Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tenth Player

"You are what your record says you are." - Bill Parcells

The Red Sox have completed a tenth of the season and voila' it's the Fortune 500 once again. They're making a fortune and playing .500. Why? 

The rubber-meets-the-road offensive statistic is runs scored. 

Adjusted for games played, the Sox lead the league in runs. The replacements at the corners, Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw haven't been an issue. 

Defensively, they had a failed eyeball test in Blake Swihart, but had enough insight to realign their catching priorities. They swapped out Swihart for Christian Vazquez, which helped but couldn't resolve the mole hill. 

Ace or no ace, the early returns have failed. 

K/BB ratios tend to be more predictive of future ERA than ERA itself, so maybe there's hope. But the roster of Price, Buchholz, Porcello, Wright, and TBA hasn't delivered. 

The starters' failure surprisingly lies first at the feet of David Price and the overall lack of innings (just over 5.25 per start) delivered. This isn't unique as as only one team (Chicago) is averaging at least six innings per start. 

Particularly vexing is Red Sox pitching from the 7th inning on. With the 'new look' Sox designed to have a power bullpen, we see anything but. The K/BB ratio is barely above 2, and the Sox lead the league in bases on balls in this category. The absence of Carson Smith, the relative ineffectiveness of Koji Uehara, and the general mediocrity of the pen have contributed. 

The starters' collective WHIP has been an unimpressive 1.43 (twelfth) but the bullpen WHIP has been comparatively disappointing. 
The pen's WHIP is high and its K/BB ratio is poor relative to the league's elite pens. 

It's unknown whether Vazquez has solved Rick Porcello's issues (note the WHIP) and time will tell whether the Gopher Ball will be his undoing. Craig Kimbrel is hard to hit but has been the victim of walks and a key homer (Chris Davis). The tail of the bullpen (Ramirez, Barnes, and Cuevas) aren't on a roll. 

As much as I am not a John Farrell fan (player use, treatment of young players), I think he's not on the gangplank currently. 

Leadership always needs to ask, "what does my team need now?" The simple answer is they need better performance from the pitching staff. Part of that may come from health (Eduardo Rodriquez, Carson Smith) and part may be time (David Price). My concerns about Koji Uehara's disappearing fastball (see remain unaddressed. I'll never get on the 2013 series hero, but he may need role reassignment. 

I picked the Sox to win 84 games and I don't see any reason to reassess. 

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