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But Can He Pitch?



Updated: 2017-11-20T09:01:01-05:00

 



Who could the Red Sox protect from the Rule 5 draft?

2017-11-20T09:01:01-05:00

The deadline is Monday night at 8:00 PM ET. The Winter Meetings are the most exciting portion of the offseason. By that point in mid-December, all of the teams have met at the GM Meetings in November and been talking on the phone (apparently with emojis) since then. Trades generally come fast and furious at that time, and free agents often come to their final decisions. Then, at the end of that whole process, there is the much less discussed Rule 5 draft. Most of you are likely familiar, but for those who are not here is a quick primer. Players with a certain amount of service time as professionals (four years removed from their signing if they started playing when they were 19 or older, five years removed if they were 18 or younger) become eligible for the draft if they are not on the 40-man roster. Every team has a chance to pick anyone from this pool, and if a player is selected they must spend the entire season on the major-league roster (or major-league disabled list). If they are removed, their original team has a chance to take them back into the organization. For example, both Aneury Tavarez and Justin Haley were taken away from the Red Sox last winter, but both were eventually returned. This isn’t a place where teams will find future studs most of the time, but it can be helpful to build depth at various portions of the roster. The Red Sox rarely get involved in this draft, but last year they did select Josh Rutledge, who spent the entire year with the organization. The deadline to protect players is Monday night at 8:00 PM ET. Anyone who is not on the 40-man by that point can be selected in the draft. As of this writing, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster stands at 37. It’s possible that they could keep a spot open to either target someone in the draft or simply keep more flexibility moving forward in the offseason, but they could protect up to three players. Let’s take a look at all of the players with even the slightest chance at getting protected or selected in the draft (I readily admit there are a few long shots discussed below), listed in order of likelihood. Jalen Beeks If Boston could only protect one prospect heading into this draft, Beeks would almost certainly be the guy. The left-handed pitcher had a very strong year in 2017, splitting his time between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. He has solid stuff, particularly with his fastball, and cleaned up his mechanics a bit this year. In this non-expert’s opinion, he seems a lot more likely to be a starter long-term than he did at this time last year. That being said, he’s still on the smaller side and could be a better fit in the bullpen. Either way, he’s going to be an important depth piece for the Red Sox this year and could make his debut at some point in 2017. If for some shocking reason Boston doesn’t protect him, I can’t imagine he would make it very far without being selected and put into someone’s major-league bullpen. Kelly O'Connor 2017 Photo Courtesy of Kelly O’Connor; sittingstill.smugmug.com Chandler Shepherd Some of you may remember Shepherd from spring training last year, as the right-handed reliever looked strong in exhibition games. He never turned that into a chance to make an impact in the majors in 2017 and didn’t put up stellar numbers in Triple-A, posting a 4.07 ERA. Still, he has an intriguing fastball in the mid-to-high 90s that he can locate and struck out 68 batters with just 18 walks in 59 2⁄3 innings. He needs to develop a secondary (likely his slider) a bit more to have an impact, but he’s very close to being a solid major-league reliever and if he’s not protected I could definitely see a team taking a chance on him and seeing what he looks like in camp. Ty Buttrey Buttrey is another right-handed reliever who was originally drafted as a starter but converted to a relief role on a full-time basis midway through 2016. Last year was his first full year in the bullpen, and it was....intriguing? He split time between Portland and Pawtucket, and was really up [...]



MLB Roundup 11/20: The Arizona Fall League season has ended

2017-11-20T08:00:08-05:00

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And the Red Sox team won it all

Peoria wins the Arizona Fall League championship

The Arizona Fall League came to its conclusion over the weekend, and Peoria won the championship. This is the team that included Red Sox prospects, so it’s particularly exciting for Boston’s organization (along with the other teams who made up the roster). The standout player for the Red Sox, of course, was Michael Chavis, who had a particularly strong game in the championship and was one of the best hitters in Peoria’s lineup all fall long. With the end of the AFL, we also have the official end of Chavis’ breakout year, and now it all becomes about whether or not the prospect will be able to carry his success over to the 2018 season and a full season in the upper minors. Elsewhere on the roster, the Braves prospects had a hell of year. Ronald Acuna, also on the Peoria roster, is perhaps the top prospect in baseball and took home the league’s MVP award. Austin Riley, Alex Jackson and Max Fried played well for Peoria as well.

  • Speaking of the Braves, the investigation into their organization is almost over. According to Peter Gammons, the team fully expects to lose Kevin Maitan, who is only a year removed from being one of the most exciting international prospects in the game. He had a rough 2017 and Atlanta is reportedly down on his potential at this point, but that won’t stop just about every team in the league from pursuing the 17-year-old infielder if/when his contract with Atlanta is voided.
  • Alex Cobb has been among the most popular free agents early on in this offseason. The Boston native and longtime Ray has already been connected to the Orioles, Rangers, Yankees and Cubs. Gammons indicates that the latter two are the favorites at this point, though.
  • The Red Sox can expect to have some company in the Carlos Santana sweepstakes. According to Jon Morosi, Boston and Philadelphia have been in contact with the first baseman. Last week, I explained why Santana would be one of my top targets for the Red Sox this winter. While there is expected to be some competition for his services, we can likely rule the Mariners out after they traded for Ryon Healy to become their everyday first baseman.
  • Mike Napoli and the Rays have “mutual interest,” per Marc Topkin. Good for Napoli for potentially getting a key role after a rough year at the plate, but it might kill me to see him in Tampa Bay.



Daily Red Sox Links: Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez, Michael Chavis

2017-11-20T07:00:02-05:00

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Today’s links look at some offseason plans, Mookie Betts’ 2017, and Michael Chavis’ AFL performance.

Paul Swydan has a reasonable list of things the Red Sox could do this winter. (Paul Swydan; Boston.com)

Of course, the Red Sox really want to add power, so Jason Mastrodonato looks at the various options. (Jason Mastrodonato; Boston Herald)

Boston is connected to some of the biggest names on the market, and here are the odds each lands with the Red Sox. (Christopher Smith; Masslive)

Mookie Betts didn’t have the elite year many were expecting, instead he was simply really, really good. (Matt Kory; BP Boston)

The Red Sox have several players close to free agency, and Sean McAdam looks at how likely they are to be extended. (Sean McAdam; Boston Sports Journal)

Michael Chavis helped lead Peoria to the Arizona Fall League championship and was one of the standouts on the roster. (Jim Callis; MLB.com)




Offseason Choose Your Own Adventure - Stanton to Boston

2017-11-18T09:00:04-05:00

With 35% of the vote, OTM chose to trade Eduardo Rodriguez, Bryan Mata, and Alex Scherff for Giancarlo Stanton and his entire salary. Here we go, story stream! I choose you! This is all a fictional story, and the longer this goes, the more fictional and absurd it’s probably going to get. There is no stopping this runaway train. Outside J.D. Martinez’s House - November 2nd, 10:15 PM EST Cora - “Not really, although I certainly feel like I’m about to. What’s the plan, sir?” Henry - “We’re going to take the Stanton offer. I might be making a big mistake, but I think it will work out. Our rotation is set, even if we trade away Eduardo Rodriguez, to be frank. He wasn’t a big part of my 2018 plans, because I figured he’d be battling injuries long enough that someone else would arise, anyways, likely a depth signing. What hurts most is taking on the entire salary. He has 10 years guaranteed left at a total of 285 million. There’s a 25 million dollar club option for one more year at the end of it, that at least seems to lower the average annual value a tad. All told, it’s about twice the amount of money for Martinez, but also spread over twice the years.” Cora - “So what you’re saying is that you believe Stanton to be more likely to produce for 10 or 11 years than you believe J.D. Martinez is for 5 or 6.” Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images In this universe, anyways, you will never again see Eduardo Rodriguez in a Red Sox uniform. Henry - “Either that, or fatigue is getting to me, and I just wanted to make a move. Here’s hoping it’s the former.” Cora - “Excellent, so how do you want to break the news to Scott Boras and J.D. Martinez? It’s kind of awkward to go in there and say you’ve landed another player, and no longer have interest.” Henry - “See, I was thinking, we’re not going to do that. The Stanton news is undoubtedly already breaking on Twitter, even though we’ve yet to even call Giancarlo ourselves to see if he’d waive his no trade clause, but there’s no reason to say ‘never’ on J.D. either.” Cora - “Sir, we frankly do not have the money as constructed.” Henry - “The key term there is ‘as constructed’. I’m the new owner, right? I have lots of money, right? I want to win a World Series, right?” Cora - “Correct on all accounts, sir, or at least I hope so.” Henry - “Well, my thinking is, I’m willing to potentially absorb a contract to get under the cap hold that specific non-performers have on us. If we free up money via a Rick Porcello or Hanley Ramirez dump, among other things, we can certainly fit J.D. Martinez while only going slightly above the Luxury Tax. With our first year status, the penalties won’t be too huge if we don’t go too crazy.” Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images Eduardo Rodriguez is out the door. Is Rick Porcello next? Cora - “You are a madman. But I can’t wait to see what you come up with. As it is, I’m plenty happy, and think we’ve got a good shot of winning a World Series.” Henry - “That said, we don’t need to go the J.D. route, either. We can wait and see if the market collapses on him, or we can go a totally different direction. There are a handful of other players I’m really interested in, and we could get them via the same way we’d hypothetically fit J.D.” Suddenly, the door opens. Martinez - “Are you two gentlemen alright? It’s quite cold out, and you guys have been standing out there for over 20 minutes now.” Henry - “Thank you, J.D., we’re fine. We were just about to go back in.” He turns to Alex Cora, and whispers really low. Henry - “Just let me handle this, ok?” Inside J.D. Martinez’s House - November 2nd, 10:25 PM EST Henry - “Sorry for the interruption, gentlemen, that was an important call.” Boras - “I agree. I just saw on the twittersphere that you have agreed to terms on a Giancarlo Stanton trade. However, h[...]



2017 Red Sox Review: Robby Scott

2017-11-17T12:00:03-05:00

A look back at the year that was for the lefty specialist 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 Robby Scott. The Positives Robby Scott is one of those players that is never going to be the headliner of any team, and only the most unique among him will claim the lefty as their best player. That being said, he’s come a long way from where most thought he’d be at this point as a former Indy Ball pitcher. This past season was another major step forward for the southpaw, and for much of the year he was the most trusted lefty in Boston’s bullpen. Granted, there wasn’t a ton of competition, but again, he was never supposed to make it that far. That alone is a positive for him. If you want to get into real numbers and performance, then you needn’t look any further than how he did against lefties. Scott, of course, is a left-handed specialist, so if he couldn’t shut down opposing lefties he’d be out of a job. Still, he did so to a tremendous degree. He faced 76 lefties over the course of the season and held them to a .121/.224/.303 line while striking out a quarter of them. Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports Beyond simply shutting down lefties, another big job of a specialist like Scott is coming into tough situations and getting out of it. When you only face one or two batters every time you come in, there’s a good chance you’ll be inheriting plenty of runners on the bases and it’s your job to make sure they don’t score. In 2017, only seven pitchers inherited more runners than Scott’s 50. Of those 50 runners, only 11 scored for a rate of 22 percent. Among the 74 pitchers who inherited at least 30 runners this year, only 21 prevented them from scoring at a better rate. Scott was also strong in a few other less significant splits. For one thing, he was really great at Fenway, holding batters to a .427 OPS at home. Additionally, he went on a couple of strong runs to start the year and to end it. Over his first 23 appearances, he pitched to a 1.43 ERA while holding opponents to a .397 OPS. Then, in his last 15 appearances of the regular season, he held opponents to a .407 ERA (though he did pitch to an ERA above 3.00 due to one rough outing. The Negatives Although Scott did very well in his specified role in 2017, he didn’t quite take the step forward and perform like a team would ideally like their top lefty to pitch. He certainly could have been much worse, but his performance against righties really limits him in a way that makes it tough to rely on him as an important piece of the bullpen. While he was great against lefties, he allowed an .814 to righties that was largely the result of a .245 Isolated Power from his opponents. He is, simply put, too hittable for hitters from the right side. He can still work as a LOOGY, but preferably the top lefty would be trusted with a righty or two coming up. There was also the matter of his summer months when he really struggled with the Red Sox. In fact, things got bad enough — and the Red Sox had a bit of a roster crunch, to be fair — that Scott was demoted to Triple-A for a time. That left Fernando Abad as the top lefty, which is a pretty strong statement on their feelings about Scott at the time, even if he did have options. Between June and August, he had a 19-start stretch in which he pitched to a 6.00 ERA while allowing a .955 OPS. The Big Question Can Robby Scott grab hol[...]



Carlos Santana makes a ton of sense for the Red Sox

2017-11-17T09:01:01-05:00

He’s the best first baseman available for the team As we’ve said on this website many times over the early portions of this offseason, there are a lot of different roads the Red Sox can take this winter. Dave Dombrowski and company can go out and make the major splash by adding a true star-level slugger to their lineup in one of (or both of!) Giancarlo Stanton or J.D. Martinez. They can also go in the complete opposite direction and make a minor signing or two and call it a day. Then, they can do anything in between, which is an almost infinite number of possibilities on its own. Given just how poorly this lineup performed last year, there are a lot of different options out there right now to improve it. Among all of them, Carlos Santana could very well be the best fit out there for the Red Sox. I would start this argument by saying that, in an ideal world, first base would be where the Red Sox make their splash. Mitch Moreland was absolutely fine in 2017, particularly compared to our expectations for him and the fact that he was forced into a bigger role than was originally expected, but he was not exactly what a playoff teams wants from one of the most potent offensive positions on the diamond. This is the spot in the lineup where Boston stands to improve the most from outside help, as most other spots can reasonably expect some degree of improvement from the incumbent. There is also the matter of Hanley Ramirez, who Dombrowski has said can go back to being a near-everyday first baseman. I don’t quite buy that, and think it’s extremely risky to go into the season with that as your primary plan. Things get a whole lot easier if Ramirez is slotted to spend most of his time at DH once again. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports With that in mind, we look to the first base market to find the best option. Santana, while my favorite, is not a perfect option. I will acknowledge this. For one thing, he’s about to enter his age-32 season, firmly placing him in the back nine of his career. Additionally, he was extended a qualifying offer by the Indians and declined it, meaning the Red Sox would have to give up compensation to sign the first baseman. Now, the qualifying offer system has changed with the new CBA and things are a lot more complicated right now. This handy flowchart will help explain all the different scenarios, but what you need to know right now is that the Red Sox would have to give up their second-highest draft pick along with $500,000 from their international signing pool next summer if they were to sign Santana. That certainly feels like a lot to give up for signing a player entering his age-32 season. However, Santana is the type of player I wouldn’t mind signing for his early-to-mid-30’s, as he’s the type of player Boston is looking for in the middle of their lineup. For one thing, he has been a model of consistency over this career, posting a wRC+ between 117 and 132 in all but one of his seven full seasons in the majors. He’s not going to get a ton of hits and will never lead the league in average. On the other hand, he has impressive plate discipline, spending time near the top of the walk-rate leaderboard every year and consistently posting strikeout rates in the teens. Furthermore, he combines that plate discipline with legitimate power with the potential to post Isolated Powers around or above .200. Finally, he’s a switch hitter who can hit from both sides of the plate. He has hit equally well from either side over his career, though he’s been better against right-handed pitching in each of the last two years. He may be getting older, but that is the type of skill set I’m willing to bet on at any age. There is also the fact that the market doesn’t appear as if it will require a large commitment to sign Santana. He is kind of in that Edwin Encarnacion zone (though admittedly a step below) where his age concerns could outw[...]



MLB Roundup 11/17: Jose Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton are your 2017 MVPs

2017-11-17T08:00:05-05:00

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The MVPs were announced on Thursday

Jose Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton win the MVP awards

Award week in baseball wrapped up Thursday night with the MVP awards being handed out. The NL was announced first, and that ended up being an incredibly contested race with Giancarlo Stanton just barely edging out Joey Votto. The Marlins slugger got 302 points to Votto’s 300. It was a fascinating race on that side with as many as six players have some sort of an argument for the award, and in the end it came down to two players on non-contending teams. I probably would have voted for Votto, but he and Stanton were extremely close and it’s hard to be upset either way. Stanton, of course, is the focus of trade rumors with the Red Sox heavily involved in said rumors. I doubt this makes much of a difference, but winning the MVP certainly won’t hurt Stanton’s trade value.

Meanwhile, it was expected to be another close race in the American League between Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge. They did finish one-two, but Altuve received 27 first-place votes to Judge’s two. This time I agreed with the voters’ choice, but again it could have gone either way and it would have been tough to be too upset. The Red Sox, meanwhile, had two players receive down-ballot votes. Mookie Betts finished sixth in the voting while Chris Sale finished ninth. Betts’ finish is a testament to how great of an all-around player he is, because he really wasn’t close to MVP-caliber at the plate. However, he was a bit above-average there and elite with the glove and on the bases. Sale just finished second in the Cy Young, and frankly I’m a little surprised he wasn’t the top Red Sox finisher in this voting.

  • Not much else happened on Thursday, but we did learn that the Yankees have expressed interest in Texas’ Jurickson Profar. He, of course, was once the consensus number one prospect in baseball but has had his career derailed by injuries. This is a bit surprising considering the Yankees are loaded with infield talent, but Profar could actually make some sense for the Red Sox. The upside is undeniable, he can play second base while Dustin Pedroia is out, and is able to play all around the field when everyone is healthy. Of course, there are a lot of teams that will be interested in buying low on the former top prospect.



2017 Red Sox Review: Chris Sale

2017-11-16T10:30:02-05:00

I swear I didn’t time this on purpose 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 Chris Sale. The Positives I don’t think it’ll be a controversial statement if I sit here and say that, on the whole, Chris Sale’s 2017 was overwhelmingly positive. In fact, if you were to let the final six weeks of the year let you believe it was neutral or negative, I would go so far as to say I disagree with you on this particular matter! He was one of the very best pitchers in baseball and finished second in the Cy Young voting, which shockingly was the highest finish of his career. All of his numbers on the year were impressive. He finished with a 2.90 ERA (36 percent better than league-average), a 2.45 FIP (43 percent better than league-average) and a 2.37 ERA (50 percent better than league-average). The man was incredible, and that is the case regardless of how you prefer to judge pitcher performance. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images Sale was good at just about every aspect of pitching, which should be obvious when you look just one paragraph up and see how well he performed in three different kinds of metrics. His control was great, and he mostly did a good job of inducing weak contact. However, it was his ability to rack up strikeouts that was particularly impressive and what made his starts so thrilling to watch. Boston’s ace struck out a whopping 308 batters in 2017 for just about 13 per nine innings. For the second time in his career, he induced whiffs on over 30 percent of swings and it was truly thrilling to turn on any of his starts and wonder how many strikeouts he was going to get on that night. It’s true that strikeouts are at an all-time high around the league, but Sale still takes it to another level. His pitch mix is the big reason he is able to get so many strikeouts, and it was another positive from the season. We all knew about his fastball and slider coming into the year, but it’s hard to have a full appreciation of his pitches unless you watch him on a regular basis. Ostensibly, he’s a two or three pitch pitcher, but in reality he’s so much more than that. He does have that wicked slider, but it’s really two pitches. Sometimes, he throws the hard, sharp slider and other times he’ll slow it down a bit and loop it through the zone. He has similar variations on his fastball, as the pitch can range anywhere from the low-90s to the high-90s, and batters have no idea what’s coming at any point. They not only have to guess the pitch, but they have to guess on a variation of a pitch. It is truly unfair. I could keep going on and on about Sale’s positives, but essentially everything he did was a positive. Negatives There were a couple of negatives with Sale’s season, and chances are you don’t need me to tell you what they are. But I’m going to anyway, because that’s how this works. The biggest issue for the Red Sox ace in 2017 was how he finished the year, and that finish ended up costing him a Cy Young award and made Boston’s run to the postseason that much more stressful. Over the final two months of the season — an 11-start stretch — Sale pitched to a rough 4.09 ERA in 66 innings. Granted, it’s not as if he was bad in all of those starts (he allowed one or zero runs in five of them) but it was more likely than ever that a [...]