Wherefore art thou, Blake?

tonyarmasjr

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That different trajectory is, of course, what we're hanging onto when we strain to envision how Swihart is a serious part of this roster's primary depth chart, OR a serious consideration as a serious contributor if a regular gets hurt. As you said, Moreland, Holt and eventually Nunez give us a lot of positional flexibility and a relatively high performance floor, so unless there is a perfect storm of injuries, how is Swihart possibly going to get relevant playing time on this team? If I could borrow some 20/20 hindsight as well, I think you could make a legitimate case for having kept Marrero over Swihart, as an okay bat against lefties and a plus infield defender is a piece that complements both Devers and Nunez extremely well.
I've already beaten the "why trade Marrero instead of Holt?" idea to death, but the same holds true for Swihart/Marrero. I value Swihart more highly than Holt, for various reasons, but there just isn't enough room or need for all of Nunez, Holt, and Swihart (let alone Lin, Hernandez, and DeJesus) - defensively flexible utility players, who aren't great at any of the positions they play. Marrero had more value as the last guy on the bench seeing 4 PAs a week due to his defensive prowess.

yea, they dont think swihart is anything and these are professional baseball evaluators saying this. he is prob a AAAA guy who cant actually play catcher who is hanging around until we drop him. he is a former top 100 guy, he will prob amount to nothing. sucks to waste a top prospect, but it is what it is
It just doesn't make sense to me. If he can't catch, he doesn't (and never did) project to be more than a AAAA guy or low-end regular. Prior to his injury, he was adequate defensively. He wasn't exactly Pudge back there, but he wasn't Piazza, either. But, you could plan on him being a catcher. So, did the injury make it so the Sox think he physically can't catch?. If so, why would they not trade him for whatever they could get this spring? He surely would have brought back more than Marrero, who was a better fit for this team than non-catcher Swihart.

On the flip side, if they believe he can still catch, why in the world is he not getting a game here and there? Sandy Leon is replacement level. Swihart is at least that as a AAAA guy (or better), right? Leon is slashing .129/.156/.129 and Vazquez (whom the Sox obviously believe in as the starter, as do I) .185/.241/.235. I don't have a problem with them letting those guys work through their struggles when it's not intended to be a position of offensive strength on this team, but I don't see the downside of giving Swihart a game a week at catcher.
 

OurF'ingCity

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It just doesn't make sense to me. If he can't catch, he doesn't (and never did) project to be more than a AAAA guy or low-end regular. Prior to his injury, he was adequate defensively. He wasn't exactly Pudge back there, but he wasn't Piazza, either. But, you could plan on him being a catcher. So, did the injury make it so the Sox think he physically can't catch?. If so, why would they not trade him for whatever they could get this spring? He surely would have brought back more than Marrero, who was a better fit for this team than non-catcher Swihart.

On the flip side, if they believe he can still catch, why in the world is he not getting a game here and there? Sandy Leon is replacement level. Swihart is at least that as a AAAA guy (or better), right? Leon is slashing .129/.156/.129 and Vazquez (whom the Sox obviously believe in as the starter, as do I) .185/.241/.235. I don't have a problem with them letting those guys work through their struggles when it's not intended to be a position of offensive strength on this team, but I don't see the downside of giving Swihart a game a week at catcher.
More to the point, if the Sox think he physically can't catch, why would he be the only other catcher on the 40-man as mentioned upthread? They must believe he still has SOME ability to catch still, so I agree that it makes no sense that you wouldn't occasionally start him in place of Vazquez just to (a) see what he has and (b) keep him somewhat used to catching so that, if he does have to step in, he won't be as rusty. Even if they played him at catcher and he absolutely bombed, there is some value in knowing that his days as an MLB catcher are over and they need to find a new 3rd catcher.
 

The Gray Eagle

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My guess is that Dombrowski thinks Swihart will probably be a good hitter eventually who will be able to cover multiple positions decently, and is an asset who he doesn't want to just give away, but Cora doesn't think Swihart can help the team much as he currently is playing and doesn't trust him defensively pretty much anywhere yet.

If that's true, it's not that big of a discrepancy, it's just that the GM is more concerned with long-term future value, while the manager is more concerned with the team's immediate day to day needs.

And that's pretty much what each of them is supposed to be concerned with.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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My guess is that Dombrowski thinks Swihart will probably be a good hitter eventually who will be able to cover multiple positions decently, and is an asset who he doesn't want to just give away, but Cora doesn't think Swihart can help the team much as he currently is playing and doesn't trust him defensively pretty much anywhere yet.

If that's true, it's not that big of a discrepancy, it's just that the GM is more concerned with long-term future value, while the manager is more concerned with the team's immediate day to day needs.

And that's pretty much what each of them is supposed to be concerned with.
This seems to make sense. And so long as they don't have a pressing need for that 25th roster spot, there's little harm having Swihart hanging around and no reason to get antsy to move him. There's no one in Pawtucket or Portland for that matter who is a better option to fill that spot right now. Given how Cora is deploying his players now, anyone else in that spot would probably be getting as much playing time as Swihart, which if it is a younger player with options, would be truly wasting an asset.

In a few weeks, when Pedroia is ready (and assuming Holt is healthy as well), there may be a bit of a roster crunch. But there's time for those things to work themselves out...e.g. Nunez going to the DL for a balky knee that everyone is acknowledging isn't 100%.
 

Cesar Crespo

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I still think the reason the Redsox are wary of playing him at catcher is because they aren't convinced Blake is over his yips of throwing back to the pitcher in front of a full stadium.

Blaming the injury is convenient.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I still think the reason the Redsox are wary of playing him at catcher is because they aren't convinced Blake is over his yips of throwing back to the pitcher in front of a full stadium.

Blaming the injury is convenient.
So something that occurred early in spring training last year, was said to be resolved during that same spring training, hasn't come up since while he caught a bunch in AAA, winter league and spring training this year, is still weighing on the minds of Red Sox management?

Come on.
 

In my lifetime

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So something that occurred early in spring training last year, was said to be resolved during that same spring training, hasn't come up since while he caught a bunch in AAA, winter league and spring training this year, is still weighing on the minds of Red Sox management?

Come on.
It may not be the Yips that is the worry, but it is becoming fairly obvious that the RS are not comfortable with Swihart behind the plate. There have been several occasions when the Cora would have/should have pinched hit for Leon/Vazquez, if Swihart at catcher was a viable option.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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It may not be the Yips that is the worry, but it is becoming fairly obvious that the RS are not comfortable with Swihart behind the plate. There have been several occasions when the Cora would have/should have pinched hit for Leon/Vazquez, if Swihart at catcher was a viable option.
I will totally buy into the notion that Cora isn't comfortable playing Swihart behind the plate when he has other options...that much is obvious by his actions thus far.

But no fucking way is it motivated by concern that he might get the yips trying to throw the ball back to the pitcher.
 

Cesar Crespo

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I will totally buy into the notion that Cora isn't comfortable playing Swihart behind the plate when he has other options...that much is obvious by his actions thus far.

But no fucking way is it motivated by concern that he might get the yips trying to throw the ball back to the pitcher.
The minors is not the majors, especially when it's the yips. There is a huge difference between doing it in Pawtucket and doing it in Boston in games that actually count.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The minors is not the majors, especially when it's the yips. There is a huge difference between doing it in Pawtucket and doing it in Boston in games that actually count.
Except the only reported instance in which he had the yips was during spring training before any games were played. To my knowledge, he never experienced the problem during a game so I don't think the ballpark or the number of people in the stands had any role in it at all.
 

uncannymanny

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It’s not even a month into the season. They are not even near having a “need to see what they have” in Swihart. New managers, new coaches, gelling, are all far more important than Swihart catching once a week. I am completely unsurprised that they’ve gone with battery consistency through May 2nd.
 

AB in DC

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The odds of both Vazquez and Leon surviving the entire season without a DL trip seems very slim. So that's when we'll see what Swihart can do behind the plate. In the meantime, there really isn't anyone else in AAA worth a roster spot (though admittedly a 13th pitcher would have been really nice last night).
 

brandonchristensen

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Speaking of Castillo, has he ever spoke out about his situation? Gets a massive contract and is forced into a Hooli-esque rooftop prison and just toiling away in AAA.

That’s gotta be pretty shitty.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Speaking of Castillo, has he ever spoke out about his situation? Gets a massive contract and is forced into a Hooli-esque rooftop prison and just toiling away in AAA.

That’s gotta be pretty shitty.
If he cared that much, he'd terminate the contract. I can think of 60+ million reasons not to feel sorry for him.
 

brandonchristensen

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If he cared that much, he'd terminate the contract. I can think of 60+ million reasons not to feel sorry for him.
Relatively sorry.

Just a weird situation to be in, stuck riding a bus with a bunch of kids that make a fraction of what you make.
 

Reverend

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Relatively sorry.

Just a weird situation to be in, stuck riding a bus with a bunch of kids that make a fraction of what you make.
I'm with you--I kinda feel sorry for people who have to choose between money and their dreams too.

On both sides.
 

Adrian's Dome

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Relatively sorry.

Just a weird situation to be in, stuck riding a bus with a bunch of kids that make a fraction of what you make.
Traveling, playing baseball at a mediocre level outside of the general realm of harsh criticism, and getting paid for it like a superstar.

Picking up the tab for some 22 year old's steak every so often must be such a burden.
 

Reverend

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I guess it's partly my fault for contributing to this, but maybe we not make this thread some kind of exposition on what does and does not constitute an angst ridden life...

Mea culpa.
 

richgedman'sghost

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Could we please leave the Castillo angst pro and con its own thread? Blake has his own angst and worries without the thread being polluted by Castillo.
 
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Blake isn’t going to hit playing once every couple weeks. He had a poor game as the DH last night leaving 3 men on base and striking out twice. He isn’t a good fit at all on this roster.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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He either needs to be; given regular starts.... somewhere... on the field or come up with a phantom injury so he can get to AAA as a catcher for several days... or be outright released.
Nobody should be expected to be sat for a week straight and then be a DH and be asked to hit anything against a very good pitcher. This is getting crazy.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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O Thou who passest thro’ our vallies in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Swihart,
 

Marco

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UT B.Swihart (26)

MLB: 422pa, 8.1bb%, 24.6k%, .344babip, .260avg, .107iso, 87wrc+
MiLB: 1716pa, 8.3bb%, 17.9k%, .316babip, .269avg, .130iso, 102wrc+

Average minor league hitter turned below average major league hitter.

not sure it's any more complicated than that.
 

Van Everyman

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What happens to his stats if we only include 2015? He played 84 games that year in regular time, with a a .274 BA and .712 OPS. That’s certainly not great – but it’s also not bad for a rookie thrown into the catcher’s role a season or so early. Everything else since than feels like noise to me – riding the Pawtucket Express, horrific injury, lost service time, sporadic ABs.

I’ll say this on a third thread: I think the team is holding off putting Swihart into the catchers mix until they are ready to throw in the towel on one of Vaz or Leon. There are just too many factors at play for them to start experimenting – not least of which is messing up the starting pitching. And while everyone wants to complain about this being some suboptimal use of the guy and/or a roster spot, I haven’t exactly heard anything close to a reasonable alternative.

Unless I’m completely missing something, Swihart is going to stick with the club until one of the catchers gets let go or hurt.
 

Marco

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I get that as fans we love to dream on the hot streaks and make excuses for the cold streaks....but the guy is 26 already with thousands of pro plate appearances - imo it's long past time to accept what the big picture says here.
 

tonyarmasjr

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UT B.Swihart (26)

MLB: 422pa, 8.1bb%, 24.6k%, .344babip, .260avg, .107iso, 87wrc+
MiLB: 1716pa, 8.3bb%, 17.9k%, .316babip, .269avg, .130iso, 102wrc+

Average minor league hitter turned below average major league hitter.

not sure it's any more complicated than that.
It's already been explained in these threads. Short answer: an average hitter at catcher is a good player.
 

OurF'ingCity

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It's already been stated elsewhere but one of the reasons they likely haven't moved on from Blake yet via trade or DFA is because they almost literally have no other options as a 3rd catcher capable of playing in the majors. If they traded or DFA'd Blake and then Leon or Vazquez got hurt, they would be in a real bind especially given their dearth of tradeable prospects - they'd basically have to pick up someone off the scrap heap. So my assumption is they are holding onto Blake as long as they can purely as injury insurance because they'd rather him take up a 25-man spot than have to go scrambling if Leon or Vaz get hurt.
 
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OFC, while I agree that’s the reason they are keeping Blake on the active roster, it’s coming at a costly expense. Cora is forced to give Blake occasional playing time at the expense of a regular. Last night it was Moreland, and we certainly could of used his bat in a close game that we lost. It also gives us one less roster spot that we could use with the return of Pedroia or Thornburg if we kept an extra pitcher. Hindsight is always 20/20, but DD’s best opportunity was to deal Swihart after spring training for minor league catcher with options. Blake’s value is in the tank now.
 

mfried

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Moral of story: the entry of Pedroia and Thornburg spell the end for Swihart and BJ. The trade for a reasonable minor league catcher NOW works, possibly for both of these guys.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Cora wasn't forced to use Blake and if Blake had a different name and was 29, no one would care about his sporadic playing time. People just want to dream on his 2015, which was heavily driven by a high BAbip.

He's 26. I doubt he's Matt Stairs or Brian Daubach.
 
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OurF'ingCity

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OFC, while I agree that’s the reason they are keeping Blake on the active roster, it’s coming at a costly expense. Cora is forced to give Blake occasional playing time at the expense of a regular. Last night it was Moreland, and we certainly could of used his bat in a close game that we lost. It also gives us one less roster spot that we could use with the return of Pedroia or Thornburg if we kept an extra pitcher. Hindsight is always 20/20, but DD’s best opportunity was to deal Swihart after spring training for minor league catcher with options. Blake’s value is in the tank now.
1) No, Cora isn't "forced" to give Blake any playing time, and, in fact, Blake hasn't had much playing time at all. I assume Cora simply thought Moreland needed a day off or otherwise wasn't a good matchup against Manaea - I highly, highly doubt that if Cora thought Moreland was the best choice for that game they wouldn't have gone with him and kept Swihart on the bench where he has been 90% of this season.

2) The roster spot issue is not a huge deal because, when Pedroia or Thornburg come up, they can always DFA/trade Blake anyways. I don't see why his value should be much different than it was in spring training - yes he had a good spring training but MLB teams are smart enough not to rely on a single preseason's worth of stats when evaluating a player. Any team that would have been willing to trade for Swihart in the spring should still be willing to trade for him now.
 

chawson

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Moral of story: the entry of Pedroia and Thornburg spell the end for Swihart and BJ. The trade for a reasonable minor league catcher NOW works, possibly for both of these guys.
Brian Johnson has a 4.26 xFIP, which is comparable this year to Dylan Bundy, Jake Arrieta, and Jake Junis. He's held the Yankees to a .125/.176/.188 line (over a small sample of 17 PAs).

He's not gold, but he's one of extremely few inexpensive long-term assets we have. You wanna trade him for a "minor league catcher"?
 

MikeM

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I’ll say this on a third thread: I think the team is holding off putting Swihart into the catchers mix until they are ready to throw in the towel on one of Vaz or Leon. .
-OR-

The notion that you could completely write off 2017's struggles due to injury wasn't that clear cut, people got too carried away drooling over the possibility presented in that early fluff piece, and those extremely outdated scouting reports people were then reaching at as supporting evidence were never in any way representative of the Sox's current internal evaluation. Or as far as any potential outside interest went (I believe Oakland reportedly checked in) for that matter.

I'm left guessing that DD more or less essentially chalked up the final 25 man spot coming out of ST as being a temporary freebie, aided by the surrounding plan to regularly rotate JDM into the OF (thus downplaying the projected need/use of that final slot), and while probably combined with an initial expectation that Pedroia would be back sooner anyway. Basically leaving Swihart as somebody who was still never viewed as more then organizational catching depth that was just being stashed on the MLB roster. With nothing but a bonus to be found if one of Leon/Vaz got hurt early, or he happened to have a solid SSS showing before the inevitable crunch surfaced and the Sox moved on from him to find their replacement 3rd catcher with options.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Brian Johnson has a 4.26 xFIP, which is comparable this year to Dylan Bundy, Jake Arrieta, and Jake Junis. He's held the Yankees to a .125/.176/.188 line (over a small sample of 17 PAs).

He's not gold, but he's one of extremely few inexpensive long-term assets we have. You wanna trade him for a "minor league catcher"?
Somebody has to go. Two players are going to get added to the roster this month. It feels like these discussions are frequently held in the abstract. What's the proposal to keep Johnson? Who are you going to DFA or send down? And what order are you going to do it, with the understanding that Thornburg will likely be up before Pedrioa will be?

Sending Devers down to keep Johnson without Pedrioa? DFA Swihart to make room for Thornburg and then have one less position player until Pedrioa comes up? Doing something with Holt?

Sometimes these things work themselves out and you send a guy to the DL or maybe Johnson will end up with a mystery tweak that gets him on the DL to make room for Thornburg without having to DFA him. But, essentially, you got two coming in and three candidates to move, two of whom as I understand it are out of options. Devers, Swihart, and Johnson. And of the three one is very hard to move before Pedey is back. It's a tough chess game and I don't know if there's a great way in which Johnson is left with a chair when the music stops.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Somebody has to go. Two players are going to get added to the roster this month. It feels like these discussions are frequently held in the abstract. What's the proposal to keep Johnson? Who are you going to DFA or send down? And what order are you going to do it, with the understanding that Thornburg will likely be up before Pedrioa will be?

Sending Devers down to keep Johnson without Pedrioa? DFA Swihart to make room for Thornburg and then have one less position player until Pedrioa comes up? Doing something with Holt?

Sometimes these things work themselves out and you send a guy to the DL or maybe Johnson will end up with a mystery tweak that gets him on the DL to make room for Thornburg without having to DFA him. But, essentially, you got two coming in and three candidates to move, two of whom as I understand it are out of options. Devers, Swihart, and Johnson. And of the three one is very hard to move before Pedey is back. It's a tough chess game and I don't know if there's a great way in which Johnson is left with a chair when the music stops.
Devers? Why is sending Devers down even remotely an option? Because he has an OPS+ of 93 as a 21 year old? Yes, he can be sent down, but in favor of what, Nunez (who's been even worse at the plate) moving from 2B to 3B?

I think absent an injury, Swihart and Johnson are the most likely casualties to bring Thornburg and Pedroia on to the roster. As much as I would rather not see the team lose either player, DFAing either or both makes more sense than optioning Devers.

But speaking of Nunez...he's still working with a bad wheel (knee). Perhaps Swihart stays and Nunez hits the DL for a bit.
 

Marco

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imo the idea of sending Devers down isn't ludicrous. He's 21 - he'd be age appropriate even for A+ at the moment.

and also at the moment, he's a bit of a weak spot both offensively and defensively....while at the same time the last thing we'd want for him is to spend much time riding pine in the bigs at age 21.

then again, neither nunez nor holt are great options there either. but if they wouldn't be significantly worse - then maybe some time in the minors might be good for Devers.
 

MikeM

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imo the idea of sending Devers down isn't ludicrous. He's 21 - he'd be age appropriate even for A+ at the moment.

and also at the moment, he's a bit of a weak spot both offensively and defensively....while at the same time the last thing we'd want for him is to spend much time riding pine in the bigs at age 21.

then again, neither nunez nor holt are great options there either. but if they wouldn't be significantly worse - then maybe some time in the minors might be good for Devers.
The league average batting line on MLB third baseman is .246/.319/.407 this year. As long as Devers is hanging in close there, which he currently is, the idea of sending him down for more "seasoning" is indeed ludicrous imo.
 

chawson

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Somebody has to go. Two players are going to get added to the roster this month. It feels like these discussions are frequently held in the abstract. What's the proposal to keep Johnson? Who are you going to DFA or send down? And what order are you going to do it, with the understanding that Thornburg will likely be up before Pedrioa will be?

Sending Devers down to keep Johnson without Pedrioa? DFA Swihart to make room for Thornburg and then have one less position player until Pedrioa comes up? Doing something with Holt?

Sometimes these things work themselves out and you send a guy to the DL or maybe Johnson will end up with a mystery tweak that gets him on the DL to make room for Thornburg without having to DFA him. But, essentially, you got two coming in and three candidates to move, two of whom as I understand it are out of options. Devers, Swihart, and Johnson. And of the three one is very hard to move before Pedey is back. It's a tough chess game and I don't know if there's a great way in which Johnson is left with a chair when the music stops.
You're right, it is a tough chess game. Sending Nunez to the DL, as Red(s)HawksFan suggests, is a decent temporary fix, but that can't work for long.

Leon's the most replaceable character on the roster. It should be easy to pluck a veteran backup as bad/tanking teams start shedding fat. With the minor caveat that he's Sale's favorite receiver, Leon could be replaced by guys like Tomas Nido, Tyler Flowers, Bobby Wilson, Jesus Sucre, Raffy Lopez, Tony Wolters — all of whom have better pitch framing marks than any of our catchers — if we need them in July. It also opens more playing time to Swihart.

If it's a choice between pitchers, I'd DFA Steven Wright over Johnson. At his salary and our payroll limitations, Wright would be a non-tender candidate for next year anyway. As we saw last year, his floor is a lot lower than Johnson's.
 

Marco

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The league average batting line on MLB third baseman is .246/.319/.407 this year. As long as Devers is hanging in close there, which he currently is, the idea of sending him down for more "seasoning" is indeed ludicrous imo.
according to fangraphs 3B is tied with 1B as the best hitting position in baseball, at 111wrc+ total for all players when they've been playing 3B.

but my point was more about Devers' development, and not his actual impact on the roster right now. Devers is really, really young - very young even for AAA. I don't really enjoy him struggling on both sides of the ball. I don't know if I'd pull the trigger yet but if he continues to scuffle I'd consider it more and more.

here's his career monthly splits by the way:

JUL '17: 27pa, 18.5k%, 224wrc+
AUG '17: 107pa, 26.2k%, 107wrc+
SEP '17: 106pa, 22.6k%, 87wrc+
APR '18: 116pa, 27.6k%, 88wrc+
MAY '18: 52pa, 28.8k%, 92wrc+

not exactly the trajectory we were hoping for.
 

capecodjr41

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imo the idea of sending Devers down isn't ludicrous. He's 21 - he'd be age appropriate even for A+ at the moment.

and also at the moment, he's a bit of a weak spot both offensively and defensively....while at the same time the last thing we'd want for him is to spend much time riding pine in the bigs at age 21.

then again, neither nunez nor holt are great options there either. but if they wouldn't be significantly worse - then maybe some time in the minors might be good for Devers.
While it is frustrating to watch Devers juggle the ball on every other play (and I've openly suggested that he could use some seasoning in Pawtucket as well), he's third on the club with seven HRs and fourth in RBIs at 25. He's also fourth in MLB overall fielding metrics on FanGraphs and fourth in UZR. His batting average and OPS are very close with Benintendi's, but Benny only has two HRs.

The Sox have had success thus far with Devers "learning on the job" at the big league level, and with Nunez being the only option to replace him, along with Cora's comments below it's hard to see Devers going anywhere at the moment...

http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox/clubhouse_insider/2018/05/alex_cora_red_sox_can_live_with_errors_from_rafael_devers
 

grimshaw

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Last year Wright was hurt.

He was an All Star, his last healthy season . The team may have to give up on him but to do so now, without seeing what he can do, would be malpractice.
Ya he's being completely written off around here. He was arguably the best pitcher in the AL for 3 months and costs very little. The sheen did start to wear off before he got hurt, but for a team with an awful minor league system, they can't just give away potential assets.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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15,627
Maine
MiLB: 1716pa, 8.3bb%, 17.9k%, .316babip, .269avg, .130iso, 102wrc+
For a random outfielder in the minors, those aren't exciting numbers. For a catcher in the minors, especially one who was consistently young for his level, they're better than average. The optimism surrounding him was absolutely justified.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
15,114
The reason Swihart was considered to be a top catching prospect wasn't primarily because of stats, it was because of scouting.
Scouts love his athleticism and potential as a hitter. They figured with his athletic ability and tools, he would eventually become a solid defensive catcher. The injuries have really set him back and he hasn't been able to do that.