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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Roster Numero Uno

EDIT: Shut up, I forgot to list Xander Bogaerts because I’m stupid.  Just shut up.

With just a month until pitchers and catchers (hooray!) I figured this might be a good time to take a gander at the Sox roster as it is currently constituted.  I suspect the Sox will make a move or two to add bullpen help but what are we looking at on Opening Day in Seattle?

Infield: Mitch Moreland, Steve MVPearce, Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, Rafael Devers, XANDER BOGAERTS THE GREATEST SHORTSTOP EVAH
Likely DL: Dustin Pedroia
Minors: Tzu-Wei Lin, Marco Hernandez

Reading between the lines the outlook for Pedroia is somewhat pessimistic.  I think there is a very real chance he is full on finished but even if not I have a difficult time seeing him as a likely option before Memorial Day.

Beyond that miniature elephant in the room there isn’t much in play here. Lin is a pretty useful guy to have on the I-95 shuttle.  Sam Travis still has one option left to pull it together and he’ll probably get a few at bats with the big club but he has to start getting it done.  Hernandez is an issue of health, my sense is the club likes him a lot but I have to believe the missed season puts him firmly behind Lin on the depth chart.  No one would ever forget Xander who is a critical part of the team. (thanks SoSH).

Outfield: Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, JD Martinez
Minors: Gorkys Hernandez

In Bob Ryan’s book “48 Minutes” he writes of the 1985 Celtics that the only reason not to play Parish, McHale, Bird, Johnson and Ainge is injury, foul trouble, and defection to the Soviet Union.  That is roughly the case for Alex Cora.  The Sox have an outfield and with Martinez at DH and Holt able to play everywhere, this is the outfield they will have.

Hernandez is a nice pick up.  He’s not much of an offensive threat but he’s supposed to be solid defensively though the numbers don’t really scream that out.  As a right-handed bat he’s a good fit to rest JBJ and/or Benintendi and should be able to fill in for short term injuries well enough.

Catcher: Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart

This is going to be mildly interesting I think.  The Sox have some decisions here first and foremost being can Leon hit enough to justify the glove.  He hit .095/.167/.164 after the All Star Break last year and that’s just not enough.  Big decisions usually shouldn’t be made during spring training but the Sox need to look at him and decide if he’s cooked or if he’s got something.

Vazquez had a rough year with the bat but a low BABIP gives reason to believe he might bounce back enough to be the good field/low hit guy he projects as.  Swihart looked to me like he can at least be a useful backup catcher/utilityman in the Charlie Moore/John Wathan mold.

Starters: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez
DL: Steven Wright
Minors: N/A

In a baseball world ga-ga for bullpenning the Sox have a very traditional look with a strong rotation. The top four feature two Cy Young winners, a third guy who is actually the best of the bunch and a fourth solid pitcher.  The fifth starter is a high upside guy who should be noted as a potential stud.  The injury obscured just how good he had been and even as is a 107 ERA+ over his career is very solid.

Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson who will be listed below with the relievers are competent emergency guys and Wright may be the nominal sixth.  As always if you think you have enough pitching you should look in a mirror and say “we have enough pitching” then punch yourself in the face.  Repeat until you physically can’t say it anymore but…the Sox are as well set as any team in baseball in the rotation.

Relievers: Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Hector Velazquez, Brian Johnson, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, Bigfoot
Minors: Chandler Shepherd, Bobby Poyner, Marcus Walden(?), Colton Brewer
DL: Carson Smith

So…yeah.  It’s hard to see the Sox not picking up someone else.  They feel an arm short out there.  Tyler “Bigfoot” Thornburg is an X factor.  The guy was magnificent for the Brewers a couple year ago and if he can reclaim that status the Sox look good enough.  As the nominal closer Matt Barnes will be a bit hairy with occasional bouts of control and the odd gopher ball but the Sox won a World Series with Craig Kimbrel having a similar profile.


Right now I have the Sox with a 13 player/12 pitcher set up. Potentially the Sox could move Leon or Swihart to take a 13th pitcher which I would say is likely Brewer in the current set up.

Reading between the lines more I feel like there is a non-zero chance that Kimbrel returns which is a bit frightening but if the deal is right for the Sox he’s still good.  His post-season was not great but for the full season he was very good; a WHIP of 0.995 and 42 of 47 in save opportunities.  Maybe getting a bit of a break here and there might help as he seemed to fade a bit.

Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: January 13, 2019 at 05:11 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: January 14, 2019 at 09:22 AM (#5805218)
I suspect they will go with 13 pitchers to start the season. Their schedule starts with an 11-game road trip with no travel days: 4 in Seattle, 4 in Oakland, 3 in Phoenix. Given their desire not to overtax the starters, plus their likely inability to go too deep into games that early in the season, and an inability to skip a start with a day off, I'd be surprised if they didn't go with an 8-man bullpen to start the year. Maybe if Wright were available they could rely on him for relief depth and go with just 7 relievers.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: January 14, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5805227)
Minors: Chandler Shepherd, Bobby Poyner, Marcus Walden(?)
Another guy to keep an eye on is Durbin Feltman. Admittedly, I had never heard of him until a few weeks ago. He was just drafted last year, but in his first 23 pro innings, he struck out 36 guys and didn't let up a HR.
   3. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: January 14, 2019 at 10:44 AM (#5805252)
That's a good call. I probably should have mentioned Travis Lakins too. The bullpen is such a wide open thing, I'm sure there is someone I haven't even thought of or possibly heard of that is going to pitch meaningful innings.

Feltman is a curious dude. There was actually talk when he got drafted that he might be a Craig Hansen type who gets called up in the same year. It's a good point to mention him because I expect him to be pushed and won't be shocked if he's in town by August.
   4. jmurph Posted: January 14, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5805257)
Their schedule starts with an 11-game road trip with no travel days: 4 in Seattle, 4 in Oakland, 3 in Phoenix.

Wow, didn't know that. That will be interesting.
   5. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: January 14, 2019 at 01:08 PM (#5805369)
Yeah, I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I mean they get the west coast trip out of the way then only have to go out there once (end of August) the rest of the season. That feels like a pretty low travel schedule.
   6. karlmagnus Posted: January 14, 2019 at 01:11 PM (#5805371)
It's the opposite of 2018, when they started against weak teams and zoomed ahead, then had a tough schedule at the end (winning only 108, when it looked like they might win 115 or so.) If they emerge above .500 from that West Coast tour, they should be in great shape for the season.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: January 14, 2019 at 02:00 PM (#5805393)
Infield: Mitch Moreland, Steve MVPearce, Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, Rafael Devers

My first thought was, Good Lord, that's awful. My second was, oh, he left out Xander.

   8. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: January 14, 2019 at 02:06 PM (#5805394)
My ability to leave someone out EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I do this is really impressive. So yeah, call it 13/12 hitter to pitcher and why the hell didn't the rest of you notice? That probably makes Colton Brewer the odd man out though if the Sox punt Leon he cold squeeze in.
   9. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: January 14, 2019 at 02:33 PM (#5805401)
Even with significant regression to the mean across the board AND a correction to their Pythagorean luck, this is still going to be a 90+ win team. Also, Mookie is now the 4th best paid player on the club, behind Price, Martinez, and Porcello. (PORCELLO! *shakes fist*). Though he's still earning less than the dead money owed to Rusney and Panda.
   10. jmurph Posted: January 14, 2019 at 03:05 PM (#5805408)
What's the Betts contract going to look like and when will it happen? Next winter?
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: January 14, 2019 at 03:12 PM (#5805412)
What's the Betts contract going to look like and when will it happen? Next winter?
These are total spur-of-the-moment guesses, but I think it's this winter or never for an extension (although he may sign with Sox as free agent), and it might look like:

'19 - $25m
'20 - $35m
'21 - $35m
'22 - $35m w/ opt out afterwards
'23 - $35m w/ opt out afterwards
'24 - $35m
   12. jmurph Posted: January 14, 2019 at 03:14 PM (#5805414)
These are total spur-of-the-moment guesses, but I think it's this winter or never for an extension (although he may sign with Sox as free agent), and it might look like:

'19 - $25m

They've already agreed to $20 for 2019, I think?
   13. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: January 14, 2019 at 03:19 PM (#5805417)
Yeah he's signed for this year at $20 million but I think if you bump the years up by one on Nate's list it's probably pretty close. Probably need to add a year or two on the end.
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: January 14, 2019 at 03:20 PM (#5805419)
You guys, they don't have to keep the $20m amount if they agree on a new contract...
   15. jmurph Posted: January 14, 2019 at 03:48 PM (#5805433)
Yeah that's true. I would think the latter years would need to be more money, but I could see the overall shape looking like that. I hope it happens soon.
   16. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: January 14, 2019 at 03:49 PM (#5805435)
I don't think anything happens this year, but I highly doubt he's going anywhere.
   17. jmurph Posted: January 14, 2019 at 04:00 PM (#5805444)
Both sides seem happy, and the Red Sox are rich and I can't imagine them being outspent, especially given the amount of money coming off the books soon.
   18. Nasty Nate Posted: January 17, 2019 at 02:33 PM (#5806357)
Ottavino to NYY. Of the free agent RP's, Cody Allen and Kimbrel are the most interesting remaining.
   19. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 17, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5806367)
Both sides seem happy, and the Red Sox are rich and I can't imagine them being outspent, especially given the amount of money coming off the books soon.

There's not a ton of dead or bad money coming off though. #'s reflect their 2019 salary:

Porcello - $21.125M
Sale - $15M
Bogaerts - $12M
Pearce - $6.25M
Moreland - $6.5M
Nunez - $5M
Holt - $3.575M
Fat Panda - down to $5m for 2020 after $18.445M in 2019, then done

Between Porcello & Sale the Sox could use a frontline starter, and depth, assuming some step forward from Ed Rod. So, pencil $20M per for a starting pitcher.
Either resign X or get a new starting SS - no clue.
I am assuming Devers will move to 1st, saving some money there, but then there's a hole at 3B. Do the Sox go big with someone? There is so much good talent at 3B in MLB right now.
Nunez/Holt - will need to be replaced, maybe a $5M savings if the Sox go internal.

I am assuming the $33.325M for the infielders gets spent, as they'd need a starting SS, starting 3B (or 1B based on where Devers plays) and a utility/caddy backup infielder.

So, really, maybe a savings of $25M between Sale and Panda? Great, but as of now they are anticipated to be $31M+ over the 2019 cap. Maybe they hold off on replacing both Sale and Porcello in 2020 so they can reset their luxury tax repeat offender status, but if they sign a frontline starter for 2020 I don't see how they are under.

   20. Nasty Nate Posted: January 17, 2019 at 03:44 PM (#5806370)
It's not dead or bad money, but JD's also comes off the books if he has a good 2019.

Edit: Also, you may be doing it backwards. Instead of allocating cash all over the place and then see what's left for Mookie, they would probably prioritize getting a long-term agreement with him in place, and then building around it.
   21. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: January 17, 2019 at 03:53 PM (#5806371)
The thing with Sandoval is the Sox (and most big money teams) don't really care about the individual numbers so much as the AAV so in Sandoval's case that's about $19 million coming off the books. And I'm with Nate, you figure out Mookie and then fill in from there.
   22. Joe Bivens, Slack Rumped Rutabaga Head Posted: January 17, 2019 at 08:32 PM (#5806435)
(winning only 108, when it looked like they might win 115 or so.)

Once they clinched they took their foot off the pedal.
   23. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 18, 2019 at 08:52 AM (#5806493)
I wasn't trying to say the Sox weren't going to have money for Mookie - his $20M is off the books at the end of the year as well, so obv they have at least that much right there to spend on him. Just trying to point out that if they Sox want to get under the cap they are going to have to sacrifice somewhere, whether it's the infield or a top line starting pitcher. They do have money coming off, but their good young players are eating all that up and more as they progress through arb and into FA.
   24. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: January 18, 2019 at 09:10 AM (#5806499)
Mookie Betts (after 2020)
J.D. Martinez (after 2019 - opt out)
Xander Bogaerts (after 2019)
Rick Porcello (after 2019)
Chris Sale (after 2019)
Jackie Bradley Jr. (after 2020)

This is how I ranked the "want" list in a previous thread this winter. I think Mookie and JD are definitely sticking around and Sale and Bradley are definitely done when their contracts are. I think Bogaerts and Porcello are the question marks. Obviously if Sale signs a team-friendly deal then the Sox will keep him but I assume he will go all in (and I can't blame him).
   25. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 18, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5806544)
Assuming no crazy changes in their numbers anybody have any idea what sort of deals Xander and JBJ could expect? What does a 2-3 WAR per year streaky 29 year old CF with a slightly below average bat and great defense get? Or Bogaerts, a 26 year old 3-4 WAR slightly above average bat at SS with acceptable defense?

Seems like Bogaerts is really the question, if he repeats his 135 OPS+ he could get paid, but if he drops back, he could lose a significant amount of money.
   26. Darren Posted: January 20, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5806959)
Evan Drellich is saying the Sox were trying to lock up Xander but it didn't work out. Any guesses on the offers/counteroffers involved?

My guess: The Sox made the case that he was similar in value to JD but younger, so they offered him a similar deal but longer. 7 years, $150MM. That would be his current 1/$12MM plus 6 years at $23MM per. Xander sees himself somewhere close to Machado in value and would want a deal close to whatever he ends up getting.
   27. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: January 30, 2019 at 09:39 AM (#5810348)
Sox have signed formerly banned for life reliever Jennry Mejia. I suspect this will be a nothing pickup but it's a mildly intriguing low risk/high reward move.
   28. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: February 04, 2019 at 08:41 AM (#5811835)
   29. villageidiom Posted: February 04, 2019 at 09:20 AM (#5811841)
I always picture Jose on Truck Day™ to be like Buddy the Elf when he hears that Santa is coming to Gimbel's.
   30. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: February 04, 2019 at 09:33 AM (#5811846)
That's nonsense, Buddy doesn't get nearly as excited as I do.
   31. jmurph Posted: February 04, 2019 at 10:25 AM (#5811866)
Happy Super Bowl to those who celebrate. What a miserable 3ish months that was for us between championships.

EDIT: I think I read that this was the 2nd shortest gap, for the record. Apparently the 86 Mets to Giants was slightly quicker, although my understanding of NY area sports allegiances leads me to believe there isn't quite the same overlap.
   32. Nasty Nate Posted: February 04, 2019 at 10:41 AM (#5811874)
If Lucchino were around, he would make sure truck day was a day after the Patriots parade...
   33. dave h Posted: February 04, 2019 at 12:19 PM (#5811905)
Truck Day! I won Disneyworld tickets at a silent auction. The other time I've been, we timed it to catch a couple spring training games. Might have to schedule it that way again.
   34. villageidiom Posted: February 04, 2019 at 08:19 PM (#5812103)
Jose walking around the office today: MikeMikeMikeMikeMike... Guess what day it is!

Mike: (sigh) It's truck day.

   35. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 04, 2019 at 09:36 PM (#5812118)
Pffft, no point in getting too excited. They just won again and we'll have to wait the usual 3-5 years for it to happen again. I'd be totally stoked though if they win the AL East for the 4th time in a row. That would be more then enough for my fandom to be satisfied this year.

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