David Ortiz To Retire

"<strongIn my fifteen years as a full season ticket holder the question I am most asked is “what is the best game you’ve ever seen?”  For me the answer has always been the game that took 27 hours to play 26 innings on October 17&18, 2004.

Yup, I punt. That answer of course refers to games four and five of the 2004 ALCS.  Both games had something in common…David Ortiz walked the sox off.

By now you have heard the Ken Rosenthal report that Big Papi will hang ’em up after the 2016 season.  It will be a strange experience to see a Red Sox team without David Ortiz on it.  He has been the constant in this incredible era of success we have enjoyed.

Better still has been the joy of watching him embrace the city and the region and having us reciprocated.  Of course no moment better epitomizes that than a sunny April Saturday afternoon in 2013 when he spoke for all of us defiantly raising his left fist and proclaiming “this is our fucking city!”

(Hardball Talk Photo).

(Hardball Talk Photo).

Damned right it is David.

What I think I will remember about David is not the accomplishments but the emotion that came with it.  I remember seeing him waving his arms at send base after he put the Sox up in game four of the 2003 ALDS on his first hit of the series.  The joy as he raised his arm around first base after his homer in game four and his dugout speech in St. Louis in 2013. Even when he was not reacting the rest of us did.  He was so casual rounding the bases after his memorable grand slam in 2013 but the reaction in the park was spastic.  Mordecai Brown could count on one hand the number of times I have experienced something like that.

 (MLB photo).

(MLB photo).

I suspect we will know be forced to hear lengthy discussions about his worthiness for the Hall of Fame. I personally could not care less. I would le it if he went in but whether the BBWAA honors him or not he will be part of my peeps all history of fandom.

The guy who sits next to me at Fenway grew up watching Carl Yastrzemski. He told me in 2004 that Ortiz that year was the first player he thought could compete with Captain Carl’s final week of 1967. That is high praise indeed.

Thanks for the memories Big Papi.


Slightly More Considered Thoughts After The Trade

So the Sox made their big deal for Craig Kimbrel Friday night.  As I noted then I was not a big fan of the deal.  There was some interesting back and forth in the comments and while I still do not love it I have come around a bit from my initial reaction.

I promise I will get a new picture of him in spring training (east village times press photo).

I promise I will get a new picture of him in spring training (east village times press photo).

1. Craig Kimbrel.  I mean, Craig Freakin’ Kimbrel!

If you are going to overpay, at least overpay for the best.  As I noted in the original piece Kimbrel has the best OBP against (min. 300 IP) over the past five years.  He is just 27 so the Sox are not picking up some 32 year old guy on the fade.

There is the concern that last year was the worst of his career.  It was still a very good season and even if “all” the Sox get is three years like Kimbrel’s 2015 season that will be a big help.

Continue reading

Red Sox Acquire Craig Kimbrel

Wasting no time in his first off season in charge of the Boston Red Sox Dave Dombrowski has acquired Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres for a massive package of prospects.

(east village times press photo).

(east village times press photo).

Kimbrel is one of the game’s elite closers with his 2.58 ERA last year the worst of his five year career.  Kimbrel has 2 years and $24 million remaining on his contract plus an option for the third year the Sox get a lot of control so this is not just for this year.

He scuffled a bit with the Padres but still struck out 13.2 per 9IP.  Kimbrel also features one of the most distinctive set positions in the game where he stands with his arms spread wide like a hawk swooping in for the kill.  It is not an unreasonable analogy considering the way Kimbrel generally chews up opposing hitters.

Over the last five seasons no one with at least 300 innings has a better OBP against than Kimbrel’s .241.  Read that again, .241.

The Sox are giving to get of course.  The Sox are surrendering the very highly regarded Manuel Margot, top defensive shortstop Javier Guerra, infielder Carlos Asuaje and pitcher Logan Allen in the deal.

For the Padre fans who may be checking in here is a quick look at the players heading in your direction;

#3 Manuel Margot – A favorite of mine Margot was promoted to Portland mid-season and acquitted himself quite well. Calling Margot a five tool player is perhaps a bit optimistic as the power does not seem that big but with a .143 ISO he is a long way from a punch and judy hitter.

#6 Javier Guerra – An elite glove up the middle with some pop is an awfully intriguing player. He is a long way from the bigs, has a fairly high K rate and I do not love 19 year old middle infielders who cannot steal bases in the low minors. That sounds like a lack of athleticism to me. Still, there is an upside here that is enticing.

#16 Logan Allen – The Sox had to spend over and above slot to sign the 8th rounder but the early returns suggest it was well worth the money. He is disproving the idea that youth is wasted on the young while dominating the Gulf Coast League. In 8 appearances (including one in Lowell) Allen fanned 24 and walked just 1 while posting a 1.11 ERA.

NR Carlos Asuaje – Asuaje is a long time favorite of mine.  He is not a future star but seems to be a line drive machine with some versatility.  If you want some MLB relevant upside think Brock Holt.

Dombrowski has an exceptional trading record and Kimbrel will be outstanding.  I do not think building the bullpen requires this level of players going to improve things.  Whether the free agent market (e.g. Darren O’Day) or a lesser player in trade I think the Sox could have retained these players to either continue to develop or for trades to fill other holes.

I think the Sox have given up too much here.  Kimbrel is phenomenal but a bullpen can be constructed with a bit less cost.  This is too much to give.

I will add that I think this may suggest a bit more confidence in Jackie Bradley Jr. than we thought.  Margot was presumably the upside play (and after being at AA last year not far away) and that the Sox are willing to move him lends me to think that perhaps they are confident in JBJ.


Trading Places

Few things are as annoying as bloggers trying to make up trades that might work. Inevitably the trade either overvalues homegrown talent or suggests that the opposing GM has undergone brain surgery performed by a caffeine-fueled wolverine.

In either case the end result serves only to annoy readers and to generate page views. Hey, I like page views!

Trade #1

Red Sox get Joey Votto
Reds get Hanley Ramirez, Henry Owens, Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra and Teddy Stankiewicz

Yes, he would be expensive.  Yes, he would be worth it (RLRS Photo).

Yes, he would be expensive. Yes, he would be worth it (RLRS Photo).

Hey, go big or go home. To acquire a star of Votto’s magnitude the trade typically requires a couple of top 25 prospects (think Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin for Miguel Cabrera). This deal does not quite meet that criteria but is not dissimilar to the Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes for Adrian Gonzalez deal.

My sense is that Margot is going to be a top 25 propsect when lists hit the shelves. I think he has star potential very similar to Mookie Betts and would prefer not to deal him but you have to give to get.

Owens is the X factor in this deal and would give the Reds a hurler they crave. The big lefty showed consistent swing and miss stuff amidst inconsistent results in his big league debut. His walk totals are a bit unsettling but he could be very good. I suspect the Sox will not be willing to move Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson would not be enough to make this happen.

Guerra is a bit further down the prospect lists but he is a guy I would target if I were dealing with the Sox this winter. Considered by some the best defensive shortstop in the minors Guerra slugged 15 home runs in 2015 showing a new side to his game.

Stankiewicz is a bit less heralded but is the kind of guy a team might want to add at the back end. Alternatively maybe the Reds prefer Trey Ball?

Votto’s use to the Sox is obvious. My sense from what I have read is that the Reds are interested in unloading Votto’s contract. If they are not motivated to move him this deal is not happening.

they are not all blockbusters, so keep reading… Continue reading

Time To Not Overreact

Decisions decisions, will Henry Owens be a Red Sox or is he trade bait? (RLRS Photo).

Decisions decisions, will Henry Owens be a Red Sox or is he trade bait? (RLRS Photo).

The Royals grabbed first place on June 8th and demolished the AL Central the rest of the way.  They survived a scare against Houston then dispatched Toronto and the Mets to be worthy World Champions.

Now there is a rush to figure out “what it means.”  Given the performance of the Royals over the last two years there is a particular focus on how they have built their team.  The Royals seem to generate more attention as an “anti-SABR” team (whatever the hell that means) and “playing the game right.”

I think this is unfair.  The Royals are just a damned good team.  Trying to pigeonhole their performance into nifty little check boxes is a fool’s errand and the Sox should recognize that.

Good pitchers, not hard throwers, is what the Sox need (RLRS Photo).

Good pitchers, not hard throwers, is what the Sox need (RLRS Photo).

The Royals won largely because they are a great team.  Professional sports is always a copycat environment  but the Sox should not overreact.  One area the Royals seem to be setting a precedent is the bullpen.

However, the Sox should not go solely for flame throwing relievers, they are two years removed from World Series MVP Koji Uehara throwing 88 MPH.  What the Sox need is not hard throwing relievers but good relievers.  Heath Hembree throws hard, he is not what they need.

The other area that was a big focus this post-season was the Royals making a lot of contact.  We saw AL leading strikeout team Houston put a major scare into the Royals in the Division Series and NL leading Cubs reach the League Championship Series.

The key is not that the Royals make contact, it is that they are good.  Their OPS and OPS+ were both league average (slightly above and slightly below respectively).  What the Sox need are good hitters regardless of style.

John Farrell has to have options when Plan A does not pan out (RLRS Photo).

John Farrell has to have options when Plan A does not pan out (RLRS Photo).

Likewise the Sox can take a good reminder from the Royals.  The Sox teams that succeeded in the naughts plus 2013 featured an impressive depth.  Last year the Sox went into the season overly reliant on players like Justin Masterson, Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli with no backup plans.

Heading into next year the Sox should have the ability to have greater depth.  The pitching staff should go 7 to 8 deep.  The lineup is a bit more uncertain.  While I was encouraged to see the work of Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley and Travis Shaw the Sox should make sure that there is a fallback option behind unproven players.

These are the lessons of the reigning World Champions.  If the Sox heed the correct messages they have the pieces in place to make sure the Royals buy the pizza next year.


Wrapping Up The Relievers

We have put a bow on the infield, the outfield, the catchers and DH and the starting pitchers.  Today we look at the last of the players with a gander at the bullpen.

Koji UeharaKoji Uehara – 2.23/10.5K/2.0BB
2015 – Early and late injuries wrapped around more of the same.
2016 – Old age catches up with the best of us.

Another strong performance from the 40 year old.  Uehara does it differently from most top notch relievers in the game throwing mostly slop but his performance is undeniable.

The big concern is his health.  He broke down in 2014 and while it is hard to truly blame him for taking a hot shot off his arm the reality is that in the last two seasons he has been done by early August.  Given his age I think the Sox need to think of him as a 40-50 game guy rather than a 60+ appearance pitcher. Continue reading

Five Mildly Fearless (and probably wrong) Hot Stove Predictions

At some point I will get back and wrap up the relievers.  For now though I wanted to throw out a few random predictions for this coming off-season.

"<strong1. Hanley Ramirez will not be a member of the Red Sox by Spring Training.

I am hardly unique in this theory.  I suspect Dave Dombrowski is doing everything he can to move one of Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval and in the end Hanley is the guy he will move.

I think DD recognizes that Sandoval is the guy to move but Hanley’s ability and his more favorable contract make him appealing to other teams.  I just cannot envision a scenario where another team would be even remotely interested in Panda.  In Hanley’s case I think you gamble on the bat rebounding but why would you want Sandoval on your roster at any price? Continue reading

Fun? With Similarity Scores

Baseball-Reference in all its awesomeness has updated similarity scores to reflect 2015.  These are mostly (completely?) meaningless but I find them interesting and fun to play around with.  So while other teams play competitive baseball let us mess around.  The average OPS+ and average WAR/year are for retired players after the age the current player is.

Xander BogaertsXander Bogaerts
#1 – Jack Doyle
Average OPS+ – 112
Average WAR/year – 3.2

I do not know anything about Doyle who played in the 1800s but I do know something about the four Hall of Famers (Rod Carew, Joe Tinker, Joe Morgan, Leo Durocher) who pop up on Xander’s list.  The rest of his list includes players who generally had nice little careers, a bit of spousal abuse (Wil Cordero) and a guy who was allegedly the cause of of Babe Ruth‘s ire leading him to call his shot (Mark Koenig).

Continue reading