Boston Red Sox

Drellich: Yankees trade for Todd Frazier shows Red Sox limitations

Drellich: Yankees trade for Todd Frazier shows Red Sox limitations

BOSTON -- The Todd Frazier-David Robertson-Tommy Kahnle trade became official at midnight. Two minutes later, Deven Marrero couldn’t get an 11th-inning bunt down on three tries and struck out. 

The Red Sox and Blue Jays trudged into a marathon game from there, one that ended more than an hour later. Hanley Ramirez finally parked one over the Green Monster in the 15th inning for a 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays.

So the Red Sox’ offense did scrape by Tuesday, but just barely. On the same night, the team’s front office was forced to watch as the Yankees launched a surprise attack in the trade market and poked the Red Sox in the eye.

Want that third baseman? You can't have him.

Too often, the Sox look powerless right now. That goes for both the lineup and the man who assembled it, Dave Dombrowski.

There’s nothing Dombrowski could have done to stop the Yankees, to sway Chicago to send Frazier to Boston instead. Or, more accurately, there’s nothing Dombrowski should have done.

The luxury tax threshold is a concern, with little room for the Sox to add. In that sense, they are at the mercy of baseball’s now forced cyclical nature. 

So, to his credit, Dombrowski remained disciplined and didn't pull out all the stops. He’s spoken publicly about the need to hold onto prospects, and he backed that up Tuesday.

But the harsher reality: The Sox have already spent most of their savings. Dombrowski’s already pulled off a blockbuster. More than one. Only two certified gold doubloons remain: Rafael Devers and Jason Groome. 

Sox owner John Henry spoke to Dombrowski in the front office suite during the game, once news of the trade had come out. The conversation could have been run of the mill and coincidental, but the timing was hard to ignore.

Red Sox fans can now enjoy watching Yoan Moncada play in the big leagues for the White Sox -- a team that, after helping the Yankees Tuesday, promoted Moncada to the majors for the first time since the Red Sox dealt him for Chris Sale. 

No one would rightly undo the Sale trade, because he's been amazing. But Moncada’s promotion is simply a reminder of the cost of doing business. The Brewers’ Travis Shaw, and the home run he deposited into the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, are the same.

Brian Cashman’s Yankees are at a different point in their development cycle than Dombo’s Sox. There’s an excitement in the sheer magnitude of the Frazier trade, in the surprise of seeing the Yankees jump out of the bushes and look once again like, well, the Yankees. 

"Pretty good players, but I believe in our team," Ramirez said of New York's haul. "We’ll just see. We have to keep pushing to the limit.”

An American League East without blockbusters doesn’t feel right, and Cashman slow played this. Do the Sox now need their own move?

"I have no comments," Ramirez said. "It’s not my job. I’ve got to just come back in a couple of hours and win again."

The Yankees are just getting started, really. Cashman has spent time building up the farm system. He has a young core that's to be taken seriously, and has a lineup that’s better than Boston’s and now a bullpen that might be the best in the majors. 

Dombrowski still has time and the ability to improve the Red Sox. The Sale-David Price one-two punch looks second to none. But the offense isn’t going to drastically improve via trade.

Power has been the theme all year for the Red Sox. As the Yanks showed off theirs Tuesday and the Red Sox played 15 innings, what the Sox lack was only underscored -- both on the field and in their wherewithal to improve midseason.

Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better


Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz may not actually be the No. 2 starter for the Red Sox in this year’s presumed American League Division Series. Maybe the Sox will mix in a right-hander between Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Still, everyone knows which pitcher, in spirit, has been the second-most reliable for the Red Sox. A day after Chris Sale notched his 300th strikeout and on the final off-day of the regular season, it’s worth considering the importance of the other excellent lefty on the Sox, and how much he’s meant to a team that’s needed surprise performances because of the lineup’s drop-off.

Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Pomeranz is the second-most valuable lefthanded starter among those qualified in the American League (you know who's No. 1). He's one of the 10 best starters in the AL overall.


Pomeranz, 28, was a first-round pick seven years ago. But he didn’t exactly blossom until the last two years. He has a 3.15 ERA in 165 2/3 innings. His next start, if decent, should give him a career-high in innings after he threw 170 2/3 last year.

Pomeranz is a 16-game winner, just one win behind Sale. The value of wins and losses is known to be nil, but there’s still a picture of reliability that can be gleaned.

Is this the year Pomeranz became the pitcher he always envisioned he would be?

“I don’t know, I mean, I had a pretty dang good year last year,” Pomeranz said, referring to a 3.32 ERA between the Padres and Sox, and an All-Star selection. “I think these last two years have been kind of you know, more what I wanted to be like. But I still, I don’t think I’m done yet, you know what I mean?”

Most pro athletes say there’s always room to improve. Pomeranz, however, was able to specify what he wants. The focus is on his third and fourth pitches: his cutter and his change-up. 

“My changeup’s been really good this year,” Pomeranz said. “That’s something that still can go a lot further. And same with my cutter too. I still use it sparingly. I don’t think me just being a six-inning guy is the end of it for me either.

“You set personal goals. You want to throw more innings, cover more innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to cover those. Helps save them for right now during the year.”

Early in the year, Pomeranz wasn’t using his cutter much. He threw just nine in April, per That led to talk that he wasn’t throwing the pitch to take it easy on his arm. He did start the year on the disabled list, after all, and cutters and sliders can be more stressful on the elbow and forearm.

That wasn’t the case.

“The reason I didn’t throw it in the beginning of the year was because half the times I threw it went the other way,” Pomeranz said. “It backed up. Instead of cutting, it was like sinking or running back. I mean, I pitched [in Baltimore] and gave up a home run to [Manny] Machado, we were trying to throw one in and it went back. So I didn’t trust it.

“Mechanical thing. I was still trying to clean my mechanics up, and once I cleaned ‘em up and got my arm slot right, then everything started moving the way it was supposed to and then I started throwing it more.”

Pomeranz’s cutter usage, and how he developed the pitch heading into 2016, has been well documented.

The change-up is more of an X-factor. He threw five in each of his last two starts, per Brooks, and it’s a pitch he wants to use more.

“It’s been good,” Pomeranz said. “I think I could throw it a lot more and a lot more effectively, and ... tweaking of pitch selection probably could help me get into some of those later innings too.”

Well, then why not just throw the change more often? Easier said than done when you’re talking about your fourth pitch in a key moment.

“I throw a few a game,” Pomeranz said. “Sometimes you feel like you don’t want too throw it in situations where you get beat with your third or fourth best pitch. I mean it’s felt — every time I’ve thrown it it’s been consistent. It’s just a matter of, it’s something me and Vazqy [Christian Vazquez] talk about, too." 

(When you hear these kind of issues, which most pitchers deal with, it makes you appreciate Sale’s ability to throw any pitch at any time even more.)

Speaking on Wednesday, the day after Pomeranz’s most recent outing, Sox pitching coach Carl Willis said he thinks the change-up’s already starting to have a greater presence.

“He’s kind of always had a changeup, and he hadn’t had any trust or conviction in that pitch,” Willis said. “I was really excited last night that he used the changeup more. He threw it. He doubled up with it on occasion. Something that’s not in the scouting report.

"It’s his fourth pitch and he seldom threw it in a game and he’s in a situation where, OK, the change-up’s the right pitch, but location of whatever I throw is going to outweigh [selection]. Now he’s starting to gain that confidence [that he can locate it]. 

“I think that’s going to make him an extremely better pitcher. I thought it was a huge factor in his outing last night. Because he didn’t have his best velocity. He really did a good job of changing speeds with the changeup, and obviously with the curveball and being able to give different shapes of the pitches.”

The Sox already have the best left-hander in the AL, if not anywhere. The AL's second-best southpaw happens to pitch on the same team, and has tangible plans to be even better.


Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'


Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

BOSTON — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the the Yankees, MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, and players who can’t take criticism from broadcasters.

In a spot Thursday with WEEI, Werner made clear David Price’s handling of Dennis Eckersley was unprofessional.

“Boston is a tough place to play,” Werner said on WEEI’s Ordway, Merlonia and Fauria. “Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.”

“I thought there was a way of handling that. It wasn’t handled appropriately. If I’ve got a problem with Lou [Merloni], and I hear something he says on the radio, I’ll say to Lou, ‘That wasn’t fair.’ ”

Werner also called the team’s relationship with the Yankees “frosty” following the public sign-stealing saga that resulted in fines for both clubs.

“The fact is, I do think this was a minor technical violation,” Werner said. “I start with the fact that this was unfortunately raised to a level it never should have been raised to.”

Werner also insinuated he did not approve of how MLB and Torre handled the disciplining of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who receieved a four-game suspension for his part in a fight against the Tigers (reduced on appeal to three games).

“Do you think Gary Sanchez got an appropriate punishment?” Werner asked.