January 30, 2023

Red Sox Place Four Prospects In The Athletic's Top 100 List (11, 37, 40, 72)

The Red Sox have four players on Keith Law's (The Athletic) Top 100 Prospects list.

Tristin Casas is already in Boston. He put up a solid 113 OPS+ (as did Giancarlo Stanton) in 95 plate appearances last season (.197/.358/.408). Sox Prospects currently estimates Ceddanne Rafaela could arrive in Boston late in 2023, with Marcelo Mayer in late 2024, and Miguel Bleis in 2026.

Age: 20 | 6-3 | 188 pounds | BL TR | Drafted: No. 4 in 2021
Mayer had a tough full-season debut in 2022, as he missed a month with a sprained wrist in the first half and struggled to drive the ball for four or five weeks after he returned, and then fought through some back tightness in July that may also have hurt his power. . . . The good news is despite the injury troubles, he still showed an extremely advanced approach at the plate, even when he wasn't at full strength, and finished strongly in Low A and after an early August promotion to High A, hitting .287/.435/.492 from July 1 through the end of the season. Mayer has a smooth left-handed swing that should get him to plus power when he fills out, with loft in his finish and evident hand strength already.  . . . I haven't seen great bat speed from him . . . he might be a high-OBP, 25+ homer guy who doesn't hit for high averages if that's the case. He's a no-doubt shortstop with great actions and quick hands . . . and a plus arm. . . . [I] think he's going to be a star.
37. Ceddanne Rafaela, CF/SS
Age: 22 | 5-8 | 152 pounds | BR TR | Drafted: International signing in 2017
Rafaela is one of the smallest players on this ranking . . . but he was the big breakout guy in Boston's system this year after he started driving the ball a lot more often and emerged as a potential 70 or 80 defender in center. Rafaela, who was born in Curaçao, swings first and asks questions later, with a very fast bat and excellent bat control that helps him make contact even on pitches out of the zone, although it also leads to a lot of weaker contact on those same pitches. He doesn't miss fastballs and actually hangs in there (pun intended) well on curveballs, but given how high he starts his hands, he doesn't always have time to adjust on other pitches . . . His defense is elite and he's a 70 runner as well, so he doesn't have to hit that much to be a solid big leaguer, and he could be an above-average regular as a low-OBP, 20+ homer guy.
Age: 23 | 6-4 | 252 pounds | BL TR | Drafted: No. 26 in 2018
Casas is a boring prospect, but not in a bad way; he projects as an above-average or better regular at first base and he's ready to take over in Fenway right now, but he doesn't have a huge tool, no 80 power or elite defense and definitely not big speed. He's patient, disciplined, and has very good feel to hit, with hard contact that so far has produced a ton of doubles although there's no real reason to think he can't put more of those balls over the fence. Casas is big and very strong; his swing makes excellent use of his upper and lower half as he rotates his hips to get more power from his legs. . .. He's a first baseman who rakes, and should be the traditional slugger for that position, hitting for some average with a ton of walks and either 40-odd doubles or 25-plus homers.
72. Miguel Bleis, OF
Age: 19 | 6-3 | 170 pounds | BR TR | International signing in 2021
Bleis is still growing into his frame, but shows exceptional ability to handle the bat, with the potential for huge power and lots of hard contact, and has a chance for every tool to end up above-average. He's an outstanding athlete who could stay in center depending on how he fills out and whether he stays an above-average runner. Right now he'll show big raw power, less in games, but it's clearly coming once he gets stronger and perhaps if he cuts down on some of the extra hand movement he has before he gets the barrel moving towards the zone. He needs to be more selective at the plate, with a little more swing and miss and a little less ball/strike recognition than you'd like, but it also comes with the enormous upside. He actually would be a perfect guy for short-season ball this year if that still existed, and I won't be shocked or too dismayed if he struggles early in Low A as an inexperienced 19-year-old. The high-average/25 homer upside is still there.
A commenter on the article provided a helpful list of how many players each team has on the list, along with where its highest prospect ranks. The Dodgers have eight players on the list. Here are the AL East teams:
Baltimore - 6 (top prospect # 2)
New York - 6 (top prospect # 8)
Boston - 4 (top prospect #11)
Tampa Bay - 4 (top prospect #24)
Toronto - 1 (top prospect #47)

January 25, 2023

NESN Admits It Edited Out Loud Boos And Steady Catcalls As John Henry And Chaim Bloom Spouted Epic Levels Of Tone Deaf Bullshit Excuses At Winter Weekend

Many Red Sox fans have been less than impressed with the front office's recent actions. After enduring a dismal 2022 season that resulted in a last-place finish, fans watched Xander Bogaerts leave for San Diego as the team announced an increase in ticket prices.

Last weekend, Red Sox owner John Henry and Chief Baseball Officer Claim Bloom were booed and heckled at the team's Winter Weekend in Springfield, but if the only coverage you saw was NESN, you would not have known that, because the network saw fit to edit out the boos and catcalls.

NESN admitted it, too, although its excuse was as lame as its game production and camerawork (my emphasis).

The show tonight at 8p — as is always the case with television production, we made tweaks where needed to accommodate sound quality in the unique amphitheater environment at MGM and condensing a 90-min period to the hour-long format of the show. With that said, the lion share of the ownership/front office Q&A is included in the show.

John Tomase (NBC Sports) said disgruntled fans "turn[ed] the made-for-NESN event into the woodchipper scene from Fargo":

Simply put, the fans are not having this offseason, not one bit. They booed Henry when he walked onto the stage. They booed chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when he tried to explain how much better off the team is now than three years ago. They booed the response to a question about the cost of attending a game.

They booed and booed and booed to the point that one attendee described it as "uncomfortable."

If the Red Sox didn't realize the world of hurt they were in with their fans before, it's clear now. The people have spoken. . . .

They directed most of their vitriol at Bloom . . . I believe Bloom believes what he's selling. It's just tough to share his vision, since a club that is effectively replacing Xander Bogaerts with Adam Duvall probably isn't going to improve.

One of the cringiest moments in video posted to Twitter occurred when Bloom tried to explain how far the Red Sox have come since 2020. The fans began booing him almost immediately . . . [H]e shifted to the decision to trade Mookie Betts, using the unfortunate homonym of "big bets" to describe the contract it would've taken to keep him, which led to another torrent of boos. . . .

It was the perfect evening for a franchise riven by dysfunction. The Red Sox have spent all winter in a bubble of their own making, insisting that everything is fine. If they expected a friendly audience on Friday, they encountered a revolt.

These three tweets (h/t Toucher & Rich) show the fans in atttendance were not buying management's bullshit. These tone deaf fuckers yapped about making Fenway Park "accessible" and how important it is to "grow" the next generation of fans and then unhelpfully point out there are a few tickets for every home game that cost only $9.00 . . . blah blah blah . . . It's fucking embarrassing.

Henry: I think the most informed thing I can say is that it's expensive to have baseball players, to have the best —

Audience: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! [for 20 seconds]

January 22, 2023

Babe Ruth's 715th Home Run

Babe Ruth's Lost 715th Home Run
By Allan Wood

On April 27, 1969, baseball fans learned that "one of the most hallowed statistics of all sports lore" – Babe Ruth's career total of 714 home runs – would be revised. Leonard Koppett of the New York Times reported on a "forgotten" home run hit by Babe Ruth in the summer of 1918. "It turns out," Koppett wrote, "that Ruth hit 715 home runs, not 714, and starting next year the official records will show that."

This surprising announcement came out of the creation of The Baseball Encyclopedia – the landmark reference work containing, for the first time ever, "a complete record of every man who ever played in a major league game" – which was published later that year, in August 1969.

. . .

From The Babe, published in 2019 by the Society for American Baseball Research in 2019.

My biography of Ruth was also included:

The Ruth bio was originally written for Deadball Stars of the American League (2006). I was asked later on to expand it so his entire career was covered. (No one seemed to care that the lede remained the same, but looking at it now, for the first time in several years, I think the first paragraph should be rewritten.)

I also contributed "Cool Babe Ruth Facts", which was not included on SABR's website. I'll share that complete article in another post.

And here's is one of my favourite Ruth photos, just because:

January 13, 2023

Buster Keaton: The Cameraman (Yankee Stadium, 1928)

Buster Keaton shows off his baseball moves in an empty Yankee Stadium in the summer of 1928. Keaton's pantomime on the mound is impressive and he hustles around the bases (he was 32 at the time). The distance to the wall in left-center – beyond the flagpole, seen when Keaton enters – was 490 feet from the plate.

This clip is from "The Cameraman", a silent romantic comedy film, starring Buster Keaton and Marceline Day. Day died at age 91 in 2000 (so she was 20 when she made this film). I'm sure she was not the only silent film star to live into the 2000s, but silent movies and any year beginning with a 2 seem like they should be distinct and separate worlds.
The Cameraman was at one point considered a lost film, destroyed in the 1965 MGM vault fire. However, a complete print was discovered in Paris in 1968. Another print, of much higher quality, although missing some footage, was discovered in 1991.
The complete film can be seen here. The baseball clip begins at 15:53.

The New York Times, September 17, 1928:

January 9, 2023

A Belated Happy New Year!

January 5, 2023

Rafael Devers Agrees To 11-Year, $331 Million Extension (2023-33)

UPDATED: Scroll down to sock divider.

One day after the Red Sox and Rafael Devers avoided arbitration with a $17.5 million contract for 2023, here comes the wonderful news that the Boston third baseman has agreed to rip up that deal while the ink is still wet in favour of a massive 11-year, $331 million extension.

Devers will report to camp next month in preparation for his seventh major league season. He will be 26 years old for the entire campaign. As mentioned, this mega-deal wipes away the arb-avoiding stop-gap and so will start in 2023 and take Devers through 2033 (his age-36 season). There are no opt-outs in the contract.

The Red Sox have not officially announced the deal, so it is uncertain whether the extension will begin in 2023 or 2024. MassLive.com writer Chris Cotiilo tweeted: "For CBT purposes, Red Sox could keep Devers' 2023 hit at $17.5M (his agreed upon salary) or fold it in to larger deal ($30.09M for 11 years). It can be done both ways. Haven't gotten an answer on what the plan is (and team officials not confirming deal)."

Jen McCaffrey's article at The Athletic reveals a bit about Devers's mindset and maturity:

But this isn't just about on-field production. The organization is also investing in Devers, the person, someone who's embraced a growing leadership role. A team — especially the Red Sox — doesn't dole out a contract of this magnitude without trusting that Devers will continue to develop into the veteran leader and clubhouse presence he's shown glimpses of becoming in recent years. . . .

Devers has already shown a desire to be more of a force among his peers, something that will be crucial as a new wave of Red Sox talent arrives.

In recent years, Devers has made a concerted effort to learn more English so that he can connect more easily with his English-speaking teammates. It's not something anyone told him to do, but something he took upon himself, knowing what it would mean for his career and the unity of the team.

Devers had a breakout season in 2019, leading the majors with 359 total bases, topping the American League with 54 doubles and 90 extra-base hits, and finishing with an OPS of . 916. He belted more home runs (32) that year than he had hit in his previous two seasons combined. And despite having 212 more plate appearances than he had in 2018, he struck out two fewer times.

Devers had a down year in 2020, but roared back in both 2021 and 2022. He was one of the Red Sox's few bright spots last season, finishing fifth in the AL in slugging and OPS and tied for third in extra-base hits. Over the last four seasons (2019-22), Devers leads all MLB batters in doubles (149) and extra-base hits (264) and he leads the AL in hits (591) and total bases (1,078).

Devers's 333 extra-base hits are the most of any player in Red Sox history before his 26th birthday. He also got to 100 dongs faster (486 games) than all but two Red Sox players: Ted Williams (467) and Tony Conigliaro (469). Devers holds franchise single-season records among third basemen for most homers (38 in 2021) and doubles (54 in 2019).

On the minus side, Devers has led the AL in errors by a third baseman for five consecutive seasons. At some point, he will be a full-time DH.

Devers is the 13th player to sign a contract worth $300+ million. Nine of those contracts have been signed in the last three off-seasons.

SoSHer drbretto: "I can't believe I've lived to see a day here where an 11 year, 331 million dollar contract didn't cause a complete existential meltdown."

Jumping off something another SoSHer posted: When David Ortiz was Raffy's age right now, he was a league-average hitter with the Twins. It's a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison and it would be fool-hardy (and unfair to Devers) to expect Raffy to put up Flo-like production (Tiz had a 1.026 OPS at age 36; 2013 was his age 37 season), but . . . through age 25:

Devers: 2958 PA: .283/.342/.512, .358 wOBA, 123 wRC+
Ortiz:  1176 PA: .261/.351/.446, .345 wOBA, 101 wRC+

Dan Secatore (Oover the Monster) has published a great write-up of a game from August 13, 2017: "Rafael Devers Is The Reason We Care"
Chapman had already established himself as one of the single best relievers of the decade. He threw harder than anyone in baseball; he hadn't given up a single home run all season; and he was a lefty.

Chapman struck out Hanley on three straight fastballs at the top of the zone to begin the ninth. Then he started Devers [then 20 years old, only 14 games into his major league career] off with a 103-MPH fastball on the inside corner. Looking at the replay now, it's not clear that Devers even saw the pitch. He stepped out of the box, stared out at the mound for a moment, shook his head, and then stepped back in — just in time to watch another 103-MPH fastball barely miss outside. This was something he'd never seen before, and it's why, typically, players with only 9 AAA games under their belt aren't called upon to face All-Star closers in the middle of a pennant race.

Devers finally took the bat off his shoulder on the third pitch, a 102-MPH fastball up and out of the zone, but he didn't come close to making contact. . . . Chapman was in complete control, primed to close out the game and put the heat on the division-leading Sox down the stretch. With an unproven rookie standing 60 feet, 6 inches away, Chapman didn't mess around, going back to a 103-MPH heater up in the zone. . . .