Three moves the Red Sox can make to try their luck originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Red Sox have returned to the outskirts of the mosh pit known as the American League playoff race, but if they really want to start throwing elbows and spinning in circles, they’re going to have to keep pushing towards the front of the scene. .
With wins in five straight games and eight of nine, they sit just two games from the last wildcard spot. There’s an opening to move, because the Yankees reek of weakness, in such disarray they named broadcaster Sean Casey as batting coach to revive their moribund Aaron Judge-less offense.
It’s called an opportunity, and the Red Sox need to seize it. They are currently an absurd 12-1 against the Yankees and Jays. Finish ahead of both, and a playoff spot is almost certainly theirs. So how do they do it? Here are three moves that need to happen.
He was a playoff hero in 2021, but that’s about when his contributions ended. By any statistical measure, not to mention the eye test, Hernández was one of the worst everyday baseball players.
His under-0.7 war ranks 615th out of 644 players to swing a bat, and he fails in every facet of the game. He leads all shortstops in errors (14), he hits just .221 and his OPS .602 ranks last among team regulars.
The Red Sox treated him as a central player when marketing the team this winter, and the folly of that decision is becoming more blatant by the day. Trade him, bench him, DFA him, but take him out of formation. He’s less of a defender than Yu Chang in short, less of a hitter than Christian Arroyo at second, and forgets to play him in the outfield against Jarren Duran.
Just removing Hernández from the equation will be a net positive.
2. Find a starting pitcher
The Red Sox held up remarkably well in the absence of Chris Sale (scapula), Garrett Whitlock (elbow pain) and Tanner Houck (line drive to the face). But they can’t realistically expect to keep winning with openers and five shutout innings from Nick Pivetta.
They need reinforcements and the miners are run dry. In a perfect world, the arrival of another starter would allow someone like right-hander Kutter Crawford to bolster the bullpen alongside the expected return of setup man John Schreiber.
So who is potentially available? Lots of names. Assuming Shohei Ohtani stays put, the biggest prize could be Guardians right-hander Shane Bieber, the 2020 Cy Young Award winner who remains eligible for arbitration until 2024, meaning the Red Sox won would buy as more than just a rental.
But there could also be former Cy Young suitors like Lucas Giolito of the White Sox or old friend Eduardo Rodriguez of the Tigers. E-Rod looked like an All-Star before being sidelined with a finger injury. He still boasts a 2.64 ERA in 12 starts. Giolito, meanwhile, would be a direct hire.
Whichever direction Bloom decides to take, the rotation needs reinforcements.
3. Keep riding on the youth movement
Duran has deviously become a five-tool player and he has to play every day, even if that means trading productive outfielder Adam Duvall for bullpen or rotation help. Brayan Bello is already looking like a stopper at the top of the rotation, and Triston Casas has been hammering the ball for over a month, although that is yet to be reflected in his stats.
Perhaps another piece of the future will come on the heels in the form of standout all-rounder Ceddanne Rafaela, a star defender at center and potentially just as short. He recently earned a promotion to Triple-A Worcester, where he hit four home runs in 11 games.
Bloom thinks he’s setting the stage to build a lasting winner, and Rafaela is one of them. Maybe their youngsters will lead them down the stretch.