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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Monday, October 03, 2016

Why I Worry/Why I Feel Good

So the American League East champion Red Sox have completed one of the organization’s most entertaining regular seasons in a long time.  They now prepare for a post-season that frankly could end by Sunday or could end with an early November parade.  Even under baseball’s variable circumstances 2016 feels like a very open season.

The Sox head into this post-season with some good and bad things happening.  I want to touch on a few of each;


The Closer – It is not possible to have watched Craig Kimbrel this past week and not feel a level of concern.  This is not just a one week sample of concern either.  Kimbrel has issued at least one walk or HBP in 24 of his 57 appearances this year.  He simply has not thrown strikes reliably and against an Indian team that led the AL in steals and was fourth in walk rate this is a recipe for trouble.  Even his easy outings don’t seem that easy.  I just don’t feel comfortable with him in a close game right now.  But hey, Mitch Williams went to a World Series and Joe Borowski came within one game of the same.  The 2003 Sox certainly didn’t look this good and they were five outs away.

Xlumping Xander – You will be hard pressed to find a bigger Xander Bogaerts fan than I am but his .230/.303/.372 line since August 1 is not cutting it.  Back in 2013 what struck me about Bogaerts was the way he took pitches with a relaxed and confident air.  The last couple of months he has never looked comfortable.  He checks his swing more than anyone on the club.  I don’t know if he’s hurt or what but he looks to me like a guy not seeing the ball well consistently.

If you are looking for some optimism the BABIP (.268) was a bit low and his ISOBP and ISO are both solid.  Additionally he has not let it affect his defense and in fact has seemed to improve as the year has gone on.

Koji Redux – Koji Uehara has been excellent since coming back from the DL but there are signs of concern.  I am skeptical that he is a reasonable option multiple days in a row.  Of course if the Sox are looking to protect a late lead multiple days in a row that is a good problem to have.  I think giving him some time off at the end of the year here was a good move.


The Lineup – The offense may not be the shock and awe force it was early in the year but it is still very good.  With Hanley Ramirez having discovered his power stroke and Dustin Pedroia tearing it up as the season finishes the Sox should never feel like they are out of a game.

Additionally I like the balance in this lineup.  Guys like Young, Hill, Benintendi and Holt are not stars but against their preferred pitching hands they can be potent.  John Farrell should find himself with options as a game progresses.

The Not Closers – While Kimbrel has struggled the rest of the bullpen has really become a weapon.  It was a great month for that group and maybe most importantly John Farrell has been able to put together something approximating a pecking order. 

A lot of times you watch a baseball team and by mid-May you have a rough idea who is coming in when.  For much of 2016 that has not been true due to performance, health and some bewildering decisions.  Over the last few weeks I feel like Farrell has created a pretty good sense of what he wants to do.  Matt Barnes might be the most important guy in the bunch as he appears to be the “oh crap there are people on base” guy and Pomeranz certainly looked impressive yesterday.

John Farrell – Everyone’s favorite whipping boy has been doing an excellent job of his game management the last few weeks in my opinion.  Not only has he guided the bullpen well but he has managed with a degree of alacrity that I think should serve the Sox well in the post-season.

Things I Don’t Think Are A Big Deal:

5 out of 6 - After tearing up baseball with an eleven game winning streak the Sox stumbled to the finish line losing five out of their last six games.  They never got blown out and in fact have lost just five games by more than three runs since the 21-2 pasting by the Angels on July 2.  By contrast they have won twenty (20!) such games in that same time.

Since that Angel game they have the best record in the AL (50-32) and the best Pythagorean Record (55-27) in all of baseball.

Loss of Home Field - Of course it would be nice to have home field advantage but the Sox have the best road record in the American League at 46-35.  The Indians tied Texas for the best home record in the league at 53-28 so they are no pushovers but the Sox can win in Cleveland.

Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 03, 2016 at 03:19 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: October 03, 2016 at 03:37 PM (#5312333)
Ortiz is done with the farewell tours now, too. I am not doing any kind of analysis, exhaustive or otherwise, to see if his performance dipped when he had to endure some of the final celebrations in each town (and the extended one at home over the weekend). But to me he seemed worn down. Maybe he was just trying too hard to hit HR this weekend, and the poorly-timed hard swing always looks like a player is overmatched. Having a few days off should help him, maybe more than it would help anyone.
   2. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 03, 2016 at 03:39 PM (#5312335)
That's a great point. These last two series were as bad as he's looked all year. Nice call.
   3. John DiFool2 Posted: October 03, 2016 at 08:46 PM (#5312633)
Kimbrel since his return on Aug 1 thru the game before his 4 run meltdown had an ERA of exactly 1.00, and while he did walk some people that can be counterbalanced by allowing few base hits (0.98 BAA).
   4. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 05, 2016 at 03:21 PM (#5314747)
How are people feeling right now? I'm confused. I don't have nearly the degree of excitement or apprehension going into this playoff run. I think this team has just been so much fun I'm satisfied and if we do well great, if we don't, oh well.
   5. Toby Posted: October 05, 2016 at 07:24 PM (#5315008)
I am feeling fine. I feel like we are playing with house money. Really this feels like 2003 in a way. after we lost to the Yankees I posted here something along the lines of "we are in the first year of a great multi-year ride." That's how I feel now. If we lose, so be it; but this core is going to be back here again and do a lot of damage. I am looking forward to it.

I'll be happy for Tito if Cleveland advances and tip my cap to him and root for him the rest of the way. I'll be annoyed if we advance but lose to Texas or Toronto, two teams I really don't like. I'd like to see Papi do something big on the October stage one more time.
   6. Dan Posted: October 05, 2016 at 11:44 PM (#5315499)
I find it hard to get emotionally invested. I don't know if it's due to this team already exceeding my expectations or whether it's just the feeling it's the Cubs' year and wanting their fans to experience what we experienced in 2004. Perhaps it's a combination of both.

I'm sure I'll feel differently when they actually take the field though, at least somewhat.
   7. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 06, 2016 at 01:23 AM (#5315534)
it's just the feeling it's the Cubs' year and wanting their fans to experience what we experienced in 2004. Perhaps it's a combination of both.

Stuff that. "their year" my arse. As someone once said, "deservins got nuthing to do with it". The Cubs need to earn it and now need to beat Bumgarner/Cueto and the even year curse to get to the series.

I'm not nervous at all. If the team performs as expected they'll just steamroll their way into the series. The only team that matches them for talent are the Cubs, then we'll see. If they play like sh*t, then they deserve to get beat; simple as that.

I would love to see Ortiz make the series one more time though, that'd be brilliant.
   8. plink Posted: October 06, 2016 at 01:36 AM (#5315539)
I'm with the "house money" crowd. Love watching this team.
   9. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 06, 2016 at 09:03 AM (#5315590)
I have to admit I woke up this morning considerably more pumped up than I've been. Still, it's nice to be pumped rather than nervous. I'm ready to go, hope the Sox are.

And I'm with Hugh, if deserve had anything to do with it we'd have won in 1986 (hell in 1946) so while I'd like to see the Cubs or Tribe win if we don't, let's do this thing.
   10. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 07, 2016 at 10:24 PM (#5317820)
It's funny, obviously I'm concerned but I feel strangely confident. I'm probably just insane but this reminds me so much of 1999. I wouldn't mind throwing up 23 runs in game four.
   11. Dan Posted: October 08, 2016 at 12:55 AM (#5317997)
I never said they deserve to win. Apparently reading comprehension is tough.

I felt that it was likely, and a part of me thinks that's a good thing as Cubs fans have suffered a lot and it would be cool to see them win. Deserve has nothing to do with it.

As far as actual things that people deserve: we deserve decent playoff starts from pitchers making $20M+ per year.
   12. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 08, 2016 at 01:37 AM (#5318011)
Hopefully our 20 million dollar guys get another chance.
   13. Textbook Editor Posted: October 08, 2016 at 09:43 AM (#5318072)
I think we could still win Games 3 & 4, but I'm not liking our chances against Kluber in a Game 5, even though I suppose we would have Porcello on the mound (or some combination of Porcello/Price).
   14. Dan Posted: October 09, 2016 at 07:56 AM (#5318771)
some combination of Porcello/Price).

Is 5 days really long enough to engineer a hybrid Porcello/Price super pitcher?
   15. toratoratora Posted: October 09, 2016 at 04:20 PM (#5319040)
I'm not saying I'm worried, but it's time to start breaking out the Jack Daniels, gents
   16. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 09, 2016 at 05:50 PM (#5319090)
Well this hasn't been good. Giving up 5 runs per game and flailing at stuff outside of the zone is not getting it done. Hopefully a change of scenery will facilitate a momentum shift and set us on our way. It's a streaky team. Bad time for a losing streak.
   17. Textbook Editor Posted: October 09, 2016 at 06:42 PM (#5319108)
So if we make it Game 4 it has to be Porcello (with EdRod available if needed), right? With Price/Johnny Wholestaff in any Game 5?
   18. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 09, 2016 at 06:55 PM (#5319110)
I would think so. I can't imagine any other approach making sense.
   19. Textbook Editor Posted: October 09, 2016 at 07:18 PM (#5319114)
#18--Thinking about it some more... I think this approach possibly puts EdRod in play early tomorrow if Buchholz gets in trouble. In theory, Pomeranz and Ross could go multiple innings if there's a Porcello or Price blow-up in Game 4/5, but you need to win Game 3 to get there. No sense saving EdRod for emergency duty in a Game 4/5 if you don't get there.

This will be a tough mountain to climb, but not impossible. Kluber in Game 5 looms large, though.
   20. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 09, 2016 at 08:04 PM (#5319132)
I may be insane, oh who am i kidding, of course I am, but still believe Price has the big one in him.
   21. Darren Posted: October 09, 2016 at 08:13 PM (#5319142)
The beginning of the Simpsons tonight was pretty funny. Homer rips Fenway very accurately, so see it if you can.
   22. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 09, 2016 at 08:21 PM (#5319148)
I taped it, I'll watch it after the comeback is complete.
   23. Nasty Nate Posted: October 09, 2016 at 10:12 PM (#5319324)
The beginning of the Simpsons tonight was pretty funny. Homer rips Fenway very accurately, so see it if you can.
Yeah that part was pretty good, the precision of the joke made it work.

It was kind of weird how they did the Patriots with fake names for everything though. In the past, the Simpsons universe included real NFL teams and people.
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: October 09, 2016 at 11:05 PM (#5319438)
Hey, the Sox have homefield advantage in the ALCS now!
   25. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 09, 2016 at 11:40 PM (#5319480)

After the win in game three game four will be at 2 on Tuesday if the Cubs lose, at 3 if the Cubs sweep.
   26. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: October 10, 2016 at 03:03 PM (#5319883)
So I'm probably delusional but I think the series is today. I think whoever wins today wins the series. Obviously the Indians wrap it up so that's not a tough call but if the Sox win I just feel good about what we have. The Sox haven't played well yet in this series and if they can shake out of it I think they can ride Porcello and Price to the comeback.

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