Friday, March 6, 2015

Spring Training Thoughts Based on Tweets from @brianmacp

Brian MacPherson at the Providence Journal (along with Pete Abraham, Tim Britton, Alex Speier, and Lou Merloni) is one of the best Red Sox follows on Twitter. While perusing his timeline this morning, I realized that almost every one of his recent tweets relates to an important spring training storyline. So instead of writing a post based on my own original ideas, I thought: why not let @brianmacp do all the work? Here goes!

Good for Clay Buchholz stepping up and being a leader here. Clay goes out and gets an outward expression for each member of this rotation to wear on his back that says, “you say I’m not an ace well, see how your lineup likes it when I go out there and influence 16 ground ball outs tonight!” There may not be a guy among them who teams would shell out six figures for, but there also isn’t a guy among them who opponents are going to like to face on a nightly basis. 

The potential of this group reminds me of this season’s Atlanta Hawks. The beauty of the Hawks’ system is that they have no super-duper stars on their team, but they also never have anybody on the floor for them who is below average. This Hawks team of B+ players (“they don’t have an ace!”) is currently 48-12 and 10 games ahead of everyone else in the eastern conference. And here comes the point of my semi-convoluted cross-sport analogy: the Red Sox pitching staff has the stuff to gel into a rotation of B+ guys. Never underestimate a group of B+ athletes who have a chip on their shoulder and quality clubhouse chemistry. 

Every article, tweet, or mention of Jackie Bradley Jr. from this winter brought the same image to my mind: his long, ponderous, looping old slugger swing from 2014. He had to go to work on that monster. As well-documented on this site before, if he quiets that swing down and makes enough hard contact to hit .230 he will get a lot of at bats in Boston. 

and an extra from @TheRickyDoyle

Here is my favorite story brewing beneath the surface of Red Sox spring training so far: Dustin Pedroia entering into the phase of his career where he starts to hear about how enormous his contract is, and how the young guys like Mookie Betts or Yoan Moncada will probably be the better player at 2B by 2016 than him anyway. I like the idea of Pedey using all of this chatter to unleash a Pedroia season of old. I like a pissed off Pedroia. I hope he brings back the Laser Show to Fenway this summer.

I’m worried about our bullpen heading into 2015. I said it in my comment on Art’s post, and I’ll say it again here. But if Matt Barnes can come in out of the bullpen and throw 97 mph, I may reconsider my position. I could see a future where Barnes is the closer for Boston at some point in 2015. The same goes for Ogando, who would probably get the first crack if Koji falters (although In Koji I Still Trust, spring training results be damned) while Barnes remains stretched out as a starter in AAA. As long as Ogando stays off the DL, he will be a big part of this bullpen if he can control 95mph. 

Here’s a little Maineiacs bet to start the season: I set the over/under for the date when Ogando has his first stint on the DL as a Red Sox pitcher at Memorial Day, May 25.


  1. Brandon, great post again ( thanks to Brian Mac as well). I agree the bullpen is perhaps the most fluid part of this club. Could be great, could be their achilles heel. Matt Barnes would definitely help, I still think he starts the year as a starter in AAA, but he is a potential weapon in reserve.

    I would like to add a few thoughts on the "homeless man's Wade Davis", Brandon Workman as a key part of this year's pen. Granted last year Workman did not pitch as well as his debut year of 2013. But check out these splits in 2013 for Workman:

    Starter 1-9 ERA 5.36 1.80 K to BB ratio

    Reliever 0-1 ERA 2.84 with 7 to 1 K to BB ( warning small sample size)

    Postseason reliever 8 2/3 innings ERA 0.00

    Combined '13 regular and post season as reliever 1.20 ERA

    By the way Wade Davis may have become " one of the all time greats" when switched to the pen but his ERA's as a starter were 3.72, 4.07, 4.45 with the Rays, who made him a reliever in 2012 and in 54 games his ERA was 2.43. The Royals in their wisdom made him a starter again in '13 and his ERA went back up to 5.32 with a 8-11 W/L record and KC moved him back to the pen.

    Workman may or may not be Wade Davis, but based on the admittedly sample size of his past, he has ample opportunity to be a big part of a successful 2015 Boston red Sox bullpen.

  2. I absolutely love the t-shirts that Buchholz had made for the rotation. It actually led me to feel quite confident that the staff may be better than expected. The t-shirts won't get anybody out, but if the group of starters can bond together and be motivated by a "nobody believes in us" theme, then that's a good thing.

    There are definitely some early encouraging signs for JBJ. But, we've seen this before, right? Ultimately he'll need to produce with the bat at the big league level, during the regular season for an extended period of time before he proves that he's made the proper adjustments. We know that he can hit in spring training and in the minor leagues.

    A motivated Pedroia is obviously a good thing. Let's hope he keeps his hands healthy on opening day this year. Here's to the return of The Laser Show and lots of La Luna!! calls this year from Don Orsillo.

    The bullpen is a major concern right now, and for me it's not the set up crew that I'm worried about. I'm worried about the closer...Koji. This team needs a good start this year. The last thing they can afford is to blow a couple of leads early on in the season in the ninth inning.