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Sunday, April 30, 2017

That Was Fun

The Sox finished off an entertaining weekend set with the Cubs (see y’all in October!) ((I hope!))(((Knock on wood))) with a nice 6-2 victory that had a little bit of everything.  All in all it was a fun series.  While the Yankee series, and likely the upcoming Baltimore series, come with intense rivalry feelings this series had the feel of my buddies and I playing shuffleboard at the local bar.  Just two good teams and their fan bases joshing back and forth and enjoying the respective changes in their fortunes in the 21st century.

For the Sox “that was fun” can also apply to a broadly successful first month.  Despite the Black Death going through the clubhouse, some injuries and assorted bereavement and paternity leaves the Sox end the month and a solid 13-11.  There has been some ups and downs and I think the best is still yet to come.  Here are my thoughts on some randomly selected good and bad from April;

Good:

- Craig Kimbrel has returned to being a lights out closer.  He still can be a bit frustrating but he has looked dominating more frequently this year than I recall him ever looking last year.  The pitcher we thought we were getting has been on display.

- The young of the young are stepping up.  On a team loaded with young stars the Sox have still integrated some youth.  Andrew Benintendi is living up to his billing and for me personally is a guy I love seeing at the plate in a key spot.  Maybe the best news is that Eduardo Rodriguez looks like a guy putting it together.  He missed a star for the birth of his first child but has a neat and tidy 2.70 ERA and just generally looks better.  The inclusion of the change up on a more regular basis makes a huge difference for him.

- Mitch Moreland has hit a bit of a slump but when the Sox needed him to step in and deliver he did with the very hot start.  The twelve doubles have seemed to regularly come at key moments and he’s offset some slow starters.

- Chris Sale.  I mean, I don’t know what you say about Chris Sale at this point.  He has become event television and has been worth every bit of the steep price the Red Sox paid for him.

Bad:

- Third base is a black hole.  Pablo Sandoval was a defensive disaster and despite a few homers looks overmatched at the plate then got hurt.  Brock Holt struggled then got vertigo and while Marco Hernandez has been alright he is playing like a utility infielder who is the 25th man on the roster getting squeezed into a spot.

- Joe Kelly isn’t doing anything to make anyone think he is any better as a reliever than as a starter.  It is amazing to me how few swings and misses he gets and while everyone wet themselves because he threw 102 on Friday night Rizzo pulled it foul.

- Steven Wright has continued to struggle and the Sox are going to need him as the year goes on.  Sox fans know the challenges that come with the life of a knuckleballer.

- In 2016 the Sox’ got production from role players that they are not getting so far in 2017.  Chris Young (.850 to .616 OPS), Holt (.705 to .449) and Sandy Leon (.845 to .476) are hurting the Sox.  Young and Holt at least should improve and with the emergence of Christian Vazquez as the starting catcher Leon is likely to be at least a perfectly reasonable backup backstop (like that one?).

Anyway.  I said in my pre-season prediction post that the Sox might start slow.  It’s been up and down but generally the team is playing well enough and has avoided digging a hole.  After the Orioles series this week the schedule thins out a bit with Minnesota, Milwaukee, Tampa, St. Louis and Oakland on the horizon.

One month down, five and hopefully six more to go!

And really, thanks Cubs fans.  That was a hell of a lot of fun. You are enjoying your good fortune that we as Sox fans know well.

Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: April 30, 2017 at 11:51 PM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: May 01, 2017 at 09:53 AM (#5445538)
Despite the Black Death going through the clubhouse
For the record, for future generations looking back at Sox Therapy many years from now, there was a flu bug that seemingly affected half the roster within a couple weeks at the start of the season. Any references to the Black Death are simply an exaggeration of that bug, and not some kind of racist reference to Jackie Bradley.
   2. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: May 02, 2017 at 09:47 AM (#5446500)
Steven Wright to the 10 day DL with a leg issue, Brandon Workman called up. No word yet on who is starting Thursday. Brian Johnson and Henry Owens both pitched last Thursday so that wouldn't be too out there. They could do a bullpen game too if Sale and Pomeranz can give some innings the next couple of nights.
   3. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: May 02, 2017 at 11:47 PM (#5447343)
Apparently Kyle Kendrick is getting the start Thursday.
   4. Mike Webber Posted: May 03, 2017 at 12:21 PM (#5447602)
I've been (unfairly) a little disappointed in Marco Hernandez. He's hitting .276 but with just one walk and 3 doubles and no other extra base hits. He's made 4 errors at third and one at short.

Last season he had 5 walks in 56 appearances.

I was thinking maybe he could be Jed Lowrie in his good seasons, where he has a slash line like 270/360/400. With good defense that would play.

It's only 60 plate appearances so this is too soon, but I really thought he could be an everyday third baseman, but unless the walk rate greatly improves and the power comes up a little, looks like he tops out as a utility guy.

   5. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: May 04, 2017 at 04:44 PM (#5448821)
I don't think it's unfair to be disappointed in Hernandez, he hasn't played well. I didn't/don't have as high hopes as you did but he has not done the job and the defense is a real problem. How a guy can be a shortstop by trade and be that error prone at third base I don't get. At this point do we have proof that Butch Hobson hasn't put a curse on the hot corner? 11 errors already? Anyway back to Marco, he has played poorly on both sides of the ball.
   6. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: May 04, 2017 at 04:45 PM (#5448822)
In other news Wright's season is over. Kyle Kendrick, Brian Johnson and Henry Owens suddenly become important. Of course getting Price back would be a huge difference maker.
   7. villageidiom Posted: May 04, 2017 at 04:58 PM (#5448830)
This probably warrants a different thread, which I have the power to do but not the time. But...

David Price has an opt-out after 2018. What are the chances that

(a) he kicks butt in 2018, then opts out?

(b) he wilts under the pressure of trying to do (a), and we get another lost year in a long contract?

(c) he opts out even if he's likely to get less money, just so he can get out of Boston?
   8. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: May 04, 2017 at 05:18 PM (#5448853)
I think (a) is the far far likeliest of those three. (b) is second and (c)...well players just don't take less money. I suppose it's possible but I would put that as a distant third.

Honestly I'd say he is more likely to repeat 2016 in terms of performance and opt out at that point. I'd be surprised if he got less money, maybe on an annual basis but overall contract he'll do better.

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