I mentioned this on Twitter a couple of nights ago, but Joe Kelly really intrigues me. The source of this intrigue purely stems from the potential that drips from his raw stuff. Control is something that most pitchers don't just suddenly develop at the major league level (although there are exceptions), but when a pitcher is flashing a high-90s fastball with an 83 mph change-up and some average breaking stuff, you can't help but wonder about the ceiling there.
Kelly's claim that he would win the Cy Young Award was ridiculous (and intentionally so), but it's probably not as ridiculous as you think. If Kelly learns to harness his stuff a little bit, there is a higher, non-Cy ceiling there than he gets credit for. Is he likely to be more than a back-end guy? Probably not -- he is already 27, you know -- but there is real good stuff there. Crazier things have happened.
Let's get to the mailbag...
Why isn’t the possibility of trading away Mike Napoli being considered? It clears the outfield logjam, gets value for a player who may (no idea if team wants him in future) be leaving after this year, allowing replacement with much cheaper options. Aren’t Craigs 2013 numbers on par with Napoli’s in the last few years? Couldn’t we get something nice in return?
The Red Sox want to win this year and trading away Mike Napoli seemingly chips away from that goal. Napoli is an underrated player in many facets of the game; he's an incredibly smart base runner and an underrated fielder at first base. He has one year remaining on his contract and, frankly, he probably wouldn't garner very much in a trade right now.
The Red Sox aren't worried about how expensive players are right now, considering they've already shot way beyond the luxury tax threshold. If the Red Sox are out of the race by the trade deadline, Napoli becomes a valuable asset as a rental player, but right now, it just doesn't make much sense to trade him.
Allen Craig starting the year in AAA hasn't much been talked about at all. Why not? Is there not some merit to seeing if he can regain his stroke in the minors, especially given our outfield logjam?
@iamjoonlee @OverTheMonster With Victorino and Napoli injured a lot and their last year, I wouldn't trade Craig, thoughts?— Monctonscout (@Monctonscout) March 11, 2015
Craig actually has two minor league options left. That being said, it would be an absolute slap in the face to him to send him to Pawtucket to start the year. I understand that he wasn't very good last season (and injuries played a major role in the struggles), but Craig has an established track record of being an above-average player at the major league record. If anything, the Red Sox trade Craig before he puts on a PawSox uniform (for a non-injury rehab purposes).
Looks like Craig hitting more straight up. MT @redsoxstats: Craig looks leaner, not as hunched over with his stance. pic.twitter.com/a76wKH5rOJ— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) March 6, 2015
The one thing we know about bullpens is that what we know about bullpens is often wrong. Who will be the bullpen surprise of the year?
The last time I made a bold prediction about the bullpen, I wrote that Koji Uehara (when he signed with the Red Sox) would end up being one of the most valuable pieces out of the bullpen. That same offseason, however, I've also made some really, really bad assessments as well — I eviscerated the decision to give David Ortiz a two-year extension, advocated for the Red Sox to sign Josh Hamilton to sign a three-year, $90 million contract and gave the Shane Victorino signing a D- when that happened. I know, I know, you're shocked that I can't see into the future.
To get back on track, my guy is Anthony Varvaro. Varvaro had excellent peripherals last year, posting a 3.9 K/BB and 8.2 K/9. Players of Varvaro's caliber generally aren't on waivers. Varvaro essentially takes over the Burke Badenhop's role in the bullpen, but will probably strike out a guy or two more. He's a guy that is undervalued and will come to be appreciated once the season goes on, similar to Badenhop last year.
So does the signing of Moncada mean Xander and Mookie are getting traded for Ben Revere now?
Signing Yoan Moncada had nothing to do with the team's view of their farm system or how they view Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts. Moncada's signing was an opportunity to add an extremely gifted player (ranked the No. 9 overall prospect in baseball by MLB.com). When you have the opportunity to sign a player of Moncada's caliber, you just can't pass that up (if you have the financial means).
You make room when a player has the talent Moncada has.
Moncada is position-less at the moment. In their press release, the Red Sox labeled Moncada as an infielder, refusing to restrict him to a position. This is the biggest question mark right now with the 19-year-old; Moncada may outgrow the infield, but he was spotted taking ground balls at second base (his preferred position) on Thursday in Fort Myers.
On Betts and Bogaerts: the Red Sox remain incredibly high on both prospects. Bogaerts will have the entire year at shortstop, no questions asked. He's improved his upper-body strength and increased his agility. The early reports outs of spring training (which, I caution, don't mean a whole lot) say that he's looked much better defensively. Third base coach Brian Butterfield said on multiple occasions last year that Bogaerts is on a great development curve defensively at shortstop.
Betts, on the other hand, will likely be the Opening Day centerfielder and leadoff hitter. Without hyperbole, a scout told me on multiple occasions that Betts could be the best player on the Red Sox this year. It's important to remember though that Bogaerts was in a similar position to Betts last year in Spring Training. A couple month of struggles in the big leagues can change swing public perception quickly.
(Side note: Yoan Moncada is a handsome-ass dude.)
I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, but I'm in this synth-indie pop phase right now and it's fantastic. Some of the bands that I've been listening to include The Colourist, Smallpools and The 1975, but the song I'm dropping down today is a Boston-based band called Magic Man. Their song "Paris" is a dope track.
Feel free to criticize my taste in music, leave your thoughts on the Sox or anything else below. Or say hey on Twitter.
Opening Day is just 25 days away.