Welcome back to Read Sox. This week we look at Larry Lucchino and the Red Sox’s future without him, the ongoing search for an ace and – wait for it – Hanley Ramirez’s desire to remain in left field next season.
With meaningful games out of the question and a quiet trade deadline over, the biggest Red Sox story of the weekend was the news that Larry Lucchino is stepping down as team president at the end of the season. The news wasn’t much of a surprise given the rumors during spring training, but it’s certainly significant. Lucchino was part of John Henry’s original group that purchased the team in 2002, and played an integral role in the three World Series championships since. He’s had a say in a number of roster moves that were made in that time. He was also the driving force in the many renovations made throughout Fenway Park. However, as Lucchino mentioned in his statement Sunday, it was time for a change. The Sox are on their way to a last-place finish for the third time in the last four years and reports suggest Lucchino had been less involved in the organization. Lucchino will be succeeded by Sam Kennedy, who, as WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes, will be more invested in the business side of the organization and less involved in baseball operations.The Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman writes that this move is just the beginning of a slew of changes that could take place between now and Opening Day. Two changes Silverman doesn’t expect to be made are at manager and general manager, despite the notable failures of both John Farrell and Ben Cherington over the last two seasons.
The biggest shakeup that should take place for the Red Sox this offseason is in the starting rotation. Their pitching struggles are no secret to anyone who follows baseball. Boston owns the fourth-worst team ERA in baseball at 4.52 and only a marginally better team DRA at 4.12. The Sox should feel lucky it’s not worse given the disasters that Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly and Justin Masterson have represented this season. The most obvious issue is the Red Sox’s lack of a true ace (or respectable No. 1 starter for that matter). With that in mind, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tried to determine where the Sox can find that coveted ace. Possible trade targets MacPherson suggested were Carlos Carrasco, Jacob DeGrom and Sonny Gray. All three starters are still young and in many ways up-and-coming, but all three are also putting up ace-quality numbers, ranking in the top 15 in FIP. DeGrom and Gray are both in the top 10 in baseball in DRA. Acquiring any of those three seems like a longshot, but nonetheless any of those moves would requiring parting ways with top-tier prospects. The Sox could also pursue free agents to-be such as Johnny Cueto, David Price, Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann. But if the Jon Lester negotiations taught us anything it’s that we shouldn’t expect them to spend top-dollar and award long-term deals to proven No. 1’s.
Watching a last-place team isn’t fun. Yet for some reason we do it anyways. Owning the worst record in the American League does have its benefits, however. As Alex Speier of The Boston Globe points out, that distinction would give the Sox first dibs at claiming players off waivers. That could put Boston in position to make a push for that quality starter it desperately needs.
If you were hoping Hanley Ramirez would never play left field again after this season, you may be disappointed once you read this. Despite ranking statistically as the worst left fielder in baseball, Ramirez told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith that he wants to play there again next season, especially over any spot in the infield. Ramirez explained that he’s been healthier this season as a left fielder than he had been over the past few years as a shortstop, giving him more reason to take his lumps in left for another year.
The trade deadline was far from eventful for the Red Sox. They did, however, acquire reliever Ryan Cook from Oakland. Sox fans may not care much for the deal, but Cook told the Boston media he’s excited to join the team. Whether or not Cook earns a spot in the Sox’s 2016 bullpen could hinge on how he performs down the stretch. The righty’s 10.38 ERA in four major league appearances this season is discouraging, but he does have a history of success, posting a 2.89 FIP in 73.1 innings in 2012 and a 2.74 FIP over 67.1 frames in 2013.
Now for some injury news. Rick Porcello is heading to the disabled list for the first time in his career with what is being called a right triceps strain. In a perfect world, the Sox won’t see him pitch for the rest of the season. Joining Porcello on the DL is Brian Johnson, who is dealing with elbow tightness. Mookie Betts, on the other hand, is making progress. Betts, who was diagnosed with a concussion after toppling over the right-field wall and into the Red Sox bullpen last week, is expected to join the team in Detroit this weekend.
Three Good Game Stories
Wade Miley was strong on Sunday, as CSNNE.com’s Jimmy Toscano writes, even if it wasn’t enough to earn a win over the Rays.
Travis Shaw hit his first two major league home runs and scored five times in the Sox’s win on Saturday. WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable explains how Shaw’s modest demeanor after the game comes from having seen his father, Jeff, play in the majors as well.
Many were surprised to see Mike Napoli still in Boston after Friday’s trade deadline passed. But, as the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato writes, Napoli led the Sox to a comeback win over the Rays that night.
Photo by Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports Images