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Thursday, June 17, 2021

And Breathe

On the morning of May 30th the Red Sox (and the rest of us) woke up in Boston, looked out the window and saw the rain pelting down.  When the game was postponed and rescheduled for the following Monday the Sox were facing a fairly daunting 17 game stretch.  At that point the Sox had faced a fairly pedestrian schedule and took advantage to muster a 32-20 record that left them a game out of first place behind the Rays.  But the next day would begin a test, 4 in Houston, 3 in the Bronx, 1 with the Marlins, host Houston for 3, Toronto for 4 and finally 2 with Atlanta before a well earned day off and presumably some top notch steaks in Kansas City.

The stretch began inauspiciously with the Sox dropping 3 in a row in Houston.  They rescued the fourth game behind Martin Perez then got rolling.  They swept the Yankees in New York for the first time since 2011 (I think that means the Bruins are going to win the Stanley Cup, book it!), took 3 out of 7 from Houston and Toronto and wrapped things up with a two game sweep in Atlanta.  The 10-7 stretch wasn’t aesthetically beautiful but facing generally good teams it was pretty encouraging.  A few random thoughts for discussion over the last 17 days and generally;

- The pitching, particularly the starters, is the focus with more than a little discussion about Spider Tack and spin rates.  It’s a few days old but Alex Speier’s piece is worth a read.  Regardless of the why pretending the Sox rotation was even acceptable in this stretch is a fool’s errand.  Nate Eovaldi posted a 2.95 ERA in his 3 starts but Nick Pivetta’s 5.74 is the second best from the rotation in that stretch.  This is the starting pitching that had the Sox picked by many to be around .500.  It is difficult to succeed with that type of starting pitching.  Whether it is Spider Tack, a witch’s curse or just the random fluctuations of a Major League Baseball season the Sox need to get the starters straightened out.

- The bullpen is another matter.  Matt Barnes has had a little hiccup surrendering runs in three of his last four outings but Barnes has a track record so I don’t think that’s particularly concerning.  Beyond that Adam Ottavino, Darwinzon Hernandez and particularly Josh Taylor have been pitching very well giving skipper Alex Cora some reliable arms ahead of Barnes and Garrett Whitlock continues to be effective.  The one guy I can’t figure out is Hirokazu Sawamura.  When I watch him pitch he looks good and that splitter, I mean c’mon how can anyone hit that?  But he gives up a LOT of hard contact.  Six homers in 27 innings is just way too many for a reliever.  I remember Mike Timlin having a year like that, I want to say 2003, and he rounded into shape.

- But let’s talk about the guy with the 0.00 ERA in that stretch.  Of course I refer to Christian Arroyo. .268/.348/.610 with four homers including last night’s monster (both in game importance and distance) grand slam.  Arroyo turned 26 on that enforced off day on May 30th and turning 26 agrees with him.  It’s probably worth remembering that this is a former #1 pick and top 100 prospect who was traded for a three time All Star.  He’s not a 30 year old journeyman.  I don’t expect him to keep hitting like this but I think it is hard to argue that he should not be in the lineup on a regular basis.  Incidentally last night’s grand slam was the first pinch hit grand slam for the Sox since Mike Carp on 9/11/2013.

- The Sox are getting production from the usual suspects.  Xander Bogaerts has the best OPS in this stretch with Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers also contributing.  The one guy you’d expect to be hitting who isn’t is JD Martinez who is slumping a bit.  Quietly Hunter Renfroe is hitting very well (.291/.400/.473) and playing like the guy the Sox hoped to be getting.  The reality is the offense is carrying this team right now but if the offense can produce during a slump by the pitching that will take this team a long way.  However, that is incumbent on the rotation getting its act together.  The offense won’t keep producing at this level.  The 10-7 record is a nice bit of theft during a stretch when they have had a .401 Pythagorean Record which would be 7-10. 

- Bobby Dalbec is showing some signs of life.  He got a day off in Houston to do some extra work and has hit .296/.345/.630 since then.  Sample sizes etc…apply but I remain somewhere between optimistic and hopeful on him.

- Dumb little thing but the two games in Atlanta saw the Sox have two pitchers named Garrett get their first Major League hits.

- Depending on how things pan out this year the Sox may look back on Ryan Weber’s outing on Sunday as oddly crucial.  In his final appearance for the club Weber took it on the chin for the team.  With the rotation struggling the bullpen needed a break and going 5 innings while allowing 11 runs wasn’t pretty but it was needed.

- The Sox are now faced with 22 games in 24 games leading up to the All Star Break.  7 with KC, 3 with NYY, 3 with TB, 3 with OAK, 3 with LAA and 3 with PHI.  And I’ll save vi the trouble, .500 from here on out will give them 88 or 89 wins (46-47 or 47-46).

- Get well soon Remdawg!

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 17, 2021 at 08:43 AM | 116 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Darren Posted: July 07, 2021 at 11:35 AM (#6028056)
Also, seems like there might be another what-if 1B that got traded away...
   102. Darren Posted: July 07, 2021 at 11:43 AM (#6028057)
Oh and Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez. Would Hanley and Lester eventually have gotten a pizza together?
   103. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 07, 2021 at 11:57 AM (#6028058)
Mookie appears to have already declined in both D & baserunning (both FG & BBRef are unequivocal on that). Now maybe his wheels have been banged up a bit as some news articles indicate. But he's at an age where declines in said areas are normal & to be expected.

Are you basing that decline entirely on this year? You do remember he only played 55 games last year because the season was only 60 games long, right? Prorate his 2020 fielding and baserunning stats and they are better than what he did in 2018 and 2019.
   104. pikepredator Posted: July 07, 2021 at 12:34 PM (#6028064)
Losing to Shohei Otani is fair. Can't win 'em all and losing to one of the best, well, that's part of the game.

I just don't spend too much time looking at run differentials, that's all. this time is too much fun to bother with trivialities!!

Hopefully E-Rod can match his last couple of starts. 6IP 1 hit would be awesome but I'm fine with 6IP/2Runs. I have no reason to be greedy!
   105. John DiFool2 Posted: July 07, 2021 at 12:54 PM (#6028067)
Are you basing that decline entirely on this year? You do remember he only played 55 games last year because the season was only 60 games long, right? Prorate his 2020 fielding and baserunning stats and they are better than what he did in 2018 and 2019.

I was mainly looking at this year, which was the original point of discussion. Both FG [BR: 0.5 Def: -0.8] & BBRef [BR: 0 Def: 3] concur-prorating zero to a full season still gives you zero. As said it may just be bumps and bruises. But he has typically gotten a ton of value from both areas: to go from otherworldly there to merely good is going to take away a solid chunk of his value. Understand, I'd love to see the guy sail into the Hall 1st ballot, inner circle. I just fear that there is a chance that he might not even get elected at all.
   106. Nasty Nate Posted: July 07, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6028077)
Underestimating Mr. Betts is a trap.
   107. villageidiom Posted: July 07, 2021 at 02:57 PM (#6028091)
There's got to be a better what-if SP than Yount.
Bryce Florie?

Or using somewhat similar logic as Schiraldi for RP, there's a strong argument for Daniel Bard for SP.

You also have Jonathan Papelbon, starting pitcher.

--Byung Hyun Kim: Successfully converted to the rotation in AZ, came to Boston, worked to death, then blamed for playoff loss, and he's never the same again.
"Blamed for playoff loss" happened before "successfully converted to the rotation in AZ".
   108. Darren Posted: July 07, 2021 at 04:15 PM (#6028118)
that's true, it happened both before and after.
   109. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: July 07, 2021 at 04:23 PM (#6028124)
There's got to be a better what-if SP than Yount.
What if they'd offered Lester more than $4/70?
   110. SandyRiver Posted: July 07, 2021 at 04:25 PM (#6028125)
I agree that Nomar was a huge "what coulda been" of my lifetime, but his decline began before he was traded in 2004. The inflated stats of the era make his 2002-2003 look better than they historically were, in context. But that four-year stretch of 1997-2000 was unreal: When Pedro was pitching, you didn't want to miss a single at-bat when Boston was on defense. But when Nomar was at bat during those four years, you couldn't take your eyes off of him, either.

IMO, his wrist injury late in the 1999 season is one of the bigger reasons he fell short of the HOF. He fought thru it in 2000 (to say the least) but lost most of that May and had previous years' HR turned to doubles. After the lost 2001 season he came back as a very good but lesser player. (Ortiz' wrist issue is somewhat similar. It messed up the latter part of 2008 and made him barely over replacement in 2009, then the horrible start to 2010. Other than the remarkable stretch July 2015 thru June 2016, he was also a very good but lesser player 2010 on.)
   111. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 08, 2021 at 07:20 AM (#6028221)
(Ortiz' wrist issue is somewhat similar. It messed up the latter part of 2008 and made him barely over replacement in 2009, then the horrible start to 2010. Other than the remarkable stretch July 2015 thru June 2016, he was also a very good but lesser player 2010 on.)

From 2003 to 2007 he had an OPS+ of 156. From 2010 through 2014 he had an OPS+ of 151. Take out 2010 and he's at 155. He may have declined in WAR value over the later years, but I don't think it was the wrist that did it.
   112. SandyRiver Posted: July 08, 2021 at 09:25 AM (#6028235)
I was looking at 2005-07 as his best stretch, 163 OPS+. He also averaged 689 PA during those 3 years and never got close to that number later. I doubt the wrist had much to do with it after early 2010 but being a big man in his late 30s did.
   113. villageidiom Posted: July 08, 2021 at 11:52 AM (#6028254)
Yeah, generally the answer to "What caused an old player's performance to decline?" is already in the question.
   114. Darren Posted: July 08, 2021 at 12:36 PM (#6028257)
Bagwell, I was talking about Bagwell.
   115. The Mighty Quintana Posted: July 08, 2021 at 05:20 PM (#6028288)
Al Reyes and Manny's always the damn Orioles, even when they stink.
   116. Bad Fish Posted: July 10, 2021 at 02:03 PM (#6028481)
Off the top of my head, guys that they were dopey to lose control of include Bronson Arroyo, Ellis Burks, Bagwell has to be at the top of the list, Mark Melancon.

Nomar was done by the time they traded him and he had rejected a 60/4 contract offer, which clearly was their best and final. Pedrioia was still a good player, but the tide was clearly going out - the remaining juice in those limes weren't going to add much to the margarita.
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