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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Post Mortem Begins - A Look at the Infield

One of the fascinating things about this team is that after winning 93 games and the AL East title they are set to return virtually the entire roster.  Save for Ortiz (and that’s not insignificant) there is a very good chance the April 3, 2017 Red Sox will look very similar to what the October 10, 2016 Red Sox looked like.

With that in mind I thought rather than laying out a detailed off-season plan I thought it might be worth just looking at the depth chart a bit.

Today, the infield.

General Thoughts

This is a pretty good infield and is also very deep.  The Sox have competent backups all around the four spots and I think are well suited to handle a significant injury.  Given the lack of a power bat in the lineup losing Hanley would probably hurt the most but between both Travises (first name and last name) I think the Sox can do all right if he misses some time.

1B – Hanley Ramirez, Travis Shaw, Sam Travis

This is a pretty nice looking set up.  Hanley was far better than I hoped he would be defensively and the bat rebounded nicely.  From what I saw of him in 2015 playing left field I am wary of any suggestion to move him to DH.  He seems better off when he is regularly engaged.

Sam Travis was having a strong year for a 21 year old at AAA when an injury ended his campaign.  It is unlikely that he will make the club out of Fort Myers but expect him to get chances in 2017.  I wouldn’t be surprised if his value is as a trade chip.  He’s a righty thrower so I wonder if the Sox might look at him at third base a bit.

2B – Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, Yoan Moncada, Marco Hernandez

Pedey returned to full Pedroia all the time.  He was healthy and he was excellent, particularly after moving into the leadoff role.  Given his penchant for the double play ball that lead off spot was a good one for him.

Hernandez impressed me this year.  He’s no star or even MLB regular but he looks like a guy who has a future as a role player.

3B – Travis Shaw, Brock Holt, Pablo Sandoval, Yoan Moncada

If the Sox want to make an off-season splash among position players, this is the one.  Third base is very much an up in the air position right now.  I like Shaw but he had an up and down season.  Am I the only one who read between the lines and got the idea that the organization was a bit frustrated with him at times in the second half?  For my money he’s the guy I want over there.  He reminds me a lot of Brian Daubach alternating looking helpless and looking unstoppable.  Defensively he was solid.

Holt is Holt.  As long as he’s cheap he’s a good guy to have around for 350 PA a year.  I can’t imagine Sandoval having a meaningful role with this organization ever.  It’s one thing to be terrible, it’s quite another to arrive in camp looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  With that said Dombrowski was very complimentary toward him this week though maybe pointing out that Sandoval bought a lot of the minor leaguers some food isn’t quite the best message to send.

Moncada looked like a guy who would really benefit from AAA.  I’ll be shocked if he makes the club out of spring training though I think the opportunity is there.  A lot of AAA pitchers are grizzled vets without much of a fastball and Moncada looked like a guy who could use a few months of learning to recognize MLB caliber breaking stuff. Assuming the Sox don’t make a move in the off-season to address third base I would expect Moncada to be the starting third baseman by the trade deadline.

SS – Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt, Mauricio Dubon

Bogaerts’ season deserves and will get its own post because WTF? In very short terms BABIP inconsistency really makes his season look a lot more frustrating than I think it should.  His defensive metrics aren’t great and I think he is very similar to Mr. Jeter in the fact that he is somewhat limited on the range front (particularly to his left) but if he gets to it, he makes the play.  In the end a 23 year old shortstop who hit .294/.356/.446 with 3.7 WAR, yeah that’s a keeper.

Dubon had a strong year and may play himself into a late season 2017 call up with a good camp.  As I was going through this exercise I realized that Deven Marrero is nowhere to be found.  The bat has just completely cratered and he almost certainly will be elsewhere in 2017.

Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 12, 2016 at 10:36 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: October 12, 2016 at 12:45 PM (#5322721)
If the four main bench players are Chris Young, Brock Holt, Travis Shaw, and Christian Vazquez, that is a very good, youngish, inexpensive, versatile bench. If Shaw is starting next year, it is likely because neither Panda nor Moncada were ready coming out of spring training. I find it hard to believe neither of them will be comfortable options for the team coming out of ST.

Actually, unless the team makes a mega-move, there is very little real drama around the diamond this winter, right? Maybe 3B and C are uncertain as to who will be the starter, but in both cases, the team has legit options in-house. It's a deep, young team.
   2. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 12, 2016 at 01:13 PM (#5322752)
Yeah. I think we are all watching to see what happens at DH (likely nothing despite my hopes) and I think they will explore a trade for a top starter (Bradley and Swihart as center pieces) but again I think nothing will come of it. In the end I would not be at all surprised if what we see today is fundamentally what we see in April.

The lineup had eight players over 2 WAR and I'd bet that Benintendi will project similarly while the rotation has six reasonable starting pitcher options. If one of Buchholz or Pomeranz is your sixth best starter that's a decent place to begin.
   3. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 12, 2016 at 02:26 PM (#5322833)
If the four main bench players are Chris Young, Brock Holt, Travis Shaw, and Christian Vazquez, that is a very good, youngish, inexpensive, versatile bench.

This is one of the reasons I very much dislike not getting a very good bat for DH. Yes, Pedroia needs time off now and then. No, he does not need to be moved to DH so he can 'rest'. The Sox have decent enough players coming off the bench that removing someone like Pedroia from the line up does not screw them. It's hard to put together a 'Sunday lineup' of all the terrible backups from a few years ago.
   4. esturminator_CT Posted: October 12, 2016 at 02:43 PM (#5322858)
I believe the versatility of a Shaw, Holt, Vazquez & Young bench is indeed what truly makes the rotating DH scenario a very viable option to keep the regulars fresh and minimize the impact of nagging injuries over the 162 game marathon season. I might add Josh Rutledge to that discussion, if healthy, as I really like him and consider him a very solid MLB'er. If anything, if we want to use money from Papi's departure to beef up the offense (recuperate from the loss of the Big guy) rather than strengthen or solidify the starting rotation I'd prefer the money to be spent on a starting 3B with some pop and let the DH duties fall to a rotating crew with Shaw and Hanley getting the majority of the DH AB's.
   5. esturminator_CT Posted: October 12, 2016 at 02:53 PM (#5322873)
Is Joey Gallo a commodity the Rangers might consider trading for a reasonable package on the heels of his 1/25 2016 and a .204/.301/.417 debut in 2015? If so, I'd love to see what Chili Davis and maybe Jim Rice could do to get that kid MLB ready/productive. His bat has got to be able to play at Fenway. What a way to potentially replace departed power hitting than to add a kid like that. Could the Red Sox plate discipline rub off on this kid? Would Texas have any interest in Panda? Would you be willing to trade Travis Shaw in a deal for Gallo with the potential upside? It seems an intriguing discussion to me. I'm not certain Texas really values Gallo that high anymore and I think there is potential for somewhat low risk, high reward negotiations.
   6. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 12, 2016 at 02:58 PM (#5322880)
I doubt we could move Sandoval but a challenge trade of Shaw for Gallo is intriguing. It could go badly for the Sox as Shaw has proven he can play and Gallo hasn't but there is upside there. I think I might be inclined to take that shot. Gallo was a heroic disaster in 2016, the 1 for 25 doesn't quite explain how bad he was. 19 strikeouts in 25 at bats! Them's some Shaq Green-Thompson numbers. But his AAA numbers were good enough that I don't think you can write him off yet. He's only 23.

Yeah, I think I'd be willing to consider that. I like Shaw though.
   7. esturminator_CT Posted: October 12, 2016 at 03:00 PM (#5322883)
btw, I would be remiss to not recognize Jose's reference to Sam Travis. Though I have never seen this kid in person, everything I have read and the data I have seen has me very (perhaps unrealistically and exceptionally) high on this kid. I envision a Pedroia type attitude and approach on a slightly larger, stronger athelete. That is very appealing to me. I agree that he could end up having a significant role in 2017 if healthy.
   8. esturminator_CT Posted: October 12, 2016 at 03:06 PM (#5322892)
Yeah, I think I'd be willing to consider that. I like Shaw though.

Don't get me wrong, I like Shaw also. He was a very pleasant surprise to me over the 2016 season despite the streakiness. And I believe he has a fairly decent approach at the plate even when he is slumping a bit. I was also happy to see the way he responded on the field to potential loss of playing time to Moncada when they brought him up. But the potential power upside of a masher like Gallo does intrigue me a bit.
   9. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 12, 2016 at 03:07 PM (#5322894)
I got a brief look at him during a rain shortened game in Lowell a couple years ago. He's not a big guy for a first baseman and I think your description of him as a slightly larger Pedroia is a good one. BBRef has him at 6' even which is small for a big league first baseman. It's one of the reasons I think third base might be a spot to look at him. Actually looking him up he was a third baseman in college (and a teammate of Kyle Schwarber).
   10. esturminator_CT Posted: October 12, 2016 at 03:13 PM (#5322905)
3B – Travis Shaw, Brock Holt, Pablo Sandoval, Yoan Moncada

How far away is Devers? What is his ETA? Any chance he can provide more pop to pick up some offensive loss? Any chance he is more appealing to Texas than Shaw and, if so, do you make that deal?
   11. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 12, 2016 at 03:18 PM (#5322913)
I would think a couple years, 2018 at the earliest. He was challenged at Salem this year and while he improved as the year went on I think he'll be in Portland most of the year in 2017. We've seen guys (Ellsbury, Benintendi) make their way through the system quickly at this point but he doesn't look as advanced as those guys. Ells and Benintendi both had college backgrounds so they were pretty advanced as players, Devers is turning 20 in a couple of weeks and while I've seen no data on this power hitters take a bit longer to progress.

What was interesting is that on the scoreboard Monday night they said that Devers was named the best defender in the system which suggests tremendous progress on that side of the ball. He's always looked off to me over there.

I wouldn't deal him for Gallo at all. I think he has considerably more value than that. He's probably a top 20 prospect this year (again) and I'd want to either ride that or get someone established.
   12. esturminator_CT Posted: October 12, 2016 at 03:46 PM (#5322953)
That makes sense. If you are going to trade young high ceiling guys, you want to be getting someone to have an impact now while the team appears ready to compete at the highest level. Gallo may be too much of a project still to warrant a trade of Devers.
   13. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 13, 2016 at 01:36 PM (#5323588)
So apparently Pedroia had knee surgery yesterday. He is "expected" to be ready for Spring Training.

And by the way, does NESN really need four ####### autoplay ads on the page?
   14. villageidiom Posted: October 17, 2016 at 11:14 AM (#5326137)
Sandoval is the 3B for this team to start the 2017 season. And you will be happy about it.
   15. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 17, 2016 at 11:22 AM (#5326146)
The first sentence may be true. The second sentence will certainly not be true on Opening Day and while I sincerely hope that it is true soon after that I am not hopeful.
   16. Dan Posted: October 22, 2016 at 02:48 PM (#5331635)
I'll be surprised if they don't eat some money and move Sandoval this winter. Potentially he could go back to SF, since they were reduced to a Nunez/Gillespie platoon after trading away Duffy?
   17. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 22, 2016 at 03:02 PM (#5331645)
What's the rule that allowed them tote Craig and Castillo off the 40 man? They waive him and his contract comes off the luxury tax calculation but if another team wants him that team has to pay the contract, right?
   18. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 22, 2016 at 04:11 PM (#5331660)
They waive him and his contract comes off the luxury tax calculation but if another team wants him that team has to pay the contract, right?

Wasn't that determined not to be the case when A-Rod was released?
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: October 22, 2016 at 05:03 PM (#5331669)
What's the rule that allowed them tote Craig and Castillo off the 40 man? They waive him and his contract comes off the luxury tax calculation but if another team wants him that team has to pay the contract, right?
I don't think that's right.

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