Monthly Archives: March 2016

I can’t believe it…

…the Red Sox really gave Travis Shaw the 3B job today?!  Guess I was wrong in my rant last week.  Oh well, wasn’t the first time and sure as hell won’t be the last.  But I am in shock.  Regardless of what was being said publicly on the third base “competition”, I didn’t believe a word of it.  Why would I?  How often have the Red Sox under John Henry & Co. actually been honest?  Is ownership now turning over a new leaf?  I would find that hard to believe as well…even if Larry Lucchino isn’t supposedly involved much anymore.

But I guess that is the way it is now.  Fat Panda and his 17.6 mil is on the bench this year.  So is Rusney Castillo and his 11.271 mil.  Rick “20.125 mil” Porcello is your FOURTH starter.  So far, Hanley Ramirez and his 22.750 mil is in the lineup, but I suppose he will get hurt soon enough anyway and that will take care of that.

This is definitely not how the Red Sox historically do things.  Well, for that matter, most teams don’t do this either.  You play the guys who are getting paid, right or wrong.  On one hand, I applaud the Sox for kind of “taking a stand” and changing the way they do things…for the start of the season anyway.  On the other hand…I think the Fat Panda move is a mistake…and the Castillo decision is also one…although to a lesser degree.

Why is the Panda move a mistake?  Well, I outlined that pretty much last week.  Shaw is not likely an impact player, certainly not an All-Star.  Any trade value Panda has currently changes to zero while he’s on the bench.  Does anyone expect the benching to motivate Panda to get in shape in order to fight for his job back?  What happens if Shaw comes out of the gate hitting .175 and you have to go back with your tail between your legs to a (possibly) pissed off Pablo?  Yada, yada, yada…it’s nice to see “on paper” that the Sox went with the younger, hotter (at least based on Spring Training), more motivated player.  But I think this has a very good chance to backfire.

Though in case you missed Panda’s response:  “It is best for the team for Shaw to get the job…he had a good spring…”.  Paraphrasing it here, but that was the gist.  WHAT?!!  How about being angry that you lost the job?  A little disconcerting, if you ask me.  Maybe he really doesn’t care?  This is ugly either way.  I have to tell you, if we are at this point, I wonder if the best move is just releasing him outright?  If you can’t trade him for pennies on the dollar (which presumably they have tried to do), what’s the difference?  It’ll never happen.  But this has the potential to get worse.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

As for the Castillo benching, as if anyone cares, maybe it is not technically a “mistake”.  By all indications, he played poorly in the spring.  He has done nothing to distinguish himself in his brief major league career.  Certainly not to the tune of 11 million plus.  But the end result of the move is what I refer to as the mistake.

Brock Holt and Chris Young will platoon in left field.  Young, fine.  I think everyone figured he would play against lefties anyway.  Assumed for Jackie Bradley Jr., but it’s all good with Young.  But Holt against righties?  That means he will essentially play every day.  That may work for a few months.  But if the last two seasons are any indication, the more you play him, the more he wears down and contributes little as the season moves into its latter months.  Holt’s true value is playing multiple positions a few times a week.  Now he is essentially the every day left fielder.  Great for him, I do like the player a great deal.  I just don’t think it serves the team well sticking him in left most of the time.

I’m not saying I would play Castillo every day there either.  That’s not the issue.  The issue is the fact that they are keeping him as a seldom-used FIFTH outfielder.  Why bother?  The story goes that he basically didn’t play for a couple of years in Cuba.  He has not played a whole ton since he came to the States.  What purpose does it serve by keeping him on the bench here?  Barring injury, how much does a fifth OF play?  He should be playing every day in Pawtucket.  To see if anything at all can be salvaged with this signing.  And your last OF/last position player spot should go to a guy like…David Murphy.  Which is why I guessed he would be here.  I don’t love Murphs.  But pick anyone of that ilk.  Good enough.  Just no sense in having Rusney here at all…and that’s the real point.

I’m even less confident in the Sox this year than I was last week.  Maybe cuz this rotation looks scarier by the day.  Unfortunately, until Eduardo Rodriguez comes back, or some sort of trade is made, we are stuck with what is there.  Not many options.  Roenis Elias?  Henry Owens?  Brian Johnson?  Ugh.  Truth be told, I’m not counting on Eddy coming back any time soon.  Interesting how the team has been kind of vague on his status…and timetables keep moving as well.  Not encouraging to me.  Bucky went a solid 4 today…shouldn’t starters be going like 6-7 by now?  Maybe not.

Cross your fingers we have meaningful baseball in Boston this summer.  The schedule out of the gate appears tough.  John Farrell is still the manager.  The rotation is putrid.  Drama could evolve from the above.  All of that.

If not, at least we have Big Papi’s farewell tour.  Actually, don’t get me started on that…

 

 

 

 

Are the Red Sox contenders?

Well, now that I have all of the Travis Shaw stuff out of my system, it’s time to get to the team as a whole.  9 days until Opening Day, 10 until the Sox’ Opening Day.  Time to start thinking seriously about the prospects of the team this summer.

The short answer to the question posed above?  “No”.  Too many question marks still.

I also think the division will be a crapshoot once again.  It appears that Toronto is again the odds-on favorite.  Lineup is stout, no doubt.  But other than Marcus Stroman, the rest of the rotation reads (according to the depth chart on MLB.com):  Marco Estrada, RA Dickey, JA Happ & Aaron Sanchez…with Drew Hutchinson, Gavin Floyd and the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona in reserve.  Seems like a lot of 12-10 games to me.

You could probably argue any of Boston, Baltimore or the Yanks for 2nd.  The Oriole rotation may be the worst in the division.  But their lineup should be good and their bullpen looks pretty robust.  The Yanks?  Hard to say.  I despise them, being a Sox fan of course.  And I have zero love for Joe Girardi.  But I respect him immensely.  They have been getting “old” for years and don’t have the talent of the teams from the “Jeter” years.  But he wills them to be in the playoff race most years regardless, even if it seems they have no business being close.  This year I bet will be no different.  Their lineup looks average at best.  Their rotation is full of potential, but full of questions.  But if those guys can give them 5 or 6 innings consistently, the bullpen is filthy.  At least the back end.

The basement would appear to be occupied by the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays.  Their lineup is absolutely laughable.  It’s probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen.  Ok, a little hyperbole.  But it’s bad.  Bullpen looks…dicey.  Rotation COULD be good.  But that’s if the guys stay healthy.  Chris Archer was awesome for 3/4 of the season last year.  Then melted at the end, probably because he weighs 97 lbs and threw more innings than he ever had.  Alex Cobb is pretty good, but is out for a couple of months at least.  Matt Moore used to be good, then he got hurt and who knows if he will be back to even what he was.  Drew Smyly…underrated.  But had some health issues last year as well.  You get the point.  The larger point is that they will finish last.

As for the rest of the American League.  Kansas City still looks like the cream of the crop.  There appears to be no other juggernaut out there.  But the Sox need to worry about the 80 times apiece they play the teams in the AL East before they worry about the competition in the two other divisions.  That’s what I’m doing here anyway.

Ssssssooooo…on to the hometown team.  Let’s break it down the way I see it:

Lineup:

Mookie Betts RF, Dustin Pedroia 2B, Xander Bogaerts SS, David Ortiz DH, Hanley Ramirez 1B, Pablo Sandoval 3B, David Murphy (yup) LF, Blake Swihart C, Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Bench:

Travis Shaw 1B/3B/OF?, Brock Holt everywhere, Ryan Hanigan C, Chris Young OF

Analysis:

Just a gut call on Murphy here.  He has an opt-out by Sunday, so we will find out soon enough.  My feeling is that Betts is the only every day guy here.  Mookie is the real deal.  Bradley will sit against lefties.  Murphs and Young could platoon in left, at least in the short-term.  Holt can fill some gaps otherwise.  Well, at least that is what I would do.  Murphy has been a solid player for quite some time.  I don’t believe the current regime is sold on Rusney Castillo, nor should they be.  Think he starts out in Pawtucket, gets everyday at-bats and if Murphs sucks, then it’s an easy switch.  Thinking depth here too.  Murphy pretty much said he wouldn’t go to the minors.  So if they want to keep depth, like every team wants to do early on, he needs to make the club.

Been through the Shaw stuff.  Hanigan makes it over Christian Vazquez, simply because Vasky hasn’t played in over a year.  11 at-bats in the spring doesn’t help get him ready either.  Hopefully he gets back to where he was while getting steady work in Pawtucket.  Then when he is ready, they can deal Hanigan for a couple of fungo bats and Christian can return to Boston.  Allen Craig (WHY THE F IS HE STILL HERE?) is on the outside looking in as well.  Hopefully that does not shock you.

Anyway, the lineup looks pretty good on paper.  But injury questions still abound with Pedroia, Hanley and Pablo.  Love Swihart, but we will see.  Where is X’s power?  Which JBJ will show up?  Is this the year Big Papi falls off a cliff?  Is that why he is retiring?  I know, every team has questions.  But I’m here to bring up the Sox’ questions.  And tell whoever will listen that I’m not sold on this lineup over the long haul.  There is a solid chance we see entirely too much of Holt, Young, Murphy, Shaw and maybe even Deven Marrero.  Not ideal.  Hopefully they won’t have to subscribe to the “Sandy Leon” experiment again though.

Starters:

David Price, Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly, Steven Wright

Analysis:

To say it’s underwhelming after Price would be a colossal understatement.  And we have no idea how Price will be in Boston.  Big contract, rabid fan base, sensitive player, high expectations, etc.  We’ll see.  Oh, I still would’ve signed him, no question.  But still an unknown.  Don’t even get me going on that waste of talent Bucky.  Or that waste of money Porcello.  Or the continuously hyped up for no reason Kelly.  At least you will probably know what Wright will give you.  5th starter average performances.  And I’m ok with that.  Unfortunately, we will likely get 4th/5th starter performances out of the other three besides Price too.  Not good.

It’s a terrible blow that Eduardo Rodriguez will start the year on the Disabled List.  And it will be more disappointing when the team leaves him on there for longer than he should be by being overly cautious.  Then again, we really have no idea how bad he is hurt.  The whole thing is disconcerting.  The next in line prospects, Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Eduardo Escobar?  Not looking bright right now.  Ugh…let’s move on…

Bullpen:

Craig Kimbrel (closer), Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Robbie Ross Jr., Tommy Layne, Roenis Elias…and…I suppose Matt Barnes.

Analysis:

I almost went with Carlos Marmol instead of Barnes.  For the same reason pretty much as Murphy over Castillo.  Marmol has an opt-out soon.  May be intriguing to keep him and see if he has anything left.  Still supposedly has the electric arm.  But I have heard no indications that the Sox are leaning anywhere close to that, so I left him off.  Oh, Anthony Varvaro has an opt-out clause too.  But…see ya.  Brandon Workman may help later in the season.  Guys like Noe Ramirez, Pat Light, Escobar and Heath Hembree will inevitably be called upon at some point…I know, awesome!

Anyway, for the bullpen guys we care about…I had no problem dishing 4 prospects for Kimbrel.  However, I still do have concerns about his transition from NL closer to AL closer (mostly due to recurring Mark Melancon nightmares).  And how he also will handle Boston once he blows a save or two.  But he’s the least of my worries.  How much does Koji and Junichi have left?  John Farrell is still the manager, by the way.  He’s the one that pretty much blew out their arms over the past few seasons.  Carson Smith was supposed to be a key piece…but he’s on the DL too.  Ross had a nice finish with no pressure last year…but he is still Robbie Ross Jr.  Layne, Elias, Barnes…oh well, every team has middle innings reliever questions.  Barnes throws hard.  But his fastball may be even straighter than Kelly’s.  Yikes!

I think you pretty much get my gist.  I loved the hiring of Dave Dombrowski.  Not because I love the dude in particular.  But because he is a “baseball guy”.  The Red Sox ownership and the minions below were paying too much mind to the statistical side, sabermetrics, trends and what computers could tell you (Carmine!!).  And were heading too far away from physical scouting and what the eyes could tell you.  Sabermetrics and the computer certainly have a place in baseball.  But it can’t be everything.  There needs to be a balance.  I think Dombrowski will bring that.

But there is a way to go.  Too many injury concerns.  Too many bad contracts.  All of these kids we have been hearing about…not enough have developed.  A big thing for me is that John Farrell is still manager.  He should’ve been fired before the cancer last year.  And I’m not even talking about him getting it on with a reporter that is (was) in the locker room every day.  That’s not smart, but I’m sure it happens in other cities.  I’m actually surprised it was kept under wraps for so long.  Anyway, I’ve never been a fan of his in-game management.  Tazawa pitching to Nelson Cruz with a base open late in the game early last year STILL sticks in my craw.  Here’s hoping he truly is healthy…but on a very short leash on the diamond and in the dugout.

Glad that baseball is about back.  Just not feeling it for the home team…

 

Stop the insanity!!

Since when did Travis Shaw become the second coming of Mike Schmidt?  Or George Brett?  Or Wade Boggs?  Or…you get the point.

The latest hot topic in Red Sox camp is whether Shaw is going to steal the third base job from Pablo Sandoval.  Sure, Shaw is hitting well this spring.  Panda is as fat as ever and not hitting quite as well.  Manager John Farrell claims that there is a competition.  Reports have come out this week that General Manager Dave Dombrowski supposedly issued a sort of edict when he took over last August (and reiterated it before Spring Training) that the coaches were told to not give jobs “based on contracts”.  And all that.

But should we really buy it?  I’m not.  Panda has 4 years left on his deal at close to 80 large.  There is simply no way he is heading to the bench.  That is too much dough to be wasting away, regardless of what Dombrowski says.  If he comes out of the gate hitting like .150, maybe it happens then.  But he won’t start the year on the bench.  Unless this back stiffness that arose today is something more serious, but I’m not talking about getting benched due to injury.  If he starts on the bench, whatever trade value he has will disappear…though I know he doesn’t have much now anyway.

I feel like Dombrowski would eat most of the contract to get Fat Panda out of town.  At least a big chunk of it.  After all, he didn’t sign Pablo.  The Sox’ best bet is probably to play Panda, hope he gets hot and then deal him.  If he sits, that option is gone.  I know, it’s pretty far-fetched that anyone will take him.  But I have to believe that has to be part of their thinking.  It’s their only chance.

Don’t we also have to be concerned about the very real possibility the team “loses” Panda if he gets benched.  He then sits back and gets even fatter while he counts his riches.  Just totally checks out.  And what happens if Shaw sucks out of the gate too?  Then you go right back to Panda and not expect him to be pissed?

Another reason that people are latching onto is that Shaw has played better defense than Panda this spring at 3b.  What’s that, for like 12 games?  Shaw played 8 games at third last year in the majors, out of 65 played.  He has started 108 games out of 604 professional games at the hot corner.  And all of a sudden he is a Gold Glover?  Well, he played there in college, they say.  Ok.  Panda has played 894 games at third in his career and has been mostly reliable.  All of a sudden Shaw is better defensively?  Seems more than a little silly to me.

Shaw had a nice half-season last year.  But there was no pressure on him, as they were well out of the race before he started playing regularly.  Not to mention he did a lot of damage in September, against plenty of other minor league callups.

Listen, I do not hate Travis Shaw.  He can be a nice backup, playing one or two days a week at third, as well as one or two days a week at first.  And then he will probably get plenty of at-bats when the inevitable Hanley Ramirez injury occurs.  He should be ok.  But after like 40 at-bats in Spring Training, he is all of a sudden the next big thing?  Where was all the “hot prospect” talk in previous years?  Let’s not get carried away here folks.

God, I hate all of these Spring Training “feel-good” stories.

Speaking of feel-good…and speaking of insanity…this week reporters are trying to sell us on Hanley settling in nicely at first base.  That he is going to “make people eat their words” about him.   Seriously?  Again, after only a handful of non-pressure filled games in camp?  And with his history?  How could people possibly buy this as well?

Same thing as Fat Panda:  Have him start out strong at the plate and look competent at first base…then try to unload him on someone.  While of course eating a lot of his dough too.  I’ve made that no secret already though…

10 days ’til Opening Day…

 

%d bloggers like this: