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But Can He Pitch?



Updated: 2017-02-21T20:53:22-05:00

 



MLB reportedly approves new rule allowing signals for intentional walks

2017-02-21T20:53:22-05:00

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Pitchers will no longer have to throw four pitches for intentional walks. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has been talking about improving baseball’s pace of play issues for what seems like an eternity. Although I think he probably overblows the issue a bit, I won’t deny that it is a problem that puts off casual fans. The game moves too slowly. Tuesday night, reports came down that they’ve arrived at a new rule to help out in this regard. Are you ready for this? Drumroll, please....

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According to ESPN’s Howard Bryant, MLB and the Players Association have agreed to institute a dugout signal for intentional walks. WOOOOO. CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCITEMENT.

On the one hand, this rule really does absolutely nothing for pace of play. There’s no one out there who was on the fence about watching more baseball this year who has converted because there won’t be any more intentional walks. They happen so rarely, and the whole process takes such little time, that this doesn’t put a dent into anything.

On the other hand, this doesn’t really affect anything about the game. Going through the process of intentional walks always felt weird and pointless. To be fair, every once in awhile weird things happen like Miguel Cabrera hitting a single on an intentional walk.

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That’s fun! The pitcher totally didn’t mean for that to happen! LOL LMAO

These events occur every few years. In between, there are thousands (probably more! I’m not about to research an actual number) of normal intentional walks. The catcher stands up, sticks his arm out and catches a 70 mph toss from the pitcher. The hitter doesn’t move a muscle. Repeat three more times. That’s not baseball, that’s the time you go grab another beer from the fridge.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I can’t bring myself to care either way. Those who are against this rule are absolutely right in their argument. MLB isn’t accomplishing anything in terms of pace of play, and the league is sacrificing some wacky moments. Those against it are also right. Intentional walks are mostly boring, so who cares if we lose them. I could take them or leave them, but at the end of the day we’re talking about intentional walks and I’m going to fall asleep if I keep talking about them.




One Big Question: In which direction will Deven Marrero move this year?

2017-02-21T12:30:01-05:00

This is a pivotal year in Marrero’s career. Welcome to Over The Monster’s One Big Question series. For the next 40 (week)days, we will be trying to answer one important question for each player on the Red Sox 40-man roster. The goal is to find one interesting portion of each player’s game to watch for, whether that be in spring training or the early regular season. We’ll be going straight down the list on the team’s roster page, meaning we’ll be going in alphabetical order through each position group, starting with the pitchers. Today, we’re highlighting Deven Marrero. The Question: In which direction will Deven Marrero’s career move this year? While the Red Sox have been outstanding at building up their farm system in recent years, they’ve had some extremely notable misses in the first round, too. Trey Ball is the one that will stand out the most — and rightfully so, since he was a top-ten pick — but Deven Marrero is a big part of that group as well. The shortstop was selected 24th overall in the 2012 draft out of Arizona State and was expected to be on the fast track to the majors. He’s never made good on that potential, despite being a wonder with the glove. Now, as he enters the 2017 season, he may be looking at his last chance to make good on any potential big-league career he could have. While Marrero was drafted just a few years ago, he’s already reached the most pivotal moment of his career. He was first called up to the 40-man roster in 2015, meaning he’s already burned two of his minor-league option years. He’ll almost certainly burn the third this season, meaning that if he can’t latch on this year he’ll have to go through waivers to get to the minors next year. What he does in 2017 will determine whether or not he’ll be able to make it through waivers. On top of that, since he was drafted as a college player, he’s a bit older than some other prospects. This coming year will be his age-26 season, meaning his development years are mostly behind him. Long story short, he’s gotta make good on his potential this year if he wants to have a major-league career. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Unfortunately for Marrero, the talent just doesn’t appear to be there. To be fair, he does have the one carrying skill that will at least keep teams interested in him for years to come. For as poor as he is at the plate, he’s phenomenal in the field at shortstop. Oddly enough, his major-league advanced defensive numbers grade out average-at-best, but that comes over an impossibly small sample that is safe to ignore. Every scouting report agrees that he is well above-average in this area. He’s a good athlete who can make even the toughest plays look routine, and has a strong arm to back it up. Yet, you have to hit a little bit even when you have such a great glove. We’ve been over this with Christian Vazquez, and the problem is even greater for Marrero. For one thing, with the advancement of our knowledge in the world of pitch framing, it’s clear that catching defense is more important. In other words, the bar is going to be higher for someone like Marrero. On top of that, Marrero has shown much less potential with the bat than Vazquez has. Over the span of the last two years, Marrero has only come to the plate 70 times against major-league pitching, and he’s been horrible. With a career OPS+ of 36, there’s no defensive skillset that can make the bat playable. Obviously, this is a small sample size but his minor-league numbers don’t offer much more hope. He’s had success at two levels in his minor-league career: Double-A in 2014 and short-season in 2012. The former is impressive, though it only came during a half-season, but the latter was the New York Penn League as a college draftee. All college first rounders should dominate that level. What’s particularly concerning was his performance at Triple-A last year. As a 25-year-old for whom this was his third partial season at the level, there’s really n[...]



Division favorites preview: Cleveland and Houston loom large

2017-02-21T11:30:01-05:00

And the shortest guy is the scariest one. We’ve covered the other teams in the division, but Boston face obstacles all across the American League this season, not just their purported backyard. Here are two teams who could give the co-World Series favorite Red Sox problems this season, per Baseball Prospectus’ projected standings. Cleveland Indians Last year’s runners-up not only dispatched the Red Sox in three games in the ALDS, they improved in the offseason, adding former Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnación to bolster their already potent lineup. For their efforts, they have the second-highest AL win total in Baseball Prospectus’ adjusted standings, with a record of 92-70. This is two games better than Boston, but perhaps in a nod to the Sox’ huge fan base, the Indians have slightly worse odds to win it all. This team is ferocious. They’re ably led by Terry Francona, with whom you might be familiar, and who is surely headed for the Hall of Fame as a manager. Yes, the Indians blew a 3-1 lead in last year’s World Series, but losing three straight to those Cubs is nothing of which to be ashamed. Still hurts though, I bet. The Indians are led by Corey Kluber, who probably should have won last year’s Cy Young Award over Rick Porcello, and who is one of the two or three best pitchers in the AL. Fortunately for Boston, the other two contenders for that title, Chris Sale and David Price, sit atop their rotation but with Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar behind Kluber, Cleveland’s top three starters are a match for that of nearly every other team in baseball. On top of this, their bullpen boasts the certifiably great Andrew Miller in a flex role before also-pretty-rad closer Cody Allen. Francona’s skill in managing the bullpen, by eschewing traditional “setup” and even “closer” roles, helps him greatly in the era of the power reliever. He was willing to learn new things in a way Buck Showalter was not, and it makes Cleveland very dangerous. On offense, Encarnación headlines a lineup that was perfectly strong without him and becomes abjectly terrifying now that he’s there. Rotochamp predicts that Michael Brantley, who could win an MVP with a career year on a great team, could bat sixth behind Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Francisco freaking Lindor, Encarnación and Jose Ramirez. In this case, Yan Gomes, Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall could fill out the lineup. That is nasty. With BP predicting the AL Central to be generally weaker than the AL East, there’s a good chance Cleveland could have home-field advantage in the playoffs and finally, blissfully, have it all the way through, no matter who won the All-Star Game. Houston Astros Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images Half man, all amazing. The Astros, however, could spoil all of it. BP predicts the Astros to finish a 93-69, first place in the AL. Nice. They wouldn’t have true home field advantage -- BP sees the Dodgers at 99-63! -- but there are real reasons to think this could be Houston’s year, even if I’m a little skeptical. Still, I know that José Altuve is a miracle on earth. It is easy to compare him to Isaiah Thomas, so I will, though I believe Altuve is better, having done it longer. He hit .338/.396/.531 last season with 216 hits, 24 home runs, 30 steals, one batting title and a third-place MVP finish. He’s not Mike Trout, but on any given day he can be the best player of the game. He is far from the only stud in the lineup. Carlos Beltran, Josh Redick and Brian McCann join a lineup that already boasted Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel. That’s pretty good, and that’s before you wonder how good they’d be if they hadn’t let J.D. Martinez walk three years ago. Analysis: That was a bad idea, but that was then and this is now. Grading on a curve against the Cleveland and Boston rotations, I’ll call the rotation “fine.” It’s deeper than those two, but if 2016 Dallas Keuchel shows up there c[...]



MLB Network names Mookie Betts #8 on their Top 100 Players Right Now

2017-02-21T10:00:05-05:00

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Another ranking featuring a Red Sox player? If it’s not Mookie Betts you’re doing it wrong.

Remember when it was a question of whether Mookie Betts or Rusney Castillo would emerge as the right field solution? Seems like a long time ago. The folks at MLB Network have moved well past that non-controversy and in their latest ranking placed Betts number eight overall. Out of the best players in both leagues, Betts is eighth!

The full list is available but here are the top ten to get you started:

10. Joey Votto

9. Bryce Harper

8. Mookie Betts

7. Manny Machado

6. Miguel Cabrera

5. Jose Altuve

4. Kris Bryant

3. Josh Donaldson

2. Clayton Kershaw

1. Mike Trout

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A few of Mookie’s teammates joined him among the top 100:

30. Chris Sale

44. Xander Bogaerts

50. David Price

55. Dustin Pedroia

73. Jackie Bradley Jr.

79. Hanley Ramirez

95. Rick Porcello

There is, of course, no David Ortiz on that list but most of the infield and outfield and three-fifths of a starting rotation isn’t a bad showing at all. Out of 100 players, eight are on the Red Sox. If you include the former Sox too, that number grows even higher.

Boston has lived up to the dream of becoming a powerful player development machine. Prospects have reached the top of rankings lists, they’ve made trades possible, and a few have left the team to sign elsewhere.

Mookie Betts has gone from a second base prospect blocked by Dustin Pedroia to the best right fielder in baseball. And he’s not done yet. How far can Mookie go? We’re going to find out, hopefully for many years to come.




2017 Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Roniel Raudes is on the map, now he looks to stay there

2017-02-21T09:01:01-05:00

Roniel Raudes rides his impressive full-season debut to a top-ten spot in the farm system. After trading away Anderson Espinoza, the farm system was said to be bereft of young pitching talent outside of Jason Groome. Roniel Raudes may not have the upside of Espinoza, but he’s good enough to come in as our number eight prospect in the farm system. He took 41 percent of the vote. Raudes representing an exciting young pitching talent like Espinoza isn’t the only thing those two have in common. The two were both signed during the same international signing period as well. Although Raudes wasn’t as hyped as Espinoza (or Christopher Acosta, for that matter) during that signing period, he was still a significant signee who received a $250,000 signing bonus. The young Nicaraguan made his professional debut in 2015, splitting his time between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. Most of his appearances came in the former, although he did make four starts stateside at the end of the year. It was a strong season overall for the righty, as he pitched to a 2.81 ERA with 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings and just 1.1 walks per nine. Oddly enough, his results were better in the GCL but his peripherals were better in DSL. Oh, and all of this came as a 17-year-old. That performance was strong enough to convince the Red Sox Raudes could skip the New York Penn League, despite his young age, and they sent him to full-season Greenville as an 18-year-old. For much of the year, he was overshadowed by Espinoza, but he quietly made a name for himself over the course of the 2016 season. His ERA wasn’t one that will jump off the page — he finished with a 3.65 mark — but when you consider his age it’s still mighty impressive. On top of that, his peripherals back up what the scouts saw as he struck out over eight batter per nine while walking just under two. A theme of this post has been Raudes’ many connections to Espinoza, but they separate in a big way when you get to the scouting side of things. Whereas Espinoza has his huge ceiling that is buoyed by his monstrous stuff, Raudes relies more on finesse and command. With a fastball that sits in the high-80’s and tops out around 92, this isn’t your traditional high-ceiling 18-year-old. Instead, he supports his fastball with strong curveball that has the potential to be a plus pitch and a changeup that could be at least average. Christopher Crawford, who publishes his top-20 for every team each year in his prospect guides (which are a great deal and you should buy), is the highest I’ve seen on Raudes. He rates the righty as the fourth-best prospect in Boston’s system and raves about his feel for pitching. According to Crawford, Raudes should see an increase in fastball velocity and has a floor almost as high as Espinoza even if his ceiling doesn’t match. Looking ahead to 2017, Raudes is one of the most interesting prospects to keep an eye on this summer. He has a unique profile for a prospect of his age, and it’s one that will either shine through against more advanced opponents or will come crashing down in a hurry. He’ll start next year — his age-19 season — in Salem, and will likely spend the entire season there. Here is our full list thus far Andrew Benintendi Rafael Devers Jason Groome Sam Travis Bobby Dalbec Brian Johnson Marco Hernandez Roniel Raudes As always, you can vote for the next player in the poll below. Poll Who is the number nine prospect in the Red Sox farm system? Shaun Anderson Trey Ball C.J. Chatham Michael Chavis Jake Cosart Travis Lakins Nick Longhi Kyle Martin Josh Ockimey Mike Shawaryn   219 votes | Results [...]



Daily Red Sox Links: Christian Vazquez, Joe Kelly, Mitch Moreland

2017-02-21T07:00:03-05:00

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Today’s links look at Boston/New York bidding wars, Joe Kelly’s simplified approach, and the worst transactions of the winter.

Evan Drellich wonders where the old Red Sox-Yankees bidding wars have gone. (Evan Drellich; Boston Herald)

After coming back from injury in 2016, Christian Vazquez looks to build upon his experiences to take another step forward in 2017. (Christopher Smith; Masslive)

As he looks to succeed in his new bullpen role, Joe Kelly has simplified everything heading into camp this year. (Brian MacPherson; Providence Journal)

This is only Chris Young’s second year in Boston, but he’s already taking to a leadership role. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)

Mitch Moreland was the “big bat” the Red Sox added this winter, but he’s smart enough to not think about replacing David Ortiz’ production. (Ken Powtak; Boston.com)

Dave Cameron listed his worst transactions of the offseason, and the Red Sox made the list. (Dave Cameron; Fangraphs)

Ben Carsley ranks the non-roster invitees in Red Sox camp. (Ben Carsley; BP Boston)




The complete guide to the 43 ‘presidents’ of Red Sox Nation

2017-02-20T13:00:01-05:00

From Bob Adams to Bullet Joe Bush, here are the namesakes of our nation’s top executives, just because. In honor of Presidents Day, I dug up all the Red Sox with Presidential names. It was something to do. There have been 44 different U.S. leaders — Donald Trump is “45th” because Grover Cleveland was elected twice, non-consecutively, and is thus listed twice -- and 43 Red Sox have borne the names of them. So close! But no time for chit-chat. This is a long list. Our ‘presidents’ are listed below by the chronology of the actual chief executives, not their own playing time. The Red Sox have never had a player with the last name “Washington,” so we start with... 2. John Adams and 6. John Quincy Adams Bob Adams, from Holyoke, pitched 5.2 innings for the Sox in 1925, finishing with a 7.94 ERA and one strikeout. This is the entirety of his MLB career. There will be no HBO miniseries about him. Terry Adams has a World Series ring. Acquired from the Blue Jays in the middle of the 2004 season for third baseman Josh Hattig, Adams pitched 27 innings for the Sox, during which he got pounded for 6 homers and an even 6.00 ERA. He was included on the postseason roster but didn’t pitch in the playoffs. 3. Thomas Jefferson Reggie Jefferson was damn good at baseball for someone who retired at age 30 with a career .300 batting average. Over five seasons for Boston from 1995, he hit .316/.363/.505, almost completely in line with his excellent career split against righties, but was hapless against lefties, hitting .219/.292/.298 in his career. He was left off the 1999 playoff roster and, unhappy about it, opted to retire. 7. Andrew Jackson Conor Jackson played 12 games for the Red Sox during the final, miserable days of the 2011 season, helping them infamously choke away the division lead with a .158/.227/.316 line over 22 PA. Damian Jackson, who played part of the 2003 season with the Sox, is best known for knocking Johnny Damon unconscious in the ALDS. Ron Jackson played briefly for the Sox in 1960, his final one in the bigs, at age 26, and while his name has basically been lost to history, his Baseball-Reference page has a legitimately sweet sponsored post. 8. Martin Van Buren Jermaine Van Buren pitched in 10 games in relief for the Red Sox in 2006. He had a 11.17 ERA. That’s not good, but his name is, because it allows me to post this: src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/buwunI_4DZg?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> 12. Zachary Taylor Harry Taylor is best known for starting a 1947 World Series game for the Brooklyn Dodgers and failing to record an out; the Dodgers would win the game anyway. He pitched for the Red Sox from 1950 to 1952, compiling a 4.65 ERA over 110.1 IP. Scott Taylor -- from the wonderfully named Defiance, Ohio -- pitched 25.2 innings of relief over the 1992 and 1993 seasons for the Sox, putting up a 6.31 ERA in his only MLB experience. 14. Franklin Pierce Think Scott Taylor’s career was brief? Jeff Pierce pitched 15 innings for the 1995 Red Sox with a 6.60 ERA. That’s all. 17. Andrew Johnson and 36. Lyndon B. Johnson Bob Johnson is easily the best player on the list to this point. He didn’t make his MLB debut until 1933, at age 27, but managed to make 7 all-star teams before he was finished, including one with the Red Sox, with whom he finished his career. Over two seasons in Boston, from 1944 to 1445 and at ages 38 and 39, he hit .302/.395/476 over 1219 plate appearances, leading the AL in OBP in 1944 at .431. Brian Johnson is our first active player and one for whom it’s easy to root -- read more about him, by me, here. Deron Johnson finished a long fruitful career on the 1975 Red Sox after grabbing a handful of at-bats for Boston over the previous three se[...]



One Big Question: Can Marco Hernandez stay up all year?

2017-02-20T12:00:02-05:00

Marco Hernandez has seen his stock steadily rise over the last couple years. Can he now stick in the majors? Welcome to Over The Monster’s One Big Question series. For the next 40 (week)days, we will be trying to answer one important question for each player on the Red Sox 40-man roster. The goal is to find one interesting portion of each player’s game to watch for, whether that be in spring training or the early regular season. We’ll be going straight down the list on the team’s roster page, meaning we’ll be going in alphabetical order through each position group, starting with the pitchers. Today, we’re highlighting Marco Hernandez. The Question: Can Marco Hernandez stay in the majors all year? Marco Hernandez’ entire baseball career changed the day he was sent from Chicago to Boston after the 2014 season as the player to be named later in return for Felix Doubront. In the Cubs organization, he had some low-key potential, but he never really showed it. Over the last two years, however, something has clicked and he’s shown that he has the skills to be a major-league player, even if he’s never a star or even a starter. After splitting the 2015 season between Portland and Pawtucket, he began last year in Triple-A with eyes of being called to Boston. He realized that dream very early in the season, with his first call-up coming just a couple weeks into the season. Although he did get that desired call up, Hernandez didn’t get to spend a ton of time with the Red Sox. He rode the bus between Boston and Pawtucket all year and he accrued only 56 plate appearances over 40 games. Because of that lack of playing time, he is still prospect eligible as he enters his age-24 season. In fact, he was recently named the number seven prospect in our team prospect ranking. If he gets his way, he’ll shed the prospect title in 2017. Will Hernandez really get to spend enough time on the major-league roster to make that happen, though? Well, the simplest part of this whole equation is figuring out if the player is good enough. Hernandez does check some boxes, but not others. On offense, he thrives by barreling the ball and leaning on his hit tool. The infielder isn’t elite in this area like many believe Andrew Benintendi to be, but he’s likely underrated. There’s a reason he hasn’t posted a batting average on balls in play under .324 at any level since 2013. The .350 BABIP he posted in his small major-league sample in 2016 probably isn’t totally sustainable, but he has the bat-to-ball skills to keep it higher than some may expect. To go along with the bat skills, Hernandez is also a strong baserunner. It’s another part of his BABIP ability, and it also shows up after he reaches base. Even in a small sample, Fangraphs rated him as a positive base runner and the scouting reports agree. John Farrell likely agrees as well, as he leaned on Hernandez as a pinch runner when he was available on the bench. What’s odd is that he doesn’t steal many bases, with his total staying in the single digits every year since 2014. He has the potential, however, as he twice stole over 20 bases while still with the Cubs. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images It’s not all positive on the offensive side of things, however. For one, he is never going to be a power hitter. In the majors last year, he posed an Isolated Power of just .078. While that’s probably a little lower than his true talent level, even his minor-league ISOs hovered around .130-.140. So, major-league ISOs around .100 probably won’t be rare for Hernandez. The most important part of the 24-year-old’s offensive profile, however, is his plate discipline. He was better than expected in the majors last year, striking out around 18 percent of the time with a walk rate just shy of nine percent. Given his aggressive nature with the bat, that wa[...]