried over to the regular season, but that it can be done for six or seven innings consistently.

If he can do that, look out. The hype exists for a reason.

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MLB Odds: Red Sox not even favored to win AL East as defending champs

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MLB Odds: Red Sox not even favored to win AL East as defending champs

The Boston Red Sox are the defending World Series champions, but oddsmakers aren't even picking them to win the American League East in 2019.

The New York Yankees are the current favorites to win the division on the MLB futures odds. The Yanks did make a few improvements to their roster over the offseason with the additions of starting pitcher James Paxton and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but the Red Sox have brought back a large majority of the 2018 roster that won a franchise-record 108 games and beat three 100-win opponents in the postseason.

Rounding out the rest of the division odds are the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, in that order. The Blue Jays aren't expected to compete for a playoff spot this season, but the potential arrival of top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as a full-time major league player should be an exciting storyline to follow. 

The Orioles are destined for another last-place finish and are +8000 (!) to win the division. No other team in baseball has worse odds to win its division. 

Check out the latest odds for the 2019 AL East crown (via OddsShark):

New York Yankees: +100
Boston Red Sox: +120
Tampa Bay Rays: +900
Toronto Blue Jays: +1800
Baltimore Orioles: +8000

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