Resilient Red Sox need to be deadline buyers and it’s time for Dave Dombrowski to shop

Jim Hackett
June 20, 2019 - 11:05 am

The offseason team building effort for the 2019 Boston Red Sox was similar to the start of their season on the field, sluggish.

The sights in the rearview mirror were a little too pretty during the winter months, as the urgency to add quite obviously needed bullpen arms simply wasn’t present. As the Red Sox have slowly begun to round into form on the field, the players and manager have shown signs of collective resilience, enough to earn the right for some much needed air support from the front office in the coming weeks if not sooner.

Yes, as we approach the mid-season point of the 2019 season, despite their very auspicious start throughout the spring, today your Boston Red Sox are sitting in the second wildcard spot, coming off of one of their most impressive series wins of the season in Minnesota. It’s obvious to me that Dombrowski took a bit of a wait and see approach to the building process for this 2019 Red Sox edition. I disagreed with it then as I do now, but I also I understood it, at least partially. Over-paying Craig Kimbrel this offseason with his pathetic October performance fresh in the memory wasn’t a good option. Although losing Joe Kelly felt like a luxury they couldn’t afford and it happened anyway.

With the luxury tax looming and a World Series ring on his finger, Dombrowski rolled the dice and basically stuck with what he had in house this offseason. The results of said dice roll have been very similar to what happens on a craps table on any given night. It’s inconsistent and unreliable. Wins, losses, comebacks, walk-offs, blown leads and blown chances. 76 games totaling up to a predictably unpredictable outcome. Through it all the Red Sox are actually up at the tables, ever so slightly. However, that’s not the true story of the 2019 season to date. The truth is that the players and manager are laying out all the cash, without much help from daddy. If the goal is another run at the World Series, then it’s time for Dombrowski to intervene.

Despite the inconsistency and the cavalier approach to the offseason, three facts have emerged during these 76 games thus far:

  • The 2019 Red Sox are resilient enough.

It’s been frustrating for sure, but give the Sox this, they are not giving up. Despite a myriad of issues over the first couple of months, they have started to show some urgency in their approach and finally, the results are coming. There are several examples of late to cite. The last seven days have been telling. Forcing a split against Texas was necessary after two frustrating home losses. Going to Baltimore and accepting nothing less than a sweep against the lowly Orioles was needed and executed. This was followed by a strong showing against the suddenly mighty Minnesota Twins. The Sox showed focus and fight. They are showing the necessary resilience in the presence of season long inconsistency. It’s not perfect, but heir play overall has improved, as has their standing.

  • The Yankees are going for the kill.

The acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion is a clear sign. They will add a starter too and I have no doubt in my mind about that. If that starter is Madison Bumgarner and it very well could be, then the task to defend gets even more daunting. The Yankees have a big old chip on their shoulder coupled with the resources and will to cure what ails them despite the cost or shall we say…tax.

Red Sox fans know all too well what a dangerous combination this is.

  • It’s time to fix the bullpen.

What we knew all along throughout the offseason has proved to be their true Achilles heel once again. The Red Sox bullpen needs an infusion of more proven, major league arms. Good ones, more candidly at least one great one.

76 games into the season and the Red Sox have 14 blown potential saves -- two on Tuesday night alone. If just half of those opportunities were protected, the American League East lead would be well within reach.

That 6-13 start to the season showed many warts, most of the unexpected variety. The starting pitching wasn’t ready. Timely hitting non-existent. Defensive lapses and mental errors occurred with mind-numbing consistency. While the bullpen, the team’s biggest known problem casually faded into the background as fans, media, followers, observers and the team themselves sifted through the muck.

Unsurprisingly, as the team woke up and shook off the early season warts, the true handicap for the team resurfaced and has now disabled this team too many times. Despite all that, this team has slowly proved to again be worthy of help.

Enter Dombrowski.

It’s hard to statistically quantify this with a record of 41-35 but the Red Sox players have earned a little help from their friends upstairs. I actually like the collection of guys the Red Sox have in the bullpen, I just prefer them in different roles. Dombrowski was right about one thing, there’s talent there, just not enough of it. The Red Sox are two arms short.

They have patched it up pretty well despite the blown opportunities with the emergence of guys like Marcus Walden and Mike Shawaryn as prime examples. Matt Barnes, Ryan Braiser and Heath Hembree have all had to do more then what their individual make-up probably justifies. For the most part, each has responded to the challenge pretty well. Inconsistent but decent is a fair ruling I would say. However, Dombrowski cannot leave manager Alex Cora or his current bullpen stable in this state permanently. They’ve needed a late inning stopper all year long. It’s time to fix it. Over-time.

So now the season really begins for Dave Dombrowski. If contention is the goal then the complacency shown so far in 2019 is no longer a suitable tactic. The players have shown enough of late to justify the shot in the arm that is required. Final judgement on this season now lays squarely on Dombrowski alone.

If I were him, I wouldn’t wait.

Related: This is the Eduardo Rodriguez the Red Sox desperately need