Ursa Major

JM3

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If he could learn to not strike out over a third of the time he'd be pretty intriguing. Hits the ball ready hard. Pretty good against lefties. Was awful at home in SD last year (52 wRC+) but great on the road (136). Swing could be good in Fenway (hits .456 when he pulls the ball).

But the strikeouts...
 

BigJay

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Jul 22, 2022
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Wong has an option remaining, so if they find a way to get Alfaro on the 40 man than I could easily see Wong starting in Worcester.
 

chawson

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This looks a lot like a creatively structured 40-man deal, maybe for when Story and/or someone else start the season on the 60-man IL. I was gonna start a new thread, but now it looks like there's conversation here.

Alfaro is like the Mike Zunino of the National League. He makes a pretty nice catching tandem with Reese McGuire, the existence of Connor Wong notwithstanding. He has a .332 expected wOBA against LHP the last two years, which plays just fine. He's only 30.

More importantly, he has a hell of an arm. Alfaro's average throw to second base last year was 88.2 mph, which is second-fastest in the league. His pop time was 3rd fastest.

Here's a gushing piece in Fangraphs about the strongest catcher arms in baseball ("I identify as a Jorge Alfaro super fan; I’m not sure there can be more of a fan of a catcher than I am of him. Ever since this play in 2018, I convinced myself he was the next coming of Ivan Rodriguez.")

He's no great shakes, but if Zunino could get a major-league deal coming off major surgery, I think this Alfaro deal is more than mL depth. This makes a lot of sense for a team looking like it might open the season with only two catchers on the 40-man, one of them with only 70 major-league PAs. It theoretically frees Wong up to help cover 2B, but we'll see if they go that route.
 

bosox1534

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Dec 17, 2022
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I feel like he brings more to the table than Wong. Would feel better with him platooning with McGuire.
 

YTF

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He can also play left if Yoshi DH’s against a lefty it could get us another righty in the lineup.
Alfaro in LF is likely a "break glass in case of emergency" type situation. Of 478 MLB games, 21 of them were played in LF, 18 of them as a starter and he only finished 10 games at the position.
If he could learn to not strike out over a third of the time he'd be pretty intriguing. Hits the ball ready hard. Pretty good against lefties. Was awful at home in SD last year (52 wRC+) but great on the road (136). Swing could be good in Fenway (hits .456 when he pulls the ball).

But the strikeouts...
Agreed, despite the strikeouts he's a lifetime .256 hitter. Once the 40 man puzzle is worked out, Alfaro has a pretty good shot to become the RH compliment the McGuire behind the plate.
 

E5 Yaz

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I dunno. He caught 530 innings last year and had 7 passed balls. It's not like he can't catch.
Well, 530 innings comes out to just 55 or so full games. So, to lead the league in passed balls while catching the equivalent of a little more than a third of a season doesn't seem so good.
 

snowmanny

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The team also had 26 wild pitches while he was catching while the usual catcher, Aaron Nola, had 5PB/27WP in 834 IP.
 

gehrig

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A passed ball costs you about a third of a run on average. Even being the single worst in the league doesn't really move the needle all that much.

Alfaro has 49 PB in 3340 innings. An average C would have about 18. So he's cost his team about 10 runs over 400 games.
 

geoflin

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I'm glad the Red Sox made a move and happy to give Alfaro a chance to show us what he can do. I hope he makes the team, Wong has done nothing to convince me he's ready for the majors. I'd rather see him spend more time at Worcester. Alfaro must bring something to the table, he's been in the majors for 6 years. The question is whether his offense is enough to offset his defensive liabilities.
 

chrisfont9

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A passed ball costs you about a third of a run on average. Even being the single worst in the league doesn't really move the needle all that much.

Alfaro has 49 PB in 3340 innings. An average C would have about 18. So he's cost his team about 10 runs over 400 games.
Thank you. Now, if he is just a bad receiver and pitchers don't like him, that's an issue. The odd whiff, while not ideal, seems pretty close to meaningless. He has 60 career CS and 49 PBs so on that basis alone he's saved runs.
 

chawson

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I don’t know the specifics of Alfaro’s issue with passed balls but Sox pitchers tend to work high in the zone, not low. Those pitches are easier to catch.

Sox pitchers were 29th of 30 in percentage of pitches thrown in the lowest six sections of Statcast’s attack zone (27-29 and 37-39).

60153

Not sure what kind of passed balls Alfaro had trouble with, but the trouble could be mitigated in Boston.
 

jon abbey

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Some passed balls are meaningless, a runner on first in the 7th inning of a 8-1 game, some may be the pitcher throwing the wrong pitch in a crossup, it's an official scorer's decision that is not always accurate.

Someone industrious and bored should just go through and look at each one of Alfaro's specifically from 2022 and post a report for us, there were only 7.
 

Yo La Tengo

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Thanks to MLB Film Room I found 6 of the 7 in question and made a reel of them:

https://www.mlb.com/video/00u7mhddpPL0VHBRe356/reels/alfaro-pbs-2022?partnerId=web_multimedia-search_video-share

One is a strike he botches. Most are pitches dipping low but not hitting the dirt.
This is a cool reel- pretty amazing how much our discourse about MLB has been influenced by access to technology and information.

It looks like that low/backhand position is a weakness that could be addressed by coaching (and maybe some motivation as he is reaching for that ball rather than shifting his body). I think it is a good idea for the team to assess/compare him and Wong to see who would be the best fit for the team.

EDIT: He hit .281/.329/.531 with runners in scoring position last year with four walk-off hits. Probably doesn't mean much moving forward but, as zougwa's video shows, he doesn't seem to shy away from the spotlight.
 
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BeantownIdaho

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Dec 5, 2005
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It's a minor league deal... I'm sure he will be fine coming up on a 10 day DL stint by one of our catchers.... if he ends up starting then we may have some problems. As it stands, it's a good signing.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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I suppose anything is possible, but is a 30 year old going to suddenly learn how to avoid passed balls or strike out less? I doubt the Sox coaches would be the first to try to address these issues with him.

I'm fine with having this guy around, especially since I don't see much upside to Wong, but let's not pretend that he might be more than he has already shown us over several seasons.
 

YTF

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I suppose anything is possible, but is a 30 year old going to suddenly learn how to avoid passed balls or strike out less? I doubt the Sox coaches would be the first to try to address these issues with him.

I'm fine with having this guy around, especially since I don't see much upside to Wong, but let's not pretend that he might be more than he has already shown us over several seasons.
Platoon catcher with a lifetime. 256 BA in 478 games played on that contract is a good signing, especially given the lack of depth at the position. Better still if he can marginally cut down on the KS and PBs.
 

Yo La Tengo

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More on Alfaro. He's 29 years old and has some intriguing strengths (along with the big flaws already discussed):

"By Statcast’s Sprint Speed metric, he’s the fastest catcher in baseball, averaging 29.8 feet per second, the same mark as outfielders such as Brett Phillips and his teammate Trent Grisham. By Statcast’s recently reintroduced Pop Time metric that measures how quickly a catcher can get the ball to second base to cut down a potential base-stealer, Alfaro ranks second in baseball."
"Add all that to his raw power, which remains elite. When he connects, he can hit the ball as hard as almost anyone in the game. He hit a 114.8 mph homer against Arizona, and his 115.2 mph lineout against Colorado puts him in the 98th percentile for exit velocity in MLB."

https://www.foxsports.com/stories/mlb/padres-catcher-jorge-alfaro-finally-living-up-to-the-legend
 

JM3

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One of his Nicknames is El Oso...The Bear
I thought this story was kind of funny:

Alfaro, who sliced a single to right in his previous at-bat, yanked a ball to left in the seventh inning off reliever Sean Poppen. As he made the turn to second, Alfaro shifted to an entirely different gear.

That type of gear should not exist for a 6-3, 230-pound catcher with the nickname “El Oso,” which is Spanish for The Bear.
“It was unbelievable,” Padres pitcher Blake Snell said. “Everybody in the dugout was like, ‘What the heck?’ He’s trying to get to third. He was moving. He looked like a fullback or something. I was impressed. I didn’t know he was that fast and explosive.

“I knew he was strong as hell, but I didn’t know he could move like that.”
“Oh my gosh,” said fellow catcher Austin Nola, shaking his head. “I thought he might be playing football, like a running back. He can run. I wouldn’t want to get in the way of that.”
Alfaro picked up the nickname from a coach in the Rangers organization, after being signed in 2010.

Not surprisingly, The Bear inhales food.

“I’m a big guy who likes to eat a lot,” Alfaro reasoned. “I have to stay in good shape, so I try to make good choices, eat a lot of vegetables.”
“Wherever I go, I’ll play the same way and give 100 percent,” Alfaro said. “I just try to be part of the group and, you know, bring something every day to help the team.”
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/sports-columnists/story/2022-04-09/san-diego-padres-diamondbacks
 

The Gray Eagle

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Alfaro seems like an entertaining player, if not a really good one.

It would have been fun if the Sox went all in on players who are entertaining to watch this offseason:
Sign Johnny Cueto for his Tiant-esque delivery.
Bring back Iglesias for his amazing flashiness in the field.
Josh Harrison for his amazing slides to avoid tags.
El Oso at catcher.
Let David Hamilton play every day and steal 80 bases (well, he probably wouldn't get on base enough for that, more like 50).
Sign Billy Hamilton and let him run wild too.
Bring back Renfro to watch him alternate insanely great throws with overthrowing the cutoff man by 50 feet, wondering if he'll be able to recover from a bad route with a lunging catch, combined with all-or-nothing big swings at the plate.
Trade for Dan Vogelbach.
Sign Andrew Chafin for a Rod Beck-lite experience.
Sign Willians Astudillo before he went to Korea.
Bring up Cedanne Rafaella for his defensive wizardry.

It's better to have a good team, but that would be the most entertaining bad team in the world.
 

chawson

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The Alfaro signing seems significant enough to warrant its own thread.

FanGraphs just did a delightful piece on him here. Some quotes:

To hell with empirics; Alfaro is best enjoyed through highlights.

To watch Alfaro is to be tantalized by a man who abjures the oppressive strictures of modern baseball. Nowadays, ballplayers are instructed to play the percentages. Sometimes those percentages dictate taking risks: throwing as hard as possible, literally swinging for the fences. But the math underpins everything. Alfaro lives outside those norms. He charges boldly and gets his money’s worth, win or lose.

At his peak, Alfaro is faster than Cristian Pache or Cedric Mullins. His hardest-hit ball of 2022 came in (or, more accurately, went out) at 115.2 mph, harder than anything hit by Mike Trout, Kyle Schwarber or Joey Gallo in 2022. And he can play the hardest defensive position in the sport. How is this guy not a starter, let alone a star? The more useful way to ask that question is: How does the hitter with the worst contact numbers and plate discipline in baseball turn out to be an above-replacement-level player?
 

Bread of Yaz

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The Alfaro signing seems significant enough to warrant its own thread.

FanGraphs just did a delightful piece on him here. Some quotes:

To hell with empirics; Alfaro is best enjoyed through highlights.

To watch Alfaro is to be tantalized by a man who abjures the oppressive strictures of modern baseball. Nowadays, ballplayers are instructed to play the percentages. Sometimes those percentages dictate taking risks: throwing as hard as possible, literally swinging for the fences. But the math underpins everything. Alfaro lives outside those norms. He charges boldly and gets his money’s worth, win or lose.

At his peak, Alfaro is faster than Cristian Pache or Cedric Mullins. His hardest-hit ball of 2022 came in (or, more accurately, went out) at 115.2 mph, harder than anything hit by Mike Trout, Kyle Schwarber or Joey Gallo in 2022. And he can play the hardest defensive position in the sport. How is this guy not a starter, let alone a star? The more useful way to ask that question is: How does the hitter with the worst contact numbers and plate discipline in baseball turn out to be an above-replacement-level player?
The parts of the article about his league-worst bad skills are tough to swallow though (one commentor noted that he had approximately 1700 ABs and has reached a 3-0 count just 37 times). Will truly be a roller coaster with this guy.
 

JM3

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The parts of the article about his league-worst bad skills are tough to swallow though (one commentor noted that he had approximately 1700 ABs and has reached a 3-0 count just 37 times). Will truly be a roller coaster with this guy.
That was prior to '22 tho when he added 6 more!

In his career he has gone to 3-0 52 times, but 9 IBB. On the other 43, he's 9-20 with 23 BB. Shame he doesn't get there more often.
 

TheYellowDart5

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Red Sox have the third-best wOBA and second most fWAR from their DHs this year, there's no need for Alfaro here. Detroit or Milwaukee or Seattle especially should be all over him though.
 

moondog80

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He presumably wouldn't generate much of a return, but in theory could they put him on the roster and then trade him to a team that legitimately wants him in the big leagues?
 

joe dokes

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Red Sox have the third-best wOBA and second most fWAR from their DHs this year, there's no need for Alfaro here. Detroit or Milwaukee or Seattle especially should be all over him though.
I guess his catching must have been *that* bad.
 

jon abbey

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He presumably wouldn't generate much of a return, but in theory could they put him on the roster and then trade him to a team that legitimately wants him in the big leagues?
They’d have to clear a 40 man spot but generally this isn’t done. Kole Calhoun is in a similar position with NY, signed in April and opted out today, and the teams add them or let them go.

And they’d have to clear a 26 man spot without sending down Wong, because he couldn’t come back for 10 days. The hassle probably is not worth it, even if someone wanted to deal for him.