Only Safe Bet on Red Sox Futures is to Fade

Matthew Jordan

Monday, July 28, 2014 5:40 AM GMT

There hasn't been a repeat World Series winner since the NYY won a third straight in 2000. Barring a miracle, the Red Sox won't repeat this season; in fact, now is probably the time to start betting against Boston on MLB odds.

Boston Not-So Strong
Look for Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington to conduct a bit of a fire sale ahead of the July 31 trade deadline with his team in the AL East cellar. He just traded starting pitcher Jake Peavy, an in-season pickup from the Chicago White Sox last season that cost talented young shortstop Jose Iglesias (to Detroit in the three-way deal), to the St. Louis Cardinals for two pitching prospects.

That won't be the end of things. The Sox and ace left-hander Jon Lester haven't been able to agree on a long-term extension, and Lester said recently that he would not be surprised if he were traded, adding he would consider returning to Boston next year as a free agent. Lester is scheduled to start Wednesday night, so if he gets scratched then something is up. One report has him linked to the Dodgers in a package that would bring back overpaid but talented outfielder Matt Kemp. Lester might be the best starter available now that Tampa Bay is surging, which means the Rays are expected to hang on to David Price. Boston ended Tampa's nine-game winning streak on Sunday.

Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp has requested a deal, although he won't bring much back. Carp is upset that he's not playing more. Pretty ballsy considering Carp is hitting .210. Closer Koji Uehara, shortstop Stephen Drew and outfielder Jonny Gomes all are in the final year of their contracts and can be had. Lefty Felix Doubront hasn't started since June 20 and is unhappy with being in the bullpen so he could go.

Probably the only guys safe on the roster are David Ortiz (because he's the face of the Sox like Derek Jeter is with the Yankees) and second baseman Dustin Pedroia (because he makes too much and is breaking down). There's still enough talent here for Boston to contend next season so it's not like it will be a total giveaway as former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is doing with the Chicago Cubs. Cherington has already admitted the club has its eye on April 2015. When your GM says that, the players are obviously more likely to go in the tank. The Sox at times are starting five rookies, which is a sure sign that this season is already in the rear-view mirror.

Cherington's hand was forced because Boston lost five straight games starting last Tuesday in Toronto (all by at least two runs) before Sunday's win. He was no doubt holding out to see if the team could make a late move in the very weak AL East, but that losing streak all but ended those thoughts. The schedule does the Red Sox no favors coming up. They host the Jays for three starting Monday, then the Yankees before heading out for three in St. Louis, three in Anaheim and two in Cincinnati. Boston could be 15 games under .500 after all that.

 

Trades Impact on Betting Odds 
The trading deadline as a whole is a great time to place your MLB picks against those teams that are sellers. The Cubs, for example, went into a free-fall after trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland. What deals like that do, other than obviously subtracting talent, is send a message to the team that management has punted on the season. Other teams, in addition to the Red Sox, that are likely to fall into that category are the Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres (already dealt two of their best guys as well) and Colorado Rockies. It's human nature to fail when your boss doesn't believe in you. As Yogi Berra memorably said: "Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical."