With many fans and media members assuming the first big splash of the offseason for the Red Sox would come at the front end of the rotation, Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox front office instead shored up the back end of the Sox bullpen in trading four minor league prospects to San Diego for Padres closer Craig Kimbrel. Don Orsillo was not included in the deal.
While the Red Sox desperately needed a closer after 40-year-old Koji Uehera showed clear signs of decline last season, I’m not sure this trade is what the Red Sox needed.
Before Uehera took off in 2013, Red Sox fans might remember that the front office traded for Joel Hanrahan. Granted the Red Sox probably won that deal as they also received Brock Holt, Hanrahan never took off for the Sox and ended his only season in Boston with only four saves in nine appearances and an ugly 9.82 ERA. Andrew Bailey, the Red Sox second option that season, faired only slightly better and eventually went down with a season ending injury in July.
What does that all mean? Sometimes closers don’t workout in different environments. A closer has his routine down to a science with each pitch calculated. Heck, it even goes further than that. The Dropkick Murphy’s I’m Shipping Up To Boston would energize Fenway as Jonathan Papelbon sprinted from the bullpen door to the infield dirt and then slowly walked to the mound. Papaelbon aged in dog years after going to Philadelphia and now enjoys mocking and fighting Bryce Harper in Washington.
I’m hoping Dombrowski knows enough about Kimbrel and his personality to know if he’ll fit the closer role in Boston.
Now, the second big story from the past week. Ken Rosenthal reporting that David Ortiz will retire at the end of the 2016 season. As a fan this saddens me because I became a true Red Sox fan in 2003 and had multiple posters/magazine covers/framed pictures of Big Papi hanging in my room (if we’re being honest some of them are still there). When the next great Red Sox player comes along as I’m raising my kids and they ask me who was “the guy” when I was growing up, David Ortiz will be my answer every time.
But as an objective blogger, journalist, non-fan of the Red Sox, student of the game of baseball, Red Sox critic, this move perplexes me a little. David Ortiz is two years removed from one of the most dominating World Series performances ever and is currently coming off a season where he had 37 HRs, 108 RBIs, and a 0.913 OPS. Those aren’t numbers of a player who is ready to retire. I understand he is turning 40 today, but there have been many guys who have played, and played well, past the age of 40. This is the MLB not the NFL.
Secondly, this has the notorious Red Sox PR fingerprints all over it. Ortiz announcing his retirement on his 40th birthday and just in time for the surge of holiday season tickets? I wouldn’t be surprised if there were “Papi’s 2016 Farewell Tour” t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats in the Red Sox team store by Black Friday.
Ortiz’ announcement on The Players’ Tribune: