Blake wants to rake

Harry Hooper

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Not quite a "best shape of his life" ST story, Mike Cole at NESN has an article on Blake Swihart with some encouraging notes:

“This is the first time I’ve felt healthy in a year and a half, so it’s going to be fun for me,” Swihart said. “I know what I can do when I’m healthy and I’m excited to show everybody else what I can do.”
...
he finally feels back to normal, which he didn’t fully realize until he was able to catch back to back games in the Dominican winter league. Swihart’s winter ball performance speaks for itself, too, as he hit .407 over 18 games. He’s hopeful he’ll be able to build on that success next month in spring training.
...
“I’m a switch-hitting catcher that can play nine other positions. I can get on the mound if you need me to. I’ve always played every position. Growing up, my dad had me play everywhere and that’s just something I’ve always done.”
 

grimshaw

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Huge stress on "wants to" but I'm rooting for the guy big time. I was at a Sea Dogs game after he was promoted and he went up and down every aisle in the stadium and said hello and shook hands with a ton of people. Seemed like a really solid dude.
 

The Gray Eagle

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I still hold out hope that he can become a BJ Surhoff type of player, hitting around 280/333/410 while being able to cover catcher, LF, 3B and 1B at various times.

He'll never play as long as Surhoff did, but he can still be a valuable, versatile player for years to come. Since he's currently healthy and out of options, he should be expected to make the roster to start the season.

His Marcel projection for this year: 265/333/413 in 211 PAs.
Depth Charts/Steamer: 241/304/369 in only 50 PAs.

Should be interesting to see which one he comes closest to.
 

Plympton91

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I still hold out hope that he can become a BJ Surhoff type of player, hitting around 280/333/410 while being able to cover catcher, LF, 3B and 1B at various times.

He'll never play as long as Surhoff did, but he can still be a valuable, versatile player for years to come. Since he's currently healthy and out of options, he should be expected to make the roster to start the season.

His Marcel projection for this year: 265/333/413 in 211 PAs.
Depth Charts/Steamer: 241/304/369 in only 50 PAs.

Should be interesting to see which one he comes closest to.
Even the low end is better than Sandy Leon will do, probably.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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What's weird about Swihart's Steamer projection is that it's worse than his career line, which seems odd for a 26-year-old with less than 500 career PA. You'd expect him to get better or at least not worse at this stage.

I think the part of his game where there's the most hope for improvement is his K rate. Through 2016, his minor league K rates were mostly in the mid-teens, but he's at just under 25% as a major leaguer. This is not mostly about having a lot of swing-and-miss; his contact rates are normal, and he hasn't swung at an excess of bad pitches. He has an above-average percentage of strikeouts looking. It looks like he mostly needs to get better at pitch recognition/selection. That'll be tough to do as a bench player, I would guess.

But ideally, if he could get his K rate down to 20, even with a BABIP ramping down to a more reasonable .330, he'd be capable of putting up a line like .280/.340/.410, which, for a switch-hitting utility guy athletic enough to fill in at any position except SS and CF, would make him a pretty useful piece.
 

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Admittedly, I've been a Blake fanboy since he was drafted. And while the dream of Posey-lite is dead, the prospect of his being a very athletic super utility guy, who can also catch is intriguing. He could still have a very nice career, and could be a real asset to the team.
I wouldn't be surprised to see him get some time at 2nd in spring training. If he can offer passable defense at three infield positions, LF and be the emergency catcher while posting a .330-.345 OBP and hitting home runs at a 10-15 per 600 PA rate, he'd be quite valuable. If he's truly healthy, given his level of athleticism, I wonder if he'd be much worse than Eduardo Nunez at short, even. You'd still need a Marrero or Lin for actual defensive replacements, but I could see Swihart's best case scenario being around Nunez's level.
 

Max Power

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What's weird about Swihart's Steamer projection is that it's worse than his career line, which seems odd for a 26-year-old with less than 500 career PA. You'd expect him to get better or at least not worse at this stage.
He put up a .539 OPS in AAA last year. I'm surprised the projections are even that good.
 

tonyarmasjr

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I find the hopeful notion of Swihart being a utility/B.J. Surhoff player quite fun in the face of Farrell being crucified for playing him in LF less than two years ago.
 

Sampo Gida

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Well I really don't know what he can or will do. Obviously he will be given a chance health permitting, but any significant playing time would mean an injury or two to someone else. Would be nice if he can play some 2B
 

Savin Hillbilly

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I find the hopeful notion of Swihart being a utility/B.J. Surhoff player quite fun in the face of Farrell being crucified for playing him in LF less than two years ago.
Yeah, but that was always silly 20/20 hindsight stuff. The idea that putting a catcher in left field is taking him from a safe space to a dangerous one was and is absurd. There are no safe positions on the diamond--though first base probably comes closest--only different position-specific flavors of injury risk.
 

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If we're going to sign JDM and keep both Moreland and Ramirez, Swihart might be the key to making the roster work. Having a backup catcher who can be the backup third baseman goes a long way to countering the three 1b/DH logjam.
 

tonyarmasjr

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If we're going to sign JDM and keep both Moreland and Ramirez, Swihart might be the key to making the roster work. Having a backup catcher who can be the backup third baseman goes a long way to countering the three 1b/DH logjam.
I would argue that Martinez's career total of 18 innings at 1B - in short-season 2009 baseball - vis a vis the subsequent 6000+ innings in the OF is a better counter. Martinez would be the de facto 4th OFer if signed. If anything, it probably renders Bryce Brentz useless. The 5th OFer would be a swiss army knife type such as Swihart, Holt, or Lin.
 

Plympton91

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Yeah, but that was always silly 20/20 hindsight stuff. The idea that putting a catcher in left field is taking him from a safe space to a dangerous one was and is absurd. There are no safe positions on the diamond--though first base probably comes closest--only different position-specific flavors of injury risk.
The reason it was assinine to put Swihart in LF is because he was the best catcher in the organization by an order of magnitude But he dropped a pop up once, so he had to be sent to AAA and Vazquez allowed to have the worst offensive season for a catcher since Kevin Cash.
 

tonyarmasjr

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The reason it was assinine to put Swihart in LF is because he was the best catcher in the organization by an order of magnitude But he dropped a pop up once, so he had to be sent to AAA and Vazquez allowed to have the worst offensive season for a catcher since Kevin Cash.
Don't you mean it allowed Sandy Leon to have the best offensive season for a catcher since Victor Martinez? He's the guy who replaced Swihart to the tune of a 125 wRC+ in the lion's share of catching duties.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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If JDM is signed and the 3 OF'ers are still are starting 3 (JDM is DH and backup 4th OF'er)... AND... Hanley is kept on the 25 man (unlikely if the prior happens) then Brentz is likely not on the roster and then yeah... it makes perfect sense to have Swihart as the 5th OF'er, backup backup C and backup backup IF (with Lin, Merrero as the middle IF backup). Holt is gone.... and honestly, I'm done with him. I'd like to see Swihart given this opportunity and likely to end up as the "full time" backup C because I'm pretty sure that Leon is going to sink himself by early June
 

Rasputin

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I would argue that Martinez's career total of 18 innings at 1B - in short-season 2009 baseball - vis a vis the subsequent 6000+ innings in the OF is a better counter. Martinez would be the de facto 4th OFer if signed. If anything, it probably renders Bryce Brentz useless. The 5th OFer would be a swiss army knife type such as Swihart, Holt, or Lin.
I don't think your starting DH can be your fourth outfielder. Your fourth outfielder needs to be able to take over in-game and your DH can't really do that. Plus, JDMs defense isn't just slightly bad. We really want to keep him out of the field 95% of the time.

We have three bench spots that aren't in the 1B/DH mess and we need to fill them with a fourth outfielder, backup catcher, and backups at the other three infield spots.

Brock Holt could do that. Or he could just be done. He had a terrible season in almost every respect. He performed poorly and had massive injury issues.

Marco Hernandez might be Brock Holt!2 the Brockening, but a) he's probably going to be the starting second baseman to start the season, and b) he might not be good enough.

Marrero could certainly handle the infield positions defensively but if we had to go with a backup for a week or two, he'd be a black hole in the lineup. That's bad enough at short and second, and even worse at third. We don't want to mess around with bringing up Michael Chavis for a week and a half unless and until we think he's pretty much ready.

So I look at it this way. Marrero can back up second and short until Pedroia comes back. The fourth outfielder only has to be able to play left because Benintendi can play center and right if he has to so some schlub like Brentz is less than ideal but workable. That means you either have a backup catcher who can also back up third, or you're putting a lot of eggs in a healthy Brock Holt or you're willing to accept Marrero's bat at third.
 

Rasputin

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If JDM is signed and the 3 OF'ers are still are starting 3 (JDM is DH and backup 4th OF'er)... AND... Hanley is kept on the 25 man (unlikely if the prior happens) then Brentz is likely not on the roster and then yeah...
I don't think it's all that unlikely that we keep the starting outfield as is and keep Hanley and I certainly hope management feels the same. Frankly, I don't want to trust either Hanley Ramirez or Mitch Moreland to play 150+ games at first base. We can make the roster work while keeping them both and I think we should.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
I don't think it's all that unlikely that we keep the starting outfield as is and keep Hanley and I certainly hope management feels the same. Frankly, I don't want to trust either Hanley Ramirez or Mitch Moreland to play 150+ games at first base. We can make the roster work while keeping them both and I think we should.
150+ games is an artificial bar. Moreland has played 147 and 149 games the past two seasons. We don't need a specialist to pick up the other 15. If you have both a DH and a first baseman, it makes no sense to use up a roster spot on a guy who can do only those two things, and can't even do them very well, and on top of that will be pissed off all year because the role you've put him in is going to cost him $20 million.
 

Buzzkill Pauley

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150+ games is an artificial bar. Moreland has played 147 and 149 games the past two seasons. We don't need a specialist to pick up the other 15. If you have both a DH and a first baseman, it makes no sense to use up a roster spot on a guy who can do only those two things, and can't even do them very well, and on top of that will be pissed off all year because the role you've put him in is going to cost him $20 million.
Why do you lead with the assumption that Moreland is the Red Sox’s 1B rather than Hanley?

Moreland is projected to be a better fielder and a worse hitter. If that plays out on the field as expected, for what reason should we not expect Hanley to start at 1B for the offense?

Is it because WAR says it should be that way? Or because Cora signaled his intention to the press? Or are you suggesting Moreland would “be pissed off all year” if it happened’
 

chawson

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Why do you lead with the assumption that Moreland is the Red Sox’s 1B rather than Hanley?

Moreland is projected to be a better fielder and a worse hitter. If that plays out on the field as expected, for what reason should we not expect Hanley to start at 1B for the offense?

Is it because WAR says it should be that way? Or because Cora signaled his intention to the press? Or are you suggesting Moreland would “be pissed off all year” if it happened’
As the team is presently constructed, of course Moreland is the starting first baseman. If JDM or someone else is brought in, in directly cuts into Hanley's playing time at DH/roster spot. They're not going to sign Moreland for two years to be a bench bat.

If Hanley weren't coming off a 65 wRC+ against LHP last year, there may be more of an argument for a straight platoon. Regardless, there aren't a lot of lefties in our division to hit against.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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As the team is presently constructed, of course Moreland is the starting first baseman. If JDM or someone else is brought in, in directly cuts into Hanley's playing time at DH/roster spot. They're not going to sign Moreland for two years to be a bench bat.
You are correct, BUT it's not as though they haven't signed guys to multi-year deals to be "bench bats" before. Chris Young jumps to mind.

Moreland was signed to be the starting 1B. There really shouldn't be any doubt about that. However, a Martinez signing or frankly, any acquisition that brings in a big bat who best fits in the DH spot, could change the plan for how they deploy Moreland and Hanley. But really, it should be one of those "we'll cross the bridge when we get there" kind of things. Moreland is the starter until or unless something changes.
 

chawson

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You are correct, BUT it's not as though they haven't signed guys to multi-year deals to be "bench bats" before. Chris Young jumps to mind.

Moreland was signed to be the starting 1B. There really shouldn't be any doubt about that. However, a Martinez signing or frankly, any acquisition that brings in a big bat who best fits in the DH spot, could change the plan for how they deploy Moreland and Hanley. But really, it should be one of those "we'll cross the bridge when we get there" kind of things. Moreland is the starter until or unless something changes.
Right, of course. Young, Gomes, David Ross. And who can forget the Jay Payton deal?

In this case, though, for a plus defensive guy who can only play one position, it's safe to say Moreland's the starter for 2018 at least.
 
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Buzzkill Pauley

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As the team is presently constructed, of course Moreland is the starting first baseman. If JDM or someone else is brought in, in directly cuts into Hanley's playing time at DH/roster spot. They're not going to sign Moreland for two years to be a bench bat.

If Hanley weren't coming off a 65 wRC+ against LHP last year, there may be more of an argument for a straight platoon. Regardless, there aren't a lot of lefties in our division to hit against.
My comments don’t pertain to the team “as presently constructed.”

Because every single scenario that presumes {if JDM or someone else is brought in, then it will directly cut into Hanley’s playing time} is starting with an assumption rather than a fact.

Cora will have to allocate playing time, sure. But what will directly cut into Hanley’s playing time next season will be his recovery from shoulder surgery and his actual performance at the plate.

Here’s the sss warning on that dire wRC+ from 2017 you posted: it was a whopping 123 PA, all occurring in a season immediately after which he had shoulder surgery.

I could just as easily point to the 143 PA in 2016 where “healthy” Hanley’s wRC+ against LHP was 187; or, that his 101 wRC+ vs RHP from 2017 still equaled Moreland’s 2017 (and is 21 points higher than Moreland’s 2016 production of 80 wRC+ against RHP).

Moreland being the everyday 1B, if JDM or some other power hitter is acquired, is not a fait accompli.
 

chawson

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My comments don’t pertain to the team “as presently constructed.”

Because every single scenario that presumes {if JDM or someone else is brought in, then it will directly cut into Hanley’s playing time} is starting with an assumption rather than a fact.

Cora will have to allocate playing time, sure. But what will directly cut into Hanley’s playing time next season will be his recovery from shoulder surgery and his actual performance at the plate.

Here’s the sss warning on that dire wRC+ from 2017 you posted: it was a whopping 123 PA, all occurring in a season immediately after which he had shoulder surgery.

I could just as easily point to the 143 PA in 2016 where “healthy” Hanley’s wRC+ against LHP was 187; or, that his 101 wRC+ vs RHP from 2017 still equaled Moreland’s 2017 (and is 21 points higher than Moreland’s 2016 production of 80 wRC+ against RHP).

Moreland being the everyday 1B, if JDM or some other power hitter is acquired, is not a fait accompli.
I think if DD were more confident in Hanley getting substantial time at first, he would have signed a guy with more offensive upside — or at least mashed RHP a little harder — like Duda or Alonso or Morrison or even Matt Adams or Adam Lind. Instead he got Moreland.

But since you and I have had about sixteen permutations of this argument at this point, let's just wait and see.
 

MikeM

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Why do you lead with the assumption that Moreland is the Red Sox’s 1B rather than Hanley?
While I do obviously agree with you that some people are jumping to a questionable assumption on what happens to Hanley after a *potential* JDM signing, it seems (imo) you are basically left doing the same thing here in reach of a defense to how/why DD signing Moreland actually made any real sense.

The 2 year overpay deal, committed as early as it was and in a market where there was an odds on chance Moreland wasn't going to even land a starting gig anywhere else, pretty much screams "Moreland is my guy at 1B" to me. Regardless how much I would prefer that it didn't.

Sometimes spades are just spades. Although on a Blake note, adding a salary like JDM probably ups the overall chance he makes the roster if/when they then turn around and look to shed some salary around the edges.
 

Rasputin

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150+ games is an artificial bar. Moreland has played 147 and 149 games the past two seasons. We don't need a specialist to pick up the other 15. If you have both a DH and a first baseman, it makes no sense to use up a roster spot on a guy who can do only those two things, and can't even do them very well, and on top of that will be pissed off all year because the role you've put him in is going to cost him $20 million.
It was also a number I pulled out of my ass as a substitute for "full time." I don't really want to commit full time playing time to either of them. I don't really care about a strict platoon, I just want to have someone who isn't terrible on hand for when the guy who's playing starts playing terribly.
 

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You think there's any chance that DD sits Hanley and his agent down and says "Look, we're going to let you get PA's right up to the number that activates your option. We want you to have a healthy productive year, we just don't want to be tied to 2019 at that number regardless of what you do this year. So go out and rake, and do it knowing a good year just adds value to your next contract, which might be with us, we just want some roster flexibility next off-season. We aren't closing the book on you being on this team in 2019, we just don't like the restrictions activating that option would dictate."
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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You think there's any chance that DD sits Hanley and his agent down and says "Look, we're going to let you get PA's right up to the number that activates your option. We want you to have a healthy productive year, we just don't want to be tied to 2019 at that number regardless of what you do this year. So go out and rake, and do it knowing a good year just adds value to your next contract, which might be with us, we just want some roster flexibility next off-season. We aren't closing the book on you being on this team in 2019, we just don't like the restrictions activating that option would dictate."
I don't think so. The second they admit to Hanley and his agent that the driving force behind how many PA's he gets is avoiding his option rather than putting the best players in the best position to succeed in every instance, they have a legitimate complaint to bring to the player's union.
 

Buzzkill Pauley

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You think there's any chance that DD sits Hanley and his agent down and says "Look, we're going to let you get PA's right up to the number that activates your option. We want you to have a healthy productive year, we just don't want to be tied to 2019 at that number regardless of what you do this year. So go out and rake, and do it knowing a good year just adds value to your next contract, which might be with us, we just want some roster flexibility next off-season. We aren't closing the book on you being on this team in 2019, we just don't like the restrictions activating that option would dictate."
No. I can’t see such a conversation happening, even remotely like that, at all, ever. Especially given renewed player/agent rumblings about owner collusion, along with the collapse of the free agent market for one-dimensional hitters.

The best case scenario of this sort of discussion would be Hanley pulling a Derek Bell and starting spring training with Operation Shutdown II. The worst case would be if Hanley has enough respect inside the clubhouse to ensure that none of the Sox young players are remotely willing to even negotiate extensions to buy out their first years of free agency, because they truly believe ownership is out to screw them.
 

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You think there's any chance that DD sits Hanley and his agent down and says "Look, we're going to let you get PA's right up to the number that activates your option. We want you to have a healthy productive year, we just don't want to be tied to 2019 at that number regardless of what you do this year. So go out and rake, and do it knowing a good year just adds value to your next contract, which might be with us, we just want some roster flexibility next off-season. We aren't closing the book on you being on this team in 2019, we just don't like the restrictions activating that option would dictate."
He could, but I think Hanley and agent's response would be "if you don't want the 2019 option and 'roster flexibility', give us something in return" (buyout, extension at less money per year, etc). Pretty sure openly admitting they will be benching him often enough to not reach the trigger for the option is handing them a grievance from the player's association. No way they invite that.
 

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I really hadn't considered the players union and grievance end of things. Just thinking out loud really. But that brings up a point I was trying to solve. They obviously can work the playing time for reasons that they feel are best for the everyday lineup. Platoons, rest, etc., and keep him from getting 497 PA's. Essentially keeping him under the amount to trigger the option without saying that is what they are doing. So by not being frank about it, they would risk bad relations and possible fallout from him and others. Being up front about it brings up different issues as you guys have pointed out. So I'm curious how this plays out if Hanley is healthy all year.
 

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I don't think so. The second they admit to Hanley and his agent that the driving force behind how many PA's he gets is avoiding his option rather than putting the best players in the best position to succeed in every instance, they have a legitimate complaint to bring to the player's union.
Remember when Ortiz interrupted a manager’s press conference over Pedroia playing a prank on him about the official scorer and a plot to prevent him from reaching his incentives?
 

JimD

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Insert obligatory 'It's only spring training' caveat here, but ... man, a healthy and productive Swihart would be a really valuable weapon on this team.
 

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Insert obligatory 'It's only spring training' caveat here, but ... man, a healthy and productive Swihart would be a really valuable weapon on this team.
True, but it's probably going to take a strong productive spring for him to make the roster. He came to camp looking like a decent candidate to make the roster as a utility player who can catch, and since then they've signed Nunez and Martinez and Cora has come out and said his catching duo is Vazquez and Leon. They've made it a severe uphill climb to get on the roster (what appeared to be 2-3 available slots may be down to one), but fortunately for him Cora is also giving him every opportunity to earn a spot. He's started every day since games began (including one of the college games). If he doesn't make the most of his early opportunities, he's not going to get any in the last couple weeks of camp. So far, he's making the most of it.
 

shaggydog2000

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True, but it's probably going to take a strong productive spring for him to make the roster. He came to camp looking like a decent candidate to make the roster as a utility player who can catch, and since then they've signed Nunez and Martinez and Cora has come out and said his catching duo is Vazquez and Leon. They've made it a severe uphill climb to get on the roster (what appeared to be 2-3 available slots may be down to one), but fortunately for him Cora is also giving him every opportunity to earn a spot. He's started every day since games began (including one of the college games). If he doesn't make the most of his early opportunities, he's not going to get any in the last couple weeks of camp. So far, he's making the most of it.
Things you say the first day of spring training are not guaranteed to be true on the last day of spring training. Catching prospects are very rare. If Blake hits, they'll find a way to keep him.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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True, but it's probably going to take a strong productive spring for him to make the roster. He came to camp looking like a decent candidate to make the roster as a utility player who can catch, and since then they've signed Nunez and Martinez and Cora has come out and said his catching duo is Vazquez and Leon. They've made it a severe uphill climb to get on the roster (what appeared to be 2-3 available slots may be down to one), but fortunately for him Cora is also giving him every opportunity to earn a spot. He's started every day since games began (including one of the college games). If he doesn't make the most of his early opportunities, he's not going to get any in the last couple weeks of camp. So far, he's making the most of it.
Well, he can't "not make the roster" in the sense of being sent down. I assume there are active trade discussions going on, but if they can't get what they consider a decent offer for him, they may not really have much choice but to add him. They certainly can't DFA him if he keeps hitting like this.

Getting him playing time will be a whole 'nother question.
 

Rasputin

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Things you say the first day of spring training are not guaranteed to be true on the last day of spring training. Catching prospects are very rare. If Blake hits, they'll find a way to keep him.
Yeah, this.

Imagine if Sandy Leon is just done as an offensive player. It's not hard. His OPS+ was 68 last year and could easily get worse. Having Swihart stick around and play some third and outfield is a decent hedge against that eventuality.

I think the Moreland and Nunez signings were both hedges against unfortunate possibilities and keeping Swihart would be right in line so I think he's a bit more likely to make the roster than some.
 

joe dokes

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I'm sure we will see Swihart playing some other positions very soon. My guess is that the staff can pretty well figure out within a few games, plus whatever behind the scenes work they do, whether he's a viable beyond catcher and LF. (I'm assuming that he's considered viable in LF based on what he did to get there in the first place; YMMV, but I think that was a freak injury that doesn't undermine the conclusion that he's OK in LF.)
 

Sam Ray Not

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Is it too early to rosterbate a lineup featuring JDM and a raking Blake at C?

Betts R
Benintendi L
Martinez R
Ramirez R
Devers L
Bogaerts R
Swihart S
Nunez R
Bradley L

Gonna have to save the bathroom breaks for when we're pitching/defending.
 

Rasputin

Will outlive SeanBerry
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 4, 2001
29,159
Not here
Is it too early to rosterbate a lineup featuring JDM and a raking Blake at C?

Betts R
Benintendi L
Martinez R
Ramirez R
Devers L
Bogaerts R
Swihart S
Nunez R
Bradley L

Gonna have to save the bathroom breaks for when we're pitching/defending.
Sale days are gonna be a bitch on bladders.

Honestly, with a little luck on health and performance, this could be an astonishingly good team.

Also, it's never too early to rosterbate.
 

Al Zarilla

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 8, 2005
51,566
San Andreas Fault
Sale days are gonna be a bitch on bladders.

Honestly, with a little luck on health and performance, this could be an astonishingly good team.

Also, it's never too early to rosterbate.
I can see the downstairs TV in the downstairs bathroom mirror, if I leave the door open. TMI and eewww, right? Not missing any action, anyhoo.