The Boston Red Sox farm system is filled with talent, but that does not guarantee success for the minor league affiliates. In Brandon Magee‘s Portland Sea Dogs offensive review, he details the ups and downs of the AA team’s 2015 season.
When a team loses 46 more games than it wins, looking for the problem area is like looking for hay in a haystack. Such is the case for the Portland Sea Dogs, who had no shortage of issues in every realm of the game. Today, we look at the offensive side of the ledger.
When looking at the overall line for the Portland Sea Dogs, it doesn’t stand out as horrific against the rest of the Eastern League competition. While their .251/.314/.365 is certainly on the poor side of mediocre, it pales in comparison to the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ numbers of .249/.303/.344. They were mid-pack in hits with 1194 and walks with 401, 2nd best in doubles with 264 and fourth in triples with 40. Yet, only Richmond scored fewer runs than Portland’s 539.
Part of the reason was power. While the Sea Dogs were quite adept at hitting the ball to the wall, they were less adept at putting the ball over the wall, hitting only 66 home runs with the Flying Squirrels’ being the only team behind them. They were also adept at shooting themselves in the foot. The team was caught stealing 59 times, the fourth most in the league while only being successful 86 times.
While overall numbers can give you a decent overview, sometimes it is important to look at the variance between games. The Sea Dogs had a particular strong boom or bust offense, scoring seven or more runs 29 times (going 22-7). However, they scored three or fewer runs an excruciating 79 times – 55% of all the games played. The team was shut out 16 times and only won ten games when the offense was dormant. It would be easy to blame the offense for the disastrous season the Sea Dogs had. After all, only 20 of the team’s 89 losses were in games where the team scored more than three runs.
As can be expected with any minor league teams, a lot of individuals took to the field for the Portland Sea Dogs. 33 different players saw an at bat for Portland, but only four players played in more than half of the 142 games. As was the case in Pawtucket, we look outside the most seasoned players for our Offensive MVP.
Sea Dogs Most Valuable Player
Marco Hernandez played his entire career prior to the 2015 season in the Cubs organization. As the player to be named later in the Felix Doubront trade, Hernandez made his AA career a short one. In 68 games during the first half of the season, Hernandez put up a line of .326/.349/.482 with 21 doubles, four triples and five home runs. Marco continued his trend from his Cubs days of putting balls in play, walking only eight times while whiffing 39 times for Portland. He was promoted to AAA Pawtucket for the second half of the year.
Carlos Asuaje led the Sea Dogs in games played, as the second baseman saw time in all but eleven of Portland’s game for the season. Asuaje led the team in runs scored (60), RBI (61), hits (124), triples (7), walks (56) and HBP (7), leading to a .251/.334/.374 line on the season.
Outfielder Keury De La Cruz led the Sea Dogs with nine home runs and 95 strikeouts in his 112 games played. De La Cruz showed intriguing power (also slugging 22 doubles and three triples), but failed to get on base – walking only 23 times – and finished with a line of .240/.282/.375.
The mercurial Oscar Tejeda returned to Portland after a three year absence traversing the Pittsburgh and Washington farm systems. Unfortunately for the utility man, his time away did not improve his performance. The 25-year-old batted .247/.295/.339 in 103 games, leading the team with 16 grounded into double plays.
25-year-old corner infielder Jantzen Witte was having a fine first AA season, until the sixth pitch to hit him during the year ended his season in mid-July. In 85 games for Portland, Witte hit .283/.363/.414 with a team high 25 doubles.
The Salem Call-Ups
First baseman Sam Travis put up an impressive first full season for the Red Sox. After being named to the Carolina League midseason All-Star team, Travis was promoted to Portland where he played in 65 games with an impressive line of .300/.384/.436 with 23 extra-base hits. Travis also impressed with his command of the strike zone, walking 33 times and striking out 34 times.
Aneury Tavarez was called up from Salem at the end of May and saw time in 67 games for the Sea Dogs before getting a September call-up to AAA Pawtucket. The outfielder did not have a particularly good time in Portland, putting up a line of .226/.261/.355 with 64 strikeouts and only eight walks. He did show a fantastic arm in the outfield, however, racking up seven outfield assists for the Sea Dogs.
21-year-old Tzu-Wei Lin also had a difficult transition to AA baseball. In 46 late-season games for Portland, the shortstop batted .202/.268/.266 with eight extra-base hits.
The Catching Corps
On most teams, there tends to be a primary catcher and a secondary catcher. The Sea Dogs had 30-year-old Luis Martinez and a rotating cast of thousands. It is certainly possible this lack of consistency in the catching position played a part in the failure of the pitching staff.
Martinez saw 64 of his 65 games in Portland at catcher, batting .219/.298/.292 with 13 doubles. Behind the plate, Martinez threw out 29% of the runners who attempted to take an extra base.
Tim Roberson put in 57 games for the Sea Dogs between injuries, but only saw 22 games behind the plate. Roberson put up an encouraging offensive line of .300/.342/.419 with 17 extra-base hits.
The rest of the corps was a combination of the quickly retired (Michael Brenly), the quickly released (Michael Blanke who allowed eight stolen bases in two games), the rehabbers (Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart) and the youngsters (Jake Romanski, Jordan Weems, Danny Bethea and Alixon Suarez), none of whom saw action in more than 17 games for the Sea Dogs.
A Few Other Notables
26-year-old David Chester had a discouraging season for the Sea Dogs. Playing in 67 games, primarily as a designated hitter, Chester gave new meaning to the term DH. Chester batted an abysmal .181/.249/.302 and is a likely candidate for release in the off-season.
Injuries were a consistent nuisance for Portland. Blake Tekotte was brought in to give the Sea Dogs a veteran presence and played in 49 games during the first two months of the season, where he batted .275/.364/.425 with 15 extra-base hits. An injury in early June took him out for the rest of the season.
Henry Ramos continued to battle injuries, going down with a knee injury after only five games. Ramos ended up playing 37 games for the Sea Dogs, before ending the season back on the disabled list. Ramos batted .244/.317/.359 with eleven doubles.
Mike Miller played in 40 games for the Sea Dogs as a utility infielder before getting a promotion to Pawtucket. Miller hit .273/.320/.370 with a dozen extra-base hit in his games for Portland.
In the conclusion to our Portland reports, we will look at the good, the bad and the ugly in the Sea Dogs’ pitching staff.