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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 27, 2012 at 09:59 PM (#4070047)
It's possible I should have titled this post, "Nicky Punto projects as a league average shortstop". Seriously, he does. What's up with that?
   2. Darren Posted: February 27, 2012 at 10:22 PM (#4070059)
Yeah, I think maybe it should be. Punto's been such a sabre whipping boy for so long, that it's nearly impossible to believe he's a decent player.
   3. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: February 27, 2012 at 10:31 PM (#4070062)
If Valentine is what we've been told he is, a truly great tactical manager willing to do things differently this could be a really good set up. I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that while Aviles and Punto have their uses, both are probably going to be exploited if played regularly.

But, a mix and match set up. Go with the hot hand, use Punto when ground ball pitchers pitch, Aviles in other games, stuff like that and I can see the Sox getting more than we expect out of shortstop.

Watching Aviles last year he struck me as a guy who is really really low on the baseball IQ scale both on the field and on the bases. I fear that he's going to be great to watch until he tries to steal home with Gonzalez up or something asinine like that. I think not asking him to do too much is going to be the right call. At the same time Punto ain't as young as he used to be and hasn't played so much in recent years that I really want to see him starting 125-130 times either.

I keep talking myself into the idea that the Sox are higher on Iglesias than we think. Peter Gammons said last week on the NESN Propoganda show (note: not official name) that Igleisas would be a September 1 call up. I think June 15th is more likely. If he hits at all at Pawtucket I think he's here sooner than later.
   4. tfbg9 Posted: February 27, 2012 at 11:41 PM (#4070099)
Yeah Gammo or somebody wrote that Iglesias looks a fair bit more filled-out in the upper body, and might send a few more balls between outfielders.

   5. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: February 28, 2012 at 01:07 AM (#4070129)
God, what's Iglesias's MLE for last year? The kid can't hit and the only place I can imagine him playing right now is late-inning defensive sub. He should not be allowed to hit at all. Sickels downgraded him to a C+ from a B-. Overall, the players the Sox have at this position do not fill me with hope.
   6. Chip Posted: February 28, 2012 at 02:16 AM (#4070136)
I felt better about this situation when Francesa and Heyman chortled about it today on the radio/YES as one of the reasons the Red Sox are going to be in trouble this year.
   7. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 28, 2012 at 09:24 AM (#4070187)
Yeah, I think maybe it should be. Punto's been such a sabre whipping boy for so long, that it's nearly impossible to believe he's a decent player.
I'm well aware of the danger of proclaiming onself smarter than the projections, but I just don't see it for Punto. He's played more than 100 games four seasons in his career, his OPS+ in those seasons are 53, 90, 67 and 68. He's never played more than 530 innings at shortstop. And he's going to be 34. Even granting you don't have to hit much to be a league average bat at short, I just can't see him putting everything together.

So, hey, I'm smarter than the projections. Take that.

EDIT: To add, I don't see Punto as a league average full-time SS. Used well in a platoon, I could definitely see his contribution working out that way.
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: February 28, 2012 at 09:49 AM (#4070193)
God, what's Iglesias's MLE for last year? The kid can't hit and the only place I can imagine him playing right now is late-inning defensive sub. He should not be allowed to hit at all. Sickels downgraded him to a C+ from a B-. Overall, the players the Sox have at this position do not fill me with hope.


Seabass hit like #### in 2006 and everyone inexplicably thought he was the next coming of sliced bread (maybe the same portion of the fanbase who considered Lowell some sort of franchise icon?). Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like anyone is predicting Iglesias to even match Gonzalez' 2006 offense. You say the kid can't hit, but I hope there's a "yet" at the end of that sentence instead of a "and never will." Time will tell.

If he has improved at hitting, I could see him getting a bunch of playing time. In the late innings they can use Iglesias when ahead, and Avinto when behind, using whichever RFer is not starting as a pinch-hitter for the transition.
   9. Famous Original Joe C Posted: February 28, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4070194)
Seabass hit like #### in 2006 and everyone inexplicably thought he was the next coming of sliced bread (maybe the same portion of the fanbase who considered Lowell some sort of franchise icon?).

Defintiely the same portion of the fanbase that thought Pokey Reese should start over Mark Bellhorn.
   10. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: February 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM (#4070198)
Seabass hit like #### in 2006 and everyone inexplicably thought he was the next coming of sliced bread (maybe the same portion of the fanbase who considered Lowell some sort of franchise icon?).


I keep coming back to Jack Wilson. The last two years he has had an OPS+ of 68 and 59 but because of his defense BBRef has him at 1.3 and 0.9 WAR those two seasons. I just don't know if Iglesias has enough bat to reach that very low level of "achievement" at the plate. It does kind of highlight the very low bar that exists for a great defender at a key position (if you believe the defensive metrics).

EDIT: Deleted piece where I repeated something Nate had already said.
   11. Textbook Editor Posted: February 28, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4070278)
You never know, maybe they luck into a "Kevin Stocker in 1993"-type situation and over 80 games Iglesias hits well. How awful things are in June at the position will probably dictate how things go. If Aviles at least hits, they can stand a bit-below LA with the glove.
   12. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: February 28, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4070311)
Iglesias had a .554 OPS in AAA!!!!! The translation of those numbers to MLB is either negative or not a number. Seabass never hit as poorly as Iglesias in the minors. He's basically Barry Bonds compared to Iglesias right now. If you could guarantee that Iglesias would have a .695 OPS, I'd be ready to anoint him Shortstop of the Future! Ozzie had a .500+ OPS in a couple of seasons in the bigs in the late 70s/early 80s but was consistently above .650 OPS for most of his career.

Using the MLsplits MLE calculator, last year Iglesias would have had a slash line of: .189/.228/.214 for an OPS of .442 (that's a neutral context; .451 for Fenway). Eyeballing it, that's about a 27(!) OPS+. According to BB-Ref, oWAR for Jack Wilson's 2011 34 OPS+ was good for -0.1 oWAR. That's only 45 games though. But, eh, if that's true, maybe Iglesias can at least break even. I guess I've just talked myself around to him being the everyday shortstop. :) #### it, let's go for it!
   13. tjm1 Posted: February 28, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4070418)
John McDonald seems like another decent comparable for Iglesias.

What we know is that he hit .285 in about 300 AB at AA at age 20, and dropped off in AAA the next year.

What do we know about how players like him - guys who don't strike out much, but don't hit much, either, project to the majors? I'd guess that a .250 hitter at Pawtucket with that profile becomes a .250 hitter in Boston. It wouldn't be crazy, either, for him to turn into a Rey Sanchez type, if 2010 was more indicative of his true offensive level than 2011.
   14. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: February 28, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4070441)
Sox Prospects seems to think he's a guy who will learn to hit in the majors. Might as well get him started now, I guess.
   15. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 28, 2012 at 10:19 PM (#4070645)
Jose Iglesias doesn't project as a part of any non-disastrous shortstop plan for 2012.

Jose Iglesias is young enough, and toolsy enough, that it's possible he could show up in camp with improved skills and be a useful part of the 2012 Red Sox. Obviously if he's the player he was in 2011, he shouldn't be anywhere near the roster. The reason to keep an eye on Iglesias is that he has potential to beat his projections and be a different player than he was last year.

(And one of the reasons you pay money to a manager like Valentine is in the hope that he recognizes such a step forward in skills earlier than the numbers could pick it up.)
   16. Darren Posted: February 28, 2012 at 11:07 PM (#4070674)
#12 sums it up for me. He just hasn't come anywhere close to hitting well enough. Maybe if he takes a large step forward in hitting, he'll be good enough to be replacement level. That's assuming that his boneheaded baserunning in his brief MLB time was a fluke and that his defense is really, really great.

I can't believe Sox Prospects has Iglesias so high. They write some very nice sounding scouting reports, but I question whether they value those too highly vs. actual performance. I also wonder if they are a little too influenced by other prognosticators.*



(*It should go without saying that it's a great site with lots of info and informed writers.)
   17. Joel W Posted: March 01, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4072083)
Hey guys, he was 21 last year. If you're trying to be a slick-fielding, average hitting shortstop at the major league level in the prime of your career, it's ok to suck at hitting when you're 21 in triple A. There hasn't been a 21 year old regular SS in the International league since 2006, and that guy's name was BJ Upton, and he couldn't play SS. ZiPS projects that he would cost the Red Sox 17 runs below average at the plate next year over 120 games. If he's as good a fielder as everybody says, then he would rate out as a slightly below average major league SS at 22.
   18. Joel W Posted: March 01, 2012 at 03:53 PM (#4072107)
That post was mostly in response to Darren. I think it makes complete sense for him to rate that highly, even if I don't think it makes sense for him to be a substantial part of the 2012 Red Sox.
   19. Darren Posted: March 01, 2012 at 05:48 PM (#4072249)
I don't get how ZIPS likes him that much. I guess maybe I'm giving too much weight to 2011? I was very encouraged that as a 20-year-old in a new country, he was able to not completely stink in AA. But he really couldn't hit at all last year and he looked so ridiculous in MLB (again, too much weight on my part for sure).

If he can truly be 17 runs below average and 5 above average (is there any reason to believe he's better than just a really good SS) right now, then I guess there's a reasonable chance he'll be an average player in 3-4 years. I still don't see that as good enough to be ahead of Lavarnway, Kalish, Jacobs, and maybe Barnes and Hassan (!).

But if nothing else, my post got Joel W. to come out of hiding. So that's good!

   20. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 01, 2012 at 05:57 PM (#4072257)
CAIRO likes him even more than ZiPS - projected 302/343.

I do wonder how tough it is to project players that play badly in the minors. What mean do you regress to? But I don't really know.
   21. Ron J Posted: March 01, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4072342)
#19/20 Looks to be a BABIP issue. Dan (and presumably CAIRO) regresses this. ZiPS is predicting a 20 or so point improvement over his results in Pawtucket.
   22. tjm1 Posted: March 02, 2012 at 04:44 AM (#4072554)
I agree with #21. Iglesias is fast and doesn't strike out very much. There's no reason he can't be as good a hitter as Mark Belanger was. Also, as we move into a lower offense era, this type of player is easier to justify keeping around.
   23. Joel W Posted: March 02, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4072740)
I think the hard thing to evaluate is a guy that young in the high minors. If he was 21 in A+ with an .800 OPS or even something like .750 we'd probably say "and with that glove..."

I don't know why you'd only put him at 5 above average right now. Defense peaks much earlier than hitting, 24 IIRC, and every scouting report has him as a "rare 80" or close to it. If that puts him at 2 SDs above the mean, then it's more than 5 runs. Is it just discounting the value of the scouting reports?
   24. tfbg9 Posted: March 02, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4072896)
Crawford had a "setback" with his wrist. &*%$#!
   25. Dan Posted: March 02, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4072911)
I don't know why you'd only put him at 5 above average right now. Defense peaks much earlier than hitting, 24 IIRC, and every scouting report has him as a "rare 80" or close to it. If that puts him at 2 SDs above the mean, then it's more than 5 runs. Is it just discounting the value of the scouting reports?


Iglesias has the tools, but he's definitely raw in some of the finer points of defense still. I remember in a game last year that he was playing late inning defense, he wasn't holding a running on properly who went on to either steal 3rd or score easily on a single that ordinarily wouldn't have been an automatic run. Looking quickly at BB-ref, it may have been Rajai Davis stealing third in this game and then scoring the walk-off run on a sac fly.
   26. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 02, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4072946)
As reported by Abraham, the setback is inflammation (cause and severity not mentioned), and he's just treating it with rest and anti-inflammatory meds.
Crawford did not take any swings today and has been put on medication because of inflammation in his wrist.

"I'm always concerned when there's a setback. I don't know how bad it is. But according to the doctor it doesn't look that bad," Crawford said. "I was feeling real good, too. I wasn't expecting this."
Obviously, it's the Sox medical staff, and Crawford probably has undiagnosed kidney failure and a fractured pelvis. But the setback as reported could well be a minor precaution for a pretty normal response to surgery, rehab, and recovery.
   27. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 02, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4072950)
At the moment, shortstop is a bad position MLB-wide (the glory days of Jeets/Nomah/ARod are long gone), so projecting someone as an average shortstop really doesn't say a whole heck of a lot.

-- MWE
   28. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 02, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4072958)
Last year, wRC+ for shortstops was 88, which is about exactly the mean for shortstops in the recent era. 2010 was a down year (83 wRC+), but the average of 2010-2011 wouldn't be out of place in the sillyball era. You've got Tulowitzki, Hanley, Reyes, Escobar, Castro, Hardy, Rollians, Cabrera and Jeter can still hit. The very top of the position obviously isn't at the level it was from 98-02, but I'm not seeing the obvious drop at the median, and the overall league average numbers don't show much change either.
   29. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: March 02, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4073004)
At the moment, shortstop is a bad position MLB-wide (the glory days of Jeets/Nomah/ARod are long gone), so projecting someone as an average shortstop really doesn't say a whole heck of a lot.


I think the idea that Punto could project to be average, even in some diminished concept of the word average, is still pretty amazing. Even if an average offensive SS is easier to find, that's better than I thought Punto was.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 02, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4073021)
I think the idea that Punto could project to be average, even in some diminished concept of the word average, is still pretty amazing. Even if an average offensive SS is easier to find, that's better than I thought Punto was.

I find the love for Iglesias funny in that context. The odds of Iglesias ever being as good as Punto is right now are slim.

And the peak Iglesias would be Nick Punto, BA driven poor bat, good glove SS.
   31. Nasty Nate Posted: March 02, 2012 at 05:37 PM (#4073027)
And the peak Iglesias would be Nick Punto, BA driven poor bat, good glove SS.


No the upside/ceiling would be a better fielder than Punto with a higher BA.
   32. tjm1 Posted: March 02, 2012 at 05:41 PM (#4073029)
And the peak Iglesias would be Nick Punto, BA driven poor bat, good glove SS.


Iglesias is 22. He certainly played poorly at AAA, but not outright terribly. Punto was 23 when he hit AAA the first time, had a .625 OPS, and struck out about once every 4 at bats. Iglesias hit for a higher average at age 21, and struck out less than 1/6 of the time. He also has a higher ceiling as a fielder.
   33. tjm1 Posted: March 02, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4073031)
To be clear, I'm not saying outs in play are worth much more than strikeouts, but I do think that you don't see many guys who hit below .270 who strike out as infrequently as Iglesias did last year. Guys like Rey Sanchez and Mark Belanger, who were way better than Punto is, are realistic projections, I think.
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 02, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4073042)
The odds of Iglesias ever being as good as Punto is right now are slim.
Well, if Punto is as good as his projection, sure. If Punto is just the backup infielder the Sox paid for, I think Iglesias stands more than a slim chance of reaching that level.
And the peak Iglesias would be Nick Punto, BA driven poor bat, good glove SS.
Iglesias' defensive tools are supposed to be among the best in the world. Nick Punto projects as an averageish defensive SS, while a peak Iglesias would be a gold glover.
.
EDIT: It took me a while to figure what I found problematic about snapper's post, and I think this it. If the Sox really have in Punto a "BA-driven, poor bat, good glove SS" - a capable, average shortstop, that is - no one will give a crap about Jose Iglesias in 2012, because Punto will be one of the biggest bargains of the offseason. The reason that we're talking about Jose Iglesias is because there's a significant chance that Punto is not a capable shortstop, and the Sox will need to look elsewhere for shortstop inning.
   35. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 04, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4073714)
JetBlue Park is fantastic.
   36. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 11, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4078481)
So there seems to be a bit of a media drumbeat for Iglesias to head north with the big club. It's hard to tell to what degree it's shared by the team - certainly Iglesias is getting his reps, but you'd expect the bonus baby AAA shortstop to be getting in games. Anybody watched Iglesias enough to have an opinion on whether he's showing real improvement?

From Cafardo and Abraham on Friday:
JUPITER, Fla. - If the Red Sox send Jose Iglesias back to Pawtucket now, they may have some explaining to do.

Iglesias has emerged as the best shortstop in camp, with another sparkling defensive play and a three-run triple in the eighth inning against the Cardinals Thursday.

Josh Beckett, who pitched three strong innings in the 9-3 loss, was the beneficiary when Iglesias robbed David Freese in the second inning. Iglesias made a diving, backhanded stop on his knees, then got up and made a perfect throw to first base.
   37. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 11, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4078493)
I haven't seen him hit much but his defense truly is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else. He reached on a 3 base error last night but what I think is encouraging is that the ball was a 400 foot drive to the triangle.

What I've seen in the past from him is that he seems to make pretty solid contact and the ball jumps off his bat, more often tha not with a line drive. The problem is that he goes fishing and doesn't draw walks. The best stayle comp I can think of is Robinson Cano. I am NOT saying that he will be that good with the bat, not even close. However, the ball seems to come off his bat in a similar way, those gap to gap line drives. My point isn't that can hit like Cano but he isn't a Nick Punto whose best shot is a looping liner to right. When Iglesias hits the ball hard, he hits HARD. The problem of course is that he chases too many pitches and I have only seen him hit a couple of times this Spring so far so I can't really say iif his plate disciplined is improved.

Because of his glove the offensive bar is very low. If he can hit .230/.280/.350 I think he is the best shortstop on the team.

Jinx complete.
   38. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM (#4078498)
Thinking this through a bit I think we all agree the question is plate discipline. To that end does it make sense for the Sox to throw him to the wolves and have him start with the big club? I wouldn't think we'd get a good sense of improved plate discipline in spring training so let's just roll him out there and if it works great, if not, send him back to Pawtucket for a bit more seasoning.

I don't know if I actually think this is a good idea, just something to ponder.
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4078523)
Thinking this through a bit I think we all agree the question is plate discipline. To that end does it make sense for the Sox to throw him to the wolves and have him start with the big club? I wouldn't think we'd get a good sense of improved plate discipline in spring training so let's just roll him out there and if it works great, if not, send him back to Pawtucket for a bit more seasoning.


Haven't seen him play, only the #'s, but if his issue is plate discipline, isn't MLB the last place you want him?

How likely is he to improve in a scenario where he's completely overmatched and under scrutiny? Isn't it easier to change your approach in AAA, where you don't have to worry that an 0-12 stretch has you benched in favor of Punto or Aviles?

Also, if you send him the message he can get to MLB w/o changing his approach, isn't he less likely to change?
   40. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 11, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4078530)
What I'm arguing is that he has already improved but we can't learn that in Spring Training. If that is true then he is very much the Sox best shortstop and the Sox are better off with him in there than Aviles or Punto.

Like I said earlier I'm not sold that this is the case. If the Sox think he has made an improvement already, I think they have to seriously consider having him start the year in Boston.
   41. Dan Posted: March 11, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4078541)
I can't see any reason to start him in Boston. Start him in Pawtucket, see if he's improved his discipline at all, keep the position warm with Aviles/Punto. There's far more downside to starting him in Boston than there is in seeing if he can at least hit in AAA. Unless the Sox are seeing a completely different approach from him at the plate and are convinced that it is real, it would be crazy to cut one of Aviles or Punto to go with Iglesias when they break camp. Then if he doesn't hit, you're screwed because you've lost your plan B.
   42. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 11, 2012 at 02:43 PM (#4078551)
From PeteAbe today;


SARASOTA, Fla. — Jose Iglesias stayed behind in Fort Myers to get treatment on a minor groin strain.


From the same piece it looks like he won't play again until Thursday.
   43. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: March 11, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4078579)
To be clear, I'm not saying outs in play are worth much more than strikeouts, but I do think that you don't see many guys who hit below .270 who strike out as infrequently as Iglesias did last year.

Check out Alcides Escobar--and Escobar hit .328/.363/.434 at AA at 21 and .298/.353/.409 at AAA at 22. Consistent weak contact sucks, even when you're fast.
   44. Mattbert Posted: March 11, 2012 at 06:02 PM (#4078588)
Pedro Ciriaco pulled off what I imagine would be an Iglesias-ish play in Sarasota today. He laid out to snare a grounder up the middle on the outfield grass behind second base (might've even been slightly on the 1B side of second), quickly got to his feet, and threw the runner out at first by half a step.

Granted, the runner in question was Chris Davis, but it was still an awfully impressive play.
   45. Mattbert Posted: March 11, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4078599)
This won't be as detailed as I would've liked because I had Kidbert in tow today. She was pretty curious about the game, so I spent a lot of time chatting with her and not as much time watching intently and taking notes. Anyway, for what it's worth...

PITCHERS
It's always difficult for me to assess a pitcher's stuff when I'm not sitting behind home plate. Today we sat on the left field side of the Sox dugout, about ten rows back. Great view, but tough to see location in and out and lateral break on pitches. Judging by what the Orioles were able to muster against him, though, I would say Jon Lester looked pretty good stuff-wise. The O's were not squaring the ball up or getting many good swings. He was struggling for command and appeared to be throwing more breaking balls than usual, probably just feeling the pitch out in the early going here.

Aaron Cook also struggled for command, but he was burying that sinker on guys and only had one or two balls hit in the air off him. Not a bad first outing; it would be great if he'll be able to help out as a revolving door 5th/6th starter.

Doug Mathis was another pleasant surprise. He doesn't have tremendous stuff, but he really attacked the zone, worked quickly, and sailed through his half inning. He's good buddies with Brandon McCarthy, so maybe the stathead pixie dust will help him resurrect his career like his pal for the A's. I will be rooting for him.

I have no idea who Justin(?) Thomas is--some minor league journeyman probably--but he looked incredible.

Hitters to follow...
   46. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 11, 2012 at 09:14 PM (#4078637)
That's interesting about Mathis. Valentine mentioned in an interview that Mathis was one NRI guy who'd impressed him so far in spring.
   47. Mattbert Posted: March 11, 2012 at 09:15 PM (#4078638)
HITTERS
Pedroia and Ellsbury had good at-bats and made solid contact. The Laser Show in particular appeared to be in mid-season form. Big Papi looked like he was in first six weeks of the season form: late on good fastballs, but he started to get his timing down after the first couple trips to the plate. He hit the ball hard his last two times up but got burned by the shift.

Wifebert may have a huge crush on Lars Anderson, but he has an equally huge hitch in his swing that he has got to fix if he's going to make the show. He drops his hands about ten inches as the ball is leaving the pitcher's hand, and consequently he's badly late on MLB quality heat. He swings at good pitches and can get the bat on breaking balls just fine, but he's never going to make it if he can't catch up to a big league fastball because of his swing.

I was impressed with both Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney. They look like really solid additions. Ross had a nice day at the plate, hitting two balls right on the screws and scoring twice. Sweeney looked pretty comfortable up there, got a base hit, and showed off his hose when he gunned down Adam Jones trying to leg out a double down the RF line.

Kelly Shoppach crushed a ball to left center, but nothing was carrying in the humidity today. I thought it was well gone off the bat, but Adam Jones ran it down and made a fine catch a couple steps from the wall. Ryan Lavarnway relieved Shoppach about halfway through and looked good with the bat; worked a walk his first time up and then ripped a single down the LF line, possibly the hardest hit ball of the day. I am no expert on catcher defense, so I don't have much to offer on Lavarnway's performance behind the dish.

Will Middlebrooks played the second half of the game, taking over from Nate Spears at 3B. Middlebrooks looked bad in his first at-bat, which was against Luis Ayala I think. He got fooled on something offspeed and flailed before taking a third strike that he thought was off the plate. His next time up he hit an absolute rope into left center. So, pretty much bang in line with everything I've heard from the scout-y type sources.

Jason Repko was alert enough to steal third when the O's weren't holding him on tightly in the top of the ninth. He also made a terrific throw from RF to end the game, a one-hop bullet right on the money to Lavarnway.

EDIT: Incidentally, the last play of the game was the second time a runner was called out after the home plate ump adjudged him to have missed the plate on his slide. Pedroia was the first.
   48. Mattbert Posted: March 11, 2012 at 10:22 PM (#4078652)
That's interesting about Mathis. Valentine mentioned in an interview that Mathis was one NRI guy who'd impressed him so far in spring.

Could be that Bobby has a soft spot for him because of their common experience in going to an Asian league. Mathis spent this winter pitching in South Korea. His team over there, the Samsung Lions, had to release an injured Ryan Garko to make room for him.
   49. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 11, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4078654)
but he has an equally huge hitch in his swing that he has got to fix if he's going to make the show. He drops his hands about ten inches as the ball is leaving the pitcher's hand, and consequently he's badly late on MLB quality heat.


I don't think that that's right. His hands start out about letter-high, he raises them to about shoulder-height, then drops them again to letter-high. He really drove the ball in the 7th inning of today's game. I rewatched all of his at-bats from today's game. In the first inning, he wasn't given a pitch to hit. In the 3rd inning, he grounded into a DP on the third pitch. It was a weak roller to short. In slow-mo you can see him topping an outside pitch. There was no gun on, but it appeared to be a fastball. As with everything in baseball, 1/4 lower and that's a line drive. Another 1/4 and that's an opposite field homer.

In the 7th, he went: called strike, foul back in on the hands, ball outside, fouled off an outside pitch (nicely done protecting the plate), ball outside, one down the middle and lined it over the leaping 2B (playing double play depth since there were 2 runners on). This was a very good at bat.

In no way did he appear overmatched today, and I haven't seen it yet this spring. The best hitters are overmatched by excellent fastballs.

I came to the opposite conclusion watching him today: he has nothing left to prove in the minors. Some guys need the higher level of competition to make them raise their games. I think Anderson might be that kind of guy. He needs to be a starter on a 2nd division team. If the Sox can turn him into another BP arm, they'll have done well.

Also, you don't quite make enough of Sweeney's throw. As Jerry and Don said during the game, it didn't look like there was any way Sweeney would get the guy out at 2nd. He unleashed an AMAZING throw. And the rest of the time he looked smooth as butter out there in right. If he plays RF the way he played today, he'll be a more than adequate replacement for 2011 J. D. Drew.
   50. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 11, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4078656)
The real key piece of evidence that I think you might be wrong, though, on Anderson, is from last night's game against the Rays, when he took a knee-high, 92 MPH fastball from De La Rosa and lined it for a gap double into left-center. Jerry had just been saying on the broadcast that Bobby V was pleased with Lars's defense and his hitting, the only thing they wanted to see from him was the ability to take outside pitches and drive them with authority. In that at bat he saw 3 outside pitches, all fastballs. 1 at 95 that was up and away; 1 at 93 that was waist high and outside, and the third which he nailed. The more I re-watch his at-bats, the more this kid looks like the Lars Anderson we heard so much hype about a couple of years ago. He seems ready to me.
   51. Dan Posted: March 12, 2012 at 12:34 AM (#4078668)
I came to the opposite conclusion watching him today: he has nothing left to prove in the minors. Some guys need the higher level of competition to make them raise their games. I think Anderson might be that kind of guy. He needs to be a starter on a 2nd division team. If the Sox can turn him into another BP arm, they'll have done well.


Honestly I'd really like to see the Sox hang onto Anderson for another year and see if he can be a solution at DH when Ortiz is gone. Everyone talks about needing to move him since Gonzalez is blocking him at first base, but DH is going to be open really soon, and if his power finally does show up he could be a good DH. He actually reminds me a lot of Gonzalez in that regard, coincidentally. Adrian really never showed power better than Lars in the minors until his 2nd season in the PCL (which is the PCL), where he still only had a .220 ISO, which is really nothing amazing for the league context. Agon's overall minor league line was .296/.365/.448. Compare that to Lars: .276/.372/.438. If you adjust for the time spent in the IL vs PCL, those lines are basically identical.

Obviously Gonzalez's power development is incredibly atypical, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that Lars could make similar strides in driving the ball more consistently. There are some signs that this might be happening: after a brutal first half last year, he hit 10 home runs in his last 2 months at Pawtucket in just over 200 ABs, and obviously he's driving the ball this spring. I'd really rather see the Red Sox stash him in Pawtucket and see if he can hit for some power instead of trading him for flotsam and/or jetsam. Ortiz is only on a 1 year deal too, so you really have all kinds of options depending on how Ortiz and Anderson (and maybe Lavarnway) perform this season. If Lars could be a ~.850 OPS DH for the league minimum, that'd free up a lot of money to spend on improving the team elsewhere.
   52. Dan Posted: March 12, 2012 at 12:37 AM (#4078669)
Also, you don't quite make enough of Sweeney's throw. As Jerry and Don said during the game, it didn't look like there was any way Sweeney would get the guy out at 2nd. He unleashed an AMAZING throw. And the rest of the time he looked smooth as butter out there in right. If he plays RF the way he played today, he'll be a more than adequate replacement for 2011 J. D. Drew.


Being an adequate replacement for 2011 JD Drew isn't exactly a high bar to clear. 2011 JD Drew was worth all of -0.3 fWAR.

While I think Sweeney/Ross platooning in RF will be solid, I'm really going to miss Reddick. I think he's going to be quite good. He's looked amazing this spring so far with the A's, which hasn't helped me feel better about that.
   53. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 12, 2012 at 12:46 AM (#4078671)
Being an adequate replacement for 2011 JD Drew isn't exactly a high bar to clear. 2011 JD Drew was worth all of -0.3 fWAR.


And last year's team with a -0.3 fWAR player in RF had a pythag of 100 wins for much of the season. That's why I don't miss Reddick and think this team is about as good as last year's, if the pitching is decent.
   54. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 12, 2012 at 08:18 AM (#4078707)
Good stuff Mattbert. Did kidbert enjoy her time at the game?

I'm with Dan on Lars Anderson. He's still young enough that waiting another year to see if he can put it together makes sense. At this point trading him isnt going to get you anything of value and the Sox have enough guys out of options that at least for 2012 he shouldn't be blocking anyone on the 40 man and according to soxprospects he's got options left.
   55. Mattbert Posted: March 12, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4078735)
I agree and disagree with you guys on Lars. I didn't mean to imply that he's physically incapable of hitting a decent fastball. He clearly can. But to me if a guys hands are moving vertically while the pitch is on its way, that's a red flag. You have to be quicker to the ball than Lars is to get away with that.

Wifebert allowed as how Lars grades out at a solid 80 on The Good Face tool, though. So there's that.

Regardless, I too would hang onto him and see if he can put up an attractive line in Pawtucket this year. If the Sox think that's for real, then there may be an opportunity for him in Boston. If not, then he's a decent trade chit.
   56. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: March 12, 2012 at 09:48 AM (#4078738)
I remember reading an article a couple years ago that found that opposite field power tends to develop very late. I believe that two of the examples in the article were Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez. I wonder if Anderson might be a lesser version of this type of player. If Bobby V's statement (driving outside pitches) is correct then maybe there is something there.
   57. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 12, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4078787)
I came to the opposite conclusion watching him today: he has nothing left to prove in the minors. Some guys need the higher level of competition to make them raise their games.
It's not like Anderson has been good but not good enough in the minors. He's stagnated at a sub-800 OPS in the minors - something like a 110 OPS+. That would be unimpressive for a major league 1B compared to major league 1B facing major league competition. His MLE OPS from last year is about 700.

I can follow the case that Anderson has made qualitative improvements to his game and should be expected to outperform his projections. I'm having a lot of trouble seeing the case that Anderson shouldn't play in AAA this year. There is a ton of room for improvement in his numbers, a ton he has left to prove in the minor leagues. Even if MLB competition might add an extra touch of motivation, is Anderson really incapable of at least putting up a cromulent MLE line in Pawtucket, if he's so improved?

His trade value right now is close to zero. If he can hit 400/550 in Pawtucket, his trade value will become high. If he's improved, he should certainly be kept around so that he can become valuable.
   58. Mattbert Posted: March 12, 2012 at 11:44 AM (#4078816)
Did kidbert enjoy her time at the game?

She had a couple spells of boredom and hunger, but overall she seemed to have a grand old time. She charmed the pants off an older couple behind us who couldn't resist sharing their popcorn with her and having a chat. Quite the little con artist, she is. By the late innings, she was watching Lavarnway intently and mimicking his squat to receive the pitch. She'd then pantomime throwing it back to the pitcher right after he did.

I'll tell you one thing Lars is just like Gonzalez at: running. He scored from first on Pedroia's double in the 2nd inning (barely) and looked like he wanted to die rounding third. Kidbert said, "He looks TIRED!" I said he might need some oxygen after that run. Wifebert, being a trained first responder, offered to go give him mouth-to-mouth.
   59. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM (#4078873)
One of the reasons I keep coming here is MCoA's analysis. Sox Therapy is so much better to read than SoSH because it's eminently reasonable, and SoSH tends toward the unreasonable, that part of the Red Sox fanbase that I really don't like.

That is to say that I've been convinced by MCoA (and Dan and Mattbert) that the Sox should hold onto Lars for another year. It'll be nice to see if he really has made an adjustment and can be the hitter everyone thought he'd be. So, I stand corrected.

   60. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: March 12, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4078932)
That is to say that I've been convinced by MCoA (and Dan and Mattbert) that the Sox should hold onto Lars for another year. It'll be nice to see if he really has made an adjustment and can be the hitter everyone thought he'd be. So, I stand corrected.


If I can be the voice of internet unreason, Anderson has lots to prove. He strikes out too much and he may not ever hit advanced breaking stuff. Lots of guys look good in a few AB in Spring Training, but that doesn't mean they'll produce at the MLB level. If they can move him for a live arm or something at midseason, they might as well do that. Lavarnway has actually hit at AAA and as a RHB is a better fit at DH for the Sox anyway.
   61. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 12, 2012 at 03:02 PM (#4079036)
Not sure it's at all meaningful but Beckett started today with Shoppach behind the plate. As soon as Beckett was done Shoppach came out and Saltalamanccchia came in to catch.

Like I said, probably nothing but given Becketts desire last year to have Varitek catch him I would expect be and Salty to be working together this spring. It's odd to see a guy who is nominally a starter come off the bench like Salty did today in a Spring Training game.
   62. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 12, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4079065)
Ozzie Guillen just got ejected for arguing a fair/foul infield grounder
   63. Dan Posted: March 12, 2012 at 04:11 PM (#4079122)
Dummies on ESPN talking about how Lars needs a trade during his AB in the 8th inning, with nary a mention of the fact that if his bat does develop he could DH. It's like they don't realize a 1B could also be a DH.

Ohlendorf looked really good. I imagine Salty came in because they wanted him to catch Melancon and Bailey, guys who he hasn't caught yet AFAIK. He might've caught Melancon already, but he definitely has not caught Bailey before. As the long side of the platoon, Salty is nominally the starter and thus needs a bit more time catching these guys than Shoppach does. Beckett, Melancon, and Bailey were all a few MPH below what I would've liked to see, but none of them pitched terribly.

Atchison is getting hammered, but he's bailed out by a decent relay throw and a great tag at home by Lavarnway. Lavarnway basically punched the runner in the jaw with his glove for the tag. Ouch.
   64. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 12, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4079147)
Dan I'm glad to hear that about Ohlendorf. I'm up the first base line and it seemed like everything be threw had a lot of movement to it.

Hard to say Atchison didn't deserve what he got but man Repko made a terrific throw to the plate.
   65. Dan Posted: March 12, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4079157)
I'm really not a fan of Atchison at all. I think he's been very lucky to have the success he's had in MLB, because his stuff just looks like it's a threat to be taken deep every pitch. I'd rather see Bowden or Padilla or someone in the pen than him if there's room.
   66. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 12, 2012 at 04:42 PM (#4079172)
Ciriaco to end it with the 2 run jack!
   67. Paxton Crawford Ranch Posted: March 12, 2012 at 04:42 PM (#4079173)
I LOL'd when Kruk described Terry Tiffee as "a young guy trying to make the team." Ohlendorf went 20 pitches before anyone told us who was pitching. ESPN still has a ways to go before they're in mid-season form.
   68. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 12, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4079184)
I LOL'd when Kruk described Terry Tiffee as "a young guy trying to make the team." Ohlendorf went 20 pitches before anyone told us who was pitching. ESPN still has a ways to go before they're in mid-season form.


They had no idea who was playing CF when the ball went over Linares's head. Kruk was obviously eating the whole time, and at the end sounded as if he may have been drunk. Or maybe his insulin was low and he was slurring his words.
   69. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 12, 2012 at 05:35 PM (#4079241)
Sounds to me like ESPN was exactly in midsession gorm
   70. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2012 at 05:39 PM (#4079246)
ounds to me like ESPN was exactly in midsession gorm


you as well


edit: or did I miss the joke?
   71. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 12, 2012 at 06:33 PM (#4079280)
No, that's what happens when you type quickly on an iPhone.

Still, midsession gorm is no place to be.
   72. Nasty Nate Posted: March 12, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4079281)
Lackey was in midsession gorm all of last year!
   73. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 12, 2012 at 07:24 PM (#4079311)
midsession gorm


Sounds like what happens midway through a can of Slurm and you're already jonesing for the next one. Which does, in fact, seem to describe Lackey, and Beckett and Lester.
   74. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 13, 2012 at 08:27 AM (#4079531)
Sounds like what happens midway through a can of Slurm and you're already jonesing for the next one.


Someone really should make this beverage. I would buy it. I am thinking of a cross between mountain dew, natty ice and go-gurt.

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