The Left Field Solution

What course should the Red Sox take in dealing with left field?


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E5 Yaz

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In the Infinite Jest Trade Thread, game threads and elsewhere, the subject has turned to left field and ... OMG, WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT???

Personally, I believe the answer is simple ... Do Nothing.

Yes, the Holt/Young platoon hasn't set the world on fire. But JBJ has more than made up (thus far) for the lack of punch coming from his right. We hoped Bradley would contribute more (and more consistently) on offense this season; no one (except maybe him) thought this was coming. Think of it this way: If JBJ was producing what Holt/Young have produced and they were producing what he has ... would anyone be calling for an upgrade in centerfield? Of course not.

Yet, the calls are out there. There's nothing wrong to this point with the platoon, which can be supplemented if need be by Rusney Castillo and perhaps Blake Swihart ... especially if the master plan is to zip Andrew Benintendi through the system and get him to the majors in August.

Even the most talked about downside to the poll -- Holt's loss of value as a Swiss Army Knife -- has been mitigated somewhat by the bizarre reinvention of Jeff Rutledge as an offensive contributor.

So, I've added a poll for what course should be taken, with these options:

Nothing: Follow the direction described above

Nothing, plus Benintendi: Self-explanatory

A small trade: Pickup a lefty fourth/fifth outfielder who can be serviceable while freeing Holt to roam from spot to sppot

A big trade: Get an anchor player for left field (at reasonable cost)

A major trade: Get an anchor player at any cost and just GFIN regardless. (This fulfills rembrat's man-crush on George Springer)

It's the pitching, Stupid: Forget left field; solidify the rotation and middle relief

Other

Have at it -- or not.
 

Laser Show

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This is easily nothing plus Benintendi. They're not going to win the World Series with the staff they've got right now (unless someone figures something out real quick with Buchholz or Kelly). They could very well win with the lineup they're rolling out on a daily basis right now. Add in Benintendi and Swihart and it's fine as is.
 

Maximus

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Nothing plus Benintendi. DD will trade for a top of the rotation starter.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I'm surprised rolling with a bench of Rutledge and Young most nights (plus a catcher) has not been a problem ever yet with nearly a quarter of the season gone. But it hasn't.

You'd like a lefty pinch hitter. You'd also think that having to move Holt somewhere from left, which virtually always means Young finishes the game, would have burned the team at some point, but it hasn't really. I think part of the reason is there's virtually nobody on the team at the moment you'd want to pinch hit for even facing a guy who pitches from their side. Just the catchers and JF hates that anyway. Nobody to hit for Young either except Holt but it's worked ok.

A left hitting .800 OPS outfielder to platoon with Young and who could play left field in Fenway would be awesome. But they don't grow on trees. And there may be one on the farm. Until then, anyone we trade for is not likely to be a significant upgrade from Holt playing that role and the fact that he plays other positions well too shouldn't be held against him. In fact it's a nice advantage. To be able to move a guy already in the game to a spot that requires throwing with the right arm but keep his lefty bat in the lineup is great. And we know Holt can play a reasonable Fenway LF.

Young eventually is going to have a handful of important ABs against righties we wish we didn't have to have him take. But far fewer it seems than one might have guessed. No reason to trade assets for something we don't need at the moment while we see what Benintendi can do with better competition as he moves up the minors ladder.

If Rutledge flames out as a utility guy, then reconsider. But even then, the answer may be keeping Holt predominantly as the LF platoon with Young and finding another utility guy.
 

Pilgrim

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The Young/Holt situation is a bit odd. I think given an entire season, that combination should be worth a few wins in left, and that is perfectly fine.

My only gripe is that utility infielder is a legitimate position, and there are quite a few games where a crummy player (ie, Rutledge) is having an effect on the games while one of the few players in baseball who is great at that job is a middling LF.

If you could magically put an above average hitting LF on this team, and demote Holt and Young to bench roles, the team would be a good bit better, but I agree with others that it isn't a huge problem.

Whatever Benintendi is worth this year, it's like finding 20 bucks in your coat pocket. His numbers certainly look like what would happen if you put an above average major leaguer in A-Ball. He's been incredible. There are two more levels for him to play at to figure out how just how good he is. If he mashes for the next 150 PA with a strikeout rate under 10%, then yea it's time to take him seriously as an option this season. But if that doesn't happen, it's fine and they can concentrate on finding a pitcher or whatever else they need come July.
 

jnlevetoncnmt

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I would trade for another starting pitcher before I looked for position players, however I wonder what it would take to get Colby Rasmus from Houston. He is on a one year deal 17M, free agent next year, and Houston may be out of the running at some point.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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If I'm reading Bref right, Mookie has played every inning so far, Xander has had a few innings off, and JBJ got to sit one game. Shaw got hit for late in a few games before Panda got hurt, but he has played every game. That all seems a little heavier use than Farrell likes. With only Young and Hernandez/Rutledge on the bench he probably felt compelled to do it, but I imagine those guys are going to get days off soon, which means more Young and/or Rutledge or whoever comes up for O'Sullivan. We might have different opinions after.

Edit: Plus the backup catcher on the bench.
 

E5 Yaz

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If I'm reading Bref right, Mookie has played every inning so far, Xander has had a few innings off, and JBJ got to sit one game. Shaw got hit for late in a few games before Panda got hurt, but he has played every game. That all seems a little heavier use than Farrell likes. With only Young and Hernandez/Rutledge on the bench he probably felt compelled to do it, but I imagine those guys are going to get days off soon, which means more Young and/or Rutledge or whoever comes up for O'Sullivan. We might have different opinions after.
I think this is where the Holt discussion ties in; that if he weren't the starting left fielder, he could provide a rest for the others and still get at-bats. It's not a role Rutledge can fill.
 

DeadlySplitter

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They're not going to win the World Series with the staff they've got right now
If Porcello is for real, EdRod continues to progress and one of Wright/Buch/Kelly doesn't flame out, we have a viable playoff rotation already. Not the point of this thread but things are going right in this department and aren't fading yet.

What could fade is Holt, as he has a couple times now after hot starts. I think Young actually has looked good in his role once lefties actually started and he got some consistent ABs, but the lack of LH starters in the AL and our division is an odd quirk that might suppress his expected value. Hopefully this balances out moving forward....

Given the rest of our outfielders are near All-Stars, I don't think anything drastic needs to be done at LF. I'm more concerned about 3B depth in case Shaw pumpkins. If getting another LF is the answer so Holt can play better 3B defense than Rutledge, fine.
 

nvalvo

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People are calling for another SP, but who?

We need to identify a starter that a) meaningfully improves what we already have, b) is on a non-contending team, but c) will no longer be under contract when that team can again expect to contend.

It's tricky, because most of the teams that are surprisingly bad (Minnesota, Detroit, NYY, Anaheim, Houston, Arizona) are bad in large part because their rotations have underperformed. Rebuilding teams with young pitching are not moving it. Some of the obvious targets (Gray) are in the midst of wretched seasons. Competition for the scraps of the pitching market, especially with no attractive FA, will likely drive prices sky high.

Rich Hill? Drew Pomeranz?
 

jon abbey

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Not totally sure they would trade in division, but if I were Tampa, I'd be seriously thinking about shopping a starter or two given how few alternatives there are elsewhere. Chris Archer? They could move him and still have Moore, Smyly, Odorizzi, Andriese, and Snell. That is three lefties, so maybe they'd prefer to move one of them, but either way they definitely have excess they could/should move for the equivalent value in position players IMO.
 

Rasputin

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For the record, left field is not a problem. Also, the statement that the pitching staff will prevent a world series victory is overwrought.

I would like to see Holt back as supersub so I voted for making a small trade.

My target is Nick Markakis. Atlanta is going nowhere. He's due 11 million per year through 2018 so would likely cost less in terms of prospects. We'd need them to take enough of the money so that we can trade him off cheap to whoever needs him when the time comes, but with he and Young both here after 2016 we'd have no need to rush Benintendi. His overall OPS is pretty meh, but that's because he seems to have forgotten how to hit lefty pitchers.

Alternately, Jay Bruce. Similar situation, but owed more money.
 

moondog80

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Even the most talked about downside to the poll -- Holt's loss of value as a Swiss Army Knife -- has been mitigated somewhat by the bizarre reinvention of Jeff Rutledge as an offensive contributor.
Josh Rutledge has 27 plate appearances. I'm going to bet on him reverting back to his career numbers.

Sign me up for the minor deal for a LF.

EDIT: As suggested in other threads, De Aza would be a fine target.
 
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smastroyin

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I think there is a good reason to be concerned about the team depth overall, and there are many ways to address it. While we are all "happy" to have Travis Shaw hitting instead of Pablo Sandoval not, Panda's disappearance leaves a bit of a hole here. Same thing for Castillo. I also think the Chris Young acquisition came from a good place, namely wanting to let Mookie go play RF and stay there (so not have a complicated platoon situation to cover the OF if JBJ's bat didn't show up this year or if he needed strict platooning) But, it turns out, after the Castillo failure, they need an OF who can do more than mash LHP. This will even out a bit as they face more LHP but it's part of the "problem." The next problem that it causes is that the Pawtucket OF is all RHB (Castillo, Marrero, Brentz, even Maxwell).

I don't think they will rush Benintendi. And let's see what he does in Portland before we start talking about him like the solution. As well, I don't see the point of promoting Swihart. Yes, it would be nice if your backup catcher could do other things but I don't think that is any more valuable than Swihart getting his bat going and practicing more catching skills in Pawtucket.

I think the other choice they have is to simply get Marco Hernandez into the OF and see if he can be another super sub. Whatever has caused his bat to pick up, the Sox should take advantage (though I guess you may also want him playing FT in Pawtucket to build trade value).
 

BaseballJones

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For the record, left field is not a problem. Also, the statement that the pitching staff will prevent a world series victory is overwrought.

I would like to see Holt back as supersub so I voted for making a small trade.

My target is Nick Markakis. Atlanta is going nowhere. He's due 11 million per year through 2018 so would likely cost less in terms of prospects. We'd need them to take enough of the money so that we can trade him off cheap to whoever needs him when the time comes, but with he and Young both here after 2016 we'd have no need to rush Benintendi. His overall OPS is pretty meh, but that's because he seems to have forgotten how to hit lefty pitchers.

Alternately, Jay Bruce. Similar situation, but owed more money.
Here's how they rank in LF production in all of MLB:

- AVG: 10th (.261)
- OBP: 10th (.336)
- SLG: 16th (.422)
- OPS: 15th (.724)
- Runs: 10th (19)
- HR: 20th (3)
- RBI: 6th (22)

Clearly it's not a problem, as you point out, Ras. Of course, it would be nice to be even better than a little above average. Depends on the price. I agree that Holt is best served as a super sub. Young is very good against lefties. So yeah, we'd just need a solid lefty hitter to bat against righties.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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My target is Nick Markakis. Atlanta is going nowhere. He's due 11 million per year through 2018 so would likely cost less in terms of prospects. We'd need them to take enough of the money so that we can trade him off cheap to whoever needs him when the time comes, but with he and Young both here after 2016 we'd have no need to rush Benintendi. His overall OPS is pretty meh, but that's because he seems to have forgotten how to hit lefty pitchers.
He's not hitting righty pitchers all that impressively this year, either--105 wRC+ so far (though he did manage a nice 121 last year). And he's not an above-average defensive OF (and hasn't been for quite a while). I don't see much evidence that replacing Holt with him as the strong LF platoon half would be worth giving up much for. Maybe if the price is very low.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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I'm going to go with the don't fix what's not broken argument. We're getting average production and average defense from the LF spot, while getting above average production (Mookie's OBP notwithstanding) and defense (to my eye, anyway, regardless of UZR) in CF and RF.

That's good enough, especially considering the results thus far.

I think the biggest issue is that Holt seems to be wearing down from the work, as he's done before. .603 OPS in his last 31 PA. But it could just be a normal little slump he'll bounce back from. Teams know he's trying to hit it the other way and they're pitching him outside to let him try it. He needs to adjust again.
 

YouDownWithOBP?

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What about old friend Josh Reddick? Last year of his contract on a team going nowhere. Oakland would probably be looking to trade if they can get something better then the pick that Reddick would net them by declining the QO. Left handed, 838 OPS this year. Seems like a nice platoon fit with Young.
 

moondog80

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He's not hitting righty pitchers all that impressively this year, either--105 wRC+ so far (though he did manage a nice 121 last year). And he's not an above-average defensive OF (and hasn't been for quite a while). I don't see much evidence that replacing Holt with him as the strong LF platoon half would be worth giving up much for. Maybe if the price is very low.

You're right, replacing Holt with an average-ish LF isn't much of an upgrade. The upgrade is having Holt instead of Rutledge in the IF when someone needs a day off. Keeping Holt fresh is good too.
 

tbb345

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I voted for small trade. Someone like De Aza,maybe Markakis. Someone who can hit righties and play a decent LF. The cost of acquisition won't be too bad and you can have a platoon in left which frees up Holt to play all over the diamond and give more rest to whoever needs it.
 

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I went small trade. I think Roddick is the best/most likely option due to a combo of Beane's willingness to trade; Reddick's familiarity with Fenway; and Reddick's skill set being a perfect fit (not only ability to hit RHP's, but also the ability to fill in in RF when Mookie or JBJ needs some time off).

I love Brock Holt super-sub; I think Brock Holt, everyday player, is a below-average guy, whether that is due to wearing down or opponent familiarity, or maybe something in his own makeup. So I think getting him back to being the utility guy will be vital.
 

Average Reds

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What about old friend Josh Reddick? Last year of his contract on a team going nowhere. Oakland would probably be looking to trade if they can get something better then the pick that Reddick would net them by declining the QO. Left handed, 838 OPS this year. Seems like a nice platoon fit with Young.
If the price is right, this is an idea that works for me.

The way I would define "price being right" is that I'm giving up a lottery ticket for a partial season of Reddick, not a top line prospect.
 

tbb345

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I went small trade. I think Roddick is the best/most likely option due to a combo of Beane's willingness to trade; Reddick's familiarity with Fenway; and Reddick's skill set being a perfect fit (not only ability to hit RHP's, but also the ability to fill in in RF when Mookie or JBJ needs some time off).

I love Brock Holt super-sub; I think Brock Holt, everyday player, is a below-average guy, whether that is due to wearing down or opponent familiarity, or maybe something in his own makeup. So I think getting him back to being the utility guy will be vital.
I completely agree but what would it take to get Reddick? When I say small trade, I meant something like Deven Marrero and Wendell Rijo for De Aza. Wouldn't it take something like Brian Johnson and Marrero to get Reddick? Personally I would do that but given Johnson's prospect status I am not sure I would qualify that as a small trade
 

Drek717

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You're right, replacing Holt with an average-ish LF isn't much of an upgrade. The upgrade is having Holt instead of Rutledge in the IF when someone needs a day off. Keeping Holt fresh is good too.
Who do they take out of the lineup to make good use of Holt in this fashion? It certainly hasn't and won't be Bogaerts or Pedroia. Seems pretty dubious to get Shaw out of the lineup in favor of Holt now as well. So for the days that Hanley needs a breather at 1B? As we get into the season and more inter-league games get sprinkled in is that even going to be as much of a factor?

If Holt is equal to an average-ish LF bat right now and the best they can trade for is another average-ish LF bat I'm not really seeing the impetus to make a move.

I voted for small trade. Someone like De Aza,maybe Markakis. Someone who can hit righties and play a decent LF. The cost of acquisition won't be too bad and you can have a platoon in left which frees up Holt to play all over the diamond and give more rest to whoever needs it.
Markakis has two more years at $11M per, his age 33 and 34 seasons. If the Braves were willing to basically throw Markakis in for free as part of a Julio Teheran package sure, I could see considering it, but I'm willing to bet that by next season Benintendi will be the better player and we'd still be on the hook for Markakis.

De Aza isn't hitting anything with the Mets right now and they're clearly trying to find out which of Granderson/De Aza is worth keeping while being well in the mix for their division. They aren't trading the cost efficient one of those two options without a gross overpay.

If the price is right, this is an idea that works for me.

The way I would define "price being right" is that I'm giving up a lottery ticket for a partial season of Reddick, not a top line prospect.
Would you trade Michael Chavis for a few months of Josh Reddick? Because Billy Beane wouldn't. Our #10 guy by many people's rankings, Chavis, is roughly analogous to what the compensation pick would be worth, but also requires the A's to forgo an extra 3/4ths of Reddick's production and the potential for a seller's market to extract an overpay come the deadline.

Reddick is going to cost one of the top 9 farmhands (Moncada, Benintendi, Espinoza, Devers, Swihart, Kopech, Travis, Johnson, Owens). We obviously aren't doing it for one of the first 5 guys I listed, so who of the next 4 are you willing to trade to rent Reddick for a few months as an upgrade over Holt as a LH half of a platoon, knowing that Swihart is working on LF as we speak and Benintendi just moved up to AA and is a few good months there away from a Michael Conforto-esque call up? Also knowing that they're basically just piece #1 of the multi-piece package it would take to get Reddick.

And before someone mentions him, this same logic applies to acquiring Colby Rasmus from Houston.

The window we're looking for here is "meaningfully better than Holt but not going to cost YM, AB, AE, RD, or BS". That is incredibly narrow. By the time enough teams have identified themselves as "sellers" for such a player to potentially emerge we're talking about a 2-3 month rental instead of a 3-4 month rental and Andrew Benintendi possibly being weeks, not months, away himself.

Its the pitching.
 

DJnVa

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Who do they take out of the lineup to make good use of Holt in this fashion? It certainly hasn't and won't be Bogaerts or Pedroia. Seems pretty dubious to get Shaw out of the lineup in favor of Holt now as well. So for the days that Hanley needs a breather at 1B? As we get into the season and more inter-league games get sprinkled in is that even going to be as much of a factor?
Bogaerts and Pedroia would get days off too--it's not like you'd give Holt a guaranteed start at 2B every week. No one is talking about anything other than Holt being a super-utility that can cover a few positions.

So when you say it's "dubious to get Shaw out of lineup in favor of Holt" I don't think that's the idea. The idea is that because Shaw, X, and Pedroia would all need days off from time to time, Holt would get enough ABs to stay fresh.
 

simplicio

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I'm all for nothing + Benintendi, if that means that by the trade deadline he (or one of our other LF tryouts) is making a clear progression to become a quality starting LF by the end of summer. Otherwise, I'd ask about Reddick first. I definitely want to get Brock back to a utility role and give him some rest by August so we can stretch out his performance all the way to the duck boats.

Or maybe Castillo learns to hit? That'd be nice.
 

Drek717

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Bogaerts and Pedroia would get days off too--it's not like you'd give Holt a guaranteed start at 2B every week. No one is talking about anything other than Holt being a super-utility that can cover a few positions.

So when you say it's "dubious to get Shaw out of lineup in favor of Holt" I don't think that's the idea. The idea is that because Shaw, X, and Pedroia would all need days off from time to time, Holt would get enough ABs to stay fresh.
In bold is my first problem with this statement.

Shaw isn't leaving the lineup with any regularity until his bat shows some signs of cooling off. Bogaerts is emerging as one of the best players in all of baseball. Pedroia looks like he's five years younger all of a sudden. We're talking a game every few weeks here. Holt might pick up a cumulative two starts a week from those three positions. He also isn't bumping Betts or Bradley out of their jobs with any greater regularity.

The club has also all but finished their most grueling stretch of games now. From April 4th until May 18th they've had two scheduled days off (April 14th and May 2nd). After this series with the Royals they'll have a day off Thursday, another on Monday, both June 6 and June 9, with an away inter-league series against the Giants in between so probably a 1/1 Ortiz/Hanley 1B set, off again the 13th of June, the 30th of June, the 7th of July, and then they're into the ASB. The value of days off is greatly diminished for the club through the mid-point now.

They need to keep pace with the Orioles. Replacing any of Shaw/Bogaerts/Pedroia with Holt doesn't help with that.

Even the threat of injury doesn't materially change the math here as Marco Hernandez looks like a young Holt himself with better defense, just waiting for his chance, so if one of the infielders gets hurt there is already an in-house backup on the 40 man with an option spent already. And are we even sure Holt is an upgrade over Rutledge? I mean, JR is sporting a slash line of .407/.467/.593 right now while playing solid D, yesterday's throw not withstanding, and both Farrell and Rutledge think he's figured something out working with Chili.

Furthermore, Holt is a league average bat in LF teaming with a clear platoon guy in Young. Why give up league average production into a part-timer role just to pay someone for a marginal improvement? I just don't get the logic here. Give up prospects for a marginal upgrade to bump a comparable player off the roster and block another comparable player in AAA, just to then take the best players on the team out of the lineup more often during the stretch of the season when they least need to game days off. That's the argument being made.

Or maybe Castillo learns to hit? That'd be nice.
Castillo is currently sporting a pretty respectable .273/.324 BA/OBP in AAA right now despite a substantial and uncharacteristic reverse split. His biggest problem currently is a complete lack of power, but then that might be a result of his retooling to figure out breaking balls. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Castillo turns out to be a worthwhile piece before the end of the season and currently represents a far better backstop to a Betts/Bradley/Young injury than most teams have stashed in AAA.
 

DJnVa

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They need to keep pace with the Orioles. Replacing any of Shaw/Bogaerts/Pedroia with Holt doesn't help with that.
Here's the disconnect--no one is replacing them. They aren't all going to play 162 games. Holt would be utility guy.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the idea is that when they need days off, Holt can cover ALL of them.
 

Drek717

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Here's the disconnect--no one is replacing them. They aren't all going to play 162 games. Holt would be utility guy.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the idea is that when they need days off, Holt can cover ALL of them.
And as I spelled out in the post you qouted, when? Because the current schedule doesn't show this need for the next month and a half and by then Benintendi is a much more viable answer, not to mention the likely need by that time to use pieces for pitching instead of the want right now to use them for a marginal LF upgrade.

Even if the schedule did suggest such a need, you're still moving a proven league average bat into a utility role, reducing his value, just to spend for a marginal upgrade that might, in the short term, not actually even be an upgrade. This to bump the current utility guy with a limited action OPS >1.000 off the roster entirely as he's out of options.

Making a move for the sake of making a move, that's all this is.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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And as I spelled out in the post you qouted, when? Because the current schedule doesn't show this need for the next month and a half and by then Benintendi is a much more viable answer, not to mention the likely need by that time to use pieces for pitching instead of the want right now to use them for a marginal LF upgrade.

Even if the schedule did suggest such a need, you're still moving a proven league average bat into a utility role, reducing his value, just to spend for a marginal upgrade that might, in the short term, not actually even be an upgrade. This to bump the current utility guy with a limited action OPS >1.000 off the roster entirely as he's out of options.

Making a move for the sake of making a move, that's all this is.
That proven "league average bat" is actually a bit below league average when he has prolonged exposure in the lineup, as evidence by each of the last two years. In each season, his production steadily declined as the year went on. There's a reason he was a bonafide all star selection last year but finished the season with an OPS+ of 96 and a wRC+ of 98. And the current utility guy with an OPS over 1.000 right now has only had 27 total plate appearances. Apologies if most of us aren't buying into him as a long term solution.

Besides which, this trade solution if it comes at all, isn't coming tomorrow. It's more likely a mid/late June or July type deal. So the current schedule is meaningless in the discussion. Any potential deal would impact the second half of the season when there are more hot days from which the regular starters would benefit having a day off in addition to the scheduled team off-days.

While it is nice to put some eggs in the Benintendi basket as a second half solution, I don't think the team is best served counting on him as the best means to augment their LF platoon in July and August. There have been more than enough fast risers through the system that have fizzled quickly in the big leagues to proceed cautiously with Benintendi no matter how good he looks in Portland over the next couple months.

While it isn't the highest priority, I think a small trade to upgrade LF is likely the best way to go if they're going to do anything at all.
 

johnnywayback

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There's a reason these kinds of trades tend to happen in July. In July, we'll have a better sense of whether a starting pitcher is a far more urgent need. In July, we'll know whether Holt's bat has faded again, or whether there's been an injury elsewhere that prevents him from being an everyday LF. In July, we'll have more information about Benintendi's timeline.

My guess is that, when July rolls around, at least one of Rodriguez/Buchholz/Kelly will have gotten it together, giving us at least four reliable starters. I would also guess that Holt-as-everyday-LF will not seem like a great idea (based on the lack of flexibility on our current roster and also Holt's history of fading), and that Benintendi will not yet seem like the solution (based on the fact that we cannot possibly be that lucky). And if I'm right about that, then I'm for a Reddick or Rasmus or Bruce trade, because I'm confident that we can get one of them without surrendering anyone better than Michael Chavis.

But there's no need to do that now. What there is a need for now is finding the depth piece who can play LF against RHP if Holt is out or needed elsewhere. I'm fine giving Hernandez first crack at it, but if it doesn't work out, they should be on the lookout for someone like De Aza (although I doubt the Mets will want to trade him).
 

Drek717

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That proven "league average bat" is actually a bit below league average when he has prolonged exposure in the lineup, as evidence by each of the last two years. In each season, his production steadily declined as the year went on. There's a reason he was a bonafide all star selection last year but finished the season with an OPS+ of 96 and a wRC+ of 98. And the current utility guy with an OPS over 1.000 right now has only had 27 total plate appearances. Apologies if most of us aren't buying into him as a long term solution.
And playing LF is something Holt himself has cited as a way to keep himself fresh through the season, not to mention he's part of a platoon role in LF, not an every day starter.

Rutledge obviously isn't going to keep his OPS that high over prolonged exposure, but he is a career .718 OPS with the club having made an overt statement that they believe they've improved his approach in a meaningful way, which also correlates to better production than the seasons prior to joining Boston. Any move to put Holt back into the utility role would require DFAing Rutledge out of the organization.

All this even ignores the production of Marco Hernandez, another worthwhile super utility type in AAA. If one or both of Holt/Rutledge get hurt/turn into a pumpkin the club has yet another option in the minors to bring up when needed.

Lastly, the argument that Holt fades late uses the same data set one would use to argue that he is prone to long term streaks and slumps. If that is the case then a super utility role would only diminish his value as he wouldn't be able to see regular action during his streaks any more than during his slumps (unless they magically coincide with an injury or the club foolishly pulls their far better infielders in deference to Holt's hot hand, something Farrell might actually do).

Besides which, this trade solution if it comes at all, isn't coming tomorrow. It's more likely a mid/late June or July type deal. So the current schedule is meaningless in the discussion. Any potential deal would impact the second half of the season when there are more hot days from which the regular starters would benefit having a day off in addition to the scheduled team off-days.
And the further into the season we get he more the complexion of the team and it's needs would change, especially as it pertains to a marginal LF upgrade. The longer the club waits the less value they'll get for the same assets given up. The current schedule is relevant because there is no need to even get into the discussion of a marginal LF upgrade until at least the ASB, the schedule offers enough time off and the organization has enough internal depth to assess before even exploring that market.

While it is nice to put some eggs in the Benintendi basket as a second half solution, I don't think the team is best served counting on him as the best means to augment their LF platoon in July and August. There have been more than enough fast risers through the system that have fizzled quickly in the big leagues to proceed cautiously with Benintendi no matter how good he looks in Portland over the next couple months.
You mean the Benintendi/Swihart/Castillo basket. The Sox have three options who can play LF in the farm system right now. It isn't just Benintendi. Swihart is probably the more likely late season call-up in fact, if he isn't moved for pitching by then.

While it isn't the highest priority, I think a small trade to upgrade LF is likely the best way to go if they're going to do anything at all.
Versus getting SP help when O'Sullivan just took his second start in a row and Buchholz has managed to not get lit up in two of his eight starts?

The only thing this club needs right now is starting pitching.
 

Max Venerable

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simplicio said:

Or maybe Castillo learns to hit? That'd be nice.

Castillo is currently sporting a pretty respectable .273/.324 BA/OBP in AAA right now despite a substantial and uncharacteristic reverse split. His biggest problem currently is a complete lack of power, but then that might be a result of his retooling to figure out breaking balls. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Castillo turns out to be a worthwhile piece before the end of the season and currently represents a far better backstop to a Betts/Bradley/Young injury than most teams have stashed in AAA.

Castillo has been pretty good so far in May. He has a .319/.347/.426 line. I wouldn't be to surprised if he is back up in Boston if he closes out the month strongly, with Holt back to his regular role and Rusney handling the bulk of LF. He has been hitting better vs. RHP this season, as well, so platooning him with Young shouldn't be out of the question.

Certainly, Rusney has to be option 1A to take over there. I think if he falters we could be talking about this again in July, but he should get another shot.
 

joe dokes

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I don't think a plan in which Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Hanley, Pedroia and Shaw are all pegged to play 155 games is a good one. I suppose Holt's league-average left-fielderness is perfectly acceptable for the long haul, (although the long haul seems to have adversely affected his performance the last couple of years). On the other hand, having the same league-averageness plus Holt being able to back up all of those makes the team better.

Any move to put Holt back into the utility role would require DFAing Rutledge out of the organization.
I like Rutledge. Am I missing something, though, why would he have to go? Who am I missing about a bench of Holt, Rutledge, Catcher and Young?


Swihart is probably the more likely late season call-up in fact, if he isn't moved for pitching by then.
I think this is what the team is/was hoping for by getting Swihart right back to AAA. I think they'll know whether it's viable by July 1. He could play 50 games in LF and none at C and it won't hurt his trade value one iota. And there's probably some thought in the FO that Benintendi might be Ellsbury c. 2007 (DD has always been an aggressive promoter). OTOH--I dont think DD (and maybe not Farrell either) thinks Castillo is useful to the RedSox. So I dont include him the "basket."
 

moondog80

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I like Rutledge. Am I missing something, though, why would he have to go? Who am I missing about a bench of Holt, Rutledge, Catcher and Young?
The scenario is getting another LF, right? Why would we need two utility infielders at that point? And if Rutledge doesn't go, who does?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The scenario is getting another LF, right? Why would we need two utility infielders at that point? And if Rutledge doesn't go, who does?
They've been rolling with a 3-man bench for the better part of the last few weeks: Rutledge, Young, and Hanigan. More likely than not, they're calling up Hernandez today to fill the fourth spot. Replacing Hernandez with Holt if they add another LF isn't much of a change in the composition of the bench in terms of position coverage. It would be stronger nonetheless.
 

joe dokes

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The scenario is getting another LF, right? Why would we need two utility infielders at that point? And if Rutledge doesn't go, who does?
If you have 3 bench players (other than the catcher), at least 1 will be an OF, and at least 1 will be an IF. You're going to have 2 of one or the other. And in the "new-LF scenario," Holt is sort of one of each.

EDIT: And what RedsHawks said.
 

Buzzkill Pauley

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What there is a need for now is finding the depth piece who can play LF against RHP if Holt is out or needed elsewhere. I'm fine giving Hernandez first crack at it, but if it doesn't work out, they should be on the lookout for someone like De Aza (although I doubt the Mets will want to trade him).
I disagree. I don't see any pressing need whatsoever to find "the depth piece who can play LF against RHP if Holt is out or needed elsewhere" when the bench includes all three of Hernandez and Rutledge and Young. By doing everything Holt could, the bench frees up Holt to do something different -- like play as the regular LF against RHP starters.

Marchris Hernutledge becomes that switch-hitting bat off the bench with a little pop, plus he can play any non-catcher position!

Additionally, the so-called need for a LF better than the Holt/Young platoon is a mirage, given the state of the 2016 Sox offense as a whole. Check out the splits by position: LF for the Sox has produced a dead-even 100 sOPS+ this season with a better-than-average .336 OBP. That's surely good enough to hit 7th-8th in a championship-caliber lineup.

Now, could LF be upgraded to better than average? Sure it could!

But when the Sox have the AL's best offense and still need to carry 8 relievers, the team's "need" isn't LF. And because they've been carrying 8 relievers, they haven't been able to give much rest to the regulars. Or even to carry Marchris Hernutledge on the roster to give the lineup regulars a day off here or there.

The Sox actually need a starter -- fortunately both Rodriguez and Kelly are close, and the schedule is now fairly benevolent to work one or both of them into the rotation. However, when June rolls around, this short-bench/fat-bullpen garbage simply can't pick back up again, IMO. The positional regulars are going to start needing some rest days once the weather heats up, regardless how young the team is.
 

nvalvo

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Can Rutledge play defense well enough to support the Holt-style utility role? I think he's eye-test terrible everywhere they've played him, and the stats are pretty ugly, too.
 

alwyn96

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Upgrading LF seems like a classic wait and see situation. It's hard for me to imagine any moves happening for at least another month, and by that point things may look very different due to injury or change in the standings or performance or something.

I'm all for upgrading wherever you can upgrade, but since it's usually cheaper/easier to find an upgrade for a lousy player than a merely mediocre one. A win upgrade is a win upgrade, whether that improvement comes on the pitching side or an already decent position player side, but I would think a merely mediocre starter (the kind of guy who would be around 1+ win upgrade over Buchholz) would be easier to get than an average LF (who would be around a 1+ win upgrade over Holt). However, that all comes down to what the situation is in a month or so. Maybe Buchholz turns it around and/or E-Rod comes in and dominates.

On the other hand, the 2017 offseason looks like one of the weakest for SP in years, so decent pitching may wind up costing more in trade than a comparable OF for basic supply reasons.
 

Drek717

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I don't think a plan in which Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Hanley, Pedroia and Shaw are all pegged to play 155 games is a good one. I suppose Holt's league-average left-fielderness is perfectly acceptable for the long haul, (although the long haul seems to have adversely affected his performance the last couple of years). On the other hand, having the same league-averageness plus Holt being able to back up all of those makes the team better.
They won't all play 155 games because someone is going to get hurt. That's the reality of a full season. But now isn't the time to force a hole at the heavy side of a platoon position just to replace Rutledge as the ~2 times per week utility man. Chris Young already offers the same capacity to spell Bradley and Betts as Holt, so if they aren't getting days off now Farrell isn't any more prone to do so with Holt on the bench too.

I like Rutledge. Am I missing something, though, why would he have to go? Who am I missing about a bench of Holt, Rutledge, Catcher and Young?
The club has been using the AAA pitching depth along with Marco Hernandez as a young Brock Holt type to use the 25th roster spot as a revolving door based on situational need. That no longer works if you have four bench guys who don't have any remaining options. If they need a 13th pitcher they'll be forced to DFA someone, which they won't, so they'd need to option a reliever, who would then be locked out for 10 days.

As they also still have Castillo, Swihart, and even Deven Marrero as AAA position players who could also serve as part of a 25th man shuttle program along with Owens, Light, Noe Ramirez, Elias, Johnson, and maybe Kelly or even Anthony Varvaro on the pitching side (if they drop/DL someone to add him to the 40 man, he does have a 2.63 ERA currently in AAA) the depth is there to really maximize keeping with the current strategy.

I think this is what the team is/was hoping for by getting Swihart right back to AAA. I think they'll know whether it's viable by July 1. He could play 50 games in LF and none at C and it won't hurt his trade value one iota. And there's probably some thought in the FO that Benintendi might be Ellsbury c. 2007 (DD has always been an aggressive promoter). OTOH--I dont think DD (and maybe not Farrell either) thinks Castillo is useful to the RedSox. So I dont include him the "basket."
Swihart taking time at LF is very much to provide an extra layer of cover in LF, but I'd imagine it also factors in as a way to maximize his value should one of Vazquez or Hanigan (especially Hanigan) gets hurt and Swihart is pressed back into service. Swihart could play 2-3 games a week at catcher and 2-3 games a week in LF, getting regular ABs, without dramatically impacting the ABs seen by the rest of the core players.

Benintendi being up by August probably shouldn't be described as aggressive promotion at this point. He just moved up to AA. He's older than Betts and Bogaerts where when they debuted. Michael Conforto moved on a similar timeline to the majors thanks to a balanced, polished approach. Benintendi's sophomore season was better than any of Conforto's college seasons, and he finished college winning all the same national awards Conforto won the previous season. Scouts have generally graded Benintendi higher on the few points where they differ as Benintendi is faster in the field and on the bases. He came into the 2015 draft viewed by many as the most ML ready bat in the class. Since being drafted Benintendi has out-hit Conforto by a substantial margin throughout the low minors. If he continues that trend in AA I see no reason why the club would hold him back.

As for Castillo, I'd imagine his future will be determined by his own play, namely his ability to figure out breaking balls at AAA. If he does that and/or if one of the current four outfielders gets hurt he's likely the first man up. He's useful, just not one of the 25 most useful players on a daily basis at this point, though he has the ability to change that.

They've been rolling with a 3-man bench for the better part of the last few weeks: Rutledge, Young, and Hanigan. More likely than not, they're calling up Hernandez today to fill the fourth spot. Replacing Hernandez with Holt if they add another LF isn't much of a change in the composition of the bench in terms of position coverage. It would be stronger nonetheless.
It would also sacrifice substantial flexibility at the 25th man spot that the 40 man roster, as currently constructed, is an ideal match for.
 

JBJ_HOF

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Castillo is hitting .316/.350/.404 in May and Holt is on pace to be one of the worst outfielders in baseball, he ranks 20th in WAR 0.2 and 20th in wRC+ 87 for left fielders, but the numbers would be even worse without the first few games of the season, he's hitting .219/.297/.281 in his last 30 games.
 

geoduck no quahog

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He's hitting that against minor league pitchers with minor league breaking balls. I'd like to know if he's improved his ability to hit non-straight pitches before coming to any conclusions from 3 weeks of stats. There's no way for us to know. I hope he has.
 

YTF

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Is there anyone here who doesn't think that Holt's greatest value to this team is his ability to play multiple positions while doing so in a respectable manner? Is there anyone here who hasn't seen his offensive production drop when forced into full time duty? Ortiz will get more days off this season than in the past. perhaps one every week and a half or so. In fact it wouldn't surprise me that if the situation is right, Ortiz might get two game off in a National League park in which case Hanley DHs, Shaw moves to first and Holt plays third as we've seen. Hanley will get occasional days off with the Shaw playing first and Holt again at third. IMO Pedroia should get a few more days off than he's accustomed to in order to help keep him healthy. With the level of production this offense has shown so far, they won't miss Bogaerts if he gets a day of every few weeks. By the same token, do we need or want Betts playing every game? Eventually JBJ could use a breather. I mean as this team is currently constructed, is there a reason for anyone to be out there every single day? Are there going to be minor injuries that won't require DL stints where guys may miss a game or two? Instances where guys may come out of games as precautionary measures as well as in games that are blow outs one way or another? With a three or four man bench (really two or three when you consider the back up catcher) I believe this team is best seved with Holt doing what Holt does best. He'll get plenty of opportunity to play while not being forced into being an everyday player. Yes he platoons in left, but on days that Young plays Holt is sometimes playing other positions OR if Holt is needed elsewhere, Young has to play vs. RHP. Is leftfield our most pressing need? No, there is a glaring need for another top of the rotation arm. I'll let y'all debate who and how. My motivation for this post is merely to state that I think there is plenty of opportunity for Holt to play if he were to be replaced as the "strong side" of the leftfield platoon and return to the role where I think he's shown that serves this team best.
 

InsideTheParker

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Is there anyone here who doesn't think that Holt's greatest value to this team is his ability to play multiple positions while doing so in a respectable manner? Is there anyone here who hasn't seen his offensive production drop when forced into full time duty? Ortiz will get more days off this season than in the past. perhaps one every week and a half or so. In fact it wouldn't surprise me that if the situation is right, Ortiz might get two game off in a National League park in which case Hanley DHs, Shaw moves to first and Holt plays third as we've seen. Hanley will get occasional days off with the Shaw playing first and Holt again at third. IMO Pedroia should get a few more days off than he's accustomed to in order to help keep him healthy. With the level of production this offense has shown so far, they won't miss Bogaerts if he gets a day of every few weeks. By the same token, do we need or want Betts playing every game? Eventually JBJ could use a breather. I mean as this team is currently constructed, is there a reason for anyone to be out there every single day? Are there going to be minor injuries that won't require DL stints where guys may miss a game or two? Instances where guys may come out of games as precautionary measures as well as in games that are blow outs one way or another? With a three or four man bench (really two or three when you consider the back up catcher) I believe this team is best seved with Holt doing what Holt does best. He'll get plenty of opportunity to play while not being forced into being an everyday player. Yes he platoons in left, but on days that Young plays Holt is sometimes playing other positions OR if Holt is needed elsewhere, Young has to play vs. RHP. Is leftfield our most pressing need? No, there is a glaring need for another top of the rotation arm. I'll let y'all debate who and how. My motivation for this post is merely to state that I think there is plenty of opportunity for Holt to play if he were to be replaced as the "strong side" of the leftfield platoon and return to the role where I think he's shown that serves this team best.
I think there is a lot of agreement with the notion that HOLT best serves the team as a super-sub. But as you have outlined his sub opportunities here, he would be playing nearly every day in that role. HOLT himself said that he found it less stressful to have to prepare for one rather than many positions. Of course he said that earlier in the year, and his offense has fallen off anyway. I don't know what the answer is, at this point, except for Chili Davis finding some way for HOLT to maximize his ABs. Meanwhile, his play in left field is at least a B+, if not better.