Week 7: Concern for the Sox? Sure, but not time to bail yet. And links

Fangraphs has a really nice review of Carlos Rodon’s first three starts. Must read for Sox fans. I went to the game on Wednesday, and Rodon loses the plate way too often. He does work quick and there weren’t too many hard hit balls. The talent is there, but until he finds the plate, he’s going to struggle.
It’s Memorial Day, the point of the season that I start to look at the standings… and it’s ugly.

The Sox are not only 8 games behind a fairly fraudulent Royals team, but they also own one of the worst records in the AL. And to make matters even worse, they now own the worst run differential in the AL.

The good news? The AL is a tire fire. The Royals are playing so far above their heads and talent level, that their fall from grace will be swift and ugly. But they’re probably going to make the playoffs unless they play .400 baseball or something horrible like that. The AL East is Chernobyl-isque: it’s possible all of those teams are average. And the AL West features disappointing A’s, Angels, and Mariners teams. The young Astros hold the lead, but I have my doubts about their pitching.

The Twins and Tigers sit in the Wild Card positions. The Sox sit five games back of them. But more realistically, it’s going to take 89 or 90 wins to make the Wild Card. You might be able to slip in with even 87 considering that the Twins aren’t very good. The Sox need to play .562 baseball (91 win pace over an entire season) to reach 87 wins. Not impossible.

The Sox biggest issue is that they cannot beat the Twins: 3-7 against a team with much less talent than the Sox is a problem. While losing three of four to the Tribe earlier this week hurt, it doesn’t sting as much as once again playing horribly against the Twins. Blowing these games are going to cost them—it already has.

The Sox biggest problem is they cannot score runs. Dead last in the AL with 147 runs scored in 41 games, which works out to 3.58 a game. That’s not good.

The Sox offensive issues are obvious: they don’t walk, they don’t get on base, and they don’t hit for power. While Abreu has been fine if not quite what he was last year, Garcia has started strong even if it’s a bit BABIP inflated, and LaRoche has been perfectly average; the rest of the roster has been bad to horrible.

You could live with Conor Gillaspie’s bat if he was the 8th or 9th worse hitter. Instead he’s somehow the 4th best bat the Sox send out most days. Alexei, Flowers, whoever is playing second, Eaton, and Melky have been horrible. Eaton and Melky are currently in a race to see who can be the worst every day starter in the major leagues.*

*It’s fitting the Sox once again have a few guys in the race to “win” the Worst Everyday Player Award. Past recent finalists include:
2011 Rios
2011 Dunn
2013 Konerko
2012 Kippinger
2014 Viciedo

Could Melky and Eaton turn it around? SURE! They’re not bad baseball players! Eaton’s BABIP is still far below what it was last year and he needs to walk a little more, but he’s been much better in May.

Meanwhile, Melky is walking at the same rate that he has historically. But he too has been bit by the BABIP bug. Of more concern, is what happened to his power. Melky has one homer and two doubles. That isn’t going to cut it.

Both Eaton and Melky are too talented of players to continue to be this bad. We’re seeing some signs of life out of Eaton. We can only hope, now that the weather has finally turned, we’ll start seeing more out of Melky. If those two get going a bit, that sets the table for Abreu, LaRoche, and Avi which should lead to more runs, and more runs will lead to more wins since while this pitching staff is flawed, there is also a lot to like.

Last week was a bad week, and tough to swallow after the fantastic week prior. And while the Sox aren’t in great shape at the moment, they also haven’t dug themselves a huge hole. The playoffs are unlikely, but their not impossible.

Most Interesting Things I’ve Read this Week:
-- From the Charlotte Observer and echoing many here… we have reached PEAK #THANKSOBAMA. Let me tell you this guy…
Lang, a Republican, says he knew the act required him to get coverage but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency. He and his wife blame President Obama and Congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.

“(My husband) should be at the front of the line because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues,” Mary Lang said last week. “We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.”

...a 50 year old smoker with diabetes doesn’t buy health insurance and now wants to jump the line and have someone else pay for his health care but blames Obama. Sadly, like the Superfans, these people apparently exist.

Really excellent work from the always excellent Becky Vevea.

Never change Pete Townshend. Never change.

Most interesting here, imo, is that our growth cities of the late 20th century (i.e. the South and Southwest) aren’t like most growth cities of the 19th and early 20th century (i.e. East Coast, West Coast, and Rust Belt).

Or to put another way, Phoenix, Houston, and San Antonio look a lot different than New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Phoenix is very suburban, New York is very urban. This causes both cities to face vastly different policy issues and also have solutions to common policy issues which are unalike.

There are a number of reasons why Chicago might not be growing all that much, but to say “Do what they did in Houston!” might not be an actual policy solution for Chicago because Houston isn’t built like Chicago.

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