I'm the Captain NOW

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Baseball is changing so rapidly.  Moneyball brought in the analytics wave that morphed how scouts and executives evaluated talent.  The use of an opener has been the newest craze that has spread around the league.  Utilizing the opener is a very interesting strategy.  Managers employ this tactic to try to control who the actual starter faces.  Instead of going up against the opposing team’s 1, 2, and 3 hitters, theoretically the starter comes in the 2nd or 3rd inning and dodges the opponents’ best hitters.  Over the last few years even the way general managers operate is starting to change. 

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com

The introduction of cap penalties has caused teams to make trades based on salaries as opposed to just talent acquisition.  The avenues to retool are increasing every season.  Remember when the Braves and Dodgers basically swapped bad contracts because it was a win-win financially?  Baseball is changing so much, and I like it.

These GMs are beginning to conduct business more like, dare I say…fantasy baseball general managers.

I am an avid fantasy baseball GM.  If you know me, you know I love playing the proxy of another game.  When I play, I like to pretend that I am at the helm of a billion dollar operation.  That’s right… I am a grown man admitting that I enjoy playing pretend.  Well I’m going to pretend that Fenway Group just texted me and invited me to take over the reins to try and get this team back to the fall classic.

The Red Sox bullpen hasn’t been good this year when it matters most.  No matter who slides into the ninth inning role, they cannot shut the door.  It may sound counterintuitive because he may have the most skills in the bullpen, but if I was running the show I’d move Matt Barnes.  I would put Barnes on the market early because if it is timed right then Barnes could be the best reliever on the market.  If you follow the trade deadline hot stove stuff then you know setting the market can be beneficial.  This year may be more important than others because of the one deadline.  There are no more trades after the July 31st deadline.  I’ve seen plenty of teams get more than expected because they were first.  You have probably also noticed relief pitchers have had tremendous returns during the trade season. 

I’d make a call to the Atlanta Braves’ front office and see if we can make a deal.  Their bullpen has been rough and could use a boost.  A power righty like Barnes could be that guy that stabilizes the back end of their pen.  The Braves’ farm system is loaded with pitching and I would try to acquire some of them.  Luiz Gohara, Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz, Kyle Muller or Huascar Ynoa are all promising young arms, and they aren’t their top prospects, so I think we could work something out.  But to drive Barnes’s value up, I would speak with Alex Cora and convince him to keep the reliever away from the 9th inning.  He has stunk throughout his career playing the role of a traditional closer, but I think teams still value his ability to get outs at the end of games, so there would be interest for Barnes.

Shop the Stars & Stripes Collection at MLBShop.comSince my plan as general manager isn’t to rebuild but to retool, I would also be aggressive finding a good arm out for the pen.  I would use Chavis and possibly even Bobby Dalbec to get my guys.  Sorry James.  The Red Sox have power already and I’m starting to think that Chavis and Dalbec don’t bring much other than pop, so I wouldn’t mind shopping the Bash Bros.

Some players I would target are the Giants’ and Pirates’ lefty closers, Will Smith and Felipe Vazquez.  Both guys would come with a lofty price, but I think I would be able to get a deal done.  Neither organizations have a ton of pop, and the Bash Bros could change that.

I also wouldn’t be afraid to put in the extra work finding the secondary options to fill bullpen roles.  The real value for these types of players is that I would not have to surrender big name prospects to acquire them.  Guys I would kick the tires on is the Marlins’ Sergio Romo, the Giants’ Sam Dyson, the Royals’ Jake Diekman and Ian Kennedy, the White Sox Aaron Bummer (I can’t lie, I just giggled typing his name), and the Tigers’ Shane Greene.  Greene has been dynamite this year, but his career is a shrug emoji, so his asking price might not be all that high.  If you put in the work, you can find diamonds in the rough.

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat.  I am a big Rick Porcello fan.  I like pitchers who take the mound every fifth day.  Not only does he supply his team with lots of solid innings, he has a bit of that bulldog mentality.  I think he has shown that throughout his stint with the Sox.  For the reasons I love Porcello is the reason why I would move him.  Those qualities are very attractive to the contending organizations.  I think as General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, I could bring back some valuable pieces and shed some salary.

The first team I would call is the Milwaukee Brewers and see if they were interested in acquiring the veteran starter.  The Brewers have plenty of young talent.  I would ask for either starting pitcher Corbin Burnes or Freddie Peralta.  If they aren’t available in this trade, I wouldn’t end our trade talks.  I also would have interest in Mauricio Dubon, Trey Supak and Bobby Wahl.  If Dubon sounds familiar, that’s probably because he used to be in the Sox organization.  But whatever, he is hitting great this year and the Sox could use some solid infielders in the system.  Along with the more proven pitchers, Burnes and Peralta, Supak and Wahl could beef up their system’s pitching instantly.

Not only would I ask for the young prospects, but I would also try to get the Brewers to add another former Red Sox player…Travis Shaw.  Taking back Shaw seems silly considering how bad of a season he has had.  Matter of fact, he was recently sent down to the minors, but I think the Brewers would be more willing to part with better prospects if the Sox helped take Shaw off their hands.  That way they will be able to play Keston Hiura every day.

The Red Sox don’t have an everyday first baseman, and some left-handed power could help the team.  Shaw is at a low point right now, but the man hit 30 plus home runs in back to back seasons.  That ability doesn’t just go away.  Maybe a change of scenery will help Travis Shaw get his swing back.

On top of filling a hole in the lineup, shedding most of Porcello’s salary could help allow the front office to be more flexible in other trades.  Both Porcello and Shaw are free agents after the season, so it’s plausible that the Sox could sign them both for 2020.  I wouldn’t want to see Porcello go, but you got to give up something to get something. 

Hopefully the Fenway Group are Boston Sports Syndicate fans, so they see my plans.  Even if they don’t want to hire me, they can still use this game plan to right the ship.  I enjoy playing pretend.  I can’t lie, I have had a blast writing this article.  I guess I’m still a kid at heart.


Follow Matt on Twitter @Matty_wests1de

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Boston Sports Syndicate: I'm the Captain NOW
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