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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Little More Acceptable

Let’s start with the obvious, the Boston Red Sox are almost certainly not making not making the playoffs in 2019.  The hole is too deep and despite playing well since getting squashed in the Bronx they’ve gone 8-4 (with a suspended game looming) including a nice series win in Cleveland.  With that said a team that looked in disarray two weeks ago suddenly is at least providing some encouragement.

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe dropped a comparison to 2002 earlier this week.  That is the comp I’ve been looking for all year.  As Finn tweeted out;

“Really good roster with some HUGE flaws. Still can’t believe Clark got that many at-bats. Rey Sanchez was brutal too.”

It’s a really good comp for this year.  The flaws both predictable (bullpen) and surprising (rotation) have offset some truly impressive work by the offense.  While the individual pieces have been a bit different they have not just matched last year’s romp but in many ways exceeded it (though some of that is league-wide).  Most encouragingly the Sox have gotten great performances from the predictable bunch they have seen breakout years from Christian Vazquez, Xander Bogaerts and most notably the amazing Rafael Devers who is in the running for the MMMVP (Mere Mortal Most Valuable Player).

With 36 games to go the Sox will keep pressing for a playoff berth but in the interim there is plenty to watch;

- The most interesting thing to see is probably the bullpen progression.  The pieces for a good bullpen are here and while nothing over the next six weeks is going to change the need to spend some resources out there Matt Barnes (4.60 ERA vs. 3.09 FIP), Marcus Walden and Brandon Workman are good pitchers.  Josh Taylor has impressed and while Darwinzon Hernandez has control issues the live arm can play.  Take out the start against Texas in June and he has a 3.11 ERA and has held opponents scoreless in 12 of 16 relief appearances.

- The rotation is what it is.  There is little to be said about the giraffe in the room (Chris Sale can’t be called an elephant) until we know more.  If he does not need Tommy John surgery the enforced break can only help the 2020 Boston Red Sox.  Behind him Eduardo Rodriguez is looking like the pitcher we have all hoped he could be.  Since two dreadful starts to open the season he has a 3.65 ERA and should be counted on for 2020.

- Sam Travis and Michael Chavis are intriguing and growing and it is likely we will get to see Bobby Dalbec audition for the 2020 first base job in September when the PawSox season comes to an end.  Travis is finally showing the form he shows only in spring training every year.  A world where the Sox go into 2020 with a Travis/Dalbec/Chavis right side is one I would be comfortable with.  There will be a need for some cover and with Brock Holt a free agent that may be a bit tricky.  If they can get Holt signed and go with Travis/Chavis/Holt and Dalbec on the Kevin Youkilis Shuttle I would feel better.

- We have not talked about the minors in these parts this year but there is a lot to say.  Tanner Houck gets strong reviews and Jarren Duran is making progress to possibly being Jackie Bradley’s successor in 2021 when JBJ is a free agent.  I think there is a chance we see JBJ traded this winter for some pitching help if the Sox feel they can put Benny in center and sort left field among JDM, Travis, maybe Holt and oh yeah Jose don’t forget…

- Marco Hernandez! After two years off Marco has been very good this year and the Sox may feel comfortable with him taking the Brock Holt role in 2020.  Letting him get regular playing time over the next six weeks could help to answer questions.

2019 will go down as a disappointing season. They are on an 86 win pace and I feel comfortable saying they are neither an 86 win team nor a 108 win team.  However, if you take the midpoint of 97 wins and I don’t think you are being unreasonably optimistic with the quality of talent here.  It’s worth noting that the pitching staff has an FIP of 4.29, nearly half a run better than their actual ERA.  Last year they had a FIP of 3.82 and an actual ERA of 3.75.  When you factor in the league changes I think some of this year’s struggles is down to luck and some crap timing of performances (going from 4th in opponent OPS w/RISP to 12th) has made things look a bit worse than perhaps they are.

It’s not likely to be a playoff season but there is a ton of talent here to watch.

Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: August 20, 2019 at 01:49 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: August 22, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5873428)
Chad Finn of the Boston Globe dropped a comparison to 2002 earlier this week.  That is the comp I’ve been looking for all year.
That is the best comparison.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: August 22, 2019 at 11:43 AM (#5873437)
2002 - an interesting roster. What happened to those guys post-2002 and post-baseball really ran the gamut.

At least 2 of the guys are dead. Urbina went away to prison for years. Rickey and Pedro went in to the HOF. Tony Clark became the director of the MLBPA. Merloni became a Boston media guy. Jose Offerman got into ugly incidents at various levels of baseball. Manny was Manny.
   3. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: August 22, 2019 at 01:12 PM (#5873481)
Pretty good crowd at fenwayfor the suspended game.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: August 22, 2019 at 01:21 PM (#5873486)
Pretty good crowd at fenwayfor the suspended game.
Are you there?

Well, it's over. That was fast.
   5. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: August 22, 2019 at 01:25 PM (#5873490)
No I forgot o worked in the city I’d have gone over but I wasn’t fighting traffic and paying $40 to park for one inning.

I like that in Jimmy’s Fund week it was Holt getting the rbi.
   6. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 25, 2019 at 09:22 PM (#5874355)
I'm still holding out for the 20-5 run! It's coming soon...
   7. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: August 25, 2019 at 09:43 PM (#5874359)
I know there's a juiced ball, but it's still weird to me that several offensive players are above expectations and yet the team is so much worse than last year.
   8. jmurph Posted: August 26, 2019 at 10:30 AM (#5874425)
I know there's a juiced ball, but it's still weird to me that several offensive players are above expectations and yet the team is so much worse than last year.

I was thinking about this the other day when Devers, Bogaerts, and Betts all hit doubles in the same game. They're now on 48, 44, and 38, respectively, and Benintendi has another 38. Just ridiculous.
   9. pikepredator Posted: August 26, 2019 at 10:32 AM (#5874426)
I'm still holding out for the 20-5 run! It's coming soon...


From now on
What's waited till tomorrow starts tonight
It starts tonight!!
   10. Bad Fish Posted: August 29, 2019 at 11:06 PM (#5875466)
I've been waiting all year for this team to start firing. It's a good team that can be dangerous if they find their mojo. We have a bit of hope, today. They have a punchers chance, at the least I hope we have a string to run out for the remainder of the season.
   11. Darren Posted: August 30, 2019 at 01:06 PM (#5875637)
Just to be contrarian, I don't see the 2002 comp. That team was coming off an 83-win year, and played like a 100 win team, but only got 93. I think 93 was a good result for them. That's very different from a World Series winner trying to repeat.

And yes, the 2002 team had some big holes that, if they were filled, would have made a big difference. I don't really see that with this team. Their downfall seems to be that the guys they were relying on in the rotation were bad. Not exactly holes like Tony Clark, Rey Sanchez, or Jose Offerman.

How about 2006 for a comp? Coming off a couple of excellent years with what seems like a really good rotation. Clement and Beckett are not the answers you hoped they'd be in the rotation. Offense is good. You end up at 86 wins.
   12. Darren Posted: August 30, 2019 at 01:40 PM (#5875652)
Maybe 2011, though that season had a very different shape. In the end, both teams are undone largely by their starting pitching.
   13. The Mighty Quintana Posted: August 30, 2019 at 02:08 PM (#5875660)
Yes, in retrospect, Velazquez, Wright, Brian Johnson, and Cashner were not viable Plan B's. Our minor league depth for starters was inadequate. All the 1st/2nd rd draft busts this decade left the cupboard empty (Pat Light, Trey Ball, Teddy Stank, Kopech, & Groome)

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