May: Red Sox discussion, observations and trend tracking...AKA It's not all about the Benjamins

Red(s)HawksFan

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This feels like setting the foundations for a "we'll miss Alex, but we think this team could use a new voice" presser at the end of the season. Suggesting that this team as presently constructed is underperforming is wild to me.



https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-red-sox/2024/05/30/sam-kennedy-boston-red-sox-alex-cora-mlb-baseball/
The offense is 100% underperforming. Some of that is due to injury absence (no Story, no Casas, no Yoshida, no O'Neill) but unquestionably they're getting less out of the bats than they should. Even with the guys who are performing well, the team can't seem to string hits together enough or in the right spots to plate runs consistently. 4.28 runs per game is middle of the pack in baseball and not what you want out of a team that plays in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
 

E5 Yaz

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BaseballJones

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Boston has four significant offensive players out: Story (gone for the year), Casas, Yoshida (for all our complaints, still an above-average hitter), and O'Neill. The backups are trying, but that's a lot to overcome. Hopefully they get the last three of them back, which should really help matters.
 

moondog80

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The offense is 100% underperforming. Some of that is due to injury absence (no Story, no Casas, no Yoshida, no O'Neill) but unquestionably they're getting less out of the bats than they should. Even with the guys who are performing well, the team can't seem to string hits together enough or in the right spots to plate runs consistently. 4.28 runs per game is middle of the pack in baseball and not what you want out of a team that plays in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
Who has underperformed on offense? Grissom? Rafaella? Cooper? Smith? Maybe. But maybe those guys just suck and/or aren't ready, and we are getting from them more or less what we should expect.

Devers, O'Neill, Casas, Abreu, Duran, Refsnyder, Wong, McGuire, and even David Hamilton have all delivered.
 

Fishy1

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The offense is 100% underperforming. Some of that is due to injury absence (no Story, no Casas, no Yoshida, no O'Neill) but unquestionably they're getting less out of the bats than they should. Even with the guys who are performing well, the team can't seem to string hits together enough or in the right spots to plate runs consistently. 4.28 runs per game is middle of the pack in baseball and not what you want out of a team that plays in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
Team BABIP is above average, but team performance with RISP was miserable most of the season. Gap between bases empty and RISP is now .007, which is better than it was, but till .030 less than league average.

But yeah, agree with pretty much everyone else that the biggest confounding factors is losing several above-average hitters to recurring injuries and the horrifying output they've gotten from second base and Cooper and Smith, who you would've hoped would hit at least around league average while Casas was out.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Who has underperformed on offense? Grissom? Rafaella? Cooper? Smith? Maybe. But maybe those guys just suck and/or aren't ready, and we are getting from them more or less what we should expect.

Devers, O'Neill, Casas, Abreu, Duran, Refsnyder, Wong, McGuire, and even David Hamilton have all delivered.
Only four positions are sporting an OPS+ over 100 right now (C, 3B, LF, RF). A lot of that is the guys that are hurt, but their replacements haven't really come close to league average or even replacement level. Hard to get consistent offense when half the lineup can't be at least replacement level.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Team BABIP is above average, but team performance with RISP was miserable most of the season. Gap between bases empty and RISP is now .007, which is better than it was, but till .030 less than league average.

But yeah, agree with pretty much everyone else that the biggest confounding factors is losing several above-average hitters to recurring injuries and the horrifying output they've gotten from second base and Cooper and Smith, who you would've hoped would hit at least around league average while Casas was out.
I still think they should have tried Kavadas. I know all the 40-man roster stuff but I can't see him performing any worse... and if he does, he seems like a guy the Sox aren't really that interested in protecting or even likely to get claimed. If he does, it's more likely a Dalbec-ian late '21 illusion and he could become trade bait (like Dalbec should have been).
 

Fishy1

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Who has underperformed on offense? Grissom? Rafaella? Cooper? Maybe. But maybe those guys just suck and/or aren't ready.

Devers, O'Neill, Casas, Abreu, Duran, Refsnyder, Wong, McGuire, and even David Hamilton have all delivered.
This is a little silly, dude. O'Neill has missed substantial time, as has Refsnyder, and Casas won't be back for at least another three weeks. How can you possibly say Casas has delivered when he has all of 80 at bats?

Grissom, Valdez, Cooper, and Smith have all massively underperformed their projections. Valdez and Grissom have combined for a wrc+ of like 12. Cooper and Smith for a wrc+ of like 44. The point is not that other guys haven't stepped up (they have!), but that the team has been swamped with injuries to key hitters (some of who are admittedly injury prone) and that they've gotten nothing out of second base or shortstop or first base or DH with Casas, Story, and Yoshida out.

Even assuming that Grissom would come in and struggle (which I certainly didn't assume), all those injuries have meant that rather than 6-9 being Story, Abreu, Grissom and Wong,
it's been Cooper, Smith, Grissom (and Valdez, yuck), and Rafaela, which means that rather than having only one or two players struggling majorly on offense at a time, they've been plagued by four. Of course that's derailed the offense.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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This feels like setting the foundations for a "we'll miss Alex, but we think this team could use a new voice" presser at the end of the season. Suggesting that this team as presently constructed is underperforming is wild to me.



https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-red-sox/2024/05/30/sam-kennedy-boston-red-sox-alex-cora-mlb-baseball/
I’d say ownership and the front office underperformed more than anything. We came into the season with some holes and little depth. Then everyone got hurt. This isn’t on Alex Cora.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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But why is any of that Cora’s fault? The consensus around here on the off-season was that there was zero room for another corner outfield bat and or DH type. That the team has had injuries and that some of the backups have been terrible really should not be surprising, I struggle to see how it is an indictment of Cora at all. Blaming him for the team not hitting with RISP makes about as much sense as crediting him for the teams great pitching.

Overall, is the team really underperforming? Most reasonable expectations had them as an around .500 team, no? Some things have gone well, some have not. That’s usually how it goes. It all adds up to about what was expected.
 

Fishy1

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But why is any of that Cora’s fault? The consensus around here on the off-season was that there was zero room for another corner outfield bat and or DH type. That the team has had injuries and that some of the backups have been terrible really should not be surprising, I struggle to see how it is an indictment of Cora at all. Blaming him for the team not hitting with RISP makes about as much sense as crediting him for the teams great pitching.

Overall, is the team really underperforming? Most reasonable expectations had them as an around .500 team, no? Some things have gone well, some have not. That’s usually how it goes. It all adds up to about what was expected.
Regardless of what we might have expected, I think there's a strong argument to be made for them having had bad luck.

First, there's the fact that they've scored 25 or so more runs than they've allowed, and are yet somehow under .500. They've been tremendous at preventing runs and middling at scoring them. They just haven't really won the close ones. Maybe that's gumption or something, but I really doubt it.

And I would also say way more has gone wrong than has gone right. Wong, Wilyer and Refsnyder have been huge pluses, as has been the pitching. Getting good O'Neill and excellent Devers has been nice.

But there are few teams that can really survive losing three of their starting position players and two starting pitchers expected to soak up major innings for the year. Story only played in 8 games, Casas in 22, and Yoshida for 24. That's devastating. That's a lot of your starters to have out. The Yankees have barely had any injuries, by comparison. Nearly all of their starting position players have been out there for the majority of their games. And looking over the league, that's true of everybody who's winning. Losing a guy for ten days is one thing, but losing two of them for over half your games, another for nearly all of them, and O'Neill for another seventeen. That's brutal. Losing three of your starters will crush a team.

Now would they have been as good as those teams with those guys back? No. But I think they'd solidly be in charge of a wild card spot and headed for playoff baseball.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Saying “as has been the pitching” in terms of things that have gone right for the Sox seems like a massive understatement- nobody had the Sox pitching as being anywhere close to as good as they’ve been.

The Sox players who have gotten significant at bats, save Rafaela, have all been good. Refsnyder better than Yoshida, for example. O’Neill just got hurt, after being absolutely terrible for a month. Casas was obviously the biggest one, I think.

Sure, the Sox would be better in a world where Story and Casas never got hurt, but is that at all realistic?

Yankees have been without a decent SP for the entire year, Gerrit Cole.
 
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CoffeeNerdness

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Kennedy should really stay away from microphones.

“On the other hand, our bats have gone quiet at the wrong time, our defense has not been where it needs to be, and of course, we’ve suffered the loss of guys like Trevor (Story) and Triston (Casas) and Tyler O’Neill now going down. So, that’s not an excuse. It’s on us to stay healthy. That’s part of competing. We’re right at the .500 mark here, 56 games or whatever it is into the season. Got 100-plus games to go. So, we need to get hot.
So from the previous quote posted above, they're underperforming because there's too much talent and competitiveness in the locker room to be .500. On the other hand getting injured is a sign of a lack of competitiveness. I'm sure Trevor Story whose shoulder exploded making diving at a ball loves to hear that his injury was his fault and also shows a lack of competitiveness.

If I'm Cora I'd welcome being fired so I don't have this dope breathing down my neck any longer.

You heard the guy in the big chair, guys. "Stop sucking and get hot!"
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Yeah, seems pretty clear that Kennedy is awful, and every time he opens his mouth, things get worse. Are fans generally upset about the way this year is going? I don’t really see it. I imagine many were not interested going in to the year, but for those who have- it’s actually a young team filled with guys who should be here a while. There’s plenty of reasons to tune into each game- why not sell that instead of getting all negative, Sam?
 

Fishy1

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Saying “as has been the pitching” in terms of things that have gone right for the Sox seems like a massive understatement- nobody had the Sox pitching as being anywhere close to as good as they’ve been.

The Sox players who have gotten significant at bats, save Rafaela, have all been good. Refsnyder better than Yoshida, for example. O’Neill just got hurt, after being absolutely terrible for a month. Casas was obviously the biggest one, I think.

Sure, the Sox would be better in a world where Story and Casas never got hurt, but is that at all realistic?

Yankees have been without a decent SP for the entire year, Gerrit Cole.
Let me try to clarify. No doubt, the pitching has been fantastic. But that's largely been a level-up in skill and things coming together for their guys rather than luck, I would argue. This is the distinction i'm trying to make: the luck with regard to injuries has been brutal, even as things have gone right for the team. If they'd had better luck with injuries, they'd be more competitive. We're not saying the Orioles are lucky because Gunnar Henderson is posting an OPS+ of 171 after being at just 125 last year, are we? No, the guy has been on a titanic tear. Nor are we saying that they're lucky that Jordan Westburg is giving them an OPS+ of 150. He was that kind of guy in the minors, and things have come together for him.

But when your starting shortstop goes down with a shoulder injury that puts him out for a year from diving for a groundball, and your first baseman tears some cartilage swing a baseball bat, and your DH, who isn't a worldbeater but IS an above average bat, goes down for 30 games from a hit-by-pitch... and then your third baseman and left fielder collide in the outfield, putting both of them out for a chunk of time -- that's not a question of performance any longer, cause the guys aren't on the field anymore. You can argue, I guess, if that's luck or some sort of injury proneness, or whatever, but the problem is not that the team is just plain dogshit when a bunch of the guys aren't even available.

All I'm trying to say is that with health this team, given the performances they've gotten, would be much better than they have been.
 

Daniel_Son

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I think this kind of boils down to how you define "underperform," right? Like there a difference between the team having significant injuries to their projected starters vs the regular starters not performing as well as expected. I think we fall a little more into the former category than the latter.
 

grimshaw

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Steamer is projecting drops from the following by x amount of wRC+:

Refsnyder - 50
Wong - 37
Abreu - 24
O'Neill - 19
Hamilton - 18
McGuire - 15
Raffy - 10
Duran - 6

And increases from the following
Grissom +102
Smith +50
Rafaela +30
Cooper +24
Romy +13

The problem with the underperforming guys is that two of them are scrap heap guys who may just be done and two are rookies.
The offense will obviously get a lot better when Casas and Yoshida are back but I'm not holding my breath that there will be much improvement before then.
 

nattysez

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Boston has four significant offensive players out: Story (gone for the year), Casas, Yoshida (for all our complaints, still an above-average hitter), and O'Neill. The backups are trying, but that's a lot to overcome. Hopefully they get the last three of them back, which should really help matters.
Yoshida wasn't playing even when healthy and O'Neill is well-known for his injury issues, so assuming either of those guys would "save the offense" was a mistake. Additionally, Story was a well-below-average offensive player so far this season, so I think it's up for debate whether his loss was addition by subtraction. There's a non-zero chance we would've been clamoring for David Hamilton or Rafaela to get more starts at SS if Story had stayed healthy.

I'm not sure what purpose it serves for Kennedy to do these radio hits. Is anyone in Boston interested in hearing more from him? Are these hits supposed to reduce everyone's interest in hearing from John Henry?
 

chrisfont9

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Kennedy should really stay away from microphones.



So from the previous quote posted above, they're underperforming because there's too much talent and competitiveness in the locker room to be .500. On the other hand getting injured is a sign of a lack of competitiveness. I'm sure Trevor Story whose shoulder exploded making diving at a ball loves to hear that his injury was his fault and also shows a lack of competitiveness.

If I'm Cora I'd welcome being fired so I don't have this dope breathing down my neck any longer.

You heard the guy in the big chair, guys. "Stop sucking and get hot!"
Why does anyone give a shit what Kennedy says? Does Cora talk to him more than once a month? His quotes are about on par with any coach these days talking about injuries, contracts, etc. -- in that they will never ever give you any real information, which makes anything they say a complete waste of time. I know he seems to push people's buttons, but he's not that hard to tune out.

And before you say "he's the team president, they have to care!" I would guess there are very very few players whose roster spot depends on getting along with Sam. You aren't benching Wilyer because he "whatever"-ed Kennedy.
 

simplicio

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Yoshida wasn't playing even when healthy
That's not true. He was out for one game on 4/21, then his spot was co-opted by O'Neill and Devers returning from injury for 4 games (and he pinch hit in two of them) 4/23-26, then he was back at regular DH until getting pulled due to injury 4/28.
 

Rovin Romine

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I think this kind of boils down to how you define "underperform," right? Like there a difference between the team having significant injuries to their projected starters vs the regular starters not performing as well as expected. I think we fall a little more into the former category than the latter.
I think it's understood that if significant starters go down, the team won't play at that level until they return. But also, it's incumbent on (someone) to make sure the replacements are, well, not the poorest performers in the league.

So, maybe some of that goes on Breslow, but Cooper (for example) has been an average-at-worst hitter for his career and was hitting well until he got here. His OPS+ was 120 with the Cubs and it's 43 for the Sox.

Cooper, Valdez, Rafaela, Smith, Grissom, Reyes, Dalbec. It's not great.

At some point Cora and his staff have to straighten out guys like that or tell Breslow they must cut-bait. And it's hard to see where they do either of those things well. You can put Yoshida and Casas's slow starts in that category as well.

I know it's not like flipping a switch and making an adjustment, but they seem to have a lot of broken toys who do OK elsewhere or in the minors. (Sort of like we viewed our pitching staff last year.)

I think our one success is Hamilton, who hit between .700 and .800 OPS in the minors. He's at .730 now after 95 PAs. Success being a transition into ML pitching close to expectations.
 

Auger34

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Yeah, seems pretty clear that Kennedy is awful, and every time he opens his mouth, things get worse. Are fans generally upset about the way this year is going? I don’t really see it. I imagine many were not interested going in to the year, but for those who have- it’s actually a young team filled with guys who should be here a while. There’s plenty of reasons to tune into each game- why not sell that instead of getting all negative, Sam?
I was going to post something similar. Kennedy’s quote is not only stupid but it’s all over the place (as Cora himself said)
 

chrisfont9

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For those tracking the offseason that never was, Jordan Montgomery got lit up by the Mets today. I think we could have some lasting regret around not grabbing another RHH but the pitching decisions are looking good in hindsight. Well, maybe they could have tried a little harder on Lugo, but otherwise whew.
 

HfxBob

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For those tracking the offseason that never was, Jordan Montgomery got lit up by the Mets today. I think we could have some lasting regret around not grabbing another RHH but the pitching decisions are looking good in hindsight. Well, maybe they could have tried a little harder on Lugo, but otherwise whew.
Some other 'hypothetically potential acquisitions' are also doing well-Gray, Imanaga, Stroman. I guess Yamamoto and Nola weren't even hypothetically potential.

Would be interesting to see a summary of how they're doing as a group.
 

HfxBob

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Kennedy should really stay away from microphones.



So from the previous quote posted above, they're underperforming because there's too much talent and competitiveness in the locker room to be .500. On the other hand getting injured is a sign of a lack of competitiveness. I'm sure Trevor Story whose shoulder exploded making diving at a ball loves to hear that his injury was his fault and also shows a lack of competitiveness.

If I'm Cora I'd welcome being fired so I don't have this dope breathing down my neck any longer.

You heard the guy in the big chair, guys. "Stop sucking and get hot!"
Hey, I hear the rallying cry in the clubhouse before last night's game was "Let's win this for Sammy!" :D

I don't think Kennedy is so stupid that he actually believes staying healthy is part of having a competitive spirit. But he manages to make himself sound exactly that stupid. The guy needs to take some courses in public speaking or something.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Some other 'hypothetically potential acquisitions' are also doing well-Gray, Imanaga, Stroman. I guess Yamamoto and Nola weren't even hypothetically potential.

Would be interesting to see a summary of how they're doing as a group.
Lugo, Imanaga I think we’re the only two real possibilities. Gray was determined to play for St. Louis and Stroman was anti-Red Sox.
Yeah sure I’m sure a few extra million could possibly have convinced them (maybe not though).
Possibly Flaherty too
 

Yo La Tengo

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Lugo, Imanaga I think we’re the only two real possibilities. Gray was determined to play for St. Louis and Stroman was anti-Red Sox.
Yeah sure I’m sure a few extra million could possibly have convinced them (maybe not though).
Possibly Flaherty too
Lugo signed really early and it seems like Imanaga had his heart set on playing in Chicago. But both of those guys would obviously look great on the Sox right now. Other than Montgomery, the other name that I had hoped the Sox would sign in Michael Lorenzen. He's started 8 games for the Rangers thus far, with a 3.35 ERA and 1.18 WHIP (xERA is higher at 4.35). Signed a $4.5 million dollar deal with some modest incentives.
EDIT: I was not high on Flaherty, and was surprised Detroit gave him that $14 million dollar deal, but he's been great through the first third of the season.
 

grimshaw

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Lugo signed really early and it seems like Imanaga had his heart set on playing in Chicago. But both of those guys would obviously look great on the Sox right now. Other than Montgomery, the other name that I had hoped the Sox would sign in Michael Lorenzen. He's started 8 games for the Rangers thus far, with a 3.35 ERA and 1.18 WHIP (xERA is higher at 4.35). Signed a $4.5 million dollar deal with some modest incentives.
EDIT: I was not high on Flaherty, and was surprised Detroit gave him that $14 million dollar deal, but he's been great through the first third of the season.
Not according to this article. https://sportsnaut.com/boston-red-sox-news-shota-imanaga-concern/
The Sox knew what the number was and didn't pull the trigger. Now if he gets a long term injury before the end of the season, then their medical concerns would be validated but that was a definitely a major swing and miss.
 

jon abbey

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Not according to this article. https://sportsnaut.com/boston-red-sox-news-shota-imanaga-concern/
The Sox knew what the number was and didn't pull the trigger. Now if he gets a long term injury before the end of the season, then their medical concerns would be validated but that was a definitely a major swing and miss.
Imanaga has pitched on extra rest almost every start so far and he got hammered in his most recent one. I’d give it at least another month or so before saying ‘definitely’.
 

grimshaw

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Imanaga has pitched on extra rest almost every start so far and he got hammered in his most recent one. I’d give it at least another month or so before saying ‘definitely’.
OK on the definitely part but getting hammered in one start brought his ERA up to 1.86 and he's being paid 13.5 mill a year and already earned that this season.
 

chrisfont9

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Some other 'hypothetically potential acquisitions' are also doing well-Gray, Imanaga, Stroman. I guess Yamamoto and Nola weren't even hypothetically potential.

Would be interesting to see a summary of how they're doing as a group.
Yeah, I'm not tracking Yamamoto or Nola. Were the Sox ever in on Imanaga? Hard to know what to believe there. He had a rough one vs the Brewers this week. Maybe we shouldn't feel terrible about that series.
 

loneredseat

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When Christian Vazquez was with us he was my favorite current player on the team. But what a trade! I'm officially on team Valdez.