Might as well start talking about 2021

Red(s)HawksFan

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Springs was DFA'd yesterday for Sawamura. I guess the Rays claimed both?
DFA doesn't necessarily involve waivers. The team has seven days after removing the player from the 40-man roster to trade or release/outright him. Waivers are needed for release/outright, but not to trade.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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Mazza was already DFA. Springs is flotsam. Hernandez gives them a 4th catcher on the 40-man. Seems like a reasonable move to me.
Exactly. You do 3-5 of these moves every year. They cost nothing. Maybe, in a 3 year span, 1 or 2 work out. Maybe you end up with a MLB regular. Tampa does this stuff as a mater of necessity. DD didn’t do it, as he didn’t see the need, and our farm system suffered. Let’s see where Bloom has us by 2023. I think he’s heading down the Dodgers’ path.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Hernandez might be slightly more important as Plawicki has gone onto the COVID restricted list.
I think Plawecki's COVID listing is an expedient means to an end with the roster. He'll likely be re-activated in a week or so when they can add Sale to the 60-day IL. Hernandez is hardly a solution to fill in for Plawecki if he's out of commission long-term. Not when there are veterans like Matt Wieters and Tyler Flowers available in free agency.
 

oumbi

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nm. I was asking about Hernandez, but I see now a thread for him exists. I will post there.
 

nvalvo

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Would someone please let me know their thoughts on the trade for Hernandez. Just quickly looking at stats, it seems that the Red Sox are moving a pair of poor pitchers, one of whom is 31, for a young catcher who seems able to hit. I do not know why Tampa would make this trade.

In the minors so far, Hernandez' slash line is .293/.345/.457 for an OPS of .802. It would appear based on his hitting that he would be the top ranked catching prospect in the minor league system.

I did not see anything about his defense though. So, I seek insights from other posters here.
Summarizing from the other thread, it seems like Bloom may have been aware of a coming 40-man crunch in Tampa Bay, as a glut of catching prospects will soon need to be rostered. Hernandez would be — depending on the mixed assessments of his defense; sounds like the framing is poor but the arm is good — our best catching prospect, ahead of Wong and... Rei, I guess? But in Tampa Bay, they have Heriberto Hernandez, who's definitely better, and Blake Hunt, who might be.

Meanwhile, we had a bunch of pitching raw materials sitting on the 40-man after last season with interesting velocity/spin skills, but not much in the way of results yet. Mazza looked promising as a depth option. Springs... did not. But the Rays seem to value a similar set of raw tools in a pitcher that we do, and they want to get these guys in the lab and see what they can do with them.

I think it's the sort of deal that a team can take advantage of when they have dreck on their 40-man roster they don't mind replacing with more promising players from another team that can't fit them.
 

nvalvo

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Schreiber has been terrible in ~30 major league innings, but pretty great in the minors. 1.99 ERA in 204 IP; K/9 over 10; BB/9 under 3; WHIP under 1.

Worth a shot.
 

bohous

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Schreiber has been terrible in ~30 major league innings, but pretty great in the minors. 1.99 ERA in 204 IP; K/9 over 10; BB/9 under 3; WHIP under 1.

Worth a shot.
Yeah, seems like a high upside project. He also had pretty drastic MLB home/away split. He was terrible at Comerica.

Home: 18.2IP 8.20 ERA 17ER 5HR
Away: 10IP 2.70 ERA 3ER 0HR

Edit for clarity
 
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joe dokes

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One odd set of numbers among an otherwise stellar minor league stat line: in 3 different seasons he had a pretty large R/ER divide (14/9; 25/16; 24/17). Total 68/45 for his 204 MiL IP.
I have no idea what (if anything) that means.
 

Rwillh11

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One odd set of numbers among an otherwise stellar minor league stat line: in 3 different seasons he had a pretty large R/ER divide (14/9; 25/16; 24/17). Total 68/45 for his 204 MiL IP.
I have no idea what (if anything) that means.
Other than in 2019, his FIP and xFIP pretty closely matches his ERA, so it doesn't seem like he was overly lucky.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Edit: moved this post to the spring training thread, because it seems like there are a ton of decisions that are going to be made based on evaluation during spring training.
 
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chawson

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Seems like a ROOGY.
That delivery looks a bit like Brice’s and this scouting report says he was tough on RHBs in the minors, comparing him to Darren O’Day.

Oddly enough it hasn’t played out that way in MLB. He’s held lefties to a very good .282 xwOBA, due largely to a changeup with exceptional drop, and right-handed batters to a roughly average .336 xwOBA (in 28 IP). He was also pretty unlucky in Detroit, allowing a .370 BABIP (25th highest of 568 pitchers) despite holding hitters to a slightly below average exit velocity (88.3 mph, 308th highest of 568).

Not a name I’d have expected to make our 40-man roster but Bloom clearly sees something he likes, and I think this kind of thing is more interesting than signing Cishek or something.
 

nvalvo

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That delivery looks a bit like Brice’s and this scouting report says he was tough on RHBs in the minors, comparing him to Darren O’Day.

Oddly enough it hasn’t played out that way in MLB. He’s held lefties to a very good .282 xwOBA, due largely to a changeup with exceptional drop, and right-handed batters to a roughly average .336 xwOBA (in 28 IP). He was also pretty unlucky in Detroit, allowing a .370 BABIP (25th highest of 568 pitchers) despite holding hitters to a slightly below average exit velocity (88.3 mph, 308th highest of 568).

Not a name I’d have expected to make our 40-man roster but Bloom clearly sees something he likes, and I think this kind of thing is more interesting than signing Cishek or something.
TB in recent years has liked to have a bullpen with a ton of different arm slots, which people have suggested allows them to scout batters (probably just by running queries against massive samples of PitchFX data) for which arm slots they struggle with, and match up accordingly. It's an interesting idea.
 

jon abbey

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View: https://twitter.com/chriscotillo/status/1361853282394734594?s=21


Heller still has an option remaining and he’s gotta be better than at least one of Walden, Brewer or Brice. Very hard thrower the Yanks got in the Andrew Miller trade. Struck out a ton in the minors then had Tommy John surgery at the start of 2018 and has only pitched 13 major league innings since. He’s 29 and under team control for three more seasons.
View: https://twitter.com/byrobertmurray/status/1363203448527867905?s=21
 

Tuff Ghost

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Garrett Richards interests me. He has great velocity and elite spin rate, but a terrible injury history (has not thrown 80+ innings since 2015) and somewhat mediocre results to show for his 51 innings pitched last season. I've been trying to get my head around what he can bring, if healthy.

In 2015, he had an xERA of 3.64 and xwOBA against of .304, then in 2020 he had an xERA and xwOBA of 4.55 and .315 respectively. He was striking out batters at a similar rate (20.3% in 2015, 21.6% in 2020) and walking a similar number (8.8% in 2015, 8.0% in 2020). In fact, 2020 saw minor improvements in both. Regardless, his numbers were worse because he gave up more line drives and less ground balls.

I noticed a few things:
  1. In 2015, he had a cutter classified among his pitches, which seems to be his 4-seamer with a little more movement. It is not clear if he intentionally threw it as a separate pitch, or if it was a pitch classification thing that divided his 4-seamers into two buckets
  2. In 2020, he has noticeably less movement on his 4-seamer and no longer has any pitches being classified as a cutter.
  3. He throws middle-middle probably a bit too much
  4. He used to be a ground ball pitcher, but that has drastically changed between 2015 and 2020
1. 2015: The 4-Seamer and Cutter
In 2015, he had a lot more horizontal movement on his 4-seam pitches, one classified as a 4-seam fastball, the other a cutter. It's not clear if the cutter was truly a separate pitch or just his 4-seam fastballs that had a bit extra movement on them. (The movement values are the Statcast values, which include gravity.)

Year Pitch MPH Spin Vert.Movement Horz.Movement
2015 4-Seam Fastball 96.4 mph 2507 17.6" 2.2"
2015 Cutter 95.7 mph 2437 19.5" 2.8"

2. 2020 4-Seamer- Less Horizontal Movement
As of 2020, he has more spin than ever on his 4-seam fastball, but the horizontal movement has drastically decreased versus 2015 (around 1.9" to 2.5" less). He still threw hard, but his velocity was down about a mph. Batters missed his 4-seamer less than 2015 (15% whiff rate in 2020, versus a 19.3% whiff rate on his 2015 4-seamer and 17.6% whiff rate on his 2015 cutter), and they got better results as shown by the xwOBA (.351 in 2020, .321 in 2015 on the 4-seam fastball, and .324 in 2015 on the cutter).

Year Pitch MPH Spin Vert.Movement Horz.Movement
2020 4-Seam Fastball 95.1 mph 2626 19.5" 0.3"

3. Middle-Middle
He seems to throw in the zone slightly more than league average and on the edge slightly less than league average. He is throwing middle-middle more often than average with a meatball % of 8.6%. He was similar in 2015, but hitters swung less often at them back then. Perhaps his increased movement in 2015 made it harder to pick up on the middle-middle pitches, but now with the loss of horizontal movement, they can pick it up. If he throws about 100 pitches in a start, there would be 6.5 times that a batter swings at a meatball based on his 2020 rates. Plenty of chances for mistakes to occur. It would be nice if he could find a way to live less in the zone and work the edges better, even if it features an increase to his walk rate (easier said than done).

Year Zone% Edge% Meatball% Meatball Swing %
2015 49.1% 41.4% 8.1% 65.2%
2020 49.5% 41.8% 8.6% 75.0%
MLB Ave. 48.4% 42.6% 7.2% 75.1%

4. Ground Ball / Fly Ball / Line Drive Rates
Back in 2015, his ground ball rate was about 15% higher. Unfortunately, many of those ground balls are now line drives (10% more line drives). He went from giving up a solid 5.1% barrels in 2015 (below league average of 6.4%) to allowing 8.8% barrels in 2020.
Year GB% FB% LD%
2015 56.4% 15.1% 21.9%
2020 41.2% 20.3% 31.8%
MLB Ave. 45.3% 22.0% 25.7%


Summary / TLDR:
Outside of his health issues, his loss of horizontal movement on his 4-seamer, plus a high percentage of middle-middle pitches, seems to have led to an increased barrel % (and lowered ground ball %). Maybe he'll finally get a healthy year and have a chance to find some consistency, but it seems like his high velocity and elite spin rate are more likely to simply be a tease than something that unlocks a huge year. I hope he puts it together, but the odds seem a little long based on the past 5 years.
 

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I'm confused by the absence of Sale on the list. When he comes back, they get rid of Player to be Sent Down?
I see now that he is on the 60-day. When is the rosiest projection of the date of his return?
Probably June. I'm assuming he's back after the all star break and if he comes back sooner, bonus.
 

KingChre

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TB in recent years has liked to have a bullpen with a ton of different arm slots, which people have suggested allows them to scout batters (probably just by running queries against massive samples of PitchFX data) for which arm slots they struggle with, and match up accordingly. It's an interesting idea.
I can't find any articles to support this, but was this not Kevin Towers' strategy when it came to building all those great bullpens for the Padres in the early 2000s? I seem to recall that was his goal.

It certainly makes sense in theory but it's interesting to see the math behind it.
 

allmanbro

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I can't find any articles to support this, but was this not Kevin Towers' strategy when it came to building all those great bullpens for the Padres in the early 2000s? I seem to recall that was his goal.

It certainly makes sense in theory but it's interesting to see the math behind it.
Is it really about playing matchups, or is it just about making sure hitters have to adjust to a different release point each time they come up? It seems plausible that some hitters have pronounced arm-angle splits, but I can't find anything on that. Even if it's just about variety, it makes sense.
 

Tuff Ghost

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I was thinking about an excerpt from The MVP Machine, in which there is discussion of Bannister's work when he was with the Sox. It reads:

[A team] can automate much of the process of finding players who are ripe for repackaging. A program combining machine learning and basic artificial intelligence can comb through data on mechanics and pitch characteristics and flag anything that seems suboptimal: a great pitch that's barely being thrown, or an underperforming pitch with high spin but poor spin efficiency, which Bannister compares to a car with a powerful engine but bald tires.​

The bolded line just screams Garrett Richards. He has 97th percentile spin on his fastball, but it only has 59% active spin. Active spin measures the transverse spin, which actually contributes to the movement of the ball (versus gyroscopic spin which does not contribute to movement, but acts more like throwing a football with a spiral).

That led me to the list of the lowest active spin % of fastballs in MLB last year and the number of Sox related players (on the team this year or last year) jumps out quite distinctly:
  1. John Schreiber, 29.8%
  2. Garrett Richards, 49.7%
  3. Kyle Ryan, 49.8%
  4. Ryne Harper, 50.9%
  5. Marcus Walden, 51.1% (he's more reliant on a cutter)
  6. Josh Osich, 53%
  7. Johan Oviedo, 53.1%
  8. Darwinzon Hernandez, 55.4%
  9. Mike Kickham, 55.7% (barely threw fastballs)
  10. Dellin Betances, 56%
  11. Chi Chi Gonzalez, 56.7%
  12. Ramon Rosso, 57.1%
  13. Matt Hall, 57.2%
  14. Max Fried, 58.3%
  15. Brent Suter, 58.3%
  16. Daniel Castano, 58.4%
  17. Mike Minor, 58.9%
  18. Tanner Houck, 58.9%
To have associations with 7 out of the top 18 pitchers with the lowest active spin % on their fastball and acquiring the top 2 in the same offseason certainly says something. I do not know if they think they can fix this or if they think teams that are now so obsessed with spin rate that these players are being undervalued, or maybe they've just had a suboptimal bunch of pitchers.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on Richards (and others) to see if there are any notable changes in active spin % this year.
 

KingChre

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I was thinking about an excerpt from The MVP Machine, in which there is discussion of Bannister's work when he was with the Sox. It reads:

[A team] can automate much of the process of finding players who are ripe for repackaging. A program combining machine learning and basic artificial intelligence can comb through data on mechanics and pitch characteristics and flag anything that seems suboptimal: a great pitch that's barely being thrown, or an underperforming pitch with high spin but poor spin efficiency, which Bannister compares to a car with a powerful engine but bald tires.​

The bolded line just screams Garrett Richards. He has 97th percentile spin on his fastball, but it only has 59% active spin. Active spin measures the transverse spin, which actually contributes to the movement of the ball (versus gyroscopic spin which does not contribute to movement, but acts more like throwing a football with a spiral).

That led me to the list of the lowest active spin % of fastballs in MLB last year and the number of Sox related players (on the team this year or last year) jumps out quite distinctly:
  1. John Schreiber, 29.8%
  2. Garrett Richards, 49.7%
  3. Kyle Ryan, 49.8%
  4. Ryne Harper, 50.9%
  5. Marcus Walden, 51.1% (he's more reliant on a cutter)
  6. Josh Osich, 53%
  7. Johan Oviedo, 53.1%
  8. Darwinzon Hernandez, 55.4%
  9. Mike Kickham, 55.7% (barely threw fastballs)
  10. Dellin Betances, 56%
  11. Chi Chi Gonzalez, 56.7%
  12. Ramon Rosso, 57.1%
  13. Matt Hall, 57.2%
  14. Max Fried, 58.3%
  15. Brent Suter, 58.3%
  16. Daniel Castano, 58.4%
  17. Mike Minor, 58.9%
  18. Tanner Houck, 58.9%
To have associations with 7 out of the top 18 pitchers with the lowest active spin % on their fastball and acquiring the top 2 in the same offseason certainly says something. I do not know if they think they can fix this or if they think teams that are now so obsessed with spin rate that these players are being undervalued, or maybe they've just had a suboptimal bunch of pitchers.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on Richards (and others) to see if there are any notable changes in active spin % this year.
This is just fantastic, thank you for posting.

Just a quick mention that they had Osich up until the deadline as well! This is very interesting. That can't be an accident.

I would love to find some examples of similar pitchers from the past that were able to optimize their transverse spin.
 

KingChre

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Is it really about playing matchups, or is it just about making sure hitters have to adjust to a different release point each time they come up? It seems plausible that some hitters have pronounced arm-angle splits, but I can't find anything on that. Even if it's just about variety, it makes sense.
I had the same thought actually. Towers certainly didn't have access to the advanced statistics back then (and probably wouldn't have used them if he had, he was very pro-traditional scouting).

This could be one of those occasions where analytics and traditional scouting came to the same conclusion but for different reasons perhaps.
 

azsoxpatsfan

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This is just fantastic, thank you for posting.

Just a quick mention that they had Osich up until the deadline as well! This is very interesting. That can't be an accident.

I would love to find some examples of similar pitchers from the past that were able to optimize their transverse spin.
I was trying to find data on this, but for whatever reason Baseball Savant doesn't give you the option to compare active spin rates year to year. Just quickly glancing at the list, plenty of guys increased from 2019-2020 by anywhere from 5-9%, but for a guy like Schrieber to even get into the top half, he'd have to increase by like 62% on his fastball. Honestly, that 29.8% is just mindblowing wrt how much wasted spin he has. If Bloom thinks they've found some adjustments to make that can drastically increase the ratio of spin/active spin, it could be extremely fascinating to see how it plays out
 

nvalvo

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This is just fantastic, thank you for posting.

Just a quick mention that they had Osich up until the deadline as well! This is very interesting. That can't be an accident.

I would love to find some examples of similar pitchers from the past that were able to optimize their transverse spin.
This should probably be in the minor league forum, but speaking of Osich, the PTBNL we got from the Cubs for him has now been N'd:

He's a 22 year old RHRP who reached A ball in 2019 and did pretty well there, named Zach Bryant. (Cue jokes about how we got Bryant from the Cubs...)

 

NomarsFool

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JBJ is still out there, right? It certainly seems like the Sox need another outfielder, no? Can Franchy Cordero really be considered the starter?
 

pokey_reese

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JBJ is still out there, right? It certainly seems like the Sox need another outfielder, no? Can Franchy Cordero really be considered the starter?
At least Cordero was supposed to be part of a platoon, right? Verdugo is set, Kiké can play CF, and then Renfroe + anyone if Cordero isn't ready to go. The flexibility of Marwin, plus the winner of Chavis/Arroyo, basically means that Kiké can be the full-time CF if we need him to.

...or did you mean that Cordero is bad?
 

nvalvo

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Cordero might start out as part of a platoon, but I hope he'll get a ton of PA. He's only had 350ish PA in the majors because of all of the injuries. People declaring him a platoon player based on the 72 PA big league sample against LHP are jumping the gun in my view, especially since he was pretty much fine against lefties in the minors.

His power/speed combo gives him superstar upside, especially considering the recent flashes of improved plate discipline he has shown. I really hope that in this dicey year where we're not obviously contending the team gives him some real playing time. If we're giving OF plate appearances to JD Martinez or Michael Chavis over Cordero, that isn't great.