Alright Sox fans, it is now 41 games into the season and the team is one game over .500. So who is to blame for this slow start? We are a quarter of the way into the season and Boston is four games back of first in the division. The Red Sox, who should have ran away with this division now trail Baltimore and New York. The same New York team that was supposed to be in rebuilding mode and not be competitive for another couple of years.
Well to start, the Red Sox and Yankees have been built two separate ways. The Yankees, for what seems like the first time in decades, are building through their farm system instead of free agency. Sure they went out and signed Aroldis Chapman back to the team, but there are plenty of guys up and coming. Aaron Judge, the rookie right fielder leads the league in home runs, while Gary Sanchez is continuing to build after a solid first year campaign. If Sanchez and Judge carry this throughout their careers, New York may have already found a 3-4 combination in their lineup that can last them at least another 10 years. However these two aren’t the only guys from the farm New York has in their system. Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, remember those names. The top two overall prospects in the Yankee system are already receiving buzz for their potential. Yankees fans hope Torres, a shortstop, can fill in and be the next Derek Jeter. Of course those are big shoes to fill but he is the number one overall prospect in New York, he’s going to have high expectations. Frazier is hoped to fill the outfield once the contract of Jacoby Ellsbury is up. This Yankee team is even scarier when you realize they have the money and the franchise legacy to sign pretty much anyone they want who hits free agency. Not only has New York built through the farm, but they are also they richest franchise in baseball.
Now, here comes the Red Sox. There is a reason Boston has had so much success over the past 15 years. In fact, they’ve had more success than the Yankees. It stems from the exact formula that New York is currently using. Boston had always used a mixture of their farm and signing big name free agents. It brought them 3 World Series rings. However, since Dombrowski has taken over, the methods have changed. Boston has entered win-now mode but is only one game above .500. They have traded away so many of their beloved players in the farm and have received guys that so far have not contributed greatly.
When talking about the Red Sox trades, yes Chris Sale comes to mind. He has undoubtedly been the Red Sox best player and `the trade seems like a win for the Red Sox. At the time I was in favor of the trade and actually still am. My problem comes from what Dombrowski has given up as a whole. Yoan Moncada is baseball’s number one prospect. A 5-tool player who is expected to one day be a great infielder. A true second-basemen, Boston tried him at third last season, and when he struggled, they lost faith in him.
The trade for Moncada seemed a bit easier when rumors swirled of Pablo Sandoval being healthy, in-shape and ready for 2017. Pablo Sandoval did a whole interview in which he talked about being a new man, and wanting to win for the city of Boston. The worst part about that was people from Boston actually believed him. Pablo sure can talk-the-talk, but judging by his under .200 average, another trip to the disabled list and still looking rather overweight and out of shape, he certainly hasn’t figured out how to walk-the-walk. Now Boston is looking at Josh Rutledge playing third base.
But wait, we had so many answers at third base last season. Travis Shaw, who was a consistent 5-6 hitter in Boston’s lineup last year, was traded in the off-season as well. Because of this win-now mentality, the Sox had no time for him to work out of his first big slump of his young career. Shaw is now the clean-up hitter for the team that leads the majors in home runs, and is tearing up the National League. In return, Boston got, well nothing so far. Tyler Thornburg who they acquired in return has landed on the 60-day DL with an unknown back or shoulder injury. Before Rutledge, it was Marco Hernandez at third who seemed to make an error on every other ball hit to him. He came up small in big situations and just did not seem ready for the bigs. I never wish a DL stint upon any player, but him injuring his shoulder seemed best for the team as it seems that was the only way John Farrell would take him out of the lineup. (Wish granted….I guess?).
Now we get into pitching. Most Red Sox fans will remember the trade for Drew Pomeranz last season. Boston gave up their number one pitching prospect, Anderson Espinosa in exchange for Pomeranz. Once an all-star, Drew came to Boston and has been nothing more than an average 3-4 pitcher in the rotation who has been plagued by injuries. Injuries that at first the Red Sox didn’t even know about. Boston ended up finding hidden medical records that the Padres kept about medical treatment he received. Because of this, the MLB allowed Boston a chance to rescind the trade, and get Espinosa back. Boston declined and took their chances with the injured lefty. Pomeranz is 3-3 with a 5.29 ERA this year and continues to battle injuries. Was that really worth your number one pitching prospect?
Now with all the injuries, Boston is being forced to call up pitchers from their farm. Now with all of their young prospects out of their system, Boston has a plethora of deteriorating veterans down on the farm. Kyle Kendrick for one, made only one start and got rocked by Baltimore before getting quickly optioned back down to triple-A. Hector Valezquez had a similar situation just a couple days ago. After posting a 1.55 Era in the minors, Valezquez got rocked for six earned runs on five innings of work and didn’t look sharp. The Red Sox are out of options on the mound, and out of options at third base. So of you’re looking for a reason why New York is ahead of Boston so far, start there. Also, don’t expect Boston to be competitive with New York long-term if they continue to trade away all of their prospects.