Friday, April 12, 2024

What's the Story?


The last couple of years, the Red Sox have had a 'magic hat' player in April, meaning a player who almost singlehandedly marks the team's success and once he's gone leaves a hole the team cannot fill. Last year it was Adam Duvall, who was incredible for 2 weeks in April and then got injured, missed most of the season and arrived just in time to see the Sox fall out of contention. 

Part of me was thinking the magic hat this season would be someone like Tyler O'Neill, who was certainly slugging a lot of home runs to begin the season. As I write this he's sitting on 6 home runs. We're not gonna talk about how he's only batted 1 other run in, he's hit 6 home runs, Judge only has 2, it's a big deal.

But no...much more depressing.

I cannot help but feel for Trevor Story. From 2016 to 2021 he was one of the best hitting infielders in baseball, could hit for power and contact, and contributed mightily to those great Rockies teams. He deserved a payday, and a team that could allow him to compete again. And he certainly deserves to have played more than 145 games in 3 seasons with Boston. After staying healthy for the majority of his Colorado career, Story has been injured every year of this deal, all coming in more heartbreaking and poorly-timed ways. And this year, where he was gearing up for a terrific comeback season, to go down 8 games in with a shoulder injury diving for a catch feels like an insult. Story will be 32 by the time the 2025 season begins, and by that point he will have 3 years left on the contract. It is not at all what he wanted, and hopefully his luck will improve, but it's genuinely awful.

The Sox, meanwhile, have no choice but to soldier on without him, and they will probably be going with David Hamilton at short going forward, which seems to be a decent enough tradeoff. The good news is that they're getting excellent production from people like O'Neill, Jarren Duran and, somehow, Reese McGuire. Ceddanne Rafaela is taking a while to blossom at the plate but the team seems to have a lot of faith in him [hence the extension]. Jansen's still an elite closer, Crawford and Houck are solid homegrown starting options, and the team's ahead of Tampa in the standings, which has to count for something. 

I think the...sparse quality of a lot of the roster will cause things to even out further, but I think the Sox can craft a respectable, somewhat interesting season despite a lot of missing tentpoles. If Tyler O'Neill can become a star here, that will definitely help.

Coming Tonight: It's been a while since we've had someone talk the talk like this guy. 

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