Miserable pitching, a near sighted GM, and an empty farm, ladies and gentlemen your 2019 Boston Red Sox.
What a terrible year huh? It is a pretty sad state of affairs for a team coming off a historic World Series run with star power up and down the lineup. Let’s be honest 2019 was no “World Series hangover” either the entire year was full of poor execution, horrendous pitching, and a GM that handcuffed himself to a farm system he has completely gutted and as result could not make any deadline deals to help bolster a pitching staff in desperate need of help. I have written about Dombrowski a few times before and even said he should be on the hot seat back in August. I will be the first to admit that winning a World Series far outweighs the pain of seeing a valued prospect ascend into stardom in a different uniform but at what cost can you completely deplete an entire farm system. Does he win? Yes. Will he give you a chance to win the World Series? Yes. Will he leave your farm system in shambles and potentially ruin you for years to come? Yes. Approving of his strategy all depends on your level of comfort with short term vs long term success. Think about it, how are the Marlins and Tigers looking these days and during the years following his departure? I’ll answer that for you, Awful! As in a half decade or even more of long painful seasons but while he was there how were things? They were great and you either won a World Series or you were contending every other year. Dombrowski has always been known as an aggressive GM who will make trades at all costs and get the big pieces for deep post season runs. Case and Point being the trade he made for Chris Sale. Acquiring Sale instantly made the Red Sox a favorite for the World Series but he also gave up guys like Kopech and Moncada that will star on the South Side of Chicago for years to come.
That’s ok though, as a fan I am perfectly content with a magical summer of winning the World Series but this is exactly why they didn’t make any deals at the trade deadline this year. They didn’t have the pieces and nobody wants the players the Red Sox currently have in the minors. Another downfall of this strategy is if the guys you acquire have poor seasons or injuries you don’t have the young prospects to replace them, they are gone. What happens when multiple guys have poor seasons, i.e. Sale/Price/Eovaldi/Brasier/Barnes then you have the 2019 Red Sox. It is the definition of Risk Reward, I don’t blame Dombrowski it is his style and you know that going in but you also can’t be alarmed when you get fired when it all goes wrong. Ugh, long story short is I, along with all you other Red Sox fans out there, should be happy Dombrowski is gone. You got what you wanted from him and know it is time to rebuild and move on. By rebuild I don't mean trade Mookie! Please management don't even think about it. When I say rebuild I mean it's time to get back to the days of building through the draft, developing, and entering the new age of baseball which is signing analytically appealing players for team friendly contracts. We have the pieces to win now; we are 1-2 pieces away from being back to where the Red Sox belong. We need to rebuild by shedding the weight of underperforming veterans and taking chances on raw prospects with high ceilings and cheap free agents with the potential to flourish in a new uniform. If that means eating part of the contracts we currently have then fine, do it. The reality of the situation is the Red Sox have so much money tied up in the pitching staff our hands are tied. Here is a list of 2020 free agents from mlb.com. You know who I like on this list? Guys like Scooter Gennett who is an ex all-star coming off an injury riddled and down year who can play multiple positions, Freddy Galvis, Alex Wood, Jeremy Jeffres, Pedro Strop, Collin McHugh, Arodys Vizcaino, and Michael Wacha all guys who have shown potential or had previous success and for whatever reason have seen their value drop. If you can get them on 1 year "prove it" deals then great if not try and get them on short term deals and work with them to find what made them successful big league players in the first place. Stop thinking like the Red Sox and start thinking like Tampa and Oakland.
I think the saddest part of the Red Sox this year was they had a few guys having career years and some even having MVP-type years. You had 4 guys finish with 30+ Home Runs, 3 of them finish with 100+ RBI’s, 4 of them finish with over 100 Runs, and probably 2 of them Devers and Bogearts receive some MVP votes. Devers had a career year, Vasquez had a career year, Bogaerts is having a career year, and Mookie along with J.D. have continued to establish themselves as 2 of the best players in baseball. Not to mention Chavis had 18 Home Runs in 95 games. It’s really mind blowing how the 2019 season could come to the point it has.
Let’s check out the other side of the ball and I’ll keep this one short as its depressing to look at. The Red Sox finished bottom of the barrel in team ERA, Saves, Earned Runs, Batting Average Against, Walks, and Quality Starts. Pretty sure those numbers are not going to get the job done. They have 4 guys who are making more than or close to $20M this year who have over a 4.00 ERA and 2 of them have over a 5.00 ERA. Your 2 best pitchers for the Red Sox this year have been Eduardo Rodriguez and Brandon Workman, who would have ever guessed that coming into 2019?
In conclusion I see both positives and negatives but to be honest the Red Sox front office is in an incredibly tough situation. Do you sell off assets and look to rebuild or do you stay the course and assume guys like Sale, Price, and Eovaldi will bounce back to the guys who you thought you were signing? It is clear your offense is in a great position and with a step forward from guys like Jackie Bradley (If he is still here) and Michael Chavis you can be as potent as any other in the league but what good will that do if your staff is not performing and you don’t have a bullpen? I personally think the Red Sox make a few under the radar signings, one big trade, and will sign a closer. Brasier and Barnes work much better in the 7th and 8th innings and Workman has proved this year he can handle high leverage situations they just need a solidified dominant closer to true up the back end. All things considered it’s not a hard job, you have the talent, you just need to act quickly and plug some holes. Look at the Yankees this year, as hard as that may be, but their pitching staff is not good at all. Their “ace” was Domingo German who almost won 20 games with an ERA over 4.00, but they have a great offense and a great bullpen. The model to win with this team is right in front of you so make some changes and bounce back.