Red Sox

Nation STATion: Nine on Melancon


Nation STATion: Nine on Melancon

If Mark Melancon becomes the Red Sox closer he will be a very different type of closer than what Red Sox Nation is used to.

Melancon threw 1121 pitches last season and batters hit .234. Off his 461 fastballs, batters hit .317. Off his 299 curveballs they only hit .138, and off his 260 cutters they hit .200. Compare this to Jonathan Papelbon who threw 1001 pitches last season and batters hit .207. Off his 751 fastballs, batters hit .200. Off his 144 splitters they hit .220, and off his 101 sliders they hit .240.

Here are nine more nuggets on Melancon:

1.Mark Melancon was 8-4 last season, 4-2 against teams with less than .500 record, and 4-2 against teams at .500 and above. The big difference however is that his ERA against the less than .500 teams was 1.30, but his ERA against teams .500 and above was 4.68.

2.Melancon pitched in seven interleague games with a 1-1 record and an 8.64 ERA. He went 0-1 against the Sox and allowed one run in one inning on one hit and three walks. He was 1-0 against Texas but had a 5.40 ERA in three games.

3.Melancon appeared in 21 games on no days rest and was effective (2.05 ERA). In his 17 times when pitching on one days rest he had a sterling 1.45 ERA. On two days rest he was less sharp and had a 2.40 ERA. With three days rest he had a 5.91 ERA.

4.With runners in scoring position Melancon held batters to a .197 batting average, RISP w 2 outs batters only hit .189.

5.Righties hit .228 against Melancon with a .581 OPS; lefties hit .243 with a .704 OPS.

6.Melancon became more accustomed to his role as the season progressed. Prior to the All-Star break he had a 3.07 ERA and a .248 Batting Average Against. After the break his ERA was 2.43 with a .215 BAA.

7.Melancon threw 1,121 pitches last season; he had thrown 603 major league pitches in 2009-10 combined.

8.In 2011, batters swung at 45.3 percent of Melancons fastballs and missed on 18.2 percent of them. Melancon is most effective on his curve with batters swinging at 47.2 percent of them and missing on 39.0 percent.

9.When Melancon is pitching effectively he is forcing grounders. He struck out 66 of the 309 hitters he faced and gave up 122 grounders with batters getting 23 hits (.189). Batters were 12-for 43 on fly balls (.279) and 28-for-39 on line drives (.718). He only produced six pop-ups.

You can draw whatever conclusions you like from these numbers, but my feeling is that making him the closer in the AL East is a huge leap from pitching in the desolation and desperation of Houston last season. Melancon feels like a complimentary piece to the bullpen puzzle, but not the solution -- at least at this time. However, I think as a seventh or eighth inning guy, Melancon could shine. I look forward to your comments.

Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins


Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

He was dubbed "Closer B" by Red Sox manager John Farrell when acquired at the trade deadline last summer, now Addison Reed is "Closer B Gone" the Twins.

The right-handed reliever, 29, has agreed to a two-year, $16.75 million free-agent deal with Minnesota, pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and reports. 

Reed began last season with the Mets and had 19 saves and a 2.57 ERA before being traded to the Red Sox, where he had a 3.33 ERA in 29 games (27 innings) without a save as a setup man for Craig Kimbrell.  

Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration


Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

The Red Sox and star right fielder Mookie Betts intend to go to an arbitration hearing in February, and there were signs this was coming even a year ago.

Betts was the only arbitration-eligible player on the Red Sox who did not settle on a contract with the team on Friday, when a deadline arrived for all teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange 2018 salary figures. Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Drew Pomeranz were the biggest names to avoid hearings.

Betts filed for a $10.5 million salary and the Red Sox filed at $7.5 million.  Betts and the Red Sox agreed previously that if no figure could be settled on by the Friday deadline, they would proceed to a hearing, assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran said. 

A three-person panel of arbitrators therefore is set to determine what Betts makes in 2018: either the $7.5 million figure the Sox filed or the $10.5 million figure Betts' camp submitted. The arbitrators won't settle on a midpoint for the parties. 

O'Halloran noted to the Globe there are no hard feelings involved.

Nonetheless, such a large gap would seem to provide incentive to settle. The parties technically could still decide to do so, but that would take a change of course from the present plan. The idea was to settle any time before Friday, and they did not. 

Betts is asking for near-record money for a first-year arbitration eligible player. Kris Bryant set the record Friday with a $10.85 million settlement.

The hearings can be difficult for player-team relations because teams have to make the case in front of the player that he is worth less money than he wants.

Betts, 25, hit .264, with 24 homers, 102 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .803 OPS in 2017, numbers that fell from his American League MVP runner-up performance in 2016, but were nonetheless very strong and coupled with first-rate defense.

This offseason is Betts' first of arbitration eligibility. In the first three years of service time in a players' career, there's no recourse if you don't like the salary a team is offering. Teams can pay players anything at league minimum or above. 

The only option a player has in those first three years is to make a stand on principle: you can force the team to technically "renew" your salary, which notes to everyone that you did not agree to the salary. Betts and his agents did that in 2017 when the Sox paid him $950,000, a very high amount relative to most contract renewals.

Some of the standard thinking behind forcing a team to renew a contract is that if an arbitration case comes up down the road — and one now looms for Betts — it's supposed to show the arbitrators that the player felt even in seasons past, he was underpaid.

Still, the Sox may have effectively combatted that perception by paying Betts almost $1 million on a renewal. Per USA Today, that $950,000 agreement in 2017 was "the second-highest one-year deal ever for a non-arbitration-eligible player with two-plus years of big league service." Mike Trout got $1 million in 2014.