Mar 1, 2017; Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart (23), right fielder Mookie Betts (50), left fielder Andrew Benintendi (16) before the spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Recent comments from Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski hint that the front office would feel confident going into the 2017 season with the pieces they have in the fold right now. But Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston isn’t convinced at all. In a candid editorial, Drellich blasts Dombrowski for his supposed comfort with the current roster. “Who really believes this?” Drellich writes. “Who really believes the Red Sox could proceed into the season comfortably without some external improvement? You’re in a market competing with the Patriots, a division with the Yankees, and a league with the Astros, and this is what you’re bringing to the table?” He seems particularly miffed by a comment that the team “could stay with anybody”; Drellich rejects such logic by stating that the team’s goal should not be to “stay” with other teams, but rather to be outright better. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal agrees with Drellich’s stance in his own piece, pointing out the lack of a middle-of-the-order slugger in Boston’s lineup. Britton also exposes Dombrowski’s supposed level of comfort by pulling a quote of his from the day after the club’s ALDS loss to Houston. “I didn’t supply the players that would give us enough runs. We do need that,” Dombrowski said at that time. Indeed, it doesn’t seem as though he’s done anything to follow through on that so far this winter. The club is, of course, still engaged in discussions with free agent slugger J.D. Martinez, and for his part, Drellich believes a deal will get done. But while Dombrowski seems comfortable taking his time in negotiations with Martinez (waiting for “the ice to melt,” in his own words), one has to wonder what kind of backlash he’ll face in the harsh Boston media if another team swoops in and inks the righty-hitter to a deal first.

A few other items out of Boston…

  • It’s evident that Blake Swihart has thus far been unable to live up to his top prospect billing; he’s been unable to stick at catcher due to poor defense, and his lifetime .270/.330/.380 batting line at the MLB level leaves plenty to be desired. But he’ll enter spring training without any minor league options remaining, and the Sox are intent on finding a spot for him on the roster, according to a tweet from Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Drellich adds in his own tweet that Swihart “finally feels healthy,” and is confident in his ability to play all nine positions on the diamond (though there’s obvious reason for skepticism about the latter point). Swihart was ranked as Boston’s consensus number one prospect following a 2014 season during which he hit .300/.353/.487 at the Double-A level, though it should be noted that he struggled to get on base following a promotion to Triple-A.
  • Drellich also tweets that although left-hander Drew Pomeranz is open to a long-term extension with the Red Sox, the two sides have not discussed one to date. The 29-year-old southpaw made 32 starts for Boston in 2017, pitching 173 2/3 innings of 3.32 ERA baseball. He’s set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
  • The Red Sox have announced that they’ll be expanding their protective netting in 2018. The press release describes the expansion as follows: “The new netting system will extend from Field Box Section 79 to Field Box Section 9, expanded from an area previously covering Field Box Section 61 to Field Box Section 29. It will be positioned with the same consistent height as the existing system, which stands at 12 feet, 8 inches above the playing field.” As Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports notes, Boston will join the Yankees and Blue Jays as teams who have recently expanded their netting in order to improve fan safety.
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This article first appeared on MLB Trade Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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