48+ Hours of Crazy in the AL East – Grading the Moves

With the exception of the Baltimore Orioles, AL East teams were all active participants in one of the craziest trade deadlines in history. The race for the division is now tighter than even the standings show, with 4 teams vying for the division title with around 57 or 58 games to play. Let’s review the moves and rate the success as the sprint to the playoffs begins…

Red Sox – C

In: OF Kyle Schwarber, P Hansel Robles, P Austin Davis

Out: INF/OF Michael Chavis, P Alex Scherff, P Aldo Ramirez

Currently hanging on by a thread as the 1st place team in the division, the Red Sox had a disappointing deadline. In need of a 1B and a SP or RP to bolster their chances, they filled 1/2 of one of their needs and got a few mediocre arms that may or may not fit into the picture. The addition of Kyle Schwarber is strong and the only reason they got a C-. If he can recover quickly from his hamstring issue then he can be an asset, but when put in the context of needs and what the rest of the division did, it’s not good enough.

That being said, the prospect price for bigger names was sky-high this year and Chaim Bloom stuck to his guns of not giving up the farm to contend this year. He didn’t want to hurt the system he is building for the future, a stark contrast to Dave Dombrowski’s approach. By continuing to build and grow the system, the Red Sox will be able to compete each and every year, although I don’t think they have the pitching to contend in 2021.

Rays – C+

In: OF/DH Nelson Cruz, P JT Chargois, 3B Austin Shenton, OF Jordan Luplow, P DJ Johnson

Out: P Rich Hill, P Diego Castillo, P Peyton Battenfield

The Rays had a bit of a puzzling week before the trade deadline. They brought in notorious Red Sox killer Nelson Cruz, who will help when the two teams face off 13 times the remainder of the season. Then they traded away veteran starter Rich Hill which seemed like the beginning of a flurry of moves, and then they didn’t do a whole lot. They traded away P Diego Castillo and brought in a handful of prospects, but other than Cruz, they didn’t get much better.

The Rays are in a strong position to fight for the division title and didn’t need to do a lot at the deadline. I’m surprised they didn’t add another piece or two, but I’m also not sure they needed to add.

Yankees – B

In: OF Joey Gallo, 1B Anthony Rizzo, P Andrew Heaney, P Joely Rodriguez

Out: P Glenn Otto, 2B Josh Smith, SS Ezequiel Duran, 2B Trevor Hauver, P Alexander Vizcaino, OF Kevin Alcantara, P Janson Junk, P Elvis Peguero

Like the Red Sox, the Yankees failed to seriously address one need: starting pitching. However, they did address a major need for left-handed power in the lineup by bringing in two big-power guys in OF Joey Gallo and 1B Anthony Rizzo. It’s unclear whether they really needed Rizzo or were just adamant about keeping him away from the Red Sox, but he will certainly improve the Yankees lineup. Rodriguez and Heaney don’t move the needle much, if at all.

The amount and level of prospects traded is significant for the Yankees, including their #7 (Alcantara), #8 (Duran), #11 (Vizcaino), #19 (Smith), #29 (Hauver), and #37 (Otto) according to the FanGraphs in February. The Red Sox don’t have the luxury of trading that level of prospects for some rental players.

Blue Jays – A-

In: P Jose Berrios, P Brad Hand, P Joakim Soria, P Shawn Armstrong

Out: SS Austin Martin, P Simeon Woods Richardson, C Riley Adams, P T.J. Zeuch

The addition of Jose Berrios and Brad Hand were big get for the Jays. Their pitching staff was very strong and now is undoubtedly the best in the division. Between starters Hyun Jun Ryu, Robbie Ray, Ross Stripling, and reliever Jordan Romano added to the new additions, they are potent. The biggest issue for the Jays is the traffic in front of them as they sit in 4th in the division and back a bit in the wild card race.

With the bolstering of the pitching staff and an already strong lineup, the Yankees better watch their back over the final stretch. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jays grab a wild card spot or pressure the Red Sox and Rays for the division lead.

Orioles – N/A

In: P Tyler Burch

Out: SS Freddy Galvis, P Shawn Armstrong

What can I say? The Orioles are terrible and didn’t do anything to improve and why would they? They sent Freddy Galvis to the Phillies and Shawn Armstrong to the Rays and they will still finish last in the division by 30+ games. I can’t in good conscience give the Orioles a grade, because it’s just not fair, or worth it.

Anthony Rizzo: The Right Player at the Right Time

Just as the 2008 season was about to begin, I remember hearing about a kid in the Red Sox minor-league system. He was a 6-3 220lb (now 240lbs) first base prospect, but it wasn’t his baseball prowess that was being talked about; it was his health. The 6th round selection in 2007 out of high school, Anthony Rizzo, had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 18. Rizzo began a 6-month battle including chemotherapy that thankfully resulted in the cancer going into remission in September 2008.

This was obviously terrible news for me personally, but it was even more grueling for my family because my Grandma was facing her own battle with breast cancer at the very same time. As bad as my chemotherapy treatments made me feel, I knew I had to dig deep and stay strong for everyone around me.

Anthony Rizzo, Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation website

After recovering and feeling strong enough to resume his baseball career, Rizzo began to take off in 2009. Between A Greenville and A+ Salem, Rizzo hit .297 with 12 HRs and 166 RBIs. The biggest knock on him was his lack of power for a first baseman, but he was still climbing up the Red Sox prospect list to #8 in September 2009* and began 2010 at #5. In 2010, Rizzo began the year in A+ Salem before moving up to AA Portland and combined for to hit .334 with 25 HRs and 100 RBIs. The expectations were rapidly rising for the 6th round pick and he finished the season as the #3 prospect in the system.

It looked as though Rizzo would make the jump to AAA in 2011 and perhaps knock on the major league door as the year wore on, but his Red Sox story was cut short. In December 2010, Theo Epstein traded Anthony Rizzo, P Casey Kelly, OF Reymond Fuentes, and OF/2B Eric Patterson (player-to-be-named-later) to the San Diego Padres for 1B Adrian Gonzalez. Rizzo was then traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2012.

Since arriving in Chicago, Rizzo has shown what we saw glimpses of when he was younger. He is a 3x all-star, 4x gold glove award winner, a silver slugger award winner, and helped the Cubs break their world series drought in 2016. He appeared in at least 85% of his teams’ games from 2013 to 2020 and didn’t see his first DL-stint until 2018. At nearly 32, his best days are probably behind him in his career, but now is the perfect time for him to return to where his career began.


The rumors of a Rizzo return to Boston have been gaining momentum each day as the trade deadline approaches. One of the only offensive/defensive needs the Red Sox have through 101 games in the 2021 season is at first base and Rizzo has an expiring contract on a terrible Cubs team, so will come at a lower price than some other options. It wouldn’t just be a feel-good story, he would be a useful addition to the roster. Bobby Dalbec is just not getting the job done and the rotation of a 2B/OF Michael Chavis and OF Franchy Cordero in that spot is a clear weakness.

While I’m still hopeful that Dalbec can improve and take the 1B spot beyond 2021, the Red Sox need to fill the hole for the remainder of this year if they want to continue competing with the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East and ultimately for a championship. A veteran leader in the clubhouse, a strong defensive presence, and someone who can hit for power from the left-side of the plate. What more could you want?

*According to SoxProspects.com

Looking into the Red Sox Future

Over the past 5 years, the Red Sox have had some great success drafting and developing young talent. Tonight is the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft and rather than attempt to analyze who the Red Sox might pick, let’s take a look at who they have picked over the past 5 years and see where they are now. Since there are 40 rounds, the focus will be narrowed to top part of the draft and any notable lower picks. For those who are already bored, at least take a look at the 2011 draft, it’s something special!

2011
Round 1
RHP Matt Barnes (UConn)
C Blake Swihart

Compensation Round A
LHP Henry Owens
OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

Rounds 2, 3, and 5 (in order)
OF Williams Jerez
C Jordan Weems
RHP Noe Ramirez
SS Mookie Betts

Round 9
3B Travis Shaw

Arguably the best draft of all time, by any team. Of the top 8 players selected, 6 have seen time with the Boston Red Sox this season (2 are back in AAA Pawtucket) and the other 2 are progressing with the AA Portland Sea Dogs. To prove the point even further, 5 of the top 12 picks are either everyday offensive players or frequent bullpen arms for the Red Sox in 2016, not including the 2 other pitchers in that group who have contributed at the big league level this year.

For those who are unfamiliar with how rare this draft truly was, take a look at the other drafts after this one for the Red Sox. There are usually 1-3 players who make the big leagues or who are waiting in the wings at AAA in a really good draft. This draft, thus far for the Red Sox, has produced 7 legitimate big league players, including a few picks that are on their way to becoming superstars.

2012
Round 1
SS Deven Marrero
LHP Brian Johnson

Compensation Round A
RHP Pat Light

Rounds 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 (in order)
RHP Jamie Callahan
RHP Austin Maddox
RHP Ty Buttrey
RHP Mike Augliera
RHP Justin Haley

Another nice draft for the Red Sox. The top 3 players selected have all seen time in the big leagues, Deven Marrero and Brian Johnson in 2015 and Pat Light for one appearance in 2016. All 3 have the potential to be solid major league talents, whether the opportunity is in Boston or another city through trade. Depending on health and the Red Sox pitching situation, I can see Johnson and Light getting another shot in the big leagues in 2016. With Brock Holt out with concussion symptoms, I see Marrero being the next guy in line for an infield spot if another injury were to occur.

Of the next 5 players selected for the Red Sox, 4 are with the AA Portland Sea Dogs and only RHP Jamie Callahan (2nd round) is in advanced A Salem.

2013
Round 1
LHP Trey Ball

Rounds 2, 3, and 4 (in order)
RHP Teddy Stankiewicz
C John Denney
RHP Myles Smith

This draft is where it gets difficult for a non-minor league baseball scout to analyze. Most of the guys taken in this draft are still in A or advanced-A ball and stats at that level are hard to interpret. The 1 player from this draft who has climbed the organizational ladder quite quickly is RHP Teddy Stankiewicz, who is currently pitching for the AA Portland Sea Dogs (although his numbers would indicate a bit of a struggle at the AA level). LHP Trey Ball, the first round pick, is a name that is mentioned often in Red Sox circles, and despite some shaky numbers in the low minors, he has improved year over year. Just don’t expect to see any of these guys in the majors for a few years.

2014
Round 1
SS Michael Chavis
RHP Michael Kopech

Rounds 2, 3, and 4 (in order)
1B Sam Travis
RHP Jake Cosart
RHP Kevin McAvoy

Most of the top of this draft class is still with the A Greenville Drive. The one major exception is 1B Sam Travis who has shot up the Red Sox system since being drafted. He began the year in AAA Pawtucket, with many thinking an MLB call-up this year was not out of the question assuming an injury or two. Then disaster struck when Travis tore his ACL, which ended his season before it really got interesting. His meteoric rise was great to follow, but this set-back really hurts (no pun intended). Once the ACL heals and Travis is able to get back on the field in 2017, hopefully he can resume his great climb to the majors. If he can pick up where he left off, he’ll be in the majors before too long.

2015
Round 1
OF Andrew Benintendi

Rounds 3, 4, and 5 (in order)
C Austin Rei
CF Tate Matheny
CF Jagger Rusconi

It is way too early to properly assess this draft class as a whole, but 1 name that will be familiar to some is first round pick OF Andrew Benintendi. He was drafted out of Arkansas and has moved up to AA Portland this season. He is struggling a bit early on, but that’s to be expected from a 21-year old kid. The Red Sox have high hopes that Benintendi will be a great outfield talent in the future.