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

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Tap the Brakes

Even by Sox fandom standards the emotional mood swings around this team have been pretty impressive.  In 31 games it’s gone from;

“good lord they suck, Bloom is terrible” (0-3)
“they are back! Cora told us we should have listened!” (9-0)
“look at all the problems, they gotta this straightened out before it falls apart.” (9-10)

Inhale.

Exhale.

OK.

They have played 31 games and at 18-13 and since the big winning streak have looked like the .500 team most observers pegged them as.  They have beaten good teams then lost to bad teams.  They have featured successes and failures up and down the roster, some which were predictable and some which were not.  The fundamental question the Sox need to ask themselves right now is what they are.  If they want to go for it in 2021 they have some decisions that need to be made.  Is that the right thing to do? I don’t think you can just say yes or no, you need to consider the circumstances.  I don’t want to see them giving away guys that could provide production for several years for 4 months of “slightly better.”  While there has been a bit of a 2013 vibe around this team with stuff just kind of working a big reason that 2013 worked out so well is the Sox sacrificed virtually nothing in the way of assets until late July.  If the Sox are in first place on July 27th, yeah let’s talk.  But for now I think they will be better off seeing what they got.  Below are a few thoughts on players and positions that I think deserve attention and consideration;

Franchy Cordero -  Send him down.  Look this isn’t even worth beating around the bush, he’s been horrendous.  He has options and while I think there is still a chance that he will put it together I think both he and the Sox would benefit from him doing so in Worcester.  Right now he does not seem to be having any benefit playing in Boston and the increasing criticism can’t be a lot of fun.  He needs time.  Call up Michael Chavis and give Franchy a chance to find his way (and of course off the bench Franchy scalds a double today).

Bobby Dalbec - For me Dalbec is the polar opposite of Franchy.  While he has struggled in terms of production the underlying data seems positive.  There is some amazing stuff to be had at Baseball Savant and one thing they provide is xWOBA which is based on the type of ball that is hit using launch angle and exit velocity.  While both Dalbec and Cordero have grim production numbers Dalbec is hitting the ball like a player with much better data;

Dalbec - WOBA - .237 - XWOBA - .340
Cordero - WOBA - .182 - XWOBA - .164

To give this some perspective Dalbec’s .340 XWOBA would have been equivalent in 2019 with players like JT Realmuto, Alex Verdugo and Whit Merrifield.  Defensively he’s been a little hit or miss showing some growing pains at a relatively new to him position but also showing particular acumen on digging balls out of the dirt.

The Bullpen - I think it is fair to say this is a work in progress.  Part of the problem is that Alex Cora has to figure out who he can rely on and who he can’t.  I think for the most part this year his decision making process has been good for the most part.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I don’t recall too many situations where I thought to myself “my god did Cora bump his head?”  The frustrating thing with this bullpen right now is the bases on balls.  Adam Ottavino (10 in 12IP), Darwinzon Hernandez (10 in 10.1), Josh Taylor (5 in 10.2) and Austin Brice (5 in 8) are just giving away too many base runners.  With that said my bigger frustrating is the roster composition.  Why on earth are the Sox carrying a zillion relievers?  In the last ten games the innings pitched by Sox’ relievers;

Andriese - 2.2
Barnes - 6.0
Brice - 2.1
Hernandez - 3.1
Ottavino - 4.2
Sawamura - 3.1
Taylor 4.0
Valdez 1.1
Whitlock 4.0

Now, the Sox won’t always get the strong starting pitching they’ve been getting recently but it is nonsense that they are carrying nine pitchers (and it looks worse with Kike Hernandez leaving today’s game in the first inning and Christian Arroyo already unavailable). I can understand why the Sox want to hang onto Brice but send Valdez to Worcester and bolster the position player roster.

The Lineup - Ideally the Sox would stop leading off Kike Hernandez but there are not a ton of options.  When he’s healthy and in the lineup Christian Arroyo looks like the most logical choice.  A bit of an off the wall choice might be Marwin Gonzalez.  Gonzalez’ versatility has been a benefit defensively and he walks enough that you might gamble on him bumping the average up enough to be beneficial.

Nothing this team has done in the first month of the season has made me think they are appreciably more or less than a .500 team.  I don’t think there is a need to overreact to what has happened. As much as I’m enjoying that they are the First Place Boston Red Sox I do not expect that to last and I’d rather see them position themselves for The Next Great Red Sox team rather than make an incremental move.  Decisions made in 2014 and 2015 not to deal players like Mookie, Benny, X and Swihart worked sometimes and didn’t work others but it positioned the Sox for a heck of a run.  Obviously if they can substantively improve the team they should do it but do not overreact on a few good weeks or as will come at some point, a few bad weeks.

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 06, 2021 at 01:03 PM | 28 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. Bad Fish Posted: May 06, 2021 at 03:14 PM (#6017355)
My own personal talisman for the team is non-streaky, non-lucky performance where they win or tie most of the series they play, putting up solid 3-2 records for every 5 they play. So far they have played 10 series and only lost 2 of them, they are 1 game under the .600 win rate, and although there has been a little streakiness, they don't feel like their wins have built on top of luck.

All that said, half their line up is a black hole. Franchy is objectively the worse position hitter in baseball, and while Dalbec profiles better than his performance, profiles don't end up on 2nd, I hope his luck turns around before he loses his mojo. Renfroe and Gonzales are both poor hitters and bench depth is smoke and mirrors. Four of the top ten players by WAR are pitchers, 2 of them relief, that doesn't sound good.

IDK, maybe they can get carried to the post season by good starts with JD, X, Verdugo and Devers mashing.
   2. villageidiom Posted: May 06, 2021 at 03:55 PM (#6017377)
although there has been a little streakiness, they don't feel like their wins have built on top of luck.
The schedule has been somewhat in their favor so far. Otherwise I agree.
   3. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 07, 2021 at 11:22 AM (#6017549)
Franchy is objectively the worse position hitter in baseball,


I wonder if last night's 3-5 game saved him for at least a few more days. It more than doubled his OPS+.
   4. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 07, 2021 at 11:29 AM (#6017553)
Yeah at the very least he gets a little more rope. Hopefully that gets him going some.
   5. Bad Fish Posted: May 09, 2021 at 01:02 PM (#6017918)
Since Jose wrote this they have won 3 games and again have the best record in baseball. Franchy, Renfroe, Gonzales and Vazquez have all raised their OPS either modestly or significantly. Probably the boundary layer between me watching a lot of baseball this summer or having lot of free time in the evening - oddly, I don't anticipate either outcome altering my beer consumption - is going to run through these guys along with the Dalbec,s, Chavis's, Kike's, and Arroyo's of the world.
   6. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 13, 2021 at 08:41 AM (#6018671)
I'm attending the First Place Red Sox' game tonight. Does anyone know if I can complete the health survey before going or do I have to access the QR code at the game?

EDIT: Never mind, got my answer on Twitter (I think from a Therapeudian though).
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: May 13, 2021 at 10:09 AM (#6018678)
Was the answer Yes or No?

Kind of a bummer that Ohtani is not starting (as a pitcher) at Fenway this weekend.
   8. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 13, 2021 at 10:25 AM (#6018679)
The answer was yes. Go to the Ballpark app, click the "Red Sox" icon at the bottom and you get a link to the survey that you complete. Once your done your tickets turn green so the ushers know you've done it already.
   9. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 14, 2021 at 10:49 AM (#6018830)
Great night at the ballgame last night. My mother was very happy to be there (it was her Mother's Day gift). One thing I've noticed in the two games I've gone to is that it seems the crowds are a bit more rambunctious but in a good way. The atmosphere is a bit reminiscent of those early 1998 starts with Pedro with the Dominican flags. People are just having a great time. Singing along to all the music, dancing, having fun.
   10. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 14, 2021 at 02:22 PM (#6018846)
This is a .500 team that started pretty hot, and will slowly fall back to .500, like a leaf falling from a tree. They started 0-3, then won 10 of their next 11, and have been a .500 team (13-12 since their 10-4 start) since then.

Verdugo, Xander, and Devers are all basically continuing to do what we hope they will do - be young, core players part of the next championship-quality Red Sox squad.

Vazquez and Arroyo are both fine at what they do - please stay healthy and keep doing it!

J.D. is not a long-term guy, at this point, but is hitting so well he helps keep the team at or above .500 as an elite bat.

Which is good, because most of the "fill in the gaps until the young guys are ready" have been pretty crappy - Hernandez, Renfroe, Gonzalez.

That leaves the guys who are probably not part of the long-term plan, but are young enough that we should find out - that is a lot of what 2021 is all about. Can Dalbec play? What about Chavis? Arroyo is sort of like this, too. Cordero is a higher-ceiling, lower-floor lottery ticket version of this. These four guys are all 25 or 26, so they aren't really young - but if any of them end up being useful pieces for a championship-quality roster, 2021 is the year to find out, before it really starts mattering. Unfortunately, it is not clear any of these four will end up being useful when the team gets good again, IMO.

As for the pitching, the best thing you can say is that the starting pitching has been consistently good enough that if the bats are working, they will win more than they lose. The starters have been very very healthy early on - five guys have made all but two starts (Houck has two starts), and they all have ERA+ above 100. The only two of the five that would seem to have a long-term future on the team as a starter are Pivetta, who has been probably the second-best pitching story of the season after Whitlock, and ERod, who has been solid. If the team is sort of bumping along at .500 later this summer, the other three veteran starters (Richards, Eovaldi, and Perez) could make attractive trade deadline targets for teams trying to get to the World Series this year. I mean, the way we got ERod was by trading a few months of Andrew Miller when we weren't going to win the WS that year, anyway; Pivetta came from a deadline deal, too - they are now arguably our two best starters, and are both young enough to be around when we get really good again. That's what I'm looking for in 2021.

As for the bullpen, it is Barnes, Whitlock, and a bunch of guys who make me increasingly uneasy when they enter the game. A few of them (Hernandez and Bizardo) are young enough to have a chance to be part of the next great team; the rest are whatever. If any of them can be good enough to trade in late July, then let's do it.

All in all, I feel like 2021 is going about as well as anybody could have reasonably expected, and I don't just mean the record (that goes without saying!). It is the fact that the young guns in the lineup are healthy and doing their thing, JD's bat is covering up for a lot of other weaknesses in the lineup, the veteran starting pitching is healthy and above average, and we are identifying a few young pitchers we can build with. And they are fun to watch. I'm happy!



   11. Darren Posted: May 14, 2021 at 02:50 PM (#6018850)
This is a .500 team that started pretty hot, and will slowly fall back to .500, like a leaf falling from a tree. They started 0-3, then won 10 of their next 11, and have been a .500 team (13-12 since their 10-4 start) since then.


That sounds a lot like a .590 team. :)

I like the rest of what you say, generally. I do think it would be hard to trade off anyone of significance if the team is at or above .500 at the deadline. Because of their hot start, it's going to be hard to give up on them. And that may be the right way to go at that point.

They may even want to take a look at adding some help if they're still in contention in early July. Their likely weakspots--OF and 1B on offense--are likely to have at least a few available players. Picking up a few months of Anthony Rizzo would be nice addition, for example.

I do also wonder what the future holds for us at catcher. They'll probably pick up Vazquez's option next year, but after that he'll be 32. I don't expect him to be much better than a backup/fringe starter by then.



   12. Darren Posted: May 14, 2021 at 04:31 PM (#6018868)
Why do we have to have a guy with a terrible OBP leading off? Why is that a thing?
   13. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 14, 2021 at 04:51 PM (#6018874)
Cora has said he doesn't want to mess with the 2-5 guys given the way they are going so it's a matter of finding someone for that role. There may be a bit of an unspoken hope/plan that in the second half it will be Duran.
   14. pikepredator Posted: May 15, 2021 at 09:43 AM (#6018921)
The atmosphere is a bit reminiscent of those early 1998 starts with Pedro with the Dominican flags. People are just having a great time. Singing along to all the music, dancing, having fun.


I'm glad to hear it. I hope that excitement keeps building as parks get filled with more and more people. There is a lot of pent-up "let's celebrate!!" energy in lots of people in lots of places in lots of ways. I've been seeing live music for decades but the concerts I go to this summer and fall are going to feel special in a whole new way, and I'm sure the crowd energy is going to reflect that.

It's really exciting. It's a fun time to be a fan of a young team that is overachieving a bit. I hope it lasts.
   15. Mike Webber Posted: May 15, 2021 at 11:34 AM (#6018926)
I wanted to chime in that I really enjoyed Ellis Burks on the TV broadcast with Eck this week. Because he was new and fresh there was a lot of "Did you ever hit for the cycle? Was there a pitcher you really struggled against?" which won't play over the long haul. Those were fun. Ellis also had some excellent insights too about things like how to play the wall and how Dave Henderson took him out as rookie to learn how to read it.
   16. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 15, 2021 at 11:45 AM (#6018928)
Yeah, Burks has been surprisingly good.

So confession time. I didn't like Ellis during his initial stint with the Sox. That was largely because I was a punk ass 18-19 year old and he didn't quite live up to billing with the Sox so I decided he was a bum. Regularly heckled him at games I went too, once he turned around and I screamed at him to pay attention to the game. Not my finest hour. By all accounts one of the truly good guys in the game and that has come through on the broadcasts. I'm happy for him.

tl;dr teenagers suck
   17. Jay Seaver Posted: May 15, 2021 at 01:25 PM (#6018941)
It almost felt like someone took Burks aside after his first game and basically said "you've got to speak up more, because Eck won't stop once he gets going"; he seemed much more willing to jump in after that first game. He has been a fun addition; you can tell he's spent time as a hitting coach from how he'll break things down at the plate, and he seems to have the same sort of enthusiasm watching today's young players that Eck does. We're really lucky to have guys who aren't all about talking about how their heyday is the best.

He's got that Joe Morgan tendency to talk about "being consistent", though, which I suspect is something drilled into players who have to get so good at something that they can do it in a quarter of a second without thinking, but which doesn't tell a viewer as much. Plus, he applied it to Franchy Cordero, and it's not like "bad" isn't a way to be consistent.
   18. Bad Fish Posted: May 16, 2021 at 11:48 AM (#6019025)
I'll play the optimistic contrarian to SBPT's pessimism (about the prognostication of the season, not the post 2021 future). As of this morning they again have the best record in baseball and are 1 game over a .600 winning percentage, are the only team in baseball that is 9 games over .500, have only been swept in a series once, have swept 3 series, are 7-3-3 in their series and have not had a losing streak exceeding 3 games, yet.

Some of the secondary bats have awakened, the core bats have mostly been consistent and productive, and starting pitching has remained excellent.

The precaution is that they had done this on top of what will probably end up being the softest part of their schedule, the next two months seem to be predominately against teams with winning records or who were considered playoff teams at the onset of the season. I still think this team is exceptionally thin and vulnerable to injuries. All that said, they would really have to be pretty mediocre - but not quite sucking - to fall back .500.

As an aside, does anyone else take a look at the old timers who are rotated through the baseball reference home page. I know the game was much, much different, but it's still boggling what some of those guys, especially pitchers, did. Today there was a HOF'er I've never heard of, Amos Rusie - he accumulated 246 wins in basically 9 years, won 30 games 4 times and other years of 28 and 29 wins, only won the most games in a year once, big strikeout guy tossing 300 in three different years, 400 innings 5 times.

   19. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 16, 2021 at 09:31 PM (#6019062)
Every time I go to BBRef I try to figure out which guys I recognize. The stat differences are so dramatic. Can you imagine what Rusie would have said about a team hitting 300 homers in a season?

There's never a good loss but if you are going to lose a game today is the one to lose. You've won three in a row, you won the series and your closer who has basically been untouchable got beaten by arguably the two best players in baseball.
   20. Darren Posted: May 17, 2021 at 11:14 AM (#6019105)
Every time I go to BBRef I try to figure out which guys I recognize.


I think we're pretty similar ages, so this may sound familiar to you. Before mouse over each picture, I try to guess who they are. I feel like I'm doing well if I get most of the ones in color and any of the black and white ones.

Edit: Today I was 4/9 on the color photos, 0-3 on B&W.

There's never a good loss but if you are going to lose a game today is the one to lose. You've won three in a row, you won the series and your closer who has basically been untouchable got beaten by arguably the two best players in baseball.


Couldn't agree more. You're going to blow a couple of leads, and there's no shame in blowing them to those guys.

Cora has said he doesn't want to mess with the 2-5 guys given the way they are going so it's a matter of finding someone for that role. There may be a bit of an unspoken hope/plan that in the second half it will be Duran.


I just don't get why he started with them 2-5, rather than 1-4. I am sure they have a reason, probably a good one, but I don't get it.
   21. Bad Fish Posted: May 17, 2021 at 11:45 AM (#6019107)
That single by Trout fell in the only 10 square foot patch of fair grass in the ball park that a soft pop-up could land and still be a hit.
   22. The Mighty Quintana Posted: May 17, 2021 at 02:36 PM (#6019175)
Geez, Ohtani. It's like pitching to Dave Parker in the late-70's...easier to just walk him.
   23. villageidiom Posted: May 17, 2021 at 09:04 PM (#6019288)
Couldn't agree more. You're going to blow a couple of leads, and there's no shame in blowing them to those guys.
Some StatCast numbers on Trout and Ohtani in the 9th yesterday... Here's the expected batting average on their hits, based on launch angle and exit velocity:

.110 Trout single
.160 Ohtani HR

Given independence of events, there was a 98% chance one of those would've been the 3rd out. Ohtani's HR would have been an ordinary flyout had it been anywhere to right other than just down the RF line, and Trout's single would have been an out had it been 10 feet in any direction from where it landed.

For reference, Kurt Suzuki's groundout to start the inning had a .250 xBA, and Renfroe's flyout to left to end the 8th had a .610 xBA. Like, routine outs had a better chance of being hits than those hits had of being hits.

I like that that's what it would take for them to lose. I just don't want it to happen like that very often.
   24. villageidiom Posted: May 17, 2021 at 09:05 PM (#6019289)
Oh, and it's been a while since I said it, so... If they go .500 the rest of the way they will end with 85 wins.
   25. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 17, 2021 at 10:28 PM (#6019318)
I'll play the optimistic contrarian to SBPT's pessimism (about the prognostication of the season, not the post 2021 future).


To be fair, I would not describe my position as pessimistic about the 2021 season (although it is less optimistic than many others here...): If you told me a team would basically strip the team down as much as possible after the 2019 season, including trading their franchise player, in the name of dumping salary, all while having one of the five worst farm systems in the game...and then play .400 ball and end the 2020 season with the 4th-worst record in baseball...and then sign nobody of real consequence in the off-season, hoping to improve the depth of the farm system and major-league roster without making long-term financial commitments...and that the 2021 team would be able to end the season with a top-15 farm system and win 80 games, with a healthy Sale coming back in 2022...that's a pretty strong trajectory upward!

This is how I look at it: The 2020 Red Sox were 12-27 after losing the first game of a double header in early September. The four pitchers for Boston in that game? Zack Godley, Jeffrey Springs, Marcus Walden, and Robert Stock. It was amazing that the same team that had been truly dominant in 2018 could have fallen this far so quickly...and with COVID, the 60-game season, the whole Roenicke thing...it was about as disinvested in the Red Sox as I have been in my lifetime. It was awful.

Now, less than nine months later, the idea that none of those guys are on the roster, and that this team could genuinely win half their games, while radically improving their depth and minor-league system, and have payroll flexibility to make some moves for 2022...that's pretty amazing. I hope they win 85+ games (I don't think they will, but whatever), but this has already been a successful season in so many ways. Count me in on the Chaim Bloom Fan Club!
   26. pikepredator Posted: May 27, 2021 at 12:45 PM (#6021112)
That split with the Braves was solid. After failing to capitalize in the beginning of game 1 and then falling behind early in game 2 I had that feeling in my stomach but boy did they come back strong. Now we get an off day to rest the bullpen (maybe the Phils can beat up on the Marlins a bit in the meantime and soften them up), and then we'll see if Perez can keep his hot hand rolling. Is 6 innings too much to ask? I've never been a big quality start fan but I'd be fine with that.

Franchy gets sent down. No surprise there. I don't expect him to yo-yo as much as Chavis might . . . Franchy may be down there for a while.
   27. Nasty Nate Posted: May 27, 2021 at 01:01 PM (#6021116)
I was at the game last night (or the first 6 innings at least). The comeback was great, and Devers is awesome.

After a couple of those Braves hits to right I couldn't help but mutter: "Mookie would have had that..."
   28. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 27, 2021 at 01:05 PM (#6021118)
Yeah, I think Franchy needs to figure it out. His minor league track record is that he can hit but he can't stay on the field. I wonder if he's been pressing after the trade. It would not be unreasonable. He seems like a good guy and a better outfielder than I expected (which is probably more about my expectations than anything else).

Unrelated: There is a "coaching staff" section listed on teams' BBRef pages now with the manager listed. Has anyone else noticed that? It's below the full roster and above the fielding stats. Right now it has just the manager.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

And Breathe
(2 - 4:12pm, Jun 17)
Last: pikepredator

Finally Lining Up the Minors
(53 - 4:59pm, Jun 16)
Last: Darren

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

Feeling a Draft
(10 - 11:20am, Jun 12)
Last: Bad Fish

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

I Declare That Not A Good Start
(27 - 1:12pm, Apr 08)
Last: Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer

A Week Without Me
(35 - 7:20am, Apr 06)
Last: dave h

The Roster of Who The Hell Knows
(16 - 1:58pm, Apr 02)
Last: Jay Seaver

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.4346 seconds
61 querie(s) executed