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Monday, March 15, 2021

The Ides of Rostering

It’s been nearly two months since we considered the Red Sox roster.  In that time the roster has changed a bit and things are in some ways a bit clearer and in others, less clear (ooh, this is the good stuff).So let’s see where we stand still using the 13/13 position player/pitcher split.

INFIELD
Then: Bobby Dalbec, Kike Hernandez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis
Now: Bobby Dalbec, Kike Herandnez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis, Marwin Gonzalez

Obviously the biggest adjustment here on the face is the acquisition of Marwin Gonzalez.  Chavis seemed to be playing for a spot but the slow start for Franchy Cordero seems to open a spot for him. Of some additional interest is some of the versatility that the Sox have looked to build.  Arroyo is getting a lot of high praise for his performance and with some uncertainty in the outfield (more on that in a moment) the idea of Hernandez playing a fair amount of center and Arroyo getting regular starts at second base is taking greater hold.  The Sox have also bolstered their infield depth by adding Danny Santana to the mix and Jeter Downs has not looked out of place in limited time in Fort Myers.  There is some late breaking news on Santana that he has been hospitalized with some kind of foot infection which hopefully is a minor thing.

Still, I am pleased to see what the Sox have done with the infield.  Adding Gonzalez and Santana are nice little moves and with the existing MLB guys plus Chavis, Santana, Downs and Jonathan Arauz I think the Sox are a bit better equipped to handle injuries. With Hernandez and Gonzalez in the fold this infield depth can help the outfield depth as well.

OUTFIELD
Then: Andrew Benintendi, Alex Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe, JD Martinez, Yairo Munoz
Now: Hunter Renfroe, Alex Verdugo, JD Martinez, Yairo Munoz

So first things first, Benny has indeed jetted and Franchy Cordero is a Red Sox player.  Like last winter’s high profile acquisition Alex Verdugo spring has come and Cordero is still a mystery.  A combination of issues have left him unable to play and while the Sox are hopeful that he will be ready for Opening Day it is looking more and more likely that at least the first week or so of the season will be a Franchy-free zone.  While I would be 100% on board with letting Jarren Duran start the year with the big club if he is deemed ready I can’t see the Sox taking that route.  Duran has yet to play a game at AAA and I think after last year’s weird minor league “season” the Sox will likely be conservative.  Having said that with the minor league season not starting until May 1 having Duran get some big league team and helping fill a Franchy sized hole in the outfield until then might be a way of getting him to hit the ground running.  I have seen some discussion that Renfroe might be a center field option.  One thing I always think about with big guys in the outfield is Wily Mo Pena who always looked more comfortable in center than the corners to me.

CATCHER
Then: Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki
Now: Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki

Nothing really happening here.  Just keep on keepin’ on.

STARTING PITCHING
Then: Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Garrett Richards, Tanner Houck
Now: Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta

All in all I’ve found the work of the starters encouraging.  Of course that is not that surprising.  The Sox have good starting pitchers, the problem is how many starts will these five guys make.  Houck getting lengthened out in Not Pawtucket is a good plan that should pay dividends and Pivetta and Richards have looked good.  Richards has struggled a bit but you can see why hitters struggle with him.  I’m becoming dangerously hopeful about this team, I’m not going to lie.

RELIEF PITCHING
Then: Matt Barnes, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Matt Andriese, Nick Pivetta, Ryan Brasier, Austin Brice, Garrett Whitlock
Now: Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura, Adam Ottavino, Darwinzon Hernandez, Matt Andriese, Austin Brice, Garrett Whitlock, Josh Taylor

Maybe it is just me but when you look at it this way the fairly small additions of Sawamura and Ottavino are pretty substantial.  Suddenly Hernandez is able to be a bit more of the fireman coming in and working multiple innings when needed and blowing some people away.  Again, dangerously hopeful is where I stand on this bullpen.  It’s not the 2009 Saito/Wagner/Bard/Papelbon mix but it’s a pretty solid looking group.  If Barnes, who is another guy getting bigged up in the press, can hold the closer job I like the set up options.

Conclusion: As I said at the end of the previous piece on the roster the Sox are better than they were a year ago.  It’s a simple piece of information but one that bears repeating.  I think it has been encouraging to see the work of guys like Triston Casas, Downs, Nick Yorke and Duran in Fort Myers.  The minor league depth looks a bit more sturdy as well. 17 days until Opening Day!

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 15, 2021 at 01:14 PM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: March 15, 2021 at 04:54 PM (#6008691)
If Barnes, who is another guy getting bigged up in the press, can hold the closer job I like the set up options.
Another way of looking at it is if Barnes can't hold the closer job they have players who have a chance of stepping up, whereas they didn't in the post-Workman days. But your first comment on the bullpen is why I've been, ahem, bullish on them. Everyone to the right of Barnes on the "then" line looks a lot better when you shift them down the depth chart a spot or two.

You have the rotation spot-on. These guys stand to be pretty good, if they're not on the IL. They are not the best rotation in the league, and they pretty much stand zero chance of being the best rotation in the league. But in terms of their capabilities when healthy there's a lot more right with this group than there is wrong with them. (And then, eventually, they get Chris Sale.)

I do worry a bit about the outfield, if Renfroe is in center. Maybe my lack of confidence in him (in CF) is unfounded. But I suspect any OF alignment that has any two non-JDM outfielders plus Renfroe should have Renfroe as the 3rd choice for center.
   2. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 16, 2021 at 10:53 AM (#6008778)
Re: the infield and outfield - it does seem like there's a general uptick in overall ability, I will be curious to see how Cora plays everyone going forward though.

Devers @ 3rd, Bogaerts @ SS, and Verdugo in RF are the players that should be penciled in every day, agreed?
Dalbec should probably be slotted into 1st and given a long lead, enough to see if he can drop his SO% to a tenable rate. I'm assuming Gonzalez is the primary back up here.
At 2nd, I don't see the point in having Arroyo & Chavis if Hernandez is presumable the starter. Take your pick on the 26 & 25 year old and send the other to AAA so they can play every day.

LF seems like it could easily be filled by whomever is healthy - Gonzalez, Munoz, Renfroe, Cordero in the off-chance that he is actually healthy (I'm expecting him to be about as impactful as Tyler Thornbug), Chavis if he's on the roster.

CF definitely seems like the major hole. Can Hernandez handle CF on an everyday basis? If he does it would seem to clear up the 2B playing time.
   3. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 16, 2021 at 11:12 AM (#6008781)
Devers/Bogaerts/Verdugo are definitely the three musts. I think given where the Sox are I'd like Dalbec given roughly the same rope. Let's find out one way or the other this year. As you say if he drop his K rate to a not horrific number he's going to club 30 homers.

I think Hernandez should be in there pretty regularly whether at 2nd or in center I guess depends on...something? I don't know what though. Related to that I think Verdugo in center when Kike is at 2nd and in right when Kike is in center makes sense. I'll defer to Cora if he thinks the Sox and Verdugo are better off putting him either in center or right and leaving him there makes more sense.

You didn't mention Martinez and Vazquez but I think they are also givens (with the usual catcher days off caveats). So... let's see;

2B - Hernandez
CF - Verdugo
SS - Bogaerts
DH - Martinez
3B - Devers
LF - Renfroe
RF - Gonzalez
C - Vazquez
1B - Dalbec

Lotta Butch Hobson vibes from Dalbec there. I'm with you on Franchy, the Bigfoot analogy is a good one.
   4. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 16, 2021 at 01:34 PM (#6008809)
Related to that I think Verdugo in center when Kike is at 2nd and in right when Kike is in center makes sense


I agree this makes the most sense with the current roster, I just hope they get a true CF and let Verdugo fully settle into RF. It's a tricky enough outfield, why make it even harder on Verdugo? I think CF is going to be especially troublesome because of the # of fielders that are going to be sent out to LF - none of them with any time out there. I know it's a small area, but with some of the crazy bounces off the wall, the CF can get quite the work out if the LF isn't comfortable.

I view Renfroe, Gonzalez, and Barnes as lottery ticket types. Hope they play well through the first portion of the season, hope the younger players develop nicely, and then sell them for whatever you can get at the deadline.
   5. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 18, 2021 at 02:32 PM (#6009113)
It's not remotely surprising or anything but Alex Cora has announced that Eduardo Rodriguez is the Opening Day starter.
   6. jmurph Posted: March 19, 2021 at 09:59 AM (#6009192)
It's not remotely surprising or anything but Alex Cora has announced that Eduardo Rodriguez is the Opening Day starter.

Looking forward to seeing how he does this year.

I was trying to remember the least inspiring opening day starter in recent years, non-Covid edition, and it's gotta be Buchholz in 2015? Coming off a cool 8-11, 5.34 ERA the previous year. Porcello is also on the list.
   7. jmurph Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:03 AM (#6009193)
Also now that I'm down this rabbit hole, eyeballing it, it looks like Pedroia made the most consecutive opening day starts, 11, since Yaz? Pretty incredible. Varitek, Boggs, and Evans all had 10.
   8. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:19 AM (#6009197)
It's gotta be Buchholz. Porcello was the reigning Cy Young winner, his overall body of work may have been middling but he was absolutely an appropriate Opening Day starter.

That's interesting about Dustin. Dewey surprises me, he was a regular starter from 1973 to 1990. You missed one though. Rice started 14 in a row from 1976 to 1989. Doesn't lessen Dustin though. As a player who came up in the internet boom with blogs and everything I think he was discussed as much as any Red Sox player ever and to think he's a retired player who was on an MLB roster for some or all of 15 seasons blows me away.
   9. jmurph Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:30 AM (#6009200)
Rice started 14 in a row from 1976 to 1989.

DH! Damn, missed those.
   10. jmurph Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:31 AM (#6009201)
I think with Pedroia, the later injury-plagued years are front of mind, so I was a little surprised to see how long the run was.
   11. Jay Seaver Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:51 AM (#6009208)
Per Chad Finn, NESN is doing nice things with their studio roster: Ellis Burks joins the rotation in the booth when Eck or Remy takes a series off, with Mo Vaughn, Jonathan Papelbon, and Kevin Youkilis doing studio work
   12. jmurph Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:59 AM (#6009209)
Ugh Evans did have 13, how dare these guys switch positions on me. So basically I got everything wrong except for yay Dusty P.
   13. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 19, 2021 at 11:01 AM (#6009210)
It's funny, I was just thinking about Papelbon recently, we hadn't heard anything about him in awhile. It's good that he'll be involved. He was a hell of a lot of fun when he was here.
   14. Jay Seaver Posted: March 19, 2021 at 11:12 AM (#6009212)
I heard Papelbon's been doing the Cameo personalized-messages thing, but, yeah, he's been surprisingly smart about laying low after not exactly leaving the greatest last impression.

The story's up on Boston.com, and says Remy's doing about 100 games and Eck about 75, so there's a lot of space for Burks if they are planning to mostly go with 3-person booths.
   15. Darren Posted: March 19, 2021 at 04:24 PM (#6009252)
Per Chad Finn, NESN is doing nice things with their studio roster: Ellis Burks joins the rotation in the booth when Eck or Remy takes a series off, with Mo Vaughn, Jonathan Papelbon, and Kevin Youkilis doing studio work


Papelbon will probably be a trainwreck, but I like it just for what it will do to our friend Fly.
   16. Darren Posted: March 19, 2021 at 04:25 PM (#6009253)
Youkilis promises to be fun as well.

Still too much Remy, though.
   17. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 19, 2021 at 04:29 PM (#6009255)
I missed it yesterday but Jarren Duran was officially sent down. So he's not opening the season with the big club.
   18. villageidiom Posted: March 19, 2021 at 04:43 PM (#6009258)
Just watched the end of the game today against the Rays. When I tuned in they were down 7-4. They ended up winning 11-7. Chavis was hitting the ball with authority, like someone determined to be on the roster for opening day. But the stories of the day were Garrett Whitlock, who pitched 3 scoreless innings of relief with 5 Ks and just 1 hit, and Jarren Duran, who went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI and a stolen base. In other new-guy news, Ottavino pitched a clean 9th with 2 Ks.

It's spring training, and any team that gives up 7 runs midway through a game is doing some things wrong. Having said that, I can say in the time I was watching them they were doing well at pretty much everything. I don't know if he'll make the roster this year, but man, Duran seems like he's going to be fun to watch.
   19. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 19, 2021 at 07:41 PM (#6009275)
I came to talk about Duran. I think it says a lot about him that the day after he was told he’d be opening the year in AAA he goes out and gets four hits. Very positive.

As for the 7 runs I watched most of the game. Eovaldi struggled in the first two innings but a bit of that is on Duran. The second inning when Tampa got 4 started with a deep fly ball to center that should have been caught. Duran didn’t quite have his bearings and he leapt too early allowing the ball to get over his head. Having put some blame on Duran it’s not like Eovaldi pitched well. He gave up a triple on the next pitch then a single that should have been an out had the infield been back and from there the inning kind of rolled.

The big thing for me is that while Eovaldi hasn’t exactly been dealing he is throwing strikes which seems to be a sign of health for most pitchers. Obviously at some point he’ll need to find the results but he’s throwing strikes and the velocity is there so for now I’m not overly concerned.

The other thing that Remy and O’Brien were talking about is that save the Duran misplay the Sox defense has been really good since Cora kind of laid into the team early in camp for being a bit sloppy.
   20. Darren Posted: March 20, 2021 at 06:44 PM (#6009365)
Can we all agree that this team is going to be really, really weird?
   21. Jay Seaver Posted: March 20, 2021 at 08:22 PM (#6009379)
Exceptionally weird. We're not going to know from day to day whether there's an infielder in the outfield or an outfielder in the infield, some folks are going to be so streaky that we'll miss the relative stability of Jackie Bradley Junior, the fifth starter will get hot just before it's time to bring Chris Sale off the IL, and we're constantly going to be looking at Worcester to see where Duran and Downs are. Downs will get called up before we've really made our peace with yelling "Go Jeter!" Papelbon will say something absolutely bizarre the first time the team blows a save.

Hopefully, it will at least be the fun sort of weird compared to last year.
   22. Darren Posted: March 24, 2021 at 04:12 PM (#6009908)
This is not nice:

Dodgers Fan Puts Up Billboard Thanking Red Sox for Mookie

This cannot go unanswered.
   23. Darren Posted: March 24, 2021 at 04:14 PM (#6009910)
Bobby Dalbec has 6 HR, 6 BB, and 16 K in 45 PA this spring. Rob Deer's legend is an endangered species.
   24. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 24, 2021 at 05:06 PM (#6009919)
See I find the billboard more humorous than anything else. I don't see the Dodgers as any kind of rival (save for 5 games in 2018 and they were dispatched fairly quickly) and for the most part always have liked them. I frankly love that the Sox have gotten under people's skin this century, that's a good thing.
   25. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 24, 2021 at 06:54 PM (#6009928)
I find the billboard more humorous than anything else.
Let’s check back in 15 years.
   26. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 24, 2021 at 07:27 PM (#6009931)
See I find the billboard more humorous than anything else.


Agreed, it's both funny and clever and good on LA for paying the man what he is worth.
   27. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 25, 2021 at 08:20 AM (#6009960)
Got to watch the game last night (is it me or are there fewer games on NESN this year?). A few random observations;

- Hunter Renfroe is very strong.
- Nathan Eovaldi looks great.
- Hirokazu Sawamura looks like he is going to be a lot of fun. He doesn't really look like any kind of athlete. He's not fat, he just has an untoned face (I know but I can't explain it differently). He kept the ball down pretty relentlessly in the inning I saw from him.
- Rafael Devers is noticeably more conditioned. He's definitely in better shape.
- Josh Taylor is wearing #38.
- Marwin Gonzalez seems to have a bit of Kevin Millar in him at first base straying much too far from the bag to his right on grounders.
   28. Darren Posted: March 25, 2021 at 07:21 PM (#6010178)
See I find the billboard more humorous than anything else.


It strikes me as lame but I cannot think of a response that would not also be lame.
   29. Darren Posted: March 27, 2021 at 12:21 PM (#6010409)
Jose, one suggestion: I would have called this the Ideas of March.

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