As of the day/time of publishing this, there will be six days and 10 hours until the trade deadline officially hits. We sit knowing the Boston Red Sox just beat the league-leading Atlanta Braves, now 6-4 post-All-Star Break. We know Kiké Hernandez, as much as he was great in the locker room and clutch in the past, had the worst fWAR in baseball and is no longer on the roster. Inherently, that makes the team better, right? Is this the sign that Chaim Bloom isn’t giving up on this season? Is it worth not giving up on the season? Let’s look at some pros and cons:
- The offense is showing up
A run differential of +47 isn’t bad at all! Granted, the best teams in baseball have run differentials of +145 and above, but it’s enough! The Yankees only have a +9 run differential. Their .265 team batting average is third in all of the Majors, just behind Texas and Atlanta. A 104-team OPS+ just says they’re not punishing the ball, but they’re better than average. Aside from an odd shutout, the Red Sox have scored four runs or more in every single game since the break. The bats are doing enough of a job to win.
- The (healthy) starters are doing their job
Speaking of doing the jobs, Brayan Bello, James Paxton, and Kutter Crawford are holding the rotation together as strongly yet precariously as Spiderman preventing a careening Subway train from going over broken tracks. Bello is developing into an ace-type pitcher, something the Red Sox haven’t developed in a long time. Paxton is surprising everyone with incredibly consistent outings as a 34-year-old who hadn’t played in almost two years. Crawford has a 1.12 WHIP, good enough for third-best on the entire pitching staff. When they’re on, they’re not an issue.
- We have a competent closer
Kenley Jansen—while not the dominant reliever of April, is still converting save after save. 21 for 24 in save opportunities, an All-Star, and frankly just genuine consistency in the 9th or late-inning situations. It’s a breath of fresh air to the closer-by-committee of the last three seasons.
- Bodies are getting healthy
John Schrieber is back. Richard Bleier is back (though there is a glut of lefty relievers who have outperformed him so far). Corey Kluber is on a rehab assignment. Chris Sale is throwing bullpens. Garrett Whitlock is playing catch. Tanner Houck must be close to throwing again. Trevor Story is rehabbing. These are Major League bodies, some of them even promising ones, who are ready to rejoin the team in the coming weeks. That’s major.
- There are still a lot of holes on the team
Even with the eventual return of Story, the middle infield is sorely lacking some oomph. Unless Story is the second coming of Nomar on his way back, it’s still missing power and frankly competent defense. Do we trust Story’s arm to work at shortstop or is he going back to second base? Who stays on the roster with him? Christian Arroyo? Pablo Reyes? Yu Chang? There’s a lot of question marks there. Let’s not ignore the backstop too. Yeah, Connor Wong has been extremely solid defensively. His bat isn’t cutting it right now. Reese McGuire has been hurt and only just started rehabbing. How about starting pitching in the meantime? That brings me to my next point.
- The bullpen must be getting beyond taxed with how many bullpen games there have been lately
Brennan Bernardino, Chris Murphy, and Joe Jacques must have arms of steel to be relievers throwing in bullpen games as much as they have. Has it been successful now? Yeah, they’ve pitched well, earning strong wins like on Sunday Night Baseball vs. the Mets. Will they be taxed so much that they become ineffective down the stretch, forcing Cora to use lesser talent or stretch his starters, blowing winnable games? Who knows.
- The base running and defense is still very suspect
The first triple play of the MLB season goes against the Red Sox at the hand of awful baserunning decisions. More runs than I can count this season were cut down because of awful baserunning habits. This isn’t new for a Cora-led team, it’s been a complaint for three seasons now. When does it stop? In the last two seasons, it hasn’t mattered when they weren’t competitive. This year, it does.
- The expiring contracts on the roster are probably valuable to more competitive teams
We just saw Kiké get traded, who while not providing value to the current version of the Red Sox, did at one point and could for the Dodgers. Adam Duvall, Kenley Jansen, James Paxton, and even Bobby Dalbec, who’s been tearing up Worcester, could be much more valuable to a team with World Series aspirations than a team on the bubble clawing their way in.
- A lack of transparency from ownership and the front office
We’ve heard absolute bupkis from Bloom, Kennedy, Werner, Henry, and anyone from the front office on the direction of this team. That scares me a lot. When you’re winning, you hear a lot about how “we’re all in on this team” from good ownership. When you’re losing, good ownership takes the blame and makes meaningful changes for the better. We’re sitting less than a week from the deadline, just on the outside looking in at a Wildcard slot and we have no idea what the team wants to do still. Not even an inkling. A team like the LA Angels, who have horrendous ownership generally, has flashed signs they may pull out and listen to offers on Ohtani. The Yankees...are the Yankees and will never give in. Our mortal rivals to the south still maintain that integrity, even if we question a ton of their roster. Seattle has a great young core and is at the right time to load for bear. Not a peep from the Red Sox. They still have no identity, and three and a half seasons into Chaim Bloom’s tenure, that’s not a good feeling.
So where does that leave us? Even if they make the playoffs, does it matter if they get crushed in a Wild Card series or an ALDS matchup? Does making the playoffs give the young guys confidence in themselves or does the pain of missing out make them mad enough to work harder? There’s no time left to hem and haw about this team because other GMs are sure to have their phones primed and ready to take some calls. The moment is now to make a decision on this team in 2023: are we in or are we out?
Are the 2023 Red Sox worth investing in for a playoff run?
This poll is closed
Yes, go all in and make bold moves
Yes, but don’t rob Peter to pay Paul
No, but hold onto what you can and see what happens
No, sell the contracts you can and prepare to spend in the offseason