A week ago, Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was relieved from his duties with the team and was replaced by former Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski. With the team in last place for the third time in four years despite a $167 million payroll, Dombrowski certainly has his work cut out for him.
However, the Red Sox have some hope. They have a deep farm system with numerous prospects, and some have proved their worth with the major league club this year. The brightest of the bunch is Xander Bogaerts, a 22-year-old shortstop in his third season with the club. He has enjoyed a breakout campaign this year, posting a .315 batting average and adding 60 RBIs.
But others like Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart and Eduardo Rodriguez have also had great years. Betts, an athletic center fielder, has homered 11 times and drove in 59 runs, while posting a .273 batting average along with 17 stolen bases this year. Blake Swihart has stepped into the catcher position due to his predecessors’ numerous injuries and has held his own, posting a .271 batting average, and Eduardo Rodriguez has been brilliant but inconsistent on the hill.
The problem with the club does not lie with the youngsters. And due to their immense potential, as well as the promise of other prospects like left-handed pitcher Henry Owens, third baseman Rafael Devers, infielder Yoan Moncada and even center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., Dombrowski could essentially go out and acquire any player of his choosing via trade.
The problem lies with the veterans. Cherington signed several experienced players to expensive contracts to replicate the team’s success in 2013 that brought a World Series championship to Boston. Numerous players can be blamed, but it starts with Hanley Ramirez, a player who gives arguably the least effort of any player in MLB.
This offseason, the Red Sox gave Hanley a four-year, $88 million contract on good faith that he’d learn to play a new position, left field, and hit like he had throughout his career. One problem: he didn’t do either. He posted 11 home runs in the first month of the season but has made only eight home runs in the past four months. He has a .249 batting average, the second worst of his career, and he only has 53 RBIs (seven since the All-Star break) despite hitting in the middle of the order. And here’s the cherry on top: his -30 defensive runs saved per year is the worst of all outfielders in baseball. To be frank, Hanley Ramirez has been a total failure.
His teammate and fellow free agent signing Pablo Sandoval hasn’t been much better. Playing on a five-year, $95 million contract, “Kung Fu Panda,” as he is known, has batted .259 and only drove in 41 RBIs. His clubhouse antics, which include using social media during games, have also added to the fan base’s dismay regarding Sandoval.
Sandoval and Hanley weren’t the only bad contracts. Shane Victorino made $13 million this year to play 33 games and bat .245. Mike Napoli made $13 million to bat .207 and strike out 99 times in 98 games. Justin Masterson made $9 million and was bad enough to be demoted and released before the end of August. Lastly, Cherington traded Yoenis Cespedes, who has a .296 batting average, 25 home runs and 81 RBIs this season, for Rick Porcello and gave Porcello a 4-year, $80 million extension. Porcello has responded with a 6-11 record with a 5.47 ERA.
Since his World Series title, Ben Cherington made all the wrong calls. It’s up to new GM Dave Dombrowski to right the ship, and although there are numerous problems, priority number one should be dumping Hanley Ramirez’s lazy attitude and terrible contract. Ridding the Red Sox of Hanley would be a great first step in the right direction.
Jake Foote is a rising sophomore in the College. This is the final installment of The Hot Stove.