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Friday, May 05, 2017

Opportunity Knocks

After an eventful home stand the Sox hit the road for a six game trip that is part of a 12 road games out of 15 stretch.  Despite that travel schedule the Sox may view this as a bit of an opportunity to start making hay.  On top of the injuries, illnesses and family situations that have arisen the Sox have opened the year playing 15 of their first 28 games against teams that made the playoffs in 2016 going 8-7 against those clubs.  They now have reached a portion of the schedule that may present some opportunity;

@Minnesota (3)
@Milwaukee (3)
vs. Tampa Bay (3)
@St. Louis (3)
@Oakland (3)
vs. Texas (3)
vs. Seattle (3)
@ White Sox (3)

Only Texas was a playoff team from that group last year and if the Sox want to make a bit of a surge this may be the time for it to happen. 

Of course doing so will mean tightening up the ship particularly at third base where I think you can argue that Butch Hobson would represent an upgrade.  I don’t mean Butch Hobson in 1977, I mean 65 year old Butch Hobson today.  Beyond that there is plenty to talk about so I’ll just leave a few short notes for you to comment on or alternatively ignore while you do something productive;

- I did not love the Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz deal but so far in 2017 Pomeranz has been a crucial piece.  He’s not pretty and he doesn’t get deep into games but as fourth starters go a 4.00 ERA (111 ERA+) is nothing to sneeze at and with the Sox offense starting to warm up that is going to be plenty.

- We can talk about Rafael Devers if we want but according to Dave Dombrowski there should be no rush on that front. 

Well, I think there’s a few things and I am going to take away ability at that point because you start talking about these guys you just assume they have ability,” he said. “One, I will say for a hitter you are looking for them at how they control the strike zone to some extent, what type of holes they have and can they handle those holes. When they are at the plate you don’t want to be in a position where somebody can be exploited too much in that regard. You know at the big league level they are so much more advanced, the reports on individuals as well as the abilities of the guys to exploit that.

What I takeaway from that quote (and others in the piece, read it it’s good) is that while he does not mention Yoan Moncada by name the Sox see Devers as being closer to where Moncada was a year, an exciting talent but one still able to be managed by big league pitching, rather than where Benintendi was.

- If we are looking for short term third base options I think the Sox have to be looking at Jantzen Witte.  He’s 27 and does not really profile as a realistic propsect but .333/.452/.471 is getting it done.  On top of that his defensive track record at third base (190 games, 12 errors) at least suggests he can successfully throw the ball to first base and there is no reason not to give him a whirl.  I understand sticking with Josh Rutledge a bit but if this continues the Sox have no reason to leave Witte in Pawtucket.

- The news seems to be good on the David Price front but at the same time I have read virtually nothing on either Carson Smith or more tellingly Tyler Thornburg.  Smith was always going to be a June/July “acquisition” so no harm no foul but Thornburg is looking to join Smith, Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan and Mark Melancon as regrettable pick ups.  Melancon improved on things by being a regrettable pick up and a regrettable dismissal (though he brought Brock Holt \o/! in return).

As that noted philosopher John of the Sterling would advise former suffragette Ms. Anthony “you can’t predict baseball Susan.”  I think 14-10 over the next four weeks is feasible which would have the Sox sitting at 29-23 at the end of May and on a 90 win pace.  If they can be there I think that will be a positive sign.

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 05, 2017 at 02:25 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: May 06, 2017 at 11:14 AM (#5449806)
   2. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 06, 2017 at 11:39 AM (#5449810)
That is an interesting piece. I'm extremely bullish on EdRod. NESN had a nice piece last night on the way he's picked up his pace and I think that's working for him.
   3. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: May 06, 2017 at 11:49 AM (#5449815)
Me too. Even last year's stat line is a bit misleading as he struggled with his mechanics in the first half, but he was a much better pitcher in the 2nd half (9.15 K/9, 3.24 ERA, 3.48 FIP; though his xFIP was 4.35).

Some really frustrating losses, mainly because of a lack of run support. Despite that and Price having yet to throw a pitch in 2017, I'm satisfied with how this season's started. They could have easily started out in a sizable hole a la the 2011 Red Sox. They're currently rocking a team ERA+ of 126 and are top 5 in all of MLB in ERA/FIP/xFIP. At least the run prevention has been working out. But ####### would it be nice if the Sox would stop hitting ground balls.
   4. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 06, 2017 at 01:06 PM (#5449838)

That's today's lineup. That top five is what worked for five months last year safe Benintendi for Ortiz. I like it. Might not matter but maybe it shakes things up.
   5. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 06, 2017 at 01:19 PM (#5449841)
Also according to bradford Price and the Sox are targeting the White Sox series as a return date. It's loose right now but that is what they are looking at.
   6. villageidiom Posted: May 06, 2017 at 07:49 PM (#5450011)
That's today's lineup. That top five is what worked for five months last year safe Benintendi for Ortiz. I like it. Might not matter but maybe it shakes things up.
Eh, I don't know. You want crooked numbers on the board, but everything was round or straight today.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 06, 2017 at 08:29 PM (#5450052)
Fire Farrell!

(That's very funny vi)
   8. villageidiom Posted: May 07, 2017 at 07:27 PM (#5450386)
28 runs in 2 days. I accept.
   9. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 22, 2017 at 08:20 AM (#5460723)
Not exactly seizing the day here, 7-8 so far over the first 15 games in this stretch. The good news is that no one in the division is really doing much of anything in that time period so it's just kind of muddling along.
   10. villageidiom Posted: May 22, 2017 at 08:59 AM (#5460734)
My daughter and her boyfriend were playing chess the other day. She was far ahead in captured pieces, but was putting herself in really bad position* because she didn't want to lose her queen, even if it ended up being a trade queen-for-queen. After the game I reminded her that when you're ahead, swapping equivalent pieces is generally a great move because it hurts your opponent far more than it hurts you. There are exceptions of course, but the point was that she shouldn't feel bad about treading water as long as her head is above the water.

The Red Sox do not have that kind of advantage right now. But it's a long season, and nobody right now has that kind of advantage. Boston is hovering around .500 and 4 games out of first, which means the first place team is hovering around 4 games above .500, and 4 games can evaporate easily over 4.5 months. Every win counts, obviously, but a 7-8 span with most of that being on the road... meh.

* At one point she was two moves away from checkmating him, but was so focused on defending her own queen that she almost missed it.
   11. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 22, 2017 at 09:18 AM (#5460740)
10 - Yup, my default in this situation is to turn things around. If the Sox had a 4 game lead would you be declaring the division all but clinched? Of course not so there is no reason to feel this is anywhere close to insurmountable. The big thing for me is the Sox have yet to have a hot streak. The best ten game stretch is 7-3 and they've won more than 2 in a row once all year.
   12. villageidiom Posted: May 26, 2017 at 10:09 AM (#5463540)
Make that twice, now. A 4-game winning streak, and knocking the Rangers down to .500, was a pleasant surprise. Good Drew Pomeranz showed up in the finale; Boston struck out 20 batters (Kimbrel with 4 in one inning); and Bogaerts hit his first HR of the year. There's a lot to like there.
   13. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: May 26, 2017 at 10:21 AM (#5463548)
Great to see Pomeranz using his cutter and changeup more last night. It seemed like he ditched his cutter after the trade (it wasn't working due to injury reasons, perhaps?) and it was a very effective pitch for him in San Diego. If Pomeranz can get back to his 2016 Pre-ASB self, I'm feeling pretty good about the rotation. I'll feel even better if Price is effective.
   14. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 26, 2017 at 10:24 AM (#5463553)
I wanted to get something up last night but I'm feeling crummy. The big takeaway for me is this is the first time this team has looked right to me all year. They were grinding out at bats this week and took advantage by getting into the soft underbelly of the bullpen on Tuesday which likely forced Bannister to stick with Perez too long on Wednesday (then go to Dyson). I'm feeling very encouraged.

Health permitting I'm off to Portland tomorrow to see Devers and anything else of interest there.
   15. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: May 29, 2017 at 02:21 PM (#5464742)
Red Sox rotation has an ERA of 4.18, but their FIP and xFIP are 3.64. Worth noting Porcello has a .370 BABIP allowed, though his ground ball rate continues to decline (now just 39.1%). In fact, Red Sox starting pitchers own the lowest ground ball rate in the league (38.2%). They are first in K% and BB% though.
   16. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 31, 2017 at 11:12 PM (#5466640)
Opportunity taken. 14-10. With a bit of luck 4-3 through Baltimore and New York would be very nice indeed,
   17. villageidiom Posted: May 31, 2017 at 11:34 PM (#5466647)
And Good Drew Pomeranz showed up again. Last 2 starts: 13 IP, 2.08 ERA.

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