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But Can He Pitch?

Updated: 2018-03-17T16:48:48-04:00


Red Sox 4, Rays 3: Sam Travis comes through in the clutch, again


This is the second time I’ve used this headline this spring The Red Sox upped their Very Important™ spring training win streak to five games on Saturday despite trailing for most of the day. One big stretch for Tampa at the plate had them ahead for much of the contest, but a couple of Boston first basemen came through with big swings and the bullpen was able to maintain the lead from there. Sam Travis’ homer wins the game Sam Travis seems to always find himself in the spotlight during spring training as he continues his quest towards proving he is capable of being a regular at the highest level. Just last week we talked about his need to show some in-game power, and while doing so in spring training simply isn’t enough at this point for Travis, we certainly won’t knock him for going deep in the Grapefruit League. The righty came up in the sixth inning following an Eduardo Nuñez walk and a Jackie Bradley Jr. ground-rule double with two on and nobody ou twith his team trailing by two. Travis got a hanging breaking ball from Rays reliever Ryne Stanek and deposited it over the wall in left field to give Boston a 4-3 lead with one swing of the bat. It was Travis’ only hit of the game in two at bats off the bench, but he sure made it count. While that was certainly the biggest swing of the day, it wasn’t the only long ball from a Red Sox first baseman. Mitch Moreland got the start at DH in this game, and with his team trailing 3-0 in the fifth inning the lefty took an offspeed pitch down in the zone and smacked it over the wall in right field to give Boston their first run of the contest. Like Travis, the homer was his only hit of the game. Along with those two dingers, the Red Sox also got the aforementioned ground-rule double from Bradley and another double from Rusney Castillo, who continues to put together an impressive spring. Those were the only extra-base hits of the game, but the Red Sox did get singles from Eduardo Nuñez, Hanley Ramirez and Ivan De Jesus Jr. On a more negative side, Brock Holt got caught leaning at first base and was picked off. That’s not the kind of mistake you want to make when you’re battling for a roster spot. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports The bullpen continues to impress Boston didn’t send their biggest names out to the mound on Saturday afternoon, but we did get to see a couple of relievers who have a chance at making the Opening Day roster. Getting the start, though, was Justin Haley, a righty who has quietly put together a solid little spring. The Pawtucket starter didn’t have his best day, but he was able to limit the damage. In all, he lasted three innings, allowing two runs on six singles, a double and a walk. Haley did rack up six strikeouts in the outing. He got into some trouble when he went back out for the fourth and allowed back-to-back singles to start the frame before being lifted for minor-league righty Trevor Kelley. Kelley hit the first batter he faced to load the bases before inducing a pop out and recording a strikeout. From there, it was up to Bobby Poyner to get out unscathed, but the impressive lefty couldn’t come through, giving up a two-run single to Kean Wong before escaping the fourth with an inning-ending strikeout. Matt Barnes was up next for the fifth, and that inning didn’t go so well. He only allowed two hits and did get a couple of strikeouts in the inning, but both hits were doubles and the Rays were able to tack on another run. Barnes came back out in the sixth and redeemed himself by striking out the side. The seventh saw Brandon Workman come out and he had a great day, setting down the side in order with a couple of K’s. Minor-league depth option Marcus Walden — who has had a really impressive camp — finished things off with a couple of perfect innings to record the save. BOX [...]

Red Sox vs. Rays lineup: Behold the green machine



It’s St. Paddy’s day. Giddyup.

Don’t drink yourselves crazy today, friends. I’m still sick. It sucks. Green hats do not. This is the gamethread. Here are the lineups:

  1. Eduardo Nunez, 2B
  2. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  3. Hanley Ramirez, DH
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  6. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  7. Brock Holt, 2B
  8. Sandy Leon, C
  9. Deven Marrero, 3B

SP: Justin Haley, RHP

The Red Sox should get involved in the Greg Holland market


They’re all in. Keep going. This winter has been a historically slow one with the level of inactivity and just general lack of interest from teams on the free agent market was jarring to watch. It was a perfect storm of reasons — a CBA that encourages a lack of long-term spending, an arguably weak free agent class coming before a historic one, the growing popularity of hard rebuilds and a correspondingly diminishing emphasis on winning year in, year out, other reasons we won’t get into here — that led to a snoozefest of an offseason. We as Red Sox fans felt that firsthand with the extremely dragged out process that ended with the inevitable Boston signing of J.D. Martinez. Now, we’re less than two weeks from Opening Day around the league and most of those free agents have found new teams, with Jake Arrieta becoming the latest big name to sign, joining the Phillies on a three-year deal at the beginning of the week. That being said, while the very top of the class is now all employed, there are still a few impact players still available on the open market. With the Red Sox clearly in a win-now mode, should they consider getting involved in the market again? Specifically, should they take a look at right-handed reliever Greg Holland? Holland, of course, is not a new name in baseball as it wasn’t too long ago that he was one of the truly elite relievers in the game helping lead the Royals to back-to-back World Series appearances. He became a full-time major leaguer back in 2011 and took over the closer role in Kansas City in the next season. During his five-year run with the Royals he put up an ERA above 3.00 just once and never posted a DRA (an all-encompassing pitching metric from Baseball Prospectus) worse than 30 percent better than the league-average pitcher. After missing the end of 2015 and all of 2016 with injury — we’ll get to that in a minute — he entered free agency last season looking for a prove-it deal. Holland got just that from the Rockies and spent much of the year as one of the best relievers in baseball yet again. By the end of the year he had posted a 3.61 ERA with a 76 DRA- (24 percent better than the league-average pitcher). The righty struck out eleven batters per nine innings, though had some control issues walking four batters per nine. Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports So, Holland wasn’t perfect in 2017 but he has a track record of being outstanding in the majors and came back for a full season in which he was still very good even if he didn’t end up being elite. How would he fit into the Red Sox bullpen, though? There would presumably be a roadblock right from the start because I would think Holland wants to close where ever he goes. That wouldn’t happen in Boston, of course, since Craig Kimbrel is a person who exists. From Boston’s perspective, though, having someone like Holland behind Kimbrel would be a big help. If everything goes right, the Red Sox don’t need help from the right side. Carson Smith, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Tyler Thornburg all have the talent to be more than serviceable in late-inning roles. However, all of them also have some fairly substantial question marks as well and it’s not all that hard to envision things going south in the ‘pen and the team needing to address this area at the trade deadline. Of course, the trade market for relievers in July can be quite expensive. Signing Holland now would give them their most stable non-Kimbrel option and in the case in which everyone stays healthy and effective would give Boston a truly elite group of righties in the late innings. Alex Cora would be able to rotate around his different options and keep everyone fresh through the season. Beyond the money, the only cost would be pushing someone like Brandon Workman or Robby Scott or someone else on that fringe-level to Triple-A. Of course, none of this is to say that Holland isn’t a player without some questions of his own. That injury I mentioned before is no[...]

Red Sox 4, Twins 2: The top of the lineup comes through early


The Red Sox got an early lead and never gave it up The Red Sox picked up their fourth win in a row on Friday taking a rare spring night game over the cross-town rival Twins. Rick Porcello got the win in this one, though it certainly wasn’t his sharpest outing as he continues to have a relatively rough spring. Offensively, the top of the order got things going early on and the team never relinquished that early edge. The top of the lineup is starting to roll There has been some inconsistency in the spring performances of some of Boston’s key hitters, which is obviously to be expected. Now, though, as we are less than two weeks away from the games actually counting, some of the key guys are starting to get rolling. That was brought into focus on Friday when the top of the lineup of Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez got together in another Opening Day preview. The group came through in the first in this one. That first inning started with a Betts single immediately followed by a stolen base. Then, after Benintendi drew a walk Ramirez and Martinez hit back-to-back doubles and just like that the Red Sox had three runs on the board. They’d only score one more run in the game, but this was an example of how explosive this top half of the lineup should be able to be at times in 2018. Overall, Ramirez had the best day at the plate for the Red Sox on Friday, getting a double and a single with two RBI and a run scored in the game. He was the only player with multiple hits, though Brock Holt did get on base twice with a double and walk. Holt has put together a nice little spring and it would seem likely that he’s passed Deven Marrero on depth chart for that last bench spot. Also getting singles in this game were Sam Travis and Marrero. On a more negative side, it was a forgettable day for Rafael Devers and Blake Swihart who each went 0-3. Of course, both have been impressive for the bulk of the spring so one bad game is nothing to stress over. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports Rick Porcello wasn’t sharp but he limited damage Porcello has always had rough springs since coming to Boston, so it’s hard to say that his performance so far in camp is something to be worried about. That being said, he is one of the bigger wildcards on Boston’s entire roster, so it obviously would have been nice to see him show some lights out stuff. The good news is that he made it through five innings on Friday and only allowed two runs, which is certainly a manageable outing. The bad news is that the Twins were able to square him up fairly often, particularly in the earlier innings. Overall, the righty walked two batters and allowed three doubles and two singles to give up the two runs. Porcello also struck out five batters. He’ll likely start the year as the de facto number three starter, and the Red Sox could really use a step up from his performance in 2017. In the bullpen, the Red Sox first turned to Heath Hembree to hold on to a small lead and the righty was terrific. Hembree is out of options and thus a near certainty to make the Opening Day roster and he only reinforced that decision on Friday. He tossed two perfect innings against the Twins, striking out three batters in the process. Hembree won’t play a huge role in the bullpen if all goes according to plan, but having him for the middle innings and being able to get more than three outs is a quiet little luxury for the team. After Hembree the team turned to minor leaguer Ryan Brasier for a couple of outs before calling upon Robby Scott for one out to finish the eighth, and he did so with a K. It seems Alex Cora is getting his left ready for some one-out outings with his last few appearances. Minor leaguer Adam Lau finished things off with a quick 1-2-3 ninth. BOX [...]

Red Sox vs. Twins lineup: It’s always the Twins



Half of them, in this case.

One day after beating back Toronto’s not-ready-for-prime time squad, the Red Sox will face the Minnesota Twins (or a split-squad version of them) for what feels like the 45th time this spring. The Red Sox lead the “chase” for the Mayor’s Cup at 3 games to 1, but the teams have actually played five times, as they were rained out last week in what was sure to have been a Twins win. Oh well!

Rick Porcello pitches for Boston. Watch this game instead of Tomb Raider (it’s not great!). This is the gamethread. Here is the lineup:

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Andrew Benintendi, CF
  3. Hanley Ramirez, DH
  4. J.D. Martinez, LF
  5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  6. Rafael Devers, 3B
  7. Brock Holt, 2B
  8. Blake Swihart, C
  9. Deven Marrero, SS

P: Porcello, RHP

One Big Question: Can Sam Travis finally develop his in-game power?


Is 2018 the year? Welcome back to the One Big Question series here at Over The Monster. For those who weren’t around for last year’s series or simply forgot what it entails — there’s a lot going on in the world today, so don’t be ashamed! — here’s a brief reminder. Every day, Monday through Friday, for the next eight weeks we’ll profile a new member of Red Sox 40-man roster. Rather than simply going through a simple profile of their overall game and what they offer the team, we’ll focus on the one question that could very well dictate how their season will go in 2018. In order to keep the order objective and avoid side conversations like ranking the players on the roster, we’ll go straight down the roster in alphabetical order by position. In other words, we’ll go by how things are ordered here. If you miss any editions or would like to look back on some of last year’s, you can see all of them here. Today, we’re looking at Sam Travis. The Question: Is 2018 going to be the year in which he shows off some in-game power? Generally speaking, these questions for any given player is unique to the upcoming season. Sometimes it’s based on an apparent anomaly from the previous year or the possibility of a bounce-back after a down season or the effects of a lingering injury. Whatever the case, I attempt to make it a question that should be able to find an answer at some point in the coming year. Sam Travis has bucks that trend, as his question this year is the one that has been surrounding him since he became a professional, and it’s poised to be the question we ask about him until he either gives us a “yes” answer or is off the roster. Hopefully, it will be the former when we try to figure out if this will finally be the year in which the young first baseman starts to show off some of his raw power in game situations. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports A lot of the focus around Travis is about his flaws, which can be an unfair way to look at young players at time, and is something that I readily admit I’m guilty of. We’ll spend plenty of time looking what has been holding Travis back as a player at the highest level, but there’s a reason he’s even on the 40-man in the first place. Travis is a really good hitter with a good swing, a strong understanding of the strike zone and an ability to consistently get good wood on the baseball. The former second round pick made his way through the minors quickly because he was able to square up lesser, minor-league pitchers without breaking a sweat. Scouts all pretty much agree that he has a good swing and a good hit tool and can play a solid first base even if he’s never going to win any Gold Gloves. It’s not a superstar-like package, but it’s the reason why the organization has seemingly developed a liking for the young infielder and why prospect lists have consistently ranked him relatively highly in the team’s rankings. Of course, despite all of the good about Travis, he has still been held back by an undeniable lack of power at the high levels of the minors and in the majors. I’ve never personally gotten a chance to see Travis in batting practice or any other non-game situation that may present itself, but scouts have given indications that his raw power is real and likely above-average. That only matters to a point, though, and Travis hasn’t utilized that in games. It’s held him back in a big way, as it’s hard to be a good regular first baseman in the majors without at least average power. To do that, you need to be an elite defensive player and/or have an elite hit tool. Travis is fine in both areas, but his tools don’t suggest he can get by on either of those tools or a combination of both. He needs to find a way to tap into his raw power when the action starts. Obviously, this is not a new problem for Travis. He did show a little bit of pop in 2014 immediately af[...]

Daily Red Sox Links: David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Yawkey Way



Today’s links look at David Price’s spring performance, the manager/GM relationship, and a top prospect list.

David Price has looked really good this spring, and perhaps more importantly he has felt good too. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)

Despite the strong start to the year, Price remains to look at the big picture. (Ian Browne;

Elsewhere in the Red Sox rotation, Eduardo Rodriguez is progressing with his rehab and things appear to be going swimmingly. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)

The Dave Dombrowski/John Farrell relationship wasn’t great by the end, so Rob Bradford has an early check-in on Dombrowski’s relationship with Alex Cora. (Rob Bradford; WEEI)

John Sickels has released his top 175 MLB prospects. The Red Sox have four on the list, but none in the top 100. (John Sickels; Minor League Ball)

The city of Boston held its first hearings about the potential renaming of Yawkey Way on Thursday. (Jen McCaffrey; Masslive)

2018 Red Sox top prospect voting: Yes, Hector Velazquez is a prospect


Technically speaking, at least We’re getting down towards the end of our top prospect list, and this time around we had an extremely close battle between two players with major-league experience and a couple of guys who figure to play key depth roles on the 2018 roster. In the end, we narrowly avoided our first tie of this exercise and Hector Velazquez squeaked out the victory and became our number 17 prospect in the system. I’ll start by very quickly saying that yes, the 29-year-old Velazquez is indeed a prospect, though I understand the trepidation from some. While every outlet varies slightly, the basic definition of prospects around the ol’ interwebs has always been anyone eligible for the Rookie of the Year award, so that’s what we’re going with here. I see the arguments against it and it may be something I reconsider in the future, but also we’re talking about the number 17 prospect in a bad farm system, so. Ya know. Not the end of the world either way. So, back to Velazquez the player. The right-handed just came over to the majors in 2017, but he’d been playing professionally for a while before that. He spent eight seasons pitching in the Mexican League, starting in his age-21 season. Over that time, he pitched to a 3.85 ERA with about seven strikeouts per nine innings and just about three walks per nine. He really started to come into his own at the end of his time there, though. In 2016, his last season in Mexico, he pitched in two leagues and all together he ended with a 2.41 ERA over 36 starts with 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings and just over one walk per nine. That was enough for the Red Sox to go out and make a way under-the-radar signing towards the end of last winter to bring Velazquez in as some potential depth. Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports While the numbers in Mexico were impressive and the Red Sox presumably had some strong scouting reports that helped inform their decision to sign the righty in the first place, it was hard to be entirely certain of what to expect from Velazquez as he came over to the states. Unsurprisingly, the team started him in the minors in Triple-A Pawtucket. His time there wasn’t linear — he had a major-league stint in the middle — but overall Velazquez proved to be more than able to handle Triple-A opponents. In all, he made 19 starts in Pawtucket over 102 innings and he finished the year with a 2.21 ERA at the level with seven strikeouts per nine and just two walks per nine. That was enough for the relatively unknown pitcher to get some time in the majors, and he’d do well there as well. His first start was a disaster — he allowed six runs in five innings to the damn A’s — but after that things smoothed out. In his other seven outings, which spanned 19 2⁄3 innings, Velazquez allowed just two runs (0.92 ERA) with 15 strikeouts and five walks. Scouting-wise, Velazquez isn’t anything special but we’ve seen that his package of tools can work at the major-league level even if it won’t blow anyone away. His stuff isn’t really great, but when he’s at his best the righty will hit his spots on a consistent basis and can live at the corners of the strike zone. That won’t necessarily lead to a ton of strikeouts, but he should be able to limit walks and induce some weak, frustrating contact. Velazquez does have a tendency to get in trouble at times and that can lead to implosions at the highest level, but he’s a skilled enough pitcher to serve as a back-end depth piece in the majors. As far as pitches go, he throws a low-90s fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup. Looking ahead to the coming season, the expectation is for Velazquez to serve a similar role in 2018 as he did in 2017. He may start this campaign in Boston, but that’s because of the health of pitchers ahead of him on the depth chart, not his own meri[...]