The Red Sox: small market team?

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The Red Sox obviously haven’t had an active offseason. They got a new manager, picked up a couple of relievers and signed Cody Ross. Not exactly the stuff that an Alpha Team on the Alpha Division is expected to do, I suppose.  Jon Heyman questions this approach and wonders what it all means for the Red Sox:

Bobby Valentine was thrilled to get the job as Red Sox manager. But did he know he might be going to spring training without a starting shortstop and only three set-in-stone starting pitchers? Young, bright Ben Cherington had to be excited to ascend to the Red Sox GM job. But did anyone tell him he’d have to operate like a small-market club? … Boston’s total outlay of cash was less than $10 million (not counting Valentine). Henry hasn’t explained the sudden frugality. But here’s one guess: He overpsent on soccer.

Taking the last part first, I can’t say I know anything about John Henry’s soccer team, but I bet that it’s a net money maker for the Fenway Sports Group, not a drain on the Red Sox.

As for the baseball points, I guess I have to ask what Boston was supposed to have spent so much money on.  They already have a payroll of close to $200 million and will be paying the luxury tax.  They made two gigantic signings just last year in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Their needs this year — shortstop and starting pitching depth — did not match up with any huge-salary free agent out there this year. At least one that made sense for the team.

However bad the last month of the season was, they still won 89 games. Whatever flaws the team has right now, there is no obvious solution to them that simply involves spending more money.  While it’s totally fair game to inquire about the direction of the Boston Red Sox or any other team, I’d like to know what Heyman would have done with John Henry’s money that Ben Cherington hasn’t done.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.