Red Sox: Take my bullpen, please!

The Boston Red Sox bullpen is a wreck. So much for the obvious, but a housecleaning is desperately needed and it will certainly happen.

The Boston Red Sox are a Massachusetts and New England team – an area prone to storms of incredible strength and destruction. A nor’easter can ravage seaside communities with hurricane winds and tides that are capable of washing away even the most sturdy and reinforced structures. Even partial damage usually results in only one option – tear it down and build it again.

The Red Sox bullpen is similar to a friend’s home in nearby Situate that faced such a demise where it was bulldozed and removed. That is the fate that faces the Red Sox bullpen – the most Gawd-awful collection of missing parts I have witnessed in many seasons.

Dave Dombrowski made the expected moves prior to the season. The situation was well-known that what was presented in 2015 would certainly flounder in 2016. The 2015 collection finished dead last in the American League with a collective ineptness that cried out for radical change.

Carson Smith was acquired via trade to stabilize the bridge to new closer Craig Kimbrel. Questions about the pitching style of Smith being an accident waiting to happen proved correct. Kimbrel was an elite closer and may still be depending on how you present the stats. My impression is Kimbrel is a pitcher that makes me reach out for an industrial size bottle of Zoloft.

The only positive one can glean from the assortment of failures that currently populate the bullpen is that some teams are actually presenting a collection that makes ours look presentable. Like graduating third in your class when only three graduated. The statistic that certainly haunts me is my favorite – BB/9. The Red Sox are only exceeded by the White Sox in the inability to discover where the plate is located.

This bullpen needs to be fumigated and done as quickly when the season ends. There is absolutely no one worth keeping and that includes the closer. The very good news is Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Brad Ziegler are all free agents and can be bid adieu. For good news Fernando Abad – a truly incompetent lefty – is arbitration eligible. He’ll be disposed of like a very used diaper.

The rest of this sinister cast of ineffectual impostors is certainly expendable. Robbie Ross, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes and other bodies that are tossed into baseball fray could disappear from the roster and I would not shed a tear. The only ones that could be inconsolable are the hitters – the impact on league averages could be dramatic.

The frustration for me is two-fold. The first is the emergence of a take change arm or two or even three. No one really stepped up to the next level and grabbed the opportunity. Trial runs by Joe Kelly, Pat Light, and Roenis Elias had multiple opportunities that resulted in multiple failures. The chance to be a dramatic impact personage from the bullpen was greeted like they were parrots at a cat show.

The second  is the staggering level of inconsistency – either individually or collectively. The player or the collective would suddenly find gold at the end of the pitching rainbow and in the next game turn in magically into pyrite. The entire crew resembled Sisyphus.

So much for the obvious. They are wretched and we all know it.

The Red Sox need to scour the free agent market and they most certainly will. Bodies are available, but the quality crop is rather lean – like my cornfield in our existing drought. The most prized objects will cost heavily and the completion will be financially formidable. I fully expect the Cubs to open the coffers for Aroldis Chapman and the Dodgers to follow suit with Kenley Jansen.

The Red Sox will certainly have to expand their horizons and make some trades of note. Teams can be tempted with prospects – just ask the Padres. Dombrowski has been historically not shy about consummating deals that will provide some reasonable support for a rotation that appears to have some nice kick to it.

Now the reality.

So much for my rant – a venting aphrodisiac when discussing the accomplishments (sarcasm switch engaged) of the Red Sox bullpen. The management will certainly retain a few, but just how many is their decision. I would jettison each and every one, including our “stud” closer. Won’t happen. Management will move methodically to correct (again) the baseball Achilles heel of the Red Sox.

The fact is clear – expect this team to make moves and make them aggressively.

Sources: Fangraphs

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