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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Shrug

There hasn’t been much to add in a new thread lately.  The discussion is rolling as the Sox have tried their best to give us plenty to gripe about.  To say the last week of baseball hasn’t been ideal is hard to argue.  The Sox got swept in a frustrating series in the Bronx and have split so far with Texas.  I think SBPT has laid out a lot of good reasons to reel in our emotions about the recent play by the Sox that is not the nature of fandom.  I’ve been as frustrated as anyone even while nodding aggressively with much of what he has had to say.

That said when I laid out a path to 92 in that thread this week has not gone that far off the rails.  I suggested the Sox would go 1-2 in New York (0-3) then 2-1 against Texas and a win on Monday would get them there.  It’s unfair to say Monday is a must win but it is what it is.  A win tomorrow gets them moving forward.  But they need to play better.

For me the big issue is Saturday’s game.  That was a real kick in the teeth.  Losing is fine, they aren’t going to win out (though how cool would that be, I’d even take 35-2).  The way they lost though with five errors, bad starting pitching, that’s the blueprint that had most observers pinning this team around .500 when the season started.  The series in New York was actually about as encouraging as getting swept can be.  The pitching was good (generally) and has been for a few weeks now and they got people on base they just couldn’t get them across.  If they can get 3 quality starts out of every turn through the rotation they should be expected to win more than they lose.  But time is short.

So for now the message for the 2021 Red Sox is simple, play better if you want to make the playoffs.  The future continues to look good though.  The acquisition of Kyle Schwarber took some time to get going but he’s been very good since arriving and at the same time Bobby Dalbec has been hot hitting .276/.373/.5876 over the last four weeks.  The most encouraging aspect of that has been his 20:6 K:BB rate which isn’t great but it’s not bad either.  For all the hubbub of the Sox not getting Anthony Rizzo the production at first base has been good since the deadline.

A few random notes:

- The Sox got a lot of heat for their draft strategy in 2020.  So far Bloom has rolled a 7 on that one with Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan tearing the cover off the baseball.  Add in Marcelo Mayer and a few others and the Sox system suddenly looks very good.

- Just your friendly reminder that 125 games into the season, the Boston Red Sox are STILL in a playoff spot.  They are tied with Oakland for the second Wild Card.  How much do you think ESPN or MLBN would LOVE to have a Sox-Yankees winner take all game to air?

- If you have a subscription to The Athletic I highly recommend the article about Tanner Houck they wrote this weekend.  It’s a fascinating look at the way the Sox are using the roster rules to keep someone who has been fundamentally in the rotation for several weeks on a minor league roster (and importantly to Houck making minor league money) for 26 out of 43 days.

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 22, 2021 at 07:07 PM | 158 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John DiFool2 Posted: August 22, 2021 at 10:01 PM (#6035656)
The main long-term worry going forward (as in not just this year but for the next few) has to be the defense. A .656 DER is utterly abysmal, and few pitching staffs would be able to work around that. Yeah, this is the best era in the history of the game to get away with a crappy defense, but it still cannot be considered an asset by any means. [It was even worse in 2020, .647] Is there any hope for improvement on the horizon? Note it does little good to let say Xander go, losing the bat while gaining the glove.
   2. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 23, 2021 at 10:20 AM (#6035733)
Yeah the defense has been rough all year. The changes to the outfield alignment with Kiké moving to second base have really been bad. As good as Schwarber has been and as much as I approved of the deal if he's not playing first base that really becomes a square peg/round hole situation. The reality is that the Sox have a weak infield and good outfield in a perfect alignment (Verdugo-Hernandez-Renfroe) but the machinations to put Duran and Martinez out there regularly with Hernandez not playing well at second base really is a big change.

To put a positive spin on this I think this is an area where the Sox might have an easy way to take another step forward in 2022. I've talked previously about this year reminding me of 2006 and let's look back at 2006/2007;

2006: DER 9th, Runs Allowed 11th (out of 14)
2007: DER 1st, Runs Allowed 1st (out of 14)

Without doing a deep dive on next season while this season is still going (and the Sox are still in a playoff spot) I think there are ways to improve the defense while not losing anything offensively.
   3. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 23, 2021 at 10:26 AM (#6035734)
Just a quick and dirty, BABIP against;

thru July 25 (the Yankee series) - .326
since July 26 - .353
   4. villageidiom Posted: August 23, 2021 at 10:40 AM (#6035735)
Thanks for the reminder on The Athletic. T-Mobile Tuesday rewards last week - which expire today - included a free 6-month subscription to The Athletic. I signed up, read the Houck article, and put a reminder on my calendar to cancel the subscription 5.5 months from now.

The roster moves in July and August feel a lot like Dan Duquette deals circa 2000, kind of too cute by half. The team is getting a bonus player on the roster in the form of Tanner Houck, Designated Doubleheader 27th Man... But all that does (regarding performance of the 2021 team) is allow them to keep their 27th best player on a 26-man roster. Just please tell me Steve Ontiveros is not walking through that door.
   5. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 23, 2021 at 10:51 AM (#6035738)
No Ontiveros but the news I have on Rico Brogna will shock you!
   6. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 23, 2021 at 11:33 AM (#6035748)
the Sox system suddenly looks very good.


Does it? Bleacher Report had the Sox at 21 after the '21 draft. Obviously just one opinion, and they didn't have either Yorke or Jordan in their Sox top 10, so who knows, but it's hard to see the minors as a strength for the Sox after only adding to it via the draft.
   7. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 23, 2021 at 11:55 AM (#6035758)
Does it? Bleacher Report had the Sox at 21 after the '21 draft. Obviously just one opinion, and they didn't have either Yorke or Jordan in their Sox top 10, so who knows, but it's hard to see the minors as a strength for the Sox after only adding to it via the draft.


It does. Baseball America bumped them from 20th at year end to 9th in their recently released midseason rankings. The Sox have gotten excellent performances virtually throughout the top of their prospect list and with Casas (19), Duran (21) and Mayer (31) have three top 50 prospects. You also mention Yorke and Jordan and I don't think enough can be said about those guys. Yorke was a fairly scorned pick, a lot of people thought he was a reach and the Sox were going cheap. They used that money to sign Jordan and they have both been great.
   8. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 23, 2021 at 12:01 PM (#6035761)
If you're putting together a lineup of the farm system you'd have this;

1B - Casas
2B - Yorke
3B - Jordan
SS - Mayer
LF - Jimenez
CF - Duran
RF - Nick Decker
C - Ronaldo Hernandez
RHP - Houck
LHP - Groome

I think eveyone of the infielders, Duran, Jimenez and Houck all have legitimate shots at being impact players. Some will miss but that's a lot of talent there. My gut feeling is Duran is probably a bit overrated by most (including me) largely because I don't know if his glove can handle centerfield. But I think there is a lot of reason to be excited about that group.
   9. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 23, 2021 at 02:31 PM (#6035797)
#7 -

Great news, always nice when there are potential contributors in the minors. Does Groome have an updated timeline for the majors? Is he a potential for next year in the 7-8th man up spot start or two when someone is injured/overworked/unavailable?
   10. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 23, 2021 at 02:58 PM (#6035802)
Does Groome have an updated timeline for the majors? Is he a potential for next year in the 7-8th man up spot start or two when someone is injured/overworked/unavailable?


Sox Prospects has him listed as "late 2023." He has been healthy this year but not great. After his first few starts he's been good (3.69 ERA since his first three starts) and the fact that he's healthy is a good sign. He's on the 40 man so I expect the Sox might at least nudge him to Portland for a bit of a look the next couple of weeks.
   11. Darren Posted: August 23, 2021 at 03:06 PM (#6035804)
With the defense being such a problem, I will reiterate my preference for adding a SS and shifting Bogaerts to 3B and Devers to 1B. I'm sure neither of those guys will like that but if you want a good infield defense, you have to make some changes.
   12. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 23, 2021 at 03:09 PM (#6035805)
I highly recommend the article about Tanner Houck they wrote this weekend. It’s a fascinating look at the way the Sox are using the roster rules to keep someone who has been fundamentally in the rotation for several weeks on a minor league roster (and importantly to Houck making minor league money) for 26 out of 43 days.
I suppose the ‘creativity’ of that strategy is worth noting, but I would think a player would long remember the lengths the organization went to limit service time and his making even the minimum Major League salary. Might not matter, but sometimes winning the spreadsheet may not be worth the long term fallout.
   13. karlmagnus Posted: August 23, 2021 at 03:23 PM (#6035808)
I don't often agree with Yankee Clapper, but I do here. The difference between being paid $100,000 and being paid $500,000 is where the lifestyle changes really pinch, and Hauck if he's human will resent every steak dinner he has to forego. Likely to make a huge difference in his long-term relationship with the team, which $1 million on a $10 million salary or a $100 million contract would not.
   14. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 23, 2021 at 03:46 PM (#6035815)
Isn't John Henry broke Karl? He needs to save every penny he can.

Seriously though, I'm sure Houck is annoyed (rightly so) and I'm equally sure that if and when the time comes if the Sox offer is more than the offers of other teams they will keep him.
   15. villageidiom Posted: August 23, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#6035883)
I'm sure Houck is annoyed (rightly so) and I'm equally sure that if and when the time comes if the Sox offer is more than the offers of other teams they will keep him.
This. Well, the latter part.

I mean, for most of this season Houck was only as high on the depth chart as he was because Sale was injured, and wasn't higher than that because everyone else on the MLB roster was healthy and productive enough. It's not like he was fuming in the minors because they were denying him what was rightfully his, or something like that. He was on the injured list for a month!
   16. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 23, 2021 at 08:18 PM (#6035911)
Looks like Travis Shaw has gained some weight. Nice welcome back to the team walk off for him.
   17. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 23, 2021 at 10:08 PM (#6035925)
Early returns on my hypothetical path to 92;

1-2 @NY 0-3
2-1 vs. Tex 2-1
2-1 vs. Minn
2-1 @Cleve
1-3 @TB
2-1 vs. Cleve
2-1 vs. TB
1-2 @CWS
1-2 @Sea
2-1 vs. Balt.
1-1 vs. NYM
2-1 vs. NYY
2-1 @ Balt.
2-1 @ Wash.
   18. Darren Posted: August 24, 2021 at 01:37 PM (#6036016)
I was pretty disappointed that a lot of the discourse on Twitter regarding Houck was about how clever the Red Sox were being and how dumb it was for anyone to worry about sending Houck down, because they could bring him back quickly! It's within the rules but it's not cool. 26 days at minor league pay instead of Major League pay is like $75,000, not to mention per diems, benefits, etc. That's a lot to a guy in his position. And that's just the money. It must be really hard to be yanked around like this and not feel a little slighted, at least.
   19. Darren Posted: August 24, 2021 at 01:42 PM (#6036017)
This is just a theory, so bear with me: If the Yankees never lose again, the Red Sox will not catch them.
   20. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 24, 2021 at 03:45 PM (#6036037)
1) Travis Shaw has gained a lot of weight.
2) Yesterday's walk-off win was not a "must win" the way people usually mean it...but if Boston had lost to Texas, after that start by Eovaldi...well, that would have been the low point of the season, probably.
3) In terms of the prospects, Bloom has done a nice job of quickly addressing the lack of depth in the system. Since the Betts trade, the following prospects/young players have been acquired:
Verdugo, Whitlock, and Pivetta (none were really prospects)
Downs (currently #4 on SoxProspects list
Seabold (9)
Winckowski (14)
Wong (19)
Ronaldo Hernandez (21)
Rosario (33)
Potts (38)
German (49)
Gambrell (50)
Valdez (51)

The chances are that only the first three names on that list have any real chance of helping the major-league team, but it quickly and cheaply helped the team fill holes in the organization. Catcher has been a really bad depth chart in the system, for example, but Wong and Hernandez gave legit options at AAA and AA for the team - guys who actually have a chance to develop, compete, and maybe provide a cheap backup option with positional flexibility (Wong) or home run power (Hernandez).

Getting elite prospects is a different thing, and the team lacked that, too. Teams aren't going to trade top 100 guys at the deadline very often, and the Betts trade basically was their best chance to ditch a lot of salary (Betts and Price) and get a very good young player, a top 100 prospect, and a second-tier catching prospect. The draft, and the development of players already in the system, are the only ways to get elite prospects, and I'd say we have two truly elite prospects (Casas and Mayer), followed by two guys who could be top 100 next year (Bello and Yorke...man, I love Yorke), two guys who are basically graduated (Duran and Houck), and then three guys that I'm not sure how to feel. Downs probably got rushed to AAA this season, and I hope it doesn't hurt his development. Gilberto Jimenez has progressed a lot this year, and the team doesn't seem to be in a rush to promote him. And Connor Seabold has been pitching really, really well in AAA, and strikes me as a guy they want to put in the mix for a rotation spot in 2022 (particularly if ERod doesn't come back in 2022). Mayer fell in our lap, and that is one of the best things to happen in this better-than-expected season. It's the most excited I've been abput the minor-league system in five or six years.
   21. Darren Posted: August 24, 2021 at 03:55 PM (#6036043)
1) Travis Shaw has gained a lot of weight.


Watched it a few times just to be sure, but yes, he's put on some pounds.
   22. villageidiom Posted: August 24, 2021 at 04:23 PM (#6036056)
*You* try going to Milwaukee and not gaining weight.
   23. Bad Fish Posted: August 24, 2021 at 06:58 PM (#6036095)
who has been fundamentally in the rotation for several weeks on a minor league roster (and importantly to Houck making minor league money) for 26 out of 43 days.

With the tanking of the mid-range free agent market, esp for guys over 30, the big CBA fight will be over team control and control compensation. The first change I would like to see is that anyone rostered on the 26 man makes the MLB minimum, which should probably end being something like $1M.

I'd also like to see voluntary payroll floors that reduce owner payouts if you are both below the floor and not minimally competitive, but some owners would never agree to this, even if it would make baseball more healthy.
   24. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 25, 2021 at 08:12 AM (#6036181)
Sooooo how about that bullpen?

The guy I wouldn't mind seeing get a look a bit more out there is Richards. Small sample sizes both last year and this but he's looked good out there in those appearances and his stuff feels like it will play up a bit. We're closing in on \"#### it Bobby Dalbec was a good college pitcher" territory though.
   25. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 25, 2021 at 09:19 AM (#6036195)
To Jose's point: For about three weeks, I've been advocating for the following:

Rotation: Sale/Eovaldi/Pivetta/ERod/Seabold
Piggyback role: Houck and Whitlock (each pitches 2-3 times a week, 2-3 innings per appearance
Richards: Long man when the game is largely decided, either big lead or big deficit
Everybody else: Mix-and-match it, hold your breath

Basically, there are five weeks to go.

When the team has a narrow lead after the starter is done after 5-6 innings, I'd like to see Houck/Whitlock coming in, and getting the team through most of the rest of the game.
When the game is a blowout lead, I'd like to see the team give Richards a crack at throwing 3-4 innings.
When the game is a blowout loss, tell Perez to take one for the team.
Use the rest of the bullpen as needed.

Watching Robles try to close out the game last night was surreal. He has no idea where the ball is going when he throws it; he basically just throws it as hard as he can, once in a while throwing a slider to keep the hitter honest, I guess. I get in these debates with other Red Sox fans about how Bloom sucks because we didn't get Rizzo ("trade Casas - prospects suck!"), and then I see the following:

- Get blown out at home 10-1 by Texas, one of the worst teams in baseball
- Blow a lead against Texas, only to win on a walk off grand slam by a first baseman we did acquire near the deadline...Travis Shaw (?!)
- Score a ton of runs off of a lousy Minnesota team, then watch the lead go away, only to be saved by deadline acquisition...Hansel Robles (?!). Also, the 1B acquisition (Shaw) starts at 1B, HR and a walk in four PAs, but also has an error...and the bat Bloom did get at the deadline (Schwarber) gets on base two more times last night.

How would somebody watch these last three games and be like, "The 2021 Red Sox should have gone all in on this season"? And yet, the team is 6-1 during this 9-game stretch out of 12 where they are at home against the worst teams in the league, and got swept in the Yankee road series in the middle of it, and is two games ahead for the final wild card with five weeks to go. At this point, the team is a cacophony of mixed signals and trendlines, having won so frequently in the first 100 games of the season that it may be enough to get them over the finish line, and into the playoffs.

What an odd, fun, interesting, surprising season. We are truly playing with house money as a fan base at this point. If we hadn't won four WS in the last 18 years, I might not be so appreciative for the little joys of this season, but the benefits of Breaking The Curse continue to accrue - my mental health is actually a little bit better because I don't stress out so much about every game the way I did before 2004. Enjoying it for what it is, while holding the team to a high standard over time, is a good way to live as a Red Sox fan.

   26. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 25, 2021 at 10:25 AM (#6036218)
How would somebody watch these last three games and be like, "The 2021 Red Sox should have gone all in on this season"? And yet, the team is 6-1 during this 9-game stretch out of 12 where they are at home against the worst teams in the league, and got swept in the Yankee road series in the middle of it, and is two games ahead for the final wild card with five weeks to go. At this point, the team is a cacophony of mixed signals and trendlines, having won so frequently in the first 100 games of the season that it may be enough to get them over the finish line, and into the playoffs.


My issue with this is that much like the "blow it up" comments you hear in bad seasons is no one ever seems to have a good handle on what it means. I think it's fair to say that Bloom should have done more at the deadline but was unable to. Would you have traded Casas AND Duran AND a couple of other pieces for 2 months of Scherzer? How about Casas AND Duran for Berrios? (FWIW I'd do that, I love Berrios and you get him next year). What prospects would you give on a Rizzo deal? Joey Gallo?

I do think it's fair to be critical of Bloom for his deadline moves or lack thereof. He's the GM* and it's a results-oriented business. But it's not like it was a disaster. I think the Sox are well positioned to move forward and are doing that while being in position to make noise in 2021. They didn't pull a Mariners and give away their best reliever.

* forever GM, don't care about title creep
   27. villageidiom Posted: August 25, 2021 at 12:10 PM (#6036248)
You mean to tell me Houck was pulled before completing 5 innings? And then the bullpen had to cover 4+? And despite that, the first reliever who came in was removed after throwing one pitch? I'm shocked.
   28. Vailsoxfan Posted: August 25, 2021 at 02:45 PM (#6036275)
You would think a guy who was starting a week ago might be entrusted to hold a 6 run lead for 3 innings or so. I liked Coras thinking. Perez can give up 3 4 runs and get a 4 inning save. We are probably going to score more.

At some point a guy has to pitch.
   29. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 26, 2021 at 07:26 AM (#6036462)
Hansel Robles is not the answer.
   30. Darren Posted: August 26, 2021 at 09:35 AM (#6036476)
But he's so hot right now!
   31. Textbook Editor Posted: August 26, 2021 at 09:42 AM (#6036479)
If Schwarber can be healthy (I know, big if), I do wonder if he's worth taking a flier on for 2022 (maybe even on a 2-year deal). I realize he doesn't give you much in the OF but if he had an offseason to work on 1B, he could cover at LF, DH, and 1B, and probably for not insane $.

It's not like we have a whole heck of a lot of onerous long-term deals holding us back, and we do have a need, I think, for LF/DH/1B cover...
   32. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 26, 2021 at 09:59 AM (#6036480)
Schwarber's got an $11.5M mutual option for next year, with a $3.5M buyout. I can't see why the Sox wouldn't go for that option.
   33. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 26, 2021 at 10:02 AM (#6036481)
Would Schwahbah go for it though? If I'm him with the season he's having I'd get myself out on the market. I agree with TE I think he'd be a nice fit for next year. ESPECIALLY if he can play first base. Schwarbs at first in a holding pattern for Casas with the potential to play left if necessary (Casas makes the jump and/or Duran doesn't). Probably too much to hope for that he can still catch though.
   34. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 26, 2021 at 10:24 AM (#6036483)
Deadline fun! Since the deadline, here are some performances:

Schwarber: 37 PAs, .379/.524/.586
Rizzo: 61 PAs, .200/.311/.380
Gallo: 104 PAs, .143/.308/.345

Also, I occasionally feel compelled to note that JD Martinez is having the ultimate "falling leaf" season. That's when a player (usually a veteran with a good reputation, but who is on the back side of their career) has an amazing first month or two, and then slowly, steadily declines back to what they pretty much are, but it happens so gradually, and the reputation is so good, that nobody really notices until the end of the year. That is JD Martinez, who awful in 2020, and after a super hot April, has been pretty "eh" the rest of the year...and is getting worse:

Martinez since May 2nd (92 games): 396 PAs, 14 HRs, 94/32 K/BB, .262/.321/.460

He offers zero defensive value, and makes a lot of money, and is in the middle of the lineup every night,so if he's not going to be a damned good hitter, it's a bad situation pretty quickly. I would much rather have Schwarber for the next 2-3 years than JD Martinez. Anyway, we have him through 2022 (there's no way he's opting out of his contract this off-season!), and he seems like a cerebral guy, a student of hitting - so I'm hoping he figures something out and reverts back towards 2019 Martinez...but I'm not optimistic.
   35. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 26, 2021 at 10:40 AM (#6036488)
Deadline fun! Since the deadline, here are some performances:

Schwarber: 37 PAs, .379/.524/.586
Rizzo: 61 PAs, .200/.311/.380
Gallo: 104 PAs, .143/.308/.345


One more: 60 PAs, .302/.383/.623 That of course is Bobby Dalbec
   36. Darren Posted: August 26, 2021 at 10:51 AM (#6036494)
Two more:
Robles -- 10.1 IP, 7.84 ERA
Davis -- 11 IP, 3.27 ERA (1.62 FIP!)
   37. Darren Posted: August 26, 2021 at 10:57 AM (#6036496)
Pipeline has the Sox as the #12 system now. I believe BA had them at 10. So whether you agree with this strategy or not, it appears that Bloom has quickly rebuilt the farm.

Speaking of the farm, Duran got sent down there. That's kind of a bummer.
   38. Textbook Editor Posted: August 26, 2021 at 11:16 AM (#6036500)
That Barnes extension is looking questionable at the moment. There's nothing wrong with a $9 million setup guy for a year or two, of course... John Henry should still be able to pay the electric bill.

If Cott's is correct, they only have $119 mil in obligations for 2022 right now and a mere $51 mil for 2023, so there's a whole lot of room for moves (and, I'd argue, for backing up the truck and dumping piles of cash on Devers and Bogaerts for extensions). I do wonder what the long-term strategy is. Obviously, if you start having a killer farm system you can have a lot of options for big moves every single year.

I do wonder if the Red Sox might ever go down a road where they offer a really premiere player a 2/$100 contract or something along those lines--high AAV but short years, allowing them to hit the market again quickly. It's been talked about for years but no one's ever taken the plunge; the Red Sox in 2023 might be well-situated to try such a strategy.

A one-game WC playoff with the Yankees would be a fun way to get into the playoffs. Not so much fun if we lose, of course...
   39. Darren Posted: August 26, 2021 at 11:23 AM (#6036502)
Would Schwahbah go for it though? If I'm him with the season he's having I'd get myself out on the market.


Totally agree with Jose here (except for the use fo Schwahbah :). Schwarber will be 29, coming off his best offensive season, and in a pretty weak OF market. I doubt he opts for $8.5 mil for one year--this is his best chance to land a largish long term deal. Worst case, he probably gets something very close to that $8.5 mil on the open market.
   40. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 26, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6036503)
except for the use fo Schwahbah :)


Oh we are going to fight.

The only way I can see SCHWAHBAH not opting out is if he reads the tea leaves and is fearful that staying in contract is the best way to get paid given the potential for a lockout next spring.
   41. Darren Posted: August 26, 2021 at 11:34 AM (#6036504)
Looking back at the Pivetta trade, I feel like I'd make that deal even if my team were in contention at that point.
   42. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 26, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6036537)

Looking back at the Pivetta trade, I feel like I'd make that deal even if my team were in contention at that point.


Barnes and Ottavino for two legit starting pitcher options? Hell yes.
   43. The Mighty Quintana Posted: August 26, 2021 at 02:59 PM (#6036553)
Too early to DFA Hansel? Maybe, but please don't get fooled again. He is not a closer....ample evidence of that.

As far as Schwarber, I like him more in LF in Fenway, maybe slide Verdugo over there away from Fenway, with another CF in road games. I still feel Hernandez needs to be our everyday 2B, with Duran that 4th OF.
   44. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 26, 2021 at 03:42 PM (#6036560)
I don’t see Schwarber taking a 1-year deal for relatively low money without testing the free agency waters. He’s not getting any younger, this is his best chance for a multi-year payday. He’s worth the risk of a longer commitment, IMHO, although somewhat blocked by Martinez with Boston. If MLB adopts the universal DH for next season, he could be in high demand.
   45. villageidiom Posted: August 26, 2021 at 09:07 PM (#6036608)
Speaking of the farm, Duran got sent down there. That's kind of a bummer.
Looks like they forgot to tell him. He's in CF at Fenway right now.
   46. Textbook Editor Posted: August 26, 2021 at 11:15 PM (#6036637)
This Sale fellow seems like someone we can build around the next 2-3 years.
   47. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 27, 2021 at 08:18 AM (#6036652)
Apparently Renfroe went on the bereavement list so they recalled Duran.
   48. Darren Posted: August 27, 2021 at 09:58 AM (#6036674)
Jose mentioned this a while back but I am now officially sick of position players pitching. Teams are carrying 8-9 pitchers for Pete's sake. It's even worse now that everyone is throwing the big looping floater that makes this look like slow-pitch softball.

It's to the point where I want the batters to do everything they can to crush these guys. Bunt, steal bases, whatever.
   49. Darren Posted: August 27, 2021 at 10:14 AM (#6036677)
Bobby Dalbec Homers: 24.5 - The first base job is Dalbec’s and he has looked great in Fort Myers. Having said that he still strikes out a lot and the Sox have options (Marwin Gonzalez especially) if he struggles.


I can't believe this is actually in play. 9 HR in the team's last 33 games and he's there!
   50. Darren Posted: August 27, 2021 at 10:14 AM (#6036678)
If they play .600 the rest of the way, 93 wins!
   51. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 27, 2021 at 10:19 AM (#6036679)
Schwarber/Verdugo/Martinez LF
Verdugo/Hernandez/Duran CF
Renfroe/Verdugo/Duran RF
Dalbec/Schwarber 1B
Hernandez/Arroyo 2B
X/Arroyo/Hernandez SS
Devers/Dalbec 3B
Martinez/Schwarber DH

10 guys, 8 spots. Done. And pretty decent actually if Dalbec has made a legit adjustment and can get his OPS north of .850.
   52. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 27, 2021 at 10:36 AM (#6036682)
Update: Job done versus Minnesota. Cleveland is good enough and we've been bad enough on the road that this weekend is a tough one. The good news is that with Oakland and the Yankees playing each other there is a limit to the damage that can be done.
1-2 @NY 0-3
2-1 vs. Tex 2-1
2-1 vs. Minn 2-1
2-1 @Cleve
1-3 @TB
2-1 vs. Cleve
2-1 vs. TB
1-2 @CWS
1-2 @Sea
2-1 vs. Balt.
1-1 vs. NYM
2-1 vs. NYY
2-1 @ Balt.
2-1 @ Wash.
   53. villageidiom Posted: August 27, 2021 at 11:34 AM (#6036694)
I can't believe this is actually in play. 9 HR in the team's last 33 games and he's there!
He's figuring things out just when a potential replacement has been acquired. It's like Kevin Millar all over again.

His season is taking pretty much the opposite shape of what I'd predicted. I figured he'd mash early in the season, then pitchers would figure him out and he'd struggle the rest of the way. Seems more like he struggled from the start and has finally caught on to an approach that is working for him now.
   54. pikepredator Posted: August 27, 2021 at 03:57 PM (#6036762)
The recent slide helped to temper my slowly growing "we're gonna win the division!!" feelings and got me right back into "might be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I'm enjoying the ride" mode that I was in for most of the season. I don't want to let expectations get in the way of enjoyment!

   55. Darren Posted: August 27, 2021 at 05:49 PM (#6036790)
[quotebHe's figuring things out just when a potential replacement has been acquired. It's like Kevin Millar all over again.

Ha ha ha. So true.

Sadly, he's still below replacement level for the season. Hard to believe.

   56. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 28, 2021 at 10:47 AM (#6036855)
What's with the Garrett Richards thing going on? Since leaving the rotation, he's done this:

5 GP, 10 IP, 7 H, 12 Ks, 3 BB, 0.90 ERA, .189/.250/.350

I checked his career splits, starting vs relieving. They are extremely similar, and there's no evidence from his career that he dramatically increases his strikeouts, or has trouble coming in part way through a game, etc.

If you had told me that the REd Sox would:

Go 0-for-15 in the top five slots in the batting order, and they'd win the game, I'd have been surprised.
If you told me they won a game where they protected a one-run lead with Richards in the 8th, and Ottavino in the 9th, I'd be even more surprised.

Also, it appears Cora is going to largely go with a model of Schwarber at 1B, with Shaw coming in after Schwarber's likely last PA of each game to play defense. What is nice about Shaw is that he gives you a backup for 3B, as well. Should I take away from Dalbec starting at 3B last night that Cora really wants to find ways to keep Dalbec's bat in the lineup while he's hot? (I can't believe I wrote that sentence.)
   57. The Mighty Quintana Posted: August 28, 2021 at 11:41 AM (#6036864)
Kike tests positive for COVID-19 and is placed on IL, but he's vaccinated so hopefully will be back soon. Arroyo also out as a close contact, unsure on his vaccination status. But Arauz picks them up!!
   58. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 28, 2021 at 09:40 PM (#6036910)
That’s two really nice wins right there. I feel like those are games they’d have lost a few weeks ago.

I like Richards in the pen. His stuff seems to play pretty well out there. I kind of wonder if it might be worth trying to line it up so he and Houck can piggy back with Houck going twice through the order and Richards once to act as a combined starter.

So I’m going to say something that I never thought I’d say but…Dan Shaughnessy made a really good point. He asked if the issue with JDM is simply that he’s playing the outfield and can’t dig into video the way he wants. Of course last year he had no video and had the bad year. So I took a quick look at BBRef (stats don’t include today);

As LF: .237/.283/.387 (99PA)
As RF: .143/.200/.143 (15PA)
As DH: .297/.366/.562 (399PA)

Now some of that is April carrying things but if you put the cut off at different dates he’s still superior as a DH compared to playing the field;

Since May 1: .272/.337/.487
Since June 1: .265/.330/.505
Since July 1: .269/.338/.504
Since August 1: .341/.400/.585

Keep him at DH Alex.
   59. John DiFool2 Posted: August 29, 2021 at 10:16 PM (#6037038)
I was at today's game. Not only did the Sox go from leading 4-0 with their starter throwing a no no to losing 5-7, both their manager & one of their fielders screwed up horribly (by not putting in Barnes to keep the platoon advantage-yes I know he has stunk lately; interfering with the go-ahead Cleveland baserunner who was going to be out by 10 feet in any event). Idiots.
   60. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 30, 2021 at 01:24 AM (#6037064)
Yeah, this one stung a bit. As 59 points out, had a real nice 4-0 lead, then even at 5-3, should've put this one away, but just blew it on several fronts.
   61. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:21 AM (#6037107)
The Path to 92 is stuck on 91. Disappointing yesterday but if they keep winning series they are good. Obviously this week is tricky.

1-2 @NY 0-3
2-1 vs. Tex 2-1
2-1 vs. Minn 2-1
2-1 @Cleve 2-1
1-3 @TB
2-1 vs. Cleve
2-1 vs. TB
1-2 @CWS
1-2 @Sea
2-1 vs. Balt.
1-1 vs. NYM
2-1 vs. NYY
2-1 @ Balt.
2-1 @ Wash.
   62. villageidiom Posted: August 30, 2021 at 12:26 PM (#6037126)
This week is incredibly tricky. The bullpen is reportedly spent, and yet:

(1) Nick Pivetta is pitching today and has had difficulty pitching deep into games lately, and
(2) they are planning to do a bullpen game (!!) on Tuesday, even though
(3) their next day off is on September 9.

Like, a lot of that does not add up. Of course, you can count on me to bang the drum that Cora is partly responsible for this state of affairs, by going to the bullpen too early too often. Houck being used as a starter, when he seems incapable of giving them more than 5 IP, is not solving the general problem as much as he's solving the previous problem of Martin Perez only lasting 3 IP in his starts. And Cora can only manage with the players he has. But it seems to me that, when the bullpen is "spent" and at least some of the starters can't pitch deep enough, it's the absolute worst time to plan to have a bullpen game in the middle of 17 consecutive games without a day off. Like, rosters expand the next day, but in 2021 they only expand by two players. Whatever relief the bullpen will get, it's not coming from personnel. It must come from usage.

Did you notice Boston has 9 relievers? NINE. Barnes, Ottavino, Sawamura, Taylor, Whitlock, Robles, Davis, Richards, Perez. And the lot of 'em are spent. That's absurd.

I decided to play around with some numbers, specifically the number of pitches thrown by Boston relievers (excluding position players) per 7-day period. This should give a sense of the workload. Let's start with the 7 days prior to the all-star break. In those 7 days (and 6 games) they threw 378 pitches. There's the baseline level. 378 per 7 calendar days, 54 per day, 63 per game. Now let's jump ahead a couple of weeks to avoid the break.

7 days through 7/25: 371 per 7 days (6 games), 53 per day, 62 per game. About the same.
7 days through 8/01: 367 per 7 days (7 games), 52 per day, 52 per game. Managed the pitches around the doubleheader and day off OK.
7 days through 8/08: 457 per 7 days (7 games), 65 per day, 65 per game. Big jump, once again with a doubleheader mixed in. The next day (8/9) was a day off.
7 days through 8/15: 341 per 7 days (6 games), 49 per day, 57 per game. Much better, and much needed.
7 days through 8/22: 361 per 7 days (5 games), 52 per day, 72 per game. 3 days off, plus a doubleheader. I've ranted on this before.
7 days through 8/29: 492 per 7 days (7 games), 70 per day, 70 per game.

Absent starters simply collapsing, it seems that Cora's approach to bullpen management is to work the relievers harder when they have a day off coming. But now he has a starter (Houck) who can't pitch more than 5, another starter (Sale) who he's protecting, and another starter (Pivetta) who has become unreliable. The tricky thing with the next couple of weeks is Cora needs for everything else to go right. Like, he needs Eovaldi to go 8 and Rodriguez to go 7, and for Pivetta to eat innings, for a reasonable chance at resetting the bullpen. Any one of those things failing, and they're toast.

Last night I was glad they brought Houck out for the 6th, and when he allowed the first couple of baserunners I wanted him to stay in. He needs to learn to pitch through difficulty. Arguably if they had to go to the pen in the 6th they were very likely to lose - although obstruction wasn't the path I would have thought they'd take to get there - given how tired the pen was. So why not give Houck the development opportunity, and let him try to pitch through it? If he doesn't, then they lose but the pen gets a little breather. Still, I understood removing him, given that he could throw another 20 pitches and get nobody else out, exhausting him and maybe setting back his development while doing nothing for the pen (other than reducing the leverage by a lot, which isn't nothing).
   63. villageidiom Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:02 PM (#6037149)
In terms of who I think is available today, from most available (not "available for most innings" but rather "most rested") to least:

Perez - 10 pitches on Saturday, only outing in last 4 days
Barnes - 6 pitches yesterday, only outing in last 3 days
Whitlock - 14 pitches on Saturday, only outing in last 3 days
Sawamura - 23 pitches on Saturday, only outing in last 4 days
Robles - 19 pitches yesterday, only outing in last 4 days
Ottavino - 12 pitches on Saturday, 20 on Friday

Likely not available:

Davis - threw 15 pitches each of the last 2 days
Taylor - threw 10 pitches each of the last 2 days
Richards - assuming they'll save him for the bullpen game on Tuesday

Going back through 7/1 I don't see any instances of a reliever pitching 3 consecutive days. Three consecutive games, sure, but always with a day off in the middle.
   64. Darren Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:15 PM (#6037152)
That interference call was a real bummer. It reminded me a lot of the 2013 World Series. In both cases, the call was correct, I think, though in both it reminded me of how flawed the rule is. The runner is allowed to run pretty much wherever he wants to and it's up to the fielder to get out of the way. That makes it quite possible for a runner to intentionally run into a fielder who is looking to the outfield for the ball (or laying on the ground outside the basepath :).

It all reminds of something a player on the Syracuse men's basketball team did a couple times (don't remember his name). When his team had the ball, he'd run along the baseline and find a player on the other team who was looking away. He would then plow into him and flop and get a blocking foul. It was a pretty funny sight.


   65. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:19 PM (#6037154)
it reminded me of how flawed the rule is. The runner is allowed to run pretty much wherever he wants to and it's up to the fielder to get out of the way. That makes it quite possible for a runner to intentionally run into a fielder who is looking to the outfield for the ball (or laying on the ground outside the basepath :).


It's not that flawed. Simply running into the fielder doesn't mean you are safe. The umpires have to rule that you would have been safe without the contact. For an example see Miguel Tejada just stoping in the middle of the basepath after the interference in 2003's game three.

Now obviously the ump is going to give the beenfit of the doubt to the runner but if a runner goes out of his way to run into the fielder who isn't in a reasonable approximation of the basepath that's not likely to be called.
   66. Darren Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:25 PM (#6037156)

So I’m going to say something that I never thought I’d say but…Dan Shaughnessy made a really good point. He asked if the issue with JDM is simply that he’s playing the outfield and can’t dig into video the way he wants.


Martinez's prior track record is just the opposite though.
2018: 1.151 in LF, 1.102 in RF, and .970 as DH.
2019: .960 in LF, 1.165 in RF, and .884 as DH.



So don't worry, Shaghnessy's record of being wrong remains intact.

   67. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:51 PM (#6037221)
Martin Perez is now on the COVID list. This is important because he doesn't count toward the 40 man while on that IL. Raynel Espinal of Worcester has been scratched from his expected start for the NotPawSox and is expected to be the guy tomorrow night. All of this is from Chris Hatfield of SoxProspects who is right a lot more than he's wrong.

Espinal is apparently a former Yankee farmhand who the Sox picked up this year. 29 years old so let's just hope he goes Devern Hansack on us.

Also answering a question I've had regarding the bullpen Philips Valdez is back on the taxi squad so we will likely see him this week.
   68. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:52 PM (#6037223)
And the Sox have apparently acquired the once good Brad Peacock.
   69. Textbook Editor Posted: August 30, 2021 at 05:12 PM (#6037231)
Pitching c. 2021 is such a war of attrition. It's like you need ~30 half-decent arms just to survive a 162-game season. I'm not saying how the Rays handle things is the right way, but one has to wonder if what they do as far as pitching isn't going to be the blueprint moving forward for more teams than not. (Alternately, of course, I could just as easily see a team going all 1981 Oakland A's one season and catching lightning in a bottle that way.)

Looking way too far ahead... I'm seeing lots of speculation in a WC playoff game it would be Cole vs. Sale but are we sure that would be the case? Or would it be something like Cole vs. Sale (4-5 innings) + Eovaldi (until his arm falls off), with Johnny Wholestaff waiting in the wings. It's going to be interesting to see how they handle a WC game; the Red Sox haven't been in a 1-game playoff game since 1978.
   70. villageidiom Posted: August 30, 2021 at 09:15 PM (#6037301)
Martin Perez is now on the COVID list.
As is Barnes. IOW the two most rested relievers, per my earlier list, are out.
   71. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 30, 2021 at 10:34 PM (#6037317)
Looking way too far ahead... I'm seeing lots of speculation in a WC playoff game it would be Cole vs. Sale but are we sure that would be the case?
Complicating the picture, the Yankees close the season with 3 games at home against the Rays. If the Division is within reach, do they pitch Cole, making him unavailable for the Wildcard Game if they fall short against the Rays? Might only be a hypothetical problem - the Yankees have some work to do to get within 3 games of the Rays, who have played quite well, even during the Yankees recent extended winning streak. Of course the Red Sox could help rein in the Rays, although they appear disinclined to do so.
   72. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 31, 2021 at 09:20 AM (#6037356)
Looking way too far ahead... I'm seeing lots of speculation in a WC playoff game it would be Cole vs. Sale but are we sure that would be the case? Or would it be something like Cole vs. Sale (4-5 innings) + Eovaldi (until his arm falls off), with Johnny Wholestaff waiting in the wings. It's going to be interesting to see how they handle a WC game; the Red Sox haven't been in a 1-game playoff game since 1978.


It's a one game playoff so by definition its Johnny Wholestaff. Assuming everything gets resolved prior to the final series it would be Cole vs. Sale. Assuming no changes to the rotation (extra rest or rain outs, stay on five man schedule rather than five day) then the Sox would line up the final weekend as Sale-Rodriguez-Eovaldi so if they can lock it up in advance of that it's Sale.

But yeah I'd want Sale-Eovaldi ready to go. And of course none of this is set in stone. Oakland is right there and Toronto still scares me. That's a team that has the talent to go on a run though the fact that they haven't done it so far doesn't bode well. I think it's likely that the last weekend has three teams fighting for two spots with all three divisions well wrapped up.

The Sox haven't played a true one gamer since 1978 but of course they've played a bunch of winner take all games and they've done really well;

1999 Game Five vs. Cleveland WON
2003 Game Five vs. Oakland WON
2003 Game Seven vs. New York LOST
2004 Game Seven vs. New York WON
2007 Game Seven vs. Cleveland WON
2008 Game Seven vs. Tampa Bay LOST

You could also argue that 1990 (WON) and 2011 (LOST) kind of meet the criteria.
   73. villageidiom Posted: August 31, 2021 at 10:42 AM (#6037376)
I'm beginning to think Cora is getting it. He is at least trying to stretch the starters. He has almost nothing to show for it - Houck and Pivetta recorded one out between them in the 6th innings of their respective games, while allowing 4 runs - but he's at least trying to get them to go further. And using Espinal for 2 innings last night helped to give everyone else a rest, too, although that was after the game was essentially lost. And, hey, losing on the road saves an inning of pitching! Hurrah! [/sadtrombone]

In terms of who I think is available today, from most available (not "available for most innings" but rather "most rested") to least:

Richards - assuming he's the starter
Valdez - hasn't pitched since Wednesday
Whitlock - 14 pitches on Saturday, only outing in last 4 days
Sawamura - 23 pitches on Saturday, only outing in last 5 days
Ottavino - 12 pitches on Saturday, 20 on Friday
Davis - 15 pitches Sunday, 15 pitches Saturday
Espinal - 36 pitches yesterday, and nothing else since throwing 90 pitches in a start one week ago. Maybe available for 1-2 batters at best.

Likely not available:

Robles - 23 pitches yesterday, 19 pitches the day before
Perez - COVID
Barnes - COVID
Taylor - didn't pitch yesterday, but was deemed a close contact of the COVID crew
   74. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 31, 2021 at 10:52 AM (#6037379)
It sounds like Peacock is the guy who is getting the start from what I read. He's with the team in Tampa. That puts Richards and Valdez in place for long relief and if there is a chance to win it Whitlock, Sawamura and Ottavino.
   75. Darren Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:05 PM (#6037429)
Last game of the year for the Yanks and they can pitch Cole to clinch the division or skip him in case you need him for a Wild Card game. What do you do? Mathematically, I think you have to skip him because if you win anyway, you have Cole lined up to pitch game 1 of the playoffs, fully rested. Psychologically, I'm not sure.

For the Red Sox, it's probably an easier calculation. If you need Sale in the last few games to secure the Wild Card, you use him. If you've clinched, even if you have a shot to win home field, you hold him back.

Sale vs. Cole would be a pretty exciting Wild Card match-up for sure!
   76. villageidiom Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:32 PM (#6037506)
Sawamura is on the COVID list now, too, making him unavailable for tonight. Espinal has already been optioned back to Worcester. And Peacock has indeed been named the starter for tonight.

Let's try that list again...

Valdez - hasn't pitched since Wednesday
Whitlock - 14 pitches on Saturday, only outing in last 4 days
Richards - 4 pitches on Saturday, 9 on Friday
Ottavino - 12 pitches on Saturday, 20 on Friday
Davis - 15 pitches Sunday, 15 pitches Saturday

Likely not available:

Robles - 23 pitches yesterday, 19 pitches the day before
Perez - COVID
Barnes - COVID
Sawamura - COVID
Taylor - didn't pitch yesterday, but was deemed a close contact of the COVID crew
   77. Textbook Editor Posted: August 31, 2021 at 10:53 PM (#6037580)
And now Xander has COVID. JFC. It's all my fault for even bringing up the WC game. I'll just shut up now and stare out the window and wait for Spring.
   78. villageidiom Posted: September 01, 2021 at 06:52 AM (#6037607)
The notion of yesterday's game was never about winning. When your bullpen has been overworked, and the roster depleted, and you're giving a veteran castaway with a 7+ ERA in AAA the start, the game is about survival, not endurance. That's it.

With Bogaerts being removed mid-game due to COVID it's not clear they even did that.
   79. villageidiom Posted: September 01, 2021 at 07:37 AM (#6037613)
And when I say it wasn't about winning, I mean it's not about winning that game. It's still about winning the season, but by giving the regular pitchers a chance to rest. They could have had Sale start yesterday, but they gave him - and the other starters - an extra day of rest. They used exactly zero pitchers who had been on the active roster before this week. They basically gave the core pitching staff an extra day off, with none on the schedule. It resulted in a loss, as it should have been expected to do; but the concept was to reset the pitching staff in order to weather the remaining schedule and have a shot at the playoffs.

Having said all that... While I was joking earlier in the thread, Brad Peacock = Steve Ontiveros, except Ontiveros had the sense to have been retired.
   80. Textbook Editor Posted: September 01, 2021 at 09:29 AM (#6037624)
[stares out window and waits for Spring]
   81. Nasty Nate Posted: September 01, 2021 at 09:47 AM (#6037627)
The sequence of Bogaerts being pulled for what I correctly assumed was COVID results followed by that amateur-hour 3rd inning was painful to watch.
   82. villageidiom Posted: September 01, 2021 at 09:53 AM (#6037630)
The sequence of Bogaerts being pulled for what I correctly assumed was COVID results followed by that amateur-hour 3rd inning was painful to watch.

BB
HBP
sac fly
BB
single/E3
-new pitcher-
WP
single
HBP
flyout
flyout ugly double
K

6 runs on 3 hits. Ugh.

EDIT: The other bright spot was that the Rays actually had to use Kittredge last night. Despite the car fire of a game, and Boston throwing almost no viable pitching at the Rays, Boston had the tying run at the plate in the 9th.
   83. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 01, 2021 at 10:07 AM (#6037637)
The defense on this team has been so bad it's painful to watch. Losing to a good team is fine, losing and playing like #### isn't.

That said, it's September 1 and they are in the playoffs. I'm enjoying what there is to be enjoyed and just accepting that a team that isn't really that good is going to lose from time to time.
   84. Darren Posted: September 01, 2021 at 10:33 AM (#6037646)
I wonder why Seabold was not brought up and used instead of Peacock? I guess you might not want to throw a promising young arm out there in front of such a squad, but then again it does seem like a low pressure way for a guy to make his debut.

Dalbec's defense is amazingly bad. How is it that he was even passable at 3B with the way he 'fields' 1B?
   85. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 01, 2021 at 11:20 AM (#6037664)
I wonder why Seabold was not brought up and used instead of Peacock?


Yeah I don't get not using Seabold. Have at it and see what you got. Why are people like Espinal, Peacock and Gonsalves getting in there but an actual prospect isn't?
   86. villageidiom Posted: September 01, 2021 at 11:55 AM (#6037668)
Seabold pitched on Saturday, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in 4.1 IP.
   87. The Mighty Quintana Posted: September 01, 2021 at 12:39 PM (#6037676)
Hooo Lord...this isn't a major league team right now, it's a travelling virus cluster.
   88. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 01, 2021 at 08:35 PM (#6037854)
It is remarkable that with 28 games to go, the Red Sox are in the playoffs, and are only two games behind the Yankees...who just ended a 13-game winning streak. It is a testament to a few things:

1) The Red Sox may have been playing over their heads for a while - but it was for about 100 games, and it gave them an awful lot of cushion to (so far) absorb other teams getting hot, and the Red Sox struggling, for a quite a while now. I mean, think about it:

The Red Sox have been pretty "eh" for quite a while now - 25-28 over the last two months, while the Yankees went 35-17. That's a 10.5 game gain on Boston in only two months! But the Red Sox went 18-10 in June despite barely outscoring their opponents for the months (141-138), and they were 50-31 at the end of June, so they had some wiggle room.

2) I've seen some people say that the Red Sox's record is based on beating really bad teams, and struggling against good teams. I would note that most teams with winning records do so by beating bad teams regularly, and then holding their own against fellow "good" teams, but whatever. Their record against teams:

over .500: 42-41
under .500: 33-18

I mean, that's the record of a team that is going to win something like 87-90 games, right?

3) For those who complained that Houck needed to be left in to give him a chance of making it through the 3rd time around the batting order, and going deeper into games: I share that desire, but the evidence for 2021 is in, and doing so is not helping the team. After Houck's last start, when Cora gave him a chance (partially out of desperation to get more innings out of starters), Houck collapsed the 3rd time around. For the next 4+ weeks, the team needs to put Houck in the bullpen, tell him he is going to pitch important blocks of 2-3 innings at a time 2-3 times a week for the next month, and tell Seabold (who I know wasn't great over the weekend), that he is going to be the #5 starter for the month of September. What you hope to do is get 5 innings of 3-run ball out of Seabold, then tell Houck that he is pitching 3 innings as a sort of "piggyback", and then deal with the 9th depending on the score of the game. It would give the bullpen a night off, allow Houck to do what he does best right now, and save Whitlock for playing a similar role in other games.

4) Seeing Schwarber every night highlights how the Red Sox really do not have anybody else quite like him on the roster right now. He is a throwback to the 2000s Red Sox - not fast, but gets on base a lot, very patient, works the count, hits bombs - and he always looks like he is about to hit the #### out of the baseball. I'm not saying the team doesn't have some wonderful hitters out there - Bogaerts and Devers are awesome, and guys like Verdugo and Renfroe have been fun to watch - but there's a slow-pitch softball element to Schwarber that is otherwise missing. You don't want five guys exactly like that - you'd have nowhere to play them - but I would love to find a way to keep him for the next three years. He could play 1B in 2022, then when J.D.'s contract ends after next year, you put him at DH most of the time, with Casas probably ready to play 1B every day by 2023.
   89. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 01, 2021 at 08:41 PM (#6037856)
Also: Seeing the bottom third of the lineup tonight:

Duran instead of Kike
Jack Lopez instead of Christian Arroyo
Arauz instead of Bogaerts

is the definition of the price you pay for COVID making its way around the team. This is truly on the most important games left this year - you've got Chris Sale pitching again the best team in the AL, and you're trying to stop the bleeding. You've got to win this game.

And Sale is pitching...OK. Good enough that if the team scores five runs tonight, Boston will probably win (I write this as it is 2-1 Tampa after 4). Hard to score a lot of runs with that bottom third of the lineup.
   90. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 01, 2021 at 10:36 PM (#6037892)
Post-game addendum to #89:

That bottom third of the lineup went 1-for-10 with a walk - but the one single was the big go-ahead hit by Duran, so there's that...

A real key tonight, which sort of gets at the fine line Boston has tried to manage all season? Sale being able to give them that 6th inning tonight. The difference between 5 2-run innings and 6 2-run innings is critical for this team. It allowed Cora to use his two best available relievers, Whitlock and Ottavino, to finish the game. Several times, Cora had Austin Davis warming up, and there's little doubt that Davis was the third-best option available tonight...which is not an inspiring statement. The point is, if Sale goes only five innings, Cora has to go to his third-best option tonight, and right now, that's a real problem.

This is where having Houck in the bullpen from here on in would help a lot. Tomorrow, ERod is pitching. Once again, the team really needs him to give them six good innings. If they had Houck in the bullpen, that would mean he'd be preparing to give Cora 2-3 innings Thursday night, to basically do what Whitlock did tonight. Then, you'd probably have Ottavino available Thursday night for the 9th (he only threw 12 pitches tonight).

This would take you to Friday, where the rest of the bullpen would be very rested, and Eovaldi starting at home. It gives the bullpen a chance to get in a predictable rhythm.
   91. villageidiom Posted: September 02, 2021 at 09:09 AM (#6037948)
For those who complained that Houck needed to be left in to give him a chance of making it through the 3rd time around the batting order, and going deeper into games: I share that desire, but the evidence for 2021 is in, and doing so is not helping the team.
I agree. My beef has been that it's a combination of the starters being incapable and Cora having too quick a hook. For pitchers like Eovaldi, Rodriguez, and (earlier in the year) Pivetta it wasn't so much a question of capability, but every pitcher has bad days and when you choose to lift a starter early one night and again the next night, then the pen is screwed when one of those bad days happen. Cora was extremely slow to adjust, and the more drastic measures of the last week became necessary. (COVID obviously exacerbated the problem.)

Houck has shown consistently he can't go deep into games. That doesn't mean he can't start; but it simply means they have to include that in their bullpen management plans. Knowing Houck will give you 4 IP, maybe 5 IP, means they need to save the bullpen in other games to be able to handle the Houck starts.

-------

Last night's game is what I was talking about in #79. If they could lose on Tuesday but right the ship, then it's worth what they did.
   92. villageidiom Posted: September 02, 2021 at 02:27 PM (#6038002)
Who I think is available today, from most available (not "available for most innings" but rather "most rested") to least:

Richards - hasn't pitched since Saturday
Davis - hasn't pitched since Sunday
Brasier - fresh off the IL; 11 pitches Sunday in a Portland rehab outing
Schreiber - I have no idea; apparently he exists?
Espinal - 36 pitches Monday
Ottavino - 12 pitches yesterday, 12 pitches on Saturday
Whitlock - 24 pitches yesterday, 14 pitches on Saturday
Robles - 23 pitches Monday, 19 pitches Sunday
Valdez - 44 pitches on Tuesday
Gonsalves - 53 pitches on Tuesday

Likely not available:

Perez - COVID
Barnes - COVID
Sawamura - COVID
Taylor - COVID
   93. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 02, 2021 at 02:37 PM (#6038003)
I think there is a reasonable chance that vi has spent more time thinking about the Sox bullpen than Alex Cora.
   94. villageidiom Posted: September 02, 2021 at 03:45 PM (#6038016)
Ha! Probably true. You can thank Scott Sauerbeck for it.

If we go way, way back in the history of this site, during the Grady Little year I got sick of the complaints here every time Little brought Sauerbeck into a tight game. I guessed that Little - presumably guided by the front office - was picking his relievers on any given night based on some basic usage & rest patterns, and frankly he had to use Sauerbeck sometime even if it was to give everyone else a break. To test it out I started providing a daily bullpen forecast of who was rested and who was probably not available, entirely based on how many pitches they'd thrown each of the last 3 days. It turned out each night that Little's bullpen usage very closely followed who I'd noted was rested.

So when I was noting that Cora seems to lean too heavily on his relievers I figured I'd resurrect it. I don't expect Cora to slavishly follow what I'm posting here; I brought it back to see what his options were and whether he should be protecting the pen in general. And, frankly, in a short span of time they seemed to have weathered not just the over-usage but the COVID limitations as well.
   95. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 02, 2021 at 04:44 PM (#6038026)
The hypnotherapy had done a really good job of erasing Sauerbeck from my brain. Thanks a lot.
   96. Darren Posted: September 02, 2021 at 09:07 PM (#6038059)
One thing is for sure: VI is thinking about the bullpen more than Bobby Valentine did. Valentine couldn't remember who was a lefty and who was a righty.
   97. villageidiom Posted: September 02, 2021 at 10:10 PM (#6038070)
Path to 92 is back!
   98. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 02, 2021 at 10:14 PM (#6038072)
Vi stole my thunder!

1-2 @NY 0-3
2-1 vs. Tex 2-1
2-1 vs. Minn 2-1
2-1 @Cleve 2-1
1-3 @TB 2-2
2-1 vs. Cleve
2-1 vs. TB
1-2 @CWS
1-2 @Sea
2-1 vs. Balt.
1-1 vs. NYM
2-1 vs. NYY
2-1 @ Balt.
2-1 @ Wash.
   99. pikepredator Posted: September 03, 2021 at 08:14 AM (#6038089)
Two really strong wins against the Rays despite a depleted roster . . . this team continues to be a lot of fun, especially when they aren't fielding like little leaguers.
   100. villageidiom Posted: September 03, 2021 at 08:17 AM (#6038090)
Honestly, 4-6 on the road against NY, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay is not bad.

Obviously I liked that Cora stuck with Richards for 3 innings last night. Rodriguez having a great start was key, but then using the most rested reliever, who is also capable of throwing multiple innings - and then using him that way - is just what I wanted to see.
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