Welcome back for another edition of the OTM Mailbag. This week we have questions on what exactly the plan is for the Red Sox right now, what’s going on with Jackie Bradley Jr., potential roles for Michael Chavis, and plenty more. Let’s get right into it.
Scott via email asks:
I feel like nobody actually knows what Chaim’s (and mostly unmentioned his team’s) plan is, nor do we know their style is (are they going to go cheap like the Rays or hedge the threshold). Thus, we can’t make any true judgements on pieces they pick up along the way. At this point, I feel like he’s simply adding appetizers in the form of “depth” pieces en route to the main course which will come as the hot stove heats up. After all, this not-really-cheap ownership wants to win! Do you agree?
I don’t know that I 100% agree with Scott here in that I don’t think winning in 2021 is the number one priority, though I do think there is a fair point to be made that a lot of us, coming from different angles too, are talking about Bloom like he is much more of a known quantity than he actually is. This applies to people who expect the Red Sox to act exactly like the Rays, but it also applies to people who give him credit for what happened with the Rays. The fact is that Bloom was not running that front office, and it sure feels like he gets more credit for what happened with the Rays during his tenure than any other assistant GM (or equivalent role) has ever gotten.
I will say I think it’s weird that when the Red Sox had a guy like Dave Dombrowski who had accomplished so much at multiple different stops in his career every move was looked at with skepticism while for Bloom, who has never run a front office, everything must be met with patience. And to be clear, skepticism for Dombrowski was and is fine. We should look skeptically at every decision every organization makes at first. I just would like to see that same skepticism applied to every decision from this era of the organization as well.
And for what it’s worth, I have high expectations for Bloom and like what he has done to this point, but as Scott points out those have been periphery moves. We don’t know what the plan is. I think we can safely say Bloom isn’t going to be aggressive at all times — if the team was better, he may be more aggressive, but he certainly isn’t right now — but that’s not entirely a him problem. Teams like the Padres and now Mets are showing you can indeed be aggressive even in a slow market, but most teams are where the Red Sox are.
I think at the end of the day I still have very little opinion one way or the other on Bloom, because there really hasn’t been a chance for him to do too much. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt to this point in the offseason because, while I’m certainly underwhelmed thus far, there are plenty of players still out there who can help and change that perception. By the time Opening Day comes, we probably still won’t be able to have a full opinion on how he operates, but we’ll certainly have a much better idea than we do now.
@the_surfing_guy on Twitter asks
Does Cora being back have a positive effect on Benny’s performance this year OR is he traded before the season?
This was asked not long before Jim Bowden reported the Red Sox are indeed looking at a potential Benintendi trade. I would still say it’s far from a sure thing that he’ll actually be dealt, but it’s certainly more likely to me than it was Saturday morning when I woke up. But to speak to the first question, I think Cora generally has a positive effect on everyone’s performance because I think he’s a good manager, but the extent to which that positive effect comes through can vary. I tend to think of Rafael Devers and Eduardo Rodriguez as the biggest potential benefactors. For Benintendi, I would point to 2019 not being all that great under Cora as a reason for some skepticism. So I think there probably is a boost added here, but I think it’s minimal. Benintendi’s success will come down to, for better or for worse, Benintendi.
Stefan via email asks:
I am wondering about Jackie Bradley Jr. The Red Sox front office has had ample time to re-sign him and now, since other teams are associated with him, he gets even more praise from front office. Is this a face-saving gesture or real interest? If they value him so much, why didn’t they lock him up, already? Looks like we are in for crocodile tears?
I don’t know that it has to be so black and white. I think the Red Sox front office made a mistake by not pushing more towards an extension before free agency, but A) I don’t know what any sort of preliminary conversations looked like. It’s possible Bradley wanted a big deal to forego free agency, which would have been fair on him and also fair on the Red Sox to wait it out. And B) his performance in 2020 changed things a bit. I think the Red Sox thought it’d be easier to have some alternatives to Bradley as well, but the way things have shaken out with his performance last year, the realization that Benintendi probably can’t fill in in center field, and the market this year, it’s really Bradley or bust to some extent, depending in part on how that feel about Duran’s proximity to his big league debut.
That said, I think there probably is some face saving go on here as well. The organization knows how much most Red Sox fans love Bradley, and so they’ll tread carefully around questions about him because they don’t want to piss off more fans. At the end of the day I am not all that confident he’ll be back. I think the Mets will end up with him. That said, I do think there is legitimate interest here with the Red Sox and it’s not 100 percent a gesture for fan goodwill.
@jcsturgeon on Twitters asks:
Michael Chavis didn’t do himself any favors last year, but the pandemic caused a lot of issues for even established star players like J.D. Martinez and Kris Bryant. Does he have a path to playing time next year if the club signs César Hernández or Tommy La Stella, etc?
There’s certainly a path to playing time for Chavis even if/when the Red Sox add another more veteran second baseman, it’s just a bit more complex than it would have been. I think, assuming the Red Sox do add another infielder and everyone stays healthy in camp, Chavis starts the year in Triple-A. Some of that is a bit unfair because, yes, 2020 was obviously a weird year and I think we should take many of these performances with a grain of salt. On the other hand, Chavis’s issues really date back to 2019 as well when pitches exposed his inability to hit velocity. I still believe in him as a hitter, but until he shows he can hit the fastball consistently he’s not going to turn into a viable major leaguer.
So I think that because he still has something so substantial to work on, plus that he has an option while a guy like Christian Arroyo does not, it’s more likely he’ll need to earn his way back to the majors. That may not be the worst thing in the world, either, to put a chip on his shoulder. He’s made these kinds of adjustments before, no reason he can’t do it again. And if he does show that improvement in camp and/or Worcester, an injury or trade or underperformance of some kind will open up playing time for him and give him that second chance.
@IvanElApex on Twitter asks:
Grade my FA shopping list:
OF: Eddie Rosario
2B: Jonathan Villar
SP: Corey Kluber and Garrett Richards
Bullpen: Brad Hand and Alex Colome
We’ll go quick here: If Benintendi is traded, I’ll give Rosario a B. I think Kris Bryant would be my top target (obviously not a free agent, but same idea), but Rosario would be a solid alternative. If Benintendi is not traded, then Rosario gets a D. I just don’t see the defensive fit.
For Villar, I’ll give a C-. Villar is fine, but even if you want to go cheap I’d prefer someone like Jason Kipnis over Villar, to say nothing of the better options for not all that much more money.
For Kluber and Richards I’ll go C. I like Kluber and think he’s probably my top option on the board, but I don’t think you can go with both him and Richards. You don’t necessarily have to pair Kluber with Rick Porcello or José Quintana, but I’d like to avoid two guys with big recent injury issues.
And for the bullpen I’ll go A. I don’t think they’ll get both of these guys, but they’re both near the top of my list and I’d be stoked if both were brought in.
Thanks again for all of your questions. And again, if I didn’t get to yours look out for it in a future edition of the mailbag or on the podcast. We always appreciate more questions, so please if you have any you can either ask me on Twitter @OverTheMonster, you can leave a comment on our Facebook page, you can drop a comment down below on this post, or you can send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.