Yesterday, Rafael Devers cranked his first major league hit, which just happened to be a home run. This put him in some pretty rarefied air as the youngest Red Sox player to homer since Tony Conigliaro. It also raised some questions about Devers’ next few months. Do the Red Sox actually believe in him? And will they keep him around the bigs after newly-acquired Eduardo Nunez shows up? Those questions and more are making the sport more exciting than NFL odds from major betting sites.
The recent win against the Mariners — a sub-.500 lot the Sox had no business losing a series to — snapped a four game skid, but they’re still in the midst of a mini-funk, going 4-6 over their last 10 and letting the Yankees and Rays snip ever-closer to their heels in the American League East.
So maybe Devers is the answer to all their problems. Of course, you couldn’t be faulted for taking such a claim with a grain of salt.
After all, the Red Sox rarely hype the twenty-year-old, at one point making it sound like he would spend the rest of the season in Pawtucket. That isn’t to say that Devers is a bad prospect.
Manager John Farrell merely suggested that they were a little hesitant to elevate him too quickly. And there have been instances where attempts to push players beyond their station too quickly have resulted in disaster. No one doubted Farrell’s logic that Devers needed to be permitted to make steady improvements in his game.
Now, however, everyone at the Red Sox seems to have changed their tune. Keep in mind, Farrell’s words about Devers came out mere weeks ago. The idea that Devers have transformed so thoroughly in a month is ridiculous.
Everyone that has seen Devers play agrees that he is still hitting well enough. His elevation sounds like the sort of decision Dave Dombrowski would make. He was pretty quick to use his first offseason to bring David Price, Carson Smith, Craig Kimbrel and Chris Young on board. And that was just the beginning.
And to be fair, the money Dave has spent to bring young talent into the team is partly responsible for the championship opportunities the Red Sox currently enjoy. So maybe he is responsible for the Devers move.
Then again, maybe this has nothing to do with desperation or talent. Maybe it is an issue of luxury tax. Owner John Henry hasn’t been shy about his determination to keep the team below the tax threshold ($195 million).
Dave Dombrowski doesn’t seem as determined to toe that particular line. He hasn’t completely ignored Henry’s assertions. Rather, he has explained that he isn’t mandated to stay below the tax threshold. In other words, there is a bit of a gray area within which he can maneuver.
Though, despite his words, Dave does seem to be toeing John Henry’s line. Anyone that has seen him operate will remember how aggressive he was in the past, his penchant for beating every other team to the punch.
In comparison with his past actions, the Dave fans are seeing today is very controlled, taking risk-free and low-cost decisions to improve the roster.
Devers can hit, so there is no reason for anyone to panic with regards to his presence. Only time will tell if yesterday’s home run is a sign of consistent spark he can bring to this line-up, or a blip on his career radar.