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Sunday, August 08, 2021

Things to Feel Good About

I think we can safely describe that road trip as “not good.”  I know I’m out on a limb here but I’m going to say 2-8 is not quite as good as the Sox hoped for the road trip.  Making it worse was that during their closest foes in division were rolling (in no small part to slapping the Sox around for two of the teams);

Tampa 7-2
Toronto 9-2
New York 8-2
Boston 2-8

Suffice to say that’s not great and the eyeball test certainly doesn’t scream “everything is fine.”  The team generally looked bad, the bullpen looks cooked which is a by-product of the rotation being substandard and little things like Gonzalez and Vazquez running the bases like they had never done it before in the win on Saturday night.

So what is there to feel good about?  Well, let’s count the ways.

1. They are still the second place Boston Red Sox with a 2.5 game lead on the third place team, 3 games on fourth place and those leads are the same for a Wild Card spot.  Assuming they can play better than .200 baseball they are still in a good position.

2. As ugly as these ten days were the schedule was such that it’s not a big surprise.  The Yankees (3 in Miami, 3 at home vs. Baltimore and 4 at home vs. Seattle), Tampa (3 vs. Boston, 3 vs Seattle and 3 at Baltimore) and Toronto (3 vs. KC, 4 vs. Cleveland and 4 vs. Boston) were playing home games (24 home, 6 road) while the Sox were playing 10 road games.  That’s not to say this is OK but if those three teams DIDN’T gain ground on the Sox that would have been a disaster for those teams.  The schedule for the next two weeks (3 vs. Tampa, 3 vs. Baltimore, 3 at New York, 3 vs. Texas, 3 vs. Minnesota and 3 at Cleveland) is well suited for the Sox.  12 out of 18 against sub-.500 teams and the same number at Fenway where they are 33-22 overall and 13-5 since full capacity was reinstated.

3. This is baseball kids.  We all know enough about how baseball rolls to know this is what happens.  Hell, the greatest team in Red Sox history lost 6 out of 8 in late August and still won 108 games, the 2013 team lost 9 out of 11 in early May, the 2007 team lost 8 out of 11 in July and the 2004 team lost 9 out of 12 in late June/early July.  Look, this is not a World Series winning team.  It would be nice if it was and it will be a hell of a lot of fun if that is the case but even the best teams go through a stretch like this.  Is it Vince Lombardi who said you aren’t as good as you look when you win or as bad as you look when you lose?

4. Help is on the way.  Just putting Tanner Houck in Martin Perez’ place should be a plus and even the version of Chris Sale I expect (good but not great) will be an upgrade on Garrett Richards.  Getting Kyle Schwahbah at bats in place of Bobby Dalbec, Franchy Cordero or Marwin Gonzalez will be an improvement.  Additionally Alex Verdugo’s bat came alive this weekend (5 for 11 with a homer) and the Sox have had even their best players slumping a bit and that should change soon.

5. More games with scheduling; 24 of their last 48 are against sub-.500 teams.  26 of their 48 are at home. The Yankees have a 24/27 split with just 19 of their 51 against sub-.500 teams; Tampa has a 24/26 home/road split with 22 of 50 against sub-.500 teams and Toronto a 26/26 split with 25 of 52 against sub-.500 teams.  The differences are small but the Sox have more home games, more games against sub-.500 teams and are still ahead of Toronto and New York if we look to the Wild Card.

Admittedly some of this has me feeling like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House screaming “all is well! Remain calm!”  The Sox are NOT a great team but they are a good team. As vi I’m sure has noted in the other thread even playing .500 ball gets them to 89 wins.  Play at an 85 win pace and they are 90, play at a 90 win pace they are at 92.

If you want my honest opinion I would bet on Toronto and New York passing the Sox.  They are both better than the Sox.  The gap is not as big as it has been the last week and a half or even close to it.  Obviously all of this is moot if the Sox don’t right the ship and that I feel confident is something will happen.  The questions are will they right the ship to a degree that gets them to 92 wins or 87 wins or somewhere in between and will Tampa, Toronto and/or New York continue to be hot.

The last week and a half has been miserable to be sure.  Hopefully the next seven weeks will be be better.

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 08, 2021 at 06:19 PM | 94 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: August 09, 2021 at 10:02 AM (#6033515)
As vi I’m sure has noted in the other thread even playing .500 ball gets them to 89 wins.
Indeed. I noted it within minutes of the final out yesterday.

They are not as bad as they have been recently. OTOH, they were up against a caliber of team they might face in the playoffs if they make it there, and they fared poorly. They can definitely still make the playoffs, but if the last few weeks is any indication they wouldn't go too far even if they did.

I think there's plenty of cause for optimism regarding Sale and Houck. And yet... I mean, frankly, if they can get Perez to handle long relief then the bullpen might be able to withstand short starts without getting burned out. We're at the stage of the season where we really need the starters to cover 6 IP somewhat reliably, and part of the recent problem has been the rotation hasn't been getting it done.

5.0 Richards
3.2 Houck *
6.0 Pivetta *
4.2 Eovaldi
1.1 Perez
5.0 Rodriguez
4.0 Richards
4.2 Pivetta
5.1 Eovaldi
4.0 Perez
3.1 Rodriguez
4.0 Houck *
4.0 Richards *
4.2 Pivetta
6.0 Perez
7.2 Eovaldi
1.0 Rodriguez
4.2 Houck
5.2 Richards
6.2 Pivetta
4.0 Perez
5.0 Eovaldi
5.2 Rodriguez
4.0 Pivetta
3.2 Perez
5.0 Richards
5.0 Rodriguez
5.2 Eovaldi
5.1 Perez
7.0 Pivetta
5.0 Richards
6.0 Rodriguez
7.0 Eovaldi

*doubleheader

Those are the IP of the starting pitcher for each game in reverse chronological order, going back to July 1. That first turn through the rotation (at the bottom of the list) had 3 of 5 starters throw at least 6 IP, and all throw at least 5 IP. After that turn they had 28 starts. Only 4 had 6+ IP from the starter, and only 13 had 5+ IP. Those 13:

4 Eovaldi
3 Richards
3 Rodriguez
2 Pivetta
1 Perez
0 Houck (of 3)

As much as we want to anoint Houck as part of the solution here, he hasn't been eating innings. Maybe he'll build up to it, but so far he's been almost as much of an innings-eater as Perez, who definitely isn't the rotational savior. How many IP Sale can give them is a big question as well.

It might benefit everyone if the starters can extend their outings by using a 6-man rotation. If they can't pitch deeper into games with the extra rest given by a 6-man rotation, then when Sale joins them they are probably better off bumping another starter to the pen and having them lighten the load for everyone else. I know Richards is the popular choice, but they might benefit more from moving Pivetta or Houck, at least until the bullpen is sound again.
   2. pikepredator Posted: August 09, 2021 at 10:19 AM (#6033519)
Thanks Jose, this does make it a bit easier to take this recent slump.

There's something to be said for having fewer games down the stretch than our rivals, too. August will be hot and an extra day off here and there (especially when the bullpen is imploding) can make a difference.

But really, your point #1 is the most important. This was about as brutal of a stretch as could be imagined and they had enough of a margin to weather it. The question is, which E-Rod will we get on Tuesday??
   3. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 09, 2021 at 10:34 AM (#6033521)
0 Houck (of 3)

As much as we want to anoint Houck as part of the solution here, he hasn't been eating innings. Maybe he'll build up to it, but so far he's been almost as much of an innings-eater as Perez


How much of this is Houck pitching in doubleheaders? Two of his three starts are in doubleheaders where there is going to be a bit more urgency to lift a pitcher. Right now a 5 inning pitcher who doesn't get shelled is a win.

The question is, which E-Rod will we get on Tuesday??


Alex Speier made note of EdRod's recent work. I think you can dismiss the Yankee start due to the migraine and I don't think it's unreasonable to say the Sox pushed him back out when they shouldn't have against the Blue Jays. Take those two out and he's got a 4.15 ERA and 5.1 IP per start since Memorial Day. That's not great but again, that would be a boost. I'm fairly hopeful about what he can provide.
   4. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 09, 2021 at 11:45 AM (#6033522)
Sale's first start is next Satruday the 14th against Baltimore. That lines him up for potentially 7 days off before next start with Texas. Just looking ahead a bit;

Tampa
8/10 - EdRod
8/11 - Eovaldi
8/12 - Pivetta
Baltimore
8/13 - Houck
8/14 - Sale
8/15 - EdRod
8/16 - OFF
New York
8/17 - Eovaldi/Pivetta
8/18 - Houck
8/19 - OFF
Texas
8/20 - Sale
8/21 - EdRod
8/22 - Eovaldi (1)
8/23 - OFF
Minnesota
8/24 - Pivetta
8/25 - Houck
8/26 - Sale
Cleveland
8/27 - EdRod
8/28 - Eovaldi
8/29 - Pivetta
Tampa Bay
8/30 - Houck
8/31 - Sale (2)
9/1 - EdRod
9/2 - Eovaldi

(1) - It wouldn't shock me to see them flip Pivetta and Eovaldi there to give Nate a little extra rest.
(2) - A spot start in there to give an extra day of rest to Sale is possible here. Whitlock, Richards, Perez or even a Seabold call up (one day later for that start would be perfect).
   5. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 09, 2021 at 12:32 PM (#6033531)
In the last 14 games, the starter has gone long enough to qualify for a win in four of them. In the last 18 games, the starter has actually gotten the win exactly one time (that ERod game in Detroit last week where they basically gave him one more batter to get the last out of the 5th or he was going to get pulled).

And yet...there only 28 starters in the AL who have made at least 21 starts, and the Red Sox have five of them.

Of the 28,in terms of innings pitched:

Perez is 27th.
ERod is 26th.
Richards is 23rd.
Pivetta is 18th.
Eovaldi is 11th.

Of the 28, in terms of ERA:
ERod is 23rd.
Richards is 22nd.
Perez is 21st.
Pivetta is 19th.
Eovaldi is 16th.

Pretty much whatever stats you want to rank, you get the idea - ERod, Perez, and Richards are really bad, Pivetta is in the lower-middle, and Eovaldi is a little above or below the midpoint of the group. The thing is, the only pitchers that are in the same group with ERod, Perez, and Richards are from Baltimore, Kansas City, and Texas - terrible teams unable to pull these guys from the rotation because they literally don't have anything better, and they haven't gotten hurt all year. There really isn't any exception to this - among teams above .500 in the AL, there isn't anybody whose been allowed to start anywhere near this many games and be this bad. Either the team had better options (which is why they are above .500 this late in the season), or they did not (which is why they allowed such terrible pitching to go on this long). There is very little precedent in recent baseball history for a team being able to keep the plane together this well, for this long, with this much duct tape in the rotation. The duct tape is finally coming off, probably four weeks before the team was really able to replace the duct tape with Sale, Houck, and (if needed) Seabold.

The story of the 2021 Red Sox is Chaim Bloom inherited a team that needed to control payroll for a few years to get under the luxury tax cap, with no farm system, and major holes at several positions. 2020 was the definition of a tank season - which, because of the pandemic, really didn't even feel like the fan base was giving up much. It was hard for me to care about whether or not the Red Sox were going to nab the final wild card of an expanded playoff format while the world was on fire.

So the goal in 2021 was pretty explicit, as I recall: accumulate depth in the minor-league system; sort through various young-ish players; sign veterans who could approximate average play on short-term contracts for pretty short money; make sure Devers, Bogaerts, and Verdugo are healthy and happy; and nail the draft. Then, when we are on an 80-win pace by late July, we trade whatever short-term veterans we can to contenders, getting more prospects and pieces for the future, and then play August and September with as many younger guys as possible to end on a relatively exciting high note, with a belief we can compete for a playoff spot in 2023, and have enough payroll flexibility to fill a few holes in 2022 and beyond with quality free agents to surround a growing young base of talent.

Then, the team got off to a hot April, which became a strong May, and the fans' expectations changed. Now, it was about making the playoffs in 2021 - could we win the division? When is Sale coming back? Get Duran up here! Maybe Garrett Richards has finally figured it out!

Anyway, the "problem" for Bloom is that everything went about as well as possible for three months, making people think this team was further along in the rebuild than it is. Bloom did not think a rotation of injury-prone Eovaldi; Pivetta; injury-prone Richards; COVID-recovering ERod; and Martin Perez would actually start 107 of the first 112 games, or that if they did, the team would be anything like 65-49.

Bloom did not think an outfield of Hernandez/Verdugo/Renfroe would be in the top 10 outfields for WAR 112 games into the season, or that such an outfield would be 65-49.

So, he thought we'd be sellers in late July: Renfroe, Gonzalez, Hernandez, Ottavino, Richards, Perez, Eovalid, Andriese, Vazquez, maybe even JD Martinez - these are all guys who should have been going out in July. Instead, he's getting criticized because he isn't taking the few top-tier prospects in the system and cashing them in for two months of veterans who will have nothing to do with when the team is actually *ready* to compete for a championship in a few years. Look, there are far worse "problems" than this, but I am very happy he did not deviate from the plan.

Now, I think the goal is to see if we can make the playoffs while answering some questions:
1) Can we enter 2022 feeling very confident about Chris Sale being a healthy, dependable ace?
2) What is the deal with ERod? He is a FA at the end of the year. Do we try to re-sign him? What does a contract with him look like that makes sense?
3) Can we use the rest of 2021 to get the 2022 rotation largely in place? If so, let's rip off the band aid. As the numbers above show, we have nothing to lose, so figure out what the group of Sale/Eovaldi/Pivetta/Houck/Whitlock/ERod/Seabold look like for 2022.
4) Is Christian Arroyo our starting 2B entering 2022?
5) Can we get long-term deals in place for Devers and Bogaerts?
6) What do we have in Verdugo and Duran? How sure are we that either/both of them are pieces of the next championship team?
7) Beyond Barnes, who in the 2021 bullpen is definitely a key part of the 2022 bullpen? As outstanding as the bullpen has been this season, it is a very fluid situation (like bullpens often are).
   6. villageidiom Posted: August 09, 2021 at 04:53 PM (#6033563)
How much of this is Houck pitching in doubleheaders? Two of his three starts are in doubleheaders where there is going to be a bit more urgency to lift a pitcher. Right now a 5 inning pitcher who doesn't get shelled is a win.
On a doubleheader, if both starters go 5 innings then the bullpen has to cover 4 innings on the day, which is the same as if they had just one game and the starter went 5 innings... Which I'm saying is unacceptable at this point in the season. If it was only in the doubleheaders that the bullpen was getting stretched it might be OK.

EDIT: And if it's that Cora has a quick hook at a time when they are desperate for the starters to save the pen, then the problem is Cora.
   7. villageidiom Posted: August 09, 2021 at 05:31 PM (#6033572)
Anyway, the "problem" for Bloom is that everything went about as well as possible for three months, making people think this team was further along in the rebuild than it is. Bloom did not think a rotation of injury-prone Eovaldi; Pivetta; injury-prone Richards; COVID-recovering ERod; and Martin Perez would actually start 107 of the first 112 games, or that if they did, the team would be anything like 65-49.

Bloom did not think an outfield of Hernandez/Verdugo/Renfroe would be in the top 10 outfields for WAR 112 games into the season, or that such an outfield would be 65-49.
I'm not comfortable stating with any certainty what Bloom actually thought. But whether he thought this stuff or not, what the team had was clear, and he made no earth-shattering moves.

Now, of course, SHWABA! has been known to shatter some earth with his bat, and we've seen nothing from him yet. And the rotation should look better if Sale can be slotted in as a #1 starter, even if he's not of normal Chris Sale caliber. Bloom could have reasonably known at the deadline that he'd see nothing from either of those guys until mid-August. So maybe it's not fair to evaluate the moves just yet.

But your point is sound. What he didn't do is to trade away a significant part of the farm for, say, Anthony Rizzo. To the extent that the plan was to rebuild the farm while fielding a competitive team, he's done that.

Answers to your questions... 1) No, but he's worth the risk. 2) I'd like them to re-sign him, but the contract for #2 starter stuff with #4 starter innings (e.g. 2013 Felix Doubront) is probably less than #4 starter stuff with #2 starter innings (e.g. Rick Porcello), and I don't think he signs for the former. 3) I think they'll have a good chance of figuring that out without ripping off anything. 4) I want this to be yes, but having been the one to beat the drum on not relying on the health of Jed Lowrie, and then Dustin Pedroia, I think a solid plan B is needed. Hernandez might be that plan B. 5) Let's see the new CBA, then I'll tell you. 6) They are both parts of the next championship-effort team. Is Verdugo's downside something like Trot Nixon? I'd take that. 7) Andrew Bailey, Tyler Thornburg, Joel Hanrahan...
   8. villageidiom Posted: August 09, 2021 at 05:33 PM (#6033576)
(1) - It wouldn't shock me to see them flip Pivetta and Eovaldi there to give Nate a little extra rest.
(2) - A spot start in there to give an extra day of rest to Sale is possible here. Whitlock, Richards, Perez or even a Seabold call up (one day later for that start would be perfect).
I endorse both of these.
   9. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 10, 2021 at 08:25 AM (#6033637)
On a doubleheader, if both starters go 5 innings then the bullpen has to cover 4 innings on the day, which is the same as if they had just one game and the starter went 5 innings... Which I'm saying is unacceptable at this point in the season. If it was only in the doubleheaders that the bullpen was getting stretched it might be OK.

EDIT: And if it's that Cora has a quick hook at a time when they are desperate for the starters to save the pen, then the problem is Cora.


I agree that the rotation still needs to eat innings in those 7 inning games. My point is I don't think we can draw too many conclusions about how deep Houck can go because I think he's being removed artificially early in those games.
   10. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 10, 2021 at 09:18 AM (#6033643)
So, he thought we'd be sellers in late July: Renfroe, Gonzalez, Hernandez, Ottavino, Richards, Perez, Eovalid, Andriese, Vazquez, maybe even JD Martinez - these are all guys who should have been going out in July. Instead, he's getting criticized because he isn't taking the few top-tier prospects in the system and cashing them in for two months of veterans who will have nothing to do with when the team is actually *ready* to compete for a championship in a few years. Look, there are far worse "problems" than this, but I am very happy he did not deviate from the plan.


Minor quibble, because at least the season was fun for a bit, but Chaim *did* deviate from the plan - he held on to everyone. The short-term veteran adds were seen as trade bait for lottery tickets, now, because of their early season success, the Sox will be in a very similar position in 2022 as they were heading into 2021.

1B - ???
2B - Arroyo?
SS - X
3B - Devers
DH - Martinez
OF - Verdugo, Renfroe, Hernandez, Duran
SP - Sale, Eovaldi, Pivetta, Houk?, ???, ???
RP - Who the #### ever knows

The biggest take aways from this year - Cora seems to be legit good at managing pitching and Renfroe was a good signing (I didn't realize he was still in arbitration). Arroyo *may* solve 2B, 1B is still a hole in the IF, and Duran has not (so far) shown that he's ready to be more than a 4th OF.

At least the team is under the luxury tax?
   11. villageidiom Posted: August 10, 2021 at 10:14 AM (#6033650)
For one of those doubleheader outings - the one where, in the first game, Pivetta pitched 6 IP and the bullpen threw one pitch - I think that's fair. For Taylor to enter in the middle of the 4th he had to be warming already, and there wasn't any major issue with Houck's performance to warrant removing him. In the other outing... It might also be fair. Although the bullpen already had to cover 3 innings in the first game, the prior day was a day off, and the three games prior to that included 7.2 IP from Eovaldi and 6 IP from Perez. Still, per Statcast Houck was getting hit hard in his final inning, even on his outs.

I still think it's fair to say that Houck isn't an innings-eating savior. He's averaging more than 17 pitches per inning, which isn't unheard of for a young pitcher who relies on the strikeout. At 6 IP that would be around a 104-pitch pace, assuming he doesn't labor more in later innings. That's probably the maximum we could hope for (in any given outing, not as an average performance) until he starts missing bats slightly less, with more weak grounders and popups, and fewer Ks.

OTOH, 5 IP is better than 3.2 IP, so there's that. But they need a lot more 6-7 IP outings at this point.
   12. The Mighty Quintana Posted: August 10, 2021 at 11:31 AM (#6033656)
Hopefully 1B is not ??? and is Casas. Boy, he really looked good in the Olympics, but, I know, small sample size.
   13. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 10, 2021 at 11:38 AM (#6033657)
My guess is Casas is not the starting 1B next year. He's been good not great at Portland and depending on what happens I expect someone will be in that spot next year at least to start. I won't be stunned if he plays himself into it but I think the more likely outcome is a Mitch Moreland type (or y'know, Mitch Moreland himself) shows up in Fort Myers next year and either holds the job all year or gets played out of the role by Casas mid-season.
   14. Darren Posted: August 10, 2021 at 04:26 PM (#6033695)
So the goal in 2021 was pretty explicit, as I recall: accumulate depth in the minor-league system; sort through various young-ish players; sign veterans who could approximate average play on short-term contracts for pretty short money; make sure Devers, Bogaerts, and Verdugo are healthy and happy; and nail the draft. Then, when we are on an 80-win pace by late July, we trade whatever short-term veterans we can to contenders, getting more prospects and pieces for the future, and then play August and September with as many younger guys as possible to end on a relatively exciting high note, with a belief we can compete for a playoff spot in 2023, and have enough payroll flexibility to fill a few holes in 2022 and beyond with quality free agents to surround a growing young base of talent.


If this was explicitly the goal, I must have missed them telling us, the fans. As I recall, it was all about adding quality players, building the farm system, and financial flexibility. I can't imagine that they said, "hey, we're probably going to be decent and dump a bunch of guys at midseason, then see if we can be good in 2022," and that somehow escaped me.

But even if this was the plan in private, I really hate that. This team went on and on about how resetting the cap, getting under just once, would make such a difference, so they practically had to do it in 2020. This team has more money to spend than most and could have easily spent more to sure up the team before the season. The most obvious being signing a vet first basemen and a more reliable SP. They didn't, and then at the deadline, they again chose not to spend prospects (understandable to a degree) or money.
   15. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 11, 2021 at 11:03 AM (#6033810)
Last night was yet another example of the weakness of the Red Sox slowly undermining the greatest strength of the Red Sox, and dragging the team back towards where it probably should be:

ERod pitched well last night, but hit the wall after 5 innings. He gave up a run in the 6th, and Sawamura saved him from more damage. But it meant finding another innings from a quickly-fading bullpen, and in a must-win game, Cora had to try to get two innings out of Whitlock - who is probably going to hit a wall soon, as well. Whitlock clearly didn't have it last night, but despite that, Cora tried to get two innings out of him, and couldn't. Taylor had to come in with two runners on in the 8th, walked the first guy himself, then got out of a bases-loaded jam. Then Barnes - who also is being asked to do a lot - imploded again.

Compare this to what Tampa was able to do last night. Patino wasn't amazing, but he was able to give them six full innings. Then, the Rays were able to use Kittredge just as Boston uses Whitlock, with two scoreless innings to bridge them to the 9th inning. It sounds like a little thing, but that extra inning Tampa got from their starter that Boston just cannot get means guys like Sawamura and Taylor have to come in and get high-leverage outs.

You can also surmise that the reason Cora trotted Whitlock back out for the 8th despite a terrible 7th was because he couldn't use Ottavino, who is pretty much toast at this point.

So Cora, who has been holding the team together with basically Bogaerts, Devers, and the bullpen, is trying to get more out of his rotation, and it just isn't there. As a fan, I'm not mad or disappointed with anybody, in particular. The team is getting all it can out of the roster it has, and a lot of players have been playing admirably well, giving them the best version of their ability for the first 100 games. The problem is, there are 162 games.

Last note - on social media after the game last night among Red Sox fans, and even during the TV broadcast, I heard for the first time out loud what has been quietly going on for half a season now: That JD Martinez is not...JD Martinez. He had such a good April that it makes fans think that a) he is "back", and b) his season stats are representative of a guy who's been hitting all year. But here's the thing: On May 1st, he was hitting .361 with power. Total beast.

He's played 80 games since then - half a season - and his stats since May 1st:

346 PAs
314 ABs
.264/.321/.462
12 HRs, 45 RBIs, 20 2Bs, 3 3Bs (?)
28/82 BB/K
Striking out 23.6% of the time, walking 8.1% of the time.

There's enough power still going that it isn't an empty stat line, but given how bad 2020 was, his age, and the trajectory of these stats, it serves as a warning for the team in its 2022 plans. They are stuck with him for another year at legit money, and he has no defensive value, so they've got to hope he settles in at an average of his overall performance in 2021 or something.
   16. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 11, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6033815)
The most obvious being signing a vet first basemen and a more reliable SP. They didn't, and then at the deadline, they again chose not to spend prospects (understandable to a degree) or money.


I think the approach they took both at first and with the rotation before the season made sense. Given where they were trying to see if Dalbec was part of the future made sense and the rotation was fine. The deadline is tricky. I think first base was a mistake of execution rather than thought process. They improved first base, they just did it badly with Schwarber. As for the rotation from what I saw on deals I suspect there just wasn't a deal to be made. I don't think Scherzer or Berrios were reasonable for what we had to offer and there wasn't a ton of other pitching moving around that I'd have wanted. Sale/Houck/Seabold probably is worth rolling with at this point.

The failure of clutch hitting also can't be overstated. They have been TERRIBLE the last month w/RISP. Sunday and last night could have been wins, ugly wins but wins, with a few more runs on the board. They could have won 1 or even 2 in Tampa with a couple of clutch hits.

And with all of that they are STILL in the catbird seat for a playoff spot. I'm not holding my breath but man, if you told me in April that in mid-August they would be leading the Wild Card race I'd be all over it.
   17. Darren Posted: August 11, 2021 at 12:42 PM (#6033829)
He's played 80 games since then - half a season - and his stats since May 1st:

346 PAs
314 ABs
.264/.321/.462
12 HRs, 45 RBIs, 20 2Bs, 3 3Bs (?)
28/82 BB/K
Striking out 23.6% of the time, walking 8.1% of the time.


Through April 18 in 2019, JD was hitting .325/.425/.592. From April 19 through July 19:
314 PA
.266 .342 .486
32 BB, 66 K

What he's doing now isn't great, and you're probably right that at 33 he's not the same guy he was in his prime. But I'm not seeing this stretch as the new normal yet.
   18. Darren Posted: August 11, 2021 at 12:52 PM (#6033830)
The Sox pen is on fumes and they did nothing to replenish it at the deadline, even though relief arms are usually the cheapest commodities available. That's disappointing.

I think the approach they took both at first and with the rotation before the season made sense. Given where they were trying to see if Dalbec was part of the future made sense and the rotation was fine.


I'll at least agree that it was a reasonable approach. They whiffed badly on Dalbec and it appears Richards but took similar risks with Pivetta, Arroyo, and Renfroe, and those turned out pretty well.

I think the approach they took both at first and with the rotation before the season made sense. Given where they were trying to see if Dalbec was part of the future made sense and the rotation was fine. The deadline is tricky. I think first base was a mistake of execution rather than thought process. They improved first base, they just did it badly with Schwarber.


I disagree. They didn't improve at 1B. They still have Dalbec at 1B. Maybe they'll get Schwarber healthy again and maybe playing 1B won't reaggravate his injury and maybe he'll learn to play a passable 1B in a week or two. But none of those have happened yet. Also, they didn't just do it badly, they did it cheaply.

   19. Darren Posted: August 11, 2021 at 01:02 PM (#6033837)
A more general observation: Jose and VI carry the load around here in terms of writing threads/analysis, but I just want to point out all of the insight and commentary that SBPT provides. SBPT, you make this a better place to visit. Thank you!

(Edit: I hope it goes without saying that I appreciate Jose and VI's contributions!)
   20. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 11, 2021 at 01:27 PM (#6033841)
(Edit: I hope it goes without saying that I appreciate Jose and VI's contributions!)


Too late! I'm offended! We duel at dawn. Well, 9:30, I'm not waking up at dawn. I concur on SBPT. I actually almost just cut and pasted his post last week as its own thread.


I disagree. They didn't improve at 1B. They still have Dalbec at 1B. Maybe they'll get Schwarber healthy again and maybe playing 1B won't reaggravate his injury and maybe he'll learn to play a passable 1B in a week or two. But none of those have happened yet. Also, they didn't just do it badly, they did it cheaply.


We'll have to agree to disagree here. Schwarber is better than Dalbec. That's a fact. The problem isn't that he's not better it's that he's not playing which is a mistake of execution. I'm not sure what makes you think they did it cheaply. They gave up a good prospect. I'm not sure what the "non-cheap" version would have been. The Cubs are paying for Rizzo (pretty sure the Sox are paying for Schwarber).
   21. Darren Posted: August 11, 2021 at 01:53 PM (#6033848)
By cheaply I mean that they could have agreed to take on all of Rizzo's money and surrendered less than the Yankees did. They could have paid some of Hosmer's deal and gotten back prospects as well. They could have gone hard after Santana, agreeing to pay his contract and give up prospects.

   22. Darren Posted: August 11, 2021 at 02:06 PM (#6033854)
And here I was hoping to avoid a duel. For once.
   23. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 11, 2021 at 02:12 PM (#6033857)
Darren & Jose - you are both very kind! I hope my posts don't come across as too negative about the team's trajectory. They remain in a position where the addition of Sale/Houck/maybe Seabold, plus Schwarber, for the last 4-6 weeks of the season, could totally get them into the playoffs (though likely as a WC). And even if they don't make the playoffs, the fact they are likely to finish above .500, in it pretty much all the way, with a stronger farm system and a few more potential long-term pieces identified and developed, is an awesome season. I'm very happy with 2021.

In terms of the cost of getting Schwarber, I would say it wasn't cheap compared to other years' deadline deals. But this year's market was very inflationary (more demand than supply?). Schwarber is probably a better hitter at this point than Rizzo, but not as good a glove at 1B. The big thing is that he is still hurt. I mean, whatever you think of Rizzo, at least he was available to play the day after you traded for him. With Schwarber, if he ends up missing 15 games post-trade due to injury, that's a pretty big chunk of what's left in the season, and they have been really important games for Boston. If he is playing first base in the final week of the season, but we are eliminated from playoff contention, then I don't even want him playing at that point - put somebody there who has a chance of being on the team next year!

They are paying several million for him to be here, and they gave up the #9 prospect in the system, according to SoxProspects.com. That's a decent chunk of change for a guy who we're going to have for 30 games, playing a new position on the fly. But, I'd say to fans who are upset Bloom didn't do more, what else did you want Bloom to do? Look at the current prospect rankings:

Casas
Mayer (can't even trade him according to the rules, if you wanted)
Duran
Downs
Houck
Jimenez
Bello
Yorke
Seabold
Groome

Honestly, Bloom traded the best prospect that most people would objectively be willing to part with this year. What else can you ask? He knows this team isn't a true World Series contender, but they are overachieving. He got the most at the deadline he could get without deviating from the rebuilding plan, I think. In Bloom and Cora We Trust, I say!
   24. Darren Posted: August 11, 2021 at 02:48 PM (#6033867)
Schwarber is probably a better hitter at this point than Rizzo, but not as good a glove at 1B.


FWIW, both ZIPS and Steamer have Rizzo as the better hitter going forward.
   25. villageidiom Posted: August 11, 2021 at 02:51 PM (#6033869)
Schwarber is better than Dalbec. That's a fact.
Well, he's a better hitter. We'd like to assume he's a better enough hitter to offset the unknown defensive difference, partly because we'd like to assume nobody new to 1B could possibly do so much worse than Dalbec for it to make the difference. As likely as that might be, it's still an assumption at this point. I mean, we are all old enough to remember when it was thought an aging SS couldn't possibly be that bad at LF, and he was even worse. But you're right in that it's very likely he can handle 1B well enough that he'll be a net gain on Dalbec.

It's also worth noting that the whole notion of "let's use the rest of 2021 to see who can be a meaningful contributor to 2022" is effectively what they were already doing with Dalbec from day 1. You can't evaluate him unless you let him play. I mean, there was a time - the Stephen Drew qualifying offer debacle - where Boston put a SS prospect out there to see how he could do, and there was serious discussion during the season - once he was ultimately replaced with Drew - that his development had been set back from the proceedings. That SS was Xander Bogaerts, who doesn't seem to have suffered in his development. You have to play them to see what you have. Dalbec starting at 1B for 4 months was a good thing, even if for that.

By cheaply I mean that they could have agreed to take on all of Rizzo's money and surrendered less than the Yankees did.
If I were the Cubs and I were offered that, I still would've traded him to the Yankees. To the Cubs, the transaction was to buy prospects. If at the end of the day the Cubs end up with more money and no prospects then they have failed the Rizzo trade. I wouldn't take the evidence that the Yankees got Rizzo as evidence that the Red Sox didn't make the offer you suggested. It might have been the best realistic offer the Sox could have made, but it wouldn't get the job done.

Your point is still sound in that they had more expensive options and didn't execute any of them.

One last thing I'll mention is this: the notion that Boston could've gone for it if they hadn't been cheap, but they didn't, kinda sounds like the Mookie Betts argument again. And it's a fair argument. They said they needed to let Betts go to get under the cap, which would give them the financial flexibility to compete. They let him go, and got some good players in return; and they got that financial flexibility; and this year they found themselves leading the division at the deadline; and... they made some cheap moves. Now, maybe, those cheap moves will pay off if/when SHWABA! plays and Sale comes back and Davis and Robles help to stabilize an exhausted bullpen. Maybe it will pay off when the prospects they didn't give up start producing something of value to the major-league club. Right now, in the midst of a really bad stretch, it doesn't look so good. It doesn't look like they're trying to compete.

And I mean, I know the players are competing. They're trying to win. They're just finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory every damn day. But I can't imagine the players see Rizzo and Gallo going to the Yankees, and Cruz to the Rays, and Berrios to Toronto, and aren't left to wonder if the front office is trying to compete. Like, they have a lot of great players, and yeah, sure, they're trying to compete in that sense. But they have needs, just like any other team - except the other teams met some of their needs.
   26. Darren Posted: August 11, 2021 at 02:54 PM (#6033870)
Speaking of our prospects, Fangraphs really likes one of them:

Red Sox righty Wilkelman Gonzalez is the talk of the Florida Complex League. I’ve spoken with three scouts who’ve seen him, and while one think he’s a reliever, the others think he might have an argument to be on the top 100 right now.


Check their site for more. They have given him a 45 grade and moved him to the #10 spot in the system.
   27. Darren Posted: August 11, 2021 at 02:57 PM (#6033871)
If I were the Cubs and I were offered that, I still would've traded him to the Yankees.


Fair enough, you may be right.
   28. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 11, 2021 at 03:07 PM (#6033874)
They improved first base, they just did it badly with Schwarber.

We'll have to agree to disagree here. Schwarber is better than Dalbec. That's a fact. The problem isn't that he's not better it's that he's not playing which is a mistake of execution


How can you say that Schwarber is an improvement at 1B when he hasn't played a single game there? Plus, there's the huge caveat that you are just assuming he can play 1B, seemingly ignoring the fact that he has never even played in the IF (catcher doesn't count) let alone 1st. He started off poorly in LF, and while not bad, hasn't turned his defense into a plus. This all from someone with a career OPS+ of 117 (notably, with his worst non-covid year coming the same season he transitioned to LF). He's not some put-him-anywhere and he hits machine *cough* mookie betts *cough*.

Will he *probably* be an upgrade over Dalbec? Yeah, sure. Were Dalbec's 23 games last year better than anything Schwarber is going to do for the Sox at 1st over a similar stretch of games? Yeah, good chance at that.
   29. villageidiom Posted: August 11, 2021 at 05:10 PM (#6033896)
Fair enough, you may be right.
Words that are a sure fire way to get me to think I'm wrong.
   30. Darren Posted: August 11, 2021 at 07:14 PM (#6033915)
So that's how it is?
   31. villageidiom Posted: August 11, 2021 at 09:21 PM (#6033944)
Not from you specifically, but yeah. I'm a skeptic. I will consider the alternatives if someone thinks I ought to believe something... even if the thing I ought to believe is what I already believe. I'm a mess.
   32. villageidiom Posted: August 11, 2021 at 09:56 PM (#6033956)
So tonight is what I've been talking about. Eovaldi went 7 innings. That's the stuff. I mean, the offense scoring an infinite number of runs helped, and hopefully the bullpen can manage not to blow a 13-run lead...
   33. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 12, 2021 at 08:03 AM (#6033992)
I agree with the sentiment that letting Dalbec play every day at 1B for most of this year was the right move - if you want to find out if a young-ish guy is part of the plan, you've got to just let him play and find out.

This year, the Red Sox had several guys that are too old to be prospects anymore (25+), but are young enough that if they turn out to be good players, they can be part of the next championship-quality version of the Red Sox. Those guys were/are:

Michael Chavis
Bobby Dalbec
Christian Arroyo
Franchy Cordero

Chavis is gone. Dalbec isn't panning out. Cordero isn't panning out, either, though I get why teams will keep giving him chances until he's eligible for the Senior League.

Arroyo has sort of worked out. Unless you are worried that the injury thing is a long-term issue, he has definitely played well enough (and has an amateur track record to suggest it is legit) to go into 2022 as the team's 2B plan.

In fact, if you look at what 2021 has done to help build the team in 2022, a few things that are coming into focus:
1) Arroyo can be the 2B, and Yorke is rumbling through the minors at a young age to make one think he may be the long-term answer in 2+ years. So, 2B is in a lot better shape now than it was a year ago.
2) Pivetta has been far, far better than I expected, and should start 2022 as part of the rotation.
3) Houck and Whitlock are two legitimately exciting young pitchers that I feel good about entering 2022, and both will likely start as default members of the rotation. The idea that we go into Spring Training in 2022 with a potential rotation of Sale/Eovaldi/Pivetta/Houck/Whitlock, with Seabold and (maybe) ERod in the picture is just infinitely stronger a position than just a year ago. That is a pretty exciting group of starters in today's game.
4) A Verdugo/Renfroe/Hernandez OF (which we control at cheap money in 2022, if desired) isn't the worst way to start next season, though the expectation is that Duran will be a starter next year. I am uncertain about Duran, and like the idea of having these three guys back to start 2022 in case Duran doesn't pan out.
5) Vazquez has been a nice player for a long time now, but is about done. We need to think about the next catcher pretty hard now...
6) We need a bridge 1B to get to Casas. I guess we call that "the Mitch Moreland role".

   34. Darren Posted: August 13, 2021 at 11:48 AM (#6034249)
Not from you specifically, but yeah. I'm a skeptic. I will consider the alternatives if someone thinks I ought to believe something... even if the thing I ought to believe is what I already believe. I'm a mess.


Is this your way of challenging to a duel? Because my duel schedule is all filled up.
   35. Darren Posted: August 13, 2021 at 11:50 AM (#6034250)
Jose, you should start a new thread called "Things to Feel Good About" and it should be empty. :)
   36. Darren Posted: August 13, 2021 at 11:51 AM (#6034251)
Also, I would like to call for a moratorium on "If they play .500 ball from here on out..." posts.
   37. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 13, 2021 at 11:52 AM (#6034252)
Jose, you should start a new thread called "Things to Feel Good About" and it should be empty. :)


#### that. I'm going to Worcester tonight! I may actually see Kyle Schwaba.

I'll make a prediction. If they are still ahead of the Yankees and Blue Jays when they leave New York on Wednesday they will make the playoffs. If they are not, they will not.
   38. villageidiom Posted: August 13, 2021 at 11:54 AM (#6034253)
Also, I would like to call for a moratorium on "If they play .500 ball from here on out..." posts.
.500 is too optimistic right now.
   39. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 13, 2021 at 01:04 PM (#6034258)
I'll make a prediction. If they are still ahead of the Yankees and Blue Jays when they leave New York on Wednesday they will make the playoffs. If they are not, they will not.

If you take a look at the Yankees' current IL roster** and don't think the Red Sox can handle that, you've really got a case of the Glooms.

** A starting lineup and 5 man rotation made up exclusively of those IL members would contain more familiar names than the lineup they've got on the field now:

Sanchez, Andujar, Urshela, Torres, Rizzo, Frazier, Hicks, Amburgey, Cole, Montgomery, Germán, Kluber, and Severino.
   40. Darren Posted: August 13, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6034263)
Welcome, Yankees Fans! Please enjoy our pain!
   41. Darren Posted: August 13, 2021 at 05:00 PM (#6034298)
Gonzalez DFA'ed, Schwarber DHing tonight, per Speier.
   42. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 13, 2021 at 06:52 PM (#6034313)
Well I made it to Worcester. Apparently that’s not going to get me a Schwahbah sighting.
   43. Bad Fish Posted: August 14, 2021 at 12:46 PM (#6034381)
You can feel good about this, I think Dalbec is figuring it out a little. After last night he raised his season OPS to over 700 for the first time.

He was horrible in April, and not much better in May.

I will admit that these stats are heavily fueled by his last two games, but....

On May 6th his OPS was at it's low point, 507 - and since then he has put up a 251/302/479/781 - not great, but serviceable.

On June 8th his OPS was still only 595, but in the last two months he has put up 281/331/496/828 - That's pretty good.

   44. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 14, 2021 at 07:35 PM (#6034417)
Fish - Yeah I had noticed that too. My recollection is his track record in his relatively brief minor league career is that he’s a guy who tends to figure things out.

And man was that enjoyable today. Chris Sale waking up tomorrow morning and feeling good would be glorious.
   45. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 14, 2021 at 09:40 PM (#6034437)
So when does Schwarber improve 1B for the Sox?
   46. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 14, 2021 at 11:13 PM (#6034451)
Next weekend is when they will get him in the field.
   47. pikepredator Posted: August 15, 2021 at 10:08 AM (#6034473)
The hitters are coming back to life! Feasting on Baltimore has been a staple of the great Sox teams of recent yore and I'm glad they're getting back to it.

Sale. Legit.

Rodriguez pitches today and he's been striking people out well lately. He should be able to continue that trend.

   48. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 15, 2021 at 10:12 PM (#6034533)
It is easy to sweep Baltimore at home and think that all problems are solved...but it is not easy to sweep any team, and (as the thread notes earlier) if the Red Sox crush these nine home games against crappy team, they pretty much only have to go .500 in the other 35 or so games to likely make the playoffs as a wild card. So that means winning 4 out of 6 or better in the two upcoming home series. We shall see.
   49. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 16, 2021 at 11:24 AM (#6034574)
That was my feeling too. Winning the games you are supposed to win is important. The 2006 team (which I think is the best comp for this team) screwed itself not in getting swept by New York but in getting swept by Kansas City, Seattle and losing two out of three to Tampa. As long as this team keeps winnings the games they should win they should be OK. Here's a path to 92;

1-2 @NY
2-1 vs. Tex
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.
   50. Darren Posted: August 16, 2021 at 11:39 AM (#6034576)
Good path. I approve. Please do this, Red Sox.
   51. Darren Posted: August 16, 2021 at 11:48 AM (#6034577)
JD since our Aug 11 discussion: .467 .556 1.000.

He's back!
   52. John DiFool2 Posted: August 16, 2021 at 12:32 PM (#6034580)
Wish we could play the Orioles the rest of the way.

I recall villageidiom once doing what #49 did, and his prediction turned out to be very close to the actual record.
   53. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 16, 2021 at 01:05 PM (#6034588)
Could we play a Peter Angelos owned team some more?
   54. villageidiom Posted: August 16, 2021 at 02:08 PM (#6034598)
I recall villageidiom once doing what #49 did, and his prediction turned out to be very close to the actual record.
I should've patented this stuff while I had the chance.

If I did it the way I used to, I would have ended up with 95 wins. That has me feeling pretty damn good about 92 wins.

That aside... Pace on over/under:

162 Team Games Played (OVER on 140)
93 Team Wins (OVER on 81.5)
19 Bobby Dalbec Homers (UNDER on 24.5)
12 Eduardo Rodriguez Wins (UNDER on 14.5)
2.6 Alex Verdugo WAR (UNDER on 6.0)
9 Chris Sale Starts if he pitches every 5th game from now on (UNDER on 9.5)
55 maximum possible Jarren Duran MLB Games (UNDER on 75.5)
24 minimum possible Matt Barnes saves (OVER on 15.5)
   55. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 16, 2021 at 02:19 PM (#6034601)
Some things:

1) The team leader in triples is speedster...Bobby Dalbec. The team leader is stolen bases is speedster...Christian Vazquez. (Are these busted hit and runs?) He is 8-for-12 this year. How the #### has he made 12 SB attempts...and actually succeeded two-thirds of the time? Very weird.)

2) The Chris Sale start last Saturday was the first game this year started by somebody other than the "usual five" or Houck.

3) In terms of Garrett Whitlock, I am wondering whether we should be worried that he will run out of gas coming down the stretch. On one hand, he hasn't pitched that many innings (57.1 through Sunday), and it's been evenly distributed: 11-12 innings in each of May, June, and July, on pace for slightly more in August. He also has been pitching even better as the season has gone on: Since May 19th, he has appeared in 23 games, with an ERA of 0.98, only given up an earned run in 3 of those 23 appearances. He his relatively hittable (for somebody who never seems to give up a run), and his control is pretty good. But the real thing is that he doesn't give up home runs - one HR in his last 23 appearances, which span over 36.2 innings. He looked as good on Sunday as he has all year.

4) I'm not sure I really noticed this before today, but with the DFA'ing of Merwin Gonzalez, the only position player on the team older than 30 is JD Martinez, who is 33. I wouldn't describe this as a young team, (the only position players they have under 26 are Verdugo, Devers, Arauz, and Duran. I guess I'd call this a team full of young veterans, if that makes sense.

5) Probably the thing about the 2021 season that I am most disappointed in, considering what a joy the team has been to watch for the most part, is that I don't feel like the franchise is much closer to finding legit young position plyer talent for the long-term future of the team. Devers and Bogaerts, we already knew about, and Arroyo at 2B may be the answer for a while, but look at the other positions"

Catcher: Vazquez is running out of gas, and Wong doesn't look like an aswer. Plawecki's been nice, but is not a long-term guy, either.
1B - Dalbec's recent streak notwithstanding, we are just waiting for Casas, just like we were a year ago.
OF - Verdugo is a solid player, but he has not progressed from last year; if anything, he's taken a step back. I'm still not sure if we've got something in him that is a long-term answer. And as for the other OF positions, Renfroe and Kike have been very good this year, especially for their price point and short-term commitment, but they are both helping us until the next big thing comes along, right? And Duran has been unimpressive in his short time in Boston. I'm certainly not giving up on him, but if the next 40 games look the same for him as his performance thus far, do you feel good penciling him in as an everyday outfielder entering 2022? I do not.

Starting pitching, BTW, is the complete opposite. Pivetta, Houck, and Whitlock all look like key parts of the 2022 team (and possibly all in the rotation). And ERod looks like his conventional stats are starting to revert "up" to his peripheral stats, which is a good thing. If the team and ERod can agree on a contract this winter, I'd like him back. So 2021 has been extraordinary for helping identify the rotation in 2022 and beyond.
   56. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 16, 2021 at 02:38 PM (#6034604)
Other than real stars the long term answers are not ever going to be obvious. 2022;

1B - Dalbec/Schwarber with Casas in waiting
2B - Arroyo
3B - Devers
SS - Bogaerts
LF - Verdugo
CF - Duran/???
RF - Renfroe
C - ???
DH - Martinez

I mean that's not bad. Your concerns about Duran are fair but I'm comfortable playing wait and see there.

Let's talk Verdugo though because he's a curious one;

He was hitting .278/.346/.425 through the ASB. That's perfectly solid, not great but good. From July 16-August 3 he "hit" .211/.286/.316 and he's raked (.467/.500/.667) since then (small sample sizes on those last two pieces). He just had a kid last week, the idea that something was up with his significant other that had him distracted or off his game doesn't seem unreasonable.

With all that said his last 162 games are .291/.355/.444. I think his WAR gets hurt by the fact that he's played so much left field this year but we know he can play right field well. I don't think he's a star but I think he's a good player who you can pencil in through the FA years and worry about it then. If he's Trot Nixon, that's nothing to sneeze at.

Catcher is a concern. Bringing back Vazquez next year with a one year approach of kicking the can down the road a year isn't the worst option. The Sox are middle of the pack there.
   57. Darren Posted: August 16, 2021 at 03:56 PM (#6034615)
Let's talk Verdugo though because he's a curious one;

He was hitting .278/.346/.425 through the ASB. That's perfectly solid, not great but good. From July 16-August 3 he "hit" .211/.286/.316 and he's raked (.467/.500/.667) since then (small sample sizes on those last two pieces). He just had a kid last week, the idea that something was up with his significant other that had him distracted or off his game doesn't seem unreasonable.

With all that said his last 162 games are .291/.355/.444. I think his WAR gets hurt by the fact that he's played so much left field this year but we know he can play right field well. I don't think he's a star but I think he's a good player who you can pencil in through the FA years and worry about it then. If he's Trot Nixon, that's nothing to sneeze at.


I think you and I were both a little too optimistic on Verdugo. ZIPS said he'd put up 2.1 WAR; Steamer said 2.5. He's right on track for the latter. WAR treats LF and RF the same I believe, so that shouldn't affect things much. He appears to just be a good, not very good or great player.

Edit to add:

The frustrating part is that through May 8 (to pick an arbitrary end date), he was hitting .311 .368 .487 and on pace for 6 WAR. He looked exactly like the player you and I both hoped he was. Then he was replacement level for a couple of months (.251 .324 .375 from then until 7/31).
   58. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 16, 2021 at 04:10 PM (#6034619)
Clearly I was too high on Verdugo. I still can't understand what the rating systems saw that I didn't but whatever. I'm also still incredibly optimistic about him. There is nothing wrong with good and of course he's only 25.
   59. villageidiom Posted: August 16, 2021 at 06:45 PM (#6034646)
The team leader is stolen bases is speedster...Christian Vazquez. (Are these busted hit and runs?) He is 8-for-12 this year. How the #### has he made 12 SB attempts...and actually succeeded two-thirds of the time? Very weird.)
Straight-up steals. He's fast for a catcher, which means he's slow but teams don't expect him to run. I mean, David Ortiz was 6-for-7 on steals over his last 4 seasons.
   60. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 16, 2021 at 09:33 PM (#6034671)

1B - Dalbec/Schwarber with Casas in waiting


You all did see that the Sox signed Travis Shaw, yes? Can't imagine he is going to be seeing any time at 3rd, who knows maybe the Milwaukee 2B experience caught their eye, but I am assuming the whole Schwarber to 1B thing is maybe a bit over-hyped.

Sorry, not trying to be negative, I will repeat that this year has been wildly successful overall, but as noted by others, it's not like 2022 is bright and shining.
   61. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 17, 2021 at 08:26 AM (#6034700)
I love the Mayor of Ding Dong City as much as the next guy but look at the track record. I'm skeptical that he gets more than 25 meaningful PA for this team. I'll be thrilled to be wrong but I suspect the goal here is to hope to catch some lightning in a bottle particularly in a stadium where his lefty power might play really well the next couple of days.
   62. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 17, 2021 at 08:27 AM (#6034701)
As for 2022 in retrospect I'd bet on "1B - Not Currently in the Organization" to start the season at first base. That's got Return of Mitch written all over it.
   63. The Mighty Quintana Posted: August 17, 2021 at 12:11 PM (#6034728)
Verdugo vs Duran: Verdugo strikes me as someone who was given much natural hand-eye talent, and a little less athleticism, but may not be maximizing it. Duran strikes me as someone who was given much natural athletic talent, and a little less hand-eye, but is a good bet to maximize both. You might liken Duran to our friend down the pike, Brett Gardner. He's still in the league at almost 40, that's my bet for Duran.
   64. Darren Posted: August 17, 2021 at 04:50 PM (#6034774)
We're doomed.
   65. Textbook Editor Posted: August 17, 2021 at 05:24 PM (#6034781)
Status of Pants: Still dry.
   66. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 17, 2021 at 05:47 PM (#6034785)
Just out of curiosity, why in the Hell did Cora pull Houck after only 4 innings and 58 pitches? Obviously the move backfired, but even if it hadn't, why make a move that was completely unnecessary, and with another game starting in just a few hours?
   67. Darren Posted: August 17, 2021 at 06:02 PM (#6034790)
Status of Pants: Still dry.


Pants are wet!!!
   68. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 17, 2021 at 06:08 PM (#6034791)
TE and Darren with opposite views. I'm probably closer to Darren than TE. On the positive side, the rotation continues to do well. Other than our favorite Oriole fan's question about why Houck was listed so early he gave a good start and after that little up and down (well, down and down) the first two weeks of the month they've pitched well lately. If the rotation keeps pitching* like this they should be OK. The problem is the bullpen is looking really toasty and I don't know an answer for that one and of the five best teams in the AL since the ASG four of them are the Sox primary competition (NY-TB-DET-OAK-TOR). I think there is a real chance that 4th in the division is going to have 90 wins AND be fourth in the WC race also.
   69. Jay Seaver Posted: August 17, 2021 at 08:17 PM (#6034807)
Just out of curiosity, why in the Hell did Cora pull Houck after only 4 innings and 58 pitches? Obviously the move backfired, but even if it hadn't, why make a move that was completely unnecessary, and with another game starting in just a few hours?


Houck has a huge third-time-through-the-order split - BBRef has his OPS going from 454 to 667 to 1750 - although it seems like the 8 PA sample size is too small to really trust.
Since his bullpen has been so good and you get an extra roster spot during a doubleheader, Cora basically treats these 7-inning games like they start in the 3rd.
   70. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 17, 2021 at 09:46 PM (#6034818)
If they keep pitching like this they should be OK. OK may not get it done, the Yankees or Oakland need to lose more often, but they seem to have at least righted that aspect of things.

The clutch “hitting” has been an issue for awhile now. They have to figure that out. They had plenty of chances in both games to put up much more than they did. I’m not sure what the fix is there, wait it out I guess.
   71. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 17, 2021 at 09:47 PM (#6034820)
Done now hanging out with dusted. Not looking good for our hometown heroes. That pen is really taxed, so unless they start getting 6+ inning starts and the bats get a little more consistent, the 80-85 odd wins they'll end up with will have them miss the playoffs.

It's been pretty fun so far though.
   72. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 17, 2021 at 10:06 PM (#6034829)
Just out of curiosity, why in the Hell did Cora pull Houck after only 4 innings and 58 pitches? Obviously the move backfired, but even if it hadn't, why make a move that was completely unnecessary, and with another game starting in just a few hours?

Houck has a huge third-time-through-the-order split - BBRef has his OPS going from 454 to 667 to 1750 - although it seems like the 8 PA sample size is too small to really trust.
Since his bullpen has been so good and you get an extra roster spot during a doubleheader, Cora basically treats these 7-inning games like they start in the 3rd.


Thanks for the explanation, Jay. Small Sample Size for me, as every time I've seen Houck so far he's looked as good as any of their starters.
   73. Textbook Editor Posted: August 17, 2021 at 10:36 PM (#6034831)
Pants still dry.

They were supposed to be mediocre. They turned out to be better than that. I wish it was 2013, but it seems that's not gonna be the case this year. I like the flexibility we have going forward, but of course "cap room" doesn't win out on the field, players do...

The season's all been gravy. If anything, I've been thinking fans have actually been a bit clear-eyed about things this year, and not gotten as carried away as perhaps might have been expected ~10 years ago. Maybe it's the 4 WS wins making the fan base more chill. Maybe it's the fact that more people are aware when advanced stats, etc. point to pixie dust luck/outlier performances rather than a baseline of dominance... It's hard to say.

It's been a fun season, but I haven't gotten carried away. Perhaps my pants are dry simply because I never filled my bladder up this season, and thus have nothing to piss.
   74. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 17, 2021 at 10:42 PM (#6034832)
I’m sorry that’s a far too reasonable take for the internet.
   75. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: August 18, 2021 at 08:28 AM (#6034851)
The clutch “hitting” has been an issue for awhile now. They have to figure that out. They had plenty of chances in both games to put up much more than they did. I’m not sure what the fix is there, wait it out I guess.


Even this month's offensive performance feels misleading. 81 runs in 16 games sounds good, but they scored 36 of those runs in two games... they've scored under 5 runs in 11 games. Even their .284/.357/.464 line this month feels like it was inflated by the Rays blowout/Orioles series.


I feel good about the rotation now, but I think the damage has already been done. As far as Houck goes, if you don't trust him a third time through the order then use him as a long reliever (maybe Perez opens and Houck follows?). But he isn't going to demonstrate an ability to navigate the order a third time if he doesn't get the opportunities. Especially with the state of the bullpen, we should be trying to get more outs from our starters.
   76. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 18, 2021 at 09:24 AM (#6034854)
Status of Pants: Flooded.
   77. villageidiom Posted: August 18, 2021 at 11:08 AM (#6034863)
Since his bullpen has been so good and you get an extra roster spot during a doubleheader, Cora basically treats these 7-inning games like they start in the 3rd.
I'm not sure this is it, but I believe it much more than the notion that Houck's small-sample TTOP is driving the decision.

Houck has had seven starts this season, *four* of them during doubleheaders. The other three were:

April 3: threw 85 pitches to 22 batters. Gave up 3 R (2 ER) across 5 IP.
July 22: threw 87 pitches to 18 batters. Gave up 1 R (0 ER) across 5 IP.
Aug. 12: threw 89 pitches to 21 batters. Gave up 4 R (3 ER) across 5+ IP. (1 R / 0 ER through 5, then single/HR/double in the 6th)

In the doubleheader starts he's thrown 58, 75, 74, and 58 pitches, to 19, 15, 16, and 18 batters. It does seem as though Cora is trying to use the doubleheaders to give the starters - or at least Houck - a break.

But that's the thing that bugs me on this. Like, Houck is averaging 21 fewer pitches in doubleheaders. At his season rate as a starter that's around 6 batters, which in turn is around 1.1 IP. So of the 2 fewer innings Houck gets 1.1 of that break and the bullpen gets 0.2. That seemingly splits the break evenly based on normal workload... Except the bullpen doesn't really get a break because they still have a 2nd game to pitch while the starter gets a few days off.

Doubleheader IP breakdown
If each starter covers... | ...the bullpen covers... | ...which equates to ONE game with the starter going...

6 IP | 2 IP | 7 IP
5 IP | 4 IP | 5 IP
4 IP | 6 IP | 3 IP

When the bullpen is already burned out, why would you voluntarily give them the workload equivalent of removing the starter after 3 IP?

I mean, it wouldn't have made a difference yesterday. The Yankees are playing well and it was a doubleheader at home for them, and Boston's offense was a bigger problem than their pitching. But this has been bugging me for a while, and yesterday was no different, and I don't have an answer.
   78. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 18, 2021 at 02:07 PM (#6034895)
1) I would love to see the starters go deeper in games, including 7-inning games - but you don't have to be a sabermetrician to know that if you score 0 runs in a game, it will probably come back to bite you in the ass.

2) Let's see what happens, but as I remind a lot of my friends who are Red Sox fans of the following: If I told you in March that this team would go 88-74, with guys like Houck, Pivetta, and Whitlock all making a ton of progress; and that the team would win 88 games while moving up to #9 in the latest BA rankings of minor-league systems, you'd be thrilled with the season. But I wouldn't let the difference between 88 wins (which would require going 19-21 the rest of the way) and 93 wins (which would require going 24-16 the rest of the way) be the difference between a "successful" 2021 and an "unsuccessful" 2021.

To me, success in 2021 was always finding more long-term pieces of the puzzle, meaningfully strengthening the farm system, getting under the salary tax limits in 2021 so that we can whole-hog next year and beyond, and fielding a competitive team that was fun to watch - all at the same time. With 40 games to go, the team has already achieved all four of these goals. That is pretty remarkable. Now the final cherry on the sundae is, can we do all four of these things...and make the playoffs! That this is a relevant topic with 40 games to go is awesome.
   79. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 18, 2021 at 03:42 PM (#6034921)
Random thing - the Sox haven't been good in Manfredball. They have played five doubleheaders this year and of some note four of them have been against contenders and they have not gone great;

April 14 @ Minnesota 2-0
April 18 vs. CWS 0-2
July 28 vs. Toronto 1-1
August 7 @ Toronto 1-1
August 17 @ NYY 0-2

That's 4-6 overall which isn't great of course. What's interesting is they've scored 23 runs in the ten games and that's actually a bit worse than it appears because one of the games had an extra inning so they are averaging 2.9 runs/9 inning game in Manfredball. I'm not sure WHY that would be and I'm not sure why it should be viewed as meaningful (or even IF it should be viewed as meaningful) but a team averaging 5 runs/game is struggling in those shortened games. It's worth noting that they have only allowed 25 runs in those games so those games, at least when the Sox are involved, are not exactly piling up the runs. For a team that is having success based on having one of the best offenses in the league those games are for whatever reason not playing into the Sox' hands.
   80. Jay Seaver Posted: August 18, 2021 at 03:44 PM (#6034923)
77 - I admittedly heard the times-through-the-order thing somewhere, gave it a quick check, and landed on "small sample size but the results are stark enough to fit into Cora's thinking".

I kind of think that, at least in 2021, Cora seems to be a "better an inning too early than a hitter too late" guy with regard to his starters, and if he probably figures that between having a big bullpen which can get an extra arm on doubleheader days and the zombie runners starting in the 8th, he probably won't tax the bullpen too much if he treats the fourth inning like the sixth. I also think that, as much as the zombie runners are only meant to change the way that the game is played in extras, a smart guy like Cora(*) is going to see the reduced risk of a bullpen-crushing marathon into account and will act more aggressively earlier, especially since Sale and Eovaldi (and maybe Rodriguez) are the only guys who are in any position to push back about being denied their precious wins. I think it's most noticeable in doubleheaders because they feel like games that have had the last couple innings lopped off rather than the first couple, even if playing like the latter is true makes more sense to Cora.

(*) And probably most MLB managers, but this seems to be the kind of thinking the Red Sox hired Cora for, twice.

It doesn't really seem to have worked out for him just looking at double-headers - they've swept, been swept, split, split, and been swept - and I don't know how if he's overtaxed the bullpen enough that them being gassed the past few weeks is enough to counter how far over their head the Sox were able to play for the first half of the season. The part of me that hates midseason trades in general wonders if the thinking might be "wear down the mediocre guys to get far enough ahead that the GM is motivated to upgrade them at the deadline and discard them", and Bloom didn't deliver Cora the quality of replacement he was planning on.
   81. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 18, 2021 at 03:49 PM (#6034928)
On the subject of the bullpen...what the hell happened to Darwinzon? I don't think his injury coinciding with the bullpen falling apart is a coincidence. He wasn't great but he was pretty good most of the time. In a bit of randomness he gave up a run exactly twice a month every month this season.

April 2 out of 10
May 2 out of 9
June 2 out of 13
July 2 out of 9

Losing that guy out there has really hurt.
   82. Textbook Editor Posted: August 18, 2021 at 09:02 PM (#6035020)
Ah well.
   83. Darren Posted: August 19, 2021 at 02:22 PM (#6035152)
I'm afraid to do a pants check.

Fun thing last night: Rizzo, the guy we were trying to get, smashes a ball down the line where it goes in and out of the glove of our first baseman, a position he would have been playing. OUUUCCCHHHH!
   84. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 22, 2021 at 11:00 AM (#6035550)
I know a lot of Red Sox fans on Twitter have been peeing their pants because Bloom did not trade Nick Yorke, Brayan Bello, and Josh Winckowski for two months of Anthony Rizzo or something, but the team continues to settle into the level it should - a .500 team that played at the very top of its capability, aided by a lot of successful in one-run games, for about 100 games, and thus will win ~86 games instead of 80. This will be good enough to keep the team in the WC chase pretty much to the end, but to the credit of Chaim Bloom, that is secondary to building the juggernaut he has in mind.

When Chris Sale shut out the Rangers through five innings Friday night, after only 73 pitches, Sale still came out, because 2021 for Sale is about giving him the best chance of being 100% for 2022-2024 - when the team has a real chance of winning a World Series relative to this year.

That "if they play .500" exercise? Well, they now have 35 games to go, and if they go 18-17, they will end up at 88-74. Last night's blowout loss to Texas really highlights how little margin for error they now have to be a 90-win team.

The only guy left in AAA that I'd really enjoy seeing up in September to get a head start on 2022, while potentially helping this year's team get into the WC game, is Connor Seabold. Seabold was again dominant last night - 7 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 90 pitches. And I'd love to see Casas in AAA to end the season, and Yorke bumped up a level, as well.
   85. pikepredator Posted: August 22, 2021 at 11:41 AM (#6035552)
Steve: I have been on the "just enjoying the ride" bandwagon most of the year, but your post makes it even easier to handle this return to "they are who we thought they are" form.

So, thanks!
   86. Darren Posted: August 22, 2021 at 07:41 PM (#6035619)
I know a lot of Red Sox fans on Twitter have been peeing their pants because Bloom did not trade Nick Yorke, Brayan Bello, and Josh Winckowski for two months of Anthony Rizzo or something, but the team continues to settle into the level it should - a .500 team that played at the very top of its capability, aided by a lot of successful in one-run games, for about 100 games, and thus will win ~86 games instead of 80. This will be good enough to keep the team in the WC chase pretty much to the end, but to the credit of Chaim Bloom, that is secondary to building the juggernaut he has in mind.


At the deadline, Fangraphs had them projected as a .550 team the rest of the way. That's a good enough team to 'go for it' and try to make moves to make the playoffs. (Not the trade you describe above, though, I don't think.)

When Chris Sale shut out the Rangers through five innings Friday night, after only 73 pitches, Sale still came out, because 2021 for Sale is about giving him the best chance of being 100% for 2022-2024 - when the team has a real chance of winning a World Series relative to this year.


You also take Sale out after 5 innings there if you want to protect him for both the short and long term, especially since your team scored 3 runs in the previous half inning, meaning Sale spent a long time on the bench. Teams who get to the playoffs are teams that have a real chance of winning the World Series.
   87. pikepredator Posted: August 27, 2021 at 03:58 PM (#6036763)
Things to feel good about? How about footage of all three of Sale's immaculate innings?

https://www.mlb.com/redsox/news/immaculate-innings-c265720420 
Sale - 3X immaculate
   88. pikepredator Posted: August 27, 2021 at 04:00 PM (#6036764)
Things to feel good about? How about footage of all three of Sale's immaculate innings?

Sale - 3X immaculate
   89. Darren Posted: August 27, 2021 at 06:02 PM (#6036794)
Is it me, or should an immaculate inning not include foul balls?*

*It's probably me.
   90. pikepredator Posted: August 28, 2021 at 09:31 AM (#6036845)
Nah, it's not just you. even watching those three Sale innings, the Royals one was the most impressive to my eye. It has one foul ball but mostly Sale freezing them with breaking balls on the black and then overpowering them with heat. Just brilliant. Even when they swing they are totally overmatched.
   91. Darren Posted: September 03, 2021 at 02:39 PM (#6038133)
The minors are currently a mixed bag for the Sox. Casas's power has disappeared, Downs had a lost year, and Duran currently looks lost. But in terms of things to feel good about:

--Marcelo Mayer is putting up a .961 OPS in the FCL.
--Nick Yorke was dominating A ball as a 19 year old, so they moved him up to A+ where he's hitting .438 .500 .719.
--Jay Groome has stayed healthy.
--Blaze Jordan is holding his own in A ball at age 18.
   92. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 03, 2021 at 09:50 PM (#6038205)
Casas hit two massive homers tonight. Given the way he’s bounced around this year and Portland being as I recall a pitcher’s park I wouldn’t worry too much,

Yorke has been added to the BA top 100 after a recent graduation so the Sox have four players in the top 100.
   93. Darren Posted: September 04, 2021 at 07:01 PM (#6038327)
Make it 3 for Casas so..... Never mind.
   94. Darren Posted: September 05, 2021 at 03:31 PM (#6038376)
And 2 more the next day for Casas. I think maybe I was wrong!

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