Goodbye Andy

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Times; panose-1:2 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ascii-font-family:Times; mso-fareast-font-family:Times; mso-hansi-font-family:Times; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} h2 {mso-style-link:"Heading 2 Char"; mso-style-next:Normal; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; page-break-after:avoid; mso-outline-level:2; font-size:12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ascii-font-family:Times; mso-hansi-font-family:Times; font-weight:normal; font-style:italic; mso-bidi-font-style:normal;} span.Heading2Char {mso-style-name:"Heading 2 Char"; mso-style-locked:yes; mso-style-link:"Heading 2"; mso-ansi-font-size:12.0pt; font-style:italic; mso-bidi-font-style:normal;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} /* List Definitions */ @list l0 {mso-list-id:1478379583; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:639936820 67698703 67698713 67698715 67698703 67698713 67698715 67698703 67698713 67698715;} @list l0:level1 {mso-level-tab-stop:.5in; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in;} @list l1 {mso-list-id:1705476062; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:1859258642 67698703 67698713 67698715 67698703 67698713 67698715 67698703 67698713 67698715;} @list l1:level1 {mso-level-tab-stop:.5in; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in;} ol {margin-bottom:0in;} ul {margin-bottom:0in;} –>

Well, Andy Pettitte is going to be a Houston Astro.  Frankly I am surprised and not just because I thought the Yankees would resign him, but because of what this means for him.

 

First off, for the Yankees, this leaves a hole in the rotation.  The Yankees just pulled off a great trade for Javier Vasquez (Yes, I liked Nick Johnson, but 27 year old power pitchers are hard to come by.) to replace Roger Clemens and now they need to replace Andy Pettitte.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Perhaps they could have been more aggressive in their pursuit of Pettitte and things wouldn’t have gotten to this.  Apparently, they did ultimately offer thirty-nine million, but that was not enough to get things done. Why did the Yankees drag their feet on this? 

 

Well, I suspect two reasons and I am surprised that the media hasn’t focused on these issues more.

 

  1. Yes, Pettitte has been a solid performer for the past nine years for the Yankees, but he is not the ace of the staff and never would be.  Mike Mussina is an ace pitcher, Andy Pettitte is a good guy to have in the middle of the rotation, but a team with playoff aspirations would be in trouble with him in the front of it.  Look at his career numbers compared to Mussina or Pedro or Randy Johnson.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked Pettitte and wish he was still a Yankee, but he is not an ace.

 

  1. The media is infatuated with the idea that Pettitte is a great post-season pitcher.  Fact is, he has pitched some amazing games, Game Five 1996 World Series for example, but he has also pitched some real clunkers, Game Six 2001 World Series.  He was brilliant in the 2003 World Series, but it is a stretch to compare him to Orel Hershiser. 

 

And for Pettitte this move makes me scratch my head.  Yes, going home is important, but Pettitte may be overlooking a few important things.

 

  1. The Yankees have scored a tremendous amount of runs for Pettitte in his career.  Last year he was second in the American League in run support per start with 7.04 runs scored for him.  Wad Miller was the Astros leader with 5.48.  So, it is probably safe to assume that Pettitte have as many runs scored for him this year as he did last.

 

  1. Minute Made Park is not overly friendly to pitchers.  It was 8% easier to score a run there compared to the rest of the National League Parks.  (Yankee Stadium was 6% harder than the American League Parks)  Couple this with the fact that Pettitte has a better ERA at Yankee Stadium than on the road, and you can assume that Pettitte may give up a few more runs next year.

 

  1. Why should this matter?  Because, if Pettitte had stayed in New York and pitched as he has the past nine years he would project to win around 17-18 games a year.  (He wins an average of 53.9% of the starts he makes and starts around 33 games a year)  In three years, that would bring his career win total to 200 games and he would still be only 34 years old.  From that point, he might be able to get close to 250 wins and with that, he might have a chance at the Hall of Fame.  I think his win totals will decrease and his ERA will increase now. 

 

  1. Lastly, Pettitte is not a spotlight guy.  He doesn’t come out and say brash things and look for media attention.  Houston is expecting a savior to walk in the door and I would argue that there might be more pressure on him in that role than there would have been in continuing to be a quiet star on the New York stage.

 

I hope Andy does better than I think he will and I thank him for a great nine years. We will miss him.

 

So, with Andy gone, who fills his shoes?  Rumor has it some sort of trade involving Kevin Brown for Jeff Weaver.  If Brown is healthy, that gives the Yankees a very dangerous Big Three and gets rid of a problem in Jeff Weaver.  If they can, I hope they do it.  That would mean that they have replaced Clemens and Pettitte with Brown and Vasquez.  To me, that is an improvement. 

 

Wells is supposedly coming back with weight and conditioning clauses in his contract.  If he were healthy, he would be a good fifth starter, though I am still angry with him for Game Five of the World Series.

 

Something tells me the Yankees might go after Kevin Millwood now.  Interesting thing about Millwood, he and Pettitte have exactly the same number of win shares since 1998- 77 for each of them. 

 

I really can’t figure out what Gary Sheffield is thinking.  Steinbrenner is already volatile enough; I don’t think he will take kindly to this turn of events.  That is too bad; Sheff would be a great addition to the lineup.  The only other Right Fielder who I would rather have is Vlad Guerrero. 

 

Rumor has it Kenny Lofton might be Yankee bound as well.  Lofton would be a good fit as a leadoff hitter, but would we get the guy who hit .327 in Chicago or .277 in Pittsburgh?  He could be a great option against right handed pitching.  Maybe a DH platoon of Lofton and Spezio?

 

This is a somewhat sad day considering we lost a member of the Yankee family, but I am sure the Yankees will continue to retool and their bullpen looks really good for 2004.

 

Peter can be reached at pete@yankeesredsox.com

November 2003 Red Sox

November 25, 2003

 

Andy – New York Yankee General Manager

 

Being a Red Sox fan, this post should be very difficult for me. The thought of trying to make the New York Yankees better is sickening, but it is the job at hand, so let me get to it.

 

Step 1: Demolish Yankee Stadium
Step 2: Sell all the players and wire the proceeds to the Red Sox.

 

No? Ok, I’ll stop fooling around. Here is a serious plan.

 

Do that Yankees have a budget? If so, what is it? I have no idea. I suspect few do. Let’s just assume it is $157m, the amount ESPN lists on the Yankee home page, plus 10%. I believe $172.7m is realistic considering other sources had their payroll at $180m+ in 2003.

 

Positional players 2004 salaries:

 

c – Jorge Posada – $6mm
1b – Nick Johnson – $0.6m
2b – Alfonso Soriano – $1.8m~
ss – Derek Jeter- $17m
lf – Hideki Matsui – $7m
cf – Bernie Williams – $12m
dh – Jason Giambi – $10m

 

~estimated as he is a 3yr arbitration eligible who made $800k in 2003.

 

Those seven make $54.4m. They need a 3b and a fulltime RF. Although the platoon of Juan Rivera and Karim Garcia fared well in 2003, I have to assume they’ll get a fulltime RF.

 

Here’s how to fill the line-up holes:

 

- Sign Gary Sheffield for 3 years, $36m. Per his cousin Doc Gooden, he wants to be a Yankee. I always take everything Gooden says as gold. GOLD BABY!

 

- Go after Joe Randa. He made $4.5m last year, but would certainly accept $4m a year for 3 years to go to the Yankees. He is a perfect fit. Great defense: .961 fld % in his career vs. the average of .950 and a 2.56 range vs. average of 2.46. Add to that he gets on base a fair amount, mostly as a result of a good average, and you have a solid # 8 or 9 hitter. Think Brosius from 1998…well, Randa might not be that good, but he’ll do just fine.

 

Assuming they pay Randa $4m a season, he and Sheffield push the line-up payroll to $70.4m. Easy enough.

 

Starting rotation 2004 salaries:

 

SP – Mike Mussina – $14m
SP – Jose Contreras – $7m

 

That’s all they have right now. Hmmm, some serious cheque writing to do. Ok, re-sign Andy Pettitte at $12m a season for 4 years, he’s a lefty at the Stadium and has had success, why would either Pettitte or the Yanks mess with a good thing? Houston is courting him, but Andy knows he can win with the Yanks whereas he’ll just be on a .500 team with the Astros. I’m willing to bet he is using the Houston thing to drive up his price.

 

Sign Kevin Millwood for $8m per season for 3-4 years and then lastly sign Bartolo Colon for $12m per season for 3-4 years. Colon did turn down a 3 year, $36m deal from the White Sox already, but insiders said much of it was deferred, or at least enough to make Colon say “no”. If the Yanks don’t defer any of the money, I think they have a good shot at him.

 

Colon’s agent told the press he wants to get his client a 4 or 5 year deal. Fine, play hardball. Sign him to a 4 year, $48m deal. That’ll take him through the 2007 season at which point Colon will weigh 325 lbs, but still be throwing peas.

 

So as not to seem too simplistic, let’s assume the Yanks can’t land either Colon or Millwood. The Yanks could get involved in the Eric Milton sweepstakes. After all, who doesn’t want a $9m pitcher who threw 15 innings in 2003? Seriously though, all he’d be expected to do is act as a 4th starter. He certainly has talent, and pitching at Yankee Stadium would help his cause as long as he can become more consistent. Perhaps Mel Stottlemyre could help.

 

I mentioned in a previous article that I didn’t think much of Milton, not at $9m a year, so if the Yankees were to get him, I have to assume they could unload a $2m contract on Minnesota to help move things along. Not knowing enough about each Yankee contracts, I can only think of Drew Henson as a possible candidate to go along with a semi-prospect to the Twins.

 

Or, as has been reported, the Yanks could go after Javier Vazquez. Personally, I wouldn’t do this as the reported asking price would include Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and minor leaguer Jorge De Paula. Nick Johnson is the best first baseman and pure hitter the Yankees have. He is only 25 and had a .422 Obp last year. Young players that do that, keep doing that. It’s a steep price to pay, but the Yankees always focus more on pitching than hitting, which isn’t a bad idea.

 

If the Yankees could somehow avoid giving up Soriano or Johnson and still get Vazquez, then go for it. Vazquez is a fantastic pitcher just entering his prime. He has pitched at least 215 innings 4 seasons in a row and set a career high in strikeouts in 2003 with 241. He is money, he’ll cost a fair amount both in talent and money.

 

Because this is all pure speculation anyway, let’s assume the Yankees stick with the free agent options, Pettitte, Colon and Millwood.

 

Add those 3 and you’ve spent $53mm on the rotation in total.

 

Bullpen 2004 salaries:

 

cl – Mariano Rivera – $8.89m
mr – Chris Hammond- $2.4m
mr – Steve Karsay – $5.0m
mr – Jon Lieber – $2.45m (Tommy John surgery in 2002, should be ready for 2004)
lr – Jeff Weaver – $6.25m

 

I think that’s all the guys under contract for the Yankees bullpen in 2004. They’ll make $24.9m in total. Presumably the Boss will be looking to add a few good arms to that mix.

 

Grab Tom Gordon for $3-4m per season over 2 years and add Tim Worrell for $4m a season over 2 years and you have a decent bullpen again. Not that it was so bad in 2003. Detractors might say my plan doesn’t take into count the need for a lefty specialist. Hammond was supposed to be that guy, but wasn’t in 2003.

 

Well there’s no evidence to suggest Hammond can’t rebound to his 2002 form where he held lefties to a .174 average, but if there is still concern, fine, don’t sign Gordon, sign Steve Kline instead for the same amount earmarked for Gordon.

 

Either way, you are committing an extra $7.5m or so for Worrell and Gordon/Kline. That brings your bullpen total to $32.4.

 

As a note, I had considered going after La Troy Hawkins, but I’m not sure he’d be the best guy for a Yankee uniform. Whenever he has been asked to close, he has been shaky. Is that because the closer deals with the most pressure (or doesn’t deal with it) or is it just a fluke? If I were the Yankees, I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way that Hawkins doesn’t do well in pressure situations. Obviously he wouldn’t close, but I have to think being a Yankee middle reliever is about as much pressure as the Twins closer.

 

A bigger issue with the bullpen is that there are tons of free agent relievers out there who are capable of throwing quality innings. Paul Quantrill, Kerry Lightenberg, Hawkins, Ugueth Urbina, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Rod Beck and Jose Mesa to name a few. Selecting 1 or 2 for the Yankees is tough as there are quite a few good options. Be certain Brian Cashman will get 2 quality guys.

 

Let’s tally this stuff up.

 

Sub Totals:
$70.4m – line-up
$53.0m – rotation
$32.4m – bullpen

 

$155.8m – Total

 

$155.8 total for 21 of the 25 roster spots. That leaves $16.9mm to sign the remaining 4 roster spots if they aren’t signed already.

 

Peter Gammons has made a point of this of late that the Yankees concentrate on pitching first and offense second. Why else would they start the 2003 season with 7 potential starters? Pitching is what has lead them to their recent stretch of success (ok they haven’t won a WS in 3 years, but making it there 2 or the past 3 and 6 of the past 8 is successful in this Red Sox fan’s opinion).

 

That reason alone might be why they send Soriano or Johnson for Vazquez or Odalis Perez from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

I’m glad I’m not Brian Cashman. I really don’t know how good a GM he is. His actions are overshadowed too often by George Steinbrenner. I’d be interested to see how Cashman would do with another team, one that allowed him to be the main man.

 

Until then, that’s my blue print for the 2004 Yankees.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2003

 

Curt Schilling

 

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m fired up about the thought of getting Curt Schilling. Here’s the breakdown:

 

Boston gets: Curt Schilling

 

Milwaukee gets: Casey Fossum
Brandon Lyon
Jorge De La Rosa
Michael Goss

 

Arizona gets: Richie Sexson

 

So the Red Sox mortgage the future a bit to get better now. I’m ok with that. After all, the only one of that group that is highly touted is De La Rosa. Fossum was, but after an injury plagued 2003, his stock has fallen a bit, although not enough to dissuade Milwaukee. The point is, prospects are just that. There is no guarantee whereas getting a proven all-star should help immediately.

 

Adding Schilling would put the 2004 Red Sox rotation like this: Martinez, Schilling, Lowe, Wakefield, Kim. Let me give you their stats for 2003:

 


Not too shabby. For fun, here is the starting five’s best season to date. For Kim, I used his start only stats for 2003.

 


Asking for 928 innings of 2.60 era baseball would be asking a great deal, but I can dream damn you!!!

 

I’ve gotten way too far ahead of myself. There are some major obstacles in the way of this deal coming to fruition.

 

A.) Schilling has a no-trade clause.
B.) Schilling wants an extension through the 2007 season. He’ll be 40 in 2007.
C.) Schilling doesn’t know if his pitching style will work in Fenway.

 

Basically, it all comes down to whether Schilling wants to pitch here or not. The one factor working for the Red Sox is that Schilling would most likely have to find a new home after the 2004 season anyway as the Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t likely to resign him given their financial situation. Or, they might try to trade him during the 2004 campaign.

 

One has to imagine the Red Sox know he’ll waive his no-trade clause otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten this far. So assume concern A.) has been satisfied.

 

Still, the ball is in Schilling’s court. Perhaps he’ll want at least $10-12m per season of 3 years.

 

Interruption: Wow, while writing this, ESPN has reported the Diamondbacks and Red Sox may elect to pull this trade off themselves:

 

Red Sox get: Curt Schilling

 

Diamondbacks get: Casey Fossum
Brandon Lyon
Jorge De La Rosa
Michael Goss

 

Back to the Schilling issues. Schilling will want his extension of $10-12m per season through 2007. That is a ton of money for an old pitcher. Let’s assume the Red Sox give him his extension, whatever it turns out to be, concern B.) satisfied, although some reports are saying he wants $30m over 2 years. That is a bunch of dough for an aging All-Star, but only he knows the truth.

 

Schilling was quoting as saying Monday “I won’t leave here without an extension…I’m reading that I’m demanding three years. I’ve never demanded anything from anybody, but I will get a contract extension before I leave Arizona.”

 

Lastly, Schilling has been quoted as saying Fenway doesn’t support fly ball giving, home run serving pitchers like him. Well, no matter where he pitches, I assume he’ll do just fine. Or will he? Schilling has pitched 25.1 innings at Fenway giving up 31 hits and 3 home runs. Not that bad, right? But he has a 6.04 era and a 1.54 whip. Yikes.

 

Looking at Fenway park, it appears it is actually not a home run park. Rob Neyer has been saying this for years, so why is Schilling so worried? Using the Bill James Handbook 2004, you’ll see that Fenway had a 92 Home Run Index meaning it was 8% harder to hit a home run at Fenway than in other American League ballparks.

 

It was 8% easier to hit a home run at the BOB (Bank One Ballpark – home of the Diamondbacks) than in other National League parks as the BOB had a 108 Home Run Index. What I’m telling you is that the BOB allows more home runs than Fenway does. If anything, Schilling should be thrilled to come to Fenway and leave Arizona. Schilling has pitched 419.1 innings at Bank One Ballpark with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.05 Whip. I think he’ll rise to the occasion and excel at Fenway. As Peter Gammons pointed out in a Monday interview, Schilling and Pedro Martinez have an almost identical ground ball to fly ball ratio.

 

G/F ratio – 2003
Martinez – 1.14
Schilling – 1.05

 

As a comparison, Derek Lowe had a 3.92 ratio. While it is a small sample, it proves that just because you don’t keep the ball on the ground, doesn’t mean you can’t have success at Fenway. And it can’t hurt to average 92.3 mph on your fastball as Schilling did in 2003. good for 7th best in the NL.

 

Alright, let’s see what happens. The Boston Red Sox and Curt Schilling have until 5pm est Friday to decide if this thing can work. Theo Epstein and John Henry are flying to Arizona Tuesday to meet with Schilling to try and work something out. Good luck Theo and John.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2003

 

I’m Bored

 

The Boston Herald reported yesterday that the Red Sox were looking to deal for Eric Milton of the Twins. Milton is in the final year of his contract and is due $9m in 2004. I’m not sure spending $9m on an average starter is such a hot idea.

 

Conventional wisdom would suggest Theo would also unload a contract or two in his efforts to get Milton. Say perhaps Ramiro Mendoza at $3.6m in 2004. That would net out to $5.4m for Milton. Still too much in my opinion.

 

Milton has pitched 987.3 major league innings. His ERA is 4.76. Milton spent almost all of 2003 rehabbing his knee. His 3 seasons prior, he won a total of 41 games while losing 26. That isn’t too bad. The knock on Milton is his up and down performance. He can be unhittable one game and absolutely lousy the next. Having no consistency makes you an average pitcher. Perhaps if Atlanta got their hands on him, Leo Mazzone’s hands to be specific, he’d turn into an 18-20 game win, but short of that, he is just average.

 

There are plenty of other average pitchers on the market that can be had for much less than $9m.

 

It was mentioned in today’s Boston Globe that the Red Sox won’t tender Jeremy Giambi a contract. I’ll be the first to admit Giambi was a total disaster in 2003, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him back next year at a reduced amount. He definitely can hit.

 

In 2002, he hit 20 home runs in only 400 or so plate appearances. He managed an .OBP of .414 and an .SLG of .505. as well. That means he has some talent, right? There’s something there the Red Sox can use.

 

He’d be ideal at filling in at DH and pinch hitting or even becoming the fulltime DH if Manny gets moved, Millar moves to left and Ortiz to first. That’s as far as I’m willing to go however in getting Giambi in the game. No glove for him!

 

Other than that, not much is happening around Red Sox land. The manager search continues with Francona the apparent favorite. Joe Maddon and DeMarlo Hale have a follow-up and initial interview respectively next week sometime.

 

Reports say the Sox have no shot at Pettitte, but that they are going to keep at it if for nothing else than to raise the price for Houston or New York.

 

I’m still waiting for Theo Epstein to make a big trade. Manny or Nomar seem to be the prime candidates. The 2004 Red Sox could look radically different than the 2003 Red Sox. If all the trades that have been rumored pan out, you could be looking at this:

 

c – Jason Varitek
1b – Kevin Millar
2b – Adam Kennedy (although he is apparently going to be tendered)
3b – Troy Glaus
ss – Alex Rodriguez
lf – ???
cf – Johnny Damon
rf – Trot Nixon
dh – David Ortiz

 

I can’t think of who will play left if Manny is traded. Too many choices.

 

sp – Pedro Martinez
sp – Derek Lowe
sp – Jared Washburn
sp – Tim Wakefield
sp – BY Kim

 

Those would be some big changes. Not sure they are for the better, but they are changes.

 

Lastly, I just got my Bill James Handbook 2004. It is just like the publication of old. Wonderful…sniffles. It has a few interesting additions, including his Win Shares and a fairly comprehensive review of managers and their tactics/habits.

 

Because I can think of no one better to display, check out Grady Little in 2003:

 

LUp PL% PH PR DS Rel LO SBA SacA IBB PO W L W%
127 .64 113 62 31 437 4 123 32 41 28 95 67 .586

 

Got all that? Good.

 

Ok, here is a key to make some sense of it all:

 

LUp – Line-ups used
PL% – Platoon % – specifically, what % of all the hitters in Grady’s various line-ups had the platoon advantage.
PH – Pinch Hitters used
PR – Pinch Runners used
DS – Defensive Substitutions
Rel – Relief pitchers used
LO – Long Outings – games where the starter went 120 pitchers or more.
SBA – Stolen bases attempted
SacA – Sacrifice bunts attempted
IBB – Intentional walks
PO – Pitch outs
W – Wins
L – Losses
W% – Win %

 

James makes some great points while introducing his Manager’s Record section. Namely, this is the first time someone has tried to create a select group of stats (not create necessarily, but compile and publish) that clearly show a manager’s tendencies. There are stats for players, why not managers. The things they do have importance. If you don’t believe me, just listen to sports radio.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2003

 

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

 

In (maybe): Keith Foulke, Luis Castillo, Bartolo Colon, Kevin Millwood, Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Freddy Garcia and Adam Kennedy.

 

Out: Curt Schilling, Vlad Guerrero, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, and Andy Pettitte.

 


Schilling put a damper on trade talks yesterday telling the Philadelphia Inquirer that he didn’t think he was a good fit for Fenway. Being a fly ball pitcher and one that gives up his share of home runs, Schilling feels the short left field would do him in.

 

I included Guerrero and Sheffield because there is no way the Red Sox sign one of them with the roster as it is. If Manny is somehow moved for someone other than ARod, then perhaps they are possibilities.

 

We already know that ARod isn’t coming here, unless the Texas Rangers have a change of heart and why would Pettitte sign here when the Yankees will pay him more and a lefthander is much more appropriate in the Stadium than Fenway.

 

That brings us to the guys that might end up in Boston. The top of the list appears to be Foulke. The Boston Herald says Theo Epstein met with Foulke’s reps yesterday. I would be thrilled to see Foulke in a Red Sox uniform. Imagine having Scott Williamson hand the ball to Foulke in the 9th.

 

Williamson wouldn’t be a bad candidate either, but Foulke has a much better track record:

 

Foulke W L SV IP H BB K ERA WHIP
1999 3 3 9 105.1 72 21 123 2.22 0.88
2000 3 1 34 88.0 66 22 91 2.97 1.00
2001 4 9 42 81.0 57 22 75 2.33 0.96
2002 2 4 11 77.2 65 12 58 2.90 0.99
2003 9 1 43 86.2 57 20 88 2.08 0.89

 

An ERA under 3.00 for five straight seasons and a WHIP at or under 1.00. That is impressive.

 

Williamson W L SV IP H BB K ERA WHIP
1999 12 7 19 93.1 54 43 107 2.41 1.04
2000 5 8 6 112 92 75 136 3.29 1.49
2001 0 0 0 0.7 1 2 0 0.00 4.48
2002 3 4 8 74 46 36 84 2.92 1.11
2003 5 4 21 62.2 54 34 74 4.16 1.40

 

Williamson has had an ok run of it too, but his WHIP is too high to be a closer. There is nothing worse than a closer who walks too many guys, even if he limits hits. Entering the 9th, Red Sox winning by 1 and their closer pulls a Heathcliff Slocumb and walks the first guy. That blows. Williamson has that potential, Foulke doesn’t.

 

At second base, Luis Castillo is probably the top FA, but I doubt the Red Sox will make a play for him. Most likely we will see them go after Adam Kennedy should he be non-tendered or even go after Frank Menechino. I’m not sure why I’m mentioning Menechino’s name, other than he has a good career OBP. He has been mostly a utility infielder for the past two seasons, but like Jeremy Giambi last year, he might interest Epstein for his OBP capability.

 

Menechino’s OBP history:

 

MLB – .354
AAA – .391
AA – .415
A – .407
R – .444

 

He is a long shot at best, but who knows? He’d be a cheap alternative at 2b and would allow the Red Sox to focus their limited available resources to their pitching staff.

 

Kennedy remains the most likely option though.

 

Starting pitching is another area of focus for the Red Sox. With some of the bigger names too expensive (both in $ and compensation draft picks), look for the Red Sox to make a run at Freddy Garcia should he be non-tendered or even in a trade if Seattle does make him an offer.

 

These GM meetings have been slow to bring any developments, but that is probably because the GMs know tons of players are going to flood the market in mid-late December when teams have to tender contracts (or not).

 

With the sheer volume of players on or soon to be on the market, this off season will last quite some time and might drive player salaries sharply downward. A good trend in my opinion because it allows good GMs with limited resources to play the game and field a quality product.

 

Footnote: The new Bill James Handbook will soon be available. I haven’t seen it yet, but those who have say it is another amazing work by James. Both Rob Neyer and Peter Gammons raved about it in their ESPN columns earlier this week. Click here to order your copy. It is the 2nd book listed.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2003

 

*******Breaking News*******

 

AROD to Boston? Don’t bet on it….yet.

 

The biggest rumor to come from the GM meetings involving the Red Sox has the Red Sox dealing Nomar Garciaparra and receiving Alex Rodriguez.

 

Newsday wrote about it in the 11/11/03 edition.

 

The trade is actually a 3 team deal that would have Nomar going to Anaheim, ARod going to Boston and David Eckstein and a few pitchers would head to Texas.

 

Here is why this won’t happen based on the current state of each team. Boston already has 1 albatross contract in Manny Ramirez. How can they take on another? While having Manny and Arod hitting back to back in a line-up would be fantastic, it would virtually assure Boston not being able to acquire another top starter (Curt Schilling, Javier Vasquez, Bartolo Colon or Kevin Millwood) and a top notch closer (Eddie Guardado or Keith Foulke).

 

The fact is, the Boston offense was just fine in 2003 and as it stands today, will be just fine in 2004. It probably won’t be the # 1 offense, but more realistically top 3. Their needs fall on the pitching side of the game.

 

The only way this trade happens is if Boston can unload Manny Ramirez. When and if that happens, then this trade might go down. Imagine starting the 2004 season without Nomar or Manny in the line-up. That would be different.

 

.avg r hr rbi sb .obp .slg
AROD – 2003 .298 125 47 118 17 .396 .600

 

That is a great bat in the 3 or 4 hole. Add to that great defense, he won the Gold Glove in 2002, and you have an amazing contributor, the best in the game in fact.

 

But for Epstein to work on offense and not on pitching would be folly. By having Manny and ARod in the same line-up, Epstein would eliminate the Red Sox from acquiring a top pitcher.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2003

 

GM Meetings

 

Man the GM meetings must be fun. While not 100% certain how they play out, I imagine them to be a 3 day session of trade and free agent banter aided by coffee, junk food and no sleep.

 

A few years ago, ESPN had a special show that dealt with Dan Duquette negotiating the Manny Ramirez contract with Jeff Moorad. It wasn’t that interesting because A.) Dan Duquette, a/k/a Jacob Silj, was a featured performer and B.) How tough is it to sign someone when you are offering him $20mm a year for 8 years and the team you are bidding against is $30mm or so short on the length of the contract. Still though, if you put Theo Epstein, or anyone for that matter, in Duquette’s shoes and make the deals at hand a bit more interesting, it has to be fun.

 

Making things more complicated for Epstein is the juggling act he is performing. He is trying to set his coaching staff and his roster. Epstein might as well just tape his cell phone to his head.

 

There have been tons of rumors about certain players the Red Sox might trade for or sign via free agency. I’m going to roll out a some over the next few days.

 

Todd Helton – Apparently the Colorado Rockies are toying with the idea of unloading Todd Helton. Should the Red Sox bite on Helton? I say no. Here’s the reason:

 

2003: $10.6M
2004: $11.6M
2005: $12.6M
2006: $16.6M
2007: $16.6M
2008: $16.6M
2009: $16.6M
2010: $16.6M
2011: $19.1M
2012: Team option $23.0M or $4.6M buyout

 

contact info from: http://www.bluemanc.demon.co.uk/baseball/mlbcontracts.htm

 

Ouch, his contract runs through 2011 guaranteed. He can void it after the 2007, but I don’t think he will. Anyway, this contract is the longest running contract to date in baseball as far as I can tell. 2011 is a long time from now.

 

Finances aside, Helton also suffers from the Coors Field high. His home/road splits differ greatly. So much so that it makes me wonder if the Rockies didn’t overpay for his services (obviously they overpaid him, all baseball players are overpaid, but haven’t the Rockies realized that marginal hitters can hit for power and average at Coors? Why not just sign a bunch of guys who have 20 home run power and plant them 1-9 in their line-up. Watch them hit 30-35 dingers each. Then, when one of them thinks he deserves more cash, unload him and bring in another 20 home run guy. There are countless examples of this. Jeffrey Hammonds, Jeff Cirillo, although he was good in Milwaukee before he went to the Rockies, Dante Bichette, Vinny Castillo…..). Take a look at his career splits:

 

avg obp slg ops
Home .378 .463 .704 1.167
Road .294 .385 .523 .909

 

While he is still a great hitter on the road, he in no way compares to his home reputation. The reputation that got him his contract. Assuming he could maintain a .909 ops playing with another team, he’d still be making $8 – $10mm per season, but not $16mm+. So, no way, the Red Sox should stay away, unless they can get him at a deep discount of his current contract but even that is dumb because of the length of it.

 

Jose Cruz – The San Francisco Giants didn’t pick up his option, so Jose is free. At first glance I wasn’t impressed. In fact, after a terrible 2002 fantasy season on my team, I was downright repulsed. Then I took a closer look.

 

Cruz did something very few players do in 2003. He drew over 100 walks. 102 to be exact. His previous personal best was 71 in 2000, not a bad number in its own right. But 102, wow, he must have learned a thing or two from Barry Bonds. That or pitchers thought he looked like Bonds (Cruz would have to wear a pumpkin on his head to look like Bonds). Anywhodily, Cruz would only be an option if Epstein knew he’d give him another 102 walks, which he he won’t. Why do I know this. Here’s why:

 

Cruz .avg runs hr rbi sb
2001 .274 92 34 88 32
2002 .245 64 18 70 7

 

That is the hell I went through having drafted Cruz in the second round of my keeper league fantasy baseball draft before the start of the 2002 season (I did draft Beltran in the first round). Cruz went from stud to dud in one season. Check out the drop in SBs! Check out the drop in all the major fantasy catagories. Ok, I’m better now. But this, I believe, is evidence enough to say Cruz can’t put it together 2 seasons in a row. Highly unscientific I know. Bill James must be spinning around in his office chair right now.

 

Up next: Richie Sexson and Kelvim Escobar……..

 

Richie Sexson – Now this name interests me. He is due $8mm in 2004 and then is free. He is a strikeout machine, but is also an OBP and HR machine.

 

Sexson .avg runs hr rbi .obp .slg k
2001 .271 94 45 125 .342 .547 178
2002 .279 86 29 102 .363 .504 136
2003 .272 97 45 124 .379 .548 152

 

His 2002 season was spent dealing with hamstring problems, but he obviously rebounded in 2003 playing in all 162 of his team’s games. I like the increase in obp each year and downwardish trend in the k’s.

 

Put him in Fenway for 81 games in 2004 and I have to assume he’d do some damage. Considering his price tag, it is a good idea. Of course, what do the Brewers want in return? Fossum? I’d do that. A few other prospects? Sure, throw them in. Do the Red Sox have any prospects? Fortunately yes. Epstein has transformed the Red Sox into an organization with the appearance of solid prospects if not actual young talent.

 

Sexson would give the Red Sox an everyday first baseman, he is better than Millar or Ortiz, and would allow Grady…I mean…whoops…it’ll allow the next manager to platoon Millar and Ortiz at DH or keep Ortiz at DH and Millar in the outfield full time. Most likely though, it’ll mean something will have to give in the current Red Sox outfield of Ramirez/Damon/Nixon.

 

Kelvim Escobar – He’s a free agent, so he might be a reasonable risk, but only if he isn’t deemed a top free agent and his compensation isn’t 2 first round picks from the signing team. I doubt he’d be worth top comp, so it is reasonable to think Epstein will look at him.

 


ERA W S IP H BB SO .Avg
Reliever 7.79 1 4 17.1 27 8 23 .338
Starter 3.92 12 0 163.0 162 70 136 .261

 

Ok, his first 15 appearances were as a reliever, but he stunk, so Carlos Tosca put him in the rotation. He faired much better, but that really isn’t saying anything. I might have done better than Escobar did as a reliever. Maybe not.

 

Was Escobar a good starter? Sure, but don’t get too carried away. His last three months he posted a 4.50, 4.22 and a 4.20 ERA. That is below league average, but nothing to get too excited about. So if the Red Sox do go after him, they have to realize he has pitched 849 major league innings and has a 4.58 ERA to show for it. Don’t overpay for this guy. $3mm per season tops. Then again, Estoban Loaiza had pitched over 1000 innings before 2003 and he is a Cy Young candidate this year despite his now 4.58 career ERA. Maybe the key is leaving Toronto or not listening to me.

 

Up next: Sidney Ponson and Bartolo Colon……

 

Sidney Ponson – This guy is big, as in fat. His career 4.54 era is telling. For years and years everyone expected a big breakout season for Ponson. Well, I guess he had it in 2003 winning 17 games and posting a 3.75 ERA.

 

Theo, please stay away. Ponson is fat. Don’t get me wrong, many of us are fat, but very few of us get paid gobs of cash to do everything possible to maximize physical performance. Ponson has no excuse. And the team that signs him for $8-10mm or so per season also has no excuse. The warnings are all out there:

 

1.) He’ll be in the first year of a big contract.
2.) Physical fitness is foreign to him.
3.) He is from Aruba! Nothing wrong with being from Aruba, but if you were really rich and spent your off season in Aruba, just how much training would you do?

 

Wow, could I have more generalizations in my reasoning?

 

If he gets a big contract, he’ll probably only throw 120 innings next year with a 5.00 ERA. That’s my prediction.

 

Bartolo Colon – He is the one reason Sidney Ponson might actually do well next year. He is shorter and heavier than Ponson. The important thing with Colon is that despite his girth, he has had many solid seasons, 2002 being his best. He too could blow up at any moment, but so far so good. Maybe bigger is better.

 

Colon will come at great price including the 2 pick compensation. He really would be a great addition to any rotation, but I don’t think Epstein will do it. His pitcher acquisitions will be done by trade. It has been reported that Colon turned down a 3 year, $36mm offer from the White Sox. Apparently the overall amount was decent, but the White Sox wanted to defer a big chunk of the payments making the present value of the contract significantly less. Just imagine turning down $36mm whether over 3 years or 100 years. Crazy.

 

So there you go. A few names to talk about. Man I wish I were Theo Epstein and could make these decisions.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2003

 

The 2004 Red Sox will soon take shape

 

I give the guy a hard time on occasion, but Peter Gammons remains one of my favorite baseball writers. I remember reading him back when he was with the Boston Globe. On my own at an early age, I found Gammons’ baseball notes in the Sunday globe. It was a whole page of nothing but major league baseball talk.

 

Now that he has joined ESPN, I still look to him for his baseball knowledge. Sure he makes generalizations and his trade rumors often never materialize but no baseball writer has more contacts and more inside scoop than Peter Gammons.

 

The reason I mention PG is because of his most recent ESPN article. In it he harpoons Jeff Moorad, agent to Manny Ramirez, and the players union. Basically his take is that wealth is far more important, to agents and the union, than personal happiness. I’ll let you read it to get the rest. I felt it was well written and brings up several questions I think the union and the agents should answer. I doubt we’ll see that though.

 


I haven’t talked too much about the Red Sox search for a manager, so now seems like a good time. Glenn Hoffman, Bud Black, Terry Francona and Joe Maddon are the current front runners.

 

I don’t know much about any of these guys. Francona, Hoffman and Maddon have major league managerial experience:

 

Francona:

 

Year League Team G W L WP Finish
+—-+———–+——–+—–+—-+—-+——+——+
1997 NL East Phildlpa 162 68 94 .420 5
1998 NL East Phildlpa 162 75 87 .463 3
1999 NL East Phildlpa 162 77 85 .475 3
2000 NL East Phildlpa 162 65 97 .401 5
+—-+———–+——–+—–+—-+—-+——+——+
TOTAL 648 285 363 .440

 

Hoffman:

 

Year League Team G W L WP Finish
+—-+———–+——–+—–+—-+—-+——+——+
1998 NL West LosAngls 88 47 41 .534 3
+—-+———–+——–+—–+—-+—-+——+——+
TOTAL 88 47 41 .534

 

Maddon:

 

Year League Team G W L WP Finish
+—+———-+——-+—-+—+—+—–+—–
1996 AL West Califrna 22 8 14 .364 4

 

1999 AL West Anaheim 29 19 10 .655 4
+—+———-+——-+—-+—+—+—–+—–
TOTAL 51 27 24 .529
Manager experience info from www.baseball-reference.com – a sweet site.

 

Only Francona has a sizable portfolio. Hoffman and Maddon, it would appear, were mid-season replacements. Hoffman, of course, was the shortstop for the Red Sox in the 80’s. My recollection was that he was a fairly solid overall player, but when I look at his stats today, man he couldn’t hit. A career .242 avg, .291 obp and .332 slg. Yikes. His glove was just average. Amazing he played 678 games for the Red Sox. Anyway, that certainly isn’t an indication of his manager skills.

 

Then there is Bud Black. I’m not sure why the Red Sox have interest in Black. He was a decent enough pitcher, but that’s all I know. In fact, I’ve always heard that former pitchers don’t make great managers (Joe Kerrigan perhaps). I haven’t a clue why that would be true though, it’s just something I heard/read.

 

If I had to put odds on the next Red Sox manager of the 4 mentioned above, I’d put it like this:

 

3-1 Maddon
4-1 Hoffman
6-1 Black
10-1 Francona

 

Is that how odds work? Is there some formula as to how they work? Being a bad gambler, I’ll just throw that out there and hope it makes sense.

 

The reason I put Maddon at the top is because from what I’ve read about him, he is a stat oriented coach, personable and doesn’t mind the media. In other words, he sounds like a Grady Little, but with a more “numbers” approach to pre-game preparation and in-game management.

 

All guesses on my part though.

 

The rest of the 2004 Red Sox should start to take shape in about 10 days or so. The General Managers meetings start on Nov. 10th in Arizona. That’s the same day free agency starts. More specifically, free agents are allowed to negotiate with any team.

 

Next comes the Winter Meetings on Dec. 12th in New Orleans. This is when many trades are made and the last few impact free agents are wrapped up.

 

MLB has a pretty good schedule posted on their site. Back to my point, we will all know much more about the 2004 Red Sox by the middle of December. I expect we will see a major trade with the Red Sox. Theo Epstein has to free up some cash otherwise don’t expect a decent 2b/3b replacement (depending on where Bill Mueller plays) and don’t expect a top starter to join the rotation. I’d still prefer to unload Manny, but don’t be surprised to see one of the other “core” players to go.

I feel like the other shoe is going to drop, I just can’t wait for it to happen.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)