The return to baseball following the All-Star break brought us a heaping dose of middling.
Boston won a game it shouldn’t have, and then lost a game it shouldn’t have, then split a doubleheader in games which effectively ended just as they should have.
It was an opportunity to begin to really pull away with the AL East, and it wound up being a reset to where we were heading into the All-Star Game.
What we learned, or at least what we saw, is that this club has the starting pitching and the defense to make a deep run into the playoffs — with the caveat that any such team needs timely hitting, and the Red Sox just didn’t get a lot of that over the four-game set with the Yankees.
So that leaves a big question mark heading into the thick of trade season. How does Dave Dombrowski & crew go about fixing that?
The snap reaction out in the echo chamber is to dive into the rental market.
While demonstrative, it’s still a move that leaves little substantive answer.
Flatly, Todd Frazier can hit for power, no doubt about it. But he doesn’t hit a lot period (.207 as of July 18).
That’s a concern.
Is the answer for a team in search of timely hitting a guy that hits in two out of every 10 at-bats?
Many will point to his 16 home runs, but that’s in a sample size of 335 plate appearances this year.
So, He’ll slug you a home run every 21 plate appearances or so. Or every five games.
That’s a plus.
A plus that may have helped in a series like this against the Yankees. A plus that could become a major storyline in a seven-game series this postseason.Embed from Getty Images
But in a five-game series or (God forbid) a one-game playoff, it could also be a complete non-factor.
As was argued to me on Twitter, there’s no real harm if the club doesn’t give up a substantial price for Frazier.
With that, I think I agree.
But I keep coming back to 2013.
Frazier almost certainly delays the arrival of Rafael Devers until 2018.
And the first blush is, “What’s really the harm in that?”
Maybe there isn’t any.
Or maybe it would be a missed opportunity.
Think back to Xander Bogaerts, who rose from Single-A to Double-A in 2012, from Double-A to Triple-A in early 2013 and then from Triple-A to his big league debut on Aug. 20, 2013.
Granted, Bogaerts had most of the year to adapt to Triple-A.
But, after being called up to Boston, he was a big part of winning that World Series while starting at third base.
He batted .250 with five RBIs in 18 games to close out the regular season and then batted .296 and scored nine runs in the postseason while coming up with a number of clutch moments.
What if, by moving for a player like Frazier, the club blocks a potential Bogaerts-esque sparkplug in the form of Devers (who, incidentally, is batting .455 since being called up to Pawtucket on Friday after destroying Double-A pitching through the first half.)?
In that case, maybe there’s no long-term cost, but there might be a short-term pitfall.
It’s baseball: there are no givens and no one can see the future.
But Xander Bogaerts offered an outline for youthful energy and talent translating into postseason success.
There’s at least a reasonable argument to made that Devers could make a similar transition.
His defense is there, his bat is promising and he doesn’t the club anything in terms of prospects that may (or may not) pan out.
We’ll just have to wait and see which way it goes.