A lot of people are playing the “what if” game with respect to the Red Sox lately, mostly in terms of “what if they didn’t have all those damn injuries.” Would they be in the thick of the AL East right now instead of hanging by a thread? In the lead? How bad has the injury bug really harmed their status as contenders?
ESPN’s (and Baseball Think Factory’s!) Dan Szymborski figured that rather than just talking it up and down all day like some sports radio goon that he’d try to figure it out. Over at the WWL today (sorry, Insider only), he does his best to break out the difference in performance between the expected starters and the dudes who have replaced them in 2010.
The verdict: while acknowledging that there’s all kinds of alchemy and magic and unexpected and unintended consequences when imperfect human beings are your variables, Dan figures the replacements have cost the Sox about four wins. That would have them closer, sure, but not quite as high up the standings as some people in Boston probably believe.
Neat exercise, though, so if you have Insider, by all means, check it out.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been granted a work visa and will soon rejoin the Pirates. Kang had previously not been allowed to enter the U.S. after he was arrested for his third DUI in Seoul in December 2016.
There was some thought that Kang wouldn’t ever play for the Pirates again, but things have worked out in his favor. It will still likely be a while until he actually appears in a major league game, as he will need to get back into game shape and up to game speed.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly said, “After a lengthy process, we are pleased that Jung Ho has been allowed to re-enter the United States. We are encouraged by the steps that Jung Ho has taken to date and are hopeful that having the games he loves taken away from him for more than a year has driven home the reality that he must make better life decisions as we move forward together.
As we have communicated to him throughout this process, we will work to provide Jung Ho with the resources and support necessary for him to meet the high expectations that we have for him as a member of our organization and our community.”
The Pirates signed Kang as an international free agent out of South Korea to a four-year, $11 million contract in January 2015. If he were to appear in the majors this season, he would earn a prorated $3 million. He has a club option for next season worth $5.5 million with a $250,000 buyout.