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   1. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM (#4079801)
I think where Aviles becomes relevant is that Punto has not demonstrated any ability to be productive over a long term. I think the numbers work for Punto because of his performances in short stints but if asked to be an everyday shortstop his numbers (offensively) would regress considerably tilting the equation in Aviles' favor.

The other thing about Aviles is he such a batting average driven guy and that's the type of player that should be helped by Fenway Park.

I also think this gets back to the hiring of Bobby Valentine. It was touched on elsewhere but this is part of the purpose of hiring a guy like Bobby V. If he is truly astute on the game to game manuevering then he should be able to maximize what the Sox get from Aviles/Punto through platooning (both LHP/RHP and by having Punto play when the Sox have a ground ball pitcher going and Aviles when it is more of a fly ball pitcher) and through recognizing the hot hand a little better than we would expect a manager to be able to do.
   2. villageidiom Posted: March 13, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4079843)
Those Iglesias stories usually have a little caveat that while Iglesias has stolen the hearts of all who have caught a glimpse of him, Mike Aviles is “almost certainly” going to be the Opening Day shortstop.
To the Boston media, I'm pretty sure:

Mike Aviles = incumbent
Nick Punto = role player
Jose Iglesias = future
"almost certainly going to be the opening day shortstop" = no trades are in the works, so this is as good as it will get

IOW I'm not worried about Valentine's intentions based on writers' opining on Mike Aviles. Then again, I wasn't worried about the Red Sox blowing their lead last September, so what do I know?
   3. tfbg9 Posted: March 13, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4079844)
What JCYS said. Yep. This is the kind of situation Bobby V. is supposed to be good at manipulating.
   4. Mattbert Posted: March 13, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4079879)
Alex Speier had a chat with John Dewan about the Red Sox defense, including this discussion of the two senior shortstop candidates.
In 2008, Aviles graded as an excellent infielder, having saved 12 runs above the average defender while shifting between shortstop (his primary position), second and third. After that, however, Aviles graded poorly, costing his team eight defensive runs in 2010 and two in 2011.

Per the book: “His footwork isn’t very good regardless of position, but his range is adequate, and he does have the arm strength necessary to make all the throws from third base or shortstop. However, Aviles is a tentative defender even on routine plays, and he made a lot of defensive miscues, both of the mental and physical variety. He did not appear to take well to the role of a utility man. Overall, his net -11 Good Fielding Play minus Defensive Misplays and Errors was worse than all but eight infielders in the league, regardless of position. If Aviles ever hopes to be looked upon as more than a backup infielder, his glove work needs to improve.”

It is worth noting that Dewan’s assessment of Aviles’ defense was based on his work at third base. Assuming he is the everyday shortstop, Aviles would either need an even more drastic improvement from last year or, if he continues to measure significantly below average, he would need to hit like crazy to offset his shortcomings.

A caveat: One Red Sox team source suggests that the club’s internal metrics (developed by are somewhat more bullish on Aviles than Dewan’s projection system, particularly given his steadily improving arm strength in the post-Tommy John stage of his career.

The Sox also expect to have Nick Punto to split time with Aviles at shortstop. Dewan described Punto thusly: “The Red Sox have a guy, Nick Punto, who’s very good at third, very good at second, average at short. That’s just generally what you have. If you have a guy who’s a little below average at short, he’s generally above average at second and third.”

Speier mentions Iglesias in the column but only to note that Dewan has yet to evaluate the Mini-Wizard thoroughly.

I suppose the tidbit in there that interests me the most is the stuff about the Red Sox thinking/hoping Aviles will be better defensively in 2012 as he continues to recover from injury. Given the club's recent track record, of course, this means we can probably expect Aviles' arm to come flying clean off on a double play chance and hit Pedroia in his previously injured ankle as he attempts to make the pivot.
   5. Dan Posted: March 13, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4079899)
One thing I have to say: it's nice seeing all of these guys after Scutaro's defense simply because they have the arm for the position. Cringing on every throw from SS was getting kind of old. Scutaro definitely does a lot of things well, but I just don't think he has the arm strength to continue as a SS.
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 13, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4079913)
I should have known that if there's an interesting Red Sox question, Speier would have a relevant interview and article.

When was the last time the Sox had a beat writer as good as Speier? It's definitely been a while.

The remarks on Aviles' defense, and on the likely job-sharing between Punto and Aviles, fit almost perfectly with what need to be the case for the Sox to have a good shortstop in 2012. It's good to know that the Sox have numbers that work out, I just hope they're right.
   7. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: March 13, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4079947)
Interesting that Dewan saw Varitek as an above-average defensive catcher and Youkilis as an average 3B - both better ratings than I would have expected.

Projecting exact numbers of fielding runs seems to give the estimates of Aviles and Punto some false accuracy to me. It'll be interesting to see how the fielding works out, since they project to have roughly similar hitting projections. Aviles didn't look terrible at SS last year, but it's hard to tell from TV. He certainly seems to have more potential upside than Punto.
   8. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4079975)
On the subject of defense one thing I've noticed while I've been down here is that the Sox seem to be spending a lot more time on drills with the big league guys than ever before. That may just be a function of scheduling changes so I'm seeing it more but it's happening the same amount or it may be something more.

It's been a bit of a negative because I've seen very little of the minor leaguers but it's been fun to see the big league guys go through the drills.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 13, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4079981)
Projecting exact numbers of fielding runs seems to give the estimates of Aviles and Punto some false accuracy to me.
Perhaps, and I didn't mean to make any claims about the precise accuracy of the projections, but I think that the difference in defensive projection is pretty wide. Aviles has been a below average defensive player while playing mostly 2B/3B for the last couple years. He does not project as a capable SS. Punto, on the other hand, has been good everywhere on the infield and does project as a capable SS. I don't think it's false accuracy to say that the numbers suggest a gap in the range of 10 or more runs defensively.

Hopefully the Red Sox' analysis, as reported by Speier, is correct. Aviles was both recovering from TJ surgery and just sort of bad at being a utility man, and so we can discount most of his recent defensive stats. This is certainly not unreasonable. But his numbers are still not good.
   10. Dan Posted: March 13, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4080005)
Youkilis actually looked solidly above average at 3rd for the portions of the season when he was healthy, and the fact that his overall numbers were average support that since he was clearly terrible both in April and during the last month or so that he was playing with his injuries. If he can somehow stay healthy, I wouldn't be surprised to see his defense in the +3 to +7 range this year. But given the fact that he's had injuries during the last few seasons that have impacted him significantly, I don't know that we'll ever have a chance to see if that is indeed true.
   11. Mattbert Posted: March 13, 2012 at 03:08 PM (#4080020)
I should have known that if there's an interesting Red Sox question, Speier would have a relevant interview and article.

He is excellent, non?

From what I remember of the game on Sunday, Aviles didn't have all that much to do defensively but looked adequate when he was called upon. When he was relieved by Pedro Ciriaco though, it was pretty clear we were seeing a different class of shortstop out there.

I can see Aviles being a cromulent defender, but not a whole lot more.
   12. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 13, 2012 at 03:16 PM (#4080033)
If Aviles can hit 310/420 (~the midpoint of his ZiPS/CAIRO projections), and not be too far below average with the glove, he'll be a solid contributor.
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 14, 2012 at 09:16 AM (#4080437)
I just noticed how good Aviles' defensive numbers in 2008 were. He's +5 TZ and +10 UZR, playing mostly shortstop in about 2/3 of a season. If you add those 2008 numbers into the projection, even at a very low weight, Aviles comes back just about entirely to average. His defense projection, using data from 2008-2011 - that's Aviles' full MLB career - is just -3.5 in a full season at short. That's pretty good.
   14. Joel W Posted: March 14, 2012 at 10:17 AM (#4080470)
If my memory serves me well, a player w/ a good arm and mediocre footwork, all else being equal, is likely to be more successful and shortstop than at 2nd because at 2nd the arm is devalued and the footwork increases in value. It wouldn't shock me if Aviles was a solid SS and a bad 2B.
   15. Mattbert Posted: March 14, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4080633)
I just noticed how good Aviles' defensive numbers in 2008 were. He's +5 TZ and +10 UZR, playing mostly shortstop in about 2/3 of a season. If you add those 2008 numbers into the projection, even at a very low weight, Aviles comes back just about entirely to average.

Are you sure that's a good idea, though? Aviles got hurt in 2009, right? I guess I'd be a lot more inclined to trust the more recent, post-TJ data.

The anecdote about the Sox thinking he still has a bit more arm strength yet to recover is nice and all, but I think you've got to err on the side of pessimism with a guy who's (a) over 30 and (b) not been any great shakes defensively after suffering a significant injury almost three years ago. League average-ish must be his upside. Which, if he can roughly match his career slash line at the plate, means he'd be an excellent value indeed for a million bucks or so. If he's a bit below average with the glove, but not a butcher, then he's still okay.
   16. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4081359)
When he was relieved by Pedro Ciriaco though, it was pretty clear we were seeing a different class of shortstop out there.


I have to say that this comment has stuck with me a couple of days as a ringing clarion of truth. Aviles had a nice feed to Peroia on a DP in the same game or one of the games prior to that one. It impressed me to the extent that it looked like they had worked together for years. But when Ciriaco came in and made that great diving stop, I didn't immediately process the difference, but in retrospect (and with the help of Mattbert's comment), it's clear that Aviles is not a great defensive shortstop.

I think the problem I'm having with all of the talk about the deficiencies in RF, LF, and SS is that the team was good last year with mountains of suck from those positions. The combined 2011 WAR of Aviles + Punto is about the combined WAR of Scutaro + Lowrie. Drew + Reddick was about 1.0 WAR, while Sweeney was about 0.8. Carl Crawford was at 0.0. Cody Ross looks to be a net gain. I'm sure I'm missing something, but what am I missing? This year's team looks to be roughly equivalent to last year's team (excluding pitching).
   17. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 15, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4081396)
I'm sure I'm missing something, but what am I missing? This year's team looks to be roughly equivalent to last year's team (excluding pitching).


Well, did last years team win the WS? Did it even make the play-offs? Unfortunately last year's team was simply not good enough, pythag be damned, and regression from NY and TB can't be counted on. Besides it's spring training, what the hell else should we talk about other than how to gain that elusive one or two win advantage from correctly forecasting who would be ideal at SS?
   18. Darren Posted: March 15, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4081408)
And last year's team had super-duper years by Pedroia and Ellsbury, and perhaps an unrepeatable year by Papi. So you'd need those again if you wanted to tread water on offense.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: March 15, 2012 at 01:00 PM (#4081422)
Well, did last years team win the WS? Did it even make the play-offs? Unfortunately last year's team was simply not good enough, pythag be damned


I think they were good enough (in terms of talent) but obviously didn't play good enough. Everything fell apart, they underachieved, and they still made it to 90 wins.
   20. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4081455)
I think the pluses and minuses offensively are going to even out more or less. Even a decline should still leave them in the tip three offensively, it's just a matter of the pitching. My fear is that the pitching will be better in the aggregate but worse due to leverage specifically because Melancon and Bailey will be worse than Bard and Papelbon.
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: March 15, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4081501)
My fear is that the pitching will be better in the aggregate but worse due to leverage specifically because Melancon and Bailey will be worse than Bard and Papelbon.


They may be worse, but PapelBard combined last year for an ERA of Pi last year. I may be wrong, but I don't think the distribution of that especially maximized wins (Bard had 9 L's). So the new end-of-game guys don't have to be worldbeaters to match what happened last year. FWIW, Bailey and Melancon combined for a 2.95 ERA last year.
   22. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 15, 2012 at 02:29 PM (#4081521)
They may be worse, but PapelBard combined last year for an ERA of Pi last year. I may be wrong, but I don't think the distribution of that especially maximized wins (Bard had 9 L's). So the new end-of-game guys don't have to be worldbeaters to match what happened last year. FWIW, Bailey and Melancon combined for a 2.95 ERA last year.


I like this point. Going into last year there appeared to be a lot of certainty about the rotation, but not a whole heck of a lot about the bullpen.

Nate's point about 90 wins is where I am on this team. Last year's best guess before the season started was 95 wins. And they looked like a 95 win team for a long time. They still look like a 95 win team to me as long as Bard comes through in the rotation.
   23. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 15, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4081530)
Besides it's spring training, what the hell else should we talk about other than how to gain that elusive one or two win advantage from correctly forecasting who would be ideal at SS?


Agreed. I'm not complaining, I just don't see how far the "problems" with this team actually go. Are they real problems? Or just "spring training, and we don't have anything else to talk about" problems?
   24. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 15, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4081546)
Nate makes a good point. I keep forgetting Bard lost so many games last year. That's really amazing when you figure he had that stretch of about two months where he didn't give up a run.

   25. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 15, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4081614)
Not sure why but Bard was scheduled to follow Aceves today and was in the bullpen but is now not coming into the game. I hope it is nothing more than wanting to look at other pitchers afte Ace went 4 innings.
   26. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 15, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4081660)
So just a timing thing I guess. Bard came in to pitch the sixth but after about five pitches the skies opened up.
   27. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 15, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4081706)
Bard 2.2 innings 7 runs. Nothing illusory there, he pitched legitimately horribly.

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