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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Monday, July 29, 2019

That’s What We Have Been Waiting For

It took nearly two thirds of the season but the defending World Champions finally showed up and played the way we have been expecting since day one.  Faced with a rich challenge against Tampa Bay and then New York the Sox took care of business about as well as could have been hoped going 5-2 and showing their talent in a way they have not for most of the season.  Despite the good performance some concerns still exist that cannot be dismissed out of hand.  To wit;

Monday - 2IP, 4 runs
Tuesday - 3IP, 2 runs
Wednesday - 2IP, 0 runs
Thursday - 3IP, 0 runs
Friday - 2.1IP, 2 runs
Saturday - 3.1IP, 2 runs
Sunday - 3.2IP, 3 runs

Astute readers will recognize that as the bullpen performance over the past week. While that is concerning an assortment of caveats exist in there and what strikes me most of that is the number of innings pitched.  Facing quality competition the Sox starters stepped up in a way they really have not all season getting deep into games on a consistent basis.  Obviously a bullpen surrendering 13 runs in 19.1 innings is a rate that is not OK if the starters are combining with the offense to build leads like they did over the course of the week good things should be in store for the final third.  I don’t think enough can be said about the work of the rotation over this past week.  As I noted in the last thread’s comments if the Sox are going to get hot it is going to be the rotation pitching to its ability that is the trigger for that.

Other stuff;

- Dave Dombrowski seems to do something that Theo Epstein did a few times in his tenure and that’s strike early in the trade deadline;

2016: Aaron Hill (July 7), Brad Ziegler (July 9)
2017: Doug Fister (June 23) (waiver claim)
2018: Steve Pearce (June 28)
2019: Andrew Cashner (July 13)

Rather than waiting for the auctions to start he jumps on players that can be useful early in the deadline.  While these acquisitions have been useful he has also shown a willingness not to let them be the final word acquiring players like Eduardo Nunez, Addison Reed and Nathan Eovaldi at more traditional trade deadline deals.  What I am saying is that there is enough smoke on an Edwin Diaz deal that if I were Bobby Dalbec or Tristan Casas I wouldn’t be buying green bananas.

- OK, I’ll admit I am sitting here typing this while sitting in a Xander Bogaerts jersey I bought in May, 2014 but have you SEEN what he is doing?  Mookie Betts is the Sox best player and Rafael Devers is slowly turning into that slugging star that Sox fans love but this is Xander Bogaerts’ team in my opinion.  He seems to have seized the mantle of leadership from Dustin Pedroia and honestly it is something I thought he was doing back in 2015.  He is the infielder most likely to jog in and give a reassuring word to a scuffling hurler and while he is quiet he also seems to be the guy who makes this team go.  He is having a truly brilliant season.

- I mentioned Edwin Diaz a moment ago and while he has not had a great year for the Mets he is an enticing guy.  If I am Dombrowski I go for the Theo Epstein Memorial Magnum Opus and try and grab Noah Syndergaard or Zach Wheeler.  A little starting pitching depth would not be amiss.  The Sox have built up the farm system pretty well but adding Diaz who is under club control for three more seasons after 2019 would be a great get and Thor also has two more years.

- As much fun as this weekend was I think it actually told us more about the Yankees than the Sox.  What the Yankees have done this year is extraordinary and some of the criticisms I have seen of Aaron Boone are laughable in my opinion.  That said the issues they had on March 27 remain.  The rotation is a shambles and the bullpen has been worked pretty hard and the key guys out there are all in their 30s with some dicey injury histories.  I would not predict such a thing to happen but the Yankees have a 2011 Red Sox look to them; great lineup but some missing key pieces, fragile rotation, strong but heavily worked bullpen.  I doubt the Yankees will collapse because such collapses are unlikely but I expect them to be worse in the final third of the season than they have been so far.

- The most important thing about this week is that the Sox have reestablished themselves in a playoff hunt of sorts.  Last weekend in Baltimore was a massive giveaway but to come out and take five of seven against good competition was necessary and encouraging.  It is a strange place to be as a Sox fan.  Traditionally it has always been the Yankees just kind of lurking there but this year the Sox are the lurking team.  The reigning World Series champs are just sitting there, scuffling along a bit but they have not been killed yet.  The key now is to not let this burst of success go to waste as they have so often this year.  At so many points this season the Sox have looked like a team ready to surge then stumbled.  The opportunity and quality exists for this to be the Sox’ moment in 2019, the moment they thrust themselves back into the mix as one of the best teams in baseball.  The 2004 Sox were in a similar situation (58-49 at the same point, 59-48 today) at this stage coming off a thrilling series victory over the Yankees and that year ended alright.

Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: July 29, 2019 at 10:15 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: August 01, 2019 at 10:09 AM (#5867277)
The key now is to not let this burst of success go to waste as they have so often this year. At so many points this season the Sox have looked like a team ready to surge then stumbled.


So....yeah.

As far as the lack of a move at the deadline I’m actually OK with it. There’s probably a longer blog post in this idea but I’m in a weird place this year. I feel like something snapped in me in 2003 and 2004, those years were so intense that I just got completely wrapped up and became even more of a raving lunatic. Last year I saw the greatest Red Sox team ever and I snapped back to “normal” diehard fan level. So while I’m disappointed with the season I’m not losing my mind. The Sox needed to rebuild the farm, and seem to have done that, and they needed to reset the luxury tax and it appears they have done that. Coming off last year I’m not feeling greedy.

Regarding the luxury tax if I am right (can anyone confirm or correct?) that they have reset then I suspect this year is in part at least the “we need to drop $400 million on Mookie Betts this winter so we need to not have the 75% penalty” season. If that’s right then it’s hard to complain too much.
   2. John DiFool2 Posted: August 02, 2019 at 07:46 AM (#5867616)
But not...that.

What's deeply puzzling to me are the looney toons BABIP numbers this week for the starters (welp other than the fringe guy). Insane numbers of strikeouts-and insane numbers of hits falling (and homers screaming out).

Unless the staff un****s itself, and that right now, the postseason ain't happening.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 02, 2019 at 09:12 AM (#5867627)
What's deeply puzzling to me are the looney toons BABIP numbers this week for the starters (welp other than the fringe guy). Insane numbers of strikeouts-and insane numbers of hits falling (and homers screaming out).


Wouldn't that be mostly an approach thing? If your stuff is mediocre, you can either A) pound the zone, avoid walks, get Ks, but also allow a lot of hard contact, or B) nibble at the edges, reduce hard contact, but walk a ton of people.
   4. Darren Posted: August 02, 2019 at 12:51 PM (#5867760)
This team is kind of frustrating.
   5. John DiFool2 Posted: August 03, 2019 at 08:08 AM (#5867952)
A week ago (tonight) they had managed to claw themselves into the 2nd WC spot, playoff odds were over 50%, the offense was firing on all cylinders, the pitching good enough...

A week later, playoff odds have dropped to 35%, the rotation has nobody on which I can even begin to hope on to have any sort of sustained run of success, and the offense wasn't quite able to overcome the pitching's (and likely defense's too) issues.
   6. Toby Posted: August 03, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5867956)
For the past week or so I did something I don’t ordinarily do and listened to some Boston sports talk radio while driving home from work. (Masserotti, mostly). I live in Maryland, so I was interested in hearing how this is playing back home. I heard a lot of blame for everyone, but special ire on Betts and Benintendi and Martinez and, indeed, the “gutless” position players as a whole, “mailing it in”. This doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, some guys are having down years, but we are leading the majors in runs scored. The offense is mostly doing good things. The pitching, on the other hand, is 24th out of 30 in runs allowed. The blame here (on the field, at least — sure we can blame the manager and the GM too) should be entirely on the pitching staff, and mostly on the starting pitching.
   7. Toby Posted: August 03, 2019 at 10:22 AM (#5867957)
Or, in other words — the transformation into Dave Dombowski’s Tiger teams is complete.
   8. Darren Posted: August 04, 2019 at 02:09 PM (#5868181)
This team is kind of frustrating.
   9. Joe Bivens, Slack Rumped Rutabaga Head Posted: August 04, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5868186)
I don't think Masserotti is an idiot. He just plays one on the radio (and TV).

You're right, Toby, but I go a bit farther and lay it all on the starters.
   10. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 04, 2019 at 06:12 PM (#5868224)
but special ire on Betts and Benintendi and Martinez


People are idiots. Those 2 lines below are the last 7 days for Bennie and JD

.387 .406 .774
.304 .500 .565

Sure, Mookie not great, but still being around average.

As mentioned...the pitching stinks. The SP is effectively a rubbish tip on a warm humid day...it just stinks bad. The RP is not far behind though...

   11. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: August 04, 2019 at 06:38 PM (#5868229)
I have seen no evidence to suggest Mazz isn't a total idiot.

Pitching pitching pitching. This isn't complicated. The rotation has an ERA over a run worse this year than last. Some of that is a BABIP that is worst in the AL, their FIP is actually about the same as last year. This sucks of course because it's a lost season but I think this is more 2006 than 2015. Some of the flaws will be fixed by virtue of players returning to form (e.g. Sale) and the bullpen will get improved by virtue of almost not being able to be worse.

The other thing about this year is I don't think you can understate the impact of the lousy start. You can pick your selective endpoints but since;

Opening road trip (3-8) they've gone 56-44 a 90 win pace.
low point (7 games under 6-13) they've gone 53-41 a 91 win pace.
End of April (13-17) they've gone 46-37 a 90 win pace.

This can't be stressed enough. The arrogance they came into the season with really hurt.

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