Raise the Flag! The MadProf’s Stone Cold Assessment of the Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox did it to their fans again last year.   Sure, it was an emotional ride with the looming retirement of David Ortiz.  And, well, ok, they lost to the AL-Champion-with-fair-weather-fans Cleveland Indians.

But, still…

David Price demonstrated once again that he has no postseason presence.  The prodigious bats went silent.  But, all is forgiven since Touchdown Tommy and the New England Patriots won an unprecedented 5th Super Bowl ring for that Teddy Bear of a coach, Bill Belichick.

The Sox should win the AL East comfortably.  With the addition of Chris Sale, their top 3 SP are formidable.

Pardon the interruption:  Thank God the Sox added Sale now that David Price will start the season on the shelf. #seriously.  More on this below.

They will miss David Ortiz’s bat and leadership.  Allegedly, Pablo Sandoval found Jesus and the Atkins diet over the Winter and has arrived to camp in 2017 with a new attitude and a profile that is not as wide as his portrait. Now, Price’s elbow is “ok” enough to play catch from 60 feet.  Porcello won the Cy Young Award.  Sale has wardrobe issues.  The talent is there…but will it manifest itself?

Pay attention, Boston.  Toronto has a baseball team too.

Recap 2016

Boston was prodigious until the postseason.  Batting Average:  #1.  OPS: #1. Runs: #1.  HR: #9. R/G: #1. #Seriously.  They spent most of October resting on the couch.  The pitching was not heinous.  In the categories that count (ERA, R/G, K…) they hovered around ninth.  Problem is, the bats went silent against Cleveland.

This team has talent.  It’s rather young.  It added key SP depth over the Winter.  Can it live up to expectations?

Looking Towards 2017

Steamer predictions (Source: Rotochamp.  Accessed 11 March 2017: http://rotochamp.com/baseball/TeamPage.aspx?TeamID=BOS ) offer a formidable lineup for 2017.

Player POS AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Dustin Pedroia 2B 521 78 12 58 5 0.303 0.359 0.432 0.791
Andrew Benintendi OF 545 82 16 77 13 0.288 0.341 0.484 0.825
Mookie Betts OF 605 104 24 91 23 0.309 0.354 0.514 0.868
Xander Bogaerts SS 602 93 14 77 10 0.294 0.344 0.424 0.768
Hanley Ramirez DH 487 71 24 86 9 0.277 0.340 0.478 0.818
Jackie Bradley OF 538 89 21 81 9 0.253 0.326 0.454 0.780
Pablo Sandoval 3B 265 26 6 29 0 0.253 0.300 0.377 0.677
Mitch Moreland 1B 387 42 18 58 1 0.253 0.310 0.444 0.754
Sandy Leon C 268 31 5 29 0 0.261 0.315 0.377 0.692

The front of this lineup is solid.  Benintendi is supposed to be so good that the Sox felt comfortable trading uber-prospect Yoan Moncada for Chris Sale.  Still, questions abound.

 

Jackie Bradley cooled off significantly in the second half of 2016.  Hanley Ramirez is still solid at the age of 33.  But, he is not likely to repeat 2016—especially the ridiculous September that he had. Betts and Bogaerts are two of the best young players in the game.  But do they really belong at the 3 and 4 spot in a lineup?  Big Papi has indeed retired.

Sandy Leon clearly belongs in the #9 spot.  Mitch Moreland was hailed as a great strategic pickup.  But is he really a starting 1B on a pennant contender?  He has raked in Spring Training.  So, keep an eye on him.

Who you callin’ “pudge”?

And then there is Sandoval.  He offered great post-season heroics in his time with the Giants.  But, he has never been a consistent force at the plate.  He’s a serviceable bottom of the order hitter.  But, he has a lot to prove…and make up for after his miserable 2016.

Dustin Pedroia is as hard-nosed a ballplayer as you will find anywhere.  But he’s 33.  He showed virtually no signs of age in 2016.  Still, with his style of play, you pray for no injuries.

So, while this lineup clearly offers solid potential, it also has clear holes.  My guess is that the Sox will need to rely on Brock Holt and Chris Young more than they may wish if they want to compete through the end of the season.  My second guess is that they will look to acquire a bat at the trade deadline.

ROTATION

Add Chris Sale to a rotation and you improve it.  Add a lefty to Fenway Park and you pray that he does not suffer some sort of course correction (Exhibit A:  David Price.  Your witness, counselor).

Player IP W L ERA WHIP K BB SwStrike Fastball
David Price 138 9 6 3.13 1.14 141 28 11.90% 92.9 mph
Chris Sale 205 14 9 2.94 1.05 235 42 11.30% 92.8 mph
Rick Porcello 196 12 10 3.49 1.14 160 34 8.20% 90.2 mph
Drew Pomeranz 151 8 9 3.75 1.18 158 57 11.10% 90.3 mph
Eduardo Rodriguez 136 7 8 4.10 1.27 113 44 10.60% 93.5 mph
Steven Wright 68 3 5 3.97 1.26 54 25 10.80% 83.2 mph

Rotochamp/Steamer does not give David Price much love here.  After the reports about the soreness in his pitching elbow, this comes as no surprise.  If Price is healthy, this really is a formidable pitching staff.  He is good for 200 Ks.  So is Sale. Porcello is expected to regress.  He got no respect when he won the Cy Young Award in 2016.  But, the fact is, Porcello is a solid SP.  He floundered a bit in Detroit and never became the pitcher he was hyped to be.  Now, he is a legitimate post-hype solid SP.  My guess is that he will be undervalued in 2017 because of the lack of respect and the corresponding assumption that he will not repeat.  He may not.  But, he is a solid investment at $18-20.

The strength of this rotation really lies in its depth.  Pomeranz is solid.  He did not perform very well in his transplanted role last year.  See how he adjusts heading into Fenway after Spring Training.  Rodriguez is a legitimate #2 SP.  If he can stay healthy, he’ll be an incredible asset in the #4 or 5 spot.  Steven Wright was a surprise asset last year.  But how much confidence do YOU have in a knuckleballer?

With Price on the shelf, it gives the Sox a reason as well as an opportunity to mix and match at the back end of the rotation.  Getting Pomeranz and Wright in the mix early, maybe getting Joe Kelly a couple of starts…  this all could add some depth to the staff as they move into the middle of the season.  There is great potential at the back of the rotation.  Price’s time on the DL  may prove to be a blessing if it allows Wright, Pomeranz, etc. to establish themselves.

BULLPEN

Boston’s bullpen is potentially quite strong but it is by no means threatening to be the best.  Kimbrel is a solid closer.  They picked up Tyler Thornburg over the winter in a trade with Milwaukee for Travis Shaw and 2 minor leaguers.  But, they let Ziegler go.  So, the bullpen had two closer-worthy RP and now it has one.  Granted, the acquisition of Thornburg and the looming return of Carson Smith from TJS do make this a potentially impressive late-inning obstacle for opposing teams.

Player IP W L SV ERA WHIP K BB SwStrike Fastball
Craig Kimbrel 54 3 3 32 2.50 1.06 83 26 15.10% 97.3 mph
Tyler Thornburg 63 3 3 2 3.29 1.06 77 25 12.00% 94.1 mph
Joe Kelly 62 3 3 2 3.63 1.42 58 24 10.40% 96.3 mph
Carson Smith 27 1 1 2 3.33 1.15 32 10 4.20% 92.0 mph
Robbie Ross 55 3 3 0 3.44 1.36 49 21 10.70% 93.6 mph
Matt Barnes 45 2 2 0 4.20 1.47 46 19 10.80% 96.8 mph
Henry Owens 45 1 4 0 4.80 1.51 39 28 9.80% 88.7 mph
Heath Hembree 40 2 2 0 3.83 1.25 37 13 9.70% 93.9 mph
Fernando Abad 35 2 2 0 4.37 1.23 32 14 7.50% 91.4 mph
Noe Ramirez 30 2 2 0 3.90 1.40 33 11 12.40% 89.7 mph
Roenis Elias 28 1 2 0 4.18 1.43 23 12 3.90% 92.6 mph

Joe Kelly remains a work in progress who has shown flashes of #3 SP prowess.  Kelly, along with Owens and Elias, gives the rotation a solid source of spot starters.  Kelly clearly has closer-worthy stuff as well as the capacity to ease into the rotation.  In this bullpen, Kelly offers the most return on investment and has the stuff to offer 100 K out of the bullpen if he becomes a primary setup man.  He is not Miller or Betances, but 100 extra K over a season is nothing to sniff at.

Prospects, Position Battles…

There are several real or possible position battles in Boston.  The most obvious is whether Sandoval can keep away from the dessert cart.  Otherwise, Brock Holt may be back at 3B.  Regardless, 3B remains a peculiar slot in Boston because the Sox have another incredible prospect in Rafael Devers who currently is on their Single-A Salem team.  Moncada arrived at the bigs from Salem in 2016. Devers, allegedly, is as good if not better than the kid Boston sent to Chicago.

If Price is not 100% (and, let’s face it:  “no need for surgery…at this point” is hardly good news), then there will be instability in the rotation. Sale, Porcello and Rodriguez (when he is on and if he takes the next steps) form a solid top of the rotation trio.  Pomeranz, Wright and Kelly would then form a more than serviceable back of the rotation tandem.

Final Thoughts and Fantasy Breakdowns

Boston has great potential.   I think they probably will win the AL East.  But they need to solidify the bottom of the lineup.  David Price looms as an ominous threat to the team’s post-season plans.  Overall, though, Boston is a great source of fantasy profit.  If you have room on your roster or operate a dynasty league, pick up Devers now.

 

Next up: the Texas Rangers

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

 

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 19th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #79 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss player updates, players being overdrafted, and overall fantasy updates.

Our guest this week is Jon Merkel. Jon is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com in both baseball and football. His articles publish every Wednesday.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 26th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #80 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss players in the draft going for nice bargains.

Our guest this week is Steve Hamilton. Steve is a writer, and editor with majorleaguefantasysports.com focusing on baseball. His articles publish every Saturday.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”



Categories: A. L. East, Baseball Writers, Boston, Fantasy Baseball, Major League Fantasy Sports, MLFS Authors

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