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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Baseball (Finally) Begins

It’s a bit later than we expected in circumstances we never could have imagined but the Boston Red Sox 2020 season will finally begin on Friday as the Sox face the Orioles.  The good news for the Sox is that the playoffs will feature 16 teams rather than ten.  The bad news is that pitching staff which does not look especially impressive.  There are so many changes this year and on the field the biggest one is probably the 30 man roster rather than the usual 25 man roster.  Let’s take a short look at what the Sox will be rolling out this year.  While it is hard to see the Sox as a team likely to do a lot of damage this year there is plenty to look forward to.  I’ve been very pleased so far with what I’ve seen from new GM Chaim Bloom and I feel confident in the direction of the franchise moving forward. 

Infield: Mitch Moreland, Michael Chavis, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Arauz, Jose Peraza, Tzu-Wei Lin

We can start with the undisputed strength of the organization on the left side.  Devers and Bogaerts are elite players worth the price of admission (well, you know what I mean).  This is unquestionably Xander’s team now with Mookie gone.  The reality is he’s been the leader for awhile now and it’s a role that suits him.  The most interesting guy here is probably Chavis.  He had a great start last year then began to struggle as a book got out on him.  If he can adjust he can be a real important building block moving forward.  From what little I saw in Fort Myers Arauz and Peraza will join Lin as good analogues for the departed Brockstar \o/!  I’m pleased Moreland is back.  He’s done a solid job for the Sox, his three run homer in game four of the World Series was arguably the biggest single blow of that series, and from what has been reported he is stepping in for Holt as the guy to really do a lot for the Jimmy Fund.

Outfield: Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Pillar, J.D. Martinez, Alex Verdugo

Obviously there is one substantial name no longer there but this is a pretty strong group nonetheless.  Benny will look to rebound from a down year in 2019.  I don’t expect him to be a star but somewhere between 2018 and 2019 is probably a reasonable bet, think Nick Markakis and I think you have Benintendi.  This is likely to be JBJ’s final year with the club and as I approach my 50th birthday I will note that he’s the best defensive centerfielder I’ve ever seen on this club and while his offense can be exasperating the defense is a ton of fun to watch and something worth enjoying.  Verdugo of course is the guy with the attention.  He has the potential to be a hell of a player.  He’s not going to be Mookie and it’s not fair to him to ask him to be but he can be an elite player and I look forward to watching him.  Martinez is going to do his JD Martinez thing and be the anchor of what should still be an excellent offense.  Pillar is a great pickup and will fit the roster well.

Catcher: Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, Jonathan Lucroy

Vazquez is coming off an amazing offensive season.  If he can repeat anything even close to that he’s a genuine star.  Plawecki and Lucroy are a good backup catcher with Plawecki providing defense and Lucroy providing the offense.

Pitchers:  Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Austin Brice, Dylan Covey, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Hall, Heath Hembree, Josh Osich, Martin Perez, Jeffrey Springs, Phillips Valdez, Marcus Walden, Ryan Weber, Brandon Workman

I’m not going through them all.  I am optimistic that Barnes can have a better year and someone among Brasier, Brewer and Brice can do a solid job.  I’m not going to lie, I had never heard of Phillips Valdez until 3 minutes ago.  The big thing for the Sox is that the pitching staff is missing some big contributors.  While Sale’s injury was no huge surprise having Eduardo Rodriguez and Darwinzon Hernandez out with COVID-19 is a huge loss.  Hernandez in particular is a disappointing loss because I was dying to see him for a “full’ season.

So this is what we got.  It’s reminiscent of a lot of old school Red Sox teams with potent offense and questionable pitching.  One thing that should serve the pitching staff well is a strong defense. For once the baseball season is a sprint not a marathon so a good start is critical.  I really don’t have much in the way of analysis here.  It’s a mediocre team with some guys that should be fun to watch and none of us really knows a damned thing about what to expect.  I know there is probably a lack of enthusiasm right now for many reasons and it’s hard to argue with any of that.  But it’s baseball and a bit of normalcy in a year that so desperately needs it.

My best to all the readers.  I hope everyone and their loved ones are healthy and safe both physically and mentally.

Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 23, 2020 at 10:37 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 24, 2020 at 07:29 PM (#5965476)
Some things I’m mildly curious about (general edition);

1. Will the lack of crowds result in faster games?

2. What effects might we see from the lack of crowds? More/less strikeouts? Impact to fly ball tracking? Changes to wind patterns?

3. Will announcers be less exuberant due to the lack of crowd noise to scream over?
   2. The Mighty Quintana Posted: July 24, 2020 at 08:09 PM (#5965489)
Phillips Valdez

I am sure Conoco is glad that isn't a thing. Also, if he sucks, he'll get a memorable nickname.
   3. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 24, 2020 at 10:19 PM (#5965539)
He’s warming up!

And apparently he hasn’t eaten in six weeks. Dude looks like he could be used in an appeal sponsored by Bob Geldof.
   4. villageidiom Posted: July 25, 2020 at 11:55 AM (#5965596)
I know it was just one game, and I know it was the Orioles. But that was a fun win last night. I'm feeling good about the Jose Peraza Experience at 2B as a potentially permanent replacement for Pedroia. I had forgotten Pillar's defense, and Eovaldi's dominance when he's healthy.

On the radio Lou Merloni expressed concern about JDM batting second, because he's slow and if you need him to score from 1st with 2 out he might not be able to do it. And there he was, on 1st with 2 out in the first inning. "Fortunately" the batter struck out and we never got to see how horrible it is for scoring runs when your 2nd batter gets on base. Only 59 more games of this...
   5. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 25, 2020 at 01:58 PM (#5965616)
Thank goodness I didn’t have to listen to Merloni. He’s painful.

The Eck/Remy combination is a hell of a lot of fun and also really insightful.
   6. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 25, 2020 at 10:03 PM (#5965745)
Thank goodness I didn’t have to listen to Merloni. He’s painful.

I really, really, do not understand why he has a job. He says stupid #### and he sucked as a player, it's not like he can back it up. Anything he says is NOT coming from an authority on the subject.
   7. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 25, 2020 at 10:24 PM (#5965748)
In sports radio I think those are considered features not bugs. Say something, smart or stupid doesn’t matter as long as it gets a reaction.
   8. villageidiom Posted: July 26, 2020 at 09:25 AM (#5965781)
As I said in the Lounge already: after the Mookie trade and Sale's injury and all that, never in my wildest dreams did I think the Red Sox would be tied for first in late July.
   9. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 26, 2020 at 12:03 PM (#5965809)

In sports radio I think those are considered features not bugs. Say something, smart or stupid doesn’t matter as long as it gets a reaction.

Sports radio sure, but he does not jive with the rest of the Sox broadcasters. Most of them tend to be on the understated side (other than Eck of course). Even Steve Lyons calmed down a ton!
   10. The Mighty Quintana Posted: July 26, 2020 at 12:07 PM (#5965810)
I mean, Verdugo can play. I knew he was pretty good from watching him in LA, but he looks to be in much better shape now. This guy could win a batting title if his head stays straight...
   11. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 26, 2020 at 02:35 PM (#5965836)
Yeah. With the pitching staff and the weird season I’m viewing this season as a big spring training/tryout situation. Keep everyone healthy and find out what guys can do. Verdugo is making a great first impression and of course there are plenty of reasons to expect him to be pretty good. The big bummer is Darwinzon being out, I would really liked to have seen him get settled in.
   12. Darren Posted: July 26, 2020 at 02:42 PM (#5965838)
Opening Day was good. Since then, not as much.

I really, really, do not understand why he has a job. He says stupid #### and he sucked as a player, it's not like he can back it up. Anything he says is NOT coming from an authority on the subject.

While we're on the subject, good to see Charlie Moore's show is still going strong. Good lord.

(To be fair to Merloni, he made it to the Majors so he's a pretty great baseball player, as dumb as the stuff he says is.)
   13. Answer Guy. Posted: July 26, 2020 at 10:01 PM (#5965928)
Even pre-COVID I was pretty sure I'd be paying minimal attention to this team in 2020. Now, combined with the fact that I'm furious MLB is even playing given the risks I feel comfortable saying I don't plan on watching any games this year. Per my father in law, I heard they dropped two of three to Baltimore at home to open the season. I'd say it's going to be a long season, but it is already late July so it can't be.
   14. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 29, 2020 at 08:04 AM (#5966594)
Who the #### are all these shitty pitchers?

Serious question - how long will it take to get some semblance of a pitching squad in place? Obv this year is shot, so starting in 2021 it's Sale, E Rod, Eovaldi, ok, the potential is there...but then you look at the pen and it's Barnes and a bunch of #### that may or may not stick to the wall. 2022 E Rod & Barnes become FA's. Damnit, I don't know where I am going with this. The Sox suck, and will continue to suck for a while. Yay.
   15. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 29, 2020 at 08:29 AM (#5966599)
I don’t think the turnaround is that tough to accomplish. In theory the Mookie deal means they have money to go aggressively into the FA market this winter. As you note the pieces are there for a decent rotation so it’s just the bullpen. While bullpens are exasperating those inconsistencies also mean you can put it together pretty quickly. I think Darwinzon is potentially a game changing reliever and solidifying the rotation means less reliance on the bullpen which makes the bullpen stronger by being able to focus the innings on the guys who are actually competent.

What I find frustrating about these first few games is the approach. I’m fine taking the approach that this is just spring training so let’s see what we got. But at the same time if we ARE going to pretend we want to win games then I’m not sure what is happening. Barnes (2 IP), Workman (1 IP), Hembree (1.2 IP) and Brasier (1 IP) should be the core of a solid bullpen. None of them has pitched in a competitive situation yet. I think a staff of;

Sale, EdRod, Eovaldi, Perez, Mata(?)
Barnes, Workman, Hembree, Brasier, Hernandez

Is a pretty solid starting point. The problem so far has been we are doing this opener thing with pitchers who shouldn’t be in AAA let alone the Majors AND the fact that what should be a very good offensive team hasn’t been. Presumably Benny (.063), Devers (.190), Bogaerts (.167) and Martinez (.250) will do better.
   16. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 29, 2020 at 09:24 AM (#5966614)
Sale, EdRod, Eovaldi, Perez, Mata(?)
Barnes, Workman, Hembree, Brasier, Hernandez

Is a pretty solid starting point.

No, it's really not a solid starting point. It has the POTENTIAL to be decent, but the top two starters will be coming off lost years, Eovaldi is not an innings eater, Perez has a bit better track record than Eovaldi health wise, but not by a ton, and a rookie in the 5 spot.

So less innings will be thrown from the top starters, and already the rotation is counting on a rookie. Who are the 6th and 7th starters? Because that rotation needs them, no doubt about it. And who is the opener/long man for the times when #### happens? Why again is Hector Velazquez with the Orioles? So some #### like Osich can be paid MORE for less production?

I am not worried about the hitting or fielding. Those aspects of the team should be solid.
   17. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 29, 2020 at 11:09 AM (#5966627)
That’s why I said “starting point” and not “finished product.” The Sox can go out and spend to add an innings eater (a Porcello type) and suddenly Mata becomes your 6th starter and there is always a Doug Fister or someone that can be tracked down.

Again, not perfect but the Sox have pieces around which to build. If EdRod isn’t Jon Lester (or a reasonable approximation) then they have to go out and get someone. But you can go through every team in baseball and run the same process if you assume worst case scenarios throughout. I’m not saying you want to go into next season with only these guys but you can augment what you have and it looks fine.
   18. The Mighty Quintana Posted: July 29, 2020 at 11:24 AM (#5966632)
I'm a little worried about Devers at third...his defense seems to have taken a step backwards. There are very few "routine" plays so far. But the lineup seems OK, provided Martinez gets untracked. Yeah, these no-names get me excited for an inning (boy, Hall really has some movement! Brice's arm angle could really be hell on tough righties! Godley has a bulldog mentality!) but then reality bites back inevitably. By the way, the Mets can really hit.
   19. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 29, 2020 at 01:06 PM (#5966668)
Devers is a streaky fielder. When he kicks one he seems to have a week or two where it’s all over the place. By all accounts he came into camp 2.0 a bit out of shape which isn’t great but if he’s going to have a shitshow season that causes him to prioritize the right things this is the year for it.

The guy I’m worried about is Benintendi. Devers is at least coming off a huge year. Benny had a down year last year and hasn’t exactly come out a house afire. On top of that, I don’t love Roenicke’s knee jerk reaction to move him to ninth in the order though some urgency with the shortened schedule can be forgiven.
   20. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 29, 2020 at 03:19 PM (#5966694)
John McNamara passed away today.
   21. The Mighty Quintana Posted: July 30, 2020 at 11:27 AM (#5966881)
Sad to hear about Johnny Mac. Yeah, Benintendi had a high floor/low ceiling coming out of college....but I didn't think the house was this flat. His speed looks good, but other than that, yecch. Might as well put him in center, cause that bat is not gonna play in left, in Fenway.
   22. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 30, 2020 at 01:54 PM (#5966933)
Small note about that harrowing win last night. Devers has rightly gotten some grief for his start but that play he made in the ninth on the infield hit by Davis to keep it on the infield was huge. If it gets through the game probably gets tied right there. For his defensive flaws the dude has tremendous range particularly to his left.

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