First, a mea culpa: The sky is not falling. At least not for the Red Sox.
My column from yesterday on the Yankees’ newfound discipline rightly generated a host of responses telling me to get a grip. This was the correct response, and I shall search for my grip forthwith. I think the Yankees are better than most people give them credit for, but the Sox are still better than them, full stop. While the sky may literally be falling — January brought April’s showers to much of the northeast in place of snow yesterday — there’s no arguing the math on Sox vs. Yankees. 2+2 doesn’t equal 5 just yet.
That said, it was interesting to see a recent article by the Boston Herald’s Evan Drellich that noted Dave Dombrowski is having trouble signing minor league free agents. The “problem?” These FAs don’t see a path to major league playing time, likely because they have fully functioning eyes. Here’s the money quote:
"We keep trying to sign minor-league guys to contracts with big league invites," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Saturday at Foxwoods. "We haven’t been very productive. Not for a lack of trying, but guys are still at the point where, first of all, they’re looking for major league contracts if they can. You can see this past week, they finally started to click where, they were accepting some (minor league) invites. But they’re going to other clubs rather than ours, because they don’t like the chances of making our major league club as much at this time. But we continue to try.”
While I’d love to say this strengthens my dumb theory that the Red Sox are weaker than they look, the opposite is probably true. In the grand scheme of things, signing minor league FAs is probably the lowest priority for the organization, outside of trying to bring Drake to Fenway this summer. With some exceptions, the draft is where the Sox are going to make the biggest strides in building up their minor league system, not the FA market. For as liberally as Dombo has traded away some of our young studs, he also drafted a kid who is now the No. 2 LHP pitching prospect in baseball last year in Jason Groome. That’s good!
As for the players the Sox are failing to sign, Drellich guessed that Dombo could still be in the market for a right-handed utility infield type, just in case Brock Holt is injured or, more likely — and this is my own guess — raptured to heaven following a stand-up inside-the-park grand slam. This presumes Pablo Sandoval flops and Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge and/or Marco Hernandez can’t fill the bill, which isn’t likely (one of them should be fine), but is a third- or fourth-order possibility, for sure.
That throws into relief how minor the issues we’re actually discussing, and how small they are compared with the major issues facing some of the Sox’s rivals — like, say, those very same Yankees, who don’t have a ton of major league depth. They’re starting Starlin freakin’ Castro in the infield, and he’s (self-promotion alert!) not even the best second baseman in the city. Castro wouldn’t sniff the field in Boston, and that’s something that should give me more confidence than I have in my more pessimistic moments.
Now if we could only say the same thing for Drake.