I’m not gonna say that the Red Sox’ sweep at the hands of the Orioles wasn’t six kinds of bad for Boston because it was, but the level of fretting I’ve read about it since yesterday is getting out of hand. Take this post from WEEI’s Alex Speier. If you didn’t know any better you’d think that the Sox were swept by someone from the Carolina League or something.
Baltimore is described as “the lowly Orioles,” and “easy marks” who everyone thought would provide “three easy wins.” The article laments the fact that the Red Sox could not “manhandle” or “annihilate” an Orioles team that is on par with a “brutally bad” Royals team from 2006. The sweep is referred to as “an alarming turn of events” and “a humiliating series of games” which provides a “dark commentary” on
the Red Sox’ season.
I’m not trying to pick on Speier here — his is merely representative
of any number of articles I’ve seen and, rhetoric aside, his analysis is spot-on — but isn’t this laying it on a bit thick? Is it not possible that Baltimore isn’t as bad a team as their record thus far indicates and that Boston isn’t as good as their preseason press assumed?
More generally it’s worth noting that this is baseball, and no one “manhandles” or “annihilates” anyone in this game. Even the best teams you tend to see in any given year win less than two out of every three games, and every World Series champ in living memory has dropped a series on the road to a division rival.
Which, by the way, is one of the reasons baseball is cool. Football has popularized the “any given Sunday” thing, but every year there’s a team or two in the NFL that buzzes through the season and for whom a single loss to a lesser team truly does represent some “dark commentary.” It’s in baseball where anything cab happen on a given night — or three given nights in a row — and often does.
Because of this it makes little sense to characterize this weekend’s series in the way I’m seeing it characterized. A characterization, I may add, that is profoundly disrespectful to an Orioles team that, though it has struggled early, possesses a great deal of talent.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.