Is the problem Dana LeVangie? Dombrowski's vision?

DBHenders

lurker
Jun 10, 2019
2
People will argue "Dombrowski knows better than you do", which I will readily grant, but the dumpster fire known as the Red Sox pitching staff is laughable. Yes, I know we are spoiled this year coming off arguably the great Red Sox team ever. But the signs were there even last year. Sale has been laughable - and the only thing I can think of at this point since everyone swears it isn't physical is that he must be tipping pitches. If so it falls to the pitching coach to identify and "fix" the problem. But I honestly have zero confidence in Dana LeVangie's ability as a pitching coach. I recall thinking when I saw how spring training was being handled that it was a disaster waiting to happen. The pitchers did not appear ready to start the season andthe "we are pacing them so they will be strong in October" has blown up in their faces, as there isn't going to be October baseball in Boston. I have seen little if any growth in any pitcher on the roster in the past two seasons.

In 2004 the Red Sox won with honestly a suspect pitching staff - but it was the case where everything Theo did in that magical season seemed to work. Same thing in 2018 for Dombrowski. But in this day and age in the Show you can't be successful having a "closer by committee" - it simply doesn't work. Yes, the Sox are over a barrel because of the luxury tax but that is because of the very questionable decisions made on players like Steve Pearce and Mitch Moreland. IMO, those dollars would have been better spent on shoring up the bullpen that everyone knew coming into the season was a weakness. When coupled with the poor management of the staff's off-season preparation and spring training decision to "prepare for October" - you have your answer for why this season has turned into an unmitigated travesty.

Yes changes need to happen - and they aren't all made with on the field personnel...
 
Last edited:

Tyrone Biggums

nfl meets tri-annually at a secret country mansion
SoSH Member
Aug 15, 2006
6,133
Yeah...the pitching coach didn't make the call to not go into the season with a closer.
 

absintheofmalaise

too many flowers
Dope
SoSH Member
Mar 16, 2005
12,883
The gran facenda
Do you honestly think that the way the pitchers were handled in Spring Training was a decision that Levangie made on his own? At the least Cora was part of the decision making process. On something this major I'd be more inclined to believe that it was an organizational decision.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
11,800
Do you honestly think that the way the pitchers were handled in Spring Training was a decision that Levangie made on his own? At the least Cora was part of the decision making process. On something this major I'd be more inclined to believe that it was an organizational decision.
I’m sure everyone was convinced it was a reasonable strategy. But there was likely someone who pushed it more strongly than anyone else. That person should be flogged.
 

Scoops Bolling

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 19, 2007
3,822
Dombrowski is doing with the Red Sox exactly what he did with the Tigers. He hasn't shown the ability to build a farm system in nearly twenty years. He has not shown the ability to build a bullpen in nearly as long. He simply hasn't shown the ability to build a sustainable organization since...I don't know, the Expos? I mean, even the Marlins team that had the most success under Dombrowski's management was the 1997 squad that was largely built on free agents.

The problem is Dombrowski. He walked into a good situation and made some moves that turned out as well as could have been hoped last year. He has since reverted to his typical level of performance.
 

chilidawg

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 22, 2015
1,472
I’m sure everyone was convinced it was a reasonable strategy. But there was likely someone who pushed it more strongly than anyone else. That person should be flogged.
Is there any evidence that this is why the pitching is so bad? I could see the bad start figuring into this, but the meltdown of late shouldn't be pinned on that.
 

BroodsSexton

Member
SoSH Member
Feb 4, 2006
8,799
guam
Fixed that for you. Yes. It’s called accountability.
It drives me nuts when people justify themselves professionally by saying “this is how we have always done it.” Firing people for failure—even failure based on unorthodox risks, as long as they are deliberate and thought to be well understood—is a good way to run a stagnant organization.
 

bosockboy

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
10,519
St. Louis, MO
Dombrowski is doing with the Red Sox exactly what he did with the Tigers. He hasn't shown the ability to build a farm system in nearly twenty years. He has not shown the ability to build a bullpen in nearly as long. He simply hasn't shown the ability to build a sustainable organization since...I don't know, the Expos? I mean, even the Marlins team that had the most success under Dombrowski's management was the 1997 squad that was largely built on free agents.

The problem is Dombrowski. He walked into a good situation and made some moves that turned out as well as could have been hoped last year. He has since reverted to his typical level of performance.
Jesus. 9 months after an 108 win WS winner. He’s made some mistakes all GM’s make but he was clearly in a tough spot without any payroll wiggle room. He inherited Sandoval, let’s see what he does when the shackles are finally off.
 

DeadlySplitter

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 20, 2015
18,201
how is this season on Dom when 80% of the roster is underperforming?

2021+ may go to shit because of Dom's style, but it's 2019.
 

nattysez

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 30, 2010
3,688
Jesus. 9 months after an 108 win WS winner. He’s made some mistakes all GM’s make but he was clearly in a tough spot without any payroll wiggle room. He inherited Sandoval, let’s see what he does when the shackles are finally off.
This question has already been answered. He has spent Panda's money ($18m) and then some on raises for Chris Sale ($30m - $15 raise from 2019) and Xander ($20m - $8m raise from 2019).

I think the more pertinent question is how he's going to replace Porcello without using all of Porcello's money that's coming off the books ($20m) to do it.
 
Jun 12, 2019
19
Dombrowski is doing with the Red Sox exactly what he did with the Tigers. He hasn't shown the ability to build a farm system in nearly twenty years. He has not shown the ability to build a bullpen in nearly as long. He simply hasn't shown the ability to build a sustainable organization since...I don't know, the Expos? I mean, even the Marlins team that had the most success under Dombrowski's management was the 1997 squad that was largely built on free agents.

The problem is Dombrowski. He walked into a good situation and made some moves that turned out as well as could have been hoped last year. He has since reverted to his typical level of performance.
The entire starting rotation returned and the second, third, fourth, and fifth best relievers in the bullpen returned. How is it the fault of DD that three of the five starters and one of the main relievers completely shit the bed, and another starter missed almost the entire year from injury?
Please explain how overseeing the first division three-peat in franchise history isn't creating a "sustainable" product. Because it happened not to work out in year four for the above reason?
 
Last edited:

Seels

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
2,304
NH
Why can't the problem just be the players? The starting pitching has been abysmal. Between that and being handcuffed by bad contracts I have a hard time blaming DD

Now the farm - the blah drafts and blah IFA -- that's entirely on him.
 

CaptainLaddie

dj paul pfieffer
SoSH Member
Sep 6, 2004
26,796
the district
Can't it also be overwork from last season? Sale and Eovaldi were asked to pitch a bunch of unexpected and extremely high stress innings in the postseason. And.... it's really hard to repeat. If 2020's season is as disastrous, I'll be way more concerned. But for now, this team is simply not equipped considering the luxury tax to compete for a title.
 

scottyno

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 7, 2008
4,854
Dombrowski is doing with the Red Sox exactly what he did with the Tigers. He hasn't shown the ability to build a farm system in nearly twenty years. He has not shown the ability to build a bullpen in nearly as long. He simply hasn't shown the ability to build a sustainable organization since...I don't know, the Expos? I mean, even the Marlins team that had the most success under Dombrowski's management was the 1997 squad that was largely built on free agents.
Tigers had 8 81+ win seasons over a 9 year stretch under him where they made 4 ALCS's and 2 world series, that's not sustainable enough? How many teams have more consistent stretches than that this century?
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
43,989
So would we be better off with Cashman?
Cashman had a pretty bad run between deciding that the 2012 ALCS team that got abusively swept by the Tigers needed to be completely dismantled and getting Hal to sign off on selling in July 2016 (so 3 1/2 seasons). He has been on a roll since then but things can flip pretty quickly (NY looked impossibly behind BOS for years to come in mid-2016).
 

chris719

lurker
Jul 14, 2005
84
You probably would be better off with today’s Cashman. I think he’s shown that he is able to adapt and build a top notch analytics organization. The problem with his group now might be they are too conservative and too intent on winning deals in terms of “value”. The Yankees could very well win 90-100 games for the next 10 years with him as GM, but zero world championships. He’s a true optimizer now and the Yankee FO mission is to get into the playoffs every year. My perception is they won’t do anything risky because they don’t think you can control playoff outcomes very well. I also think ownership is totally on board with this strategy. As long as you’re a playoff team that generates interest they will make the $$. Hal does not care as much about championships as he cares about a stable revenue stream.
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
43,989
You probably would be better off with today’s Cashman. I think he’s shown that he is able to adapt and build a top notch analytics organization. The problem with his group now might be they are too conservative and too intent on winning deals in terms of “value”. The Yankees could very well win 90-100 games for the next 10 years with him as GM, but zero world championships. He’s a true optimizer now and the Yankee FO mission is to get into the playoffs every year. My perception is they won’t do anything risky because they don’t think you can control playoff outcomes very well. I also think ownership is totally on board with this strategy. As long as you’re a playoff team that generates interest they will make the $$. Hal does not care as much about championships as he cares about a stable revenue stream.
Getting off topic, but I think this is a misreading of Cashman's current approach (albeit one shared by many Yankee fans), I think if he felt a move would make a major difference, he would be happy to lose the deal in terms of 'value', but that doesn't mean you make a bad deal just to have done something. As a related example, the Dodgers badly needed bullpen help for Jansen this deadline (although they can move SPs there in the postseason) but they didn't end up adding anyone except Adam Kolarek. Andrew Friedman said afterwards that the Dodgers made a number of offers for impact players "that were definitely under water from a value standpoint”, but it was an especially strange deadline for a bunch of reasons and LAD like NYY like STL ended up basically adding no one.

Cashman traded his top prospect (Justus Sheffield) for two years of Paxton in the offseason, I don't think he is averse to moving his top guys if it makes sense. ARI wanted 5 years of Clint Frazier for 1 1/3 years of Robbie Ray (very fair) plus three other top prospects (way too much). Cashman seemed to be very ready to go all in for Syndergaard (he even said publicly that no prospect was off the table in that case) but the Mets were never really going to send him to the Yankees (or anywhere else, it seems).
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
10,712
Maine
Why can't the problem just be the players? The starting pitching has been abysmal. Between that and being handcuffed by bad contracts I have a hard time blaming DD

Now the farm - the blah drafts and blah IFA -- that's entirely on him.
Here's the thing from my perspective. The farm right now shouldn't need to be great. The big league team is stacked with talent and it's not particularly old by baseball standards. They may be underperforming now but they're also fairly locked in for at least a couple more seasons. There should be time for the farm to develop while this current big club gets by as is, and even if there was a good crop of prospects maturing and in demand...I'm not sure how much help they'd be right now.

It's hard to make it a top 10-15 farm system when you're finishing in first three years in a row and drafting late in the first round at best. All the advantages that Theo and even Cherington had to make the farm a "player development machine" despite big league success a decade+ ago have been removed. There's a cap on IFA spending. There is a cap on draft bonuses. Good players aren't sliding down the draft exclusively for signability reasons like they used to, and even when they are, there's a limit on how much you can really overspend to satisfy those players. Player development is very much a crap shoot. Even if you evaluate and draft well, players still get hurt, players still plateau, players still fail to grow and improve. This isn't a video game simulation where as long as you push the right buttons in the right sequence, everything works out. Maybe the blame is in the evaluators...I'm not convinced it's entirely on them though.
 

donutogre

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
1,725
Philadelphia
Can't it also be overwork from last season? Sale and Eovaldi were asked to pitch a bunch of unexpected and extremely high stress innings in the postseason. And.... it's really hard to repeat. If 2020's season is as disastrous, I'll be way more concerned. But for now, this team is simply not equipped considering the luxury tax to compete for a title.
Not calling you out specifically, but the whole "the pitchers were overworked in the postseason" narrative is a big bunk, IMO. Lots of people have been saying this all year, but the numbers don't really bear it out.

Here’s the postseason work for Sale, Porcello, Price, and Eovaldi:

Sale:
6 1/3 ALDS (1 inning relief)
4 ALCS
5 WS (1 inning relief)

Porcello:
5 2/3 ALDS (2/3 in relief)
5 ALCS (1 in relief)
4 2/3 WS

Price:
1 2/3 ALDS (1 start)
10 2/3 ALCS (2 starts)
13 2/3 WS (2 starts, 1 relief appearance of 2/3 inning)

Eovaldi:
7 ALDS
7 1/3 ALCS (1 1/3 relief)
8 WS (all in relief)

The only one I'd say who really stretched himself was Price, who pitched every other day in the WS; he also went on 3 days rest in the ALCS.

Obviously, Eovaldi threw what amounts to a very high-stress start with only a day of rest after pitching two relief appearances. But his overall workload wasn't outrageous. Anyway, maybe his postseason work ended up hurting him this year, but I'd say it's far from a foregone conclusion.
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
6,102
Gallows Hill
Why can't the problem just be the players? The starting pitching has been abysmal. Between that and being handcuffed by bad contracts I have a hard time blaming DD

Now the farm - the blah drafts and blah IFA -- that's entirely on him.
I completely agree with this. When the best four pitchers on the team go from where they were last year to where they are this year, there is not much the GM can do about it. And as far as Cora’s spring training approach, was that the plan all along? Or did the pitchers show up so out of shape that it forced the organization to approach spring training the way that they did? It would be nice if someone in the media would ask questions like that. Everyone on that roster needs to ask themselves if they honestly think that they did enough between 10/28/18 and reporting day to compete in 2019, and adjust accordingly starting this October.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 11, 2007
2,358
Here's the thing from my perspective. The farm right now shouldn't need to be great. The big league team is stacked with talent and it's not particularly old by baseball standards. They may be underperforming now but they're also fairly locked in for at least a couple more seasons. There should be time for the farm to develop while this current big club gets by as is, and even if there was a good crop of prospects maturing and in demand...I'm not sure how much help they'd be right now.

It's hard to make it a top 10-15 farm system when you're finishing in first three years in a row and drafting late in the first round at best. All the advantages that Theo and even Cherington had to make the farm a "player development machine" despite big league success a decade+ ago have been removed. There's a cap on IFA spending. There is a cap on draft bonuses. Good players aren't sliding down the draft exclusively for signability reasons like they used to, and even when they are, there's a limit on how much you can really overspend to satisfy those players. Player development is very much a crap shoot. Even if you evaluate and draft well, players still get hurt, players still plateau, players still fail to grow and improve. This isn't a video game simulation where as long as you push the right buttons in the right sequence, everything works out. Maybe the blame is in the evaluators...I'm not convinced it's entirely on them though.
While I generally agree with this, I still think the pitching development is garbage for the Sox org. Other teams seem to be able to develop quality ML starters from lower drafts. Not every quality ML starter is drafted in the top 20 1st round. And the Sox two picks: Ball has retired, and the other has been injured for 3 straight years. Someone needs to find good strong teachable arms that may or may not have ever thrown a pitch and get them developing. Drafting HS and young international players and developing them makes a lot more sense to me than finding a college kid that has a ton of miles on their arm already and is likely an injury waiting to happen... and also likely to be a top 20 pick.
But answering the thread.... fair or not, LaVangie has got to, and likely will... go. And I'm about done with seeing pitchers picking their own personal caddies that don't seem to be helping them in the slightest, and can't hit worth a hill of shit.
 

Dick Pole Upside

Member
SoSH Member
Feb 6, 2003
4,267
39.932N, -85.848W
Tigers had 8 81+ win seasons over a 9 year stretch under him where they made 4 ALCS's and 2 world series, that's not sustainable enough? How many teams have more consistent stretches than that this century?
The whole "Dombrowski ruins farm systems" trope is a little aggravating. He tore down the '97 Marlins per direction from ownership, and the yield he got in return contributed to the 2003 Marlins championship a year after he left for Detroit.

In Detroit, he had an aging owner (Ilitch) who basically instructed/endorsed him to GFIN every year. Hence the trading-prospects-for-established-veterans component of team-building in Detroit.

Here, he inherited a surfeit of high-level prospects and converted them into essential contributors to a championship. Recognizing that the core of home grown players (Bogaerts, Betts, Benintendi, JBJ, Vazquez, Devers et al) offered him a controllable window, he is now in the process of re-building and preserving assets in said farm system. I have no issue with that.

As for bullpen construction? The debate rages on, despite the generally fickle nature of year-to-year bullpen performance (with few exceptions) across the league.

LeVangie certainly bears a degree of blame for not stabilizing or improving Porcello, Sale, and Price (with ERod being a notable counter to this argument), but to me it's the pitchers who should be held accountable first and foremost, followed by Cora and LeVangie.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
10,712
Maine
But answering the thread.... fair or not, LaVangie has got to, and likely will... go. And I'm about done with seeing pitchers picking their own personal caddies that don't seem to be helping them in the slightest, and can't hit worth a hill of shit.
Is this really still a thing? I know a lot was made of Leon's return in April (and some, myself included, argued it wouldn't make a significant difference), but the recent downturn can't be blamed on the catchers, can it? Sale's been pitching to Leon all along. I think it's conclusive that his slow start wasn't due to pitching to Vazquez. Porcello as well has pitched poorly to both catchers so it's not that he needs a caddy either.

Leon is a typical back-up catcher. He's catching once a week, sometimes twice. Vazquez is doing the heavy lifting and he's hitting well. This winter, it would be great if they addressed Leon's spot with someone with more offense, but I don't think it's a priority.
 

chilidawg

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 22, 2015
1,472
Why can't the problem just be the players? The starting pitching has been abysmal. Between that and being handcuffed by bad contracts I have a hard time blaming DD

Now the farm - the blah drafts and blah IFA -- that's entirely on him.
Last year's draft was excellent, and this year's is looking good so far. The lower minors certainly have some depth and talent.
 

billy ashley

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
927
Washington DC
Wierd seeing folks down on the recent drafts. The last onr was excellent, especially considering the lack of a true first rounder (and the cap issues that come with that).

Its also not like the gm is that important in terms of the draft. Boston has excelled at the draft for years and that has to do with some great luck, and a staff that goes,way deeper than the gm.

The IFA issue is also odd. As Dombrowski hasn't been in charge long enough for his first class to be stateside for,very long, nevermind the fact that part of what hurt the recent ifa classes was a 1 year old dying of cancer.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
16,747
While I generally agree with this, I still think the pitching development is garbage for the Sox org. Other teams seem to be able to develop quality ML starters from lower drafts. Not every quality ML starter is drafted in the top 20 1st round. And the Sox two picks: Ball has retired, and the other has been injured for 3 straight years. Someone needs to find good strong teachable arms that may or may not have ever thrown a pitch and get them developing. Drafting HS and young international players and developing them makes a lot more sense to me than finding a college kid that has a ton of miles on their arm already and is likely an injury waiting to happen... and also likely to be a top 20 pick.
But answering the thread.... fair or not, LaVangie has got to, and likely will... go. And I'm about done with seeing pitchers picking their own personal caddies that don't seem to be helping them in the slightest, and can't hit worth a hill of shit.
It's funny. Yes it's true that the Sox haven't developed their own starting pitching but two things. (1) It seems to me that it's harder for playoff contending teams to develop their own starting pitching because they don't have a lot of starts to give young pitchers and the starts that they do have are generally meaningful.

(2) I would be interested in knowing whether there is a skill to develop starting pitching. I ask that because know that the Os have been criticized for not developing a starting pitching since Mussina. Here's an article on the Cubs how they've failed to develop starting pitching. Here's another one on the MFYs not being able to develop starting pitching. People will point to HOU as being able to develop this - maybe they have some secret sauce but shouldn't Cora know what that was?

I mean even if you count all of the Sox prospects that have been traded, which pitching prospect actually hit?

Maybe the issue is that developing starting pitching from draft picks - particularly in this day and age where all of the avenues to give teams an edge other than tanking have been stripped away - is the exception rather than the rule.
 

curly2

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 8, 2003
3,956
We certainly can't blame Levangie for all the pitching struggles, but one thing that does speak badly is Sale's splits:

Bases empty: .211/290/375/665

Runners on: 260/303/500/803

The sample sizes (338 PA with the bases empty, 220 with men are) are big enough to suggest is something more than fluky luck. Look at the Sunday night game against the Yankees at Fenway last week. He retires the first seven batters, striking out three of them, then gives up a walk, and the first time he pitches out of the stretch, he throws a meatball that Austin Romine murders for a homer. Then it repeated itself the next inning, with Did Gregorious getting a nothing, middle-middle slider and possibly hitting the best ball a lefty has ever hit off Sale.

It seems there is some mechanical issue pitching out of the stretch. Among Levangie, Cora, Sale and Leon, someone should be able to spot it and fix it.
 

PudgeFIST

lurker
Aug 19, 2016
36
This has been a peev of mine forever. Especially this year as we see the Dodgers(who played as many games as the Sox) and the Astros(who played almost as many) EASILY fielding a competitive team.
THe Dodgers are probably on their third straight trip to the WS and the Astros their second in 3 years.
How is it that they are able to be competitive and the Sox are not even close?

Personally i would ride every player into the ground from day one to be competitive ALL YEAR, then make trades to bolster
and at that point give your starters more of a break. Skip a start when you can, let them get their wind back.

Frankly, considering the Rays and Yankees got better over the winter, i though it was arrogant to baby the players in spring training.
Its as if they thought they were entitled to the post season. You have to actually make the
post season before you can actually enact your plan to win the post season.
They can rest when they're dead.


Can't it also be overwork from last season? Sale and Eovaldi were asked to pitch a bunch of unexpected and extremely high stress innings in the postseason. And.... it's really hard to repeat. If 2020's season is as disastrous, I'll be way more concerned. But for now, this team is simply not equipped considering the luxury tax to compete for a title.
 

Rovin Romine

Johnny Rico
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
9,393
Miami (oh, Miami!)
I recall thinking when I saw how spring training was being handled that it was a disaster waiting to happen.
A lot of us had reservations about that. It's a marathon, yada yada, but why leave the gate after all the other marathon runners do?

***

Some of this season's slow start and subsequent mess is likely the consequence of winning the WS; it's probably easier to coast and be feted rather than doing whatever you'd do if your off-season in began in September, leaving you hungry for a winning season. It's certainly human nature to ease up a bit when things are going well and you appear to have a winning formula/team in place, intact, and to bear down and make changes when all indicators say you need to bear down.

But to the extent that the overall culture of the club resists or encourages that sort of thing? I don't know. I haven't crunched the numbers, but it feels like we've seen unusually strong team-wide yo-yo results and more feast/famine seasons from key performers. Maybe that's a bias in our perceptions. (Not that's it's happening, but the frequency relative to other teams.)
 

RedOctober3829

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
38,889
deep inside Guido territory
These stats are from the Twitter handle BostonSportsInfo. It doesn't include last night's game, so the starters' ERA is at 5.00 or higher now.

Red Sox Starting Pitching through 113 games
2018-653 IP, 3.49 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

2019-592 IP, 4.99 ERA, 1.36 WHIP
--61 fewer innings and ERA up 1.50

Red Sox Bullpen through 113 games
2018-370.1 IP, 3.33 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

2019-428.1 IP, 4.52 ERA, 1.41 WHIP
--58 more innings and ERA is up by 1.19
 

Harry Hooper

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 4, 2002
25,515
We certainly can't blame Levangie for all the pitching struggles, but one thing that does speak badly is Sale's splits:

Bases empty: .211/290/375/665

Runners on: 260/303/500/803

The sample sizes (338 PA with the bases empty, 220 with men are) are big enough to suggest is something more than fluky luck. Look at the Sunday night game against the Yankees at Fenway last week. He retires the first seven batters, striking out three of them, then gives up a walk, and the first time he pitches out of the stretch, he throws a meatball that Austin Romine murders for a homer. Then it repeated itself the next inning, with Did Gregorious getting a nothing, middle-middle slider and possibly hitting the best ball a lefty has ever hit off Sale.

It seems there is some mechanical issue pitching out of the stretch. Among Levangie, Cora, Sale and Leon, someone should be able to spot it and fix it.

Can't help wondering about Sale's undisclosed toe injury from the beginning of the season. I don't think we ever heard which toe was affected. The left toe presumably would be under more duress pitching out of the stretch.

A bit of a bizarre counterpoint is that Price said in a recent interview that he had been struggling in terms of his pitching motion this season more when pitching out of the windup than out of the stretch. His walk rate drops about half with men on (251 PA with bases empty and 199 PA with men on):

Bases empty: 248/323/420/743
Runner On: 275/307/471/777
Man on 1st: 226/258/398/656
Man on 2nd: 238/273/405/677
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
5,727
These stats are from the Twitter handle BostonSportsInfo. It doesn't include last night's game, so the starters' ERA is at 5.00 or higher now.

Red Sox Starting Pitching through 113 games
2018-653 IP, 3.49 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

2019-592 IP, 4.99 ERA, 1.36 WHIP
--61 fewer innings and ERA up 1.50

Red Sox Bullpen through 113 games
2018-370.1 IP, 3.33 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

2019-428.1 IP, 4.52 ERA, 1.41 WHIP
--58 more innings and ERA is up by 1.19
All of MLB is up about a half-run of ERA this year from 2018, so that explains SOME of the leap. But not all of it. The Sox are basically a run and a half worse this year than last. Take the half-run MLB-wide increase out of it, and the Sox' pitching is a full run per game worse than last year.

If we want to know why they're losing so many more games than last year, there's the main culprit.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
10,712
Maine
This has been a peev of mine forever. Especially this year as we see the Dodgers(who played as many games as the Sox) and the Astros(who played almost as many) EASILY fielding a competitive team.
THe Dodgers are probably on their third straight trip to the WS and the Astros their second in 3 years.
How is it that they are able to be competitive and the Sox are not even close?

Personally i would ride every player into the ground from day one to be competitive ALL YEAR, then make trades to bolster
and at that point give your starters more of a break. Skip a start when you can, let them get their wind back.

Frankly, considering the Rays and Yankees got better over the winter, i though it was arrogant to baby the players in spring training.
Its as if they thought they were entitled to the post season. You have to actually make the
post season before you can actually enact your plan to win the post season.
They can rest when they're dead.
The Dodgers don't grind their players into the ground nor do the Astros. The difference between the Red Sox and those two teams, quite frankly, is depth. They don't have to grind their good players because they can rotate guys into spots that result in very little drop-off. They utilize a 4-5 man bench to get everyone rest. They have enough quality starting pitchers that they're not resorting to using openers and bullpen games to cover for someone being on the IL.

Last year in particular, the Dodgers took full advantage of the 10-day IL to move guys through their rotation. They had seven starters make 15 or more starts, but none make more than 27. Please save the "grind them every day, rest when they're dead" old school bullshit. That's not the issue.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
12,724
So this is a thread about the pitching failures and the name Brian Bannister hasn't even come up once? If anyone needs to be accountable for the entire organization's pitching suckage, it should be the guy who is in charge of the entire organization's pitching.

Last year, the Red Sox had great success with the pitching and Bannister was lauded for his unique approach. Seems like this year, the rest of the league may have adjusted to what worked so well for the Red Sox last year, and the entire staff is getting demolished. Maybe the big picture organizational pitching strategies need to be adjusted, rethought, or recalibrated when you have so many formerly good pitchers consistently getting their brains beaten in.

Major league baseball is always a series of adjustments and counter-adjustments. If the league has adjusted to what the Red Sox did so successfully last year, then the Red Sox need to make a counter-adjustment. They're not fooling any hitters now. Scrubs are demolishing not just one but several former Cy Young-level pitchers. That sure seems like a macro-level issue, not one or two guys struggling.

SI has a long article on Bannister that is actually an excerpt from the new book The MVP Machine. The book/article makes it clear that Bannister has a day-to-day role with the major league team and constantly works with the pitchers and the coaches:
"During games, Bannister typically sits in the clubhouse, consulting Statcast to monitor pitch selection, spin, and speed changes that might indicate injuries. If a pitcher encounters command problems, Bannister checks KinaTrax for mechanical misalignments, and when other issues arise, pitchers (or pitching coach Dana LeVangie) walk through the tunnel to ask for advice. But much of the magic occurs before games, when Bannister turns the outfield or the bullpen into an interactive pitching lab, setting up cameras and tracking devices and inviting pitchers to ask each other questions, share information, and experiment in a more focused way than they can while playing catch casually."

Here's an example of something the Red Sox were doing differently from a lot of other teams that was working well last year:
"One of the most obvious outward manifestations of Bannister’s influence is the rate at which the Red Sox throw their four-seamers in the upper third of the zone or above. Shortly after bringing Bannister on, the Sox became the kings of the elevated four-seamer. “It was a fun way to take an analytical concept and exploit it and surprise teams,” he says."

Maybe this is something the other teams know and are now looking for. Or maybe not at all, maybe it's something different.
Perhaps this concept is now backfiring:
“I’d rather have a pitcher with a 70 or 80 [pitch on the 20–80 scouting scale] that really has no idea where it’s going than a pitcher with a 50 pitch that can throw it exactly where he wants to every time,” he says. “I’ll always err on the side of pitch quality.”

Or maybe our pitchers should go back to some of these "debunked" concepts:
"Yet his studies drew him to the same conclusion: baseball was beset by beliefs that didn’t stand up to scrutiny in the more illuminating light of the post-PITCHf/x era. Right-handers have to throw from the third-base side of the rubber to maximize deception; pitchers should come to a balance point during their deliveries; changeups must be at least 10 mph slower than fastballs; pitchers need to pitch on downhill planes. “I’ve pretty much debunked all of those pitching concepts that are just rehashed over and over again to every pitching prospect that comes along,” Bannister says. “And I disagree with almost all of them completely. I think those things, as innocent as they seem, have destroyed more pitchers’ careers over the years than anything else.”

I sure don't know what the problem is, but there's clearly a major problem with this team's pitching, it's like day and night compared to last year, and something needs to change to try to fix it.

In that same article, Bannister acknowledges that it's a never-ending battle to try to stay ahead of what other teams are doing and what adjustment they are making:
"The second (Bannister) thinks he’s beaten other teams to a developmental tactic, the clock starts counting down to the day it slips away. “You always have to come up with the next thing, and then it’s like, ‘Aw, we could have been way ahead of everybody if we just did this last year, but I didn’t think about it that way.’ It’s a never-ending cycle. The rabbit hole goes very deep.”
 

OurF'ingCity

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 22, 2016
3,247
New York City
Criticism of the slow start is all well and good, but that really doesn't say much about why Sale (and the pitching staff more generally) has CONTINUED to struggle/be inconsistent over the rest of the season, unless you think the way they started somehow messed them up for the entire season.

If this were the case of a single pitcher being bad (say, if Sale declined while everyone else was pitching to expectations) I'd say you would just chalk it up to bad luck/potential undisclosed injuries/possible tipping pitches or some such. But given that almost the entire staff has regressed, I tend to agree with Gray Eagle that teams may have adjusted to some general tendencies of Sox pitchers. I suppose the other possibility (I don't watch nearly enough Sox games/have enough scouting talent to know one way or the other for sure) is that Bannister introduced some new approach that he thought would allow the Sox to stay ahead of the curve but has actually backfired in some way.
 

Kliq

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 31, 2013
9,855
I think when your organization cannot produce any of its own starting pitching, this is going to be a consistent problem. Unless you count Eduardo who came in as a highly-regarded, nearly ML ready pitcher, they haven't produced a competent, consistent major league pitcher since Buccholz, and that was 12 years ago. There is a widespread, systematic failure in the Red Sox organization when it comes to developing pitching, and when that happens the onus is always going to be on the front office to acquire MLB-level pitching from other teams via trade of through free agency. There is a reason Eovaldi was available for the price he was available at last season, there is reason Porcello didn't get a massive offer when he was FA, etc.

I think this season is somewhat similar to the Celtics, in the sense that last season we were spoiled by getting the best of Eovladi (Morris), Porcello (Rozier), Price (Tatum), etc. and that probably shouldn't have been the expectation heading into this season, which has led to disappointment that is really mostly just guys regressing to the mean.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
16,747
We certainly can't blame Levangie for all the pitching struggles, but one thing that does speak badly is Sale's splits:

Bases empty: .211/290/375/665

Runners on: 260/303/500/803

The sample sizes (338 PA with the bases empty, 220 with men are) are big enough to suggest is something more than fluky luck. Look at the Sunday night game against the Yankees at Fenway last week. He retires the first seven batters, striking out three of them, then gives up a walk, and the first time he pitches out of the stretch, he throws a meatball that Austin Romine murders for a homer. Then it repeated itself the next inning, with Did Gregorious getting a nothing, middle-middle slider and possibly hitting the best ball a lefty has ever hit off Sale.

It seems there is some mechanical issue pitching out of the stretch. Among Levangie, Cora, Sale and Leon, someone should be able to spot it and fix it.
Deeper look at the splits might address some of this. Shorthand, his XFIP with MOB (3.04) is approximately the same as without (3.06) while his FIP (3.87 to 3.33) is not markedly higher. His BABIP with MOB is much higher than without (.342 to .303) and note that his BABIP in men is scoring positions is .423 in 105 batters faced. (It's .571 in high leverage situations with 28 total batters faced!)

Also, with respect to men in scoring position, Sale has 15.59 K/9, a FIP of 2.12, and a XFIP of 2.68, all that despite having the aforementioned .423 BABIP.

One other thing. His LOB% with MOB is 4.0%. I'm not an expert here, but I'm going to guess that's extremely low. For example, David Price's 2019 LOB% with MOB = 25.4% and Sale was at 37.0% last year.

Maybe he's just getting unlucky?
 

OurF'ingCity

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 22, 2016
3,247
New York City
I think this season is somewhat similar to the Celtics, in the sense that last season we were spoiled by getting the best of Eovladi (Morris), Porcello (Rozier), Price (Tatum), etc. and that probably shouldn't have been the expectation heading into this season, which has led to disappointment that is really mostly just guys regressing to the mean.
Eovaldi got hurt so I don't think you can really say he's regressing to the mean, although an argument that he is injury-prone and his deal should have been discounted to reflect that certainly has merit.

For the other two you mention (and Sale as well), they are well beyond "regressing to the mean" at this point. Sale obviously was amazing last year, but Price and Porcello largely pitched in line with their career numbers. This year, by contrast, they are all simultaneously having career-worst (or close) performances - if the season ended today, this would far and away be Sale's and Porcello's worst season ever, and Price's worst season since 2009, when he was a rookie.

That said, I certainly don't disagree that their failure to develop young starting pitching since the Lester/Buchholz days has cost them tremendously - if they had a #4 starter-in-waiting they likely wouldn't have re-signed Eovaldi or at least would have had stronger negotiating leverage.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
11,800
The entire starting rotation returned and the second, third, fourth, and fifth best relievers in the bullpen returned. How is it the fault of DD that three of the five starters and one of the main relievers completely shit the bed, and another starter missed almost the entire year from injury?
Please explain how overseeing the first division three-peat in franchise history isn't creating a "sustainable" product. Because it happened not to work out in year four for the above reason?
The starter who missed the whole year to injury has missed a lot of whole years to injury and been mediocre in a lot of years that he’s been healthy, but Dombrowski gave him 4/$68 in a market where Lance Lynn got 3/$30.
 

Harry Hooper

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 4, 2002
25,515
So this is a thread about the pitching failures and the name Brian Bannister hasn't even come up once? If anyone needs to be accountable for the entire organization's pitching suckage, it should be the guy who is in charge of the entire organization's pitching.
...
SI has a long article on Bannister that is actually an excerpt from the new book The MVP Machine. The book/article makes it clear that Bannister has a day-to-day role with the major league team and constantly works with the pitchers and the coaches:
"During games, Bannister typically sits in the clubhouse, consulting Statcast to monitor pitch selection, spin, and speed changes that might indicate injuries. If a pitcher encounters command problems, Bannister checks KinaTrax for mechanical misalignments, and when other issues arise, pitchers (or pitching coach Dana LeVangie) walk through the tunnel to ask for advice. But much of the magic occurs before games, when Bannister turns the outfield or the bullpen into an interactive pitching lab, setting up cameras and tracking devices and inviting pitchers to ask each other questions, share information, and experiment in a more focused way than they can while playing catch casually."

Here's an example of something the Red Sox were doing differently from a lot of other teams that was working well last year:
"One of the most obvious outward manifestations of Bannister’s influence is the rate at which the Red Sox throw their four-seamers in the upper third of the zone or above. Shortly after bringing Bannister on, the Sox became the kings of the elevated four-seamer. “It was a fun way to take an analytical concept and exploit it and surprise teams,” he says."

Maybe this is something the other teams know and are now looking for. Or maybe not at all, maybe it's something different.
Perhaps this concept is now backfiring:
“I’d rather have a pitcher with a 70 or 80 [pitch on the 20–80 scouting scale] that really has no idea where it’s going than a pitcher with a 50 pitch that can throw it exactly where he wants to every time,” he says. “I’ll always err on the side of pitch quality.”
That last couple of sentences needs to be put in glowing neon font. The big 3 starters seem to throw a ton of fat pitches over the plate that get crushed.

As for the elevated four-seamer, I mentioned in last night's game thread that Porcello might want to borrow some of Weber's sinker-heavy approach. Weber old school attack had the Yanks flummoxed and even self-destructive (Urshela).
 
Last edited:

Rovin Romine

Johnny Rico
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
9,393
Miami (oh, Miami!)
Or maybe our pitchers should go back to some of these "debunked" concepts:
Sale, Price, J. Kelly, E-Rod, Porcello (etc.); these guys just seem way too up and down year to year to really be benefitting from some sort of "new secret formula gives an edge" approach. I know that individual talents and development arcs vary and no one can account for injury fully. But if you take away any hypothetical plus that Bannister's secret sauce provided over the past however many years, the true baseline for this staff would be chronic jokes of underperforming inconsistency. And that's too much to swallow given the track records of pitchers before they arrived in the organization.

I mean I don't doubt there's some good ideas in what he selling. But the goal is to maximize what you've got in terms of the individual pitchers, and to put those pieces in the places they'll do the most good, long term and for individual games. And, results wise, that seems not to be happening. Whatever the secret-sauce pitching ideology claims to be.
 

Savin Hillbilly

loves the secret sauce
SoSH Member
Jul 10, 2007
18,159
The wrong side of the bridge....
Somebody has to be the one to make this post. Might as well be me.

The Red Sox' pitching staff is:

8th in the AL in ERA (7th in adjusted ERA-)
5th in the AL in FIP and xFIP (both raw and adjusted versions)
4th in the AL in SIERA

Their ERA minus FIP number is not only highest in the league, but it's more than half again as large as the 2nd highest. Whether this is bad luck or bad situational pitching, I don't know, but it seems important.

None of these rankings are outstanding (though 4th in SIERA is pretty damn good). But when phrases like "dumpster fire" and "abysmal" get thrown around, I think context is important. The Red Sox' pitching staff this year has been, at worst, league-average. It's hard to see that because the offensive explosion this year is so extreme.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
10,712
Maine
I think when your organization cannot produce any of its own starting pitching, this is going to be a consistent problem. Unless you count Eduardo who came in as a highly-regarded, nearly ML ready pitcher, they haven't produced a competent, consistent major league pitcher since Buccholz, and that was 12 years ago. There is a widespread, systematic failure in the Red Sox organization when it comes to developing pitching, and when that happens the onus is always going to be on the front office to acquire MLB-level pitching from other teams via trade of through free agency. There is a reason Eovaldi was available for the price he was available at last season, there is reason Porcello didn't get a massive offer when he was FA, etc.
Let's be clear...they're not developing starting pitching very well. They have developed pitchers since Buchholz, just none that have stuck or succeeded as starters. Barnes is a competent pitcher. Workman is a competent pitcher. Tazawa was competent for a few years. Alex Wilson is a competent reliever that came out of the Sox farm system.

And just a note...Porcello's never been a free agent. They traded for him when he had a year of team control left and then extended him. And in the first year of that extension is when he won his Cy Young. Not so sure he was really much of an error in judgement to sign when they did.
 

PudgeFIST

lurker
Aug 19, 2016
36
The Dodgers don't grind their players into the ground nor do the Astros. The difference between the Red Sox and those two teams, quite frankly, is depth. They don't have to grind their good players because they can rotate guys into spots that result in very little drop-off. They utilize a 4-5 man bench to get everyone rest. They have enough quality starting pitchers that they're not resorting to using openers and bullpen games to cover for someone being on the IL.

Last year in particular, the Dodgers took full advantage of the 10-day IL to move guys through their rotation. They had seven starters make 15 or more starts, but none make more than 27. Please save the "grind them every day, rest when they're dead" old school bullshit. That's not the issue.
Well, grind em till they die might be a bit extreme, but having listened to them in spring training, it did feel a bit entitled.
The dodgers and Stros in weaker divisions could pedal back a bit from the get go and utilize the 10 day il
Anyone paying attention knew that the Sox probably didn't have the same luxury.

And really, if Chris Sale is incapable of pitching a whole season, going hard from the get go and being strong in the post season,
after a season where he only threw 158 reg season innings, there's no way they should have extended him for that money.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
16,747
So this is a thread about the pitching failures and the name Brian Bannister hasn't even come up once? If anyone needs to be accountable for the entire organization's pitching suckage, it should be the guy who is in charge of the entire organization's pitching.

Last year, the Red Sox had great success with the pitching and Bannister was lauded for his unique approach. Seems like this year, the rest of the league may have adjusted to what worked so well for the Red Sox last year, and the entire staff is getting demolished. Maybe the big picture organizational pitching strategies need to be adjusted, rethought, or recalibrated when you have so many formerly good pitchers consistently getting their brains beaten in.

Major league baseball is always a series of adjustments and counter-adjustments. If the league has adjusted to what the Red Sox did so successfully last year, then the Red Sox need to make a counter-adjustment. They're not fooling any hitters now. Scrubs are demolishing not just one but several former Cy Young-level pitchers. That sure seems like a macro-level issue, not one or two guys struggling.

SI has a long article on Bannister that is actually an excerpt from the new book The MVP Machine. The book/article makes it clear that Bannister has a day-to-day role with the major league team and constantly works with the pitchers and the coaches:
"During games, Bannister typically sits in the clubhouse, consulting Statcast to monitor pitch selection, spin, and speed changes that might indicate injuries. If a pitcher encounters command problems, Bannister checks KinaTrax for mechanical misalignments, and when other issues arise, pitchers (or pitching coach Dana LeVangie) walk through the tunnel to ask for advice. But much of the magic occurs before games, when Bannister turns the outfield or the bullpen into an interactive pitching lab, setting up cameras and tracking devices and inviting pitchers to ask each other questions, share information, and experiment in a more focused way than they can while playing catch casually."

Here's an example of something the Red Sox were doing differently from a lot of other teams that was working well last year:
"One of the most obvious outward manifestations of Bannister’s influence is the rate at which the Red Sox throw their four-seamers in the upper third of the zone or above. Shortly after bringing Bannister on, the Sox became the kings of the elevated four-seamer. “It was a fun way to take an analytical concept and exploit it and surprise teams,” he says."

Maybe this is something the other teams know and are now looking for. Or maybe not at all, maybe it's something different.
Perhaps this concept is now backfiring:
“I’d rather have a pitcher with a 70 or 80 [pitch on the 20–80 scouting scale] that really has no idea where it’s going than a pitcher with a 50 pitch that can throw it exactly where he wants to every time,” he says. “I’ll always err on the side of pitch quality.”

Or maybe our pitchers should go back to some of these "debunked" concepts:
"Yet his studies drew him to the same conclusion: baseball was beset by beliefs that didn’t stand up to scrutiny in the more illuminating light of the post-PITCHf/x era. Right-handers have to throw from the third-base side of the rubber to maximize deception; pitchers should come to a balance point during their deliveries; changeups must be at least 10 mph slower than fastballs; pitchers need to pitch on downhill planes. “I’ve pretty much debunked all of those pitching concepts that are just rehashed over and over again to every pitching prospect that comes along,” Bannister says. “And I disagree with almost all of them completely. I think those things, as innocent as they seem, have destroyed more pitchers’ careers over the years than anything else.”

I sure don't know what the problem is, but there's clearly a major problem with this team's pitching, it's like day and night compared to last year, and something needs to change to try to fix it.

In that same article, Bannister acknowledges that it's a never-ending battle to try to stay ahead of what other teams are doing and what adjustment they are making:
"The second (Bannister) thinks he’s beaten other teams to a developmental tactic, the clock starts counting down to the day it slips away. “You always have to come up with the next thing, and then it’s like, ‘Aw, we could have been way ahead of everybody if we just did this last year, but I didn’t think about it that way.’ It’s a never-ending cycle. The rabbit hole goes very deep.”
Some of what Bannister is preaching is the same thing being done in HOU. See this article from the guys who wrote about the HOU player development system: https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2019/6/3/18644512/mvp-machine-how-houston-astros-became-great-scouting. For example, the high fastball:

No more than fifteen minutes after [Ryan Pressly] finished unpacking in the clubhouse [after being traded to HOU], Pressly was summoned into a meeting. In attendance were Astros pitching coach Brent Strom, bullpen coach Doug White, and multiple analysts from the front office. The Astros, Pressly learned, had a plan for him to be better, and the analysts launched into the details. “They sat me down and they put up all these x, y charts and all this other stuff,” Pressly says. “It almost sounded like they were speaking in a different language. I just raised my hand and said, ‘Guys, just tell me what to throw and not to throw.’” They told him his two-seam fastball to lefties was ineffective but that they loved his curve and hoped he’d throw it more. They also suggested he elevate his four-seam fastball and throw his slider slightly more to make his fastball more effective.
* * * *
Pressly learned from watching his new teammates more than from anything they said. “If guys are pitching up in the zone and throwing curveballs off fastballs up in the zone, you can clearly see it,” Pressly says, adding, “It starts to click—I have that same exact stuff. So if they’re having success ...” The montage of fruitless swings Pressly admired from the pen was a better sales pitch than any analyst’s graph. “It’s just the Astros’ philosophy,” he says. “They just have a different kind of mindset over there.”
 

geoduck no quahog

not particularly consistent
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Nov 8, 2002
11,296
Seattle, WA
The inability of Red Sox starters to get through the first inning with less than 15-20 pitches is something that needs to be looked at.

- Hitters are not swinging at bad pitches? Starters throwing too many non-competitive pitches?
- Hitters fouling off good pitches? Starters inability to get an out with 2 strikes?

A 20-pitch first inning sets up bad things for the rest of the game. It used to be the Red Sox that forced that on opposing pitchers all the time.