The Epitaph on the 2017 Season

trekfan55

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Thought it may be better to have a thread where we can talk about what went wrong during the season and the series and what, serious alternatives, can be done to fix issues for 2018 and beyond.

Think that there are too many thoughts hanging around other threads and there can be some serious discussion here. Mods, feel free to close this thread if you think it's unnecessary.

BTW, this is not meant to be a gamethread (so no "F Kimbrel comments" should be posted) but rather an observation as to what happened. This team certainly baffled me this year. There were many occasions where I watched a game and thought: "They are seriously leading the division?"

To start, I think the starting pitching was lacking.
Sale was good but faded the last month.
Porcello was a CYA that gave up multiple runs most of the time.
Price was hurt most of the year.
Pomeranz was consistently good until he gave it up in Game 2.
Then what? Edro was inconsistent, Fister had moments where we wanted to kill him and then he absolutely sacked up (he provided the only win in a 4 game series vs the Yankees). Wright was lost for the year.
Next year: Sale should be better monitored, Price should be healthy, Pom should be a good # 3 and let's hope for the best with Porcello. Not a bad rotation on paper.

The bullpen was good. As proven by that insane extra innings record. I think this area looks even better for next year, Kimbrel meltdown today notwithstanding, with Carson Smith on for a full year and hopefully Thornburg.

I'll get back with more, especially the offense soon.
 

RIrooter09

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This team is in serious need of a power bat. Not sure how they acquire one without going over the luxury tax threshold.
 

johnnywayback

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I think the epitaph reads: HERE LIES THE THIRD-BEST TEAM IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE. They got strong performances from the rotation and better-than-expected performances from the bullpen, but they suffered some injuries they weren't well-equipped to deal with and some players who we hoped would take big steps forward didn't. They overcame their problems better than the Yankees (the AL's fourth-best team) did theirs, allowing them to win the division, and then they got beat by a better team.

This was never going to be a super-team, not with a great-but-not-outstanding Betts, a good-but-not-great Bogaerts, and a somewhat-shy-of-good Ramirez.
 

Return of the Dewey

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I honestly think pitching should remain mostly as-is. It seems apparent that they ran out of gas at end of season/post season, and I have got to think that the pressure innings from lack of offense had to be one of those causes. They need power bat(s).
 

PapaSox

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Injuries, especially down the stretch, players not meeting expectations and then some great moments. Nunez was a great pickup and then his knee went out. JBJ just could not get his bat going, Hanley hitting monsters homers but too few and too far apart, Benny having a great rookie season, Sale fading, Price not being there until yesterday, Peddy's knee going out just as he began to eat up pitching, Devers hitting but still an issue a 3B defensively, Pomeranz having a season few expected, Kimbrel doing some amazing things with the baseball and Porcello imploding on himself.

This is a good team that needs only a few tweaks here and there, a little improvement scattered around and a just a little help from the baseball Gods.
 

NJ_Sox_Fan

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The starters on paper should be tops in the AL and their pen is right up there as well, especially at closer.

Devers will be a star but they need a true 35 plus HR threat
 

snowmanny

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The pitching is fine, especially if they keep or replace Reed.

The emergence of Devers (the hitter) is helpful.

What's worrisome is that Bogaerts and Bradley don't seem to have progressed at all offensively, which in and of itself isn't disastrous, but combine that with the facts that Pedroia (the hitter) is declining and that Moreland and Ramirez just aren't quite good enough to fill their assigned roles and there's a major problem to fix, and it's hard to fix because of $.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The elephant in the room is the Yankees. Barring some incredible fortune it is going to be very difficult for the Red Sox to keep pace with them next year.

They are in strong financial shape -- Ellsbury is really their only albatross contract. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have to sink $40 million into Sandoval and Rusney Castillo before they even get out of the batter's box. Another $60 million for Pedroia, Hanley and Porcello -- I'd probably take 7-8 WAR right now from those three if you offered it to me combined; $60 million doesn't go as far as it used to.

I don't think the offensive core is going to change much. Try to add a bat, hope Devers can be a 25 to 30 HR guy. Hope that Xander's troubles were injury related. Hope JBJ improves.

The close and late great pitching we saw this year is going to be hard to sustain, but if they can find a bat and duplicate or replace Moreland for the same cost, maybe 90-93 wins even with the salary commitments is possible.
 

timelysarcasm

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1B/DH needs a major upgrade. The lack of power put a lot of pressure on the offense to string together multiple hits or be overly aggressive on the basepaths. The regression of many (all) of our hitters didn't help matters, but replacing Papi's production never happened and it showed when JBJ slumped, Pedroia got hurt, and there was no power to carry us through.

Not sure who the best fit there is, particularly with regards to the luxury tax thresh hold. I do expect the offense to be better next year as Beni and Devers get more experience.
 

lexrageorge

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The pitching is fine, especially if they keep or replace Reed.

The emergence of Devers (the hitter) is helpful.

What's worrisome is that Bogaerts and Bradley don't seem to have progressed at all offensively, which in and of itself isn't disastrous, but combine that with the facts that Pedroia (the hitter) is declining and that Moreland and Ramirez just aren't quite good enough to fill their assigned roles and there's a major problem to fix, and it's hard to fix because of $.
Sorry for picking a nit, but Hanley was actually slightly better than league average at DH. Such is the state of DH's these days; we've been spoiled most years.

Pedroia's decline is a concern, although his OBP was actually slightly better than his career average.
 

NoXInNixon

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I think the epitaph reads: HERE LIES THE THIRD-BEST TEAM IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE.
And let's keep in mind that the two teams better than the Red Sox were built from the ashes of teams that lost 90+ games for multiple seasons and thus could restock their farm systems with multiple high draft picks. Now, good for them to have gotten a lot of those picks correct, but the Red Sox have done pretty well with their recent high draft picks, and if they had more of them they would be just as good as Cleveland and Houston are right now. The current Red Sox team was built without ever having bottomed out or tanked for multiple seasons.
 

dbn

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The 2017 Red Sox were a very good, and IMO, very likable team. They are no longer able to win the world series, but that is true at the end of most seasons, whereas that they were one of the final 8 is not.

I know that this thread is better served talking about the way ahead, but I can't help stressing that I really enjoyed this season of Red Sox baseball.
 

vadertime

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Don't know what you can do. You're locked in at all 3 OF spots, 3B, SS, 2B, and DH unless you want to eat Hanley's contract. That leave 1B and C. And presumably, you'd want Travis to step up and play 1B. Vazquez didn't do bad at C either. You have Wright coming back for the rotation, and you have bullpen depth. The only thing you can really do without eating contracts is tweak the depth.
 

sean1562

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Of all qualifying DHs, Hanley was better than Trumbo, Pujols, Beltran and Morales for the low cost of $22 million. Matt Holliday had a better season than Hanley.
 

Bigpupp

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This team is in serious need of a power bat. Not sure how they acquire one without going over the luxury tax threshold.
They're going to be over the luxury tax threshold just from arbitration increases. The only question will be how far they are willing to go over the threshold.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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There were moments back there in March when Red Sox fans felt they had the AL favorite. A lot of things went a little wrong, but the two things that were way off were the underperformance of Price (who rebuilt his reputation this week, but clearly wasn't the workhorse #1/#2 that was expected) and Porcello (who was clearly going to fall off from his exceptional 2016, but nobody saw this coming). That said the bullpen was exceptional and I'd roll this same staff out there again in 2018 with the hope that Price still could be a strong #2.

There were injuries, but I think no more serious than any other team suffered. The team's three best players -- Sale, Betts and Kimbrel -- were pretty much available all year and only Pedroia was an important guy missing a ton of time.

For the frustrations (it sucks rooting for a team that has so little power, plus the Price imbroglio, plus I never cared for Pedroia's handling of the Machado affair), I was glad to be a fan of the 2017 Red Sox. The youth and enthusiasm of the outfield, and the exceptional defense they played was a total joy every game. Devers home run off Chapman was as memorable a homer as you'll ever see, and the Vazquez/Austin Jackson game was one of the great regular season games too.
 

NoXInNixon

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I think they need to take a serious look at the medical staff. Something is seriously wrong with how they evaluate whether a player is injured or not, if they're injured enough to be able to play through it or not, and when an injured player is ready to come back. The ALDS would have looked very different if Price hadn't tried to come back too soon, making his second comeback too late for him to be in the playoff starting rotation. Not to mention all the players they traded for with serious injury concerns.

If healthy, this team should be every bit as good as Cleveland and Houston. Why can't they stay healthy?
 

streeter88

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In a year when every other team seemed to hit more home runs (RS were 28th I think) - there was a statistic about the sheer number of 20 home run hitters this year, and the MLB record for total HRs was broken - but the Sox went completely the other way. Some of this was emphasizing contact over power, Big Papi was of course missed, and some was regression as pointed out in this and other threads.

There's hope for positive regression for the core group minus Pedey (though we can hope for health for him which would help), but maybe try a new hitting coach or at least a new approach?

And I continue to think there is an argument for better injury management. How many core players dragged the offense down by trying to play through it (X, Mookie, Pedey, Hanley)?

Edit: NoXinNixon said it better about injury management.
 

LesterFan

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Don't know what you can do. You're locked in at all 3 OF spots, 3B, SS, 2B, and DH unless you want to eat Hanley's contract. That leave 1B and C. And presumably, you'd want Travis to step up and play 1B. Vazquez didn't do bad at C either. You have Wright coming back for the rotation, and you have bullpen depth. The only thing you can really do without eating contracts is tweak the depth.
I wouldn't say they're "locked in" at any position, except maybe 2B and DH. Any of the outfielders are tradeable, same with Devers and Bogaerts thanks to their salary and youth. Now, I'm not saying I expect any of them to get traded, but they definitely could shake things up a bit if they so choose to.
 

BaseballJones

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And let's keep in mind that the two teams better than the Red Sox were built from the ashes of teams that lost 90+ games for multiple seasons and thus could restock their farm systems with multiple high draft picks. Now, good for them to have gotten a lot of those picks correct, but the Red Sox have done pretty well with their recent high draft picks, and if they had more of them they would be just as good as Cleveland and Houston are right now. The current Red Sox team was built without ever having bottomed out or tanked for multiple seasons.
The Red Sox finished last three out of four years (2012, 2014, 2015). That's some serious ashes.
 

Tyrone Biggums

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I think they need to take a serious look at the medical staff. Something is seriously wrong with how they evaluate whether a player is injured or not, if they're injured enough to be able to play through it or not, and when an injured player is ready to come back. The ALDS would have looked very different if Price hadn't tried to come back too soon, making his second comeback too late for him to be in the playoff starting rotation. Not to mention all the players they traded for with serious injury concerns.

If healthy, this team should be every bit as good as Cleveland and Houston. Why can't they stay healthy?
I made this point earlier. The number one injury on this team during the seasons is knee problems. No clue what can be done about that but 3 players who are supposedly going to play key parts of your playoff run go down with essentially the same injury I’d wonder what the staff is doing too.
 

ehaz

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And let's keep in mind that the two teams better than the Red Sox were built from the ashes of teams that lost 90+ games for multiple seasons and thus could restock their farm systems with multiple high draft picks. Now, good for them to have gotten a lot of those picks correct, but the Red Sox have done pretty well with their recent high draft picks, and if they had more of them they would be just as good as Cleveland and Houston are right now. The current Red Sox team was built without ever having bottomed out or tanked for multiple seasons.
Where were you during 2014 and 2015? The Red Sox had back to back seasons of 91 and 85 losses...
 

czar

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The Red Sox finished last three out of four years (2012, 2014, 2015). That's some serious ashes.
Not sure if you are being snarky but for 4 years in a row the Astros had either the #1 or #2 overall pick (and one of those years they *also* had #5).

The Cubs had 5 years in a row where they picked 9th, 6th, 2nd, 4th, 9th.

The highest the Red Sox have picked since 1967 is 7th (Benintendi and Trey Ball).

We're not talking last in the ALE, we are talking many years of being one of/the worst teams in baseball.
 

czar

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Where were you during 2014 and 2015? The Red Sox had back to back seasons of 91 and 85 losses...
... and the Red Sox got Benintendi after 2014 and Groome after 2015.

That still doesn't change the fact that the Astros and Cubs, two of the current darlings of baseball, owe their current roster stars to prolonged (5+ consecutive years) of being one of the 3-4 worst teams in all of baseball.
 

BaseballJones

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Not sure if you are being snarky but for 4 years in a row the Astros had either the #1 or #2 overall pick (and one of those years they *also* had #5).

The Cubs had 5 years in a row where they picked 9th, 6th, 2nd, 4th, 9th.

The highest the Red Sox have picked since 1967 is 7th (Benintendi and Trey Ball).

We're not talking last in the ALE, we are talking many years of being one of/the worst teams in baseball.
I'm not being snarky. I'm pointing out that the Red Sox were awful for three out of four seasons. That's ashes, no matter how you slice it.
 

jercra

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Sorry for picking a nit, but Hanley was actually slightly better than league average at DH. Such is the state of DH's these days; we've been spoiled most years.
Hanley was dead last AVG and second to last in OPS with RISP among DHs (and nearly as bad with runners on). It makes all the difference in the world when your manager chooses to bat him in the middle of the lineup all season. I'm glad he was moved for the playoffs and came alive for 4 games, but for most of the season he should have hit somewhere else in the lineup and had a lot more days off.
 

pantsparty

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Sorry for picking a nit, but Hanley was actually slightly better than league average at DH. Such is the state of DH's these days; we've been spoiled most years.

Pedroia's decline is a concern, although his OBP was actually slightly better than his career average.
Good point about the DHs, it's easy to not realize that a number of teams have absolute corpses at the position. Only 5 teams had DHs with a wRC+ over 100, which is mind boggling considering the entire purpose of the position is be an offensive contributor.
 

RedOctober3829

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In order of priority:
—Power bat. JD Martinez would be my target.
—Depth starting pitching
—Better bench depth. Nunez would be nice in a super utility role and they need an upgrade on Chris Young.
 

timelysarcasm

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Hope JBJ improves.
I hope, too. But he's 27 years old, aren't we getting into the "he is what he is" stage with him? .250 - .260 seems about what he can do with the bat. It's frustrating because he's Daubach-level streaky. If he could find better consistency, I'd be pretty happy. Hopefully he's closer to 2016's numbers next year.

I would bet a chunk of change that Miggy will be the middle of the order bat. For better or worse.
I see where you're thinking this, but man I hope not. His constant back trouble this past season really scares me.

In order of priority:
—Power bat. JD Martinez would be my target.
—Depth starting pitching
—Better bench depth. Nunez would be nice in a super utility role and they need an upgrade on Chris Young.
Agree with all three points - although I'd say starting pitching is lower on the list than bench depth for me.
 
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uncannymanny

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Porcello. Woof. Put stress on the bullpen all season.

Injuries, as stated, need to heal. Especially wrists. I can’t believe with all the armor for hitters no one has created an acceptably flexible wrist guard.

The early-season flu hobbled a good team that had to dig out of that hole, that pressure falling on the pitching. How the hell is the whole team not vaccinated for the flu? They have pharmacies in Fort Meyers, right?

Too many unnecessary 120+ pitch games for Sale.

David Price injuries.

A power bat would’ve been nice, but they could’ve overcome that if they didn’t have to stretch the pitching staff so thin.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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They're going to be over the luxury tax threshold just from arbitration increases. The only question will be how far they are willing to go over the threshold.
At least they don't have to pay Allen Craig $11 million again next year, so there's that, right?
 

Plympton91

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And let's keep in mind that the two teams better than the Red Sox were built from the ashes of teams that lost 90+ games for multiple seasons and thus could restock their farm systems with multiple high draft picks. Now, good for them to have gotten a lot of those picks correct, but the Red Sox have done pretty well with their recent high draft picks, and if they had more of them they would be just as good as Cleveland and Houston are right now. The current Red Sox team was built without ever having bottomed out or tanked for multiple seasons.
Missing completely on Trey Ball is killing them. I view this as a team unlikely to spend in free agency and unable to make a big trade without using someone who'd also help the major league team. Robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Vazquez is a 9th place hitter, Pedroia and Bogaerts are 8th place hitters, Bradley and Ramirez are 7th place hitters, Devers ideally wouldnot be pressed and hit 6th to start, Benintendi is a functional leadoff guy and Betts is a fine #2 hitter. They need to retool the team with 3, 4, and 5 hitters. A missing baseman/DH needs to be fit into the budget for one of those slots. I'd trade Bradley for a corner outfield slugger to fill another one. Then maybe you can gamble that Ramirez or Bogaerts lives upmtheir potential, or Betts returns to 2016 form, allowing even substandard Bogaerts to hit 2nd.

The pitching they're just going to have to hope improves through experience (Kelly/Barnes, Scott, Maddux), better luck (Porcello), Health (Price, Smith, Wright), stamina (Sale, Pomeranz).

And as I said in another thread, the abject failure of the starting pitchers as a complete unit o we two postseasons and two different but saavy opponents suggests to me that there's an analytical or pro scouting angle on which the team is getting beat by other front offices.
 
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BaseballJones

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2012 was five full seasons ago. (Some say that season never actually happened, but that's beside the point.)
I'm not necessarily countering your point. Ashes? Correct.
Right. But I said three out of four years. Not three out of the last four years.

Year 1 - 2012 (last)
Year 2 - 2013 (first)
Year 3 - 2014 (last)
Year 4 - 2015 (last)
 

nothumb

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Prior to this season, there was a lot of discussion over whether we could expect the offense to keep pace in a post-Papi world with a long lineup of good-to-very-good hitters, rather than by going after a huge, traditional middle of the order bat. I was hopeful that they could - but in this particular instance, they didn't, whether due to health, bad luck, injuries, coaching, or some combination thereof.

Although it's hard to verify empirically, I am sympathetic to the notions that 1) a Papi-like hitter has an effect on the rest of the lineup beyond his own contributions, whether based on preparation, increasing the stress level of the opposing staff, affecting the overall approach... and 2) that the weak offense increased wear and tear on the pitching staff by forcing them to throw more high-stress innings.

We may get a chance to test the big-bopper or strength-up-and-down question again next year, because once again we find ourselves hoping for improvement from a strong core of young hitters (Beni, Betts, Devers, JBJ, X, and dare I say it, Vaz) while having few options to realistically add a big bat.

I have said many times, and will say again, that it would be criminal malpractice to let Hanley's option vest if he is once again putting up a ~100 wRC+ season. He is a roster construction problem that they may not be able to realistically fix this winter, but at the very least they need to avoid turning it into a two-year burden as opposed to one more year.

So unless they are willing to damn the torpedoes and spend big on a bat this winter, I think the most likely scenario is that they should be trying to replace Moreland and Young with mid-tier veteran guys who have some positional versatility and hoping for a short term hit a la Napoli in 2013. If Holt's noggin is permanently scrambled then we'll need a backup MI who can spell Pedey for an extended stretch as well. I guess Travis, Lin, Marrero and Hernandez are in the mix there as well as depth. If they can unload Hanley and add a premier IF / DH bat, great, but I'm not holding my breath.

Pitching-wise, just pray for health, try to manage Sale's workload a bit more, and throw a few more random bullpen arms at the wall to see if they stick. The pitching looks good.
 

uncannymanny

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And as I said in another thread, the abject failure of the starting pitchers as a complete unit o we two postseasons and two different but saavy opponents suggests to me that there's an analytical or pro scouting angle on which the team is getting beat by other front offices.
I’d agree with this. Being unprepared (whether scouting, mental, or physical) has seemed to be a hallmark of the Carl Willis Experience, but we have also lost a lot of FO talent over the last few years.
 

MikeM

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They're going to be over the luxury tax threshold just from arbitration increases. The only question will be how far they are willing to go over the threshold.
Yeah, this notion that we are keeping things mostly as they are now and still remaining a team that stays under is going to die a quick death soon enough.

I mean we could hypothetically dodge the hit without calling it a full fledged step backwards, but it would require some very creative tinkering around and you certainly couldn't stay married to the current positive value roster core in the process. All while trying to walk out of it having dumped maybe $10m (rough estimate) off the payroll, and while having added more power to the lineup mind you.

A tall order for DD.
 
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BaseballJones

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Porcello. Woof. Put stress on the bullpen all season.
Porcello averaged a little under 6.1 innings per start. Last year he averaged a little more than 6.2. The quality of those innings was vastly different, but not the amount per game. It's not like last year he averaged 7 and this year 5.

Too many unnecessary 120+ pitch games for Sale.
Precisely zero 120+ pitch games for Sale. Only 3 games where he threw more than 115. Only 14 where he threw more than 110.

He averaged 107 pitches per start, same as Verlander. That ranks high on the list in MLB, but then again, he was routinely pitching deep into games with a TON of strikeouts. That's how you accumulate high pitch counts despite being very successful.

I don't know what you're supposed to do about Sale's pitch counts. He's a VERY high strikeout pitcher, obviously the best in the game as a starter right now (#1 in k/9 in MLB). He ranked 11th in pitches per plate appearance. But he threw more pitches because he went deeper into games than other guys, and never sat out with injury. Do we want him pitching fewer innings? Or striking out fewer guys? Or pitching fewer games (due to injury or rest or whatever)?

This isn't a snarky or glib post. This is a tough question. I don't know the answer.
 

pk1627

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The 2017 Red Sox were a very good, and IMO, very likable team. They are no longer able to win the world series, but that is true at the end of most seasons, whereas that they were one of the final 8 is not.

I know that this thread is better served talking about the way ahead, but I can't help stressing that I really enjoyed this season of Red Sox baseball.
I also enjoyed this year’s team immensely. Their tenacity in contesting every game until the 27th out was a joy to watch. Their season ended perhaps one game too soon.

It’s a young, talented team, and they’ve added Devers. I’m already looking forward to next year.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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It was a very weird season in that the Sox both underachieved and overachieved--underachieved on the level of individual performance, for nearly all the position players and a few of the pitchers (Porcello in quality, Price in quantity), and then overachieved on the level of team performance given the meh individual contributions.

For this reason I'm not entirely buying the idea that their main problem this year was declining veterans or albatross contracts. Most winning teams have those things, and make up for them with young talent. The Sox' main problem was the young talent. They rolled the dice on the proposition that they had a core of very good young position players who would, as a group, repeat or even improve on their 2016 performance. And that pretty conspicuously didn't happen. The million-dollar question going into this winter is, what is the true talent level of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr., and what strategy does the answer to that question imply?

EDIT: that last question also applies to Benintendi and Devers, of course, but less crucially because they are younger, cost-controlled for longer, and in Benintendi's case, didn't underperform as much compared to last year.
 

Pitt the Elder

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Porcello averaged a little under 6.1 innings per start. Last year he averaged a little more than 6.2. The quality of those innings was vastly different, but not the amount per game. It's not like last year he averaged 7 and this year 5.



Precisely zero 120+ pitch games for Sale. Only 3 games where he threw more than 115. Only 14 where he threw more than 110.

He averaged 107 pitches per start, same as Verlander. That ranks high on the list in MLB, but then again, he was routinely pitching deep into games with a TON of strikeouts. That's how you accumulate high pitch counts despite being very successful.

I don't know what you're supposed to do about Sale's pitch counts. He's a VERY high strikeout pitcher, obviously the best in the game as a starter right now (#1 in k/9 in MLB). He ranked 11th in pitches per plate appearance. But he threw more pitches because he went deeper into games than other guys, and never sat out with injury. Do we want him pitching fewer innings? Or striking out fewer guys? Or pitching fewer games (due to injury or rest or whatever)?

This isn't a snarky or glib post. This is a tough question. I don't know the answer.
There's an argument that a better offense - and more runs - would afford the Sox the luxury of taking Sale out earlier in games earlier in the season. If the game is 6-2 instead of 4-2, it's easier to take out your starter a few batters earlier.
 

uncannymanny

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To be fair, Porcello pitched over 200 innings and left the game when it wasn't particularly close. He had a lot of negatives this year but I don't think taxing the bullpen was one.
Fair point on the value of the innings, but for the most part they were bad innings. He gave them almost 20ip less in innings 6+ than last season. Halved his 27ip in 7-9 from last year. He had 1 month under 3.75 and 2 under 4. He had nearly a 5 and a half ERA in 19 starts at Fenway.

The effects of his regression on this season’s team is hard to understate, innings and all.
 

uncannymanny

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Jan 12, 2007
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Precisely zero 120+ pitch games for Sale. Only 3 games where he threw more than 115. Only 14 where he threw more than 110.

He averaged 107 pitches per start, same as Verlander. That ranks high on the list in MLB, but then again, he was routinely pitching deep into games with a TON of strikeouts. That's how you accumulate high pitch counts despite being very successful.

I don't know what you're supposed to do about Sale's pitch counts. He's a VERY high strikeout pitcher, obviously the best in the game as a starter right now (#1 in k/9 in MLB). He ranked 11th in pitches per plate appearance. But he threw more pitches because he went deeper into games than other guys, and never sat out with injury. Do we want him pitching fewer innings? Or striking out fewer guys? Or pitching fewer games (due to injury or rest or whatever)?

This isn't a snarky or glib post. This is a tough question. I don't know the answer.
The memory lies I guess. Where’d you find the numbers? I could only find 110+ on B-R. I felt like they rode him a little hard trying to get the K record.
 

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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There's an argument that a better offense - and more runs - would afford the Sox the luxury of taking Sale out earlier in games earlier in the season. If the game is 6-2 instead of 4-2, it's easier to take out your starter a few batters earlier.
Yes, well, there's that!

I fully expect, barring injuries (which you know will happen but which you can't really predict who will get them and how bad they'll be), that we will see improvement from:

- Vazquez - seems to be improving rapidly as a hitter
- Benintendi - he's going to be a great player when all is said and done
- Bogaerts - I think the hand really held him back this year; not sure he'll ever be a top power guy but he should be better than he was this year
- Bradley - I think he's somewhere in between what he was last year and what he was this year
- Betts - He should be a 30 hr guy on average, so I see more power next year
- Devers - Just because he'll be here all year, I think he'll put up bigger numbers over the course of a season

I don't see Hanley improving, nor Moreland (if they were to keep him around). I don't see Pedroia improving, though better health should at least allow him to play more and be better than his replacement.

But in six of the nine slots they should see improvement, even if they just brought back the same team. In my opinion anyway. So to me, the spot they should try to improve is 1b. I am also not against just dealing Hanley, eating the money, and trying another alternative - another FA - at DH. Maybe even....Moreland again. Much less expensive and there's no worry about Hanley's kicker for 2019 activating and costing even more $$.

The memory lies I guess. Where’d you find the numbers? I could only find 110+ on B-R. I felt like they rode him a little hard trying to get the K record.
His b-ref page. Go to his game log and you'll see the number of pitches thrown in each game.

I mean, you're right - he threw a LOT of pitches this year (by today's standard anyway). But again, a guy who pitches that many innings, striking out that many guys, is going to throw a ton. He was consistently between like 105-115.
 

uncannymanny

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I mean, you're right - he threw a LOT of pitches this year (by today's standard anyway). But again, a guy who pitches that many innings, striking out that many guys, is going to throw a ton. He was consistently between like 105-115.
Of course, game logs! The NP through July is pretty crazy. Just a handful of games under 110. My concern with that earlier in the season (one of the few things I laid directly at the feet of the manager) was that he’d already had a history of late fades. I wanted those bullets for last Thursday.

Edit: totally agree on the lineup portion of that post. It needs a tweak, not an overhaul.
 

simplicio

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Apr 11, 2012
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I'd like to see greater focus from Willis et al on getting out pitches. Too many pitchers not named Sale and Kimbrel this year seemed to have no trouble getting to 2 strikes and then no earthly idea what to do once they got there. Maybe that's down to Vazquez's pitch selection, I don't know. But it felt like against savvy teams, hitters would go down 0-2 and know they could just sit and wait out the next 3 pitches and pay attention again once they hit a full count.