Spring Training 2021

Niastri

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I know you couldn't know, but I had good reason. My wife was diagnosed with lung cancer that February and she passed away on July 1 when we got beat bad by the Yankees to fall into a tie for first place. All the really great things happened after that while I was in a massive depression and couldn't enjoy anything. I was terrified by the Yankee series because my wife hated losing to them like you wouldn't believe and had we lost, I don't know how deep a hell I'd have been in.

And now, back to the banter.
I got rather teary eyed reading your post. It really made me remember both how much and how little baseball matters.

Glad you are feeling a little excitement after such a dark time, Rasputin.
 

The Gray Eagle

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I know you couldn't know, but I had good reason. My wife was diagnosed with lung cancer that February and she passed away on July 1 when we got beat bad by the Yankees to fall into a tie for first place. All the really great things happened after that while I was in a massive depression and couldn't enjoy anything. I was terrified by the Yankee series because my wife hated losing to them like you wouldn't believe and had we lost, I don't know how deep a hell I'd have been in.

And now, back to the banter.
Wow that is awful, so sorry to hear about that. Condolences. And agreed that it's great to hear that you're getting excited for baseball again. I hope the Sox have an unexpectedly great year even more now.
 

Rasputin

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Sorry, Ras. Honestly I feel a little better about NY losing that series now.
I see what you're doing. You're trying to make me think Yankee fans are real people, BUT IT WILL NOT WORK!

I'll just say thanks and we can nod at each other when we pass in the street like acquaintances that don't entirely get along.
 

BillMuellerFanClub

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Interesting look at the Sox approach to defense in the 2021 season in a new article from Chad Jennings in the Athletic today. As someone who wanted Chaim to pick his guy, the Cora reunion felt a little underwhelming. However, this is a nice reminder that AC is a quality manager that will at least put the team in the best possible position to succeed. Here are a few excerpts:

On the very day he was reintroduced as Red Sox manager, Alex Cora talked about the need to play faster, not only on the bases but also in the field and especially in the infield. He wanted a greater sense of urgency, quicker reactions and athletes making plays in real time. It sounded great in theory, but how could the Red Sox quicken the pace in the real world?

Like so many other things, it starts in a lab.

The Red Sox are using that word to describe their new approach to defensive drills in spring training. They’ve designed a laboratory of small, focused drills to improve first-step quickness and create better angles. They’re trying to apply faster tags and commit more fully to relays. They have one field specifically designated for infield practice, and they’ve taken down nets in the batting cage to create a “hand activation” center where players start their days by fielding grounders on their knees to hone their defensive movements, just like they would hone their swings.
According to Outs Above Average, the Red Sox ranked 26th, 25th, 14th and 28th in the majors in infield defense those four years. It is notable, of course, that they won a championship the year they ranked 25th — they can be a good team without being dazzling in that area — but the issue remains: infield defense has been a weakness.
For now, it starts in the same cage where hitters typically take early swings. Febles and other coaches have now taken control of a few hitting tunnels for a daily ritual of small, basic movements. Infielders start on their knees and field 15 groundballs right at them. Then they field 15 to the forehand side and 15 backhand. Then they stand up and go through the same sequence. That’s the hand activation, and it’s always the first defensive drill of the day. The Red Sox will gradually add more to those activation drills as spring training progresses.

Afterward, the team is still doing the standard team fielding drills — multiple fielders together for groundballs, turning double plays and working on relays, standard teamwork stuff — but the Red Sox have stressed that each of those groundballs should be taken at game speed. Throws to the bases should happen at full intensity. Febles said he won’t do more than 22 groundballs at a time, so he expects maximum effort on each one.

“We talked to the guys Sunday night about that,” Febles said. “Things are going to change a little bit. We’re going to ask guys to do a little more. … Every time you step on the field, it’s going to be game-like.”
 

Rasputin

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Every time you step on the field, it’s going to be game-like.
Remember when Butch Effing Hobson was named manager and people started saying there was going to be a football mentality about spring training? I think this is the real world version of that deluded fantasy and, frankly, I love to see it.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Spring training updates:
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/02/23/sports/dustin-pedroia-gets-be-part-red-sox-kickoff-meeting/
Franchy will have to quarantine for at least 10 days due to Covid contact. Not a good start for a guy who has played so little.

He will have to be isolated for a minimum of 10 days, and be cleared by a team physician and MLB’s COVID-19 Joint Health and Safety Committee, before rejoining the team.
Cordero also will undergo a cardiac evaluation as part of that process.
Vazquez is... in the best shape of his life!
Christian Vázquez
had a productive offseason based on his appearance, having added some muscle. Cora pronounced his catcher was — wait for it — in the best shape of his life. Vázquez worked out in the Miami area, and incorporated Rapsodo and other technology to guide his workouts and the areas he wanted to improve. He is in the final year of his contract, with the team holding a $7 million option for 2022.
Tomorrow's workout will be shown on NESN:
The Sox will have an evening workout on Wednesday that will air at 7 p.m. live on NESN.
 

edoug

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@edoug has a useful post in the Spring Training Games thread. It looks as though a complete list of the televised games will be out soon.
Thanks.
I wonder what the delay in announcing the broadcast schedule means? They usually have that info up by Mid-February. It probably doesn't mean anything but they may be doing something different this year.
 

MuzzyField

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I would expect less TV games this spring across the board.

I might be imagining this, but NESN seems to have been cutting back on spring coverage for several years even without COVID.

If NESN is saying 10 games, I'd bet several of the 10 will be away with the away video feed, maybe NESN announcers from HQ (so they can hit all the in-game commercial copy) and NESN graphics.

You might be able to figure out a tentative schedule from what MLB Network is planning to replay. Also any live ESPN or MLB Network slots with the Sox in them might help fill in some blanks. I'm not sure this team as currently constructed is screaming for national TV slots, but they do play the Yankees.
 

edoug

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I would expect less TV games this spring across the board.

I might be imagining this, but NESN seems to have been cutting back on spring coverage for several years even without COVID.

If NESN is saying 10 games, I'd bet several of the 10 will be away with the away video feed, maybe NESN announcers from HQ (so they can hit all the in-game commercial copy) and NESN graphics.

You might be able to figure out a tentative schedule from what MLB Network is planning to replay. Also any live ESPN or MLB Network slots with the Sox in them might help fill in some blanks. I'm not sure this team as currently constructed is screaming for national TV slots, but they do play the Yankees.
Yeah, pretty much this. Hopefully the Sox play deep into October. They definitely get their games shown then. I'm not convinced that's going to happen but am a bit more optimistic than I was a few months ago.
 

nvalvo

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Additionally, Fox Sports North, home of the Twins, will broadcast games on March 3rd and March 11th.

So, unfortunately nothing for Sunday that I can find.
 

Ale Xander

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Additionally, Fox Sports North, home of the Twins, will broadcast games on March 3rd and March 11th.

So, unfortunately nothing for Sunday that I can find.
Thanks!!! confirmed on my DVR.
For those that have directv, that's channel 668. (FSNorth+ would be 668-2)
 

DJnVa

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Sale wants to retire in Boston

Chris Sale Says He Wants to Retire with Red Sox: 'I Have Nowhere Else to Go' | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

"One hundred percent. I have nowhere else to go. I have nowhere else to be. This place is top-notch. They're unbelievable. I like it here. I love it here. I feel comfortable here. They take care of me. They take care of my family. And we win. Check the books, man. Check the books. We win. That's what we're here to do and that's what we do a lot of. I would like to get back to that."
 

DJnVa

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I know you couldn't know, but I had good reason. My wife was diagnosed with lung cancer that February and she passed away on July 1 when we got beat bad by the Yankees to fall into a tie for first place. All the really great things happened after that while I was in a massive depression and couldn't enjoy anything. I was terrified by the Yankee series because my wife hated losing to them like you wouldn't believe and had we lost, I don't know how deep a hell I'd have been in.

And now, back to the banter.
Sorry for what you went through.

Welcome back.
 

joe dokes

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Jul 18, 2005
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He’s signed for multiple years. He’s been deteriorating in front of our eyes for several.

This is very likely.
Hopefully not in July 2021.
I kid. Sort of.
Being the cynical old man that I am, I rarely find sincerity in players' comments like his. But I think Sale actually does feel a little guilty about taking money and not playing. Of course, no amount of guilted motivation will help if his arm is FUBAR.
 

brandonchristensen

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Hopefully not in July 2021.
I kid. Sort of.
Being the cynical old man that I am, I rarely find sincerity in players' comments like his. But I think Sale actually does feel a little guilty about taking money and not playing. Of course, no amount of guilted motivation will help if his arm is FUBAR.
I would be devastated to be a bench warmer and collect close to $30M a year.
 

The Gray Eagle

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X has been shut down the last couple of days due to soreness in his right shoulder:
https://www.mlb.com/news/xander-bogaerts-sore-right-shoulder
"He was able to hit and all that, but his throwing program wasn't perfect," said Cora. "So he rushed himself. He was sore for a few days. We shut him down. He should be back to throwing in the next couple of days. He will take ground balls and all that. The hitting part, he'll be OK in a few days, too."

From there, it will just be a matter of Bogaerts getting back up to game speed and getting his timing.
Also Christian Arroyo will play some shortstop and looks to be battling Chavis for the last roster spot:
Arroyo, who impressed the Red Sox at the end of last season when he got some playing time at second base, is out of Minor League options. With that in mind, he will get a long look this spring for the final roster spot.
"He made some strides offensively last year," said Cora. "He's a good defender at second base. I watched a lot. He's able to turn the double play, but versatility is going to be a factor -- and he knows it. We do believe he can handle short. He can make all the routine plays, and let's see how much the offense is going to be a part of his game.
"But yesterday he had two good at-bats, drove one to center field. Physically, he's a lot better than where he was last year. He's going to have every chance to make this team. "

Michael Chavis is the player competing with Arroyo for that final spot on the bench. Chavis, once Boston's No. 1 prospect, does have options. Cora has made it clear what Chavis needs to improve on.
"Consistency. Yesterday he put a good swing on a good pitch [for a homer]," Cora said. "It's one of those with Michael, we know what he can do. We know the type of hitter he is. He needs to close down some holes from his swing. Like I've been saying all along, strikeouts, yeah, are just an out in certain situations, but the other situations, we need to make contact."
 
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Tuff Ghost

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An Arroyo-Chavis battle of the six-lettered surnames for the last roster spot has some fun things to compare between the two. (Note: I think the spot is all but Arroyo's due to his lack of options, Chavis having two options, and the absence of a clear cut better player between the two).

Age:
Arroyo: 25 (5/30/1995)
Chavis: 25 (8/11/1995)

Drafted:
Arroyo: 25th overall (2013)
Chavis: 26th overall (2014)

Career Average xwOBA in MLB:
Arroyo: .292
Chavis: .292

Career Hard-Hit % in MLB:
Arroyo: 36.0%
Chavis: 36.2%

Career BB % in MLB:
Arroyo: 7.5%
Chavis: 7.2%

Projection ranges for wOBA in 2021:
Arroyo: .309 to .317
Chavis: .304 to .309

Of course in reality, they have different batting profiles, each with their own significant flaws. Arroyo's significant problem is that he is a ground ball machine, hitting ground balls in 60% of his big league at bats so far (average is about 45%). Chavis strikes out too much (32.8% so far in MLB, 11% more than an average player) and does not walk enough for the amount of K's he puts up. His BB/K ratio of 0.22 would put him among the top-10 worst BB/K ratios in a typical season. That does not preclude some success (Javier Baez is a poster-boy for this with 0.16 BB/ratio and 112 wRC+ over the past the 3 seasons combined), but it certainly narrows the chances and makes him just as likely to end up like a Kevin Pillar level hitter:

2018-2020 Pillar: 0.21 BB/K, .174 ISO, 89 wRC+
2019-2020 Chavis: 0.22 BB/K, .183 ISO, 87 wRC+
 

nvalvo

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Expect Arroyo to win this battle since he does not have options and Chavis does.
Defense is another factor.

2020 usage gave me the distinct impression that the organization does not really trust Chavis at 2B, as he only got into 8 games there even as the position was wide open after Peraza faltered. If he's not credible at 2B, that leaves Chavis as a corner guy with an 88 OPS+, i.e. not a big-leaguer. If he's not going to be a total bust, we need him hitting bombs in Worcester to rebuild some offensive value.

In contrast, Arroyo's ability to play a mediocre shortstop is important from a roster standpoint, given that Hernández, our other backup shortstop, is also our fifth outfielder.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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Marwin is also a break-glass fill-in option at SS, so if Chavis were to vastly out-hit Arroyo this spring, roster construction wouldn’t prevent them from sticking with Chavis. But as others have said, the option deck seems stacked against Chavis.
 

shaggydog2000

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Wow. I turned on the the game just now, Devers was up... I said to myself "which new guy is this?". Even when the announcers said his name, I had a hard time recognizing Devers.

And he hits a homer.
Would you say that he's in, perhaps, the BEST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE!?
 

shaggydog2000

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I kind of like big butts, so his old shape was ok with me.

Anyway, I avoided that particular bolded turn of phrase.

It sure looks like Devers took strength and conditioning seriously for the first time this off-season. He looks literally like a new man.
Like a baseball Sir Mix-a-lot. Nothing wrong with that.

I hope he is in great shape, I'd love for him to have a good year. And that is one of my favorite baseball writer cliches, so I just couldn't resist.
 

pokey_reese

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Dalbec with two more easy oppo HRs today. I think all three of his have landed withing 30 feet of each other this spring. Not usually ideal for a RHH in Fenway, but it seems like he has the power to hit it out to all fields in any park, and he should OWN in NY.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Dalbec with two more easy oppo HRs today. I think all three of his have landed withing 30 feet of each other this spring. Not usually ideal for a RHH in Fenway, but it seems like he has the power to hit it out to all fields in any park, and he should OWN in NY.
Driving the ball to right-center like he has is a GREAT sign this early in spring training. It indicates he's seeing the ball well and staying on it rather than trying to yank everything to left. It will be more impressive if he continues to do it against real big league pitching instead of guys working on "stuff".
 

Lefty

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I was watching the game on silent while working. I saw that a Sox player limped off the field exiting with a trainer. Who got hurt?
 

azsoxpatsfan

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Im getting really excited about this team. A starting infield of Vaz, Dalbec, Devers, X, and some combo of Franchy, Verdugo, Renfroe, Gonzalez, and later Duran in the outfield is going to be a fun team to watch, especially offensively.
 

Lefty

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Im getting really excited about this team. A starting infield of Vaz, Dalbec, Devers, X, and some combo of Franchy, Verdugo, Renfroe, Gonzalez, and later Duran in the outfield is going to be a fun team to watch, especially offensively.
I agree azsopatsfan. It's way too early to make any judgments but Duran and maybe even Downs look like they could be in Boston this season. They both seem polished with all-around game including defensively. Lots of question marks with Franchy, Renfroe, the pitching but there is so much more depth of options that I'm really excited for 2021.
 

Apisith

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I’m getting excited at all the prospects that we have who look like they might break through this year or next. This is starting to feel like 2014/2015 for me. Maybe our rebuild will be as short as it was last time. None of the guys we have are at the upper echelon of prospect rankings but Dalbec and Duran look like they might overperform their rankings by a lot.
 

jmcc5400

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I’m getting excited at all the prospects that we have who look like they might break through this year or next. This is starting to feel like 2014/2015 for me. Maybe our rebuild will be as short as it was last time. None of the guys we have are at the upper echelon of prospect rankings but Dalbec and Duran look like they might overperform their rankings by a lot.
The important thing is that it feels a hell of a lot less like 2020.
 

BaseballJones

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Im getting really excited about this team. A starting infield of Vaz, Dalbec, Devers, X, and some combo of Franchy, Verdugo, Renfroe, Gonzalez, and later Duran in the outfield is going to be a fun team to watch, especially offensively.
Hopefully. They also might be agonizing to watch with a million strikeouts and tons of mistakes. But it's time for optimism, and it definitely feels to me like this organization is moving in the right direction. It's always fun to have a bunch of prospects that you're excited about, dreaming about their potential. I don't know how many of you could classify these newly acquired prospects as "home grown", but it is fun to have a lot of talent in the pipeline again.
 

chawson

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Hopefully. They also might be agonizing to watch with a million strikeouts and tons of mistakes. But it's time for optimism, and it definitely feels to me like this organization is moving in the right direction. It's always fun to have a bunch of prospects that you're excited about, dreaming about their potential. I don't know how many of you could classify these newly acquired prospects as "home grown", but it is fun to have a lot of talent in the pipeline again.
I agree, and I hope the fans can get over the strikeouts if we're winning games. Dombrowski's teams really prioritized making contact. Whether that was team philosophy or certain key hitters' skill sets or both, I think those days are likely over with Dalbec, Chavis, Renfroe, and Cordero getting 1500 PAs.

Red Sox Team Contact %
2010 - 4th in MLB
2011 - 5th
2012 - 7th
2013 - 16th
2014 - 10th
2015 - 4th
2016 - 1st
2017 - 3rd
2018 - 3rd
2019 - 8th
2020 - 18th

But there's a lot of guys who seem fun to watch, and breakout potential at three or four positions and a couple spots along the rotation.