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Wednesday, 15 November 2017 20:21

Are The Red Sox About To Make A HUGE Offseason Mistake?

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Should the Red Sox spend nearly $200 million on this power bat? Should the Red Sox spend nearly $200 million on this power bat?

With the MLB Hot Stove beginning to heat up, are the Red Sox planning on making a big splash or a huge mistake?

I don’t want to say this, but I really believe that the Boston Red Sox are going to make a huge mistake this offseason.

And the most alarming part of it will be that the vast majority of fans won’t realize it.  In fact, they’ll be super excited at the flash and not see the issues that it will create.

Trading for Giancarlo Stanton, or signing J.D. Martinez, will be huge mistakes for the Red Sox.

 

No I’m not kidding.  I’m being dead serious. 

This is not the route that the team needs to go in.  I get it, everyone thinks that the main issue with the 2017 Boston Red Sox was the lack of power in our lineup.  Only the Braves (165), Pirates (151), and Giants (128) hit fewer home runs than the Red Sox (168) did last season.  We had a glaring hole in the middle of our lineup, and the absence of a power bat that would be feared by opposing teams became even more evident in comparison to the team that bounced the Sox out of the playoffs – and eventually claimed the crown.  The Astros have an entire lineup full of power hitters, while Boston’s punch was non-existent all season long.

Adding a free agent that just crushed 45 homers last season, or trading for one that nearly matched the actual/non-tainted home run record, would seem like the answer to the team’s power issues.

But do the Sox really need a power bat in the middle of their lineup?

I really think we are looking at the wrong stats when we try to determine how successful offenses are.  Home runs really aren’t that important, especially if there is no one on base when they are hit.  Look at the Tampa Bay Rays.  They bashed 228 homers (60 more than the Red Sox) last season, yet they scored nearly 100 fewer runs than the Sox.  The Rays had the second lowest run total in the American League, with Toronto scoring one less run – and still hitting 54 more homers than the Red Sox. 

The top two teams in homers in the majors – the Yankees and the Astros – made the playoffs, but the next six teams on the list (Rangers, A’s, Orioles, Rays, Brewers, Mets) all failed to make the postseason.  In fact, most of those teams just straight up sucked.  Shockingly, many of those same teams were towards the top of the league in strikeouts, with the Brewers and Rays nearly averaging 10 Ks per game.  That’s one of the problems with power lineups – when they don’t connect for a bomb they don’t connect at all (see Judge, Aaron).

I know this is going to sound like a novel concept, but if you get on base, and you score more runs, then you’ll be more successful.  The ten playoff teams finished in the top 12 in both on-base percentage and runs scored.  The Red Sox were not alone as a team that didn’t finish in the top half of the league in homers but still got on base and scored runs, as the Rockies (yes those Rockies), the Twins, and the Indians were all middle of the pack or lower in homers yet still towards the top in runs and OBP.

So back to my belief that signing J.D. Martinez or trading for Giancarlo Stanton would be a terrible idea.

First off, do we really want to give up our entire farm system AND existing players on our roster for one power hitter?  From what has been reported (which I understand may not be 1000% accurate), the asking price for a Stanton trade is pretty astronomical.  Looking at what is left in our farm system, it’s going to take a lot more than just prospects to get a deal done.  Jason Groome would probably be the one guy not on our current roster that would definitely need to be included, but there really isn’t another “can’t miss” prospect left after the Sale, Kimbrel and Pomeranz deals of the last two years.  So then we are talking about dealing Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., and/or Andrew Benintendi to the Marlins to get Stanton.  By dealing MLB players that don’t really have a clear replacement, we are running the huge risk of worsening our roster as a whole to add one aspect to the team – more power.  By dealing an outfielder to get Stanton, you do fix the issue of where to play him in the field, but you would take away from an outstanding defensive unit.  And while Stanton could add more runs to your offense, losing Benintendi or JBJ is going to take away runs saved on the defensive end.

Second, do we really want to spend that much money on one player?  Martinez is reportedly looking for a contract in the area of $200 MILLION.  Someone needs to show me what he’s done in his career to think that he deserves even close to that ridiculous amount of money.  And the main problem is, someone is going to give that contract to him.  It better not be the Red Sox.

It’s like the team – and the fan base – think that they are desperate for more power in their lineup, and since Martinez is the best power hitter in the free agent market, then that’s a perfect fit for Boston. 

$200 million for a guy who misses at least 40 games a season, who strikes out over once a game, and who doesn’t have a spot in the field for the Red Sox as they currently stand? 

Seriously?  We’re going to do this again?  Haven’t we learned our lesson yet?

And don’t even tell me that Martinez is going to be the DH in Boston.  That would mean that we are either assuming that Hanley Ramirez is just going to be fine with playing first base every day when he wanted no part of that position last season, or that we are just going to pay him $22.75 million to sit on the bench for the majority of the year.  The Sox could move an outfielder (the Giants are rumored to be interested in JBJ), but again that will make our defense suffer and takes away from what Martinez is adding to the offense.  Instead of addition by subtraction (aka the team being miles better by just subtracting the awful manager), your risking doing the opposite by needing to deal an outfielder to make room for Martinez.

But the third issue is the one that is being blatantly ignored by everyone being fixated on the power bats.  Shouldn’t the Red Sox actually worry about filling the holes that are on their team, instead of adding outfielders when they don’t need one?

The Sox have a big hole at first base, and a problem to at least start the season at second base.  Mitch Moreland is a free agent, and there has been no news regarding the team trying to bring him back.  Unless you can persuade Ramirez to attempt playing first base on a regular basis (and not fake an injury every time they ask him to play there in back-to-back games), the only actual first baseman on the roster is Sam Travis.  I like Travis’ upside, but you cannot start a season with an inexperienced first baseman, especially on a team that believes that they will contend for a World Series title.  If the Sox want to have someone inexperienced or subpar at second base while Dustin Pedroia recovers from offseason surgery, then that’s okay, since they have several options on the roster (Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, Tzu-Wei Lin). 

But I really want them to sign a first baseman AND a second baseman before they go trying to add power outfielders to their lineup.

Eric Hosmer is the guy I want, and he fits both the glaring issue at first base and the power problem that isn’t nearly as big of an issue that it’s being made out to be.  He’s hit 25 homers in each of the last two seasons in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, he had the fourth-highest OBP in the AL (only trailing three guys named Trout, Judge, and Altuve… they’re okay I think), he was third in batting average with a .318, and he’s won four Gold Gloves at first base.  And he won’t cost $200 million.  Carlos Santana is another solid option who gets on base, hits 25+ homers, and plays solid defense at first, and he also won’t cost $200 million.

Obviously, Eduardo Nunez (if healthy) would be a great fit in Boston, both to fill in at second base while Pedey is mending, but also at various positions around the infield.  He’s a top-of-the-order bat who gets on base and steals bases, and sparked the Sox offense after coming here at the trade deadline.  The other name that intrigues me for a second base option is Howie Kendrick.  He is 34 years old, but he hit .315 last season, still gets on base, and gets you doubles and steals while being able to play both second base and the outfield.  The Sox are lacking a fourth outfielder as well, and Kendrick could fill multiple holes at a cheap price.

I’d much rather see the Red Sox become a well-rounded team this offseason then just flash a bunch of money or trade away half their assets for a power bat that the team doesn’t really need.  By doing the flashier option, they are becoming exactly what the fans hated not that long ago.  Remember when we ripped the Yankees every offseason for buying every free agent regardless of whether they were needed or had a place to play them?  That’s what signing Martinez or trading for Stanton will be doing.  The Astros won with a well-rounded team that does everything well.  The Red Sox weren’t that far off from being that team just a couple seasons ago, but now they are trying hard to buy their way back into contention.  That strategy hasn’t worked in the past two years, and it won’t work next season either.

Be smart, not flashy Boston.

Adam Belue

My name is Adam Belue, I'm from Fall River, MA, and I'm a sports fanatic.  I'll watch and write about just about any and every sport, even the fringe ones that aren't really sports like bowling, poker, and ultimate frisbee.  I'm a huge Green Bay Packers fan, and a self-proclaimed New England Patriots hater (and proud of it!)... which makes my job in a sporting goods store quite interesting.  I'm a big fan of the other local teams (Bruins, Red Sox, and Celtics), along with the Alabama Crimson Tide and college football as a whole.  I may be a bit obsessed (or a lot obsessed) with Taylor Swift, and I've seen her in concert four times so far... some of the best times I've had by the way her concerts are quite the experience!  I'm also a huge tennis fan, and have played the sport for a good majority of my life.  I wish more people watched and appreciated tennis.  I'm currently a part of the Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox Beat Team on CLNS Radio, and post a weekly fantasy football and college football column during the season.