Thursday, February 11, 2021

With Benintendi trade, Boston signals a longer, deeper, darker - perhaps pandemic-long - tank

Yesterday, the once-formidable Redsocks convened a threesome with KC and the Sunshine Gang Mets, trading ex-World Series hero Andrew Benintendi - at seemingly the most bottomless trench of his career - for a pile of prospects, most of whom are like horses you've been to the desert with - no names. 

Don't pop the corks just yet. As with any deal, Lucifer lurks in the DNA - in this case, five "kids" (one is 26, same age as Benintendi) who might resuscitate Boston's moribund farm system (along with a high draft pick this summer.) Time will decide. Today's headlines fixate on Benintendi - who is banished to Kansas City, never to be seen again. 

Boston's haul: Three PTBNLs - players to be named later -one disappointment and one young arm - both of whom have now been traded twice in two years - generally, a bad bad bad omen. They are:

Franchy Cordero, a hulking (6'3, 226) lefty OF from Dominica, who is now in his third MLB franchise. Originally one of the prospects destined to revive San Diego, Cordero flopped with the Padres and was flipped to KC for Tim Hill. (Yes, THE Tim Hill, whoever that is.) He hit .211 last year in the Covid season. He is 26 - same as Benintendi. Looks good coming off the bus. Dunno.

And Josh Winckowki, 22, a hulking (6'4, 204 - aren't they all hulking?) RH pitcher who has bounced from the Blue Jays to the Mets and now, taddah, Boston - three Yank rivals - before even reaching Double A. For you prospect-ratings freaks, he slots in as #30 on the Redsocks' list of farm crops.  Hmm.

This trade doesn't blow you away, unless you'd gotten sick of Benintendi, who missed most of last season - only 52 plate appearances, with a Gary Sanchez-like .103 BA and no - zero, zilch, (0) - HRs. And that followed an underwhelming 2019, when Benny Biceps hit .266 with 13 HRs. His glory years came in 2017-18, and even then, he never hit .300. First round picks are great, but you can't wait forever. 

But, as stated above, the final judgement lurks in those nameless souls - three Lotto tickets, perhaps to turn up in low Single A. It's hard to imagine Boston winning the AL East this year, unless Cordero becomes the steal of the century... the next Big Papi? 

Yeah, right. Last year, the Dodgers won it all with Mookie Betts, but let's not forget that Alex Verdugo, whom Boston received, looks for real. He hit .308 with 15 HRs (Betts hit .292 with 16.) He's only 24, four years younger than the Mookster. He looks like a looming star.

So, the Yankees seem to have an open lane in the AL East. Tampa has lost two starters - Blake Snell and Charlie Morton - and Boston is looking down the road. Baltimore is Baltimore, which is - sigh - Baltimore. That leaves Toronto, clearly the threat. 

This had better be the Yankees' year, because Boston won't tank forever. (Baltimore might.) The Yanks' talent curve should crest in 2021. (If it didn't last year.) This is no time for an owner to pinch pennies over the luxury tax threshold, but that's what we've got. It looks like 2021 is all or nothing. And Boston just checked out.

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