Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Red Sox Stuff

The Red Sox are roughly 1/8 of the way through the 2015 schedule, but there's so much talk going on around the team, the AL east and all of MLB it feels like it should be Memorial Day already.  Speaking of Memorial Day that is usually the time when teams starting looking to make trades to improve their teams.  The old adage was two months to assess, two months to fix and two months to play, could that philosophy be changing this year? Rob Bradford took a look at that this morning. Early season trades are just one hot topic following the Red Sox right now, let's take a look at a few of those topics:

*These are my thoughts, gut feelings and opinions, so feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.

1. When talking about the Red Sox right now how could we start with anything but the starting pitchers. Look, they've been bad (they have the worst era in the AL), but have they really been as bad as people are making it out to be? Let's take a look, again not a lot of stats here, but just some thoughts from a guy that hasn't missed a game yet this year. We are exactly four trips through the rotation with 20 games being played and each guy has made four starts.

 Clay Buchholz- 3 out of his 4 starts have been acceptable.  His stats are greatly skewed by the 10 runs he gave up at New York.  With the exception of '13 Clay is typically a slow starter and he gets better as the weather gets warmer. I feel like an OK to good start will allow him to only get better as the season goes on. Even if he takes his annual 15 day stint on the DL. A good start tonight would be big for Clay. So far he's been very good against the Phillies and Rays, two of the worst offensive teams in baseball.  The Blue Jays lineup is as good if not better than the Orioles, against which Clay was OK. My head tells me that tonight is going to be a bad matchup for Clay, but my heart says he has 7 innings with 3 runs or less in him tonight, and that would be a great jump off going into May for Clay.

Rick Porcello- The contract extension that he signed right before the season will work against him all season long, he might as well change his first name to "20 million dollar pitcher". Rick has also had one very bad start that has swayed his stats. His five inning 8 run performance vs. the Orioles.  His other three starts have been as advertised. He's also the only starter to go 8 innings in a game so far this year. Yes his 6 home runs allowed to start the season are a lot, but he's also notorious for having bad April's. This April it looks like he's overthrowing a little bit, once he gets into the rhythm of the season we should see his sinkerball start to take over.

Justin Masterson- People have been quick to bury him, again because of one bad start. Hello broken record. His 4.2 inning 7 run performance has hurt his stats, but he's given up 3 runs or less in his 3 other starts. Plus, he went 7 innings last time out which has been a hurdle for the staff so far.  People have to remember that he's a bounce back candidate who had an awful year last year. He's not the guy who left here in '09.

Wade Miley- The one bad start defense will not hold water here. He's had two absolute disasters. And even in his two best starts he only lasted 5.1 and 5.2 innings. He needs to be better no question. He needs to bear down and compete when he gets into jams and I for one think that he will.  This guy has a track record of pitching 200+ innings. He'll get things straightened out. Why? Because my AL only fantasy league team needs him to that's why...

Joe Kelly- Let the broken record one bad performance defense cue itself back up again...And here we go... Joe's one bad start was not nearly as bad as the others, but it was the circumstances that made it look bad. He blew a 4 run lead in a game that appeared like it was going to be an easy win for the Sox.  Partly because some of the people that follow the team had already anointed him the ace after one very good start and another decent start. Then in his third start he was cruising with a 5-1 lead and then melted down in the 6th inning and couldn't record an out.  Kelly has the best stuff on the staff and thus has the potential to be a front of the rotation starter, so those raised expectations have made some people feel that he's been a disappointment so far. Not me. His top 3 strikeout games were 10, 8 and 7.  That tells you his stuff has been good.  He just needs to get some consistency and stay healthy.

 People just need to back away from the bridge and relax. The starting rotation will be fine. All they need is one good trip through the rotation and a 3-4 game winning streak and everything will start to click.  Is there an ace? NO! Do they need an ace in this weak even AL east? NO! Every team in the division has flaws.  The answer isn't to call up prospects or make trades in April. The answer is for the coaches and players to continue to work hard to make adjustments and play/pitch better.

2. The bullpen has actually been pretty good. Certainly better than I expected. Ogando is finding a good middle relief role.  Taz and Koji have been pretty good (again don't expect to see '13 Koji, in fact don't expect to see anyone have another historic season like that ever...for any team).

The one complaint I have with the bullpen is I'd like to see them pick up their starters once and a while. It seems like they just can't stop the bleeding whenever they come into jam. Which is not an easy job, but it can be done.  This is where the lack of strikeout guys in the bullpen comes into play. The starters bad era has been hurt somewhat by the bullpens inability to come in and escape jams.  If the starters and the bullpen get in sync this team could get on a roll.

3. Are the Red Sox going to reunite with Papelbon or Saltalammacchia? NO and HELL NO!! Although we here at redsoxmaineiacs.com love us some Salty Dog
This is one of my pet peeves about Red Sox nation (no not the video, but the long term memory loss). Why do we always pine for our old players to return? While it may pull at our heart strings or make us feel young again it just doesn't make sense from a baseball standpoint.  After a little time away we tend to only remember the good times, thus we let ourselves believe that Papelbon would come back and strikeout the side every time he came in to get a save. It's just not realistic.  Move on Red Sox fans.

4. Boy didn't the Red Sox get out of Baltimore just in the nick of time.  It's awful what's going on there. Here's to hoping that things get under control soon and they can start playing baseball there again.

5. Depth.  People (when I refer to people I'm mostly talking about Felger and Mazz, or people that call into their show) want to know what the Red Sox can do to win the AL east. Because what they're doing through twenty games certainly isn't good enough (that's the people talking, not me).  Just remember that one of the major strengths of this team is it's depth and it takes more than twenty games for that depth to make an impact.  This team is deep at the major league level, on their bench (hellooooo Brock Holt looking at you kid), but they're also deep at Pawtucket.  There will be 2-4 players throughout the year that will get called up to Boston and give the big club a major lift over a one to two week period or maybe longer.  Who will it be you ask? Well if we knew it wouldn't be as exciting when it happens, but here's my best guesses: the obvious one is Rusney Castillo, so I'll pick three more. I also think Garin Cecchini, Jackie Bradley Jr and Henry Owens will make some big contributions.  Owens will need to be put on the 40 man roster.

Edit (6:55pm) Well this was well timed Here's what Benny C had to say about it today on NESN

6. Brock Holt gets the start in RF again tonight (he didn't finish there last night) here's to hoping that he becomes at least something close to the every day RF.

7. Pablo Sandoval is back in the lineup tonight after suffering whiplash like symptoms in that panda crash with the Fenway lawn last night. Yikes. The Panda might have gotten whiplash, but the lawn has a huge dent in it. Can he keep his home run streak alive and hit one for the third game in a row? Take it to the bank!

8. Will the Red Sox trade for an ace? Yes, but with a caveat.  Only if the Washington Nationals continue to fold and find themselves out of the race. Those two teams seem to match up well.  Unlike any team trying to match up to make a trade with Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies.  Cole Hamels will not be coming to Boston, but in the previous scenario I could see either Jordan Zimmerman (FA to be, so he would cost you less in theory), Stephen Strasburg (He'd cost you more in the way of prospects and money) or a name that's been talked about much less perhaps Gio Gonzalez coming to Boston in July...or August.

If you want the Red Sox to trade for an ace keep rooting against the Nationals.


  1. Here are some stats to back up my one bad start defense. Here are their ERA's after I removed their one bad start:

    Clay Buchholz 1.42 (19 IP, 3 ER)
    Rick Porcello 4.50 (20 IP, 10 ER)
    Justin Masterson 3.00 (18 IP, 6 ER)
    Wade Miley 5.50 (13.1 IP, 8 ER) I took out his worst start which was 2.1 IP and 7 ER and kept his 2.1 and 6 ER start in. If you really want to ignore the bad he has a 1.64 ERA with 11 IP and 2 ER in his two best starts.
    Joe Kelly 3.96 (18.2 IP, 8 ER)

    Here's the part where I say: yes I know that taking away the bad performances is going to improve the stats. But these numbers paint a very different picture of our starting rotation, especially early in the season when one bad game can really hurt your numbers. Just like an 0 for 10 stretch can kill a batting average early in the year, but it would be merely a blip on the radar screen in the middle of the season.

    I brought these numbers up to prove a point that the starting pitching hasn't been as bad as some people are making it seem. Let's not panic yet and wait and see what happens. I for one still believe that this rotation is going to be better than people expect.

    Hopefully Clay can set the tone for the fifth trip through the rotation tonight and they can put together a stretch of 5 straight quality starts.

  2. Great post, Barry.

    My thoughts:
    1. Totally agree about the rotation. They are going to be fine. They'll be good enough over the long run to eat innings and keep this team in games. I'm looking forward to seeing what the left-handed trio at Pawtucket can contribute over the long run to this rotation as well. Might be sooner than later if Miley doesn't get his act together.

    2. Totally disagree about the bullpen. The three guys you mentioned - Ogando, Taz, and Koji - have been pretty good. But all the other pitchers - Vavaro, Mujica, Ross Jr, Breslow, Layne, Hembree (with the 40.50 ERA) - have been TERRIBLE. They are a collection of bad pitchers and this bullpen should have been put together better. If they had a good bullpen, then they already could have held onto games lost by Mujica, Varvaro, and Uehara. Matt Barnes needs to be in this bullpen right now for the rest of this 22 game AL East stretch. I wonder if the Sox are kicking the tires on K-Rod in Milwaukee. The Brewers are terrible, and K-Rod is only on the hook for this year and next, albeit for $7.5 million in 2016 alone. But he is 3 for 3 in save chances this season with a 0.86 WHIP and a 3.00 K/BB.

    3. As Barry and I discussed on our podcast, the Red Sox have fallen in love with pitch framing, and Salty Dog is one of the worst pitch framers and overall defensive catchers in professional baseball. Benny C isn't going after him with a 10 foot pole.

    4. "May you live in interesting times..."

    5. I think Benny C has been eyeing the way that Billy Beane has managed to get his A's to be contenders every year - with depth and versatility intelligently deployed - rather than spending nine figures on Jon Lester. Again, I will give a shoutout to the South Paw(tucket) Trio I mentioned earlier - Owens, Rodriguez, and Johnson. I see you three. I also see our current crop of lefties in Boston: Miley, Breslow, and Ross Jr. That's a disaster. Varvaro was supposed to be a lefty specialist even though he's a RHP, but he's terrible. How fast can the Paw Trio supplant the Boston lefties?

    6. Helllllloooooooooo Slap Weasel!!!!

    7. I love watching Fat Panda play the hot sack it's incredible. Signing Panda and Hanram are looking like two contracts that will pay dividends. Ok, it's been 20 games.

    8. I love the idea of matching up with the Nationals for Zimmerman!!! Or Gonzalez. The Mets and Marlins are both going to tough in the NL East. There's no guarantees that the Nationals make the playoffs. They do get to feast on the Braves and Phillies though, so they should be able to stay in the wildcard hunt all year. Also, watch Smardijia if the White Sox can't catch the Tigers and Royals. Not that he's a Cy Young-caliber ace, but he will only be on the books to the end of this year.

    Go Sox! Big one tonight against the Blue Jays!

    1. Barry I agree completely on the rotation, I know they have the bad ERA, but it just does not seem they have pitched that badly overall. I was thinking of putting together a similar defense of the staff

      I would go along with the bullpen being closer to pretty good than TERRIBLE, but I agree they could use Matt Barnes out there full time. I think Koji will be fine, but it is likely he cannot answer the bell for three games in a row. As far as Paplebon, I would consider it if Philadelphia pays nearly all of his $ and Pap is agreeable to not necessarily being the full time closer.

      JBJ is here at least for now, and based on his spring and April in AAA, I would put him in RF every day before Brock Holt. Holt is hot, but he is still best as an utility guy. He can play around the diamond 4-5 times a week.

      Out two new hitting acquisitions now have something else in common. In the last home stand Hanley in BP put a hole in the Monster with a line drive. Last night Panda put a crater in the infield with his diving catch.

      The "ace" pitcher I am still hoping the Sox can obtain is the Reds' Johnny Cueto. But I would be perfectly happy with Jordan Z as well.

    2. I agree that the has been closer to pretty good rather than terrible. But I agree with Brandon that some of those guys have been pretty bad. I think that Varvaro and Breslow have thrown the ball pretty well but are not getting the desired results. I look for their results to come back closer to the mean. The other guys suck.

    3. Also after watching Barnes the other night I came away less than impressed. I don't see him as a bullpen savior. He can certainly be a good pitcher out of the pen and definitely an upgrade over some of the guys that they have there now. I thought he would be throwing harder. He was consistently at 94. I guess I expected 95+. Now he has been getting stretched out as a starter at Pawtucket and perhaps with regular bullpen work at the major league level you might see an uptick in velocity. I did come away from that game very impressed with his curveball. That might actually be his best pitch and with that two pitch combination he certainly can be an excellent relief pitcher, but the elite hard throwing guys can bring it up there 95-97.

    4. Agreed on Barnes. I don't think he's a bullpen savior and with some warming up in the major league pen he'll probably be back up to 96-97. But he'd be right there with Ogando for the third-best bullpen guy right now. Problem is, again, that Koji, Taz, Ogando, and Barnes are all right handed.

  3. RBI for Bogaerts and Betts in the second inning...the future is now!?

    1. Great read by our friend Brian MacPherson at the Providence Journal today on those two. If you haven't read it already you should take a look.


  4. Another great read on Bogaerts today by Alex Speier of the Boston Globe


  5. The Red Sox hitters getting leads....the Red Sox pitchers pissing them away...

    1. We may have picked the wrong day to defend the rotation....sigh...

    2. Son of a bitch. You spend all day trying to defend 'em and then this shit. This is not going to help people stay calm.

  6. I feel like I might have Hanrahaned the starting rotation. Brandon, remember when you made a passionate defense of Joel Hanrahan and then he pissed away a win that night and then had Tommy John Surgery like two weeks later? This feels like that all over again. Any chance we can get the whole rotation (and Mujica) to visit Dr. Andrews?

    1. I definitely remember it! I titled the post "The Hanrahan Hate Has Gone Too Far" and the guy was out of baseball a couple weeks later, hahaha

  7. When the Sox come back to win this, is it a big win or more angst over bad pitching?

    1. I want to share your confidence for a come back win Deacon. Because I'm confident that the offense is capable, but a have the same amount of non-confidence (if that's a word) that the bullpen will be able to hold Toronto to less than 13 runs.

      This is part of what I was talking about in the original post. If the bullpen could've come in and shut the door and held Toronto at five runs or even six or seven then there's no doubt the Sox can win this game, but on nights when the starters are really bad the bullpen doesn't "pick them up". In fact they are usually even worse.

    2. Edward Mujica, Anthony Varvaro, and Robbie Ross Jr (especially RRJ) may be the three worst pitchers in the American League.

    3. Breslow says, "hey! don't forget about me in a 'worst pitchers in the American League conversation!!!!'"

  8. For every American League pitcher who had at least 78 IP last year, Robbie Ross Jr. was dead last in ERA and WHIP. Great addition to the bullpen.

  9. Let me just quickly weigh-in, I have been an absentee fan most of the early season having caught parts of only probably 1/3 of the Sox games so far. However, one point I want to bring up is something I heard on the PM Jab last week, callers complaining about watching a .500 ball club. I got thinking .500 over the course of the season is 81-81. So what is the difference between that and say a 91-71 playoff club? 10 wins, which is 2 good turns through the rotation. So being .500 is certainly not as much fun as a dynamite team but it beats watching the Phillies or the Cousin Jason's fantasy team! .500 for 4 months and 2 hot months = post-season! Certainly the Sox are trending in the wrong direction currently but like you have all said let's not panic, it is not even May yet.

  10. Hopefully Clay can set the tone for the fifth trip through the rotation tonight and they can put together a stretch of 5 straight quality starts. http://kquotes.com/

  11. I don't know who Kquotes Com is or if they're a person at all. They may be a machine, but either way. That quote deserves to get thrown in my face after last nights performance. With that being said, I still stand by most of what was said in the post. The starting pitching hasn't been good enough, but it's been better than people think. The division is weak and we don't need to overreact to bad performances in April. As Jason mentioned above, hanging around .500 may be frustrating for the fans, but it will likely keep us in playoff contention until the end.

    Let's not forget that while we're piling on Buchholz that he gave up 5 runs last night and the bullpen gave up 6. The offense scored 8. If the bullpen could've come in and closed the door or even held them to two runs, we would've won the game 8-7. Sports doesn't work that way, but it helps me make the point that it's not all on the starting pitching. Clay Buchholz is not getting DFA'd in April and he's not getting traded in a package with Allen Craig, Daniel Nava and Blake Swihart for Cole Hamels (some absolute f#*ktard suggested that actual trade in the boston.com comments section on Eric Wilbur's blog, and that comment was only slightly more stupid than Wilbur's post itself). But, Edward "two balks" Mujica might be DFA'd and I think should be. If Marco Estrada can come in and get out of a jam against our offense then why can't our bullpen do it to other teams.

    In other words there's not a lot that can be done with the rotation right now. We need to let that play out for another month or so, that's just the reality. But, the bullpen on the other hand can be fixed in a more timely manner. I would start with DFAing Mujica and calling up Barnes (once he's eligible to come back) and make him a part of the bullpen for the rest of this season.

    1. One other thing that I wanted to mention, but forgot to: The 2004 Red Sox toiled around .500 or just above for the first 4 months of the season before getting hot at the start of August and keeping it going through September and into the postseason. That team was equally as frustrating to watch at times and how did that turn out?

  12. Well I was wrong it wasn't Mujica that was designated for assignment it was Varvaro. Who Brandon had mentioned above has been bad for the Red Sox. I guess that Mujica has a little bit more of a track record, that gives him a little bit longer leash than Varvaro, but I personally would have DFA'd Mujica first.

    Also, JBJ had a short stint here. He was sent back down today. He was a casualty of the roster game and the team needing fresh bullpen arms seemingly on a daily basis. The two callups were Dalier Hinojosa and Tommy Layne. Hinojosa is an interesting prospect out of Cuba, although he's likely only here until they need another arm, or when Matt Barnes is eligible to come back. Barnes has to wait ten days before he can be called back up after being sent down last week. Unless someone goes on the DL Barnes will have to wait his ten days.