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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Report from the Fort

It’s that time of year again, the time when everyone hates Jose as he tells you that he is in Southwest Florida drinking too much rum and watching the Sox do their thing.  While you are angry at me here are a few notes from Fort Myers;

- First off the good news has been health.  Apparently J.D. Martinez missed yesterday’s game with a sore back but there doesn’t seem to be too much concern on that front.  Other than that all the reports are that everyone is healthy.  Watching the players everyone looks good and sharp. Dustin Pedroia is one player I noticed looking particularly good as far as how he moved.  He looks very comfortable at the plate and in the field.  The one noticeable thing about Pedroia though is that he really looks to have slowed down.  The wheels just simply aren’t there anymore.

- Rafael Devers is another player who has looked excellent to me.  As Alex Cora noted he looks leaner and more mature than he has in the past.  Last year he had a bit of baby fat to him both in body and in his face.  This year he looks a lot more like a grown man.  In the field he is showing almost Beltre-esque range to his left.  He fumbled a couple of balls on those plays but his range has been excellent.

- One change from past years is that on Tuesday when I went the Sox MLB players were working out on the minor league fields.  They were separated in groups and taking batting practice.  There is a lot more focus on teaching than I would have anticipated.  Martinez, Mookie and Vazquez were in a group together with the omnipresent iPad.  As soon as Mookie came out of the cage he went right over to J.D. for a bit of a debrief.  Another group featured Devers, Benintendi, Moreland, Bradley and Bogaerts working with hitting coach Tim Hyers.  This group was engaged in a variety of situational hitting (e.g. “runner at third, infield back less than two outs”) and finished with a drill where they attempted to hit the ball fair closest to the opposite field foul line.  The guys seemed to be genuinely enjoying the competition with trash talk.

- Xander Bogaerts made friends with some fans who were on the field.  A young lady was really hoping for an autograph and when they finished up Xander went over and had a chat, signed and posed for a couple of photos.  He seemed to genuinely be enjoying himself.  It’s hard to realize he’s still just 26 because he’s been here so long and conducts himself like such a veteran. 

- I was asked to check in on Jackie Bradley Jr. (I think by vi) and so far he’s underwhelmed.  He looked bad striking out a couple times in Tuesday’s game.  In the BP session he was driving the ball with an ease I didn’t expect to see.

- Both starting pitchers I saw (EdRod and Price) looked very much game ready.  I’ve been fooled by spring training in the past so don’t read too much into this but I thought Price’s tempo was better.

- I have not seen the Durbman yet (sorry Nate).  Hopefully he is for real because I have yet to see a reliever of note pitch remotely well.  Matt Barnes pitched poorly in both outings, Tyler Thornburg was pitching batting practice and even Marcus Walden was having a tough time throwing strikes.

- Not a lot on the farm system to report on. Bobby Dalbec really impressed me though.  He is a lot more nimble at third base than I realized and he is an absolute monster of a man.  He has a bit of a Will Middlebrooks profile with the bat but he looks to be a fair bit better defensively.

- C.J. Chatham seems to be getting a lot of opportunities this spring at shortstop.  He is a tall drink of water for a shortstop but looks comefortable in the field and at the plate.  Injuries have slowed his progress as a prospect and this year should be an important year for him.

- If you are interested here are some pictures from my trip so far.

Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: March 14, 2019 at 09:30 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: March 14, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5822785)
I was asked to check in on Jackie Bradley Jr. (I think by vi) and so far he’s underwhelmed.  He looked bad striking out a couple times in Tuesday’s game.  In the BP session he was driving the ball with an ease I didn’t expect to see.
Thanks, I was interested in both aspects you bring up. In theory his new approach at the plate should have him generating more solid contact when he connects. I was wondering if it would help him connect more often.
   2. jmurph Posted: March 14, 2019 at 12:13 PM (#5822787)
Had a brief trip to Miami last week and was able to take in Sox-Nationals in West Palm Beach. Definitely a fun experience, and I hope to make a longer trip at some point in the future and see more games. The downside of catching a road game is that only JD played from among the big names.

I was also impressed with Dalbec and Chatham, Jose, and surely their excellent baseball names count for something.
   3. The Mighty Quintana Posted: March 14, 2019 at 12:48 PM (#5822795)
Thanks, have you seen Jarren Duran play? Used to watch him at Long beach State and he seemed like the type of raw athlete who could develop in several directions, reminded me a little build-wise of Steve Finley (before the power shift), so was hoping his transition to the OF was going well. He always seemed too long for 2B.
   4. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: March 14, 2019 at 03:37 PM (#5822849)
I haven’t seen Duran here but I saw him in Lowell. He’s a pretty dynamic guy and seems to be the pick for a lot of people as the likeliest prospect to zoom up the rankings in the Sox system.
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 14, 2019 at 07:53 PM (#5822910)
It’s that time of year again, the time when everyone hates Jose as he tells you that he is in Southwest Florida drinking too much rum . . .

I hear vodka goes well with orange juice.
   6. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: March 14, 2019 at 08:10 PM (#5822913)
Yes but rum goes with limes, mint and ginger ale better.

Durbman pitches today and seems to have been very impressive.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: March 16, 2019 at 08:11 PM (#5823224)
Went to today’s game. A few quick notes;

- Sale looked very sharp. I couldn’t see the radar gun so I don’t know how his velocity was but he seemed to be spotting the slider beautifully.

- it took awhile but I saw JBJ make solid contact with a ringing double after fanning twice,

- In other positive news the bullpen looked solid. Barnes, Thornburg and Ryan Brasier making his debut all pitched well. Brasier’s line isn’t pretty but he was throwing strikes and looked comfortable and healthy.

- It is not humanly possible to get a picture of Eduardo Nunez swinging well.

- The people in front of me ordered four beers early in the game and got their change without tipping the poor guy hauling beer and water around in 80 degree heat a single penny
   8. villageidiom Posted: March 19, 2019 at 12:33 PM (#5823744)
Part of me looks at their spring record of 8-15 and worries about the season, especially when I see the Yankees at 14-6. Then I see the second-best record in the Grapefruit League - the Marlins - and I realize none of this matters.
   9. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: March 19, 2019 at 12:45 PM (#5823748)
I was thinking about this the other day. Has anyone ever done a comparison of spring training records and minor league system quality? I suspect there is nothing more than “no one really cares about results” driving spring training records but given the number of at bats and innings pitched by prospects in spring games there seems like there’s might be a correlation.

I’m bummed about today since this was to be my last game of the spring. I’m rebounding by watching game four of the World Series.
   10. Chip Posted: March 19, 2019 at 06:42 PM (#5823888)
Part of me looks at their spring record of 8-15 and worries about the season, especially when I see the Yankees at 14-6. Then I see the second-best record in the Grapefruit League - the Marlins - and I realize none of this matters.


Clearly the Yankees veterans must have overworked themeselves chasing that record, what with all the DL trips to start the season: Severino, Hicks, Sabathia, and now Betances.
   11. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 19, 2019 at 08:21 PM (#5823904)
Part of me looks at their spring record of 8-15 and worries about the season, especially when I see the Yankees at 14-6. Then I see the second-best record in the Grapefruit League - the Marlins - and I realize none of this matters.


2018 Spring training standings
Boston 22-9
Houston 21-9

Those team won 211 games last year in the regular season.

Just sayin'........
   12. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 19, 2019 at 08:26 PM (#5823905)
In saying that,

Baltimore was 17-12 last year in Spring Training.....so there is that.
   13. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 20, 2019 at 12:31 PM (#5824009)
Red Sox Contracts Chat

Mookie Betts:
350m, 10 year extension (age 27-37 seasons, buys out 1 arb year), 35m AAV, no opt outs. He's the second best player in baseball since his first full season, and is closer to Trout's total for those years (36.6 bWAR to 32.9 bWAR than he is to third place (Altuve at 26 bWAR). There's zero reason NOT to sign him to the second biggest contract in history given his age, his home grown status, and the fact that his talents are the type that should age pretty damn well.

Rick Porcello:
Let him walk. He's had one very good but not great year and stole a Cy Young from Verlander because of good run support and 22 wins. He's had two other merely good seasons, and he's been below average as often as above average in his 4 years with the Sox. He'll also be 31 years old with 2000 IP on his arm. Let someone else give him his next undeserved 80m. Also, He's a bum.

JD Martinez (if he opts out):
Let him walk. If he opts out he'll very likely be doing so after giving the Sox two great years, and I'll want all the best for him. But I can think of a lot of other things to do with the $150m or so he'd probably be looking for.

Chris Sale:
Unfortunately, also let him walk. He's dominant and has been great for the team, but he's not durable, and he'd cost David Price money to keep. I'd rather focus on keeping Mookie and Bogaerts since the Sox are unlikely to keep all three. I recognize that this leaves the Sox with a rotation of Price (good but not great at this point in his career), Eovaldi (average starter with a chance to be a #2 in a good season), and E-Rod (Really good when healthy and with more than a month missed due to injuries in each of 2016, 2017, and 2018).

Xander Bogaerts:
This is the toughest decision for me. He's been a consistent 3-4 WAR player over the last 4 years, and is only 26 entering this year. It's hard to find a comparable player who's gotten a free agent deal or long extension, since guys like Correa and Lindor are just now arb eligible.

The two guys who have reached free agency and have been as good or better than Bogaerts since 2014 are Brandon Crawford and Andrelton Simmons, who are significantly better defenders than Bogaerts but also significantly inferior hitters. They signed extensions of 6/75m buying out 2 years of arbitration and 7/58m buying out a year of pre-arb and all arb years respectively.

Then there's Jean Segura, who is more similar to Bogaerts offensively but still wasn't as good as Bogaerts is now (96 OPS+ with a career high of 122 when he signed his extension, compared to 106 OPS+ with a career high of 133) and who was also a year older. Segura signed for 5/70 w/ a club option to make it 6/87 and bought out 1 arb year.

So Bogaerts is going to be looking for more money than any of these guys unless he has a catastrophic season, since he's younger and every year is a FA year. And my general philosophy is that I don't want to give opt-outs due to the amount of downside risk it puts on the club, so that will also increase the total price. And he's a Boras client.

Given his age, the fact that he's been a part of two world series teams, and that he's been with the Sox org since he was 17, I'm fine with the fact that we're going to have to pay him, though. Something like 7/140m seems reasonable, for his age 27-34 seasons. I'd probably be willing to go up from that to an AAV in the ~25m/year range and/or 8 or 9 years, because the Sox have a ton of money and I think the hitting improvement last year is for real and so he'll hit enough to be able to move off SS when his merely average defense degrades as he ages into his middish-30s. So really, it could be anything from 140m to 200m.
   14. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 21, 2019 at 08:55 AM (#5824207)
Mookie Betts:
350m, 10 year extension (age 27-37 seasons, buys out 1 arb year), 35m AAV, no opt outs. He's the second best player in baseball since his first full season, and is closer to Trout's total for those years (36.6 bWAR to 32.9 bWAR than he is to third place (Altuve at 26 bWAR). There's zero reason NOT to sign him to the second biggest contract in history given his age, his home grown status, and the fact that his talents are the type that should age pretty damn well.


Betts has already said he wants to go to FA. He *seems* ok with arbitration, has said this year (and in past years) that he is ok with the team and him disagreeing on what he should be paid, he understands it's a business.

When asked if he expects to enter the 2019 season without signing a long-term extension, Betts said, “That’s exactly what I expect. I don’t expect anything to happen until I’m a free agent.
“It’s just one of those things where you’ve just got to go out and play,” continued Betts, ... “You can’t worry about the economics of the game right now. [The Red Sox] have to take care of what they have to take care of, and I have to take care of what I have to take care of. The common thing is to win a World Series, and I think it’s something we definitely both want to do.”
Betts confirmed a report by MLB Network insider Joel Sherman for the New York Post that he rejected Boston’s eight-year, $200 million extension offer following the 2017 season.
“Yeah, I was made an offer last year,” he said. “That was just a disagreement, which is perfectly fine.”
   15. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 21, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5824235)
Yeah, he says he wants to go FA, but I imagine if the Sox put a competitive offer (which 10/350 would be) on the table that'd make him the second largest contract in history he might go for it. 200m/8 is a huge contract, but I can see why Betts would've turned it down.
   16. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 22, 2019 at 02:44 PM (#5824688)
Supposedly Sale is going to be extended for 5 years $150M or so. I am pretty OK with that. I am not sold on Eovaldi yet, but Sale, Price, E Rod, Eovaldi + whomever could be a pretty good rotation in 2020.
   17. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: March 22, 2019 at 06:53 PM (#5824759)
Yeah, the Sox have kind of solidified the rotation pretty well. Now just gotta get Mookie done.
   18. Darren Posted: March 23, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5824827)
I was with the idea of letting Sale walk. He wears down at the end of every season, seemingly, with last year being the worst. He provides great value on the way, a) that bodes poorly for when he gets into his 30s, and b) on a team that expects to be in the playoffs, you'd like to have your best pitcher thriving at the end of the year.

But this is a really reasonable deal and so I say it's a good one. They can try to limit his innings a bit during the regular season and hope that he doesn't get injured at the wrong time, like he did last year.

As for the rest, if they are going to try to get under the tax limit at some point, they are going to lose some of our favorites. I think it all comes down to a couple of questions about Mookie:

1. Does he not want to be in Boston? I think this is reasonably answerable. The Machado, Harper, and Trout deals have set the market. You have a very good idea of what a player like Mookie should be worth--something between the lower 2 and Trout. 10/330? 10/350? You've got the neighborhood. If you make him that offer, and he doesn't sign, I think you need to assume he's at least going to free agency.

2. If you can't lock up Mookie, do you hold out until after 2020 to try to sign him? Or do you sign everyone else that you can, and just assume he's gone. In other words, if they're operating on any kind of budget, they cannot afford to sign everyone, and pretty much everyone else needs to be signed before Mookie. So do you let some walk to save some money for possibly signing Mookie, or do you sign guys and extend some young guys on cheap deals?

If it's me, I try making the offer now, and if he doesn't bite, go forward with the assumption he's gone. Sign Xander and possibly JDM, maybe lock up Devers and Benintendi. Possibly try to trade him before 2020 if you can get a king's ransom. It would be sad, but what can you do?

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