This is the earliest the Red Sox have given up on a season that I can remember. The Nick Punto trade in 2012 happened in August and since the new ownership group and even back into the Dan Duquette era, the Red Sox were always sniffing at a playoff spot late into the season.
A.J. Pierzynski was DFAed today and Jake Peavy is rumored to be heading out of Boston. These are moves of a team that has capitulated. This also means the Red Sox are likely to deal Koji Uehara, Jonny Gomes, and maybe John Lackey (who is set to earn the major league minimum for veterans next season) as they might not want the headache of having a veteran playing for the minimum and publicly displaying his displeasure every pitch of the way.
Wednesday night’s game featured 5 rookies in the line-up, Jackie Bradley Jr. Brock Holt, Mookie Betts, Christian Vasquez (major league debut) and Xander Bogaerts and a rookie starting pitcher. Unheard of in Boston but a very good thing for the future of the team. I think perhaps Betts and Vasquez were brought up a bit early and risk being like the endless line of rookies the K.C. Royals rush to the big leagues, but otherwise this is valuable playing time for young players.
As a Red Sox fan, I am perfectly fine with a season like this. A reload, a chance to give younger, future franchise players playing time is a good thing, as long as it isn’t happening every other year. What begs the question is just what did management see in this team? Did they think Pierzynski was going to be a major contributor? Did the Red Sox really need to sign Stephen Drew for $10 million? Obviously with hindsight, these both look like very dumb and very expensive moves, not that I pay the bills but we now can look forward to seeing the future of the Red Sox develop in front of our eyes, instead of in Pawtucket.
A quick scouting report on the young positional players:
Vasquez – Advanced defensively, with ability to handle a pitching staff and a very good arm. His offense is a work in progress and doesn’t project to be much more than mediocre.
Betts – 4 tool player with potential to be a 4.5 to 5 tool player if his power rounds out and depending on where he settles on a position. Command of the strike zone is top shelf.
Bradley Jr. – Elite defensively with good eye at the plate and 10-12 HR power projection. Offense improved with with more time at each minor league level. The hope is that he is getting ready to take off offensively. His defense this year has been outstanding.
Holt – A career minor league average of .307 with a .410 OBP makes his 2014 success not a major surprise but is countered by the fact he is 26. Old for a rookie but some players take longer to mature. Defensively he isn’t great anywhere but has proven the ability to player anywhere with competence. He’s played LF, CF, RF, 1B, SS and 3B this season year all the while hitting .313. When Holt was included as an apparent throw-in in the Joel Hanrahan deal, I remember thinking there must be something wrong with this kid personality-wise as he had good minor league numbers.
Bogaerts – He was doing well until Stephen Drew arrived. Seriously, the minute Drew was added to the 25-man roster, Bogaerts started slumping. That also was when he was moved from SS to 3B. He is only 21 and has a bright future ahead of him, but I wonder if the Red Sox will try to move Drew (is that possible with him hitting .131?) and give the SS position back to Bogaerts.
If the Red Sox can trade a few more assets for additional future growth and with their financial clout, they might just be gearing up for a prolonged run at success