Sox Catch Tampa Bay, Minor Additions: Ryan Shealy

June 19, 2010 - Boston, MA, USA - epa02212147 The Boston Red Sox Dustin Pedroia is carried by teammate Darnell McDonald as they celebrate Pedroia's game winning single against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 19 June 2010.
Sox Catch Tampa Bay The Sox finally playing inspired baseball, the club has been rolling with a 14-5 record in June. Meanwhile, the Devil Rays have stagnated, posting just an 8-9 mark over that period. It has been a long time coming, but the Red Sox have finally drawn even at second place with in-division foe Tampa Bay. It’s difficult to do justice to how great of an accomplishment this is. A team that appeared dead in the water not one month ago has risen from the ashes back to contention -- all the while combating debilitating injuries and emergency call ups. Should Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett, especially, come back strong from their injuries, the club could once again have the MLB’s best rotation. A 1-2-3 of Beckett, Jon Lester, and a surging Clay Buchholz would rival that of any in the league. John Lackey and Matsuzaka at 4 and 5 would make the Rays and Yankees green with envy. With Ellsbury in left and Hermida the fourth outfielder, the lineup will see a tremendous boost. The best is yet to come. Or is it?
June 19, 2010 - Boston, MA, USA - epa02212147 The Boston Red Sox Dustin Pedroia is carried by teammate Darnell McDonald as they celebrate Pedroia's game winning single against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 19 June 2010.

Sox Catch Tampa Bay

The Sox finally playing inspired baseball, the club has been rolling with a 14-5 record in June. Meanwhile, the Devil Rays have stagnated, posting just an 8-9 mark over that period.

It has been a long time coming, but the Red Sox have finally drawn even at second place with in-division foe Tampa Bay.

It’s difficult to do justice to how great of an accomplishment this is. A team that appeared dead in the water not one month ago has risen from the ashes back to contention — all the while combating debilitating injuries and emergency call ups.

Should Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett, especially, come back strong from their injuries, the club could once again have the MLB’s best rotation. A 1-2-3 of Beckett, Jon Lester, and a surging Clay Buchholz would rival that of any in the league. John Lackey and Matsuzaka at 4 and 5 would make the Rays and Yankees green with envy.

With Jacoby Ellsbury in left and Jeremy Hermida the fourth outfielder, the lineup will see a tremendous boost.

The best is yet to come.

Or is it?

While the abounding optimism and rejoicing across Red Sox Nation is absolutely warranted — and deserved — the Faithful must tread lightly as the team proceeds onward. Though the club has certainly hit a groove, there are still plenty of roadblocks to overcome.

For one, the patchwork outfield, held together by AAA call ups Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald, cannot be expected to hold.

The key word is expected.

While Nava’s (.360/.407/.680) and McDonald’s (.276/.335/.386) have been more than the team could have hoped neither is a proven commodity. And while many players throughout baseball history have moved from “pleasant surprise” to “bona fide stud,” these instances are few and far between.

Perennial contenders like Boston are perennial contenders because they rely upon proven players, not unknowns.

It would be unreasonable to expect two Pawtucket replacements to produce at the level of Major League regulars.

Sooner or later, the team will need an upgrade.

Therefore, the club will need contributions from a fully healthy J.D. Drew, Jeremy Hermida, and Jacoby Ellsbury to keep up with Tampa Bay.

In addition, the impending arrivals of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett must be met with a certain amount of healthy skepticism. While they will both bolster the club upon arrival, they have their own hurdles to overcome.

Daisuke’s history of inconsistency — when healthy, no less — will be further compounded when returning from injury. Ailments and fatigue can hurt pitchers in any number of ways, and a pitcher with Daisuke’s track record is as risky as any in the Majors.

Beckett, too, is a relative unknown. Back injuries are notoriously unpredictable, and, combined with the length of time he has missed, it’s anyone’s guess for what to expect. With reports as far back as May citing Beckett’s inability to repeat his delivery as well as the injury causing him to alter his mechanics, who knows how he will produce when he returns.

The fact that the injury has caused problems for his delivery is particularly concerning, as altered mechanics and deliveries have been known to cause any number of problems, including issues with command and being able to consistently throw certain pitches.

Will any of the aforementioned players be able to avoid the DL through the remainder of the season? Will Beckett be able to consistently repeat his delivery upon arrival? Will Ellsbury, an all-out player, feel confident enough in his ribcage to continue his pre-injury style of play?

This team has played itself back into contention and is poised to overtake the division lead — an incredible accomplishment considering all their injuries and disappointments this season. If anything, this team really does have its best baseball in front of them. Still, Boston fans would be wise not to celebrate just yet, instead getting geared up for an all-out fight to the finish.

There is a long way to go.

Minor Additions: Ryan Shealy to Pawtucket

The Sox made quite the unheralded addition this past week, signing AAA slugger Ryan Shealy to the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Though Shealy has his drawbacks and had struggled with the Rays’ AAA-affiliate Durham (.238/.368/.514, 10 HR, 183 AB), there is a lot to like about this low-risk addition — one that could provide dividends if and when the Sox need to dip into their organization’s lack of hitting depth.

The first, and most prominent, positive is Shealy’s bat.

The 6-5, 240 lb. first baseman is big on power. Having posted a gaudy .306/.399/.560 career minor league line with 142 homers in 2466 at-bats (including 41 career long balls for my very own Colorado Springs Sky Sox), he brings some serious thump to whichever AAA city he happens to being calling his home.

Second, is the glove.

Having spoken with sources in Colorado that are familiar with Shealy, he was reportedly a very skilled fielder in his days with the Sky Sox in ’05 and ’06 — with good range and hands. These abilities will certainly help him make a case for Major League playing time, especially in an organization that makes defense a high priority.

Unfortunately, the rub with Shealy has been his inability to turn those minor league statistics into consistent production at the Major League level — leading to him earning the dreaded Quad-A moniker.

It doesn’t take much digging to see where this notion comes from, as Shealy’s Major League line shrinks considerably upon the jump to the Majors. (Career Major League line: .271/.335/.429; 19 home runs, 538 at-bats.)

In addition, compared to AAA, his strikeouts have risen (Career K rate, AAA: 21.75 percent; MLB: 27.51 percent) while his power has dropped (Career AB/HR, AAA: 17.81; MLB: 28.31) — both negatives for his prospects in the Majors.

Nevertheless, Shealy could prove to be quite the valuable pickup for a team in need of organizational depth at the infield corners — especially one obtained at a low cost that does not eat up a spot on the 40-man roster.

On the one hand, the first baseman’s career MLB line, as is, would prove to be a serviceable backup for the Sox if called upon in a pinch. Hitters with a .764 OPS — even at first base — do not grow on trees (remember Sean Casey, anyone?).

On the other, his most recent season in ’08 with Kansas City (.301/.354/.603, 7 home runs, 73 at-bats) leaves some hope that Shealy may be on his way to figuring out how to translate his power to the Major League level.

In addition, the fact that he has been able to post a .341 BABIP in the Majors bodes well for his ability to hit for power.

As long as a hitter can consistently connect and drive the ball, it is usually expected that his power will follow soon thereafter. 2008 may have been that long-awaited indication that he was improving. Don’t expect a Carlos Pena-like breakout, but an uptick in production would make Shealy a serviceable MLB backup and situational hitter.

In other words, quite the nice mid-season addition.

Another role that has been suggested for Shealy is that of insurance for a Mike Lowell trade.

In this scenario, Shealy would replace Lowell on the roster should the latter be shipped off, leaving Shealy to take over some of Lowell’s platoon duties. While this seems like a natural fit for Shealy’s right-handed bat, perhaps some enthusiasm should be tempered. Shealy the holder of a fairly large reverse platoon split against Major League pitching, his career record consists of a .307/.363/.481 line against righties versus a .179/.266/298 share versus lefties.

Whatever the case may be, Boston should be thrilled with the addition of Shealy to Pawtucket. With his serviceable MLB track record and the club’s lack of organizational depth, he may eventually prove to be a key contributor to the 2010 Red Sox.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Daisuke Matsuzaka Daniel Nava Darnell McDonald Josh Beckett Tampa Bay Rays

17 Responses to “Sox Catch Tampa Bay, Minor Additions: Ryan Shealy” Subscribe

  1. Jay P June 21, 2010 at 7:07 AM #

    With the Celtics done, its time to start focusing on baseball now, and there are good signs.

    For a team built on defense and pitching, they are scoring an awful lot of runs.

    I don't think we can continue to expect the same production from Papi though, for the past month and a half he's been hitting at 04 levels. I just don't expect that from him season long, but hell, who knows.

    The same can be said for these bench guys who came in, but yet again they could still surprise us. I think McDonald is a guy that belongs in the Major leagues. He's matured past AAA ball, unfortunately it just took him longer to put it together. When Hermida and Ellsbury return though, unfortunately for Darnell and Nava, there's just too much depth in that OF.

    Regardless of that, the team will improve when Ellsbury comes back, his speed in the OF and running the bases can't be matched by anyone else on this team. We've still yet to see the best baseball out of Cameron yet, whether due to injury, or he just hasn't found his groove yet, who knows, but he's only sen 77 at bats, it's hard to find momentum in that time. I expect we'll see more from him.

    With Lester and Bucholz in full Ace form right now, this pitching staff has the potential to be scary good. As good they are playing, if Beckett and Dice K can get healthy and round into form, we still may see better baseball from this team yet. There's plenty of reason to be optimistic.

  2. Fireball Fred June 21, 2010 at 9:10 AM #

    Apart from patching specific weaknesses, the Sox did three things going into 2010: (1) upgraded the defense, (2) strengthened the bench, (3) diversified the batting order by adding a couple of free swingers. (1) and (3) were probably good ideas, but it's hard to tell because Cameron hasn't worked out (yet). But the other side of that coin is that (2) has worked out very well. McDonald, I think, is likely to be more or less as good as he's looked — he's a capable player who "aged out" of the development process without getting a real shot. Shealy might be the same.

    Reliability test: Manny played more in the series just past than all three Sox "regular" outfielders combined!

  3. Pep June 21, 2010 at 9:13 AM #

    Now if the Sox could just find some momentum!

  4. Danny June 21, 2010 at 2:09 PM #

    "green with envy"? oh please…i know this is a red sox thread but please be objective.

    Both tampa bay and the yankees have 5 starters that can win any game on any given day just like the sox 5 can…all 15 starters can be called "good" so to say that the red sox have mlb's best rotation is pushing it. If you say that then you also have to include the yankees and the rays in a three way tie for best rotation.

    • roosternj June 21, 2010 at 4:01 PM #

      Don't know what your smoking there Danny boy..But a rotation of a healthy Beckett, Lester , Buccholtz, Lackey and Dice -K ..is unmatched in all of baseball , to even put the likes of Neimann and Phillps along with Vasquez and Burnett is embarrasing to the Sox pitchers …

      • Danny June 22, 2010 at 3:41 AM #

        You seem to think that the 5 sox starters are unbeatable when we've all seen them roughed up at one point or another (esp your precious beckett even when healthy) and yet you fail to remember what vasquez and burnett are capable of at their best.

        Just because you're a red sox fan doesn't mean you can go ahead and think your 5 won't have bad days or that other starters can't have good days. Are you keeping up yet?

  5. Jack June 21, 2010 at 2:48 PM #

    I agree with Danny. Even with Beckett and Dice K…the Red Sox do not have a better starting 5 than the Yankees (or the Rays for that matter).

  6. Mike Silver June 21, 2010 at 4:19 PM #

    I've been very consistent in analyzing this team all year. As for being a month behind, I don't understand how you came to that conclusion. The Sox tied the Rays yesterday, not one month ago.

    And if anything, I've been saying all year that this team has been poised for a breakout. Check back at the articles on JD Drew and the ESPN article I wrote on David Ortiz. I was advocating both those guys, among others, when plenty of people were panicking about the them and the team.

    A month behind? No way.

  7. WayneRoy June 21, 2010 at 5:03 PM #

    You don't recall denying that the Sox had "bludgeoned" anyone? Or that they had any momentum after the 2 come-from-behind 5 run games against the Yanks (one blown by Pap), 2 game sweep of the Twins and taking 2 of 3 from the pre-inept Phillies? Sorry, but you were absolutely not saying anything about this team being poised for a breakout. I was, but not you.

  8. jbiii June 21, 2010 at 7:11 PM #

    The Sox are 38-19 since April 20th . . .

    The Yanks–33-23 since April 20th . . .

    ESPN still has the Yanks, after even this past week, ahead of the Sox.

    Makes sense, doesn't it?

    • Danny June 22, 2010 at 3:48 AM #

      If the sox manage to pass the yankees for first, then you have a point….but until then…quit your complaining. Also, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one to notice espn leans towards the red sox. I mean even during their previews for mon/wed night baseball…the friggin graphic is of the green monster. No bigger clue than that.

  9. DJordan June 22, 2010 at 12:30 AM #

    Hey Mike, don't know where you'v been the past few years…but they haven't been the "Devil" Rays in a long time!!!!

  10. Gus June 22, 2010 at 3:34 AM #

    They can change their name, logo and team colors, but Tampa will ALWAYS be the devil rays. I don't care about their recent success because deep down they're still that poor excuse for a team in a second string city with bandwagon fans ringing their cowbells. It's going to take more than a name change and one world series appearance to make that club respectable.

    Damn I hate Devil Rays.

  11. BrandonStewart5 June 22, 2010 at 1:39 AM #

    Yes, the "Devil" is a great jab at the once lowly times… I like it.

  12. Danny June 22, 2010 at 3:42 AM #

    Are you referring to me? Well I'm sorry I'm not writing in proper format on a friggin BLOG…..

  13. jbiii June 22, 2010 at 10:15 PM #

    Hey . . . Danny . . .

    I was not complaining, nor do I have to complain. I was merely pointing out that the Red Sox have been the best team in baseball for the last two months, and contrary to your opinion, ESPN failed to acknowledge that fact.

    Be cool, Dude. And . . . I am sorry pictures of the Green Monster offend you, though.

    ;-)

    • Danny June 23, 2010 at 2:26 AM #

      So if the orioles win every game in july and august, making them the best team in baseball for those months…i suppose espn should make them number one on the rankings list? Even though by that point the big three AL east teams will have won more than 60 games and the orioles would be at 55 wins or so. You can be as hot as you want but if some other team has a better record….kind of a no brainer.

      The overall record is what they look at. I thought you would've figured that out by now.