WEEI – After a number of deals involving top-level prospects thinned the Red Sox farm system, ownership ordered president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski not to deal any top-end talent at the July 31 trade deadline, according to a report. Per Sean McAdam of Boston Sports Journal (subscription required), ownership made it clear to Dombrowski at the deadline that he was not to touch the top of the farm system. He instead dealt middle-tier prospects to acquire infielder Eduardo Nunez and reliever Addison Reed.
I know, I know, the Red Sox brought Dave Dombrowski in to build the team his way. And his way just happens to be to trade every prospect under the fucking sun to win now. Except theres GOT to be a point where you sit back and think hey maybe lets pump the breaks so we have SOME young guys in the pipeline. I am far from a bleeding heart prospect hoarder. I’ve seen too many “untouchable” prospects turn into absolute scrubs like Henry Owens (Baseball America No. 44 prospect in 2015). And for every Anthony Rizzo (Red Sox No. 8 prospect before getting dealt) you regret trading away there are 10 Casey Kellys (as high as Baseball America No. 24 prospect in 2009).
Something we talked about on our all Red Sox podcast this week (SUBSCRIBE!) was how Big Z and I disagreed on what to do with prospects. He says ship em all out because you’re going to miss with prospects more than you hit. I disagree. Not because I think they’re all going to be studs. I’m more concerned with the PERCEPTION of value they bring, which is why I always hated the Pomeranz trade. Admittedly he’s been pitching really well of late and Anderson Espinoza just blew his arm out and will have to get Tommy John. BUT, at the time Espinoza was your top pitching prospect and one of the most highly regarded prospects in all of baseball. Dombrowski traded him for a reliever turned starter who ultimately ended up being a middle innings mop up guy for the Red Sox down the stretch.
Sure he’s pitched well as of late, but you can’t point to the Espinoza injury and say Dombrowski won the trade. Thats using the benefit of hindsight. My point is the PERCEPTION of Espinoza’s value was much higher and the Sox should have gotten a lot more for him or held onto him. Not because I think he’s going to be the next Pedro, but because the consensus around the league was he would be a stud, which means you gotta get more.
Not to mention, take a look at Dombrowski’s last place of employment; the Detroit Tigers. Dombrowski had them humming along pretty good for a couple of years but he GUTTED the farm system and now they are in the middle of a brutal rebuild. I would hate to see the Sox in a similar position in 3-4 years. You can always add expensive free agents, but you need to supplement that with young, cheap prospects or you’ll quickly turn into the pre-Baby Bomber Yankees with Teixeira, CC Sabathia, A-Rod and others collecting paychecks on their way out the door towards retirement.
All of this is a long winded way of saying I’m glad someone put the stop sign up on Dombrowski IF it was over concerns of dealing more top prospects. If it was about concerns of going over the luxury tax then I retract this whole blog post because you’re the fucking Red Sox, you can afford it. But since he took over as President of baseball operations Dombrowski has stripped the farm system. In the two years since taking over he has traded 16+ prospects. You can read Alex Speier’s breakdown of them all, but here are the highlights below.
- Manuel Margot (Part of the Craig Kimbrel trade: the No. 14 prospect in MLB at the start of 2016 and last week’s NL Player of the Week)
- Yoan Moncada (Part of the Chris Sale trade: Sale has been a stud so no regrets about this, but Moncada was the No. 2 prospect in MLB this season behind only…Andrew Benintendi)
- Michael Kopech (Sale trade: 100 mph heater with a 3.25 ERA and 134 K’s in 105 innings in Triple-A this year)
- Travis Shaw (Tyler Thornburg trade: not technically a prospect, but Thornburg has yet to pitch for the Sox and Shaw is batting a cool .291 with 24 HR and 74 RBI for the Brewers)
I’m just not sold on Dombrowski’s player evaluation, which is probably my biggest concern. At least when it comes to the health or mental fortitude of players. Guys he’s traded for that have gotten injured include Thornbug, Carson Smith, Drew Pomeranz and not to mention signing David Price who has battled injuries as well as the local media. Yuck.
At some point you have to hold onto the young guys. The current team is littered with home grown talent (that are cheap too) including Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi. Thats a pretty stocked roster why not trade away some young guys then? Well because when the Red Sox have needed depth due to injuries they’ve basically been up shits creek because of all those prospects dealt. Thats how you get Henry Owens (now in Double-A) and Doug Fister making starts. Thank God for the way Devers has played or the Sox might be in a real bad place down the stretch.
The Red Sox currently have 3 prospects in Baseball America’s 2017 Top 100 – Benintendi (No. 1), Devers (No. 18) and Jason Groome (No. 43) — down from 5 in 2016 when they had Moncada (No. 3), Benintendi (No. 15), Devers (No. 18), Espinoza (No. 19) and Kopech (No. 89). Kopech jumped from 89 to 32, Moncada jumped from 3 to. 2, Benintendi jumped to 15 to 1, Devers stayed at No. 18, Espinzoa actually went down from 19 to 21 (2017 is Groome’s first year in pro ball).
My point is you don’t need to hold onto ALL of the prospects, but you do need to hold onto SOME of them. Your move, Dave.