"This too shall pass" ---- righting the ship for 2016

doctorogres

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Benintendi is closer to 3 months older than Margot, 7/6/1994 vs. 9/28/1994, but Margot has still survived a major minor league transition at a younger age.
 

PrometheusWakefield

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Snodgrass'Muff said:
 
Brock Holt does not have the bat or the arm to be a major league starter at third base. And even if you can scrape together an argument that he reaches the minimum threshold for holding down the position offensively, you destroy his value by removing him from the super-utility role and weaken the roster overall by reducing its depth. Dumping Panda and replacing him with Holt makes this a worse team. This idea needs to die. If they move Panda, they need to find a full time replacement for him because there isn't one on the roster currently.
 
And yes, Holt has had a better year at the plate than Panda, but Holt has had the year we expected, Panda has not and if you adjust his season for the dip in BABIP, Sandoval looks a lot more like the guy we expected than his slash line would suggest at first glance. Sandoval is very likely going to bounce back next year and he's a better defender at third than Holt. So no, you can't just hand the job to Holt without hurting the team.
This comes down to Panda's defense. If Panda is really -14.7 UZR then he's not a third baseman, he's a DH playing out of position. In which case I would cut bait.
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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PrometheusWakefield said:
This comes down to Panda's defense. If Panda is really -14.7 UZR then he's not a third baseman, he's a DH playing out of position. In which case I would cut bait.
 
Which is why we don't use single seasons of UZR to make determinations about where players should be on the field. He looked awful in the first couple of months, but he's looked like exactly what we expected in the last few: An above average but not elite defender at the position. He's making nice plays on a regular basis now that he's settled in.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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I don't really have an opinion on whether or not Dombrowski should move Ramirez and/or Sandoval and I don't have a good enough sense of him to predict whether or not he will, but if he wants to, the White Sox strike me as a logical destination - they don't really have a third baseman at the moment or a great prospect who'll be ready soon, and either player could move to DH in a year after LaRoche leaves. The White Sox have also been known to gamble on big-money players. 
 

MikeM

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Snodgrass'Muff said:
 
Brock Holt does not have the bat or the arm to be a major league starter at third base. And even if you can scrape together an argument that he reaches the minimum threshold for holding down the position offensively, you destroy his value by removing him from the super-utility role and weaken the roster overall by reducing its depth. Dumping Panda and replacing him with Holt makes this a worse team. This idea needs to die. If they move Panda, they need to find a full time replacement for him because there isn't one on the roster currently.
 
And yes, Holt has had a better year at the plate than Panda, but Holt has had the year we expected, Panda has not and if you adjust his season for the dip in BABIP, Sandoval looks a lot more like the guy we expected than his slash line would suggest at first glance. Sandoval is very likely going to bounce back next year and he's a better defender at third than Holt. So no, you can't just hand the job to Holt without hurting the team.
 
For me the concept of trading Pablo now would have less to do with min/maxing our 2016 season, and more with getting ourselves out of the back end commitment as best we can. While we can, and with the "who plays 3rd after" factor playing out to be the secondary concern. 
 
Not sure luck has more to do with his struggles this season then the fact that even at 28, he's a really bad body type and swing at everything hitter who was probably always destined to age like crap. Making a bet there that he manages to both slam on the brakes and then hit reverse on his decline seems pretty overly optimistic imo. I didn't like that bet last year and i like it even less going forward.
 
If the opportunity presented itself where Panda could be moved right now at anything around picking up less then half his contract, it would be worth a hard look imo. 
 

nvalvo

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Snodgrass'Muff said:
Which is why we don't use single seasons of UZR to make determinations about where players should be on the field. He looked awful in the first couple of months, but he's looked like exactly what we expected in the last few: An above average but not elite defender at the position. He's making nice plays on a regular basis now that he's settled in.
 
I felt like the really grim period for his defense (and offense!) was after the knee HBP in late May. Google suggests that the press really started to attend to his defensive struggles during the Twins series in early June, when he made a bunch of key errors and failed to handle a throw. 
 
(I've been harping on this, but he really torpedoed his season numbers on both sides of the ball during the weeks following the HBP. I wish this team would DL injured players.)
 
As for the Holt discussion, I'm not really one who thinks we should move on from either Ramirez or Sandoval at this point. I agree Holt isn't who you'd want at third. But if we're trying to shift resources to pitching, it's a way of getting a warm body for third on the cheap without making a commitment that will block our coming logjam of A ball infielders. 
 

shaggydog2000

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MikeM said:
 
For me the concept of trading Pablo now would have less to do with min/maxing our 2016 season, and more with getting ourselves out of the back end commitment as best we can. While we can, and with the "who plays 3rd after" factor playing out to be the secondary concern. 
 
Not sure luck has more to do with his struggles this season then the fact that even at 28, he's a really bad body type and swing at everything hitter who was probably always destined to age like crap. Making a bet there that he manages to both slam on the brakes and then hit reverse on his decline seems pretty overly optimistic imo. I didn't like that bet last year and i like it even less going forward.
 
If the opportunity presented itself where Panda could be moved right now at anything around picking up less then half his contract, it would be worth a hard look imo. 
 
So instead of getting relief pitchers and a starter, you would spend resources (money under the cap, prospects) to dump Sandoval and acquire another 3rd baseman, one who would be better, and yet another team would prefer Sandoval to that available player for some reason?  But the Sox wouldn't pay more than half of Sandoval's contract? 
 
Taking a look at the 3rd base stats from this year, only half the teams have a qualified hitter who is above league average.  I think the demand for a competent 3B is much, much higher than the supply.  We're not upgrading there too easily.  
 

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shaggydog2000 said:
 
So instead of getting relief pitchers and a starter, you would spend resources (money under the cap, prospects) to dump Sandoval and acquire another 3rd baseman, one who would be better, and yet another team would prefer Sandoval to that available player for some reason?  But the Sox wouldn't pay more than half of Sandoval's contract? 
 
Taking a look at the 3rd base stats from this year, only half the teams have a qualified hitter who is above league average.  I think the demand for a competent 3B is much, much higher than the supply.  We're not upgrading there too easily.  
 
Where did i say anything about bringing in a better 3rd baseman, or not signing relief pitchers or a starter? Again, my primary concern there would be getting rid of the commitment beyond 2016. If that played out to us fielding a less then "looks like an upgrade on paper" situation at third this year then so be it. 
 
Hypothetically dumping Panda in itself would essentially free up additional money that could then be turned around and spent elsewhere too btw. That net gain wouldn't just magically disappear.
 
The above said, i fully expect to see Panda manning third on opening day. 
 

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MikeM said:
 
Making a bet there that he manages to both slam on the brakes and then hit reverse on his decline seems pretty overly optimistic imo. I didn't like that bet last year and i like it even less going forward.
 
That decline is mostly a myth. He had an outlier year in 2011, then went 118, 117, 112 in the three years preceding this one. That's pretty steady production with a normal amount of random variance capable of explaining the difference 6 point swing in wRC+. If he had his career babip this year, his wRC+ would be much closer to those numbers. People like to point to slash lines without considering the offensive environment they were produced in. Offense is on the decline, so it's not a surprise his slash lines have been trending downward. If there's a decline there, it's far more mild than what most people seem to think.
 
Edit: And that's to say nothing about your willingness to damage their short term chances to protect them against a possibly ugly last year or two of the contract down the road. This team should be a playoff contender next year. I weight next year far more heavily than 2018 or 2019 when making decisions.
 

shaggydog2000

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MikeM said:
 
Where did i say anything about bringing in a better 3rd baseman, or not signing relief pitchers or a starter? Again, my primary concern there would be getting rid of the commitment beyond 2016. If that played out to us fielding a less then "looks like an upgrade on paper" situation at third this year then so be it. 
 
Hypothetically dumping Panda in itself would essentially free up additional money that could then be turned around and spent elsewhere too btw. That net gain wouldn't just magically disappear.
 
The above said, i fully expect to see Panda manning third on opening day. 
 
You still need a 3rd baseman, and paying another team to make Sandoval go away costs resources that then would not be available to upgrade the rest of the team, not to mention whatever resources you'd need to use to find a replacement for him, which definitely seems to be in short supply.  Even a downgrade at the plate for a 3rd basemen is going to be hard to find.  It's not like you can just plug in Cecchini (Mess at the plate, can't play defense) or even Holt (wears down, 3rd is his worst defensive position) and make it through a year like that.  I don't think they even have a 3rd base prospect above A ball.  The money you'd save would be minimal compared to what you'd have to spend to replace him, the value of the prospects you'd have to give up, and how much you'd hurt the team.  It's not a hidden gold mine. 
 

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shaggydog2000 said:
 
You still need a 3rd baseman, and paying another team to make Sandoval go away costs resources that then would not be available to upgrade the rest of the team, not to mention whatever resources you'd need to use to find a replacement for him, which definitely seems to be in short supply.  Even a downgrade at the plate for a 3rd basemen is going to be hard to find.  It's not like you can just plug in Cecchini (Mess at the plate, can't play defense) or even Holt (wears down, 3rd is his worst defensive position) and make it through a year like that.  I don't think they even have a 3rd base prospect above A ball.  The money you'd save would be minimal compared to what you'd have to spend to replace him, the value of the prospects you'd have to give up, and how much you'd hurt the team.  It's not a hidden gold mine. 
The timeframe to upgrade 3B all depends on what the ETA for Moncada is. If your scouts have good reason to think he can handle advanced breaking pitches, and rapid promotions, his might be primed to break in at the hot corner before you can say "Xander Bogaerts, World Series Third Baseman."
 

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Buzzkill Pauley said:
The timeframe to upgrade 3B all depends on what the ETA for Moncada is. If your scouts have good reason to think he can handle advanced breaking pitches, and rapid promotions, his might be primed to break in at the hot corner before you can say "Xander Bogaerts, World Series Third Baseman."
 
So you would go into a season without a starter at a position and hope a prospect (granted a very good prospect) in A ball would be ready that very season?  While not having played that position in this country, ever? I find that a dubious proposition, and I'm high on Moncada.  I think in 2017 he's an opening day starter at some position.  But not at 3rd next year before September.  
 

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shaggydog2000 said:
 
So you would go into a season without a starter at a position and hope a prospect (granted a very good prospect) in A ball would be ready that very season?  While not having played that position in this country, ever? I find that a dubious proposition, and I'm high on Moncada.  I think in 2017 he's an opening day starter at some position.  But not at 3rd next year before September.  
That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that a short-term stopgap able to hit and field at an average level, should be sufficient to fill the position until Moncada is ready. Holt, for example, could be that starter, but there are other options.

But whether it's Holt, Lowrie, or Valencia, or whomever else may be cheaply available, there's no reason to lock up four years and $76MM, when it's more likely than not that Moncada will be battering down the door by 2017, and promising to improve 3B production at the league minimum, precisely when Bogaerts and Bradley and Rodriguez and Kelly are hopefully all becoming, or about to become, rather pricey.

It's a matter of looking forward beyond just 2016 and seeing that, with two different top-25 prospects waiting in the wings, perhaps there's no need to "go big" at 3B right now.
 

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They're not "going big" at third base right now. That contract already exists and the cost of removing it would make the whole proposition a waste of resources. If they can find a team to take part of the contract they would be looking at the cost of moving the contract, plus the cost of his replacement all to, what? Have roughly the same level of production next year that they'll have if they do nothing? Looking beyond 2016 is nice, but 2016 matters and this team could be really good. Wasting resources to tread water next year to open up a spot for a player who won't be ready until the year after that is ludicrous when they're already going to be up against their limits financially. Unless they can save substantial amount of money and that is the difference between landing a front of the rotation pitcher or not, I don't see how this is a good use of time and other resources. It seems incredibly unlikely to actually free up much, if any money and will probably do very little or nothing to improve the 2016 squad.
 
If Moncada is busting down the door a year from now, you worry about making room for him then. If nothing else, it gives Panda a year to build up his value a bit as he is likely to bounce back at the plate and appears to have settled in defensively.
 

Buzzkill Pauley

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Snodgrass'Muff said:
They're not "going big" at third base right now. That contract already exists and the cost of removing it would make the whole proposition a waste of resources. If they can find a team to take part of the contract they would be looking at the cost of moving the contract, plus the cost of his replacement all to, what? Have roughly the same level of production next year that they'll have if they do nothing? Looking beyond 2016 is nice, but 2016 matters and this team could be really good. Wasting resources to tread water next year to open up a spot for a player who won't be ready until the year after that is ludicrous when they're already going to be up against their limits financially. Unless they can save substantial amount of money and that is the difference between landing a front of the rotation pitcher or not, I don't see how this is a good use of time and other resources. It seems incredibly unlikely to actually free up much, if any money and will probably do very little or nothing to improve the 2016 squad.
 
If Moncada is busting down the door a year from now, you worry about making room for him then. If nothing else, it gives Panda a year to build up his value a bit as he is likely to bounce back at the plate and appears to have settled in defensively.
If you think DDski can't get anything of value at all for Sandoval, neither needed pitching nor significant salary relief, then you're obviously not going to agree with me.

Because I think, based on the Fielder trade, that it's really quite possible he gets both those things. He got an all-star 2B and $124MM net salary relief for a player who didn't fit his team and was objectively underperforming. And now, to outsiders, the trade appears to have worked out really well for each side. That can only help here.

I feel like I say the same thing every offseason: more is out there than just the easiest options to see. Who here predicted Donaldson for Lawrie last winter?
 

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Buzzkill Pauley said:
Because I think, based on the Fielder trade, that it's really quite possible he gets both those things. He got an all-star 2B and $124MM net salary relief for a player who didn't fit his team and was objectively underperforming. And now, to outsiders, the trade appears to have worked out really well for each side. That can only help here.
Moved $124M of the remaining $168M of Fielder's contract but took back $62M to $70M deal in return.  Also, while Kinsler is having a resurgence this year so is Fielder.
 
He only freed up $2M in money per year with that trade and in doing so took a 32 year old at a position with a poor tradition of aging for a 30 year old at a position with historically much more gradual age related decline.
 
The beauty of that deal was Dombrowski finding an ideal match (team who had a high dollar 2B to move and a need for a big bat with DH/1B open) and jumping on it aggressively.  That let him move Cabrera to 1B and open up 3B for Castellanos (a top 25 prospect) who hit pretty well in a full season of AAA ball the year before.  It wasn't Dombrowski finding a way to unload a bad contract, it was Dombrowski swapping apparently bad contracts to make better use of in-house assets.
 
Moving Panda only to then need to find some other stopgap 3B doesn't make much sense.  A lot of players struggle their first year switching leagues.  If Sandoval sticks with hitting LH against LHP and gets himself in shape he's a decent bet for a rebound.  If he simply doesn't decline any further the club could likely trade the last three years of his deal at less of a subsidy than this winter with four to go if Moncada is pushing for a spot.
 
He's the best option available from a bad lot.  Come the end of 2016 maybe the situation is more analogous to the Fielder situation but right now other than San Diego having interest in a Panda for Shields swap now that Shields' deal is about to spike in payout there really isn't anything comparable to swing.  That could work for the Sox as a straight up swap as Panda's deal and Shields' deal have pretty near the same AAV but Shields is about to start getting paid about $3M more per season over the rest of their deals.
 

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Buzzkill Pauley said:
Because I think, based on the Fielder trade, that it's really quite possible he gets both those things. He got an all-star 2B and $124MM net salary relief for a player who didn't fit his team and was objectively underperforming. And now, to outsiders, the trade appears to have worked out really well for each side. That can only help here.
 
But Fielder was a much higher-upside player than Pablo is--he had produced 35+ offensive runs in three of the five years preceding the deal, where Pablo's only done that once and never come close since. And Fielder only cost a few million more in AAV terms. 
 
Pablo came to the Sox with a reputation as a decent defensive 3B, and this helped justify his deal, even granted his very modest offensive ceiling. But now, he looks like a guy who's mediocre or worse on both sides of the lines. He has to re-establish some upside to his game before he'll be likely to return very much.
 
In addition to which....everything else Snod said. Great post. The weird thing about trading Pablo is that it will probably make us worse for 2016 without much likelihood of making us better later on; yet the only way to prevent it from making us worse for 2016 would be to make additional moves that might well make us worse later on. There will (I think and hope) be a time to move Pablo's deal. I don't think this winter is it.
 

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Guys, is hard to find good third basemen. Finding someone to take Sandoval's contact and finding someone to play better than Sandoval, well, it's two hard things to do.

When the return is a little more money to spend and a slightly better player, if it really worth it?

I mean, there's a pretty good chance Sandoval plays better next year. Moving him has a pretty good chance of backfiring.

Sure, he's probably going to suck at the end of the contract. We knew that when it was signed.

We have much bigger problems than Pablo Sandoval.

We need an ace and at least two guys in the pen.
 

kieckeredinthehead

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Rasputin said:
Guys, is hard to find good third basemen. Finding someone to take Sandoval's contact and finding someone to play better than Sandoval, well, it's two hard things to do.

When the return is a little more money to spend and a slightly better player, if it really worth it?

I mean, there's a pretty good chance Sandoval plays better next year. Moving him has a pretty good chance of backfiring.

Sure, he's probably going to suck at the end of the contract. We knew that when it was signed.

We have much bigger problems than Pablo Sandoval.

We need an ace and at least two guys in the pen.
Pablo Sandoval is dead last in the majors with -1.5 fWAR. His OPS is dead last in the majors for third baseman. He plays flashy defense because he falls over on every play. Finding a better third baseman is literally the easiest thing any GM could do because Pablo is the absolute worst - making his contract, as you say, pretty tough to shed.
 

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kieckeredinthehead said:
Pablo Sandoval is dead last in the majors with -1.5 fWAR. His OPS is dead last in the majors for third baseman. He plays flashy defense because he falls over on every play. Finding a better third baseman is literally the easiest thing any GM could do because Pablo is the absolute worst - making his contract, as you say, pretty tough to shed.
 
Yeah, this. 
 
If you are going to point out a willingness to damage our short term chances, current context should be taken into account imo. Panda needs to bounce back on both the offensive and defensive side of his play before that would play out to be some noteworthy factor. The overall likelihood of which some of us currently disagree on.
 

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kieckeredinthehead said:
Pablo Sandoval is dead last in the majors with -1.5 fWAR. His OPS is dead last in the majors for third baseman. He plays flashy defense because he falls over on every play. Finding a better third baseman is literally the easiest thing any GM could do because Pablo is the absolute worst - making his contract, as you say, pretty tough to shed.
You must have forgotten the WMB era.

Perhaps you could offer some suggestions on where to find a third baseman so easily. Hint: his initials are not BH.
 

Rasputin

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kieckeredinthehead said:
Pablo Sandoval is dead last in the majors with -1.5 fWAR. His OPS is dead last in the majors for third baseman. He plays flashy defense because he falls over on every play. Finding a better third baseman is literally the easiest thing any GM could do because Pablo is the absolute worst - making his contract, as you say, pretty tough to shed.
Apparently you misunderstood. Finding a better third baseman means finding one to play for us, not just pointing at one.

Mind you, we're talking about a guy who was 13th in Ops among third basemen least year. Are you really certain you want to pay someone else to take him so you can spend more money to plug in some retread?

It doesn't make any sense.

The way people around here are willing to take one bad season and declare a player to be terrible is really fucked in his head.

The lowest OPS+ he's ever had before is 99. Other than that year and this one, he's been well over 100 every year. Why is a return to that so unlikely that you're willing to pay someone else to take him?
 

kieckeredinthehead

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Rasputin said:
Apparently you misunderstood. Finding a better third baseman means finding one to play for us, not just pointing at one.

Mind you, we're talking about a guy who was 13th in Ops among third basemen least year. Are you really certain you want to pay someone else to take him so you can spend more money to plug in some retread?

It doesn't make any sense.

The way people around here are willing to take one bad season and declare a player to be terrible is really fucked in his head.

The lowest OPS+ he's ever had before is 99. Other than that year and this one, he's been well over 100 every year. Why is a return to that so unlikely that you're willing to pay someone else to take him?
If you'll recall from my post that you quoted, I agreed with you that he's not going anywhere because his contract is prohibitive. I assume he will bounce back a little only because the alternative is hard to fathom. I wouldn't plan on Brock Holt being a better option at third next year. I feel quite confident in saying that had he been at third in May and June, this team would have a few more wins right now.

Edit to add that I'm basically disagreeing that Pablo is not a problem. He is a huge problem, just not a particularly fixable one. Unlike the bullpen and the front of the rotation, in that order.
 

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Al Zarilla said:
Leaving him out or leaving him in? I think you mean keep him.
I watch him have interaction with his players every game and it is clear they respond to him.  I never considered Farrell a good game manager anyway. Promote him to the front office and keep Lovullo. That is what i would do.
 

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reggiecleveland said:
We have to at least think about leaving  Lovullo as manager next year right?
 
For about 15 minutes, sure. Then move on to better options. The team playing so much better lately I attribute to the kids settling in, not anything he's done. Things like bringing in Taz last night make me seriously wonder if he would make decisions any better than Farrell. I'll fully admit I don't have a candidate in mind or a case to make for someone else in particular, but I haven't seen much that makes me think he's anything special. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise though. 
 

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The approach to next year is predicated on what you think this year is. At first I thought this was a 2012 redux - with the attendant need to clean house.  Now I lean towards it being more like 1966 - where, if you look closely at what is happening in the second half you have to be pleased with the vast majority of what you are putting on the field and what you see.  Not out of your mind "I love this team" sort of stuff - but certainly more of a tinkering job than a wholesale refurb.  A decent starter, some bullpen tweaks - this team is going to score runs regardless so I wouldn't worry about removing Sandoval from third.  Holt is a prime utility man (a not inconsiderable compliment) so play him in that role.  Ramirez is a headache but if that's the biggest problem - - - not that big a problem.  This thread was posing a complex question a month ago - but the team on the field is doing a better job of answering it than anything we could post, and that's exactly what you want to see.
 

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sheamonu said:
The approach to next year is predicated on what you think this year is. At first I thought this was a 2012 redux - with the attendant need to clean house.  Now I lean towards it being more like 1966 - where, if you look closely at what is happening in the second half you have to be pleased with the vast majority of what you are putting on the field and what you see.  Not out of your mind "I love this team" sort of stuff - but certainly more of a tinkering job than a wholesale refurb.  A decent starter, some bullpen tweaks - this team is going to score runs regardless so I wouldn't worry about removing Sandoval from third.  Holt is a prime utility man (a not inconsiderable compliment) so play him in that role.  Ramirez is a headache but if that's the biggest problem - - - not that big a problem.  This thread was posing a complex question a month ago - but the team on the field is doing a better job of answering it than anything we could post, and that's exactly what you want to see.
 
In a lot of ways I see us essentially coming full circle back to where this team was at going into last winter. 
 
If DD goes out and has the offseason Ben should of had going into this year, i'll be fairly optimistic on our chances of competing in 2016. 
 

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MikeM said:
 
In a lot of ways I see us essentially coming full circle back to where this team was at going into last winter. 
 
I think we're in a pretty different place. We have a lot more certainty about what our young players can contribute (or in the case of JBJ, maybe you'd call it a pleasant uncertainty replacing an unpleasant apparent certainty). DD has the luxury of treating the position-player side as pretty much set, unless a too-good-to-refuse opportunity to improve presents itself. He can focus on the pitching, and even there, where last year Ben had to remake the rotation almost from scratch, this time around we probably only need one front-end starter to turn things around. The only area that clearly needs major, "take it apart and put it back together" attention is the bullpen.
 

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Savin Hillbilly said:
 
I think we're in a pretty different place. We have a lot more certainty about what our young players can contribute (or in the case of JBJ, maybe you'd call it a pleasant uncertainty replacing an unpleasant apparent certainty). DD has the luxury of treating the position-player side as pretty much set, unless a too-good-to-refuse opportunity to improve presents itself. He can focus on the pitching, and even there, where last year Ben had to remake the rotation almost from scratch, this time around we probably only need one front-end starter to turn things around. The only area that clearly needs major, "take it apart and put it back together" attention is the bullpen.
Yes, this, with the addition of not having to worry about guys like Vic, Nava, and Napoli. We're going with the young guys with some degree of confidence.
 

MikeM

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Rasputin said:
Yes, this, with the addition of not having to worry about guys like Vic, Nava, and Napoli. We're going with the young guys with some degree of confidence.
 
I never gave that much thought to Nava, and we really are just replacing the concern with Vic/Napoli with Panda/Hanley. 
 
I also don't recall much lack of confidence in our young guys going in to last winter either, other then maybe some fairly premature souring on Xander. Sure we are another year forward in the process and that obviously helps, but beyond already piecing together the back end of a rotation our overall core needs are looking pretty similar imo.   
 

Rasputin

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MikeM said:
 
I never gave that much thought to Nava, and we really are just replacing the concern with Vic/Napoli with Panda/Hanley. 
 
I also don't recall much lack of confidence in our young guys going in to last winter either, other then maybe some fairly premature souring on Xander. Sure we are another year forward in the process and that obviously helps, but beyond already piecing together the back end of a rotation our overall core needs are looking pretty similar imo.   
A year ago any confidence in Castillo was hedged by the fact that he only played a few games and Confidence in JBJ was almost unthinkable.

We aren't really replacing Vic and Nap with Ramirez and Sandoval. Napoli was a guy expected to contribute but who wouldn't be around long term. Vic was a guy whose ability to contribute was questionable who wasn't going to be around long term.

Sandoval and Ramirez are guys who, if they're healthy, are expected to contribute and are going to be around for a few years. There's no question whether the job is theirs. There's no one they're blocking. They're the guy in their respective positions.
 

The X Man Cometh

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Rasputin said:
We aren't really replacing Vic and Nap with Ramirez and Sandoval. Napoli was a guy expected to contribute but who wouldn't be around long term. Vic was a guy whose ability to contribute was questionable who wasn't going to be around long term.

Sandoval and Ramirez are guys who, if they're healthy, are expected to contribute and are going to be around for a few years. There's no question whether the job is theirs. There's no one they're blocking. They're the guy in their respective positions.
 
So next year they have question marks that aren't going anywhere instead of question marks that are. Awesome.
 
 
The Sox are currently 3rd in baseball with 662 runs. Can someone make a case why the Red Sox should be worrying about their offense regressing in 2016? Ortiz decline?
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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The X Man Cometh said:
 
The Sox are currently 3rd in baseball with 662 runs. Can someone make a case why the Red Sox should be worrying about their offense regressing in 2016? Ortiz decline?
 
Ortiz Decline, JBJ returning to earth, Mookie getting hurt running into a wall, Pedroia being injured longer or having a nagging injury that doesn't take him off the field but saps his ability to hit for power or to go the other way, Castillo regressing from his post trade deadline performance, Sandoval is actually in a decline, Hanley can't get healthy, Shaw sucks and is just on a hot streak right now, Dombrowski fixes the rotation by trading away both Mookie and Xander...
 
There are a lot of things that can go wrong individually. I don't expect most of them to. In fact, I think this is a top 5 offense if they don't touch it. But I can see a number of scenarios that can be pointed to if one were inclined to paint a more pessimistic picture. Sign a front line starter, fix the pen and this should be a playoff team. It could be a division winner depending on what the Jays do with or to replace Price.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The X Man Cometh said:
 
So next year they have question marks that aren't going anywhere instead of question marks that are. Awesome.
 
 
The Sox are currently 3rd in baseball with 662 runs. Can someone make a case why the Red Sox should be worrying about their offense regressing in 2016? Ortiz decline?
 
I think the only case to be made would be from someone convinced that there's no chance of improvement from Sandoval or Ramirez and that what we've seen out of JBJ and Castillo in the last 6-7 weeks is a complete mirage and they'll soon return to what we saw of them back in May.  In other words, an eternal pessimist would be worried about the offense in 2016 because he'd be worried about Murderer's Row continuing to be productive in 1928.
 

The X Man Cometh

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Snodgrass'Muff said:
 
Ortiz Decline, JBJ returning to earth, Mookie getting hurt running into a wall, Pedroia being injured longer or having a nagging injury that doesn't take him off the field but saps his ability to hit for power or to go the other way, Castillo regressing from his post trade deadline performance, Sandoval is actually in a decline, Hanley can't get healthy, Shaw sucks and is just on a hot streak right now, Dombrowski fixes the rotation by trading away both Mookie and Xander...
 
There are a lot of things that can go wrong individually. I don't expect most of them to. In fact, I think this is a top 5 offense if they don't touch it. But I can see a number of scenarios that can be pointed to if one were inclined to paint a more pessimistic picture. Sign a front line starter, fix the pen and this should be a playoff team. It could be a division winner depending on what the Jays do with or to replace Price.
 
Well, Sandoval has had a lower wRC+ for five years running. If that is not decline I don't know what is. That's about as much of a trend that you can expect to see. But even then, a bounce back is very low hanging fruit for him.
 
Comparing a team that was 18th in run scored going into 2015 to a team that was 3rd in runs scored going into 2016, you need a whole lot more to go wrong for the second team. It just seems like a poor comparison to make.
 

Buzzkill Pauley

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The X Man Cometh said:
 
So next year they have question marks that aren't going anywhere instead of question marks that are. Awesome.
 
 
The Sox are currently 3rd in baseball with 662 runs. Can someone make a case why the Red Sox should be worrying about their offense regressing in 2016? Ortiz decline?
 
  • Ortiz decline
  • Sandoval decline
  • Pedroia injury
  • Hanley injury
  • Bradley mirage
  • Castillo mirage
  • Swihart mirage
The Red Sox have had tremendous production from 8-4 in the lineup since the end of July. However, the lower-middle part of the order (5-6-7) has been generally mediocre. That middle of the lineup's been the place where rallies go to die. 
 
April's Hanley and Svelte!Panda reporting to Fort Myers would go a long, long way to hedging the possible/probable drop-offs by JBJ, Rusney, and Blake. But of course, we don't now whether they'll be who shows up there. Since Ramirez hurt his shoulder once on a throw and once running into the Monster, hopefully putting him at 1B (and allowing him to spell Orttiz at DH) can extend his useful season to 140+ games played. I don't know what to say about Panda that isn't hand-wringing.
 
But no more risk exists for the Sox than for most other good offenses, and with Betts and Bogaerts contributing as they have, it's probably less. So there's not necessarily anything that needs to be done to hedge that risk at this point.
 
Of course, though, it's possible that an opportunity arises, where trading a player expected to be in the lineup facilitates a significant expected improvement in the pitching staff, by allowing a pitcher to be acquired whose long- and short-term expected marginal contributions is net positive vs whatever asset is traded away.
 
We'll see how Dombrowski decides to rebuild the pen, and what he does with the rotation...
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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The X Man Cometh said:
 
Well, Sandoval has had a lower wRC+ for five years running. If that is not decline I don't know what is. That's about as much of a trend that you can expect to see. But even then, a bounce back is very low hanging fruit for him.
I don't disagree with your larger point but I don't think your take on Sandoval is fair. The 149 from 2011 is clearly outlier production. After that he went 118, 117, 112 which is pretty steady. Calling that a decline is ignoring season to season variation.

I would say he's been a 15% or so better than league average hitter with a high outlier in 2011 and a low outlier this year. Looking at his babip helps to explain some of the high and low ends of the range we've seen and this year he's also has some poor luck with getting hit by pitches or foul balls in bad places.

I wouldn't be even a little surprised by a 110 wRC+ next year.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The X Man Cometh said:
 
Well, Sandoval has had a lower wRC+ for five years running. 
 
This is both true and misleading. If you plot his wRC+ across those years you'd see a line that jumps down sharply after the first year, is then essentially horizontal, with a tiny downward trend, over the next three, then jumps down sharply again. The "decline" from 2012 to 2014 is so minor that it falls well within the bounds of random year-to-year fluctuation. It's really a pretty steady level of offense, and while it isn't outstanding, it's not bad either (for perspective, it's about the same level as Mookie's performance this year).
 
The sharp dropoff this year could have a number of different explanations (injury, new league adjustment, post-contract complacency, etc.), some of which make a bounceback more plausible than others. Genuine, early decline is one of those possible explanations, but I don't think the overall statistical picture makes a terribly strong case for it. 
 

grimshaw

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^ I was about to say the same about Sandoval.  He was very consistent the last three years before this year's disaster.
 
Anyhow - I think it's fair to say that overall production at 3B, LF, C, and 1B will be better than last year even if they do nothing.
Castillo has been an average overall player with flashes of being a good player, so I don't believe that is a "mirage" or contrary to scouting reports.  And since Hanley will not be playing there next year, it would certainly be very difficult to be worse.
 
Pedey, hurt or not, has an excellent back up (Holt), and an outstanding emergency back up (Betts), so I would think production would hold steady there at the very least, unless Pedey does stay healthy and naturally declines.
 
I don't know what to think of Sandoval other than this could just be the nicks and bruises stage of his career and he's going to miss time and slow down.  Still, I don't imagine the front office would allow below replacement level performance to continue into July before making a move.  No one keeps an every day job with that production.
 
It would be difficult to imagine that Swihart takes a step back with the bat given his improvement by month.  Assuming he splits time with Hanigan/Vazquez, he ought to be fresh enough to contribute at 1B which was another sore spot for 2/3 of the season.
 
X seems to be following the natural aging curve now, and Betts has yet to struggle at any level.
 
JBJ and Shaw are the obvious regression candidates and I refuse to venture a guess on Papi anymore.
 
I don't believe they go into next season with any uncertainty at 1B - though.  If they don't get a chance to see Hanley by the end of the season at 1B, I don't think he's on the team next year.
 

The X Man Cometh

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Snodgrass'Muff said:
I don't disagree with your larger point but I don't think your take on Sandoval is fair. The 149 from 2011 is clearly outlier production. After that he went 118, 117, 112 which is pretty steady. Calling that a decline is ignoring season to season variation.

I would say he's been a 15% or so better than league average hitter with a high outlier in 2011 and a low outlier this year. Looking at his babip helps to explain some of the high and low ends of the range we've seen and this year he's also has some poor luck with getting hit by pitches or foul balls in bad places.

I wouldn't be even a little surprised by a 110 wRC+ next year.
 
Yeah, you have a valid point in that his 2011 was an outlier, and that the difference between 118 and 117 isn't something dramatic. Its just that trends are not going to be obvious in baseball most of the time - Pablo's stretch at the plate over the past few years seems like as much of an arrow pointing in a direction as one could expect, especially given where he is age-wise.
 
As for the last part, I wouldn't be surprised if Sandoval has a good year at the plate either - he's clearly a talented player, it is within his control to bounce back, and the bar isn't that high. That is part of the reason why I have a hard time being worried about scoring runs - the underachievers who we've complained about all year represent some low-hanging fruit in terms of incremental gain.
 

Drek717

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I think it's important to actually consider the course this season has taken for Sandoval before presuming this season is indicative of real decline.  
 
One, many players struggle their first year switching leagues.  JD Drew for example saw a ~0.100 OPS drop his first year with Boston, then rebounded for the next two seasons with over .900 OPS seasons (the 4th and 5th best seasons of his career).
 
Two, in slightly over a week back in May Pablo Sandoval drilled a foul ball off his ankle that I'd imagine anyone watching the game assumed was a DL trip for the guy.  He left the game but played the next day and didn't miss significant time.  Five days later he gets drilled in the knee of the same leg.  He then misses a few days, but never goes on the DL.  Prior to that double tap to his left leg he had a wRC+ of 126 despite horrible numbers against LHP.  As evidence that this has never gotten close to 100% is the fact that in mid-June he left a game when he sprained his left ankle when making a throw.  His production nosedived after the May double tap of injuries but had actually rallied back well in the week prior to getting another left leg injury.
 
Does Sandoval need to commit to being a LHB instead of trying to switch hit?  Sure.  Does Dombrowski need to have a worthwhile platoon option in-house if giving up switch hitting doesn't improve Sandoval's ineptitude against LHP?  Absolutely.  But there is real potential that in 2016 we see a Pablo Sandoval who doesn't have his left leg get drilled twice in the same week without a DL stint to recuperate, and as a result a far more productive Pablo.
 
I think some of this same rationale can be applied to Hanley as well.  Their desire to compete and the club's unwillingness to shut these guys down led to both playing through and exacerbating physical damage that greatly impacted their production for the rest of the year.
 
Ideally Dombrowski finds a corner infield/corner outfield right handed bat who can be a potential platoon partner for Pablo, injury insurance for Hanley, and a backup OF option if one of the young starters out there gets hurt/falls apart.  But worthwhile 3Bs are in short enough supply that you can't really find such a player just kicking around.  Ben Zobrist could probably be a good fit (as a 4th OF/platoon 3B who would get into the lineup 5+ days a week that way) but he'll cost too much money.
 

The X Man Cometh

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Drek717 said:
Ideally Dombrowski finds a corner infield/corner outfield right handed bat who can be a potential platoon partner for Pablo, injury insurance for Hanley, and a backup OF option if one of the young starters out there gets hurt/falls apart.  But worthwhile 3Bs are in short enough supply that you can't really find such a player just kicking around.  Ben Zobrist could probably be a good fit but he'll cost too much money.
 
He's been mentioned on here before but Danny Valencia 2.0 is an option. Career .324/.368/.496 line against LHP, can play OF or 1B in a pinch, and was on waivers a month ago so he can't be that coveted around baseball.
 

Al Zarilla

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Red(s)HawksFan said:
 
I think the only case to be made would be from someone convinced that there's no chance of improvement from Sandoval or Ramirez and that what we've seen out of JBJ and Castillo in the last 6-7 weeks is a complete mirage and they'll soon return to what we saw of them back in May.  In other words, an eternal pessimist would be worried about the offense in 2016 because he'd be worried about Murderer's Row continuing to be productive in 1928.
Oh come on, pulling out a comp to Ruth, Gehrig, Meusel, Lazzeri, Coombs, et al, and 976 runs in 155 games?
 

Al Zarilla

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Savin Hillbilly said:
 
The level doesn't have to be comparable for the relative likelihood of reaching it to be.
I hear what you're saying, except the 1927 Yankees were already an experienced offense, with their offense averaging about 4 -5 years as starters. Except Pedroia, who is getting injured more than we'd like, and a 40 YO Papi, a lot of the 2016 Red Sox offense has to come from the kids. I hope Ramirez rebounds; Sandoval, even if he loses weight, I don't know. There was that fastball he took off the knee in May that he should be completely recovered from next year.