2024 Lineup (What we actually have - no trade speculation.)

Margo McCready

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Dec 23, 2008
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vs. RHP:

Duran LF L
Devers 3B L
Story SS R
Casas 1B L
O’Neil CF R
Yoshida DH L
Grissom 2B R
Abreu RF L
Wong C R

vs. LHP:

Grissom 2B R
Devers 3B L
Story SS R
Casas 1B L
O’Neil RF R
Yoshida DH L
Abreu LF L
Wong C R
Rafaela CF R

Bench:
McGuire C L
Reyes IF R

Missing:
A corner infielder. Unfortunately, I don’t think Refsnyder can handle that job effectively.

With rotating rest days and injuries, these lineups likely wont happen all that often, but it’s how I’d set my “optimized” lineup if I’m playing MLB The Show with the Sox roster as of today. As you can see, I’m bullish on Abreu because of the plate discipline. I think pitchers are going to have to throw him strikes and that he has enough power to make them pay for it. When needing to adjust the lineup for days off, missed time, etc., I’d favor Rafaela in CF as much as possible and let him sink or swim with the bat. We’ve seen first hand with JBJ and Mookie how much turning doubles into outs helps a pitching staff and he looks like that kind of guy in the outfield.
 
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kazuneko

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See above. IIRC, Duran is most comfortable in CF, and so that's probably where Cora plays him the most, just like he did in 22 and 23. However, if O'Neil is capable of covering CF, what you're saying makes a good deal of sense. We'll see how it goes.
And why down on Duran in CF? He vastly improved from 22 to 23.
Because I think CFers needs to be strong defenders and while Duran improved last year that is largely because he was unplayably bad in 22'. Statcast still has him with a negative run value ( -1) in what was a partial season of chances. As a fielder, he is still prone to the disastrous misplay, something that is very dangerous in CF and not a huge risk at all in LF.
 

Rovin Romine

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Because I think CFers needs to be strong defenders and while Duran improved last year that is largely because he was unplayably bad in 22'. Statcast still has him with a negative run value ( -1) in what was a partial season of chances. As a fielder, he is still prone to the disastrous misplay, something that is very dangerous in CF and not a huge risk at all in LF.
So you think his '22 season is more predictive than his '23 season? Or that the entirely of his '23 season represents a ceiling he will not improve on? If that were so, I'd agree with you, but I doubt it is.

Duran managing his issues and the improvement in his defensive game (via coaching and skill, not luck) have been pretty well documented.

He may never be a great defender, and is outclassed by Rafaela (few aren't), but at this point he seems to be a perfectly adequate CF.
 

kazuneko

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So you think his '22 season is more predictive than his '23 season? Or that the entirely of his '23 season represents a ceiling he will not improve on? If that were so, I'd agree with you, but I doubt it is.

Duran managing his issues and the improvement in his defensive game (via coaching and skill, not luck) have been pretty well documented.

He may never be a great defender, and is outclassed by Rafaela (few aren't), but at this point he seems to be a perfectly adequate CF.
Basically, I don't think last season was particularly good either, with the stats partially verifying the eye test. In watching him, he seemed to still struggle with with reading the ball off the bat and looked a little lost at times approaching the RF/CF wall. His -1 defensive run value doesn't sound horrible, but it was in limited chances and still ranked 70th in the league among all players with at least 100 innings in CF. With O'Neil on the team now, I just don't see any reason to continue to give Duran much play there, regardless of what he says he prefers.
 

Ale Xander

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vs. RHP:

Duran LF L
Devers 3B L
Story SS R
Casas 1B L
O’Neil CF R
Yoshida DH L
Grissom 2B R
Abreu RF L
Wong C R

vs. LHP:

Grissom 2B R
Devers 3B L
Story SS R
Casas 1B L
O’Neil RF R
Yoshida DH L
Abreu LF L
Wong C R
Rafaela CF R

Bench:
McGuire C L
Reyes IF R

Missing:
A corner infielder. Unfortunately, I don’t think Refsnyder can handle that job effectively.

With rotating rest days and injuries, these lineups likely wont happen all that often, but it’s how I’d set my “optimized” lineup if I’m playing MLB The Show with the Sox roster as of today. As you can see, I’m bullish on Abreu because of the plate discipline. I think pitchers are going to have to throw him strikes and that he has enough power to make them pay for it. When needing to adjust the lineup for days off, missed time, etc., I’d favor Rafaela in CF as much as possible and let him sink or swim with the bat. We’ve seen first hand with JBJ and Mookie how much turning doubles into outs helps a pitching staff and he looks like that kind of guy in the outfield.
There’s no way they’re having Rafaela on the roster and only starting him 50-60 games
 

Margo McCready

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There’s no way they’re having Rafaela on the roster and only starting him 50-60 games
Yes. Like I said, I’d prioritize starting Rafaela in center field as much as possible when needing to stray from the “optimized” lineup vs. RHP, which is likely going to be necessary often enough to justify keeping him on the MLB roster so that he can positively impact the team ERA. If I’m wrong about that, then by all means, send him to Worcester so he can play every day.
 

kazuneko

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There’s no way they’re having Rafaela on the roster and only starting him 50-60 games
I would expect Rafaela to get a lot of starts around the diamond. He's probably the team's best fielder at 3b, 2b and all three OF positions. He's also the bench's best SS.
There should be plenty of ABs for a guy with a glove as good as his on a team with so many poor fielders. In particular, Devers should get more ABs at DH this year and I'd expect it to be Rafaela that would be subbing for him at 3b if/when that happens.
 

Margo McCready

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I would expect Rafaela to get a lot of starts around the diamond. He's probably the team's best fielder at 3b, 2b and all three OF positions. He's also the bench's best SS.
There should be plenty of ABs for a guy with a glove as good as his on a team with so many poor fielders. In particular, Devers should get more ABs at DH this year and I'd expect it to be Rafaela that would be subbing for him at 3b if/when that happens.
With Story on the roster, I think deploying Rafaela as the primary CF is the best way to help the pitching staff. That said, you’re absolutely right; letting him moonlight as an extra utility infielder really maximizes his value to the club with the added bonus of giving him ABs (I’d say PAs if he ever walked!) to learn how to handle MLB pitching. I mean, is more time in AAA going to help him? Looking at his MiLB stats, he clearly isn’t being challenged there in spite of the ~5% BB rate. Along with the speed and pop combo he brings to the table, his ~20% K rate isn’t terrible. Assuming he isn’t traded, I’d see if he can figure out how to handle a starter-ish work load offensively in MLB this year and if not, a super utility guy with an elite glove who can steal bags and knock some dingers off the bench isn’t a terrible thing to have.
 

6-5 Sadler

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Another benefit to starting Rafaela in AAA is to potentially preserve a year of service time. Right now he only has 35 days so if they can keep him down for a month and a half they gain another year of service. From a long-term planning standpoint, that’s probably better for the team than a super sub role to start 2024.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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Just because I've seen this mentioned a lot, I don't think there is much chance of Grissom being moved up / down in the order based on the side the pitcher happens to throw from.

I personally think he should hit 2nd, but if he is hitting 2nd or 8th or 9th there is really no reason to move him day by day (and there if Cora decides to sit him to play 30 whatever year old Rob Refsnyder he should be fired - and I say this as someone that was totally on the side of "Cora" in the Great Schism of 2023).

In his 2022 minor league season Grissom had a .766OPS vs LHP and .899 vs RHP. In 2023 it was .831vs LHP and .908 vs RHP. The kid has hit (incredibly well) at every minor league level at a young age, and he's done it regardless of the handedness of the pitcher.

Put him at 2b and forget about it aside from the "days off" you'd give to any player.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=grisso000vau&type=bgl&year=2022
https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=grisso000vau&type=bgl&year=2023

FWIW,

Duran (L) - LF
Grissom (R) - 2b
Devers (L) - 3b
Casas (L) - 1b
Story (R) - SS
Yoshida (L) - DH
Abreu (L) - RF
Wong (R) - C
Rafaela (R) - CF

Is what I think the every day line up should be.

Personally, I think O'Neill and Refsnyder are totally redundant players, but O'Neill has the higher upside. For purposes of adhering to the thread, I'll assume they're both going to be on the roster on opening day (though I don't think they should be) with Rafaela in AAA, even though I don't think AAA pitchers have enough to challenge him, and he can only work on the adjustments he needs to make at the MLB level and sink or swim there.

Based on "what we have now" which is the purpose of the thread, simply having O'Neil and Refsnyder in place of Rafaela (if he struggles) is likely the difference between 72 wins and 73 wins, so I'd play Rafaela and let him actually be forced to make adjustments.
 

Rovin Romine

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. . .Is what I think the every day line up should be. . .
There are really a few lineups that we ought to consider:

1) Ideal "must win" offensive lineup v. RHP.
2) Ideal "must win" offensive lineup v. LHP.
3) Ideal defensive lineup.
4) "subbing" lineups where any given player is rested.

As we stand now, Reyes is probably the sub for Devers (and Casas?) and by virtue of being a RHH, should ideally be slotted in to play to his platoon strengths against LHP. (Assuming he does not crater with the bat.)

Reyes and Rafaela can also spell Story and Grissom. . .but that's an entirely RHH group. So it really would be for rest and not to get a theoretical advantage or the "best" platoon coverage. Unless there's a sort of power/finesse split or pitch mix split that's taken into account on the individual game level, beyond handedness.

The OF is a bit clearer with the splits.

Overall, the club looks fairly balanced. I think what we actually see on the field is going to mainly a question of how much Cora constructs lineups based on platoon bats as opposed to other factors (such as rest-days or covering for injury). Based on Cora's past usage (and light PHing until this last year.) I wouldn't be surprised to see, at the end of the year, players with significant platoon splits racking up a lot of ABs from their weak side. Some, doubtless, as the best option available at the time they were penciled in.
 

Margo McCready

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Just because I've seen this mentioned a lot, I don't think there is much chance of Grissom being moved up / down in the order based on the side the pitcher happens to throw from.

I personally think he should hit 2nd, but if he is hitting 2nd or 8th or 9th there is really no reason to move him day by day (and there if Cora decides to sit him to play 30 whatever year old Rob Refsnyder he should be fired - and I say this as someone that was totally on the side of "Cora" in the Great Schism of 2023).

In his 2022 minor league season Grissom had a .766OPS vs LHP and .899 vs RHP. In 2023 it was .831vs LHP and .908 vs RHP. The kid has hit (incredibly well) at every minor league level at a young age, and he's done it regardless of the handedness of the pitcher.

Put him at 2b and forget about it aside from the "days off" you'd give to any player.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=grisso000vau&type=bgl&year=2022
https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=grisso000vau&type=bgl&year=2023

FWIW,

Duran (L) - LF
Grissom (R) - 2b
Devers (L) - 3b
Casas (L) - 1b
Story (R) - SS
Yoshida (L) - DH
Abreu (L) - RF
Wong (R) - C
Rafaela (R) - CF

Is what I think the every day line up should be.

Personally, I think O'Neill and Refsnyder are totally redundant players, but O'Neill has the higher upside. For purposes of adhering to the thread, I'll assume they're both going to be on the roster on opening day (though I don't think they should be) with Rafaela in AAA, even though I don't think AAA pitchers have enough to challenge him, and he can only work on the adjustments he needs to make at the MLB level and sink or swim there.

Based on "what we have now" which is the purpose of the thread, simply having O'Neil and Refsnyder in place of Rafaela (if he struggles) is likely the difference between 72 wins and 73 wins, so I'd play Rafaela and let him actually be forced to make adjustments.
This makes a lot of sense to me.
 

chawson

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Just because I've seen this mentioned a lot, I don't think there is much chance of Grissom being moved up / down in the order based on the side the pitcher happens to throw from.

I personally think he should hit 2nd, but if he is hitting 2nd or 8th or 9th there is really no reason to move him day by day (and there if Cora decides to sit him to play 30 whatever year old Rob Refsnyder he should be fired - and I say this as someone that was totally on the side of "Cora" in the Great Schism of 2023).

In his 2022 minor league season Grissom had a .766OPS vs LHP and .899 vs RHP. In 2023 it was .831vs LHP and .908 vs RHP. The kid has hit (incredibly well) at every minor league level at a young age, and he's done it regardless of the handedness of the pitcher.

Put him at 2b and forget about it aside from the "days off" you'd give to any player.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=grisso000vau&type=bgl&year=2022
https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=grisso000vau&type=bgl&year=2023

FWIW,

Duran (L) - LF
Grissom (R) - 2b
Devers (L) - 3b
Casas (L) - 1b
Story (R) - SS
Yoshida (L) - DH
Abreu (L) - RF
Wong (R) - C
Rafaela (R) - CF

Is what I think the every day line up should be.

Personally, I think O'Neill and Refsnyder are totally redundant players, but O'Neill has the higher upside. For purposes of adhering to the thread, I'll assume they're both going to be on the roster on opening day (though I don't think they should be) with Rafaela in AAA, even though I don't think AAA pitchers have enough to challenge him, and he can only work on the adjustments he needs to make at the MLB level and sink or swim there.

Based on "what we have now" which is the purpose of the thread, simply having O'Neil and Refsnyder in place of Rafaela (if he struggles) is likely the difference between 72 wins and 73 wins, so I'd play Rafaela and let him actually be forced to make adjustments.
The #2 hitter should ideally be a team’s best hitter or close to it, according to TangoTiger’s studies on modern lineup construction. So Casas or Devers, I’d say.

But I agree that Grissom does have the feel of a #2 hitter in traditional lineups, or at least the ones I remember from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
 
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YTF

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Yes. Like I said, I’d prioritize starting Rafaela in center field as much as possible when needing to stray from the “optimized” lineup vs. RHP, which is likely going to be necessary often enough to justify keeping him on the MLB roster so that he can positively impact the team ERA. If I’m wrong about that, then by all means, send him to Worcester so he can play every day.
If Grissom can be just league average at 2B, coupled with a healthy Story at SS and Rafaela working his way into CF the defense up the middle should be vastly improved. That should occasionally get starters a bit deeper into games and take pressure off the bullpen.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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Overall, the club looks fairly balanced. I think what we actually see on the field is going to mainly a question of how much Cora constructs lineups based on platoon bats as opposed to other factors (such as rest-days or covering for injury). Based on Cora's past usage (and light PHing until this last year.) I wouldn't be surprised to see, at the end of the year, players with significant platoon splits racking up a lot of ABs from their weak side. Some, doubtless, as the best option available at the time they were penciled in.
This MIIIIGHT get too much into roster building and the like, and forgive me if so, but I think that a lot of this is what has gotten the Red Sox into trouble the past several seasons.

They've had too many "this guy is good in a platoon but worthless otherwise" situations and there just aren't enough roster spots for that, especially in regards to young players. You also in many ways relegate your young players to being only platoon options and while I totally understand this philosophy for the small market teams, I don't think the Red Sox should be operating this way.

Theo often talked about how you couldn't have an all-star at every position, but that the team should be at least average at every position and above average when possible. I tend to think Bloom went with more of a "we can cobble together above average with platoons" and thus had players with major deficiencies as opposed to simply finding average players for that area (and paying middle class for those players) and really there just aren't enough roster spots for that. I'm hoping Breslow takes more of the Theo approach to line up / roster building.

I believe this was talked about and understood enough over Theo's tenure here, but in case someone needs a citation. ("Epstein’s standards are to be at least average at every position, way above average if possible." https://www.patriotledger.com/story/sports/pro/2008/10/21/red-sox-look-to-future/40358595007/)

*His moves thus far, lead me to believe that is what he is trying to do (ie go get Vaughn Grissom instead of having to go half the games with Valdez and half the games Reyes).

So, to circle back with "what we have now" in the interest of the thread, when you look at an "every day" line up of something akin to:

Duran (L) - LF
Grissom (R) - 2b
Devers (L) - 3b
Casas (L) - 1b
Story (R) - SS
Yoshida (L) - DH
Abreu (L) - RF
Wong (R) - C
Rafaela (R) - CF

You're looking at what should be :

Slightly above average (Duran); above average (Grissom); way above average (Devers, Casas); slightly above average but with potential for more (Story); slightly above average (Yoshida); lets say average (Abreu and Wong) and below average (Rafaela) but you're of course making up for that with the glove.

Reyes is fine as a bench piece, so is (either) of O'Neill or Refsnyder, I genuinely don't care which, but I'll assume O'Neill because he was acquired by Breslow and McGuire as the back up C. Still need someone capable of handling the corner IF spots, ideally. If someone wants to say Dalbec, fine, but I'd think the Sox can / should aim for a bit better than that.
 

Rovin Romine

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This MIIIIGHT get too much into roster building and the like, and forgive me if so, but I think that a lot of this is what has gotten the Red Sox into trouble the past several seasons.
I think it's completely fair. You're essentially looking at the pros and cons of what we actually have and whether that will work.

The thing we're really trying to avoid are side-track discussions about what might not ever come to pass and whether or not a series of maybes would actually work at all.

Refsnyder and O'Neill seem to have a very overlapping skill set - to the point where I'm not sure it's going to bring a lot of benefit. But redundancy here might be good given O'Neill's health?
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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I think it's completely fair. You're essentially looking at the pros and cons of what we actually have and whether that will work.

The thing we're really trying to avoid are side-track discussions about what might not ever come to pass and whether or not a series of maybes would actually work at all.

Refsnyder and O'Neill seem to have a very overlapping skill set - to the point where I'm not sure it's going to bring a lot of benefit. But redundancy here might be good given O'Neill's health?
Cool, that was certainly the intent, glad it doesn't go too far down a divergent path.

I agree totally in regards to Refsnyder and O'Neill (right down to the injury history) and honestly, I think the main reasons they're both here is in case Breslow strikes out on some bigger moves he has in mind. Which, makes all the sense in the world for right now because O'Neill cost basically nothing to acquire.

Based on his range, sprint speed and the dimensions of St Louis, I have to assume he could at least passably play CF if absolutely necessary, which I think makes him a better fit for the bench role. Especially since over the course of their respective careers, O'Neill is better against LHP than Refsnyder (.816OPS in 360PA vs .757 in 508PA).


One thing I will say - and as I think it through I don't hate this-
Refsnyder has 36g played at 1b in his career; Reyes has 39 at 3b. You could get by with a bench of what is on hand with both Refsnyder and O'Neill if one assumes the idea is for Casas and Devers each to play ~155 games with a day off every month covered by Refsnyder and Reyes, respectively.

I'd rather that and use all the money elsewhere than finding bench pieces.
 
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simplicio

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I hadn't thought to look for 1B experience for Refsnyder, that's actually a relief to hear that we aren't a complete black hole there beyond Casas currently.
 

LogansDad

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Against RHP:
I really think the lineup needs to start with Casas (great plate discipline, OBP and power combo, and my expectation is that he will be the best pure hitter on the team this year) in the two hole and Devers at cleanup. IF (and I still think it's a pretty big IF) Duran's breakout is even close to real, he is too dynamic to not lead off, at least against RHP. I'd consider Yoshida at 5 vs RHP and 6 v LHP, so now you are looking at Story/O'Neil for the other two spots in the middle. I tend to lean O'Neil because of the better OBP in front of Devers, and if he somehow reverts to his 21 form (probably not too likely, but I can dream) he could be the best all around offensive player on the team. Assuming Rafaela is starting, I bat him 9th, as I like his speed on the bases to turn the lineup over. This puts Grissom at 7 and the catcher at 8.

Duran - LF (L)
Casas- 1B (L)
O'Neill- RF (R)
Devers - 3B (L)
Yoshida- DH (L)
Story- SS (R)
Grissom- 2B (R)
Catcher Flavor- C (L/R)
Rafaela- CF (R)

That's a pretty solid combination of offense and defense, and I think it's an improvement over last year, to be honest. If they can somehow get Grissom to be a league average 2B, it should help the pitching staff, too.

Against LHP:
This is a little tougher. I think Refsnyder probably gets plugged in because of his OBP skill against LHP, but personally I would prefer Duran get at bats so he doesn't have to spend his entire career in a platoon. I doubt that happens, though. I also want to keep Grissom stable, so while he may get to move up in the lineup later in the season, I leave him in the 7 spot, so the bottom of the lineup is basically unchanged. If Rafaela is as good defensively as he is supposed to be, I want him playing every day.

O'Neill - RF (R)
Casas- 1B (L)
Story- SS (R)
Devers- 3B (L)
Refsnyder- LF (R)
Yoshida- DH (L)
Grissom - 2B (R)
Ice Cream- C (L/R)
Rafaela- CF (R)

I don't love it, and as much as I like Yoshida, I think I am starting to come around to the idea that he is kind of a poor fit for this roster. I don't think he is as much of a disaster in left field as the advanced metrics make it look, but I also don't think he is a net positive out there, either (though I am still not sold Duran will be, either). I am also dreaming on Kyle Teel lighting up AA and being a 2nd half callup to replace one of the catchers, because man would he lengthen that lineup.
 

KillerBs

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I definitely have room for Wilyer at the very least vs RHPers. Even if he hits projections with a 750 OPS, and is B/B+ defensively including in RF, this is a valuable player, either for us, or on the trade market. I think he is worth more than he would fetch on trade market now. If he finds something and can slug 450 this year, he is a cheap plus OFer for a few years, with upside. Wilyer-Duran-Oneill vs RHPers should hold own defensively I think.
 

Rovin Romine

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Does anyone expect Rafaela to be the everyday CFer coming out of Spring Training, or is this just a January 3rd exercise?
The thread premise is what we actually have in the system at this moment, so this far out from Spring Training it's a little bit of a white box exercise.

That said, it may suggest strengths and weaknesses that the team may or may not address. It may also give us some more nuanced context for any future moves. Rafaela's uncertain bat, but currently-ready defensive ability has been discussed.
 

pjheff

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The thread premise is what we actually have in the system at this moment, so this far out from Spring Training it's a little bit of a white box exercise.

That said, it may suggest strengths and weaknesses that the team may or may not address. It may also give us some more nuanced context for any future moves. Rafaela's uncertain bat, but currently-ready defensive ability has been discussed.
Given Rafaela’s struggles to command the strike zone, I’d expect him to start the season in AAA. Even with what we have in the system, Abreu seems a more likely option to get a ML job along with O’Neil, Duran, Yoshida, and Refsnyder.
 

LogansDad

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Does anyone expect Rafaela to be the everyday CFer coming out of Spring Training, or is this just a January 3rd exercise?
The whole point of the thread is putting together the lineup with the current active roster. Personally, I don't think Rafaela has a lot to gain from being in AAA, and I think the team has enough offense that the best use for him is as a potentially difference making centerfielder. I like Abreu and Reyes, and think they are solid bench pieces, but I think that Rafaela has the potential to help the entire pitching staff out by patrolling center field.

The team's biggest problem last year, in my opinion, was the defense, center field in particular. Rafaela goes a long way towards fixing that, and I think has the potential to make the entire team better.
 

Stan Papi Was Framed

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agreed on Rafaela--plus (at least based on how things stand at the moment), whether or not he is the everyday CF, he looks like a good fit because of his defensive ability at multiple positions.
 

Margo McCready

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The team's biggest problem last year, in my opinion, was the defense, center field in particular. Rafaela goes a long way towards fixing that, and I think has the potential to make the entire team better.
This is where I’m at. I’m all for playing up defense in CF and RF when can while playing half your games in an extreme doubles park like Fenway.
 

Fishy1

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The team clearly has a logjam at this juncture in the outfield. My preference, long-term, would be some combination of Yoshida-Rafaela-Abreu-O'Neill. I love Duran, love what he brings, but his improvements in centerfield have only made him a mediocre defender, and the hitting last year was a mirage driven by an outrageous BABIP. We've gone over it before, but a .381 BABIP isn't sustainable -- you can count on one hand the number of guys who've posted career BABIPs over .350 since 1950.

I'd rather have O'Neill's better defense and upside, Abreu's better arm and approach, and Rafaela's defensive upside even if it means we have to be witness to his hackathon.
 

Rovin Romine

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Given Rafaela’s struggles to command the strike zone, I’d expect him to start the season in AAA. Even with what we have in the system, Abreu seems a more likely option to get a ML job along with O’Neil, Duran, Yoshida, and Refsnyder.
Yeah. . .they're going to have to sort that a bit I expect. But we'll see. (Briskly dusts hands.)

As far as actual-roster options go, Rafaela provides a defensive plus in CF, which might allow another more marginal CF to handle Fenway's RF. He can also (apparently) handle middle IF spots defensively, but there, perhaps he is redundant with Reyes. But plus CF defense is something only he has.

The key for Rafaela's development as a hitter will be regular at-bats. It's a tricky balance.


***


One thing we can (and probably should) be doing in this thread is looking at 40 man and organizational depth in general.

So to pull in an earlier post, let's say O'Neill pulls a hamstring in ST. One might think that Refsnyder is the go-to replacement. . .but that still leaves you down an OF (assuming Yoshida will be DHing a bit). I think Rafaela's the obvious call up in that circumstance, both to add to defense and for the RH bat, hack-tastic though it may prove to be.

But after Rafaela, there's no true OF on the 40. . .and in the org there's what? Rosier? I think that's why they picked up Contreras as an NRI break-glass stopgap.

Now let's say we're down two OF - one injury, and one massive regression, probably from one of the younger players, but let's not rule Refsnyder out of that either. If it's Duran and Rafaela. . .your CF options start to look pretty thin. O'Neill? Maybe.
 

pjheff

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The whole point of the thread is putting together the lineup with the current active roster. Personally, I don't think Rafaela has a lot to gain from being in AAA, and I think the team has enough offense that the best use for him is as a potentially difference making centerfielder. I like Abreu and Reyes, and think they are solid bench pieces, but I think that Rafaela has the potential to help the entire pitching staff out by patrolling center field.

The team's biggest problem last year, in my opinion, was the defense, center field in particular. Rafaela goes a long way towards fixing that, and I think has the potential to make the entire team better.
I would respectfully disagree on both points. Rafaela is entering his age 23 season with only 219 AAA at bats. While he was obviously very productive there, his ML splits suggest that he still might benefit from more seasoning. And though Duran only progressed from being putrid to maybe passable in the field, he added a lot offensively to a team whose biggest issue was a lack of pitching. Even with the current active roster, Abreu seems like the better bet when the team breaks Spring Training.
 

Rovin Romine

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Well, today we have our first update since Vaughn Grissom. Romy Gonzalez has been claimed from the CWS. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/gonzaro01.shtml

He joins Dalbec, Valdez, Reyes, and Rafaela as options for backup IF. He seems to be very much the same type of player as Reyes, but he can play the OF as well?

***

Of the 26 men on the active roster, we are likely going to carry 13 position players and go with the maximum number of pitchers.

40-man (putting Grissom in for the moment), with the 13 likely 26 man players bolded:

Catchers:
McGuire LHH
Wong

Infielders:
Triston Casas LHH
Rafael Devers LHH
Trevor Story
Vaughn Grissom
Pablo Reyes
Romy Gonzalez​
Enmanuel Valdez LHH​
David Hamilton LHH​
Bobby Dalbec​

Outfielders:
Masataka Yoshida LHH
Tyler O'Neill
Wilyer Abreu LHH
Jarren Duran LHH
Rob Refsnyder
Ceddanne Rafaela

Minors (not on 40 man)
Nick Yorke ?​
Roberto Perez (NRI)​
Jamie Westbrook (NRI)​


From that, I think we have the following right now:

Lineup
C Wong​
1B Casas LHH​
2B Grissom​
3B Devers LHH​
SS Story​
LF O'Neill​
CF Duran LHH​
RF Abreu LHH​
DH Masataka Yoshida LHH​

Bench
C McGuire LHH​
OF Refsnyder​
CF/SS Rafela​
UT Reyes​

Minors?
Dalbec, Hamilton, Yorke.​
 

simplicio

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I'm thinking Abreu probably takes LF when Yoshida's not out there, and O'Neill's in right; Abreu's already kinda slow and SP projects him to get slower. They've both got good arms.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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I'm thinking Abreu probably takes LF when Yoshida's not out there, and O'Neill's in right; Abreu's already kinda slow and SP projects him to get slower. They've both got good arms.
Genuinely asking and not trying to be argumentative, but has something changed (and they just haven't updated) that makes it seem as though Abreu cannot handle RF? His profile on Sox Prospects states : Field: Profiles best in a corner outfield position. Solid instincts and efficient routes. Not a flashy defender, but makes the routine plays and does a good job getting to balls on the move. Could be an above-average defender in right field, but projects as average in center field.

I've been using that to think he could handle RF in basically all my "hopeful" ideas about the outfield long term. If you're right - and you very well could be - then he is yet another incredibly redundant player and really not all that valuable - I mean, bad defensive OFs that can only hit RHP aren't exactly rare.
 

simplicio

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Mostly just a foot speed thing. Statcast tracked O'Neill at 28.5 and Abreu at 26.7; that's likely just going to contribute to a better range.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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Mostly just a foot speed thing. Statcast tracked O'Neill at 28.5 and Abreu at 26.7; that's likely just going to contribute to a better range.
Got it, thanks.

That is part of why I can't stand adding short term players that block prospect on a team that is clearly rebuilding. Granted, the Sox gave up nothing of consequence for O'Neill so it's hard to get upset from that area, but all his presence really does is makes it so that they don't find out things about Abreu. Can he handle RF. Can he ever hit LHP. He needs to be facing those obstacles in the majors to see if he's going to be part of the core or not.

As is, sending him back to AAA or the "unknown" has no value because EVERYONE can see the same questions we can about him and thus he has no value on the trade market. With O'Neill here, all that does is push the exact same questions about Abreu out to 2025 (when we'd like to think the team might actually acquire starting pitching, but I'm not optimistic) and we still have the same questions. The team this year is going to miss the playoffs by at least 7 games if they don't add significant top half of the rotation starting pitching, and all O'Neill (or Refsnyder, or Soler, or Turner or whatever) do are make sure those questions don't get answered and MAYBE you miss the playoffs by 6 games instead of 7 games - or put another way, who gives a **** about that.
 

iddoc

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Got it, thanks.

That is part of why I can't stand adding short term players that block prospect on a team that is clearly rebuilding. Granted, the Sox gave up nothing of consequence for O'Neill so it's hard to get upset from that area, but all his presence really does is makes it so that they don't find out things about Abreu. Can he handle RF. Can he ever hit LHP. He needs to be facing those obstacles in the majors to see if he's going to be part of the core or not.

As is, sending him back to AAA or the "unknown" has no value because EVERYONE can see the same questions we can about him and thus he has no value on the trade market. With O'Neill here, all that does is push the exact same questions about Abreu out to 2025 (when we'd like to think the team might actually acquire starting pitching, but I'm not optimistic) and we still have the same questions. The team this year is going to miss the playoffs by at least 7 games if they don't add significant top half of the rotation starting pitching, and all O'Neill (or Refsnyder, or Soler, or Turner or whatever) do are make sure those questions don't get answered and MAYBE you miss the playoffs by 6 games instead of 7 games - or put another way, who gives a **** about that.
This POV seems about right to me. In the absence of a serious push to contend (and not just hope to be in the WC race if everything breaks right), we need to figure out what we have. I understand the concerns about Rafaela hitting major league pitching, but there is only one way to find out, and AAA pitching probably isn’t good enough to force further adjustments. As for the desire to make him super-utility, I think it would be best to have him focus on CF, where he seems to have the most defensive value on a team that desperately needs it. Maybe have him spell Story at SS from time to time. Duran plays CF against some RHP. LF, RF, and DH are shared among Abreu, O’Neill, Yoshida (LF/DH) and Duran (LF), and to a lesser extent Refsnyder (mostly LF, or RF in Yankee Stadium or Camden Yards, against LHP). That does mean bench time, assuming everyone is healthy, and it may be difficult to figure out if Abreu can hit LHP.

I wonder if Yoshida has ever played 1B (not to the best of my knowledge), in case Casas is out for any length of time, God forbid. Maybe he should learn. Paging Ron Washington (never mind, that would be tampering).
 

chawson

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Jen McCaffrey with a useful rundown of the 31 position players who are invited to the Sox’ big-league camp. Interestingly, she thinks Abreu is penciled in as the starting RF (as the strong half of a platoon, I presume).

https://theathletic.com/5264159/2024/02/12/red-sox-2024-spring-training-preview-hitters/?source=user_shared_article
Yeah, I think that's the spot for Abreu, and I think he's at least immediately as good as Verdugo was in that role (107 wOBA vs. RHP over '21-23). Paired with Refsnyder that's a pretty good part of the lineup.

I like Keith Law's line about him in his piece today too:

He’s got a cannon of an arm for right, and while I think he’s overstretched in center, if he plays there he might end up a 4-WAR player.
I don't think anyone expects Abreu winds up our primary CF but that's an interesting thought.
 
Feb 9, 2024
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I just responded in the Duran thread that I hope we keep him. Now, after looking at these lineup possibilities, I am even more in favor of keeping Duran. Do we really want Refsnyder getting more at bats? Refsnyder leading off? We don't have a true leadoff hitter on this team without Duran. We also can't take advantage of the new rules that reward speed and stolen bases without Duran. Without Duran, we are a boring, station to station team...and on top of that, we don't even have a ton of power outside of Raffy. This offense needs a healthy, effective Duran.
 

simplicio

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An effective Duran would be an excellent thing to have, I'm just not sure it exists in reality.
 

BaseballJones

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CF Duran L
2b Grissom R
3b Devers L
SS Story R
1b Casas L
LF O'Neill R
DH Yoshida L
RF Abreu/Refsnyder L/R
C Wong R

I don't think that's a bad lineup, but there are a lot of ifs in there. Can Duran take the next step? Is Grissom a MLB-level hitter? Is Story going to be what his career numbers say he is? Is Casas going to be that monster he seems like he can be? Will we see the good version of O'Neill? Can Yoshida be good for the whole year? How will Abreu's bat play for a whole season?

I see reason for pessimism, but I also see reason for optimism. I think the lineup should be fine, and there's tons of possibilities in the minors as well. It's the pitching that really concerns me and has me thinking that another last place finish is likely.
 

Whoop-La White

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Brittany Ghiroli has a good piece at The Athletic today on the trend around baseball toward playing prospects and younger players earlier at the ML level. For the Red Sox’ purposes, this makes me wonder about Rafaela. Duran seems to me a like a perfectly cromulent option for now in center, which gives Rafaela time to work on things (like strike zone judgment) in AAA. But for a rebuilding team, I wonder if that’s the kind of thing the team might let him work out in the majors while allowing him to get a consistent look at better pitching.

On the same front, everything seems to be point to the RF job being Abreu’s to lose.
 
Feb 9, 2024
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I would love to see Grissom in the 2 spot, and possibly even leading off against lefties, but I don't see that happening early in the year. Also, we have so many left-handed hitting OF/DH that they can't all sit vs. lefties. I would love to put Duran in the leadoff spot and just leave him there. He's the only real true threat on the bases and even though he isn't as good vs. lefties, he isn't terrible, he's never really had the chance to just play everyday and get in and stay in a rhythm, plus speed can help you stay out of a slump. So, with those points considered, here is what I think we have right now:
C: Wong, Maguire
IF: Casas, Grissom, Story, Devers, Reyes
OF: Yoshida, Duran, Abreu, O'Neill, Refsnyder
Super UT: Rafaela

vs. Righties
Duran LF
Devers 3B
Story SS (we need Story to be pre-injury Story. If not, we are lacking a good 3 hitter who can break up the lefties)
Casas 1B
O'Neill CF (not sure he's a true CF, but he is a good RF who hopefully can play a decent CF, if not Duran moves to CF)
Yoshida DH
Grissom 2B
Abreu RF
Wong C

vs. lefties
Duran LF (Refsnyder can give him an occasional day off, but would like to see what Duran can do leading off everyday.)
Devers 3B
Story SS
Casas 1B
O'Neill RF
Yoshida DH (Refsnyder can also get a few games at DH vs. lefties)
Grissom 2B
Wong C
Rafaela CF
 

Max Power

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CF Duran L
2b Grissom R
3b Devers L
SS Story R
1b Casas L
LF O'Neill R
DH Yoshida L
RF Abreu/Refsnyder L/R
C Wong R

I don't think that's a bad lineup, but there are a lot of ifs in there. Can Duran take the next step? Is Grissom a MLB-level hitter? Is Story going to be what his career numbers say he is? Is Casas going to be that monster he seems like he can be? Will we see the good version of O'Neill? Can Yoshida be good for the whole year? How will Abreu's bat play for a whole season?

I see reason for pessimism, but I also see reason for optimism. I think the lineup should be fine, and there's tons of possibilities in the minors as well. It's the pitching that really concerns me and has me thinking that another last place finish is likely.
There's a big chance of Devers coming up with nobody on and 2 out with that order. Grissom needs to be at the bottom of the lineup at least at the start of the season until he proves he can hit. And Duran's speed plays better when he's not on base with your big power guys coming up, so I'd put him at 6 or 7. I get not wanting to go three lefties in a row, but it's hard when your best hitters are Devers, Casas, and Yoshida. I'd go Yoshida, Story/O'Neill, Casas, and Devers and then whatever you want at the bottom of the lineup. Devers doesn't have a huge platoon split, so there's no need to separate him and Casas with an inferior hitter.
 

BaseballJones

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There's a big chance of Devers coming up with nobody on and 2 out with that order. Grissom needs to be at the bottom of the lineup at least at the start of the season until he proves he can hit. And Duran's speed plays better when he's not on base with your big power guys coming up, so I'd put him at 6 or 7. I get not wanting to go three lefties in a row, but it's hard when your best hitters are Devers, Casas, and Yoshida. I'd go Yoshida, Story/O'Neill, Casas, and Devers and then whatever you want at the bottom of the lineup. Devers doesn't have a huge platoon split, so there's no need to separate him and Casas with an inferior hitter.
Not a bad idea. I just like having Duran's speed at the top. He also had a higher OBP than Yoshida last year. He can make a lot of things happen. So maybe Duran, Story, Devers, Casas? Don't love the lefty/lefty at the 3/4 spots, but oh well.
 

Rovin Romine

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There's a big chance of Devers coming up with nobody on and 2 out with that order. Grissom needs to be at the bottom of the lineup at least at the start of the season until he proves he can hit. And Duran's speed plays better when he's not on base with your big power guys coming up, so I'd put him at 6 or 7. I get not wanting to go three lefties in a row, but it's hard when your best hitters are Devers, Casas, and Yoshida. I'd go Yoshida, Story/O'Neill, Casas, and Devers and then whatever you want at the bottom of the lineup. Devers doesn't have a huge platoon split, so there's no need to separate him and Casas with an inferior hitter.
Casas does not have a huge platoon split either (if we go by 2023.)

In the end it really depends on what version of the individual players we get.

Story has a strong platoon career split .784/.973 OPS. So if we get a good version of him, he's a legitimate middle order bat against lefties, and no great slouch against righties.​
O'Neill's career split is .765/.816, but two years ago his line was .888/1.026. (Which is better than any season Devers has had, and was in Bush Stadium, a pitcher's park.) So if we get a seasoned, non-injured version of him. . .​
Yoshida also does not have much of a split .795/746. We just need first-half Yoshida to show up. .874 in the first half, as opposed to .663 in the second half.​

They could all be awful. But if they're not, adding those 3 to Casas and Devers creates a very credible 5 deep lineup.

And then there's Grissom, Abreu, and Duran. Again, any or all could backslide, but there's a lot of potential there for 8 out of the 9 lineup spots.

***
Overall my biggest concern is the hitting coaches, plus the batting scouting as it interacts with the front office. They consistently have given some absolute dogs very very long leashes, while being unable to help guys turn it around. It seems like players like McGuire, Refsnyder and Reyes and Duvall can come into the org hot, but never take a true step forward. Meanwhile, guys who really need a boost - even just up to competence, like Hernandez, Arroyo, post-injury Story, second-half Yoshida, and perhaps even first month Casas. . .go wanting.
 

Cassvt2023

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It's been reported that Yoshida strongly prefers to not hit leadoff. We all assumed at this time last year that he would hit there, and he did not get one start there in the regular season, so there must be some truth to it.
 

LogansDad

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I would swap Devers and Casas because I think Casas is going to be the best hitter and (more importantly) best OBP guy on the team. But otherwise, that is what is is looking like. I hope that O'Neil comes out hot and has fully recovered from his injuries, though, because a 2021-lite Tyler O'Neil would be a beautiful thing in that 3 spot. And if Grissom comes even close to his AAA numbers he is a great #5 hitter (or even a leadoff, down the line, potentially). There are a lot of ways this lineup could shake out to be very good. There are also a lot of ways it could shake out to be mediocre. I think a lot would have to go wrong for it to be truly bad, though.