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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Springing Into Action

Hey everyone!  Some pretty rough weather yesterday, a bit windy and cloudy it was rough. I had to break out the sweatshirt last night. Oh did I mention I’m at Spring Training? No? You thought I was talking about the foot of snow and bitter cold you were dealing with? Hey, it was rough here too.  For some reason no one seems interested in extending me any sympathy.

Anyway I’ve made my way to a couple of games so far and I’ll be going to a couple more.  I thought I’d share some observations about what has been a terrific experience as always.  If you are interested here are some photos as well.

Pablo Sandoval - The most common request I got before leaving was “let me know how Panda looks.”  I have to say it is a decidedly mixed bag.  The pictures from this winter showed a guy in tremendous shape but were without context.  When you get him next to his peers he still looks a bit chunky but he is very clearly in better shape than he was a year ago.  On the field he is moving pretty well including a nice backhanded play yesterday, something that was a bit of a problem early in camp.

At the plate he is decidedly unmemorable.  He’s not overmatched at all nor is he red hot.  He looks no different from any other hitter.  For better or worse I haven’t seen anything that makes me expect anything more or less than some mix of the 2014/2015 version of Panda which would be a nice little upgrade at third base.

Oh one other thing.  This is probably overthinking but I noticed that when Sandoval did his pregame prep he did it solo.  While other players worked in groups Sandoval did his sprints and whatnot on his own.  It is probably nothing but as my father noted to me it wouldn’t be a shock if he lost the respect of a lot of players by being so out of shape last year.

Pitchers Rolling Along - I’ve seen Sale and Pomeranz start games.  Sale looked very sharp I thought while Pomeranz did not look so sharp giving up a series of rockets.  This was Pomeranz’ first start so just getting him out there and looking healthy was considerably more important than any results.

Among the relievers it has been the same.  Joe Kelly, Robby Scott and Matt Barnes pitched well and I thought Brandon Workman looked good in the game I saw him pitch.  The other guy I liked despite a rough outing was Jalen Beeks.  The southpaw seemed poised despite getting knocked around by Toronto.  He never seemed to change his demeanor or his pacing which I thought was a positive.

Other Hitters - There hasn’t been a lot to observe from the other position players.  Everyone looks healthy and solid.  Mitch Moreland is bigger than I realized and I don’t know if it is a conscious change but he seems like he is making a concerted effort to use the Wall.  Sam Travis also looks like he has bulked up a bit.  He had a throw to make on an attempted 3-6-1 DP and based on the throw he made there any hope he could play third base that I had is foolishly optimistic.  I haven’t seen anything from Hanley that makes me concern he is carrying any lingering injury.

Lastly, there was a very sweet moment when Jarrod Saltalamacchia left the field.  He crossed the Red Sox dugout (the only way out is past the Sox’ dugout) and Brian Butterfield called him over and gave him a warm hug and kiss on the cheek.

Minor Leagues - As always I think my favorite part of camp is strolling around the minor league fields and watching players do their thing. Just generally it is a very chatty camp.  There is always a lot of good natured ribbing among the players but this year it seems more widespread.  Every hit, every catch, every throw and the guys are chirping.  It just seems like there is a great camaraderie among the minor leaguers.

Rafael Devers - First a caveat, the ball seems to be carrying better at the minor league fields than usual.  With that said Devers was destroying some baseballs.  If you have ever been you’ll know the batting cages that are about 425 feet from home plate on Field #5 and in the span of four swings Devers put three onto the roof of the cages.  He still has a bit of baby fat to him but not so much that he looks immobile.

Bobby Dalbec - The fourth round pick a year ago impressed me.  Like Devers he was shocking exceptional power.  He is a big kid who reminds me a lot of Will Middlebrooks at the same stage of his career.  He just looks the part of a big league player and the ball explodes off his bat.  He was regularly hitting the ball 25 feet further than the other players in his hitting group.

Others - Jagger Rusconi has impressed me.  He was hitting the ball well and seems more fluid defensively.  I haven’t seen last year’s first two picks; Jason Groome or C.J. Chatham.  Groome is no surprise, pitchers are kind of in their own orbit but Chatham has been noticeably absent.  Have there been any reports of him being injured?  It’s possible I am just missing him among all the players running around.  Trey Ball may not be able to pitch but the dude has some great hair.

Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 15, 2017 at 09:25 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: March 15, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5417782)
This is great. Thanks for enduring the warm temperatures for us.

Moreland's spray charts for outfield show lots of flies to left, and line drives in every direction. The former would be typical of a LH hitter: grounders to right, flies to left.
   2. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 15, 2017 at 02:43 PM (#5417816)
I'm toughing it out. Only 68 degrees today, pray for me.

I can't tell you how fired up I am about Devers. Holy #### was he demolishing the baseball.
   3. GGC for Sale Posted: March 15, 2017 at 02:57 PM (#5417823)
I'll take slush over wildfires.
   4. villageidiom Posted: March 15, 2017 at 02:58 PM (#5417824)
I think we've heard enough to say Devers gets the first Jose Jinx™ of the spring.
   5. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: March 15, 2017 at 03:22 PM (#5417840)
Thanks for the update!
   6. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 16, 2017 at 09:55 AM (#5418197)
The Wild fires were about ten miles south of where I am. That was a little more exciting than I needed.
   7. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 16, 2017 at 10:14 AM (#5418207)
Lastly, there was a very sweet moment when Jarrod Saltalamacchia left the field.


Man, that Barves trade for Teixeira was terrible.
   8. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 16, 2017 at 10:21 AM (#5418212)
I can't tell you how fired up I am about Devers. Holy #### was he demolishing the baseball.


So, optimistically, the Sox get a cromulent 1.5-2.5 WAR out of Fat Panda in 2017, start him there in 2018, trade him mid-way through the season, and bring in Devers full time? Fatty would be owed around $32M for the 2nd half of 2018, 2019, and the buyout in 2020. The Sox eat enough of the contract and they potentially actually get something back for him. Yes? No?
   9. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 16, 2017 at 10:29 AM (#5418214)
That all makes sense to me. I wont be surprised if Panda joins the Castillo/Craig group of players punted to purgatory. Id be surprised if even eating contract makes him appealing to another team.
   10. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 16, 2017 at 11:44 AM (#5418253)
Id be surprised if even eating contract makes him appealing to another team.


In my hypothetical he is coming off of a 2 WAR 2017 and playing the same in 2018, and he'd only be 31, so a decent bet to do something similar in 2019. Someone has got to need a 2 WAR 3B for very little.

Of course he could also pop another belt buckle while swinging at a ball in the dirt...
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: March 16, 2017 at 01:06 PM (#5418309)
There's a funny quote from Pedroia in an interview on ESPN.COM:
Your contract runs through 2021, by which time you will be 38. Since 1950, Joe Morgan, Lou Whitaker and Jeff Kent are the only full-time second basemen to have an .800 or better OPS at age 38.

DP: The good part about that is I'm a shortstop. [The Red Sox] have been not using me properly for the last 12 years or whatever, so that's the way I look at it. You say second basemen don't age well? Well, that's great because that's not my best position anyway.
   12. jmurph Posted: March 16, 2017 at 02:24 PM (#5418386)
There's a funny quote from Pedroia in an interview on ESPN.COM:

That's outstanding.
   13. villageidiom Posted: March 16, 2017 at 02:53 PM (#5418420)
That is the most Pedroian quote ever.

Better than all of these.
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: March 16, 2017 at 03:15 PM (#5418454)
Ask Jeff F-ing Francis if he knows the best Pedroia quote.
   15. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 20, 2017 at 08:16 PM (#5420302)
That is Pedroia through and through.

I went to the game on Friday and today, a few more notes;

-liked what I saw from Kendrick, I'm fearful that his pitch to contact thing just results in a beating against good teams but he threw strikes, mixed pitches and changed speeds well.

-Sandoval was running the bases aggressively and something approximating quickly today. He hustled a double went to third in a grounder tomshort and scored on a short sac fly, each game I've seen he hasn't been just a bit more impressive than the last.

-Noe Ramirez has been awful. Don't know if it's his location or what but he has done nothing to make me feel like he's a part of any kind of depth answer right now.

-I mentioned CJ Chatham n the original piece. While I still haven't seen him the Sorospect guys had some video of him taking BP.

-Saw Swihart catch today. Nothing really noteworthy about his performance behind the plate.

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