The Red Sox Completely Mismanaged Blake Swihart


The Boston Red Sox have designated for assignment utility player Blake Swihart today and called up catcher Sandy Leon.  The Red Sox have started a dreaded 6-11 this season, recently splitting a four game series with the lowly Baltimore Orioles.  This series the Red Sox saw Chris “Whiff” Davis collect four hits including a garbage home run in yesterday’s loss.  The Red Sox have made the decision that the man with no position in Swihart had no future with the club. 

Photo courtesy of Bosox Injection
The team is playing horrendous baseball, and in the words of former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter, you always need a “fall guy”.  Swihart is the 2019 Red Sox fall guy for the team’s disappointing start. 

The Red Sox have completely mismanaged Swihart’s career. Swihart, a former 26th overall pick, landed on baseball’s top prospect list at #72 overall back in 2011.  The Sox thought they have found their future franchise catcher in Swihart. 

Swihart was first called up by the Red Sox back in 2015 after then catcher Ryan Hanigan was placed on the disabled list with a broken finger.  The Red Sox played the New York Yankees on that day and he recorded his first major league hit.  Ironically enough, Swihart would be DFA’d before playing the New York Yankees on Tuesday. 

Swihart had a relatively decent 2015 where he played in 84 games.  He batted .274 with five home runs and 31 RBI’s.  He would defensively play at catcher that season for the Red Sox. 

Big Savings for Big Fans at Fanatics.comSwihart’s 2016 season was plagued with injury.  Swihart was playing left field for the Sox on June 4th when he ran into a wall and badly sprained his left ankle.  The team and Swihart wanted to see if rest and rehab was the right combination for his recovery.  Swihart ultimately went under the knife and had season ending ankle surgery. 

After his injury, the place on Red Sox roster for Swihart had always seemed like an unknown.  The team had at the time and still does have Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez to play behind the dish.  The team and Swihart would go on to leave their options open. 

Swihart would comment back in 2016 about his future and recovery by saying "If I can go behind the plate and play left field, that's what I'm going to do, so I'm going to treat it as a normal offseason.  I'm going to push myself.  Right after surgery, I'm going to wait a couple weeks and then I'm going to start lifting upper body.  I'm going to stay in shape and keep going."

The 2017 season wasn’t any better for Swihart.  He would go on to hit .190 with a .246 on-base percentage, .292 slugging percentage, four homers, six doubles, one triple and 23 RBIs in 53 games for Pawtucket.  In addition, heading into the 2018 season the Red Sox used up all his player options.  Any player move regarding Swihart would result in him being DFA’d and having to clear waivers.

Swihart’s 2018 season was slightly complicated.  He spent the first two months of the season as the team’s 25th man on the roster.  The Red Sox should have traded Swihart last season, while the player had no options, he had plenty of trade value to any team needing a catcher/utility player. 

Things seemed to change for Swihart after the Red Sox DFA’d Hanley Ramirez last season and Vazquez broke his finger.  Through the first 50 games of the season, Swihart hit .163, but once he started to get legitimate playing time, he would end the season hitting .229 with three home runs and 18 RBI. 

At the start of this season the Red Sox are awful and the starters clearly lacked enough time in Spring Training to get ready.  The velocity for Chris Sale is completely down.  In my article on Chris Sale (which can also be found on I detailed how according to Statcast, Sale’s 4-seam fastball statistics are dismal.  Against the Blue Jays, Sale threw 26 4-seamers with an average velocity of 91.8 mph and had only one swing and miss on ten swings.  This season, entering into yesterday, Sale has thrown 50 4-seam fastballs and has only one swing and miss.  To put that into perspective Red Sox Nation, last season Sale’s average velocity was 95.2 mph with an average whiff rate at 29.8%.

The Red Sox fan narrative for the first 17 games has been that if Leon had been catching, and not Swihart, the starters would look different.  They also have stated that Swihart couldn’t call an effective game behind the dish.  While the latter might be true, Swihart is not the reason the Sox starters, including Sale, look dreadful.  That’s on Dombrowski and Manager Alex Cora.

Did Cora win out over Dombrowski?  The fact of the matter is the manager didn't believe in Swihart.  This isn't a Swihart issue, this is a starting pitcher issue.  It's time for the Red Sox to realize the season has started and it's time to play baseball. 

Photo courtesy of
I ultimately am disappointed in seeing the Red Sox DFA Swihart.  He showed incredible athleticism and he certainly profiles perfectly as a backup catcher.  He has great speed which allows any team the versatility to use him as a pinch runner or work him out elsewhere in the field.  The most important part of Swihart is he held value, something that Red Sox President of Baseball Operations talks a lot about. 

The Red Sox screwed up.  They had three catchers with room for only two and never dealt any of them.  Instead, the club will lose out on acquiring a player or international money back for Swihart.  The team will now move forward with Leon and Vazquez for the remainder of the season, with Juan Centeno down in Pawtucket as insurance. 

Barstool Sports Jared Carrabis put it perfectly in a tweet following the team’s announcement to DFA Swihart.  “I’m genuinely bummed about Blake Swihart", said Carabis.  "It's no one singular person's fault, but my God was he mishandled from the jump as a former first-round pick who was regarded as the top catching prospect in the game at one point.  Hope for nothing but the best for him.”

Swihart is not the second coming of Buster Posey or even the Captain Jason Varitek, but the Sox screwed this kid from the get go with playing him out of position and burning his options.  I feel for Swihart because he’s already dealt with the adversity of losing his brother in Spring Training, and now he’s done in Boston. 

I’m a believer you always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity.  He’s just going to have to do that with someone other than Boston.  If by some chance Swihart clears waivers and stays with the Red Sox he’ll get an opportunity to play everyday in Pawtucket. 

Red Sox Nation rejoice because Sandy Leon has been called up and Chris Sale has his binky back.  Now it’s time for Sale to pitch like Sale and the "Only Active Hall of Famer" Sandy Leon to call the right games and get this season back on track. 

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: The Red Sox Completely Mismanaged Blake Swihart
The Red Sox Completely Mismanaged Blake Swihart
Boston Sports Syndicate
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