Photo Credit: USA Today Sports
The Red Sox added some power with JD Martinez, but there’s just too many light hitting middle infielders on this roster.
Major League Baseball hitters smashed 6,105 home runs in 2017— a league record. The Boston Red Sox were responsible for 168 of them, which gave them the dubious distinction of being 27th in all of MLB and dead last in the American League. As a comparison, the quartet of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorious combined for 169. Four guys on the Yankees hit 1 more home run than the entire Red Sox team did last year. Let’s be real, Mookie Betts led the Red Sox with 24 home runs, and he was number 76 in the league. There’s a power problem. We all know this.
This isn’t merely anout home runs. I’m not here to preach about launch angles and all of that. This isn’t intended to complain about the Red Sox lack of power.
This team is full of utility players – positional redundancy.
There is a plethora of guys competing to be utility guys for this team. The injury to Pedroia leads to a starting window, but that job is likely to be Eduardo Nunez’.
Who is in Spring Training looking to win a spot as a utility guy or is guaranteed a spot as a utility guy? Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, Marco Hernandez, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Deven Marrero. The non-roster invitees to spring training for infielders are Ivan De Jesus Jr, Michael Chavis, Chad De La Guerra and Esteban Quiroz.
All of these guys are middle infielders. The Red Sox have 5 guys on the 40 man roster that are listed as infielders that are not starters. There are 3 players (4 if you count JD Martinez) listed as outfielders on the 40 man roster in total.
The Red Sox traded Bryce Brentz, an outfielder, to the Pirates for cash.
There are no indications that Brentz would have been a savior.
However, the Red Sox traded away a guy who hit 38 home runs last year in the minors. He had an OPS of over .800 in the minors. There is power in his bat. It’s unproven at the major league level, but unproven power is better than non-existent power at any level of competition.
For reference, Holt, Nunez, Hernandez, Lin, and Marrero combined have hit 19 homeruns in their entire MLB career!
The five guys on the 40 man roster gunning for a bench role as utility players hit 29 home runs last season (mostly Nunez) and only Eduardo Nunez had an OPS near or over .800.
The Red Sox lost a player that could have been a solid back up plan, but instead leaves a ton of positional redundancy. Brock Holt can play everywhere, but one injury to the outfield and all of a sudden the Red Sox have Mitch Moreland playing everyday (against lefties his career slash line is .241/.300/.374) and Brock Holt is your back up outfielder while JD Martinez is forced into outfield action on an every day basis.
If the Red Sox accrue multiple outfield injuries, the headache will only linger…Jeremy Barfield?
Brock Holt struggled to battle back from vertigo and concussion issues last year and looked nothing close to the Brock Holt of old. Don’t get me wrong, fans love Brock Holt, but he isn’t the answer for this team that desperately lacked power. He gets exposed when he plays too often. He’s a great emergency button to have, but Bryce Brentz presents a better back up plan off the bench.
I like the JD Martinez signing, but he is usually good for 120 – 130 games. He once made it to 158, but that was in 2014. It’s possible the DH slot helps him stay healthy, but if he goes down for any length of time, Brock Holt / Mitch Moreland as a back up plan isn’t the answer.
If the Red Sox decided today on a bench (assuming Pedroia is healthy) of Nunez, Holt, Marrero, Moreland and Leon, there is no fear there. There is no decent fill-in if someone is injured long term in the outfield. There is a lot of positional redundancy that isn’t needed. There is no decent balance. There is no pinch hitter that could drive one out of the ballpark at any moment.
How many middle infielders does one team need to stay afloat? How many infielders that can’t hit for power are needed?
If you ask me, Bryce Brentz would still be here and would be making the 25 man roster coming out of Spring Training. He would provide another outfielder in the fold that can be a back up in case something goes wrong with one of the starters. Depth is what gets you through 162 games, and the Red Sox are pretty thin in the outfield. They made it worse by trading away the one guy that could have masked that. They traded away the one guy that had the potential to offer power off of the bench. Power that the Red Sox severely lacked in 2017.