Thursday, December 8, 2016

Panda Appears Contrite And Ready To Contribute In 2017

(A. Hernandez Via Dan Roche)
In an interview with ESPN.com, Red Sox third-baseman Pablo Sandoval appeared contrite about his tenure in Boston. After season-ending labrum surgery last Spring, The Panda seems to finally "get it". Said Sandoval, "My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished. I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be." As he enters his third season under a $95 million contract, Sandoval needs to step up and be the player everyone expected him to be. Not a superstar—just a solid everyday player at the Hot Corner. Based on recent photos, he's certainly lost a lot of weight. He looks good, let's hope he performs that way.

John Henry To JoeyBats: 'Hey, I'm Outta Dough, Buddy'

Choices, Choices!
Apparently, Red Sox owner John Henry is not as rich as we all thought. Despite the fact that José Bautista is actively campaigning for a DH gig at Fenway Park, the Ichabod Crane-like billionaire is just a little short of cash this month to afford him. And yet, Henry just bought an $84 million yacht to replace his old yacht (which apparently wasn't as decrepit as his 104-year-old ballpark). All this to keep the Red Sox under the 'Luxury Tax' threshold. Ah, the problems of the 'Super Rich'! It's a tough life.

Today Is The Thirty-Fourth Birthday Of Alfredo Aceves

My Buddy Alfredo (FenwayNation Photo)
The trade for Chris Sale had some wags talking about how the new Sox lefty will bring a needed "edge" to the team. Of course, "edge" can mean anything from an aggressive competitiveness to outright wackiness. Last year's incident that saw Sale cut to shreds all of his team's 'throw-back' jerseys kind of falls into the latter category. All of which reminds us that today is the 34th birthday of one Alfredo Aceves. Now we're talking wacky. Some of the staff of FenwayNation will never forget the day in Pittsburgh when we encountered Aceves sitting alone at a hotel restaurant table—staring off into the void. It goes without saying that we did not approach him for an autograph. I was brave enough, however, to eventually approach him for a photo outside Fenway. Now, Alfredo was—at times—a very good performer for The Carmine Hose. In his three years in Boston he was a more than respectable 16-13 with a 3.94 ERA. Happy birthday, Alfredo!

Miami Marlins Said "No, Thanks" To Clay Buchholz Deal

(USAToday Sports)
According to Turner Sports' Scott Miller, the Marlins turned down a trade that would have brought Clay Buchholz's talents to South Beach. Earlier reporting by WEEI.com's Rob Bradford indicated that Dave Dombrowski is actively peddling Buchholz—along with Drew Pomeranz. Teams were also inquiring about the availability of Eduardo Rodriguez and Stephen Wright. The main roadblock for The Fish was Clay's $13.5 million salary for 2017—the final year of his deal. Stay tuned, some Red Sox starting pitcher is going to get dealt.

Red Sox Pick Up Josh Rutledge As 'Panda Insurance'

(Getty Images)
In a move reflecting their angst about 3B, the Red Sox selected old friend Josh Rutledge in the Rule Five Draft. Rutledge—a utility infielder in the mold of Brock Holt—had played for Boston in both 2015 and 2016. He signed this off-season with the Colorado Rockies. The move fills out the 40-man roster, which will require paring one player, once new 1B/DH Mitch Moreland is officially signed. Clearly, the thought of third base hinging on the caloric intake of Pablo Sandoval is frightening—so having both Holt and Rutledge as 'Panda Insurance" is a prudent move.

Red Sox Remain Patient On Trading Away A Starter

The Red Sox may have the 'deepest depth' on starting pitching of any team in MLB. Think about it: Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz, Clay Buchholz, Steven Wright, Roenis Elias, Joe Kelly, Brian Johnson, and Henry Owens. Ridiculous. Now, as happens nearly every year, injuries and crappy performances will whittle down that field considerably. But eleven potential starters? Way too many. So, Dave Dombrowski is 'open' to trading one or two—although he's not in a big hurry. With a lousy starting pitcher market, the value of guys like Buchholz, Wright and Pomeranz is sky high. The longer 'Double D' can wait, the higher the likely return. Ideally, prospects can come back to Boston to help replenish the minors after dealing away four of the organization's Top Ten kids.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Will No Competition Help Or Hurt Panda Preparations?

Recent 'Panda' Sighting
Now that Yoan Moncada and Travis Shaw have fled town, there really doesn't seem to be much competition for the 2017 Red Sox third base job. It looks as if the team is pretty much handing it to Pablo Sandoval. For most Boston fans this is roughly akin to telling the Massachusetts Legislature that they can raise taxes if they want to. Yeah. So, despite the numerous 'Svelte Panda' sightings in recent weeks, we're not buying the notion that a free path to a starting job is good motivation for Sandoval. All the good vibes generated by 'Dealing' Dave Dombrowski this week could be shattered by a Spring Training appearance of a corpulent corner infielder. Based on his non-Boston track record, Sandoval does deserve some degree of lee-way here—but not a lot. In our view, the Red Sox should audition others for the hot corner job—it's just not clear who that might be. Not a good situation.

White Sox GM: Michael Kopech Had To Be In Sale Deal

According to MLBNetwork Radio's Jim Duquette, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn says that Michael Kopech "had to be in the deal" along with Yoan Moncada for the Chris Sale trade to work. This is an interesting insight into the perceived up-side of Kopech—who was averaging 100 MPH at the end of last season. Despite his "temperament" issues, the 20-year old Kopech could turn out to be the more valuable piece in the deal down the road. Last year in A Ball for the Red Sox, Kopech went 4-1, with a 2.08 ERA.

By Any Measure, The Chris Sale Trade Is A Big Winner

Now that we've all had a few hours to digest the magnitude of the Chris Sale trade, let's enumerate some of the particulars—both positive and negative.

First, the Red Sox have acquired one of the top five available pitchers in all of baseball. The operative word here is 'available'Clayton Kershaw is not walking through that Red Sox clubhouse door. Sale is pretty damn close talent-wise. By adding Sale to a rotation of David Price, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez, we have one of the top rotations in all of MLB. And, we can afford to trade away one or two of either Drew Pomeranz, Clay Buchholz or Steven Wright. Those three in a weak pitchers' market can fetch added value to address other team needs;

Second, we lose three of our Top Ten organizational prospects—including the best in baseball in Yoan Moncada. Clearly, this is a gamble. If Moncada turns out to be a Robinson Cano-type player (or worse yet, another Mickey Mantle), we will regret this trade. But, honestly, even if that happens, and we win one or two championships with Sale—will you really complain? That said, if Moncada and Michael Kopech quickly transform the South-Siders into World Champs, it will be painful. But, how likely is that, really—particularly as The Pale Hose undergo a complete re-build?;

Third, we get en elite starter for relative chump-change. Sale comes with team-friendly financial terms for the next three years ($12M, $12.5M, $15M), and is still just 27 years-old—right in his prime. Given John Henry's obsession with staying under the luxury tax threshold, this is a big factor;

Fourth, we have to pay the White Sox all $31 million left on Moncada's bonus money. This hurts—but doesn't count against the luxury tax (as we understand it).

All in all, we feel the obvious 'plusses' far outweigh the 'minuses' in this transaction. Good job, Dave Dombrowski!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Red Sox Complete Tri-Fecta: Sign DH/1B Mitch Moreland

(USAToday Sports)
UPDATE: Deal is official
Multiple sources now indicate that the Red Sox have signed DH/1B Mitch Moreland to a one-year, $5.5 million contract—pending him passing a physical. This makes three impact deals concluded today by President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. And, silly us, labelled him "Do Nothing Dave" just this morning. Sorry. The 31-year old Moreland is a left-handed bat (something Dombrowski wanted) who can play first-base and DH—giving potential rest to Hanley Ramirez. Moreland does not hit for average anymore (if he ever did). In 2016, he hit just .233—although he did clout 22 HRs and knocked in 60 in 147 games for Texas. He's a career .254 hitter over seven seasons—with a total of 110 HRs. His career OPS is a respectable .754. Moreland was also the Gold Glove winner at first base last year.

Dombrowski Presser: Chris Sale Deal Accelerated Friday

Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell met the press at the MLB Winter Meetings and talked about the major acquisitions made by the club. Dombrowski revealed that the Sale trade "accelerated" last Friday as discussions with the White Sox took on a new life. Said Dombrowski: "It came down to the fact that this deal gave us a significant chance to win. When you have a chance to win, you want to take every opportunity to do that." When asked about the qualities Chris Sale brings, Farrell stated, "He pitches with an edge, a competitive nature. Over and above the obvious numbers." Dombrowski was asked if the surplus of starting pitching will lead to some trades. He replied, "Perhaps. We could trade a starter. There isn't room for seven starters. So, we're open-minded." Finally, Farrell talked about his third base situation for 2017, saying that Pablo Sandoval "has to go out and earn it." 

Luis Basabe, Victor Diaz Are Other Prospects In Sale Deal

As expected, CF prospect Luis Alexander Basabe and RHP Victor Diaz are the two "other" prospects included in the deal that will bring Chris Sale to Fenway. Yoan Moncada was Boston's #1 prospect, Michael Kopech was the #5 prospect and Basabe was #7.