April 06, 2017

Roster Moves and Depth Chart

Noe Ramirez and Marco Hernandez better get used to this
There have been a flurry of roster moves the last few days.  The Red Sox played Wednesday’s night game shorthanded.  Robbie Ross and Mookie Betts were battling flu-like symptoms, and Brock Holt’s condition was so bad that he wasn’t even at the ballpark. That was a bad time to have an extra inning game, but Sandy “the Lion King” Leon sent everyone happy by walking it off in the 12th.

Right after the game Matt Barnes was put on the bereavement leave, and Noe Ramirez called up to take his place.  This morning we learned that Xander Bogaerts was also placed on bereavement leave and Marco Hernandez came up to take his roster spot.  Now Robbie Ross’ flu worsened and he was put on the DL with Deven Marrero taking his place.  Why an infielder instead of another reliever?  Well, taking a look at the depth chart below will explain this.

The Red Sox were already carrying an extra bullpen arm, since they had the luxury of not needing a 5th starter right away, and have kept Drew Pomeranz on the DL until he is needed (likely on Tuesday).  The extra middle infielder is due to Brock Holt’s flu.  If he’s unavailable, Hernandez will start at SS and Marrero becomes the utility bench guy.  The bench is going to be Holt (flu), Young, Vazquez, Marrero and Selksy.


Here is the current roster/depth chart. Players with a strikethrough are not on current 25, players in brackets are listed a subsequent time in a position other than their primary position.

C
Leon
Vazquez
1B
Moreland
(Ramirez)
(Selsky)
2B
Pedroia
(Hernandez)
(Holt)
(Rutledge – DL)
SS
Bogaerts (bereavement)
(Holt)
(Hernandez)
3B
Sandoval
(Hernandez)
(Holt)
(Rutledge – DL)
DH
Ramirez
(Young)
UT
Holt(flu)
Rutledge (DL)
Hernandez
Marrero
LF
Benintendi
(Young)
Selsky
(Holt)
CF
Bradley
Young
RF
Betts
(Young)
(Selsky)

Starting Pitchers:
Porcello
Sale
Price (DL)
Wright
Pomeranz (DL)
Rodriguez
Relief Pitchers:
Kimbrel
Thornburg (DL)
Smith (DL)
Kelly
Ross (DL)
Scott
Embree
Abad
Taylor
Ramirez

Marrero will go back down when Bogaerts comes off the bereavement list.
Noe Ramirez will be replaced by Barnes when he comes off.
Since our bullpen is back down to seven arms, and we have an extra position player on the bench, to make room for Pomeranz, one of the bench players will go back down.  If Holt is fully recovered from the flu, I suspect it will be Marco Hernandez back to AAA.

And when Robbie Ross is activated (he’ll be eligible on April 13th), Ben Taylor’s cup of coffee will be finished for now.

At least that’s what I expect the plan will be, although injuries and overuse of pitchers may dictate different moves being made over the next week or so.

April 03, 2017

Opening Day!!!!

It's Opening Day. I know yesterday was the official MLB Opening Day, but today is the first Red Sox game of the season so now it really counts! By the way, if you don't capitalize "Opening Day", we can't be friends.  It should be a national (both in the US and Canada) holiday.  It IS an official stat holiday for my company (perk of being the owner - I make the rules).

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to it. Not quite as much as the 2014 opener when I was at Fenway to see the banner get raised, but every Opening Day is special.

The Red Sox have finalized their 25 man roster.  Not too different than what I had predicted in mid February.


Here are the guys we get to look forward to as the season starts:

Starting pitchers
Rick Porcello
Chris Sale (L)
Steven Wright
Eduardo Rodriguez (L)

I had Price and Pomeranz also on the roster.  They are both on the DL. I had EdRo starting in Pawtucket but did say he'd be in the rotation if anyone was injured.  Pomeranz seems like a roster move, since they won't need a 5th starter until his DL stint is up.

Relief Pitchers
Craig Kimbrel
Joe Kelly
Matt Barnes
Robbie Ross (L)
Heath Embree
Robby Scott (L)
Fernando Abad (L)
Ben Taylor

I had the same first six guys.  Also had included Tyler Thornburg who is on the DL. I thought the 2nd loogy spot would be a battle between Scott and Abad and Scott would win it.  With the Thornburg injury there's room for both.  Ben Taylor was a surprise addition, whose spot was open due to the aforementioned Pomeranz temporary roster move.

Catchers
Sandy Leon (S)
Christian Vazquez

No surprises here.  Swihart starting in Pawtucket because he has options.

Infield
Mitch Moreland (L)
Dustin Pedroia
Xander Bogaerts
Pablo Sandoval (S)
Hanley Ramirez
Brock Holt (L)
Steve Selsky

I had the first six guys.  Thought the last utility spot would go to Josh Rutledge over Marco Hernandez.  Rutledge is on the DL, and with Moreland battling the flu, Steve Selsky is more able to back up first base than Hernandez.

Outfield
Mookie Betts
Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)
Andrew Benintendi (L)
Chris Young

Again, no surprises there.

So, in total I had correctly forecasted 21 of the 25 players on the Opening Day roster.  The ones I missed, Price, Pomeranz, Thornburg and Rutlege are all on the DL.

This afternoon, I will be watching the Red Sox opener at a local drinking establishment with a bunch of baseball fans.
Here is the lineup for today's game:
1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. Mookie Betts, RF
4. Hanley Ramirez, DH
5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
6. Xander Bogaerts, SS
7. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
8. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
9. Sandy Leon, C
Pitching - Rick Porcello

For Pedroia, this is his 11th straight start on Opening Day.  Guys such as Ted Williams, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Wade Boggs and David Ortiz never did that. In fact, if Pedroia starts on Opening Day next year, he'll tie the Red Sox record, currently held by Yaz.

Beni starts in LF.  Hopefully he'll end up a fixture for years to come there, following in the footsteps of Williams, Yaz, Rice and Ramirez, who started 55 Opening Days between them since 1940.

 HAPPY OPENING DAY, everyone!




March 29, 2017

2017 Season Predictions

Yes, this is a selfie, in case you wondered
 what "Baseball Ruben" looked like
Time for my sort-of-annual predictions post.

A quick pre-emptive note:  I realize how bad some of these will look at the end of the year. I’m sure I have some last place teams that will end up making the playoffs, and I have some division winners who won’t contend.  That’s ok. It happens to all the forecasters every year.  (here are last year's ESPN forecasters predictions.  None of the 31 got all the division winners. Six picked the Astros or Royals - neither of which made the playoffs - to win the World Series.  Almost half (15) had either the Indians or Cubs missing the playoffs. Somehow only FOUR of their 31 "experts" managed to correctly guess the Dodgers would win their division, Exactly one had Cleveland going to the Fall Classic.... and picked the Giants to beat them there)

March 24, 2017

Out of the Park Baseball 18, Now available worldwide

BUY THIS GAME!
As mentioned previously, OOTP18 has now been released. (Get your copy here).  I have started playing the 2017 season, as manager of the Red Sox, and incredibly this game seems better than the previous versions.  (I am astounded every year on how they manage to make such a great game better).  I’m only one week in, but already loving how the game is playing out.


The first thing I did (while winning over John Farrell detractors everywhere), was name myself manager of the team.   The notoriously tough Boston media didn’t waste any time proclaiming that “Ruben is over his head” (I’m looking at you Pete Abraham!).



But I’m determined to prove them wrong, and got off to a first start, even getting Mookie Betts to be named AL player of the week, the first week of the season. 
Mookie Betts, player of the week!


I look forward to continuing to simulate this season, and will post updates here and on twitter occasionally.


Below is the full press release where you can read all about this game.  I do strongly recommend that any baseball fan who enjoys playing games to get this.



Out of the Park Baseball 18, an Official Licensee of MLB.com, MLBPA, and MiLB.com,
Now Available Worldwide

Follow-up to Metacritic’s 2016 PC Game of the Year features a new Challenge Mode, Online Profiles and Leaderboards, real 2017 major and minor league rosters, historic Negro League teams, improved 3D mode, new tournaments, and much more

Out of the Park Developments, an official licensee of MLB.com, the MLBPA, and MiLB.com, today announced that Out of the Park Baseball 18 is now available worldwide. The follow-up to the acclaimed Metacritic 2016 PC Game of the Year includes several exciting new features and a treasure trove of deep improvements to its award-winning gameplay.

Out of the Park Baseball 18 sells for $39.99 and is available on Steam and through the company’s website at these links:



For the first time, Out of the Park Baseball 18 introduces an all-new Challenge Mode. This allows series newcomers to enjoy a powerful way to learn the intricacies of this deep strategy title, while driving community engagement for all users via the creation of online profiles to share accomplishments on new leaderboards. The Challenge Mode is just the beginning of an all-new, long-term expansion of OOTP’s online platform -- more will be unveiled during the course of the 2017 baseball season.

Out of the Park Baseball 18 also includes:

  • 2017 roster sets with all Opening Day MLB rosters, as well as the complete minor league system from Triple-A down to rookie leagues and the Arizona Fall League. All major league (and over a thousand minor league) player ratings are based on the popular ZiPS player projection system. The 8 international leagues, as well as independent minor leagues in the US, also return this year with accurate rosters.
  • Historical Negro League clubs, thanks to a partnership with OOTP’s acclaimed historical database experts and Seamheads.com. This feature allows baseball fans to explore the rich history of a bygone era, create compelling what-if scenarios, pit major league clubs against their Negro League counterparts, and much more.
  • Improvements to 3D mode, including: Even more ballpark detail; better on-field player models and enhanced on-field decisions; and the ability to save all 3D highlights and watch a highlight reel, whether the game was played out or simulated.
  • Custom and real world tournaments for all the teams included in the game. National and international tournaments are a breeze to create, as is the ability to import historical teams.
  • Extensive AI improvements, including roster management, trades, and in-game decision-making.
  • A redesigned injury system that features detailed injury histories for all players, little nagging long-term injuries, and more.
  • Many more improvements, including:
    • A beautiful new interface
    • Improved game recaps
    • An upgraded player morale/team chemistry system
    • Enhanced play-by-play text and league news
    • A sophisticated system for team relegation and promotion between leagues
    • The ability to retain player salaries in trades
    • The incorporation of many 2017 CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) rule changes
    • Faster import speeds of historical minor league seasons

OOTP 18 runs on PC/Mac/Linux and, like last year, it features the American League and National League logos, the World Series trophy, official logos and jerseys for all 30 MLB teams, over 150 Minor League Baseball league and team logos, and historical MLB logos.

“Fans have been overwhelmingly positive about Out of the Park Baseball 18 since it was announced in January,” said lead developer, lifelong baseball fan, and Out of the Park Developments CEO Markus Heinsohn. “We’re thrilled to deliver a game that will allow us to dramatically expand our online community and delight a new generation of fans.”

“Out of the Park Baseball has been setting the bar high for sports management games over the past 18 years, and this year’s edition is no different,” said Out of the Park Developments CMO Richard Grisham. “Every time I think they can’t top last year’s version, they do it again. I tip my cap to the hardest-working development team in video games.”
About Out of the Park Developments

Out of the Park Developments is the developer of the award-winning OOTP and MLB Manager series of baseball management simulations, Franchise Hockey Manager, and Beyond the Sideline Football. German-based OOTP Developments was founded by Markus Heinsohn and Andreas Raht in 1999. OOTP Developments has consistently produced games that have met with critical acclaim, including winning Metacritic's coveted “PC Game of the Year” for the 2016 version of OOTP and "Game of the Year" for the 2007 edition of OOTP, which remains the second highest-rated PC game on Metacritic of all time. Further information on the company and its games is available from the OOTP Developments website, http://www.ootpdevelopments.com
About MLB.com

Established in June 2000 following a unanimous vote by the 30 Major League Baseball club owners to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations, MLB Advanced Media LP (MLBAM) is the interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball. MLBAM manages the official league site, MLB.com,and each of the 30 individual Club sites to create the most comprehensive Major League Baseball resource on the Internet. MLB.com offers fans the most complete baseball information and interactivity across computers and mobile devices, including up-to-date statistics, game previews and summaries, extensive historical information, online ticket sales, baseball merchandise, authenticated memorabilia and collectibles, fantasy games, live full-game video streaming and in-progress and on-demand highlights, live and archived audio broadcasts, Gameday pitch-by-pitch application, Statcast tracking technology, around-the-clock hosted and specialty video programming, complete blogging capabilities, console and mobile video games and the award-winning At Bat and Ballpark mobile applications. MLBAM powers more live events across the Internet than any other company in the world.

Major League Baseball Players Association

The Major League Baseball Players Association (www.MLBPLAYERS.com ) is the collective bargaining representative for all professional baseball players of the thirty Major League Baseball teams and serves as the exclusive group licensing agent for commercial and licensing activities involving active Major League baseball players. On behalf of its members, it operates the Players Choice licensing program and the Players Choice Awards, which benefit the needy through the Major League Baseball Players Trust, a charitable foundation established and run entirely by Major League baseball players. Follow: @MLB_Players; @MLBPAClubhouse; @MLBPlayersTrust

March 02, 2017

10 Bold Red Sox Predictions


I said BOLD Kevin, not BALD....

Instead of the usual boring forecasts that I've seen projecting a Chris Sale Cy Young, Mookie MVP, and a Benintendi Rookie of the Year on the way to the Red Sox winning the division,  I have come up with a list of ten unexpected predictions for the Boston nine this year:

1. By middle of season Drew Pomeranz will be trusted as much as Porcello
2. We will get at least 10 starts from arms other than the six currently vying for rotation spots (Sale, Price, Porcello, Pomeranz, Wright, Rodriguez)(1)(2)
3. We will have a lights out bullpen by the end of summer – Kelly/Thornburg/Smith handing ball off to Kimbrel will be an opposition’s nightmare if they’re trailing in the 7th.
4. Any injury to an outfielder will expose how little organizational depth there is there
5. Betts will not get as many MVP votes as last season
6. Swihart will be a big offensive contributor by mid season
7. Brandon Workman will be on the post-season roster
8. Sandy Leon won’t
9. Mid season there will be talk about winning 100 games
10. We won’t

Check back in October to see how many of these I got wrong. I’ll be surprised if it’s less than 8 or 9.

(1) This isn’t even close to a bold prediction.  Last year our top 5 starters (in games started, not as projected on Opening Day), started 133 games.  Pomeranz and Joe Kelly were 6th and 7th most used starters, and that still left ten games started by Owens, Sullivan and Elias.  The previous season, after the 124 games started by Miley, Porcello, Kelly, Rodriguez and Buchholz, we needed 20 more starts between Owens and Wright, which still left another 18 for Masterson, Hill, Barnes, Breslow and Brian Johnson.  Don’t get me started on 2014.  And even in 2013, when everything mainly went right, we still needed 18 starts by Allen Webster, Aceves, Workman, Morales and Wright.  You can never have too much pitching!

(2) I wrote the above before the Price news broke.  I hate being right already about too much pitching, but I’ll stick to the general statement that we’ll need more than 10 starts from pitchers other than the six who pitch the most games, whoever they may be.