The Left Side

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    The Left Side

    Even short of the Beltre/Andrus standard, Boston needs better defense on its left side, including the outfield. Crawford came advertised as a gold glove, but often looked like a big brown dog. At the moment, the available mix for shortstop and third base includes Scutaro ( if retained ), Lowrie, Youkilis, Aviles, and Iglesias. With the exception of Iglesias, by reputation, there is not a single outstanding defender on the list. In fact, whether any of them even qualifies as average is questionable, when arm, range, hands are all considered. Maybe Aviles, but he requires a longer look. 
    Hard to say how it will all shake out. If Ortiz leaves, Youkilis will probably be shifted to DH, narrowing the prospective combinations for third and short. No combination is that promising, not when compared to the kind of defense that has been on display in the post-season.
    There has been talk of "getting by" with this or that player. Tell that to a pitching staff that works 81 games in Fenway. Every ball that goes through the left side sets up the possibility that before the inning is over another ball will leave the yard or hit the wall. Prolonged innings in Fenway are invitations to trouble. 
    Perhaps the new GM and manager will depart from Theo's preference for a hitting shortstop. After all, it can scarcely be claimed that Theo solved the ongoing problem at the position. 
    If Boston wants to improve the pitching, a good first step might be to improve the defense on the entire left side.  
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from moonslav59. Show moonslav59's posts

    Re: The Left Side

    How about "getting by" or "going light" with Scutaro at SS, as I have advocated for for a few months now?

    How about using Aviles/Lowrie/Middlebrooks (and maybe Scutty if we keep him) at 3B as we trade You or move him to cover DH if Papi walks?

    Not much we can do about CC in LF, exept pray he regains. I don't see moving him to RF, but stranger things have happened, and his speed would be better suited there. (LF could also be filled easier than RF, but probably not with a defensive wizz.) 
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    Scut at SS is definitely going light...leather-wise. The team needs true GG calliper "D" at SS. Youk is serviceable with adequate back-up if the team fields a SS with terrific range.
     
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    Re: The Left Side

     I watched the Baltimore broadcasts of the O's Fenway series, and Jim Palmer kept talking about the extremely quick Fenway infield surface, which gave fielders no chance unless a ball was hit right at them. Then the teams hooked up a few days later in Baltimore, and the contrast was striking. Infielders were ranging and reaching balls, the Scutaro glove flip to Pedroia double play stands out as one of the best defensive plays of the year, and from a guy who doesn't really have that sort of rep. Improving the defense in 2012 perhaps starts with the ground crew?
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to Re: The Left Side:
    [QUOTE]How about "getting by" or "going light" with Scutaro at SS, as I have advocated for for a few months now? How about using Aviles/Lowrie/Middlebrooks (and maybe Scutty if we keep him) at 3B as we trade You or move him to cover DH if Papi walks? Not much we can do about CC in LF, exept pray he regains. I don't see moving him to RF, but stranger things have happened, and his speed would be better suited there. (LF could also be filled easier than RF, but probably not with a defensive wizz.) 
    Posted by moonslav59[/QUOTE]

    We don't have many options to improve at SS unless Iglesias has a huge spring, or we do something crazy like chase Reyes which I doubt because we need pitching.  Scuter and Aviles are sufficient enough if we can land Cuddyer and some pitching.  I think Lowrie will be packaged at some point. 

    I would also rather lose Pap than David if need be.  We don't need a huge overhaul if CC can have a nice season and Youk returns to form.  Having Aviles should work out better than Lowrie next season in giving both Scuter and Youk some rest without losing much offense.
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to Re: The Left Side:
    [QUOTE] a defensive wizz. 
    Posted by moonslav59[/QUOTE]

    Isn't that what Manny did inside the wall?   Cool
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to Re: The Left Side:
    [QUOTE]Scut at SS is definitely going light... leather-wise. The team needs true GG calliper "D" at SS. Youk is serviceable with adequate back-up if the team fields a SS with terrific range .
    Posted by harness[/QUOTE]
    That's the point. If the third baseman is limited to his left and the shortstop is limited to his right, balls that could have been fielded will snake through. Limited range in one of these positions might be overcome by good range at the other, but limited range at both puts added pressure on the pitching staff.

     
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    Re: The Left Side

    m
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    b
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from expitch. Show expitch's posts

    Re: The Left Side

    Who plays shortstop eventually may depend upon production from the corner outfielders and behind the plate; that is, the 6, 7, 8 holes in the order. If Crawford gets it going and the right fielder(s) contribute, the Sox might decide that the lineup can carry Iglesias's bat. Salty tailed off at the end. He would need to regain his mid-season form. 
    The club might be satisfied with what it's getting on defense from Youkilis and
    ( fill in the name ) and feel no need to "rush" Iglesias. But if his glove is as advertised, he'd make a big difference in the infield. 
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to Re: The Left Side:
    [QUOTE]Who plays shortstop eventually may depend upon production from the corner outfielders and behind the plate; that is, the 6, 7, 8 holes in the order. If Crawford gets it going and the right fielder(s) contribute, the Sox might decide that the lineup can carry Iglesias's bat. Salty tailed off at the end. He would need to regain his mid-season form.  The club might be satisfied with what it's getting on defense from Youkilis and ( fill in the name ) and feel no need to "rush" Iglesias. But if his glove is as advertised, he'd make a big difference in the infield. 
    Posted by expitch[/QUOTE]

    He wore himself out chasing all those PBs.
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from Alibiike. Show Alibiike's posts

    Re: The Left Side

    Agreed. The left side of the infield was a sieve, and LF not much better. As a matter of fact , C, P, 3B, SS, and LF all were a defensive nightmare.
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    A healthy Youk and Scutaro are average defensively.  Lowrie is below average at SS.  Average is not a nightmare, and they are very good offensively, so I say until Iglesias shows he can get within 60 total bases of Marco Scutaro (what his defense would save over the course of a season) we're better off leaving things alone.  

    The right-side of the infield is fantastic defensively, by the way, which makes the infield defense very good overall.

     
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    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to Re: The Left Side:
    [QUOTE]How about "getting by" or "going light" with Scutaro at SS, as I have advocated for for a few months now? How about using Aviles/Lowrie/Middlebrooks (and maybe Scutty if we keep him) at 3B as we trade You or move him to cover DH if Papi walks? Not much we can do about CC in LF, exept pray he regains. I don't see moving him to RF, but stranger things have happened, and his speed would be better suited there. (LF could also be filled easier than RF, but probably not with a defensive wizz.) 
    Posted by moonslav59[/QUOTE]

    I've had that thought on Crawford as well, RF that is, but with his arm I just don't think it is viable.  Teams already run all over our pitchers and catchers, do we really need to let them run all over our RF too?
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from maxbialystock. Show maxbialystock's posts

    Re: The Left Side

    Sorry, but I'm not buying it.  With a rotten infield--according to expitch--the Sox were headed for 100 wins before September rolled around.  The proximate cause of the late collapse was horrible pitching.  Yes, the errors picked up.  Yes there were some baserunning gaffes.  Yes, RISP disease came back.  But the root cause of missing the playoffs was bad pitching that started with the starters and eventually went through the bullpen.

    But, before the collapse, Youk was pretty darn useful playing 3B at whatever level and batting cleanup.  For about three months, the Sox had five hitters--Ellsbury, Pedroia, Agon, Youk, and Ortiz--among the top ten OPS's in the AL. 

    I would love to see Iglesias or someone like him at SS, not because I think they will win games, but because great defense is great fun to watch.  Great D is the poetry of baseball.  But winning and losing is usually the result of the prose of baseball--hitting and pitching. 
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    I really like Crawford in RF.  He's not going to gun anybody down first to third, but he's going to cut off a lot of balls that would otherwise get to the triangle or rattle around in the corner.  I also think his hamstring may have been more of an issue than we know - it seems unusual that both defense and base-stealing would be sub-par, if his legs are healthy.
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to Re: The Left Side:
    [QUOTE]Sorry, but I'm not buying it.  With a rotten infield--according to expitch--the Sox were headed for 100 wins before September rolled around.  The proximate cause of the late collapse was horrible pitching.  Yes, the errors picked up.  Yes there were some baserunning gaffes.  Yes, RISP disease came back.  But the root cause of missing the playoffs was bad pitching that started with the starters and eventually went through the bullpen. But, before the collapse, Youk was pretty darn useful playing 3B at whatever level and batting cleanup.  For about three months, the Sox had five hitters--Ellsbury, Pedroia, Agon, Youk, and Ortiz--among the top ten OPS's in the AL.  I would love to see Iglesias or someone like him at SS, not because I think they will win games, but because great defense is great fun to watch.  Great D is the poetry of baseball.  But winning and losing is usually the result of the prose of baseball--hitting and pitching. 
    Posted by maxbialystock[/QUOTE]
    Are you saying that great defense has no effect on pitching and therefore no effect on outcomes -- but it's just a pretty decoration? That indeed would be a new slant on the game. 

     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from Beantowne. Show Beantowne's posts

    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to The Left Side:
    [QUOTE]Even short of the Beltre/Andrus standard, Boston needs better defense on its left side, including the outfield. Crawford came advertised as a gold glove, but often looked like a big brown dog. At the moment, the available mix for shortstop and third base includes Scutaro ( if retained ), Lowrie, Youkilis, Aviles, and Iglesias. With the exception of Iglesias, by reputation, there is not a single outstanding defender on the list. In fact, whether any of them even qualifies as average is questionable, when arm, range, hands are all considered. Maybe Aviles, but he requires a longer look.  Hard to say how it will all shake out. If Ortiz leaves, Youkilis will probably be shifted to DH, narrowing the prospective combinations for third and short. No combination is that promising, not when compared to the kind of defense that has been on display in the post-season. There has been talk of "getting by" with this or that player. Tell that to a pitching staff that works 81 games in Fenway. Every ball that goes through the left side sets up the possibility that before the inning is over another ball will leave the yard or hit the wall. Prolonged innings in Fenway are invitations to trouble.  Perhaps the new GM and manager will depart from Theo's preference for a hitting shortstop. After all, it can scarcely be claimed that Theo solved the ongoing problem at the position.  If Boston wants to improve the pitching, a good first step might be to improve the defense on the entire left side.  
    Posted by expitch[/QUOTE]

    Hey Ex,

    Not sure that a healthy Youkilis is or was a defensive liability at 3b, not in Beltre class for sure. I'd grade him as better than average. He doesn't have Beltre arm nor his lateral quickness, but he does do a pretty good job on the slow rollers down the line and makes the routine play look routine...To me greatest upside we'd get by employing another 3B would be to move Youk to the DH and have him in the lineup for 150 games.

    Since this is Youk's last year under contract. I would have to think that Middlebrooks will be given a long look this spring and/or they'll give Aviles or Lowrie a shot. More likely I think is they head to camp with Youks name written in pencil and hope that he recovers in time to open the season..

    I would agree that we need to upgrade the athleticism and range at SS...Where Scutaro is IMHO serviceable at best. Struggles getting to and making throws from the hole and has little or no range going to his right towards 2nd...I do like his stick and his moixy the guys a grinder.

    That said, to me the opportunity lyes in having a bonifide defensive SS on the bench, which we currently don't have...Then we could employ the late innings defensive replacement concept in games were we're leading after 7 full...
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    expitch,

    That's right, I think hitting trumps fielding every time.  The Sox won the WS in 2007 with Lugo at SS and in 2004 with Garciaparra and then Cabrera at SS--and exactly how many gold gloves among those three? 

    I'm not against good defense, but I completely disagree with the notion of your title and OP, which appears to be that fixing the left side defense is the key to winning in 2012.  As I recall, Manny Ramirez was a bit of a liability in LF, but not so bad at the plate.  And before him was some game named Williams.  Of course, I also think Lowell was huge to winning in 2007, and he was a pretty decent fielder as well as a very good hitter. 

    The Sox played great ball through August of this year with whoever (Scutaro, Lowrie, Aviles, Iglesias, etc) at SS, Crawford in LF, and a slowed Youk at 3B.  Why great?  Because they had a great offense and so-so pitching.  Before Youk got hurt, he was a key part of the Sox offense, and it didn't much matter how good or bad his fielding was. 
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    Great topic and comments. I just think Youk is too slow at 3rd base and I really close my eyes when he's chasing a bunt or roller. He showed his age (bodywise) by July/August and chronic injuries beset him. I also like the idea of CC in right. That wall ball routine had him baffled last year. He's gotta be better than he showed. But Youk, Scut and CC on the left side does not seem like a good idea again, based upon what most everyone here thinks. Be interesting to see how Cherry solves it!
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to Re: The Left Side:
    [QUOTE]Great topic and comments. I just think Youk is too slow at 3rd base and I really close my eyes when he's chasing a bunt or roller. He showed his age (bodywise) by July/August and chronic injuries beset him. I also like the idea of CC in right. That wall ball routine had him baffled last year. He's gotta be better than he showed. But Youk, Scut and CC on the left side does not seem like a good idea again, based upon what most everyone here thinks. Be interesting to see how Cherry solves it!
    Posted by PetesCall[/QUOTE]

    Hey pete,
    Not sure that I would clasify a sports hernia as chronic...which is what finaly did him in this year...The most troubling news I heard regarding his health was his hip which has never been fully explained as to what extend his hip is bothering him...I would have to think that they see 3B as a longer term position of need regardless of whether Youk returns to form or not...That's where Middlebrooks (23 years old) and Cecchini (21 years old) will play a role...My guess is that they'll give Middlebrooks a look this spring and if they don't see him as the longterm answer they'll likely need to sign or trade for a player to bridge the gap until Cecchini is ready in 2015....
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    Max,
    I asked whether you think defense has little or no effect on pitching. You responded that you rank offense over defense. ( Williams and Manny are not fair examples. They were beasts. ) It's not that simple. Pitching, defense, and hitting are all connected. The approach that batters take depends in part on what pitching and defense have or have not given up. Batters on a club down three or four runs early can start to press, or go for the nines instead of for the base hit. 
    Pitching and defense are causally connected. The better the defense, the less hard a pitcher has to work. It avoids the four-out inning. It gets him out of tough innings. Great plays give him a psychological boost. ( Ask any pitcher. ) And on and on. There is no overestimating the positive effect that great defense has on pitching.
    I didn't say that Boston's defense on the left side was "rotten," but I have serious doubts as to whether it is adequate for a full season to the needs of a contending team, which, by the way, might have continued to contend had not the leftfielder butchered the last hit ball of the year.
    Sounds as though you are counting on the Big Five matching or bettering their performance in 2011 -- for a full season. They were rolling when, as you put it, the club was on pace to win 100 games ( I count wins only when they happen on the field ), but you must have noticed that the sizzling cooled off somewhat in September. ( See Ortiz, in particular. )  I'd hesitate to count on a steamroller offense to compensate fully for defensive deficits.
    The rules haven't changed. You have to retire the other side before you get to hit. 
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    Hey Ex,

    I would say that the venue plays a role too...Pitching is obviuosly enhanced by better defense...Playing in Parks like Feway or Arlington there's also a premium on scoring runs too...the key is balance. One of many reasons the Sox ended the 86 year drought was due to change in the teams phylosophy placing more emphesis on pitching, and having a deep lineup 1-9 with professional hitters. while defense was important the 2004 team was middle of pack at best...2007 was slightly improved but still "middle of the pack"...

    I coached last year with a couple of former big leaguers...In our first winter session with the team they stressed the importance of making the routine plays look routine to the kids...Coach would say "teams that make the routine plays look routine win!"
     
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    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to Re: The Left Side:
    [QUOTE]Hey Ex, I would say that the venue plays a role too...Pitching is obviuosly enhanced by better defense...Playing in Parks like Feway or Arlington there's also a premium on scoring runs too...the key is balance. One of many reasons the Sox ended the 86 year drought was due to change in the teams phylosophy placing more emphesis on pitching, and having a deep lineup 1-9 with professional hitters. while defense was important the 2004 team was middle of pack at best...2007 was slightly improved but still "middle of the pack"... I coached last year with a couple of former big leaguers...In our first winter session with the team they stressed the importance of making the routine plays look routine to the kids...Coach would say "teams that make the routine plays look routine win!"
    Posted by Beantowne[/QUOTE]
    In 2004, Cabrera was high above a "middle of the pack" shortstop. He was key to the infield defense from the moment he put on a Sox uniform. Bill Mueller moved around better that year than Youkilis did last year. In 2007, Lowell was still a premier third baseman. Right now the Sox have no SS to match what Cabrera brought and no third baseman to match what Lowell brought. My point is that you need superior defense at at least one of those positions. If I had to choose it would be shortstop.
    Right, you expect fielders to make the routine plays. Otherwise why would they even be on the field? But the guys who make the difference are the ones who make the hard plays look routine. There is no substitute for the great play in a pinch.
    Emphasis upon pitching implies that you'll field a defense worthy of the pitchers. The two cannot be separated.  There are days when pitchers are not at their best, and rely on the defense to bail them out. 
    I know that runs count at Fenway. That's exactly why I say that you want to avoid the four- or five-out inning. 

     
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    Re: The Left Side

    In Response to Re: The Left Side:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: The Left Side : In 2004, Cabrera was high above a "middle of the pack" shortstop. He was key to the infield defense from the moment he put on a Sox uniform. Bill Mueller moved around better that year than Youkilis did last year. In 2007, Lowell was still a premier third baseman. Right now the Sox have no SS to match what Cabrera brought and no third baseman to match what Lowell brought. My point is that you need superior defense at at least one of those positions. If I had to choose it would be shortstop. Right, you expect fielders to make the routine plays. Otherwise why would they even be on the field? But the guys who make the difference are the ones who make the hard plays look routine. There is no substitute for the great play in a pinch. Emphasis upon pitching implies that you'll field a defense worthy of the pitchers. The two cannot be separated.  There are days when pitchers are not at their best, and rely on the defense to bail them out.  I know that runs count at Fenway. That's exactly why I say that you want to avoid the four- or five-out inning. 
    Posted by expitch[/QUOTE]

    ex,
    Truth be told Mueller was in the bottom half of all ML 3rd baseman in 2004 Cabrera ranked 14th...In 2007 Lowell was ranked 12th and Lugo 17th. To me that about as middle of the pack as it comes...this year Scutaro was 15th and Youk was tied for 11th with Beltre...again middle of the pack...not horrible...

    I'm not disputing the need to upgrade the defense on the left side. All I was trying to do was to speak to the venue that the Sox play in...where a bloop and bomb happens quite frequently...Thus playing in Fenway with solid pitching and a deep lineup you can overcome a few balls finding grass. with a premium on runs scored..you can't however win consistantly in a hitters park with a team built primarily on pitching and defense. Heck the Mariners can't that in park built for just that...

    In a perfecxt world you'd have a good balance of all three..how the old adage go the key to winnings is pitching, defense and timely hitting...
     
    That said, if I had my choice I would sacrifice a litttle stick at SS for a premier gold glove defender...If 1-7 I had a lineup capable of scoring 5 or 6 runs a game...
     

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