Monday, 1 June 2015

The Fantasy Baseball Mentality.

Its often thought that you need as many power hitters as possible, in order to win the game of fantasy baseball [This might be true]. Apparently the Boston Red Sox [in reality] are trying to achieve this in the real game [where it simply doesn't work]. I will look at the players involved and I have a few things I would do if I were phoned up by the GM Ben Cherrington to offer my insight into how to turn the club around and not let it get to a situation where "it's getting late early".

Firstly, the batting line-up isn't balanced. Players are in the wrong slots, and they just have too many power hitters. The commonly used lineup is:

Pedroia,Betts,Ortiz,Ramirez,Sandoval,Napoli,Bogaerts,[whoever is at RF] (unless it's A healthy Shane Victorino),Swihart.

The first glaring problem [to me] is Ortiz is no longer a number three hitter, with waning power, and a growing inability to constantly be on base, This would be one area I would change. [I will detail below which lineup I would use]. Secondly, there seems to have been an oversight in terms of pitching. While it's nice to have a lineup that "can out-hit any one" Not having the capable pitching to keep runs down in the event they can't produce isn't helpful. I will talk about the rotation first as its fresher on my mind [like that would help].

Clay Buchholz,Rick Porcello,Joe Kelly,Wade Miley, Eduardo Rodriguez [recently promoted from Triple A] .

There's no obvious person [to me] on the staff that could be relied upon regularly, although I have seen signs of improvement from Porcello and Miley, and [to an extent] Buchholz. The staff is lacking an obvious ace like Lester in previous years,Pedro Martinez,Roger Clemens [in the beginning of his career] and other pitchers I may have forgotten about.

Joe Kelly - Is better than how he's pitching, I'm just not sure if he's suited to the AL East. Has a record of 1-4 with a 5.83 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 46 Ks.
Rick Porcello - Has had an indifferent start and was rewarded with a contract extension back in April [without pitching a ball]. Has a 4-4 record with a 5.37 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 50 Ks. If Porcello can make it past the 6th inning, he'll usually reward Fantasy owners with a W [or a QS].
Wade Miley - Has definitely improved since his last start in April where he gave up 6 ER in 2.1 IP and has a season line of 4-5 with an ERA of 4.97 and isn't missing that many bats with 33 Ks and a WHIP of 1.42.
Eduardo Rodriguez - Dominated the Texas Rangers on his debut with a scoreless, 7.2 Inning performance. Prior to that, he had pitched 48.1 innings in Triple A, with 44 Strikeouts, and a sparkling 2.98 ERA.
Clay Buchholz - Not sure where to start with Clay who is just as capable of giving up 7 runs in an inning than he is to pitch an 8 inning shut-out. His actual numbers on the year are 2-6 with an ERA of 4.33, 62 Ks and a WHIP of 1.29 [ that's quite good for this part of the season].
Previously, in the rotation has been Justin Masterson. Masterson was previously a member of the Red Sox, before being traded away in July of 2009 to the Indians, and would go on to have a career year with them in 2011. [ERA 3.21, 216 Innings pitched]. From there he was traded to the Cardinals in July of last year and returned to the Red Sox as a Free Agent for the 2015 season. His season so far has a 2-2 record with an ERA of 6.37 a WHIP of 1.67 and 24 Strikeouts. Justin is currently on a rehab assignment after being placed on the DL in mid May.

I don't think the rotation is as bad as their records actually suggest, but I would have liked to have seen a bigger effort to acquire a number 2 pitcher, to bolster it and can perform as an ace if adjustments need to be made.

Now to the line-up issues.

The lineup posted above, hasn't always looked like that, and recently Pedroia and Betts switched positions in the lineup, which is one thing I would have done myself.

The full changes :

1) Dustin Pedroia - 2B
2) Pablo Sandoval - 3B [although I don't agree with the signing, I feel it was done to appease missing out on Jon Lester]
3) Hanley Ramirez - LF. It's cool to see Hanley return to where it all started for him, although in a slightly unfamiliar position perhaps.
4) Mike Napoli - Recently awoke from a season long slump and appears to be finding his offensive prowess again and could help shape a game from the first inning if the men in front get on, he'd have more chances to drive them in hitting here.
5) Xander Boegarts - SS . Too good a hitter to be hitting down in 8th and would stabilise the lineup that little bit more, and would see more pitches hitting in front of ...
6) David Ortiz - DH. The DH hits for the pitcher, although as I mentioned above Ortiz isn't the same guy that could terrorise a teams pitching staff within a full season series.
7) Blake Swihart - C. The primary option at back stop now. Since losing Jason Varitek back in 2011 to retirment, the Sox have struggled to replace his presence, both as a catcher and a playcaller, although in a few seasons' , Swihart could one day be in the mould of Jason.
8) Brock Holt U. Its unclear what position he will play on any given day, given his ability to play anywhere on the field, although with uncertainty on the OF, he will likely see most of his time now at RF. He's a great hitter and is hitting .286 on the year so he gets a base hit just less than 3 times out of ten trips to the plate.
9) Mookie Betts. While his range in the field isn't doubted, I don;t feel he can properly deliver with the bat in the 2 hole at this stage of his very young career, and with him hitting ninth, would help make Pedroia even more valuable with the blend of speed and power that would turn the line-up over at a very successful rate.

There are plenty of good - great players down in the minor leagues just developing their skill set further to better equip themselves when they get the call to Fenway Park.

I'm pretty sure that as I write this, this won't be the final line up past the trade deadline, I'm almost sure some offensive players will be shipped away for some pitching, as that's one thing that's been obvious to everyone that pitching has always been an area of need. It could be looked at another way by some GMs, there are players in the minors which wouldn't ever get the call so they will agressively pursue these.

It will be fascinating / annoying waiting to see what happens though !

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