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But Can He Pitch?



Updated: 2016-12-02T12:11:45-05:00

 



Andrew Benintendi tops Baseball Prosepctus’ top-10 Red Sox prospects

2016-12-02T12:11:45-05:00

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Benintendi takes top billing over Moncada

Andrew Benintendi tops Yoan Moncada on Baseball Prospectus’ top-10 Red Sox prospects rankings for 2017.

So why Benintendi over Moncada? It might have something to do with the fact that Jarrett Seidler feels the need to spend a long time explaining why the folks at Baseball Prospectus, as a matter of policy, do not give out 80 grades for the hit tool to minor leaguers. Because they know that Benintendi has as good an argument or better than any other minor leaguer for that grade in that category. In other words, he’d be an 80 if it were possible for them to feel confident enough in that evaluation to hand 80s out before long-term major league exposure.

Benintendi doesn’t quite have that, but what he has shown was enough to earn him first. They set his likely scenario as a first-division outfielder—which he already seems to be—and list his faults as, essentially, not being an exciting defensive center fielder (the Sox, of course, have him in left) and only having average “over-the-fence power”. The Red Sox will live.

Coming in second is, of course, the man he displaced in Yoan Moncada. And the rough 2016 debut did factor into that decision some. BP notes that “there’s always been just a little more swing-and-miss here than there should be given the rest of the profile,” but their biggest concern seems to remain that Moncada still isn’t looking like a great second baseman, which they note is fine because, as with Benintendi in center, that’s not where the Sox need him.

The rest of the list holds relatively few surprises. Rafael Devers holds his now-traditional spot as the best of the rest, who is still a work-in-progress but less so than might be expected from someone his age. “Realest guy in the room” Jason Groome notably stays ahead of Michael Kopech despite the latter coming on extremely strong since returning to the mound. What hits Groome takes for distance from the majors, Kopech takes from BP’s projection that he’ll find his way into the bullpen before all is said and done. And of course, for both, TNSTAAPP applies.

If there’s a line between the top two and the rest, there’s another after Kopech, but the system still stays fairly strong with Luis Alexander Basabe as a high-risk, high-reward prosepct at six (BP, as the rest of us, are still waiting for him to break one way or the other). Mauricio Dubon takes seventh on the backs of a breakout 2016, though there’s more than enough doubt in the power he showed to keep BP from giving him first-division potential. Sam Travis slots in at eighth, which could have been a fair bit higher had he not missed the majority of the season with a torn ACL, Brian Johnson holds on at 9th after a likewise lost season, and Josh Ockimey takes the last spot thats to his big power at the cold corner.

If there’s a notable omission here, it’s probably Bobby Dalbec, who gets some interesting comments in the honorable mentions section that show a divided opinion, with at least one evaluator trying to get him into the top-10 despite some serious warts that led others as far as to suggest he’ll “end up with a bullpen trial.” Ouch!

Also included: a top-10 under 25 list which has Blake Swihart ahead of Eduardo Rodriguez. I have never felt so conflicted in my life.




Red Sox non-tender Bryan Holaday, keep everyone else

2016-12-02T11:34:59-05:00

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Bryan Holaday is the only man to be non-tendered by the Red Sox ahead of the 2017 season.

The Red Sox will not tender a contract to Bryan Holaday ahead of tonight's deadline, allowing the backup catcher to become a free agent.

There's no surprise in the actual decision to let Holaday go. This is around the time we'd be surprised to not hear Fernando Abad's name coming up had the Red Sox not already made it clear they were going to retain the much (and perhaps wrongly) maligned lefty reliever.

When it comes to Holaday, though, there was never really any question that the Sox would pass. Holaday hasn't really done much at any point in his major league career, but struggled to match even that relatively low bar in his limited time with the Red Sox. Seeing just 35 plate appearances in 14 games, Holaday hit to a .500 OPS in August and September with the Sox. He did have two hits, a double, and a run scored in a 5-4 win over the Yankees on September 18th...and that was about it. With Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, and Blake Swihart already solidly ahead of him in line to play behind the plate, there was no room on the roster for him.

Holaday, in this case, is the odd man out, as the Red Sox tendered contracts to every other player not signed into 2017 on their roster. Some of those are only interesting in whether they end up on longer deals before the offseason is over--Mookie Betts, anyone?--while for others there's some real questions with how the Red Sox will handle them. In particular, players like Roenis Elias and Heath Hembree who bounced back and forth between Pawtucket and Boston last year, but now find themselves out of options.

That, however, appears to be a question for later in the offseason. For now, they'll hold onto as many assets as possible.




Should the Red Sox consider shopping Brock Holt?

2016-12-02T09:01:01-05:00

Brock Holt has turned himself into a fan favorite and more importantly a useful player, but is it time to move on? So, the CBA is in place and we no longer have that back cloud hanging over our heads. However you feel about the new agreement (it’s not great, imo), this is supposed to kickstart the offseason. Teams were waiting to see what the landscape of the league would look like in the near future, and now that they know we should start to see some action. Except, for the Red Sox, there’s still not that much to do. There are a couple of holes to fix at DH and in the bullpen, but that’s really it. Trades are the most fun potential event of any hot stove, and with Dave Dombrowski at the helm in Boston most assume it’ll happen here at some point. On the other hand, those are holes that can be easily filled in free agency. My point here is that I don’t really see a blockbuster in the team’s future, at least not before the summer of 2017. There is, however, a smaller kind of deal that I’ve been thinking about for a couple weeks. Obviously, based on the headline and picture you know I’m talking about Brock Holt. I want to be clear that, even as I am writing this sentence, I’m not sure I think the Red Sox should trade Holt. That’s not only because he’s become a fan favorite — as well as a personal favorite — in his time here, though I don’t think that should be tossed aside either. He’s also become a fairly important piece on this roster, giving Boston competent versatility that gives them a backup at just about every position on the diamond. In an era that is being marked by larger bullpens and smaller benches, that matters. With all of that being said, though, I think there is a case to be made that Dombrowski and company should at least gauge Holt’s value around the league. Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images The obvious place to start is with his performance this past year. Whichever way you slice it, 2016 was a down year for Holt. He stepped to the plate 324 times in 94 games, slashing .255/.322/.383 for an 86 wRC+. In the last two seasons, he finished with wRC+’s of 98 and 99, making him essentially a league-average bat heading into 2016. So, on the one hand, trading Holt after this kind of season would be selling low. Even those of us with little knowledge in the world of maximizing value know that this is often foolish. Of course, it’s not always that simple. If you think he’s going to continue this downward trend, it’s not selling low. It’s selling while you still can. So, the next task in answering this question is determining if there were any worrisome trends or if this is just a blip on the radar. As is usually the case when players suffer a dip in performance like this, Holt was hurt by a cratering batting average on balls in play. The difference here, though, is that he went from well-above average rates around .350 to a more average BABIP of .294 in 2016. If he really is an elite BABIP player, than this can be swept away by bad luck. If, however, 2014 and 2015 were the outliers, this could be what to expect out of Holt. It is worth noting, too, that his batted ball profile dropped along with the BABIP. He hit more ground balls, more infield fly balls, while making less hard contact and more soft contact, per Fangraphs. Even if he settled in at a .315-ish rate, we’d be looking at a below-average hitter. Now, Holt has never been all about the bat. As I said before, it’s about his value in a league with smaller benches. If the Red Sox were to trade him, they’d need a plan to replace his role on the roster. There are some options, though. The immediate consequence would be opening up a roster spot for Marco Hernandez, who likely would’ve been pushed back to Triple-A whenever the new DH was brought in. He proved to be a capable hitter in his rookie year, and can play all over the infield. The downside, of course, is that he has no outfield experience. They could certainly start wor[...]



Daily Red Sox Links: CBA, Pablo Sandoval, David Ortiz

2016-12-02T07:00:02-05:00

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Today’s links look at how the new CBA will affect the Red Sox, changes to the home field advantage rules, and the team’s strategy for the Winter Meetings.

Brian MacPherson looks at how the new CBA will affect the Red Sox. (Brian MacPherson; Providence Journal)

It shouldn’t affect them too much in the short term, though. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)

The new CBA does include a clause that gets rid of the All Star Game deciding home field in the World Series, which we all agree is a good thing. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)

The Winter Meetings start next week, and the Red Sox have a strategy in mind. (Ian Browne; RedSox.com)

Most of 2016 was good for the Red Sox. Pablo Sandoval was not part of that group. (Matt Collins; BP Boston)

Want a David Ortiz ugly sweater? Here you go. (Sam Galanis; NESN)




Good and bad news for Red Sox in MLB’s new CBA

2016-12-01T08:01:01-05:00

The deal is done, and we kind of won? But mostly lost. The owners and MLBPA have reached a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, assuring that baseball will be back as usual come April. And while the updates to the agreement weren’t exactly massive, a few of them will certainly have an impact on the Red Sox in seasons to come. The two biggest changes for Boston are likely those applied to international free agents and domestic free agents with a qualifying offer attached. Starting with the international market, a hard cap has been placed on international free agent spending of about $5 million. That means there’s no system of penalties or exceptions or any of that. Teams can’t go over $5 million, and that’s that. This is bad news for the Red Sox, but not quite as bad as it could have been. An international draft would have left the Red Sox largely unable to play for big-name international free agents except when everything went horribly awry in a given season—unless said draft was determined by market size or payroll, in which case they wouldn’t even have that as an out. Now, they’re just on equal footing with everyone else...at least financially. The problem for the Red Sox comes in actually incentivizing players to come to Boston without relying on their wallets. And that’s going to be hard. I expect most Red Sox fans also have a fondness for Boston—I am no exception. But we are also not so naive as to think our view of the city is the same as the international view. While the Red Sox do have some history going for them, it’s going to be hard to sell some of the biggest free agents on coming to Boston over, say, New York or—especially for players from warmer climates—cities like Miami or Los Angeles. To that end, and so long as this system remains in place, it’s going to be increasingly important for teams that can’t just rely on their location to maintain a major presence in big IFA markets, with big foreign-born stars likely paying decent dividends. While David Ortiz is retired now, one wonders if the Red Sox won’t ask him to shake some hands (or, more likely with Ortiz, give some hugs) in the near future. When it comes to domestic free agents, the big news is that the qualifying offer system is no longer nearly so harsh for teams acquiring players. Those teams that are over the luxury tax will forfeit a second- and fifth-round pick along with $1 million in international bonus pool money, while those under will lose a third. There’s no word on how the CBA will handle teams signing multiple QO free agents yet, but at least for now the penalties will often not be as harsh as losing a first rounder. This change will certainly leave the Red Sox more aggressive in their pursuit of big-name free agents, particularly if they manage to stay under that threshold in the years to come (it will quickly rise over $200 million). In the immediate future, though, it doesn’t seem likely to impact their approach to the 2016-2017 offseason. If anything, Edwin Encarnacion’s market will only be bolstered by the news, and the Sox’ objection to diving into that particular race always seemed to be based more on money and years than draft considerations. And on the other side of things, teams losing QO free agents will only get a pick back if the player signs a contract for at least $50 million. That part isn’t so bad for the Red Sox, since most qualifying offer players end up making that much anyways. This probably only ends up impacting a few relievers and older players, and big-market teams are generally better able to absorb the risk of actually retaining their older players or making a luxury investment in a reliever. What is unfortunate for the Red Sox: the pick the team gets back will depend on market size. Where exactly that leaves the Red Sox isn’t certain yet, but they’ll certainly not be getting the premium picks of, say, Milwaukee or Cincinnati. Other ti[...]



Daily Red Sox Links: David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Carter

2016-12-01T07:00:01-05:00

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Today’s links look at an award for David Ortiz, some possible replacements for the DH, and the non-tender deadline.

Before he left, David Ortiz had to make sure to take home one more Edgar Martinez award. (Matt Pepin; Boston Globe)

Replacing Ortiz is obviously the biggest story of the winter, but it doesn’t look like Edwin Encarnacion will be the guy to do it. (Rob Bradford; WEEI)

Could Chris Carter be the solution? (Matt Kory; BP Boston)

Scott Lauber runs down some other options for a new bat. (Scott Lauber; ESPN)

The non-tender deadline is this week. Who is on the chopping block for Boston? (Ian Browne; RedSox.com)

The CBA negotiations are, as of this writing, still happening. The players are trying to rebound from their loss in the last CBA. (Evan Drellich; Boston Herald)

Minor leaguers are still fighting for fair wages, and an important hearing for this movement comes on Friday. (Brian MacPherson; Providence Journal)




Chris Carter throws a twist in Red Sox’ search for a DH

2016-11-30T09:10:03-05:00

The Brewers’ loss could become the Red Sox’ gain When Chris Carter finished the season as the NL leader with 41 homers, he probably expected to earn a handsome payday in his second year of arbitration. Instead, he was non-tendered by the Brewers yesterday to make way for Eric Thames, who had an extraordinary 2016...in Korea. Carter is a pretty interesting player, as close to the definition of a three true outcomes player as the league has seen in a long while. Last year, in 644 plate appearances, a full half (plus one) ended in a strikeout, walk, or home run. For his career, Carter holds a 112 wRC+ built on a .219 batting average. It’s the former number that makes Carter an interesting twist in Boston’s ongoing search for a designated hitter, particularly when you start to consider what he might cost. Carter was, after all, just non-tendered by a team that decided he wasn’t worth the $10 million or so he was likely due to receive in arbitration. Technically teams aren’t required to stick to that number, but it’s easy to see his market ending up somewhere around that level, and coming in on short years so that he can hit free agency again while still in or around his prime. If this isn’t set to be his big payday—and it’s difficult to imagine it will be given how he entered the market in the first place—it makes sense for Carter to want to find a team that will give him some big dollars and a friendly environment to show that he’s worth more next winter or the year after that. The Red Sox, of course, fit that bill perfectly. They also happen to have room for a big bat, and would love to have said bat come on a short deal. We should acknowledge what Carter is not. He is not anything close to a David Ortiz replacement. Barring a major trade for a Miguel Cabrera or Joey Votto (both being extremely unlikely), the best they can do in that department is Edwin Encarnacion, and all signs point to the Sox having no interest in committing the years and dollars it would take to land him. Carter comes in well short of Encarnacion offensively, going toe-to-toe with him on raw power, but held back significantly by his struggles making contact. Carter is also not quite as good as Carlos Beltran has been over the last couple years. If Beltran could reliably produce another season like 2016, the Red Sox would be ill-advised to go after Carter in his place. But where Carter lacks the sheer quality of Encarnacion and Beltran, he also lacks their price and uncertainty, respectively. While Carter’s profile doesn’t exactly scream “reliable,” he’s now over 2,600 plate appearances into his career, and has shown the ability to keep his production steadily above average even with all the strikeouts. That’s a lot more reliable than pretty much anything a player Beltran’s age can offer. It does matter how a player gets to their numbers, but not as much for a 29-year-old signing a short-term deal. I don’t think Carter is a perfect fit. This Red Sox lineup would prefer a more well-rounded bat given that their lineup is deep enough that the next good batter should never be that far off. That makes Carter’s ability to empty the bases either with a home run or a third out a bit less valuable than the guy who is more proficient at simply avoiding the out any way possible. He’s also not terribly likely to get much of a Fenway boost, as his fly balls tend to find gloves in center and right field. When Carter pulls a ball, it tends to be on a line or out of the park, which could even turn some of his many homers into doubles off the wall. Also, while this is true for pretty much all the options, Carter would provide nothing positionally. While he’s played first and some outfield, it’s pretty much always going to be a mistake to put him in the field. That being said, if the Sox want to be sure they at least have a decent-to-good bat at DH[...]



Daily Red Sox Links: Rick Porcello, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan LaMarre

2016-11-30T07:00:01-05:00

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Today’s links look at another award for Rick Porcello, the CBA negotiations dictating offseason strategy, and a new home for Ryan LaMarre.

Rick Porcello got another award on Tuesday, taking home the AL Comeback Player of the Year. (Tim Britton; Providence Journal)

Hanley Ramirez was arguably a better candidate, though, as his 2016 was one to look fondly upon. (Bryan Joiner; BP Boston)

The Red Sox have been quiet so far this winter, and you can expect more of that as the CBA negotiations continue. (Evan Drellich; Boston Herald)

Speaking of those negotiations, MLBPA head Tony Clark was involved with the last time the league and players had intense CBA negotiations. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)

With Yoenis Cespedes signing with the Mets on Tuesday, is the door opened for Edwin Encarnacion to land next? (Christopher Smith; Masslive)

Ryan LaMarre didn’t spend much time in Boston this past year, but he still got an MLB deal for 2017. (Rob Bradford; WEEI)