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Friday, April 25, 2014

Kevin Millar on M&M: Red Sox ‘lack of identity right now’

John F.
Identity Theft Victim

Thanks in part to a 14-5 loss to the Yankees on Monday, the Red Sox dropped two of three to New York this week. Along the way, they were outscored 24-13 during the series.

“They just look like they have a lack of identity right now,” Millar said. “They’€™re not very fast. They’€™re not very athletic from first to third — from (Mike) Napoli to (Jonny) Gomes to (David Ortiz) to (Daniel) Nava to whoever you want – A.J. Pierzynski. The moral of the story is you’€™re just missing the athleticism.

“When you’€™re not hitting homers and driving the ball at the Green Monster, it makes you look sluggish. … The Red Sox, now, like John Farrell said the other day, are finally getting a chance to break the guys he wanted to break camp with. You got (Shane) Victorino coming back. You got (Will) Middlebrooks coming back. You know I love this kid Brock (Holt) but … the athleticism is one thing that stood out to me.”

Millar added that one of the team’€™s major issues is its lack of a consistent leadoff hitter.

“I think the problem is when we got rid of (Jacoby) Ellsbury, they didn’€™t know who to replace him with,” Millar said. “I’€™m going to go back real quick — we had Johnny Damon, tremendous leadoff hitter, and they replaced him with Coco Crisp (another) tremendous leadoff hitter. They replaced him with Ellsbury, tremendous leadoff hitter. All of a sudden, it’€™s like boom. When you see Ellsbury play and how athletic he is and the 35 to 70 stolen bases he’€™s going to bring, now you have this void. It’€™s tough — they’€™ve had five, six different leadoff hitter. And to me, that’€™s the big point.”

Repoz Posted: April 25, 2014 at 04:33 PM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: red sox

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   1. Publius Publicola Posted: April 25, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4694449)
Fair point. victorino should fix part of the problem. He's a quality leadoff man and brings speed and athleticism.
   2. Dudefella Posted: April 25, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4694460)
'cause when I think of "athletic from first to third" I think of Kevin Millar
   3. Ray (CTL) Posted: April 25, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4694461)
This will be a fun year because before it's done we'll be hearing about things like chicken wings and beer again, and the phrase "lost the clubhouse" will be used.

The team played over its head last year as virtually everything went right. That's unlikely to happen again this year because it rarely does, and a true-talent 87 win team can go .500 and be out of the playoffs fairly easily.

It could be over.
   4. SY Ruined School Lunches! Posted: April 25, 2014 at 05:27 PM (#4694468)
meh, last year was awesome and they look pretty well positioned for the future. Im not going to cry too hard if they dont have a great year. Theres still a lot of stuff to enjoy about this team.
   5. Stormy JE Posted: April 25, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4694473)
Yeah, it's easy to talk up Ellsbury's awesomeness now. Back in November and December, I don't remember too many folks thinking the franchise should break the bank to retain him.
   6. Publius Publicola Posted: April 25, 2014 at 05:36 PM (#4694479)
What's the odds Holt and Middlebrooks platoon? Middlebrooks is an AS if he could just hit righthanded pitching but he's not very good against righties.
   7. Rough Carrigan Posted: April 25, 2014 at 05:45 PM (#4694488)
Ellsbury looks like a terrific player when he's healthy. He didn't look so terrific in 2010 or in 2012. They didn't "get rid of" Jacoby Ellsbury. They decided that paying 20+ million per year to a guy who gave the team nothing 2 out of the last 4 years wasn't a smart thing to do. They're fully aware of how good a player he is when he's healthy.
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 25, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4694494)
When you’??re not hitting homers and driving the ball at the Green Monster, it makes you look sluggish.

And therefore the problem is just boggles the mind.
   9. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 25, 2014 at 06:17 PM (#4694507)
I'm just glad that those scrappy underdogs from the South Bronx haven't embarrassed themselves against the fearsome Boston juggernaut. How can anyone not love Jacoby and Yangervis?
   10. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 25, 2014 at 06:33 PM (#4694519)
How can anyone not love Jacoby and Yangervis?

The law firm you trust.
   11. Oscar.Gambles.Hair Posted: April 25, 2014 at 06:59 PM (#4694530)
Injured and Nervous?

Call Jacoby and Yangervis!
   12. Dale Sams Posted: April 25, 2014 at 07:45 PM (#4694541)
He's not to far off.

And Ray is right, as I said before, the Sox turned lead into gold last year.

One bonus though, Napoli appears to have cut down on the strikeouts.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: April 25, 2014 at 08:26 PM (#4694547)
Last year they scored 5.3 and gave up about 4; this year they're scoring 3.9 and giving up 4.6.

The drop on offense is expected -- they let a ton of WAA walk out the door and didn't replace any of it with guys expected to be above average (except maybe Bogaerts). That wasn't necessarily a bad decision given those guys wouldn't have been expected to produce that much WAA again, they'd have cost a lot and they had young, cheap replacements.

The drop in pitching/defense is perhaps a bit unexpected. They performed about in line with projections last year. The bullpen has been lights out -- 2nd best ERA, probably best ERA+, best K/WW, just 2 HR in 77 IP. So far they have a massive gap between R/G and ERA -- 4.6 vs 3.8. Has the defense been that bad?

Holy crap, Angels relievers have given up 11 HR in 64 IP.

Anyway, it's early. I'm not sure there's much reason to expect the offense to get much better but they should get a little better. Several are underperforming expectations and Napoli is the only one over-performing substantially (but he has hit at this level for a season once before). Well, Brock Holt too in 28 PA. But cliff-dives from a 37-year-old C and a 38-year-old DH wouldn't be shocking.

Looks like they've still got a bit of a roster crunch:

AJ, Ross, Napoli, Petunia, Bogie, WMB, Holt, Herrerra, Victorino, Bradley, Gomes, Sizemore, Carp, Ortiz -- that's 14. Backup SS at AAA or no 3B platoon, take your pick. (Or Sizmeore/Carp released. Or, heaven forfend, 11 man staff.)
   14. Joe Bivens Hereby Demands! Posted: April 26, 2014 at 08:28 AM (#4694658)
I'm not sure there's much reason to expect the offense to get much better but they should get a little better.

I expect Ortiz and Pedroia to hit much better then they have in April.

I have my fingers crossed on Bradley, Victorino and Middlebrooks.

Napoli should continue to hit.

We'll see.

Jose Abreu is a beast.
   15. Cat Named Manny Posted: April 26, 2014 at 09:04 AM (#4694668)
Has the defense been that bad?

Yes. Losing Victorino has led to some awful outfield alignments – especially since Sizemore looks to no longer be an adequate center fielder.
   16. Joe Bivens Hereby Demands! Posted: April 26, 2014 at 09:21 AM (#4694669)
If Nava has turned into a pumpkin, I'd go with Sizemore-Bradley-Victorino.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: April 26, 2014 at 08:52 PM (#4695006)
I expect Ortiz and Pedroia to hit much better then they have in April.

Sure, but like I said, any 38-year-old hitter is a potential cliff-diver -- and here we'd still be talking Ortiz putting up a 110-120 OPS+ so still a decent hitter, just not Ortiz. A number of Ortiz types didn't miss a beat at 38 -- Edgar, Stargell, Aaron, Manny, Carty, Robinson. Another batch lost 20-30 points of OPS+ -- Chipper, Sheff, Chili Davis, Thome, Schmidt -- but remained productive and a few bounced back. McCovey and Giambi fell apart completely and McGwire retired. And of course many had substantially reduced playing time.

So yes we should expect Ortiz to hit better but we should also acknowledge there's a good chance he won't and a good chance he'll get hurt. I was gonna quote ZiPS RoS here but it doesn't make sense -- they projected him to a 377 wOBA before the season, now they project him to a 389 wOBA RoS. Steamer too now puts him at 375 RoS after projecting 373. Apparently underperforming is the new key to aging well. Good news for me! :-)

On Napoli, of course he should continue to hit but there's no good reason to expect him to continue to hit 25-30 points above his career OPS+. But sure, Pedroia should hit better, Victorino will outhit the crap his replacements put up, at least one of those replacements will hit better, Holt/Middlebrooks will do worse than their 48 PA so far but better than Herrera -- the offense will probably get better but not up to 5 R/G.

If Nava has turned into a pumpkin, I'd go with Sizemore-Bradley-Victorino.

I assume you'll continue to see various mix-n-match lineups with Gomes (nearly) always starting against LHP, Bradley getting some days off against RHP and rest days for Napoli and Ortiz.
   18. Publius Publicola Posted: April 26, 2014 at 09:12 PM (#4695015)
BTW, 21 year old Mookie Betts is playing his ass off in double-A: .431/.469/.653- 8/9 in stolen bases. He's scored 23 runs in 17 games. Wow.

What an incredible draft that was for the Sox in 2011. They got Betts, Owens, Swihart and Barnes.
   19. Select Storage Device Posted: April 26, 2014 at 09:19 PM (#4695021)
Does everyone else "lack an identity" in the AL East? Because it just looks like a brawl at this point.
   20. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 26, 2014 at 09:26 PM (#4695025)
A brawl in which none of the teams are particularly good.
   21. Dale Sams Posted: April 27, 2014 at 01:38 AM (#4695171)
BTW, 21 year old Mookie Betts is playing his ass off in double-A: .431/.469/.653-

OBP only 38 points higher than BA? Unacceptable.
   22. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 27, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4695212)
I'd drop Sizemore. He's a great story, but he's also got an 81 OPS+. And in his "good" spring training he didn't hit for power hardly at all. I'm sure he'd catch on with a team that isn't expecting to make the playoffs, which is where he should be rather than taking up a roster spot on the defending World Series champs.
   23. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 27, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4695216)
BTW, 21 year old Mookie Betts is playing his ass off in double-A: .431/.469/.653-

OBP only 38 points higher than BA? Unacceptable.

One nice thing about Betts - he has a history up to this point of strong plate discipline. The reason he isn't walking a ton in AA so far this year is because everything he sees is the size of a beach ball. I presume that pitchers will stop giving him stuff to hit, and his OBP will rise relative to his BA. Betts is a heck of a prospect, will probably be in AAA before the end of the year, and the team will soon have to figure out what his path to the Red Sox would be, if this continues. It won't be at 2B or SS. Outfield?

What the Sox need to do is start turning some of their excess prospect depth at middle infield, 3B, C, and starting pitching into young talent at 1B and the OF, where the system is weak.

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