Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Sox Therapy > Discussion
Sox Therapy
— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Gathering Crowds

At the unofficial halfway point of the season the Sox have exceeded everyone’s expectations and sit atop the American League with the Astros. They hold a 1.5 game lead over Tampa and 8 games over Toronto and New York.  To say this has been enjoyable would be a tremendous understatements.  Let’s revisit some stuff;

MVP - Xander Bogaerts - Rafael Devers has a slight edge in WAR and JD Martinez is just behind him but for me this is Bogaerts’ team and by extension, his award.  In a lot of ways this goes back to 2015 when Xander grew up and became the player he is.  With Dustin Pedroia missing a large portion of that season Bogaerts took the mantle of the guy who keeps the infield settled, talks the pitcher down when the time comes and is the guy you want the ball hit to in a key spot.  On a team that is rabidly covered and rooted for he is a quiet superstar.

Cy Young/Mariano Rivera - Matt Barnes - There is a pretty strong case for Nathan Eovaldi here but for me it’s Barnes.  A lot of what has happened this year could have been undone fairly quickly by some blown saves.  Having Barnes lock down the closer role has allowed for the bullpen to get settled and help a rotation that is doing a nice job but has its flaws.  I think back to 2012 when Alfredo Aceves seemed to blow a save every other opportunity.  Barnes has blown a couple but he’s gotten the job done about as well as the Sox could have hoped and that has allowed stability after a very unstable 2020.

Best Surprise - Garrett Whitlock - Rule 5 guys don’t pitch like this, they just don’t.  Watching him I can’t help but think that he has very real Bronson Arroyo starting ability in his future.  He can throw three pitches effectively and throws strikes while keeping the ball in the ballpark.  There are so many great surprises on the team with Christian Arroyo probably a close second.

Biggest Disappointment - Matt Andriese - There has not been much to be disappointed by this year but Andriese fits the bill. He was high on the bullpen depth chart early but starting with an ugly appearance on Opening Day he has just never put it together.  Fortunately the bullpen depth has delivered and covered for Andriese

Most Underrated Story - Outfield Defense - Going into the year there were more than a few concerns about the defense generally and the outfield in particular.  Kike Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe and Alex Verdugo have proven to be excellent out there.  Renfroe in particular has really impressed with surprising range for his size and a truly magnificent arm.  I love outfielders who can throw and the Sox seem to have three of them.  That’s a nice weapon for a pitching staff.  Along the same lines how about a little nod for hitting coach Tim Hyers and pitching coach Dave Bush?  Coaches are often the sacrificial lambs when things go poorly and while Alex Cora deserves the credit he has gotten let’s give a nod to Hyers and Bush for the overachievement.

Much Ado About Nothing - ??? - I think this probably says a lot about where this team was in the local zeitgeist.  Normally the Sox are so intensely discussed and watched that there are nonsense stories that get over-covered. The last 18 months coming to Opening Day this year both Sox-related and real world-related combined with fairly modest expectations to keep things relatively quiet.  Suddenly here they are in first place.  Where the hell did that come from?

Thing That Deserves Comment - I’ve only made it to a few games this year (coaching four youth teams eats up some time).  However, starting with Patriots Day (my first) and continuing to the end of June (my most recent) the crowds have been allowed to grow.  More importantly though is the experience.  As awesome as the 2003-2018 stretch was, probably the best in club history, there was an intensity that sometimes was a bit oft-putting. The atmosphere this year has been a bit more late-90s with crowds just generally seeming to enjoy the experience.  Maybe it’s just how I’M experiencing it but my sense in the ballpark is more joyous than intense. It’s not better or worse but it is different.  The only thing missing is the Dominican flags we got when Pedro pitched (maybe we can get a Texas flag when Eovaldi pitches).

3 Questions for the Second Half;

1. Can Eduardo Rodriguez turn it around?

2. What will Chris Sale be able to contribute?

3. How will Chaim Bloom balance the desire to win now with the desire to build a consistent winner?

Games of the First Half (chronological order);

April 6 - Rays 5 at Sox 6 (11) - After losing three in a row to start the year the Sox picked up their first win against Tampa but then were headed to another defeat.  Christian Vazquez’ homer tied it in the ninth and then after trading runs in the tenth JD Martinez’ double scored two to win it in the eleventh.

June 3 - Sox 5 at Astros 1 - On the face of it this wasn’t a dramatic game but it was an important one.  Faced with the start of a long stretch of challenging games the Sox had dropped their first three to Houston.  Martin Perez delivered a big time performance with 7.2 innings of shutout baseball and a three run homer by Arroyo was backed by a double by Bogaerts.

June 6 - Sox 6 at Yankees 5 (10)  The Sox threw down their marker against their longtime rivals by polishing off a sweep in front of some grumpy folks in the Bronx.  In a rare event Matt Barnes was tagged with the blown save but a two run single by Bogaerts picked him up and Phillips Valdez closed it out.

Hopefully the second half will continue to give us the good feelings we have gotten so far!

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 13, 2021 at 09:39 AM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Darren Posted: July 13, 2021 at 08:59 PM (#6028985)
This season's results will be a big part of the "Was trading Mookie justified" discussion, for better or for worse. I loved Mookie but I also defended the trade quite a bit, so maybe my opinion is not to be trusted. But I think the Sox success this season should be part of the debate.
   2. Rough Carrigan Posted: July 14, 2021 at 12:54 PM (#6029043)
One guy that I don't think you mentioned and who I think might also be a significant help is Tanner Houck. He's also getting close to finishing a rehab stint and coming up from Worcester.

Regarding the crowds, my impression was the opposite. I thought the late 90's and early 2000's crowds were much more intense and I miss it. I loved it. I blame phones as much as the team winning and releasing the pressure.
   3. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 14, 2021 at 01:17 PM (#6029049)
To add to #2:

- The team has been extremely fortunate (probably aided by wise usage limits by Cora?) to have a healthy five-man rotation for the entire first 91 games of the season, because for most of this season, there has been - almost literally - zero legitimate options for a 6th starter if one was needed for any stretch. Sale has obviously not been available; Houck started two games early in the season (the only two starts not by the regular 5-man rotation this entire season!), and Connor Seabold was seen as the other legit option by now. But Houck and Seabold have not been available most of the year, either, due to injury. Now, Houck is basically ready, but will likely come back as a second version of Whitlock, giving the team a quality 2-to-3 inning relief outing twice a week; Seabold has begun pitching in games again, and looked very promising in his first stint a few days ago; and Sale appears on track for an early August return. Depth will go from a primary weakness to a relative strength in about three weeks, if the team can hold on until then.

BTW: Boston having only two starts coming from somebody who is not in their 5-man rotation is pretty crazy; only two other teams in the league have fewer than 13 such starts, and a lot of team have 20 or more. I would argue that Boston, because of the injuries to Sale, Houck, and Seabold, also needed that kind of durability more than most teams this season.

- As for the nature of the crowds at Fenway in the late 90s/early 00s: I was there a lot at that exact period (I lived in Brighton and Somerville as a young professional in the late 90s and early 00s, had no spouse or kids, and was in work-hard, play-hard mode), and I would say the crowds and fan base were pretty intense (much like #2 says). There are a bunch of reason it is different now, including:

1) When you win a bunch of championships, and almost win a few others (like 2008), it is difficult to keep the intensity up. The level of desperation, hanging on every game, was unreal in the pre-2004 Pedro Era.
2)The phone thing is real. It is difficult to explain to my teenaged daughters what things were like before smart phones; heck, it is difficult for them to imagine "only" having flip phones to text and make calls. Now, they don't even use the phone as a...phone. And we are all looking down all the time - except for when we are looking up, probably to take a picture with our phone to put on social media. It has changed everything, including watching a baseball game.
3) THe cost of going to a game continues to outpace inflation (at least, over the last 20 years, on average), and it continues to gentrify the experience in ways that are more family-friendly (if your family has the money to go) and corporate friendly. The type of person who goes to a game at Fenway continues to change, and that person is (generally) less intense about the outcome of the game.
4) The success of all the teams in New England. The last 20 years have been absurd for New England sports fans, especially thanks to the Patriots, and our sports dollar, attention, and passion have been spread around a little bit more.
   4. pikepredator Posted: July 14, 2021 at 03:22 PM (#6029060)
3 Questions for the Second Half;

1. Can Eduardo Rodriguez turn it around?

I am hopeful. He's been good for long stretches in the past so I expect he'll figure this out.

2. What will Chris Sale be able to contribute?

I'm trying to temper my enthusiasm on this . . . two innings tomorrow, I'm on pins and needles wondering how it will go. mid-August at best to return to the rotation gives him 4-6 weeks to get used to pitching before the playoffs. But the quality? This has been a damned long layoff.

3. How will Chaim Bloom balance the desire to win now with the desire to build a consistent winner?

No way he goes all DD. I hope he keeps playing this season with house money and prioritizes making sure the team will be better/more solid in 22-23. We all know the team this year has been both lucky and good. It would be great not to have so much luck involved. Another strong bat so JD can age gracefully and another SP to eat a bunch of innings would go along way. Counting on Sale and Eovaldi to provide a lot of innings in '22 doesn't make me feel comfortable at all.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: July 14, 2021 at 03:49 PM (#6029065)
I have question. Every story I've read seems to assume that Sale will have a rehab assignment of the maximum length (30 days). Why is that the assumption? Is that the standard when TommyJohners return mid-season? It seems like a long time.
   6. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 14, 2021 at 04:00 PM (#6029071)
It seems to me that the expectation of the TJ guys is they take time to come back and even when they come back the stuff is there but the command/control is not. I'm hesitant to be too optimistic about him in 2021. He'll pitch, but how much and how well seems questionable. I think the 30 days builds into that, it takes time to get going again. Think of it this way, after a fully healthy season then 4-5 months off guys take about a month of pitching to get ready for Opening Day every March. The idea of taking that long after missing twelve full months after a major surgery doesn't seem unreasonable to me.
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: July 14, 2021 at 07:17 PM (#6029119)
Duran is being called up. No word on corresponding move(s).
   8. John DiFool2 Posted: July 14, 2021 at 08:42 PM (#6029123)
Yay.
   9. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 08:04 AM (#6029147)
On Duran being called up:

I have to assume he wouldn't be coming up unless the plan was to play him most of the time. I mean, bringing him up forces a move on the 40-man roster. But while Boston doesn't have an individual outfielder who stands out, their collective outfield WAA is 9th in baseball - it is actually one of the primary strengths of the team, because the defense is very good, and none of them have been a complete sinkhole, in terms of overall value.

So if Duran is going to take a lot of playing time away from one or more of the outfielders, he has to actually perform at a pretty high level for it to be a net upgrade for the team at this time. Nobody thought an outfield that included Renfroe and Hernandez would be good enough to keep a strong young prospect like Duran from playing in 2021, but then again - nobody thought the team would have the best record in the league 91 games into the season, either. So here we are.

Duran doesn't appear to have a big platoon split, though his stats against lefties are a small sample size because, well, lefties. I trust Bloom - he obviously has something in mind here (perhaps an additional transaction coming up involving a 1B upgrade?), and that could loosen up the 40-man roster issue by trading a few of the guys he acquired last year for mid-level prospects. They are on the 40-man, but probably don't have a long-term future on the team, and would eligible for the Rule V draft this winter anyway - guys like Potts, Roberto Hernandez, and Rosario.
   10. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 08:13 AM (#6029148)
The timing is the only surprising thing here. Pedroia, Bogaerts, Benintendi, Devers all made their debuts on the west coast. I'm curious to see how Duran gets used. I assume Cora and Bloom have had more than a few discussions about this because they definitely aren't calling him up to sit around.
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: July 15, 2021 at 08:39 AM (#6029152)
I have to assume he wouldn't be coming up unless the plan was to play him most of the time.
they definitely aren't calling him up to sit around.
You guys are generally right, but I think the guarantee of his playing time might be over-stated. They are in the middle of a pennant race and you just want to have the best guys on the team. And he's 24 so it's not like he'd be missing out on precious development time. I grant that he hasn't had a lot of games in the high minors, but just because everyone lost a year I don't think you just wait a full extra year to promote people. They could realistically only start him 1-2 times a week and in between use him liberally as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.

Unless there is some injury we don't know about, I wouldn't be surprised if they simply DFA Marwin Gonzalez (edit: more likely he gets a case of the Fenway Flu). Another option would be do send down Dalbec. Either way, they could play Hernandez at 1B and Duran in the OF.
   12. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 08:50 AM (#6029154)
They could realistically only start him 1-2 times a week and in between use him liberally as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.


I don't think they'd call him up now for that kind of role. I'd expect him to get 4 starts a week at a minimum. I think that's pretty easy, day off for each of the outfielders and one for Arroyo (with Kike playing second) and there it is.

Has there been meaningful improvement in his defense? The reports early on were defense is the weak part of his game.
   13. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 10:26 AM (#6029161)
Also, Houck has been called up for tonight's game against the Yankees. Seems that one of the relievers might be sent down or DFA'ed, and Marwin might be going on the IL.

Still waiting for the shoe to drop on upgrading first base.
   14. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 10:47 AM (#6029162)
edit: more likely he gets a case of the Fenway Flu


It's not even a Fenway Flu, he tweaked a hammy right before the break so I suspect he legitimately needs some time off.
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: July 15, 2021 at 10:52 AM (#6029164)
seems that one of the relievers might be sent down or DFA'ed
probably Workman.
   16. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 10:57 AM (#6029167)
Report I read is that Andriese or Brice is the likely choice. I imagine Brice would get the ax. Brice has been terrible with the FIP to match. Andriese has history with Bloom and Workman has a 3.21 ERA and while the peripherals don't match I think you keep him around.
   17. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 11:08 AM (#6029168)
Good point by Chris Hatfield of SoxProspects on Twitter. Sox next 15 games are Blue Jays and Yankees. That is two lineups loaded with RHB. Calling up Houck makes a ton of sense.
   18. Nasty Nate Posted: July 15, 2021 at 11:16 AM (#6029169)
Report I read is that Andriese or Brice is the likely choice. I imagine Brice would get the ax. Brice has been terrible with the FIP to match. Andriese has history with Bloom and Workman has a 3.21 ERA and while the peripherals don't match I think you keep him around.
Andriese is already on the IL.
   19. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 11:18 AM (#6029170)
Don't buy any green bananas Austin.
   20. Nasty Nate Posted: July 15, 2021 at 04:18 PM (#6029182)
Duran is starting in CF tonight, batting 7th. Hernandez is playing 2B. (according to Pete Abraham)
   21. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 04:20 PM (#6029184)
If they play. At the moment they've cleared the field and the Yankees have a couple of positive COVID cases. No idea who it is or what exactly that will mean.

Arroyo is the odd man out for today.
   22. Nasty Nate Posted: July 15, 2021 at 04:23 PM (#6029186)
At the moment they've cleared the field and the Yankees have a couple of positive COVID cases.
Yankee fans can be confident Aaron Judge is OK. There has been no evidence of human-to-frankenstein transmission.
   23. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 15, 2021 at 07:24 PM (#6029204)
Yankee fans can be confident Aaron Judge is OK. There has been no evidence of human-to-frankenstein transmission.


Pedantry alert suggests that Frankenstein would get Covid as he was a human doctor, however his monster(and Judge doppelganger) would definitely be immune.
   24. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 15, 2021 at 08:41 PM (#6029214)
Well, the monster may be immune but Judge apparently is not.
   25. Rough Carrigan Posted: July 16, 2021 at 03:55 PM (#6029314)
Would Primo Carnera have gotten Covid?
   26. Bad Fish Posted: July 16, 2021 at 04:03 PM (#6029315)
At this point it's ridiculous they are cancelling games because a team has players getting COVID. Those who've been vaccinated have minimal chance of contagion and no chance of serious illness, and anyone who wants the shot will have had it.

Why should the Red Sox have to share the Yankee's risk due to COVID positive players? If a team has players that test positive for COVID that team should have to play with those players who have received the vaccine, with those who haven't been vaccinated rejoining the team after appropriate testing/quarantine protocols.
   27. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 16, 2021 at 07:14 PM (#6029333)
Why should the Red Sox have to share the Yankee's risk due to COVID positive players? If a team has players that test positive for COVID that team should have to play with those players who have received the vaccine, with those who haven't been vaccinated rejoining the team after appropriate testing/quarantine protocols.
The Yankees seem to be having an unusual number of ‘breakthrough cases’ - people getting Covid despite being fully vaccinated, both in the current outbreak and the one that affected coaches & staff in May. The Yankees have long been reported to have exceeded the 85% vaccination threshold, while some teams, including the Red Sox, are apparently still short of that mark. It would seem unfair to penalize a team for being unlucky despite following the best practices. In any event, MLB policy has been clear, both last season and this - it will postpone games to do testing & contact tracing, and resume play, with doubleheaders as needed, once the spread has been contained. Perhaps they could do something different - severe cases are rare (but not unknown) among professional athletes, especially those vaccinated - but MLB & the Players Union don’t seem interested in anything that enhances risk or appears punitive.
   28. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 16, 2021 at 10:34 PM (#6029350)
#27, so you're suggesting NY has done nothing wrong and the Sox have done something wrong? Colour me surprised that you would take this view!

BTW, that's 7 in a row.
   29. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 16, 2021 at 10:46 PM (#6029352)
1. Can Eduardo Rodriguez turn it around?


Looked good today!

I think might also be a significant help is Tanner Houck.


3 tidy innings today to get a 9 out save.
   30. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 16, 2021 at 11:27 PM (#6029357)
#27, so you're suggesting NY has done nothing wrong and the Sox have done something wrong? Colour me surprised that you would take this view!
Where did I suggest anyone had done anything wrong? I merely responded to #26, which seemed to be premised on the mistaken belief that the Yankee players testing positive were unvaccinated.
   31. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 16, 2021 at 11:32 PM (#6029359)
zizzzzz, YC takes the bait!

I'm just messing with you mate. It seems every time you post in the Sox chatter it's to gloat when the Sox are doing something wrong.
Don't get me wrong though, I like the opposing view, it's always entertaining.
   32. Bad Fish Posted: July 29, 2021 at 02:11 PM (#6031250)
Reports were that 3 of the 4 Phillies who contracted COVID were previously vaccinated, if this is true along with the anecdotal information about several of the infected Yankees having been vaccinated, I'm beginning to think we are not getting straight info about the Delta variant's breakthrough potential.

   33. Jay Seaver Posted: July 29, 2021 at 03:19 PM (#6031263)
I believe there were also reports that the Yankees (at least) chose to use the J&J vaccine even though it's notably less effective (66% vs. 95%) in part because that would be the fastest route to getting the team above 85%. It doesn't hurt to create incentives beyond "not getting sick and maybe suffering long-term or dying", but can does create issues like this.
   34. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 29, 2021 at 06:51 PM (#6031330)
Did I miss it or are the Red Sox not appearing to make any trades this deadline? NY is going bananas. Not sure how much it'll really help them as they are pretty far back, but still....
   35. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 29, 2021 at 07:05 PM (#6031334)
Ah, I see they are having a close look at Berrios. A cheap, healthy, 3 WAR SP pitcher; that's going to cost a few prospects....

I really thought they'd address the 1B situation. Needless to say Bloom knows a lot more then I do, so in Bloom we trust.
   36. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 30, 2021 at 08:24 AM (#6031537)
Curious to see how they are going to use Schwarber when he's back. The expectation is they are going to ask him to play first base but asking a guy to learn a new position in season is tough. I'm not quite sure how the fit works.

However, this is where Kiké becomes important. His versatility (and to a lesser extent Verdugo's) means the Sox can bounce around with days off and work guys in that way.
   37. Darren Posted: July 30, 2021 at 12:28 PM (#6031596)
Look, I was hoping the Red Sox would pick up a guy from Washington whose name began with Sch, so I can't be upset with this deal.

More seriously, I can't believe they want him for 1B, but they seem willing to try people at new positions, so... ???? I'm hoping they still have another move ahead of them for either a 1B or a SP. Also, no mention of the money yet so it looks like the Sox are willing to go over the tax threshold, which is nice.

   38. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 30, 2021 at 01:02 PM (#6031626)
I wonder how much Franchy not being overmatched in version 2.0 plays into their thinking. He's 4 for 12 since his return (5K/2BB) and raked in Worcester. I suspect the answer to my question how much it plays into their thinking is "not at all" but it's worth considering I think. They saw him in Worcester, I didn't, so maybe what they saw made them optimistic.
   39. villageidiom Posted: July 30, 2021 at 01:53 PM (#6031638)
Anyone can thrive in Worcester. If you spend more than an hour in Worcester you'll find a way to do whatever it takes to get out of Worcester.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Randy Jones
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

Dance With Who Brung Ya'
(27 - 4:36pm, Aug 03)
Last: SandyRiver

Gathering Crowds
(39 - 1:53pm, Jul 30)
Last: villageidiom

Time To Start Thinking About This Stuff
(35 - 2:00pm, Jul 29)
Last: villageidiom

Feeling a Draft
(36 - 12:49pm, Jul 23)
Last: Darren

And Breathe
(116 - 2:03pm, Jul 10)
Last: Bad Fish

Finally Lining Up the Minors
(56 - 1:26pm, Jul 02)
Last: Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer

Getting There
(17 - 10:51pm, Jun 15)
Last: villageidiom

Questions Being Answered
(40 - 10:40pm, Jun 04)
Last: Bad Fish

The Return
(3 - 3:23pm, May 27)
Last: Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer

Tap the Brakes
(28 - 1:05pm, May 27)
Last: Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer

Over and Under
(23 - 9:11pm, May 17)
Last: villageidiom

Quiet Production
(15 - 8:58am, May 12)
Last: jacksone (AKA It's OK...)

Home for the Holiday
(29 - 2:28pm, May 05)
Last: pikepredator

Just How We Drew It Up
(38 - 1:19pm, Apr 28)
Last: pikepredator

Random Thoughts On Opening Day Eve
(30 - 2:28pm, Apr 08)
Last: Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.4289 seconds
58 querie(s) executed