BOSTON -- Backed by a trifecta of trades over the last month, capped by the acquisition of Ian Kinsler late Monday night, the Red Sox think their deep and dynamic roster is well-positioned to play deep into October.And with an MLB-best record of 75-34 record leading into the opener of
BOSTON -- Backed by a trifecta of trades over the last month, capped by the acquisition of Ian Kinsler late Monday night, the Red Sox think their deep and dynamic roster is well-positioned to play deep into October.
And with an MLB-best record of 75-34 record leading into the opener of a four-game showdown against the Yankees on Thursday, who can blame them?
The one move that was speculated for weeks but never occurred was the acquisition of a reliever to help supplement the setup crew in front of closer Craig Kimbrel.
Instead, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski added a proven right-handed hitter to rake against lefties in Steve Pearce, a hard-throwing righty starter in Nathan Eovaldi and the proven two-way second baseman in Kinsler who fills the void left by Dustin Pedroia.
"First of all, we improved our club in a lot of other directions," Dombrowski said. "In our own internal conversations we had, we really felt the other areas of improvement were more significant for us. So when we got Eovaldi, that was really the top for us to get a starter that can slide into the bullpen at a later time.
"We talk about improving our defense and infield at second base. We felt second base was more important for us with the defensive aspect of it. I know people keep talking about it, and you can always have more bullpen pieces. People keep talking about it, and there is no perfect club out there. We think realistically our bullpen is pretty good."
Part of Dombrowski's confidence in the bullpen is due to the recent return from injury of righty Tyler Thornburg, who hasn't allowed a run in his last five appearances.
The unheralded Ryan Brasier has also come on lately after his recall from the Minor Leagues. Matt Barnes has been solid all season. Joe Kelly was strong earlier in the season, and the Red Sox feel he can get back to that point.
As for the lack of a lefty in the bullpen, that should change when the entire rotation is healthy. Perhaps Eduardo Rodriguez or Thomas Pomeranz will be the lefty reliever the team needs in October. Eovaldi, who throws high 90s heat, also has the type of stuff that could be dominant in a postseason bullpen.
"Some of the improvements can come from within. So when you start looking at players from outside the organizations that were available, we think we have comparable players internally in most cases," said Dombrowski. "Tyler Thornburg is throwing the ball extremely well and keeps getting better and better. Brasier has thrown the ball great for us. He's touching 99 mph with a good slider. When you're saying, 'Where are you going to get somebody better than him?' We really couldn't find it. And we all know the importance of Joe Kelly."
This isn't to say Dombrowski didn't actively seek out some bullpen help.
"We didn't think there was a significant upgrade," Dombrowski said. "We had our hands involved in a lot of different things. We were having conversations all over the place. We were watching everybody. And there really was a combination of factors. One was, some moves, we didn't think there was an improvement. Some we didn't like the asking price for a couple guys that we did think there was an improvement. Thirdly, a couple times they went in a different direction. That was the combination of factors."
While Dombrowski has traded his share of prospects the last couple of years for the likes of Chris Sale and Kimbrel, he was conscious about who he made available this July.
"I know our farm system has taken a hit -- and a lot of that is my responsibility, because we've traded a lot of guys. But it's amazing, there was not a trade, even trades that were made, that were eliminated from because of players," Dombrowski said. "There are just some players we don't want to trade in our system as well as we're trying to build our system back up. You'd be surprised the level of interest in people in our A-ball level. They haven't gotten a lot of attention so far, because they're in A-ball. But we found that there was quite a bit of interest in those guys."
Though the Red Sox didn't make any blockbuster additions, they feel their three acquisitions can make contributions toward a postseason run that will, unlike the last two years, go deeper than the American League Division Series.
"I think we have a good club," said Dombrowski. "I think it's a well-balanced club. We do a lot of things well. They've played well. They have good chemistry. The manager and staff have done a tremendous job. Just like everything else, it will be settled on the field, how people perform, but I think they have a chance to perform well. And I think we have depth as well. Now, if the wrong guys get hurt you never can carry those type of things, it's after the Trade Deadline, but I think it's a good team."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.