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Friday, December 18, 2020

ZiPping Along

With Christmas just a few days away (be safe Therapudians!) we got a little baseball gift as FanGraphs released their ZiPS projections for the 2021 Red Sox.  Dan always gives some good stuff here (I know he pops in on BTF and if he has issues with me using ZiPS for a post let me know and I’ll remove it) and I thought in the absence of any meaningful news I would poke around a bit.

INFIELD:  The infield is what it is.  Xander Bogaerts (of whom Dan asks “is he the most underrated shortstop in baseball”) projects as a 4 win player and Rafael Devers projects to have a pretty strong bounce back.  Bobby Dalbec is listed as the first baseman along with Tristan Casas though Dan gets off a great line here as well (“I fully expect Mitch Moreland to show up in the spring, and for the Red Sox to assume that someone in the front office must have signed him for a year at $4 million or something”).  Dalbec projects as a 1 WAR player and that’s not unreasonable to me.  I can see him being a 4 or 5 win player and I can see him being a complete bust who spends more time in Worcester than Boston.  Second base is pretty up in the air but the first comp for Jeter Downs (Sean Rodriguez) doesn’t upset me at all.  The Sox should be looking to improve at second base as Downs is likely not ready to go yet but a Sean Rodriguez type player there would be OK in my book.

OUTFIELD: The big question in the outfield is Andrew Benintendi.  It’s pretty clear that ZiPS isn’t too bothered by 14 bad games during a pandemic and has Benny going back to his 2019 form for better or for worse.  For the Sox to move back into contention Benintendi at least splitting the difference between 2018 and 2019 would be a big boost.  JD Martinez and Hunter Renfroe project about where you would expect them.  JD perhaps a bit below but not enough to quibble.  The guy whose forecast just seems off to me is Alex Verdugo.  Verdugo was a 2.2 WAR player in a 60 game season and the year before in just over 100 games was 3.2 WAR but for some reason the numbers crunch out to a 2.2 WAR projection with the unimpressive number one comparable of Ryan Sweeney.  Numbers is what numbers is but that one sounds questionable to me.  ZiPS always uses the current team for a player so Jackie Bradley Jr., who seems more and more likely to return each day, is listed with the Sox Like with Benintendi ZiPS seems to not be overreacting to the shortened season for JBJ and while his .739 OPS would be his best full season since 2016 it’s not by a lot.  Frankly, this is a case where I think the ones and zeroes are probably getting it right.  Jarren Duran (proj. .268/.313/.368) looks like a guy who would benefit from a bit more seasoning in AAA.  Yup, that tracks.

CATCHER: Not a ton going on here.  Christian Vazquez (2.3 projected) and Kevin Plawecki (1.0) are your catchers.  They are both good enough in their roles.  If I was going to spring training this year Deivy Grullon would be on my list to check out and I love his top comp of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Salty did a job for a couple years for the Sox and if Grullon can do that score one for Chaim Bloom.

PITCHERS: Yeah, it’s as grim as you’d expect.  I have not touched on the pitching much this off-season because until something happens there is not much to say.  I think we all know;

1. The Red Sox pitching is abysmal
2. Almost certain Chaim Bloom will address it this winter at some point
3. If he does not there is no reason to stress the 2021 season and we should just watch player development.

With that in mind Eduardo Rodriguez projects well.  I don’t know, and frankly I don’t think ANYONE knows, how someone coming off a missed season due to COVID is going to rebound.  The Sox need EdRod to return to form, it is just that simple.  Chris Sale (the highest projected WAR among the pitching staff) will be back mid-seasonish and even assuming he doesn’t return as CHRIS SALE but comes back as something similar to what the Yankees got from C.C. Sabathia post-Tommy John I think that would be perfectly fine for the Sox needs.  The guy that jumped out at me is Bryan Mata.  The hard-throwing minor leaguer shows up at 1.0 WAR which seems like a positive expectation for a guy with on eleven games above single A ball.  It would not shock me to see Mata progress rapidly though it is likely the 2021 Red Sox are not going to be in a position where they feel a need to rush a prospect.

Good stuff from Dan as always.  It’ll be interesting to see how the pitching staff comes together (or doesn’t) and at this point exactly how the baseball season itself comes together.

Have a wonderful holiday season one and all.  Be good to each other.

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: December 18, 2020 at 02:31 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: December 22, 2020 at 07:36 AM (#5995450)
Per Dan:
Both systems see a solid Matt Barnes, three more solid, middle-of-the-road relievers in Ryan Brasier, Josh Taylor, and Darwinzon Hernandez, and a whole lot more question marks.

I would have felt a lot better about that assessment of those players if it were early 2019 and not late 2020. I guess I see nothing but question marks back there.
   2. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: December 22, 2020 at 08:08 AM (#5995454)
Yeah, it's not a great looking bullpen. I'm hopeful about Hernandez and the Sox seem to just love Taylor. Barnes is better than he was last year. Brasier, meh. Bullpens are what they are though. As badly wrong as they can go they are also pretty easy to build up. I can see a scenario where Hernandez and Barnes combine to be dominant on the back end. If Taylor, Brasier and maybe Brice or Valdez can be useful, that is good. I also think it's pretty likely the Sox are going to add a reliever if not two from what looks like a fairly rich free agent market.
   3. villageidiom Posted: December 22, 2020 at 09:20 AM (#5995460)
Should I be happy that Chris Sale's comp is John Smiley? Smiley had 0 WAR and a career-ending injury in his age-32 season.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: December 22, 2020 at 03:37 PM (#5995560)
The Sox used 27 pitchers in 2020 (not including Lin, Plawecki, and Peraza). How many of that crew will never again pitch an inning in the major leagues?
   5. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: December 23, 2020 at 12:55 PM (#5995700)
The bold are my guesses.

Name Age
Martin Perez* 29
Nathan Eovaldi 30
Chris Mazza 30
Zack Godley 30
Matt Barnes 30
Ryan Weber 29
Phillips Valdez 28
Ryan Brasier 32
Austin Brice 28
Colten Brewer 27
Jeffrey Springs* 27
Tanner Houck 24
Josh Osich* 31
Dylan Covey 28
Mike Kickham* 31
Robert Stock 30
Marcus Walden 31
Kyle Hart* 27
Nick Pivetta 27
Heath Hembree 31
Matt Hall* 26
Darwinzon Hernandez* 23
Andrew Triggs 31
Josh Taylor* 27
Brandon Workman 31
Robinson Leyer 27
Domingo Tapia 28

   6. villageidiom Posted: December 23, 2020 at 03:05 PM (#5995724)
Matt Andriese is now a member of the Red Sox. ZiPS had him with the Angels around the same projected WAR as any one of Barnes/Brasier/Mazza/Godley.
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: December 24, 2020 at 09:01 AM (#5995811)
 5. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: December 23, 2020 at 12:55 PM (#5995700)
The bold are my guesses.
You hereby set the over/under at 6! I bet over.

I also found it interesting that there were no old pitchers on the team. Brasier was the oldest!
   8. villageidiom Posted: December 24, 2020 at 10:29 AM (#5995826)
Brasier is the 10th-most tenured player on the Red Sox 40-man roster, per soxprospects.com, once you remove JBJ.

2006/08 Pedroia
2012/11 Vazquez
2013/08 Bogaerts
2014/09 Barnes
2014/11 Rodriguez
2016/08 Benintendi
2016/12 Sale
2017/07 Devers
2018/02 Martinez
2018/03 Walden
2018/07 Brasier

Nathan Eovaldi is 11th. He's the only player not listed above who was from the 2018 Championship roster and still remains on the roster.
   9. Nasty Nate Posted: December 24, 2020 at 10:36 AM (#5995828)
Out of curiosity, what is the second number (e.g. 08 for Pedroia)?
   10. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: December 24, 2020 at 10:56 AM (#5995832)
I’m guessing that’s the month they were added to the 40 man or MLB roster. Pedroia and Benny were called up in August, JDM was signed in February, Sale was acquired in December, Devers was a July call up.
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: December 24, 2020 at 11:08 AM (#5995837)
I’m guessing that’s the month they were added to the 40 man or MLB roster. Pedroia and Benny were called up in August, JDM was signed in February, Sale was acquired in December, Devers was a July call up.
Ah, thanks. I had ruled out month of acquisition and month of debut.
   12. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: December 24, 2020 at 11:50 AM (#5995842)
To be clear I don’t know that for a fact. Just a moderately educated guess.
   13. villageidiom Posted: December 24, 2020 at 02:54 PM (#5995862)
It's the correct guess. Now I'll entertain incorrect guesses.
   14. villageidiom Posted: January 13, 2021 at 10:18 AM (#5999455)
OUTFIELD: The big question in the outfield is Andrew Benintendi. It’s pretty clear that ZiPS isn’t too bothered by 14 bad games during a pandemic and has Benny going back to his 2019 form for better or for worse. For the Sox to move back into contention Benintendi at least splitting the difference between 2018 and 2019 would be a big boost.
Seeing reports that a trade of Benintendi is... I don't know about "imminent", but reportedly multiple teams are interested and negotiating with Boston.

Jose's comment, spun a different way - maybe even different than he'd been intending - is that returning to 2019 form isn't good enough. They need something closer to 2018. The acquisition of Renfroe means that they have someone who is projected to perform around what one should realistically expect from Benintendi, while the latter's record pre-2019 suggests substantial upside that might be more attractive in trade. I hope that Boston keeps Benintendi AND he returns to 2018 form, but (a) I don't think both will happen, and (b) this roster needs more than hope.

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