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Friday, July 28, 2017

What Do We Think?

So what do we think?  The first 3 1/2 months of the baseball season went pretty well for the local nine.  The usual ups and downs but a 3 game lead at the break, a favorable schedule, generally good health and it was looking good for a first ever repeat division title.

Instead things have gotten away from the Sox a bit.  A few losses in winnable games, injuries particularly to Bogaerts and now David Price have made things dicey and the Yankees are hot.  Suddenly the Sox are in a “4 teams for 3 spots” race with New York and Tampa for the division and the suddenly hot Royals who come to town for a big series adding in the Wild Card race.  On top of that there is off field drama because David Price was either standing up for his teammates or was a big meanie to Dennis Eckersley.

With all that said I keep coming back to that old chestnut that you aren’t as good as you look when you win or as bad as you look when you lose.  The Sox still have 34 of their last 59 games at home and at least until about 10PM tonight are still in first place.  At this time last year the Sox were three games out.

The big flaw on this team is the offense and while that is a real concern it should be expected to be better.  The addition of Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez will improve third base and other than Pedroia (.940) and Hanley (.853) the Sox should expect almost universal improvement.  For me the big key is Bogaerts.  If he gets healthy (and I’d stick him on the 10 day DL) the offense is very different.

So what do we think?  This season feels like it is at a tipping point.  If you told me the Sox would go 36-23 the rest of the way to finish with 92 wins and a division title I wouldn’t argue.  Likewise if you told me the Sox would take on water, go 26-33 and finish with 82 wins and an early October tee time I would have a tough time arguing.

The Sox have played poorly for a few weeks now.  This happens.  The Sox are in the midst of their worst 21 game stretch of the season (9-12) and they came out of that one going 13-8 in their next 21. 

I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Four months into the season I just don’t have a handle on this team.  The thing I like is that with this rotation long losing streaks should be avoided and have been.  That should serve them well as they ride out this storm.  If they can get the bats going again I believe a hot streak should be on the horizon.  But they have to get it going.

So what do you think Therapudians?  Where are we headed with this team?

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 28, 2017 at 02:41 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. plink Posted: July 28, 2017 at 03:38 PM (#5501666)
I think they're a solid 90 win team; they'll hit more but give up more runs than in the first half.

Not particularly worried, but I wasn't worried in 2011, either.
   2. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 28, 2017 at 08:07 PM (#5501897)
I find myself thinking of 2010 more than 2011 with this group. It was \about this point that things started to unravel that year with assorted injuries cascading. Honestly I think the biggest problem for this team right now is that the Yankees are looking for real. Any concerns that their pitching wouldn't hold up seem to be getting answered the right way for them so sneaking in an 89 win division title doesn't look likely.

But I think you're right, I still think they get around 90, the trick is to clip the over rather than the under. 92 probably wins the division, 88 does not. With that said I'll take my chances in a wild card game with Sale. If they've got Price back for the playoffs that's not a bad option for game one.
   3. Bad Fish Posted: July 29, 2017 at 03:25 PM (#5502277)
The offense is so gutless right now, it seems like a lot of guys are in the apex of troughs.
   4. Dock Ellis Posted: July 29, 2017 at 04:20 PM (#5502302)
I want Xander on the DL too. Suddenly there's the IF depth to support it. Let Nunez and Devers start the left side of the infield.

I really wish the Red Sox had the pieces left to get Dan Straily. He could be the new Bronson Arroyo.
   5. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 29, 2017 at 06:03 PM (#5502347)
The unwillingness to plop Xander on the DL is perplexing. In 2014 he had the long slump for the same reason then got about ten days off due to a concussion and when he came back he hit .300 for the final month. He's the one guy I'm genuinely concerned about. Eventually the Sox will start hitting again and they will win 8 out of 10 but they need Bogaerts to be consisten.
   6. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 30, 2017 at 09:19 PM (#5502926)
Having said that Xander had three hits and a walk in two games. I'm a dope.

So the schedule is interesting. Three with Cleveland which is likely to start with a loss (Fister) then four with the White Sox and two with Tampa before heading to the Bronx. Next weekend feels like a series where the Sox have an opportunity to right the ship. The trick is not to lose ground against Cleveland.

I have to admit today has shaken my optimism. One game I know but the flaws, lack of offense, weak bullpen, played into it. This team ismbettter than this feeling like something is off and I don't know what it is.
   7. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 30, 2017 at 09:52 PM (#5502931)
This team ismbettter than this feeling like something is off and I don't know what it is.


The team can't hit. Until Devers/Nunez, the combination of sucking black holes at 3rd, 1st and sort of DH is killing them. Personally I thought they should've gone after JD Martinez, stuck him at DH, move Hanley back to 1B and just dump Moreland; one guy, 2 problems fixed. Now they are chasing more pen help because the 5 guys they have before Kimbrel are shaky and of course the supposed 2 best guys are injured for like the next 3 years.

The issue is the roster construction and the continuing reliance in trying to find good relief help by consistently giving away position players for relief pitchers. Of course, and now I am ranting, their once in a generation 3B just got his 3000th hit for another team after they were too stupid/cheap/whatever to give the guy they 5/75 he wanted when he wanted to stay here...yeah, I'm still pissed about it.

This team is hard to watch at times. Sale, Porcello and Pomeranz are doing what they do and it would be good enough if the team could score some runs. Sure the pen is going to cough up some runs, but when you are only scoring 3 a game then it is an issue. If you are already ahead 6-2, then it doesn't matter.
   8. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 30, 2017 at 10:17 PM (#5502939)
But they can hit better than this. That's the frustrating part. There isn't anyone hitting right now. I'm hoping that they can get on a run like they did in May.
   9. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 31, 2017 at 12:09 AM (#5502968)
I think this team isn't all that good, either. There aren't that many guys that I think are *obviously* playing below their ability:

- Moreland is not very good. He is what he is.
- Pedroia is having an excellent year, but he isn't going to take it to another level. He's already hitting .307 with some walks a few bombs.
- Devers and Nunez are better at 3B than whatever was out there thus far. That will be an improvement.
- The catchers are what they are.
- Ramirez gets a free ride in Boston - he has been pretty much a bust, given that he makes good money, and is a pure DH. He's a league-average hitter making $20m/yr, and taking the DH slot. His lack of desire to play 1B forced the team to go sign a guy like Moreland.
- Benintendi is going to be excellent, but he's not, yet. Bradley is doing what Bradley does (which is plenty good enough for me!). Betts' BA is down, and his HRs a down a little, but his walks are up, Ks are down, and the doubles are up. He could get to another level this year, but he was an All Star, and he is playing well.

I don't see where the big improvement comes from. This is an 87-90 win team. That's good enough to win the division, probably. If Price or Porcello is pitching well in October, Boston can win a round or two in the playoffs.
   10. Textbook Editor Posted: July 31, 2017 at 12:30 AM (#5502971)
The real problem I see going forward is... I don't see a lot of easy fixes/low-hanging fruit available. I mean, they could blow up the system to go get another reliever or two (don't!), or maybe a bat (don't!)... but Jose's right--the guys they have already need to perform. Maybe Kelly is able to come back and boost the pen, maybe Smith by September can give you 10-15 good innings (unlikely, but we can dream). Maybe Moreland stops looking toasty and back to league average... but frankly I don't want Dombrowski trading more of the farm system for a setup guy or a marginal upgrade with the bat at 1B.

They could, I suppose, do a few things (none of which seem likely to me, or the moves would have been done already):

1. Accept Moreland may be toast. Call up Travis. Release Moreland or hide him on the DL to buy time. Play Travis at 1B and have Hanley DH some more. Alternately, can't Young play 1B a bit? Start him there and DH Hanley and bench Moreland.

2. Shoot Doug Fister into the sun. The continued use of this guy mystifies me.

3. Replace Fister with Valezquez and/or Johnson if Price is out for any kind of extended period.

4. Be a bit more aggressive with Workman as a potential 8th inning guy (though I suspect they're trying to keep him from back-to-back outings).

5) DL Xander (you could call up Travis with this move if you wanted to)--he needs to have some time off or that wrist is not going to get better.

I don't think any of the above is going to happen--I think they're gonna just go-along to get-along and who knows, by the time we hit the Bronx we could be 5 games out.

But really--long term my concern is that I'm not sure I trust Dombrowski to build the system back up or, frankly, to not make stupid trades for relievers this off-season. I know he was brought in to pull the trigger on trades like the Sale trade (which, of course, "Yea!" to that one...) but... I could easily see us going into 2019 with none of the young players locked up and an even more barren farm system... a "Detroit c.2017" if you will... And that kind of terrifies me.
   11. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 31, 2017 at 08:23 AM (#5503023)
the guys they have already need to perform.


This is really the big thing. I can't format for #### here but this is season OPS/July OPS/ZiPS RoS forecast OPS;

Betts -.806/.691/.846
Pedroia - .791/.903/.769
Bogaerts - .750/.450/.767
Ramirez - .784/.819/.814
Bradley - .785/.619/.778
Moreland - .732/.429/.725
Benintendi - .748/.643/.773

Take Moreland out of the mix for a moment and almost to a man that's dramatic improvement just by guys being the players they are. Emotionally it feels like they are never going to hit again but of course they are. Why do I say that so confidently? Because baseball man. Players ebb and flow. I mean they haven't done it for a few weeks but...well hell, same listing of players as above with June numbers;

Betts - .858
Pedoroia - .737
Bogaerts - .763
Ramirez - .765
Bradley - 1.019
Moreland - .762
Benintendi - .896

Just as there was a lot of unsustainability in there for June it is equally unlikely this team will continue to "hit" like they have. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Benintendi has been found out, Bogaerts is toast, Mookie is overrated and Moreland sucks (OK, that one might be true but he's not a .450 OPS guy). If so then we are screwed.

I could easily see us going into 2019 with none of the young players locked up and an even more barren farm system... a "Detroit c.2017" if you will... And that kind of terrifies me.


This I will strongly disagree with. In 2019 Mookie will be 26 (!), Bradley 29, Bogaerts 26, Benintendi 24, Devers 22...the Sox are set for a run. Even if this year comes apart I think this group has more in common with 2006's disappointment than 2010's*. I think the next few years look very bright. While the farm is pretty barren because of the ages of the core of this team that's OK, we have time to build it up. Whether DD can or will is a fair question but I'm not too concerned about it.
   12. villageidiom Posted: July 31, 2017 at 08:28 AM (#5503026)
OK, so we have somewhat of a consensus that they need improvements from 3B and 1B, could use an improvement at DH and (offensively) LF, have a SS who needs time to heal an injury, and are wasting a roster spot with Fister. Here's what you're missing.

BAD EDGAR HAS RETURNED. Since returning this month he's had 3 outings, and can't seem to pitch 6 full innings. He's averaged around 2 baserunners per inning, and close to a 7.00 ERA. This is, for lack of a better way to put it, Fisteresque.
   13. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 31, 2017 at 08:42 AM (#5503031)
Yeah, I'm trying to ignore that one. I think he's got a bit of the Buchholz in him in that when he's not 100% he just gets in his head.
   14. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 31, 2017 at 10:35 AM (#5503137)
Multiple sources saying Addison Reed for three minor league pitchers is done but for the medicals.
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 31, 2017 at 10:49 AM (#5503170)
Of course, and now I am ranting, their once in a generation 3B just got his 3000th hit for another team after they were too stupid/cheap/whatever to give the guy they 5/75 he wanted when he wanted to stay here...yeah, I'm still pissed about it.

A properly held grievance can last a lifetime. A lone fan wearing a fading Red Sox "BELTRE" jersey to Fenway for another decade or two can serve as a stark reminder of what might have been, perhaps even inspiring a sit-com character to immortalize the foolishness in the manner of Frank Costanza.
   16. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 31, 2017 at 10:52 AM (#5503179)
Jamie Callahan, Gerson Bautista and Stephen Nogosek are the relievers. That's 20, 25 and 47 on the Sox Prospects list. Chris Hatfield is saying he feels like it's too much but man, three guys who if all goes well can become middle relievers someday...yeah send them on their way.
   17. covelli chris p Posted: July 31, 2017 at 11:38 AM (#5503264)
- when pedroia is back, give bogaerts some rest (DL?). nunez can play short, right?
- find as many days off for moreland as you can. he seems like a guy that can hit when he's 100 healthy and fresh, but wears down when playing every day, and his defense can also be an asset. travis should probably be called up.
- hope devers is the answer.

Of course, and now I am ranting, their once in a generation 3B just got his 3000th hit for another team after they were too stupid/cheap/whatever to give the guy they 5/75 he wanted when he wanted to stay here...yeah, I'm still pissed about it.
it was stupidity. they followed it up with the youk to 3b experiment. either you send youk on his way when you trade for gonzalez, or you don't trade for gonzalez. sheesh.
   18. villageidiom Posted: July 31, 2017 at 01:26 PM (#5503416)
Jamie Callahan, Gerson Bautista and Stephen Nogosek are the relievers. That's 20, 25 and 47 on the Sox Prospects list. Chris Hatfield is saying he feels like it's too much but man, three guys who if all goes well can become middle relievers someday...yeah send them on their way.
Setting aside what was traded away I have two comments.

1. Good guy to get.

2. The bullpen was great for the first half. The problem is that in the last 17 days they have had to pitch more than they should. The team - starters and relievers - have thrown more than 19 games' worth of innings, in 17 games, in 17 days, with a round-trip voyage to the west coast in the middle. And a substantial part of that additional work load has fallen on the relievers, partly because when you remove your starter you don't know the game is going 13+ innings, and partly because of Bad Eduardo and Normal Fister, neither of whom can seem to go 6. Though he will be more rested than probably half the bullpen, Addison Reed is not the solution to these problems. (OTOH, Yu Darvish, for all his 2017 flaws, might have been a solution to both.)

(EDITed to repair Eduardo Rodriguez's good name.)
   19. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 31, 2017 at 01:29 PM (#5503420)
OK, once I figured was a type...when did EdRod become Edgar?
   20. villageidiom Posted: July 31, 2017 at 01:41 PM (#5503436)
OK, once I figured was a type...when did EdRod become Edgar?
I speak the truth, and my opinion has the right to exist. [/cargocultist]
   21. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 31, 2017 at 01:59 PM (#5503448)
Don't say his name, he might show up in these threads.
   22. John DiFool2 Posted: July 31, 2017 at 10:26 PM (#5503898)
Devers 4 for 4 tonight.
   23. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 31, 2017 at 10:42 PM (#5503908)
Devers 4 for 4 tonight.


3B problem solved!
   24. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 31, 2017 at 10:45 PM (#5503910)
When you go into the 8th inning with Doug Fister, you should buy a lottery ticket on the way home. Then Workman finishes up the rest of the game, too? We need two or three games a week like that, and our bullpen will be fine...
   25. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 01, 2017 at 12:09 AM (#5503979)
We need two or three games a week like that, and our bullpen will be fine...


Well Sale is throwing tomorrow so hopefully that will be 7+ innings. Is Reed in town yet, maybe they could let him mop up the hopefully 7-0 win....
   26. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: August 02, 2017 at 08:11 AM (#5504951)
Well Sale started and the Sox scored 12 runs. Reed pitched the 8th. Yeah, sounds like an easy and mellow night at the ol' ballpark.

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