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The Panic Index: The Red Sox, Giants, Rays and Brewers

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Panic on the streets of Boston … St. Pete, Frisco and Milwaukee …

OK, fine, so the Smiths sang about panic better than I can, but the “oh noes!” quotient is pretty high among some fans this morning. Fans who, it seems, forgot that baseball is not football and three or four games don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but their pain is real even if it’s not entirely rational.

Or is it?  Based on random comments, emails and tweets, fans of four teams seem to be most concerned on this fine day. Let’s see if they’re taking to their fainting couches prematurely or if they really do have something to worry about. Let’s rate the panic on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning that you’re just mad about Saffron, and ten meaning that it’s time for fans to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside:

Red Sox: Yeah, it was an ugly weekend with the pitching staff serving up meatballs, but I really do think this is just a blip. The Sox are not the first team to leave The Ballpark with an ugly ERA and they won’t be the last. The Rangers are good. Everyone is healthy. The 1998 Yankees began the season 0-3 and they somehow found 114 wins lying around over the next six months, so there’s no reason to push the panic button in Beantown. Panic Index: 3

Giants: Yeah, the chalk outline of Aubrey Huff in right was funny, but with the way he’s flopped around out there I’m worried for his safety, be it from going into a wall Bump Bailey-style or be it from his pitching staff murdering him. The defense is a huge problem for San Francisco. Perhaps a bigger problem than we assumed this spring. Still, Cody Ross will be back soon, moving Huff to left, and you can’t really get down on a team with this kind of pitching. Panic Index: 5

Brewers: Eh, hard to say if it’s panic time yet. The Reds are good. Milwaukee should have won that Opening Day game. Zack Greinke will come back and restore order. But the defense, while not as spectacularly shaky as the Giants was this weekend, was bad, and Randy Wolf made everyone flash back to the Brewers’ pitching struggles in 2010.  Panic Index: 6

Rays: This is a problem. No, not the anemic showing against the Orioles as such — Chris Tillman and Zach Britton are going to make a lot of guys look bad over the next few years — but because of the injuries. Evan Longoria could be on the shelf for three weeks if you believe Joe Maddon, and Johnny Damon — a guy whose primary value at this point is his dependability — is hurting only two games into this thing.  For the Rays to have a hope at being relevant, everything needs to go their way. They need to get the breaks. Losing their best player and their starting left fielder is not something they need. Panic Index: 8

So there you have it.  Knowing these things won’t prevent you from panicking, of course, but at least you now know how rational your panic truly is. And knowing is half the battle.

Danny Espinosa reportedly skipped Nationals Winterfest because of Adam Eaton

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Danny Espinosa #8 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after teammate Chris Heisey #14 (not pictured) hits a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.

A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.

Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.

Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.

Nick Cafardo: Red Sox should deal Pomeranz, not Buchholz

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.

The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.

Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.

Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.