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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

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   1. Dan Posted: June 13, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4155454)
It's a bit worrisome that this is the second consecutive season that the Red Sox have a guy that's in the first year of a huge 7 year contract and looks like a shadow of his former self. Gonzalez looked great in one of the games against the Nationals and I thought he had turned the corner and was ready to go on a big hot streak, but the next day he was back to swinging weakly and looking generally like the poor hitter he's been all year.

I don't expect Gonzalez to suck all season like Crawford did last year, but if he does, this team is utterly ###### going forward.
   2. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: June 13, 2012 at 10:25 AM (#4155475)
I think how you feel about the Sox the rest of the way comes down to your expectations for the stars. The fact is that the Sox have gotten sub-par performances from every star caliber player they have. Ellsbury and Crawford are hurt and Gonzalez, Pedroia and Youkilis have all been varying degrees of bad.

I think the biggest thing this team has going for it is the pitching staff. I think there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about this group particularly in light of Buchholz' recent accomplishments. When you can pitch well you will have success over the long haul. To MCoA's point the problem is that they have put themselves in a hole but I think improvement is more likely than decline.

As far as Gonzalez I was thinking about Jason Giambi last night. If you go back to this moment in the 2005 season (when the Yankees were 30-32 by happy coincidence) everything that is being said about Adrian Gonzalez was being said about Jason Giambi. Coming off a disappointing and injury-riddled 2004 he was struggling (.234/.383/.340), had just 4 homers and was by most accounts pretty cooked. Giambi started tearing it up pretty soon afterwards and had a great second half.

I have to admit, Monday's loss kicked me in the nuts. It was the first time I really, truly couldn't shake impending doom for this team. However, I think if we step back and expect players to play to their level we can feel confident. 95-100 wins probably isn't likely just because of the rough start but I think we should expect this team to play like a 90-95 win team over the final three months. Whether that will be enough is an open question.
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 13, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4155483)
Kalish has now been in Pawtucket for a week (1350 OPS). I can accept that there are things we don't know about his body's rehabilitation for which staying in the minors is helpful. I can accept that for about another week. Next Monday, barring setbacks, I'm going to start being annoyed if Kalish isn't with the big club.

There aren't many ways to upgrade this club right now. It makes it that much more important to take advantage of the one you've got.
   4. Swedish Chef Posted: June 13, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4155505)
The fact is that the Sox have gotten sub-par performances from every star caliber player they have.

You forgot Ortiz, he's been good.
   5. Chip Posted: June 13, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4155528)
My concern with Pedroia and Gonzalez isn't just the stats, it's the eye test of hard contact off their bats coming so infrequently. In Pedroia's case the connection to injury is clear - he went into his slump at the time we subsequently discovered he had injured himself, sat out several days, came back wearing a jury-rigged guard against further injury, and has continued to hit as poorly as he did from the time he was reportedly injured.

Blaming Gonzalez's problems on his shoulder admittedly is much more speculative - all we know is that he complained about shoulder fatigue last September, in the midst of a second half disappearance of his opposite field power, and that opposite field power which was once a major part of his hitting profile has been missing again this season.
   6. Mayor Blomberg Posted: June 13, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4155531)
& yet, for all the injuries, the team OPS'd 110 in 2004, 107 in 2007 and is going at a 106 rate this year, behind only TEX and NYY in the AL (both at 111). ERA+ is 97, which seems like it would be more of a worry to me.
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 13, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4155533)
My concern with Pedroia and Gonzalez isn't just the stats, it's the eye test of hard contact off their bats coming so infrequently.
That's not exactly the "eye test", for me. I think we all agree that Pedroia and Gonzalez are actually hitting badly, not hitting in bad luck. The question is whether the cause of the poor play can be identified, and if that cause is a legitimately intractable problem. And that's where I don't see much evidence beyond "they're playing badly."

Pedroia is probably working through an injury, but there are various reports he's pain free and has a full range of movement. So the problem may exist, but it may be tractable within the week.
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 13, 2012 at 11:28 AM (#4155537)
& yet, for all the injuries, the team OPS'd 110 in 2004, 107 in 2007 and is going at a 106 rate this year, behind only TEX and NYY in the AL (both at 111). ERA+ is 97, which seems like it would be more of a worry to me.
Well, this is where watching the team comes into play. The rotation has underwhelmed, but looks pretty good right now and their projections remain very good. The bullpen numbers are held down by a freakishly bad first two weeks, and they've been solid since then.

The offensive numbers, on the other hand, are buoyed by big numbers from Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik, Kelly Shoppach, Will Middlebrooks, and Cody Ross. Without their fifth-stringers, the offense would be decidedly mediocre. We all expect those guys to come back to earth, and so the question with the Red Sox offense is whether the underperforming stars (Youkilis as well as Pedroia and Gonzalez) will pick up the slack.
   9. Darren Posted: June 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM (#4156287)
I don't think you're ever going to have anything more definitive than observation + stats. What would you think you'd have to see to convince you that Pedroia and Gonzalez are hurt?
   10. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4156519)
I think that "observation of poorly hit balls" isn't really observation. That's results - statistics. We have the data on that now, and you could just go to the pitch/fx databases. For a more convincing argument that something is wrong with Pedroia's hand or Gonzalez' shoulder, I'm asking for observation of their movements, their mechanics, which show a change that you think is based in injury. Or, you could go to interviews, where Pedroia or Gonzalez tell someone that they don't feel right, or someone else says they don't feel right.

The other prong of my argument is that players play poorly because of underlying causes, and even play poorly through injuries, all the time. And then get better. One of things that bothered me a little about the discussions of Gonzalez was the assumption that if he's hampered by injury or something now, then he'll never improve.

I don't think it's radically unlikely that either or both of Pedroia or Gonzalez is playing through some set of physical problems, which are limiting their effectiveness. I just think that it's not as obvious as it's being made to seem, and I don't think the evidence put forward is terribly convincing. Further, even if they are hurt now, there's lots of precedent to suggest they could get better at any point in the future.
   11. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:41 AM (#4156529)
Looking at Gonzalez and Pedroia there are three things that jump out to me;

1. Both guys have a higher line drive rate than both last year and their career numbers.

2. Both have a dramatically lower HR/FB rate than in the past. Pedroia seems to be a pre-2010 regression while Gonzalez has simply plummeted dramatically.

3. Both have shown big declines in their plate discipline striking out more and walking less.

I think #3 is the biggest issue for both players right now. I think the problem right now for both is that they are not hitting their pitch. I can come up with lots of possible reasons; lack of confidence, vision problems, overthinking, physical ailments causing discomfort at the plate...just off the cuff but I wouldn't feel confident in any of them. I think if both players can start doing damage when they get their pitch to hit they will be a lot better off.
   12. Darren Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM (#4157099)
What do you guys think of this from SOSH. I'm not entirely convinced of all the conclusions, but those charts look to me like pretty convincing evidence that he's lost some significant power to LF.

Edit: Fixed link--thanks Jose.
   13. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:09 PM (#4157101)
Bad link Darren.
   14. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:23 PM (#4157109)
I think this might be what he was linking (from Finn's piece today?).

Just FWIW these are Gonzalez' numbers from BBRef hitting to different parts of the ballpark;

AVG/SLG (no OBP because we're looking at Balls in Play)

2012 (18.0% of batted balls to opposite field)
Pull - .288/.588 - 88% of career ISO
Center - .313/.429 - 58% of career ISO
Oppo - .459/.730 - 67% of career ISO

Career (18.2% of batted balls to opposite field)
Pull - .391/.731
Center - .336/.536
Oppo - .427/.829

He's certainly getting less power the other way than he has in the past but it's an across the board power decline. There's probably more here but I gotta run.
   15. booond Posted: June 14, 2012 at 08:13 PM (#4157213)
At least he's not hitting into DPs; he's traded those for Ks and popups.
   16. Dan Posted: June 15, 2012 at 07:27 PM (#4158338)
Beckett scratched from Sunday's start with "shoulder inflammation", Franklin Morales will spot start.

What's another $16M on the DL?
   17. Dan Posted: June 15, 2012 at 09:30 PM (#4158377)
All the other AL East teams are leading at the moment. Another day, another game gap to the contenders. I think it's nearly time to pack it in.

Kalish hit another home run for Pawtucket, but it doesn't really matter since Ben and Bobby would rather play Podsednik and McDonald than call him up.
   18. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: June 15, 2012 at 11:49 PM (#4158419)
It's nothing that an 8 to 12 game winning streak can't cure. Baseball seasons are long. Most teams, ranging from bad to good, have long stretches of .500 ish ball. It's only the really great teams and the really crappy ones that don't. The Red Sox seem pretty good to me, so maybe they have a run in them.

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