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The Red Sox and where they stand (or sit) after the trade deadline

Friday 8/4/23

I spoke too soon about Justin Turner and his value to the Red Sox. He may end up--in his age thirty-eight season--having the best year of his career. He's their MVP. They wouldn't be in the playoff race without him. But it is strange he's having this year at that age.


The other night, the Sox were up 3-0 on Seattle. Kutter Crawford was pitching. I like how he throws the ball--his release reminds me of that of Keith Foulke. He sort of short-arms it, like a shot-putter; it's a deceptive release.


He'd gone 5 innings, given up 4 hits and issued a walk, with no runs. And then Cora took him out and John Schreiber gave up 4 runs in an inning, which effectively decided the game in the Mariners' favor, with Richard Bleier allowing 2 earned runs of his own for good measure.


Do we have to do this? Do we just have to be a computer program? Can we not be humans? Can not even baseball managers and GMs be human? Even at the level of sport, everyone has to answer to a computer? We can't think? We can't evaluate a life--or sports--situation in context and cogitate accordingly?


Because it was very clear to me that Crawford should have stayed in that game. But the computer program said no. Why have managers? Why have a general manager? Just have a computer do everything then. That's basically what it is now anyway, right? So people are just being hooked up with salaries? How are they earning that salary when a computer tells them what to do and they do it? Just have the players consult the screen. You don't need a manager or a GM.


Professional sports have become so damn soulless. It's like, "The human element is bad, let's eradicate it!"


Three-game weekend set with the Blue Jays starts tonight. Big series. Albeit in the third Wild Card sense. The Sox have beat up on the Jays this year, and the Jays are too good--relatively speaking--and the Sox not good enough for that to hold. It'll likely even out. And if it evens out right now, the Red Sox could be in trouble. I feel like they need to win this series. There are "only" 55 games left. The Yankees look like a sorry operation to me this year, which means they might be the team to replace the Red Sox as the tenants of the AL East's basement when it's all said and done. The Red Sox can get into the playoffs. Who knows what happens then?


If Chris Sale comes back, I'd put him in the bullpen. Try it. Do something different with this guy. Or else it's just going to be the same garbage. Mix it up. You might find something.


Rafael Devers looks to me like a guy who got a huge contract which was a sort of make-up contract--a crazy over-pay to placate fans who rightfully think ownership doesn't care about winning anymore--who is not wholly focused. Defensively he's gotten even worse than he was. I don't see attention to detail there, I don't see a guy putting the time in. His approach at the plate isn't disciplined. He has the talent he has, and that means he'll run into enough pitches and get his 30 homers and 100 RBI. A lot of empty calories in those numbers, though.


The Red Sox did nothing at the trade deadline, saying, instead, that the players coming back from injuries are basically their deadline acquisitions. Right. Because Trevor Story is like some big new addition, a proven stud who's been a beast this year. Or the ever-breakable Garrett Whitlock, whom I'm convinced the Red Sox ruined for good when they tried to make him a starter. And Chris "the bitch" Sale.


This will sound weird, but I don't think the Red Sox are trying to win or care that much about it. Most of the players care. I think they've played like a team that is trying. I don't think the front office cares. As in Chaim Bloom. I think he cares about his farm system and having a certain number of guys rated a certain way. Ownership doesn't care. It's basically absentee ownership. This isn't like in the early 2000s, when you had a hungry ownership. Ownership only cares when the backlash gets bad, which is, again, why they paid out for Devers, who I don't believe is this future Hall of Fame player. They've been "in it" this year--which doesn't take much these days--and if you fall asleep before the game is over you check in the morning to see if they won. Sometimes. I don't think they've been more compelling than that.


At the same time, what would a move have done? They obviously needed starting pitching. Justin Verlander could have made a difference. Perhaps. He's a big name, so you'd have had the shot of him pitching meaningful games in a pennant race, a great term that sadly has become obsolete. I wish it meant what it once did. Even when there were multiple divisions in each league, pennant race the term still meant something, even if it was bastardized even then, because the way it used to work was there was one division in each league, and whoever finished first, won the pennant and went to the World Series. But what do you say now? The race for the third Wild Card spot?


Eventually--and it probably won't be long--a team that gets that third spot will win the championship. Once you're in, anything can happen. I'd rather see the Red Sox in the playoffs than the Bruins. Red Sox playoff baseball is my favorite form of sports to watch. Granted, "favorite" means nothing in my life presently, here in this hell, but if I wasn't in this hell and I had my house in Rockport and it was October 7 and the Red Sox were taking on someone in the postseason I'd have my schedule cleared in time for first pitch and would be watching intently until the final out.


Realistically, I can't see them winning this year, though. I don't think they're viable that way. No matter who they might have added. I both think that Bloom and ownership suck at what they do and are doing, and that this team isn't go anywhere regardless. I'm ambivalent to their lack of a move. If they'd done one or two, that would be a case of whatever, which also means doing nothing is a case of whatever. This isn't a team that was designed to win, or has been put in a spot to win. They are trying, I feel. The players, that is. And maybe they'll get in. That wouldn't be shocking. Maybe they'll win it all, because again, you never know once you're in the postseason.


But that would be out of nowhere. It's very hard to win the World Series out of nowhere. I suppose the Braves won out of quasi-nowhere a little while ago. The 1987 Twins won out of nowhere. For the Red Sox, you'd need a lot of things to go right at the same time, and a lot of players to come close to their ceilings at the same time, and players to show that they have higher ceilings than maybe anyone was expecting, at the same time. That would mean Bello is a full-on ace and Casas is this 27 homer, 90 RBI, high on base percentage guy, and Duran is like Damon, and Devers is one of the four or five best hitters in the game, and Whitlock has some sub-3.00 ERA if he's starting or else is a bullpen weapon, and Turner keeps going like he has the last couple of months or whatever, and another starter steps up. So, as I said, a lot. You get something from Sale. Etc.


What are the chances?


The problem is, I'm sure Bloom looks at those chances and thinks that the season is already over, and he's accomplished something in terms of his plan. His long-ass plan. Which is all about prospects. And hoarding prospects. I don't believe the Red Sox should be run this way, as a major market team, a flagship-of-the-sport type of team. The Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cardinals, should pay. Buy stars. If you deal prospects and they turn into good or great players, it shouldn't matter much, because you're committed to winning and you'll pay out of pocket to make sure you have a regular winner. You can afford it.


Look at the Dodgers. They are what the Red Sox should be. They have stars, they're always good, players want to go there (well, not Eduardo Rodriguez, who preferred to stay in Detroit and vetoed his trade to the Dodgers, which says a lot about him, and nothing good). The Dodgers don't finish last. The Dodgers don't have bridge years. Nor should the Red Sox, which has become a kind of bridge team/enterprise/ongoing concern.


But: if you get in, and you win that first game, anything goes after that. The field tilts some. You start to feel it, the other team feels pressure. Look at that 2021 Red Sox team. I don't think they were very good. They sucked defensively and ran into outs and were this piss-poor team fundamentally speaking. And they had the Astros. They did. They let them up, though, when they needed to finish them off, and the Astros got everything in order and the Sox didn't win again. But they had their run, and it didn't have to stop where it did.



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