In his annual ranking of farm systems, ESPN’s Keith Law recently pegged the Red Sox as having the 17th-ranked farm system among the 30 big league franchise. He suggested that the ranking reflected the fact that, while he views shortstop Xander Bogaerts as a likely future star who ranks among the top handful of prospects in the game, the Sox don’t have a great deal of major league-ready impact players coming up through the system, and that among the organization’s pitching prospects, he views few (if any) as potential top-of-the-rotation candidates. (He did suggest that Rubby De La Rosa has the potential of an ace, but that it remains to be seen how the right-hander rebounds after missing most of 2012 following Tommy John surgery in late-2011.)
“The Red Sox have a decent farm system. I think the last two drafts have helped significantly in a system that was really on the down-swing prior to that. I don’t think they have a lot of impact close to the majors, and I don’t see a lot of high upside pitching,” he said. “I think they have more back-end pitching or quality relief prospects, but not the potential No. 1 and 2 starters that other organizations have. They’re not all going to turn into aces, but at least the possibility exists for that to happen.”
While there are a number of talent evaluators and publications that have suggested that right-hander Matt Barnes projects as no worse than a likely mid-rotation (No. 3 or No. 4) starter with the ceiling of a No. 2, Law suggested that the 2011 first-rounder out of the University of Connecticut lacks the dominant secondary offerings — at least at this point of his career — to suggest a pitcher with that kind of ceiling.
“I don’t think that’s a reasonable evaluation of where Barnes is today. I give him credit for making a lot of progress out of school. His junior year at UConn was a little bit disappointing and allowed the Red Sox to get him where they did. He could have gone top 10, at least 15, going into his spring,” said Law. “The big thing with Barnes, I know the strikeout numbers were great, but he was doing a lot of it just with great fastball command — which is awesome. You love to see that. But it’s not like he has knockout stuff. And I think as he continues to move up the ladder, unless one of those pitches takes a big leap forward, like suddenly the curveball adds a grade or two on the 20-80 scale, he’s probably going to be relying on that fastball command to continue to miss bats, and that’s harder and harder to do as you continue to move up the ladder. …
“That’s not typically how you tend to pitch in the top two spots in the rotation. Most guys who pitch up there have either a clear swing-and-miss pitch or something that generates a ton of ground balls. Barnes, for me, doesn’t have any of that. And I will say also, I downgraded him a little bit because it’s not a great delivery. He’s got the size, and he actually does a great job of repeating the delivery, but it’s not the cleanest you’re going to come across. That does give him, I think, a slightly higher risk of injury than some of the pitchers that I have graded higher than him.”
At the minor league level, Law suggested the Red Sox need to find additional players with the potential to be star-caliber performers, and that the team’s highest draft pick (No. 7 overall) in 20 years will assist in that endeavor. And, at a time when he sees only a few potential impact contributors from the system in 2013, he suggested there was some skepticism about the Sox’ approach to building their big league roster this winter through free agents who fall short of star-level performers.
“There’s a lot of confusion as to why the Red Sox are suddenly playing in the middle tier of free agents, which I think historically is the most dangerous area to play,” said Law. “The premium guys — obviously, the Red Sox have had trouble there — but if you go after the stars, you do fine. And if you go into the bargain bin, you can do well. But if you go into the middle tier . . . The [Shane] Victorino deal to me was the worst free agent contract of the offseason. [Mike] Napoli, obviously they re-did the deal, but there’s no way I’m giving him three years. The guy was a part-time catcher at best and probably just a full-time DH. Those are not the players that I would recommend really any team signing. But it seems their strategy is they’re the class of free agents we want to go after, at least for the next couple of years. . . . I just don’t really understand that as a philosophy because the history of that class of free agents is not that good.”
The guys have even more reaction to Deflategate and if this is actually a showdown between Bill and Roger.
Tom E. Curran calls the boys during his layover in Denver and gets right into the Deflategate craziness. Tom talks about his knowledge of the situation including his thoughts on if the NFL was indeed trying to set up and catch the Pats in the act. He gets into the relationship between Belichick and the league office, Belichick and Kraft and the actual game on Super Bowl Sunday.
Greg and Steve discuss the Deflategate debacle with callers and give their theories as to what went down in Foxboro last week against the Colts. Both guys think that Pats may be guilty of doing something to the balls, but that so do most other teams. Will Belichick and Brady be punished? Not if the NFL doesn't have proof, which it's looking more and more like they don't.
Ben and Sam discuss ways to improve the NBA All-Star weekend, hand out of hardware, and give their Finals predictions
Jackie MacMullen, ESPN Boston, talks with MFB about Rondo being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and how this will have an effect on the Celtics rebuild process
How have the Celtics looked after a couple weeks? Could they be a playoff team? These questions and more...
The Red Sox have taken over Foxwoods and Red Sox Manager John Farrell sat down with Mut and Bradford to talk about the roster and how the 2015 season is looking.
Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly and 3B Pablo Sandoval sat down with Mut and Bradford. Joe Kelly had a few interesting proclamations. First he said that 95% of pitchers use some sort of grip enhancer, and then he said he was going to win the Cy Young. Pablo leaned over and promised 10 HR's, explaining to Joe that the trick is to set the bar low.
Mut and Rob are in on the Hot Stove Show this week and they're taking calls and talking about the Red Sox pitching as we are 5 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training.
Pierre McGuire talks about ways hockey players skirt the rules in the NHL and the development of Dougie Hamilton.
Pierre McGuire joins Lou, Christian and Tim to discuss the resurgent Bruins, the emergence of David Pastrnak, and former Boston College stand-out Johnny Gaudreau looking to trademark the name 'Johnny Hockey.'
We get our state of the B report from NESN's Jack Edwards, right in the midst of a 4 game winning streak and hot return for David Pastrnak.
Tim Hasselbeck joined the show to give his expertise on deflate gate.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys opened the show discussing who was lying yesterday.
The guys react to comments made by Former Carolina Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney
After Tom Brady answered questions for a half hour about Deflate-Gate, the guys discuss whether or not they believe him.
Adam Schefter, ESPN, talks everything Deflate Gate with Lou, Christian and Tim on Patriots Friday
We get the national perspective on Deflategate and the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl with the playmaker, Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.
We discuss deflategate and move beyond it for some game talk with Tom E Curran of CSNNE
Michael, Jerry and Andy Hart of PFW continue the dialogue and try and find some sanity in this sea of madness.
A caller named Jumbo from California raises a question that hasn't been talked about too much, what happens if it's determined that the Patriots aren't found responsible for the deflation of the footballs?
Mut and Lenny continue talking and taking calls on deflategate, as well as hearing the sound from Kirk Minihane's appearance on the O'Reilly Factor.
Mut and Lenny are talking deflategate and what impact it could have on the Patriots organization.
Chris and comedian Mike Mulloy recap the final Raw before the Rumble and preview the Rumble itself.
Would you rather watch important games in the stadium or on TV? Also we discuss our worst experiences at stadiums.
Ben and Sam discuss ways to improve the NBA All-Star weekend, hand out some hardware, and give their Finals predictions.
We get the national perspective on Deflategate and the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl with the playmaker, Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.More from this show
Tim Hasselbeck joined the show to give his expertise on deflate gate.More from this show
After his emotional reaction on NFL Live following Tom Brady's press conference yesterday, Mark Brunell joins Lou, Christian and Tim about all things Deflate GateMore from this show
The guys react to comments made by Former Carolina Panthers General Manager Marty HurneyMore from this show