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But Can He Pitch?



Updated: 2017-10-17T11:00:03-04:00

 



2017 Portland SeaDogs Review

2017-10-17T11:00:03-04:00

What happened in Portland last year? As the postseason continues and we wait for the offseason to really kick off, we’ll continue to look back this week before we start to look forward. For the next few days, we’ll have our eyes on the Red Sox minor-league system, looking back at the year that was for every team in the system. To do so, we’ll look at notable players from each level and dividing them into good, bad and other. Creative, I know! To avoid repeats, players will be included on the team with whom they spent the most time. For example, Josh Ockimey will be discussed along with the rest of the Salem Red Sox despite him finishing the year in Portland. Today, we’ll focus on the Double-A Portland SeaDogs. The Good Rafael Devers We’ll remember 2017 as the year Devers made his major-league debut and helped lead the Red Sox to a division title, but it all started in Portland. He made the jump to Double-A as a 20-year-old and was unfazed by the significant jump in talent. It was a sure sign of things to come. Michael Chavis No Red Sox prospect saw their stock rise quite like Chavis, who hit Baseball America’s Top 100 list. He showed off legitimate power in both Salem and Portland, and though he struggled at times in Double-A he was plenty good enough that he’ll be the most exciting position player prospect to watch next year. Photo Courtesy of Kelly O’Connor; sittingstill.smugmug.com Tzu-Wei Lin Chavis was the biggest breakout of Red Sox prospects, but Lin may be the biggest surprise. A longtime glove-only player in Boston’s system, the infielder started to hit like crazy in Portland and never really stopped, eventually getting a chance (and impressing) in the bigs. Lin has showed that he is a capable major-league backup. Jeremy Barfield Barfield isn’t someone we discussed much this year, but the minor-league veteran was a stud for the SeaDogs this year, posting a .944 OPS after coming aboard of a midseason addition out of the Indy Leagues. He’s already agreed to return to the organization next year, and he’ll almost certainly spend it in Pawtucket. Bobby Poyner Poyner has never really reached top prospect status, but he is coming off an incredible year in Portland. After a strong start to the season in Salem, he moved up to Double-A and posted a 0.94 ERA over 38 innings with 52 strikeouts. It seems likely he’ll be in Pawtucket next year. The Bad Josh Tobias Tobias was the return in the Clay Buchholz trade from last winter, and while his age and track record didn’t suggest any reason to get too excited, there was reason for some optimism. After a strong start in Salem, though, Tobias struggled for the majority of the season in Portland and probably doesn’t have much of a future in the organization. Trey Ball On the one hand, this was probably the best season for Ball, a former seventh overall pick, at least in terms of peripherals. On the other hand, that still entailed a 5.27 ERA over 25 outings (24 starts). It’s gotta be time to think about moving him to the bullpen. Teddy Stankiewicz Stankiewicz was the team’s second pick in that same draft as Ball, and he has also been a mild disappointment. There are flashes with the righty, but he finished with a 5.03 ERA and he’s another guy who should be tried in the bullpen. The Others Danny Mars Mars isn’t a future superstar, but he had something of a breakout season in Double-A, or at least showed that he could have a future as a major-league outfielder. There isn’t any power to speak of, which would probably keep him out of a starting role, but he’s a good athlete, a good defensive player and hits line drives all over the field. He finished the year with a .754 OPS. Jake Cosart There may not be a more confusing player in the Red Sox farm system than Cosart. He has a ton of talent in his arm and when you see him on one of his good days you can become an instant believer. In 2016, he had a lot more good days than bad days, which was particularly encouraging in his first year as a reliever. He wasn’t qu[...]



2017 Red Sox Review: Xander Bogaerts

2017-10-17T10:00:04-04:00

A look back at the year that was for Xander Bogaerts Welcome to the Red Sox Review series. It’s a fairly standard feature in which we will review the year that was for every player who made a decently large impact on the Red Sox this year. How do I come up with that definition? Completely arbitrarily, of course! The list of players I’m using can be seen here, and if I am missing anyone please let me know in the comments. Anyway, for the players who are included we will look at the positives of their 2017, the negatives, review their One Big Question from the preseason and look ahead to what’s on the table for 2018. Today, we discuss Xander Bogaerts. Positives On the whole, I imagine most would look back on 2017 as a negative year for Xander Bogaerts, and that is entirely fair. I will not fight you on this point. That being said, although there were some really low points there were plenty of things to be happy about with the young shortstop as well. First and foremost, as has been a theme throughout his career, is that Bogaerts’ plate discipline gives him a solid baseline at the plate. For the third consecutive season, the Red Sox shortstop finished the year with a strikeout rate under 20 percent, a trend that becomes all the more impressive with each passing year. In 2017, the league struck out at a rate of 21.6 percent, for context. On top of that lack of strikeouts, Bogaerts walked 8.8 percent of the time in 2017, the second straight year he saw an increase in walk rate from the previous year. These are positive trends and bode well for his future. In addition to the plate discipline, Bogaerts also excelled in turning balls in play into hits, something he’s been great at throughout his major-league career. As a solid athlete but far from a burner, he doesn’t really scream high-BABIP player, but that’s what he’s turned into. His .327 batting average on balls in play, while impressive, was actually his lowest mark of the last three years. It also finished in the top-third of the league, though, and is a skill he’s proven to have thanks to an ability to hit line drives, make solid contact (although, as we’ll get to, he wasn’t always consistent in this area), and use the whole field. This, combined with his plate discipline, allowed him to finish with a solid enough 96 wRC+, a mark that put him right in the middle of the pack among qualified shortstops and eight points above the league-average shortstop. It’s not where we want Bogaerts to be, of course, but assuming this is a down year it’s not too bad. Really, it was a tale of two seasons for Bogaerts. In the first half, he was fantastic and one of the few bright spots on the disappointing offense. There were still issues in his game — again, we’ll get there — but his all-fields approach was firing on all cylinders and he was getting on base at a high clip. At the All-Star break he had posted a 111 wRC+ and was part of the Final Vote to get into the game, a vote he’d end up losing. Still, it was hard to be disappointed with his performance at that point. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Moving away from his hitting, the final positive for Bogaerts came on the basepaths. The Red Sox were a strange baserunning team in 2017 and one that drove many of us crazy with their aggression at times. Still, there were a few really good baserunners, and Bogaerts was sneakily one of them. He’s not a burner and his 15 steals won’t blow anyone away, but he’s a really smart runner and takes the extra base whenever he can. Fangraphs’ baserunning metric had him rated as the fifth-best runner in the league while Baseball Prospectus ranked him seventh. Negatives While 2017 was probably better for Bogaerts than some would give him credit for, for all of the reasons listed above, there were certainly some negatives on the year. Most notable, as is a theme with all of Boston’s lineup, was his power. Coming up through the minors, many envisioned that Bogaerts would be a run producer in the middle o[...]



The Red Sox interviewed Brad Ausmus on Monday

2017-10-17T08:45:02-04:00

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Add another candidate to the list

The Red Sox have already had their interview with Alex Cora and reportedly have asked for permission to interview Ron Gardenhire, giving them two known candidates for the vacant managerial position. Now, we’ve learned of a new candidate, though it won’t come as much of a surprise. According to the Boston Herald’s Chad Jennings, Boston interviewed former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus for the position on Monday.




MLB Roundup 10/17: Yankees get a win; Expansion coming?

2017-10-17T08:00:04-04:00

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Some interesting news and speculation around the league on Monday

Yankees dominate in Game Three

The Yankees headed back to New York down 2-0 in the ALCS, and the Astros had a chance to really take control of the series with a third consecutive win on Monday. That didn’t happen, and the Yankees completely dominated to get their first win of the series. Charlie Morton didn’t look too bad for Houston, but the Yankees took advantage of their ballpark and hit a couple of big three-run home runs and that was more than enough for CC Sabathia, who continues to look more and more like his old self. These two teams will be back in action on Tuesday in a pivotal Game Four.

Mets to interview Alex Cora; Kevin Long favorite

Alex Cora is the fan-favorite managerial candidate for the Red Sox, but Boston isn’t the only team that wants him. According to Ken Rosenthal, Cora is expected to interview with the Mets on Tuesday. Cora is a hot, young name around the league, so it’s no surprise that he’s interviewing with multiple teams. It’s too early in the process to take any of this too seriously, but it should be noted that current hitting coach Kevin Long could be the favorite for the Mets job at this point. That is good news for the Red Sox if it is indeed the case.

Could expansion and realignment be coming to MLB?

There was a very interesting article at Baseball America on Monday, claiming that expansion was looking more and more inevitable and that realignment would come with any potential expansion. You should read the whole thing here, as there are some interesting possibilities brought up by the author. Most surprising is the possibility that they would eliminate the American and National Leagues in favor of eight-team divisions based on geography. They also suggest that the four division winners would make the playoffs along with eight wildcards, all of whom would play in one-game playoffs for a chance to move on and face the division winners. It’s hard to say just how realistic or accurate this report is, but it’s a fascinating thought experiment with which to head into the offseason.




Daily Red Sox Links: Alex Cora, Brad Ausmus, Ron Gardenhire

2017-10-17T07:01:01-04:00

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The search for Boston’s next manager continues to intensify.

As the Red Sox continue to search for a new manager, a report says that Alex Cora is going to get the job. (Ruben Rodriguez Delgado; El Nuevo Dia)

Another report surfaced saying Brad Ausmus interviewed for the gig. (Chad Jennings; Boston Herald)

Meanwhile, Ron Gardenhire is still in the mix. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)

But the Red Sox need to add more than a manager. They need some pop in the lineup. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)

Michael Chavis is doing nicely in the Arizona Fall League. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)




Pawtucket Red Sox 2017 Review

2017-10-16T12:00:02-04:00

Looking back at the year that was in Pawtucket As the postseason continues and we wait for the offseason to really kick off, we’ll continue to look back this week before we start to look forward. For the next few days, we’ll have our eyes on the Red Sox minor-league system, looking back at the year that was for every team in the system. To do so, we’ll look at notable players from each level and dividing them into good, bad and other. Creative, I know! To avoid repeats, players will be included on the team with whom they spent the most time. For example, Josh Ockimey will be discussed along with the rest of the Salem Red Sox despite him finishing the year in Portland. Today, we’ll focus on the Triple-A PawSox. The Good Bryce Brentz Brentz was the MVP of the PawSox this year and was the most notable snub among those who did not receive a September call-up. His power from the right side is legitimate, and he’s going to get a chance in the majors in 2018 whether it be for the Red Sox or someone else. Rusney Castillo Many stopped paying attention to Castillo since it seemed impossible that he’d be back in the majors. However, he put up a strong season in 2017 with an .857 OPS and solid defense in the outfield, opening up an outside chance he could find himself back in the majors next year. It’s still not something I’d bet on, but it’s much more of a possibility than it’s been since he was initially demoted. Hector Velazquez Velazquez was a major unknown heading into the season, but he impressed in Triple-A to the tune of a 2.21 ERA over 19 starts. That, of course, earned him a role and a few spot starts on the major-league roster and should make him a viable major-league candidate in 2018. Brian Johnson Like Velazquez, Johnson had a strong year in the Pawtucket rotation and earned himself some spot starts in the majors. We’ve seen this kind of production from Johnson before, but unfortunately some bad luck injuries held him back as has happened so many times over his career. He’s now out of options, and while he’ll certainly latch on somewhere the Red Sox may not have the room on their roster to keep Johnson around. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images Justin Haley Like Workman, Haley spent much of his year on an active roster. The difference is that Haley was in Minnesota after the Twins selected him in the Rule 5 draft. They sent him back to Boston in August and Haley was placed back in Pawtucket’s rotation and picked up right where he left off. If he sticks around through the Rule 5 draft this year, he could represent some intriguing rotation depth. Edgar Olmos Olmos isn’t really a household name, but the lefty looked really solid in spring training and then went out and posted a 2.68 ERA while throwing out of the rotation and the bullpen. He may not be back in the Red Sox organization next year, but he did well enough to have a legitimate chance to make it out of spring training for some team in 2018. The Bad Sam Travis Coming into the season, Sam Travis was seen as the hopeful first baseman of the future and his strong spring training didn’t do much to stop that. Unfortunately, he didn’t really put up that kind of performance at all this year, either in the majors or at Triple-A. With Pawtucket he posted an OPS of just .726, and while he was able to get on base plenty he continued to show off power that just isn’t good enough for his position. Blake Swihart Swihart started the year in Triple-A mostly out of necessity, since he was the only catcher on the roster with options. It was assumed he’d eventually work his way to the majors and into a starting role. That...didn’t happen. Largely, but not entirely, due to a hand injury, this was a mostly lost season for Swihart that ended with him getting more work at positions other than catcher. It sure seems like he could be a trade candidate this winter. Steve Selsky Selsk[...]



Checking in on the Red Sox payroll

2017-10-16T11:00:02-04:00

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Here’s where Boston stands heading into the offseason.

Baseball’s offseason doesn’t get into full-swing until every team in the league has stopped playing, which means we still have at least a couple weeks before player movement begins. Of course, that doesn’t mean the preparation doesn’t start until then. Teams and their rosters are obviously a full-year job, and front offices are constantly thinking years ahead in every move they make. Since the Red Sox got eliminated, though, you can be sure that Dave Dombrowski and company really got serious about outlining their various plans for the upcoming winter.

Although Boston’s roster has a lot to like about it and puts them in an enviable position compared to most of the league, there are still changes and moves that need to be made. Chief among them is finding a new manager, which Dombrowski is already working towards. He interviewed Alex Cora on Sunday, the same day he requested permission to speak with current Diamondbacks bench coach and former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

After they do come to an agreement with whoever their future manager may be, the focus will turn to the players. As always, budgetary concerns will be at play. The Red Sox shouldn’t have to stay under the luxury tax this year as they reset those penalties by remaining under the threshold in 2017, but they still won’t want to completely blow by that mark either. With that in mind, below is a table looking at the team’s current payroll for the 2018 season. Note that salaries for multi-year deals are reflective of their Average Annual Value, which is what counts towards the luxury tax. Additionally, salaries for arbitration-eligible players are from the MLB Trade Rumors projections and salaries for pre-arbitration players are simply set at the major-league minimum for now. Finally, all salaries are in the millions of dollars.

So, as we stand now, the Red Sox are a little under $9 million under the luxury tax threshold for 2018. There are two takeaways from this fact. For one, they almost certainly have to go over this mark if they want to improve this team — and particularly the lineup — in a significant way. Secondly, if they don’t want to go over this threshold, that means they will have to make a trade or two involving some important pieces to the major-league roster. There are ways that can work and be a positive, but worrying about the luxury tax doesn’t seem prudent for a team in Boston’s situation.

This table and the financial situation as a whole will be updated as official salaries come out and players are added and removed from Boston’s roster. Additionally, please point out any errors you may find.




Red Sox Offseason Choose Your Own Adventure - A Cora by Any Other Name

2017-10-16T10:00:02-04:00

Over The Monster has chosen Alex Cora as the new Red Sox Manager. As I said last time, you can find the story stream here. You know, just in case you want to get caught up on where the story is so far. Just a quick note before we start: This is where fantasy sort of comes into play. Up until this point, we’ve had a somewhat silly, but still realistic scenario unfolding. But because we don’t want every choice to be simple and binary, we’re going to experiment with something a little odd. This may or may not be permanent, but I figured this update was the best one to experiment with. If you want things to be a little more rational and realistic, let me know in the comments below. On the other hand, if you think this silliness is just what we needed after such a long season that ended in heartbreak, let me know as well. The next update will reflect your decision. October 12th, 2017 - 10 AM EST Henry - “So, Alex, we’re glad to have you here.” Cora - “Thanks, Mr. Henry. It’s been a lifelong dream to become a manager in the big leagues, and I really do believe the Red Sox give me the best opportunity of those who have reached out to me.” Henry - “Please, just call me Alex. We’re all friends here, and I have to be entirely honest, although it’s an awful bargaining strategy. You are my top pick for the job, so as long as you check all the boxes and we can agree on a salary, you’ll be the new Sox manager by this time tomorrow.” Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images Here’s a picture of Alex Cora once playing for the Red Sox. It happened! Cora - “That seems a little too convenient, and it almost feels like I’m in a video game or something. You ever see that NBA 2k18 MyGM mode? That’s how it feels. Like you would have this same conversation regardless of who walked through that door.” Henry - “Don’t be silly, this isn’t a video game. This is real life and you are about to become the Red Sox manager!” Alex Cora and Alexander Henry stare each other down for a minute. It was obvious to all that Cora was a brilliant man, but he was so brilliant, apparently, that he saw through the game, into the brain of the creator. Cora wanted to prove himself to be the best man for the job, and he did that by forcing an ultimatum on Alexander Henry. He wanted to see if Henry was the type that would back down, or rise to the occasion. Cora took one look at the salary offer on the contract in front of him, and hid his feelings, positive or negative, like an expert poker player. Cora - “Very well, Mr. Henry, I will consider your proposal. However...” Henry - “I thought I told you to call me, Alex, Alex.” Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images Dustin Pedroia is probably getting a headache thinking about two guys named Alex being his bosses. Cora - “No, that’s weird and confusing and will trip so many people up, I can’t do that. Anyways, I have a few conditions that must be met before I will accept this offer, because I’ll be honest, this offer is far less than what the Tigers are offering me. And I know you don’t want to lose me to the Tigers. I hear they brought back Dave Dombrowski as their President of Baseball Operations.” Henry - “OK, Alex, what are your conditions?” Cora - “First, I want to fire the entire coaching staff. Everyone, from Brian Butterfield to Gary DiSarcina, and I want to bring in my own coaching staff. It’s not that I believe the staff is weak, but if we’re going to win, I need guys on the exact same page as I am.” Henry - “That is a fairly standard manager’s request. But not entirely unreasonable.” Cora - “Second, I want a guarantee in my contract, that stipulates I cannot be fired after only one season. I have no concerns when it comes to finding work, and a year from now, more managerial openings w[...]