NBC Sports

Tomase: Red Sox are paying the price for an imperfectly-built roster

NBC Sports
Christian Arroyo

Putting tomatoes on your cereal doesn't make them versatile, but it will make your breakfast inedible.

Apparently the Red Sox need to learn this lesson, because their focus on roster flexibility has resulted in a second baseman losing lazy fly balls in right field and an outfielder turning himself into a pretzel on popups. Perhaps these are not the best uses of their considerable resources.

This is what aggravates me as the Red Sox finish the first half like they started it: getting jackhammered by the American League East.

It's not even about the losses. They never had a chance this week. No one replaces 80 percent of their rotation with Triple-A arms and expects to compete in baseball's beastliest division. Boston's best hope remains Nick Pivetta salvaging Sunday's finale vs. the Yankees before limping off to Tampa.

How Red Sox rotation will tie a 77-year-old record vs. Yankees on Saturday

There's no sense bemoaning that Josh Winckowski and Connor Seabold can't beat the best team in baseball. They're organizational depth, not saviors. Chaim Bloom stockpiled pitchers in Worcester with the idea of leaning on an arm here and there, not all at once.

So fine. The Red Sox can't survive the loss of Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha and Co. That's how it's supposed to work.

What's infuriating is everything else. In Thursday's loss to the Yankees, that meant Franchy Cordero letting a 53-foot pop fall directly behind him like it had been dropped off a building as the eventual winning run scored.

On Friday, it was Christian Arroyo, a second baseman by trade, throwing his arms up on a Joey Gallo flyball to right field that sailed 20 feet over his head. The best that can be said is he recovered in time to throw out Gallo before he could complete the inside-the-park homer.


I put neither of those plays on the players who botched them. They're the result of the front office leaving the roster just a little bit short this winter, which they've been trying to overcome ever since.

The popup to Cordero is what happens when you refuse to sign an actual first baseman for the third straight year. The Red Sox clearly believe anyone can play the position, but two years of third baseman Bobby Dalbec, outfielder-DH Kyle Schwarber, and now Cordero there have shown the holes in that logic.

If the Red Sox were expecting top prospect Triston Casas to arrive, they miscalculated, because he didn't look ready before being injured. And even if he had stayed healthy, why not cover yourselves with someone experienced?

That's called competition, and it's good for any roster. Nomar Garciaparra kicked All-Star John Valentin to second. Mookie Betts hurdled the high-flying Shane Victorino. Jonathan Papelbon made playoff hero Keith Foulke expendable. It is the circle of diamond life.

This winter makes less and less sense the more the season progresses. When the Red Sox signed Trevor Story to a six-year, $140 million contract -- a deal that looks good so far with Story playing Gold Glove defense and on pace for 30 homers -- they pushed themselves well over the $230 million luxury tax line.

No one's saying they should throw money around like the Mets, but why not spend a little more on a first baseman and a closer? They had already saved in the rotation by adding Michael Wacha and Rich Hill on the cheap.

Building for the future is great, but the future is now. There's a real chance next year's team won't include Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, and maybe even Rafael Devers.

John Tomase

Imagine if they had given All-Star closer Kenley Jansen the $16 million for one year that he took from the Braves. That's short money for a pitcher of his pedigree, and yes, I know he just went on the injured list with a recurrence of the irregular heart beat that sidelined him in Los Angeles.

If not Jansen, then how about two years, $14 million for Ryan Tepera or two years, $17 million for Hector Neris? There's a million arms they could've signed, and the worst part is, Bloom excels at finding relievers! He hit on Matt Strahm. He hit on John Schreiber. Jake Diekman is fine. They just didn't sign enough of them, perhaps because they were banking on Matt Barnes to regain his form. That was a terrible gamble, and we said it at the time.

So how do they fix it? I'm getting major "we aren't going to spend at the deadline" vibes. Building for the future is great, but the future is now. There's a real chance next year's team won't include Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, and maybe even Rafael Devers.


This year's team needed more. They didn't get it.