You probably had the same reaction I did when you heard Carson Smith was going to receive Tommy John surgery and be out for the rest of 2016. My reaction was a four letter word that begins with an “F”.
Losing Smith sucks. It really does. He’s an excellent young reliever with a wicked slider who was supposed to be insurance in the late innings for the overworked Junichi Tazawa and 41 year old Koji Uehara, before handing the ball to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. That said, Smith had only made three appearances since being activated off the DL in early May, and this bullpen has been just fine. Kimbrel has been as advertised after a semi-rocky April, Koji has more-or-less been the Koji of old, Tazawa appears to be well-rested for now, and some of the fresher faces like Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree have stepped up to be valuable pieces in an above average bullpen. Of course, the offense scoring five million runs per game does a ton for a pitcher’s confidence. Keep in mind that the Red Sox have one of the most proactive Presidents of Baseball Opps in the game in Dave Dombrowski. If this team is still competing at a high level in June/July, and the bullpen needs a new piece to slot in the late innings, he’ll be looking, and he’ll more than likely get it done. Forget his history in Detroit, the bullpen was an area of urgency for Dealin’ Dave when he first arrived in Boston, so it’s foolish to think he’d abandon that way of thinking if his team needs another big-game reliever come the deadline.
A lot of people on Twitter have said they feel the trade that brought Smith (and Roenis Elias) from Seattle to Boston in exchange for Wade Miley (and Jonathan Aro) is already a bust, with Smith on the shelf until next year and Elias rotting in Pawtucket, while Miley racks up the innings in Seattle and Aro does God knows what in God knows where.
That’s nuts. Miley’s fine, and I had no real issues with him last year. He was a gamer, and acted like he cared for the most part, but he would just be another starter giving up four or five runs per start for the Red Sox. The Sox don’t need another guy like that, even if he does eat innings. Plus the organization has such an unhealthy arousal for Clay Buchholz that it probably would have been Joe Kelly, Steven Wright or Rick Porcello who got jettisoned to keep Miley in the rotation after the addition of David Price. Kelly looked dominant in his first start back from the DL last week, Porcello has been his 2014 self the Red Sox thought they were getting when they traded for him two offseasons ago, and Steven Wright has been the best starter on the team this year. I’d rather have any of those guys than Miley, to be honest.
Plus, the Red Sox needed to address the bullpen this past offseason, which Dombrowski (notorious in Detroit for his faulty bullpens) did right from the get-go: acquiring Kimbrel: one of the best closers in baseball before Thanksgiving, and Smith: a bullpen ace in his own right, before Christmas. Call me crazy, but if I were a General Manager, I’d make that trade again in a heartbeat.
To paraphrase: it sucks seeing Smith go down, but the Red Sox will be fine.