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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Monday, June 07, 2021

Getting There

They got there in the end.  The Sox wound up arguably their sternest test of the season to date with a 4-3 record during this challenging road trip through Houston and Miami.  Sorry, New York, I get the teams with one World Series this century mixed up sometimes.

Anyway where was I? Oh yeah, an uneven but ultimately successful road trip.  Losing three in a row then taking the next four is not necessarily the ideal way to finish up 4-3 (it can be a lot of fun though) but as noted, they got there in the end. I think this week shows where this team is at rather nicely.  There is still reason for concern with the long term prospects of this pitching staff but as long as the rotation stays healthy there is no reason not to expect them to be effective.  In the seven games they had four Quality Starts and two others (Saturday and Sunday) where the starter allowed just three runs but didn’t get through the sixth.  With that kind of pitching the long losing streaks should be able to be avoided.  I don’t mean to be Debby Downer but I remain unconvinced that this group of five starters will be healthy all year but the longer they are, the better the prospects for the 2021 Boston Red Sox are.

A few observations from a pleasant week;

- Look, you can have your Carlos Correas, your Trevor Storys, your Francisco Lindors, even your Fernando Tatises, I’m quite content to go to battle with the guy that does it day in day out for nearly a decade now.  That is not a knock on any of those other guys who are all great players but day in, day out, year in, year out, Xander Bogaerts is the guy getting it done.

- What do we do with the leadoff spot? Kike Hernandez has not been getting it done, Danny Santana is not the answer and I get why Alex Cora doesn’t want to mess with his 2-3-4-5 combo plate that is working so well in those spots.  At some point the issue is not the batting order itself but the quality of the nine guys in it.  Whether Kike Hernandez is batting first, fifth or ninth he needs to be hitting better than .224/.277/.376.  I pick on Kike because he’s been the guy in the leadoff spot most of the year but the non-middle of the order guys are in general not getting it done well enough.  I remain steadfast that I don’t want the Sox to overreact to the good start and development needs to be the focus of 2021 but at the same time the longer this goes on, the more it is unfair to fans and to the guys on the field not to target a post-season berth.

- Speaking of development one guy I would not mess with is Bobby Dalbec.  He has his struggles to be sure but I think the Sox are better served with him playing semi-regularly in Boston.  My feeling is he is a guy who can hit minor league pitching but needs to regular PA against big leaguers to determine if he can make the necessary adjustments.  Get him the odd day off particularly against tough righties (i.e. Zach Greinke this week) but keep getting him in there.

- Judging by the number of people posting in the thread about the olympic qualifiers it doesn’t seem like too many folks were paying attention.  However the US earned their spot in Tokyo 2020 (which of course will take place in 2021) and the Red Sox prospects on the scene were a big part of that.  Jarren Duran (.368/.400/.526) and Triston Cases (.400/.471/.533) were critical links.  Duran showed good power to all fields especially on his crucial triple to left in the Super Round.  Casas meanwhile showed an especially mature make up only fanning twice in 15 PA and having consistently good at bats.  He was quite literally about six inches away from a big home run in that same game.  I can’t tell you about it here but read the thread and look it up on YouTube because the Triston Casas double against Canada that resulted in a 30 minute video review and formal protest (really, you gotta watch it) was genuinely one of those things I have never seen before.

- Am I correct on the decision by Cora to go with Hirokazu Sawamura for two innings Friday night or should we just take his explanation that he liked the match ups at face value?  I thought it suggested that Cora lacked some confidence in Adam Ottavino in that spot and Sawamura certainly threw great.  Credit to Cora also for riding Josh Taylor the way he has.  Taylor was awful to start the year but since allowing runs in his first three outings he has allowed runs in just two of his twenty appearances since.  Along those lines while Matt Barnes blew the save last night the Sox got the win and as well as he’s thrown it’s hard to argue too much.  Bad outings happen.  And congrats to Philips Valdez on his first big league save last night.  He is a really useful piece in that bullpen.

- Marwin Gonzalez is definitely a more than the sum of his parts guy.  I don’t know how to explain it but I feel a level of confidence when he comes up in a big spot that completely belies his numbers.

Life doesn’t get easier for the local nine with the Yankees in town for a makeup game tonight (oops, there I go again mixing up the one title teams this century, I mean Marlins) then three with the Astros.  Hopefully they can keep playing well.

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 07, 2021 at 09:37 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Darren Posted: June 07, 2021 at 02:14 PM (#6022988)
Look, you can have your Carlos Correas, your Trevor Storys, your Francisco Lindors, even your Fernando Tatises, I’m quite content to go to battle with the guy that does it day in day out for nearly a decade now. That is not a knock on any of those other guys who are all great players but day in, day out, year in, year out, Xander Bogaerts is the guy getting it done.


This comparison is becoming pretty important, pretty quickly. :) Story (29 next year), Seager (28) and Correa (27) are expected to be free agents this offseason. With Xander having an opt out after 2022, it would make sense to try to lock him by then or (yikes!) move on to another option. I'm strongly in favor of another extension for him, something like 6/$180M tacked on to his 2022 1/20. But who knows what the market will bear.

Speaking of development one guy I would not mess with is Bobby Dalbec. He has his struggles to be sure but I think the Sox are better served with him playing semi-regularly in Boston. My feeling is he is a guy who can hit minor league pitching but needs to regular PA against big leaguers to determine if he can make the necessary adjustments.


Has he? In 2019, at age 24, Dalbec hit .257 .301 .478 with a 24% K and .234 .371 .454 at AA with a 25% K rate. I can see the reasoning for sticking with him, but there's also a good argument for him to be sent down.
   2. pikepredator Posted: June 07, 2021 at 02:41 PM (#6022996)
The Olympic qualifiers were happening? I mean yeah, the French Open is on . . . I've been following that but the Olympics were off my radar.

Far more importantly the Sox swept the Yanks without JDM, even though it didn't appear like it was going to happen at times.

13 games over. More than 1/3 of the way through the season. Solid run differential. 90+ wins is firmly on my radar now.

But I'm still just enjoying the ride. No expectations, but way more hope than I had before the season started.

Let's not talk about moving on to another option that isn't Xander, 'kay? I'm kinda over that kind of thing.
   3. villageidiom Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:01 PM (#6023109)
If they play .500 ball the rest of the way, Boston will finish with 88 wins.
   4. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 08, 2021 at 04:10 PM (#6023215)
Why would we want an anti-semitic leadoff man?
   5. villageidiom Posted: June 10, 2021 at 09:56 PM (#6023674)
What do we do with the leadoff spot?
I gotta say, every time I watch Christian Arroyo he's doing something I like.
   6. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 11, 2021 at 08:14 AM (#6023749)
Yeah, I'd ride him until it stops. He's only 26 and as much as he seems to have come out of nowhere he was a first round pick and MLB ranked him as a top 100 prospect for three years in a row. I don't know why TB and Cleveland bailed so quickly on him (San Francisco traded him as part of the Longoria deal so he wasn't dealt for some chump). I wonder if there was an attitude issue or something. Young kid who has always been the best everywhere he's gone suddenly isn't and gets a bit of a chip on his shoulder isn't a new story.
   7. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 11, 2021 at 09:27 AM (#6023753)
1) I think you put Arroyo at 2B and leadoff every day for a while, and see how he does. He is almost certainly a better option than Hernandez, and there is nobody else who really fits the leadoff role.
2) Dalbec can't hit. When he gets a hold of a hanger, it travels a mile, but his strikeouts are pretty stunning (65 Ks in 187 PAs), and actually getting worse. I'm not sure there is anything in the organization currently better than Dalbec to play first most nights - but isn't this one of the easiest positions to get a cheap rental? They don't need an All-Star at first to dramatically improve the position. Simply get a guy who can give you an OPS+ of 100 or better and plays defense.
3) Somebody above wrote that if Boston goes .500 the rest of the way, they finish with 88 wins (and a likely WC playoff spot). If the team continues to keep their five starting pitchers healthy through the season, then I think they will win about 88 games. But that is a big "if".The lack of starting pitcher depth (at least until Houck and Seabold get healthy) threatens the success of this team more than anything. 63 games into the season - with a rotation that includes ERod, Eovaldi, and Richards - and your five main guys start 61 of the 63 thus far? That is incredible compared to what most fans expected. And that fact that four of the five are pitching extremely similarly is ever more surprising: Slightly above average (ERod has the worst ERA, but that is because he has allowed 10 HRs, and none of the other four have allowed more than five.), all pitch between about 5.1 and 5.6 innings per start, ERA+ around 110, all late 20s/early 30s. But if one goes down today, your 6th option is either a piggyback start with Andriese/Whitlock, or Kyle Hart.

All that said: As a Red Sox fan, I am thrilled that this team is competitive, entertaining, and is rebuilding the farm system, not doing any "get mediocre quick" schemes. In Bloom We Trust.
   8. Darren Posted: June 11, 2021 at 11:12 AM (#6023764)
I agree on Arroyo, seems like a decent player at least.

SBPT, I also agree we've had some good in-season luck on starter health. But in addition to Seabold and Houck, we also have Sale getting healthy.

For 1b, there is a guy in the org that would likely be an upgrade: Casas. They almost certainly don't want to promote him yet, but his numbers at AA are great.
   9. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: June 11, 2021 at 11:55 AM (#6023773)
- but isn't this one of the easiest positions to get a cheap rental? They don't need an All-Star at first to dramatically improve the position. Simply get a guy who can give you an OPS+ of 100 or better and plays defense.


You'd think so, but the Mariners just determined Jake Bauers was a better option for them at 1B.
   10. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 11, 2021 at 01:26 PM (#6023785)
#8, I definitely am in on Casas, but two things:

1) He is in AA, so it'd be quite a jump (as you say); and
2) even if they wanted to do that (and 2021 Casas might still help more than anything else they've got), they'd have to add him to the 40-man roster, and they have a pretty serious roster crunch coming up. They've got a lot of these prospects they acquired over the last year or so in trades, like Potts and Rosario from San Diego; Hernandez from Tampa; Winckowski from NYM, etc., and a bunch more who will have to be put on this off-season. Casas doesn't have to be, yet, and I bet they really don't want to do that if they don't have to.

Also, totally agree with you that if Sale can come back by, say, mid-August and give them 5 innings a start for 8 starts, that would solve a lot of potential depth issues. I worry that Richards/Eovaldi/ERod are going to have injury problems at the same time, at some point, and that would bring flashbacks to 2020, when too often I was like, "What is the first name of our pitcher tonight?"
   11. pikepredator Posted: June 11, 2021 at 01:40 PM (#6023789)
Man, last night's game was fun! Nerve-wracking but fun, they "answered" every single Houston score. Great way to end that series, even if we lost the series (and the one before) taking the last game both times is better than getting swept and a microcosm of the way this team just seems to keep pushing.
   12. Bad Fish Posted: June 11, 2021 at 11:07 PM (#6023868)
RS have gone 16-9 for their last 25, Rays are 20-5, having zoomed by the RS and coming back down to earth, but still playing very well, can't shake the RS. I can remember good sections of play from the Sox over the years where they go 7-3 and they can't lose a team, usually the Yankees. I almost get a little down about it. Nice to be on the other side. 14 games over .500, still oscillating around .600.
   13. pikepredator Posted: June 12, 2021 at 02:15 PM (#6023911)
yep Bad Fish this is a very satisfying stretch. Difficult teams, a hot first place team . . . and the Sox are still just 1 game out.

I'm really starting to believe.
   14. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 12, 2021 at 09:10 PM (#6023953)
The fun thing for me is the hope. When they got down 5-1 on Friday I remember thinking they could still get back into it. I didn’t think they’d do it so quickly but it felt like they were there.
   15. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 15, 2021 at 07:56 PM (#6024344)
Alex Speier with an interesting look at the spin rate thing.

In the two turns of the rotation that followed the decision about foreign substances, every Red Sox starter’s four-seam fastball and, if they throw them, slider and/or curveball registered within two percent of their prior season norms, with one exception. Richards, who has featured one of the highest spin rates in the majors throughout his career, has seen his curveball increase from 3,271 RPMs to 3,388, a 3.6 percent jump.

An analyst from another team suggested that Sox starters continued to throw pitches “that move like they have all year. They’re just throwing them in bad spots and they’re getting hit.”

That, at least, is what the pitch data suggests. Is it possible that a substance other than Spider Tack could improve a pitcher’s command without affecting spin rates? Maybe. Anecdotally, generations of pitchers used pine tar in hopes of better control without much thought to the implications for movement. That said, studies have shown that pine tar has been linked to spin rate increases, just less dramatic ones than those produced by modern adhesives.
   16. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 15, 2021 at 08:36 PM (#6024354)
Is it possible that a substance other than Spider Tack could improve a pitcher’s command without affecting spin rates?
Finely ground cicadas mixed with rosin is worth a try. Now’s the time to stock up!
   17. villageidiom Posted: June 15, 2021 at 10:51 PM (#6024402)
That would be a great use for cicadas. I don't even care if it works.

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