I've truthfully and wholeheartedly been trying to hold out on writing the 2015 baseball season off, but as I sit here in mid-June, and look not only where the Boston Red Sox stand, but how they are conducting themselves, the inevitable seems to have been reached.
After going out and spending like mad men, one would think that the Red Sox would contend, and probably win, arguably the worst division in all of baseball, right?
The Red Sox currently sit in last place in the AL East and are a season-worst 10 games under .500 (as of June 15). While the streaky pitching has come as advertised, the lackluster offense was something that no Red Sox fan thought they would have to deal with this season. While there have been a few bright spots, such as Hanley Ramirez's power and Dustin Pedroia's return as an MVP-type caliber of player, as a whole, the Red Sox have failed to get the timely hits in key situations.
The season is dwindling and there is not much hope to salvage this season. That door closed when Red Sox owner John Henry revealed that he fully backs skipper John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington.
So, now what?
The Red Sox can't have another fire sale like last year, right? A team cannot continue to blow it up year after year and expect to continue to lure All Star free agents into a place that isn't a stable environment.The Red Sox could trade small pieces, however, that would not do much to try and change the foundation of this team. Pieces such as Koji Uehara, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava (yeah, remember him?) are expendable, but will not get you much in return, nor shake up the locker room, which is desperately needed for this team.
So, here is my plan to right the ship in Boston:
1) Fire John Farrell after this season, keep Cherington on a tight leash
I know, I know. I like Farrell, I truly do. He is a good man and helped the Red Sox wonders as a pitching coach under Terry Francona. However, looked at his numbers. He has only been over .500 once in his five years and seems to be losing the clubhouse after the shouting match he had with Wade Miley Thursday Night. When you give this man a good pitching staff and a group of motivated individuals that want to win, he's one of the best. However, that is not the team that the Boston Red Sox have anymore. Let him finish the season, then bring in a guy who will keep his clubhouse in check.
2) Don't Trade for a proven ace
I know that this division is weak, but this season is lost. Even if you get into the postseason, this team does not have the pitching or mental makeup to make any noise in the playoffs.
And adding an ace would just complicate the situation even more.
After trading guys such as Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts, and Henry Owens, not only are you left with an exhausted farm system, but you also either have a huge contract (Cole Hamels) or an expiring piece that may not re-sign (Johnny Cueto).
The Red Sox should wait it out and go after one of the free agent aces that will be available in the offseason.
3) Trade a big name
This one is going to hurt, I promise you that. However, it may be the only way that you will be able to not only shake up the locker room, but also relieve that density at almost every position, specifically the outfield.
Hanley Ramirez is not going to be traded, nor should he. Ramirez came back to the Red Sox, who had a full understanding that he was NOT an outfielder. They brought him back to hit, which he has done and then some. David Ortiz, while starting to heat up, is still an almost-40 overweight designated hitter that could be traded if a parter is willing to give you something halfway decent in return.
David has already stated that he wants to remain with the Red Sox for the rest of his career, and he is a 10-5 guy, meaning he would need to approve a trade, but after this season the Red Sox have a team option. If this season goes like it is currently, it would be as good as a time as ever to part ways with Señor October.
Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Hanley Ramirez are the only players that are, in my opinion, truly untouchable at this point.
4) Let the kids play, dump this rotation
So far, one of the bright spots in this season has been Eduardo Rodriguez. The starts that he is pitching in right now are doing wonders for his confidence and should help him develop mightily into a great starting pitcher. Consequently, there are other guys waiting in Pawtucket that could also benefit from some playing time in the Major Leagues. Brian Johnson and Henry Owens immediately come to mind in this situation.
Instead of having Justin Masterson get shelled every fifth day, let Owens work out the issues that he has been having recently up here with Major League pitching coaches. As for Johnson, he is already ready to be slated in as a #3 or #4 pitcher in this starting rotation.
5) Don't do anything stupid
It sucks to lose. There is no question about that. And there is a serious case to be made that many of them (Hanley Ramirez, Rick Porcello) aren't proven winners,
And, unfortunately, all of that is true.
However, these guys don't go out every day and try to lose. The baseball season is 162 games of hell. Guys are going to take a couple of games off. However, if Ramirez continues to rake the baseball, there is no way that you can keep him out of the lineup.
The Red Sox shouldn't trade Pablo or Hanley, or waste their entire farm system on a pitcher, unless he is Chris Sale.
The Red Sox can still turn this around if they rattle off 7 wins in a row. Have faith.
Buckle Up, Red Sox Nation.
Pete Packowski @Pete_BBS