January 27, 2004
It looks like the Yankees need another 3b. Aaron Boone reportedly tore his ACL playing basketball, a violation of his contract. Who cares if it was a violation of his contract, either the way, the Yankees aren’t worried about the $, they are worried about finding a replacement. While Boone isn’t a superstar, he is more than adequate.
There doesn’t appear to be much out there in the way of free agents or players in the organization: Drew Henson (minors and not playing well), Enrique Wilson (utility guy, they wouldn’t want him in there any more than necessary)., Miguel Cairo (same deal) and Travis Chapman (who? A non-tender from Philly. Plays 3rd, I know nothing more about him).
Perhaps the Yanks will decide to go with a rotation of utility guys and minor league call-ups to man third, or most likely, they’ll trade for a mid-level 3b. The Yankees don’t have too much more to offer in trades, so Cashman and Steinbrenner will have to be creative…I mean, give the other team a ton of cash.
Well, it’s too bad Boone injured himself. Playing pick-up basketball doesn’t sound too risky to me but then again, if I had $5.75m coming my way and a clause in my contract forbidding hoop, I think I could turn my attention to Sega basketball instead.
Seriously though, it isn’t good to see a player on a competitor get injured. My preference is to beat a team playing my best players vs. his best players, etc. Of course, this doesn’t mean the Red Sox are the better team but you get the idea.
Some other Red Sox notes: The team is looking at Ellis Burks as a possible bench option. I have to imagine this won’t work, because he’ll either ask for too much money, or the Red Sox will realize his health is just too shaky, at best.
Also, the Red Sox announced 2 minor league deals. One for Terry Shumpert and the other for Tony Womack. Neither gets me too fired up. Even in his prime, Womack was nothing better than a really fast player (fantasy owners thought he was useful) with nothing much else. Shumpert has always amazed me that he’s been able to make a go of it this long in the majors.
I’m amazed because when the Red Sox signed him in 1995, his career to date was terrible!!! I’m talking about an average just above the Mendoza line and no power or on-base capabilities. Sure he could play a few positions, but there were certainly better utility player options. But since then, he has actually posted some decent numbers including a really great season in 1999 with Colorado.
Sure the light air helped, but in ’99 he went .347/.413/.584 in 262 at bats. Wow. He never approached those numbers again, but he remained fairly solid with Colorado.
Anyway, had I not looked at Shumpert’s post Red Sox exploits, I would have continued to see this guy as a nothing. My mistake.
January 20, 2004
On again, off again
Ok, ESPN is reporting that the mega-du-wop trade between the Red Sox, the Rangers and the White Sox is back on the burner. I really had convinced myself that this thing was finally dead and had turned my attention to Manny and Nomar in the heart of the line-up.
Oh well. Perhaps not.
But, since you brought it up, er….I figured I’d once again see what the so-called experts are predicting for the 4 main players in this trade.
Baseball Notebook has the ARod and Magglio Ordonez as the better option. Because I’m not sure how much info I can pass along to you without Baseball Notebook getting upset with me, let me give you the totals from package A.) Nomar and Manny and for package B.) ARod and Magglio.
G Runs HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG E
309 235 77 246 13 .329 .400 .611 29
G Runs HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG E
318 259 95 256 26 .328 .402 .636 16
BM is projecting 64 HR’s for ARod in 2004, that’s why package B is offering up so many more home runs. I’m not sure how realistic that is. Overall though, it looks like not only will Package B give you more offense, it’ll also give you better D and more durability. Interesting.
How about Stats, Inc.? Well they don’t provide the same stats, but here is what they do provide:
Runs HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG
202 61 224 9 .326 .391 .555
Runs HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG
232 81 255 22 .312 .392 .578
Their numbers are a bit more conservative and again, an advantage for package B.). Stats is projecting a down year from Manny, in both overall production and durability. He is still solid in their eyes, but isn’t the Manny from Cleveland anymore. So sad.
Well, that’s about all I can muster on this renewed trade talk. Apparently both sides are meeting this weekend to see what they can accomplish. Don’t they realize the Patriots are in the Super Bowl? Priorities for cripes sake.
January 17, 2004
Some more statistical projections for the 2004 Red Sox I thought you might find interesting. As I mentioned earlier this month, Stats, Inc. has a projections feature, in the meantime, I also stumbled upon BaseballNotebook.com’s projection data as well. Like Stats, Inc., Baseball Notebook has various updates to their stats as the regular season approaches, so I used what both sites are using today.
For the purpose of these projection notes, I used the following 25 man roster:
Ok, Stats, Inc. has the Red Sox scoring 832 runs and allowing 521 earned runs (can anyone tell me why else 521 is an important Red Sox number?). Stats, Inc. doesn’t indicate how many total runs they think a pitcher will allow. I guess this is because they aren’t as interested as team fielding or perhaps they just haven’t found an acceptable way of determining unearned runs.
Regardless, to get an idea of how many total runs the Red Sox might allow in 2004 based on Stats, Inc. earned run total of 521, I took the previous 3 Red Sox seasons to see how many more total runs they allowed than earned runs.
Here’s what I got:
R ER R/ER
2003 809 729 1.110
2002 665 602 1.105
2001 745 667 1.117
2219 1998 1.111
So over the past 3 years, the Red Sox have allowed about 11% total runs than earned runs. Applying that to the 2004 Stats projections, that means the Red Sox will give up 579 total runs. So now Stats has the Red Sox scoring 832 and giving up 579. I realize me taking a 3 year average isn’t that scientific, but that’s all I can think of doing.
Baseball Notebook has the Red Sox scoring 878 runs and allowing 614 total runs. Baseball Notebook does us the favor of including earned and unearned runs in the projections, phew.
Ok, with my 25 man roster, Stats, Inc. and Baseball Notebook.com have fewer than expected plate appearances. Now because they only project At bats and Walks, that’s all I can really work with here (you see I’m far too lazy to project sacrifice hits, sac flies and hit by pitch totals). To adjust for this, I’ve added 5.7 % more runs to the Stats, Inc. total and 6.1 % more runs scored to the Baseball Notebook totals, or 880 for Stats, Inc and 932 for Baseball Notebook.
Oh crap!!! One more problem popped up. My 25 man roster translates into only 1351 innings pitched through Stats, Inc. projections and 1403 innings pitched through Baseball Notebook.com. The reason that is a problem is because the Red Sox have done pitched the following of the past 3 seasons:
That works out to a 3 year average of just about 1453 innings pitched, 7.5 % higher than Stats, Inc. IP total and 3.5 % higher than Baseball Notebook’s IP total. So I added 7.5 % and 3.5 % to their projections respectively and got 623 total runs allowed on Stats, Inc. and 636 total runs allowed on Baseball Notebook.com.
Here’s what we have now:
Now that we have that info, let’s use it to determine the expected Red Sox record in 2004. For those of you who have read Bill James, you’re probably familiar with the Pythagorean winning percentage. It is essentially the expected winning percantage a team can expect based on how many runs they score and allow. The Pythagorean winning percentage specifically is this:
Runs Scored * Runs Scored_______________
(Runs Scored * Runs Scored) + (Runs Allowed * Runs Allowed)
Apparently, in recent years, it has been determined that instead of using the squared value of these, to get a more accurate reading, you instead use this:
Runs Scored to the 1.83 power________________
(Runs Scored to the 1.83 power) + (Runs Allowed to the 1.83 power)
All that is way over my head. All I know is that the Pythagorean winning percentage is surprisingly accurate in determining a teams wins and losses.
So applying the first formula above to Stats, Inc and Baseball Notebook’s projections, here are the expected wins and losses for the 2004 Red Sox:
Stats, Inc: 108 wins, 54 losses and a .666 winning %.
Baseball Notebook: 111 wins, 51 losses and a .682 winning %.
Hmmm, pretty similar. I think it is safe to say that any Red Sox fan would love to have either of those win totals for 2004. But, it is important to note that I’ve done a fair amount of assuming doing this. I am assuming a specific 25 man roster even though there are 2-3 roster spots wide open. Additionally, there are bound to be minor league call-ups and trades, but since I can’t possibly predict those (wait, isn’t this whole piece about predictions and projections?), I’ve simply used the 25 man roster above.
By simply assuming that any shortfall in at bats and innings pitched can simply be made up by applying the same runs scoring ability and runs against average is wrong as most likely the players making up the differences are likely to be bench players or minor league call-ups…guys that just aren’t as good as the front line players.
Additionally, Stats, Inc. and Baseball Notebook don’t give team projections, just player projections, so while the sum total of the 25 man roster provides the Pythagorean winning percentages above (with the previously mentioned tinkering), I’m certain most employees of either one of these firms would tell you it’s highly unlikely the Red Sox will win 108 games, let alone 111.
Alright then, enough excuses and disclaimers from me. Some interesting Baseball Notebook individual projections include Manny Ramirez having a monster season. Monster to the tune of a .335 average,115 runs, 43 HRs and 127 RBI. They also have Nomar Garciaparra bouncing back with a more Nomar-like season: .324 average, 120 runs, 34 HRs and 119 RBI.
On the negative side of things, they aren’t expecting so much from Pokey Reese with the bat: .219 average, 44 runs and 44 rbi. Ughh, that’s some awful run production.
While they expect Nomar and Manny to have great seasons, the general overall trend is for the rest of the squad to fall back to earth a bit.
Yes, I know, this stuff doesn’t mean a thing, but I’ve said it before, it is fun to think about. The 2004 season is just around the corner, about 1 month.
January 14, 2004
The Anaheim Angels signed Vladimir Guerrero this week. 5 years, $70m or $14m a year. That’s a ton of cash in this day and age. It is also a ton of cash for an Angels team that was supposedly already at $95m in payroll for 2004.
Angel ownership has already stated they wanted to be only around $90-$95m level for 2004. Was this a good move? Can they get themselves back down to $95m before the start of the season?
First off, let’s talk about the bold move of signing Vlad in the first place. The last time they opened their wallet for a big-named free agent was when they signed Mo Vaughn in December 1998. We all know what happened to Mo. We don’t? Ok, I’ll tell you. Mo, had a decent enough 1999 hitting 33 home runs and driving in 108 runs, but his averages across the board fell. In addition, he only played 139 games.
2000 was more of the same. Good numbers, but not like his Red Sox numbers. In spring training 2001, he got hurt and missed the season. From there, Mo was never the same. He came back in 2002 and struggled with the Mets, having been traded over the off season for Kevin Appier. 2003 was even worse. He is now almost assuredly out of baseball for good.
Too bad too, he was a great player and an entertaining interview.
Back to my point. The Angels certainly didn’t make out on the Vaughn signing. Appier had one good season for them, but other than that, Vaughn’s signing was a big-arsed mistake.
Will Guerrero’s signing be the same? I have to assume most of you think not. After all, Vlad will only be 28 in 2004. Vaughn signed his deal when he 31. That being said, Vlad missed 50 games in 2003 with a back injury. But he’s young, he’ll get better, right?
Well Juan Gonzalez also has back problems and his durability, or lack of it, is well documented. In fact, over the past 2 seasons, Gonzalez has played a total of only 152 games for the Texas Rangers. That for $24m. Crazy. What a crappy investment. That’s ok though, Tom Hicks, the Rangers owner, is known for flushing his money down the drain. Just take a look at Chan Ho Park or Rusty Greer’s contracts.
But for Anaheim, money is usually more a concern than it is for the Rangers.
So, is signing Vlad a mistake? Is it fair to assume that one player with a back injury is going to perform like another player with a back injury? Probably not. But I’m not sure spending $70m is a good way to find out.
Personally, I think Vlad will average 140 games or so for the length of the contract. With his skills and improving plate discipline, he’ll still make an impact, but I don’t know, it still seems so risky. I realize Vlad was the premier free agent on the market, but can Anaheim justify shelling out another large chunk of money when A.) They’re last big FA signing burned them and B.) They were already at budget before they signed Guerrero.
Time will tell if it was a good signing. Now, who are they going to unload to make budget? I can’t imagine anyone taking on $14m worth of contracts from the Angels. No team has that kind of flexibility (well, maybe one). So what will they do?
Move Darin Erstad? No chance, he stinks. They’d have to take on another large contract to move him. On a side note, look at just how bad Erstad has become. It’s a shame.
Can they move Glaus? Same thing, he is on a major decline and they’d certainly have to take on a big contract to unload him.
I don’t know who they’ll move. Perhaps ownership will allow a $109m payroll this year. Who knows? At the very least though, Anaheim has greatly improved their chances for 2004. They’ve added Bartolo Colon, Kelvin Escobar, Jose Guillen and Vlad Guerrero. Add those guys to Garrett Anderson, Troy Percival, Ben Weber, Brendan Donnelly and Francisco Rodriguez, and they will certainly be competitive. But good enough to beat out Oakland and Seattle?
Wow, the AL East should be fun to watch this year.
Red Sox notes: Absolutely nothing happened this past week worth mentioning, expect that Larry Lucchino signed a 4 year contract extension. One that guarantees him a Red Sox paycheck through 2011. See, I just don’t understand the relationship he and John Henry have. Lucchino must really be smart and a key behind all of the good things the Red Sox have done these past 2 years, because if you just looked at his public statements, you’d think he was a yahoo.
I guess he must have something going for him. It’s probably just a case of the public having the wrong impression of a very public personality.
Some interesting negotiations are due to take place in the coming month. The arbitration cases of Scott Williamson, Trot Nixon, David Ortiz and Byung-Hyun Kim will be handled soon. My bet is that the Red Sox will come to terms with each one prior to an arbitration hearing.
January 05, 2004
Hot Stove on Simmer
Things have slowed to a crawl since the death of the ARod deal. That’s probably just as well. I was too wrapped up in the whole mess.
One small signing did take place. Brian Daubach was signed to a minor league deal. That means he could platoon with Kevin Millar at first or give Manny a day off or two. Daubach was a good fit with the Red Sox through 2002, but just became too expensive. He was an example of the collective bargaining agreement working against the player.
Daubach made $2.35m in 2002 with the Red Sox and was arbitration eligible. Had the Red Sox tendered him arbitration, he’d probably have made $4m or so in 2003. Because the market corrected a bit last off-season, the Red Sox rightly figured they could grab a much cheaper replacement. In fact, they did just that by signing David Ortiz, himself a non-tendered casualty, to a 1 year, $1m contract. Daubach probably thought he could do better than what the Red Sox could offer, so he tested the market. By the time things settled, he was left taking the White Sox offer.
While Ortiz proved himself a terrific bargain, Daubach ultimately signed with the Chicago White Sox on a minor league deal and wound up sticking with the big league club and earned $450k, but struggled badly at the plate.
Throughout 2003, Daubach frequently mentioned that he had hoped to stay with the Red Sox. He is great friends with Tim Wakefield and absolutely loved his time in Boston. Hopefully for his sake, things work out. He certainly won’t be a distraction and assuming his skills haven’t completely deteriorated, he should be a decent lefty bat off the bench. His career versus right pitchers: .270/.351/.496. He’s probably best sitting in the dugout rather than facing lefties though: .218/.295/.387.
There really aren’t too many more moves the Red Sox have to make. Aside from a few arbitration cases (Nixon, Ortiz, Kim and Williamson) and the standard offering of spring training invitations, there isn’t too much more to settle. From what I can tell, the line-up is set.
Jason Varitek – c
Kevin Millar – 1b
Pokey Reese – 2b
Bill Mueller – 3b
Nomar Garciaparra – ss
Manny Ramirez – lf
Johnny Damon – cf
Trot Nixon – rf
David Ortiz – dh
Additionally, it’s safe to assume the following pitchers will make the opening day roster assuming their not traded or released first:
Pedro Martinez – sp
Curt Schilling – sp
Derek Lowe – sp
Tim Wakefield – sp
Byung-Hyun Kim – sp
Alan Embree – mr
Scott Williamson – mr
Mike Timlin – mr
Ramiro Mendoza – mr
Keith Foulke – cl
That’s a 10 man pitching staff. The only pitching contests might be the remaining bullpen spot. Mark Malaska and Bronson Arroyo are the leading candidates at this time. If Terry Francona goes with a 12 man staff, problem solved. If he goes with 11, either Malaska or Arroyo goes to AAA Pawtucket. Or, if Theo Epstein doesn’t like what he sees during spring training, he might just cut or, if humanly possible, trade Mendoza. I’m not sure anyone has the stomach for what he might bring to the table in 2004. If he is dispatched, again, problem solved.
Assuming an 11 man staff, that leaves 5 bench spots. Gabe Kapler, Mark Bellhorn, Doug Mirabelli almost certainties to be on the team. As of now, I don’t have a full list of spring training invitees, but I do know David McCarty and Brian Daubach are in the mix. If there are indeed 5 bench spots available, then they both make the squad. McCarty is the superior defensive player while Daubach is the better hitter. They’d make a fairly good 1b platoon actually. McCarty cannot hit righties: .227/.281/.339 but is ok against lefties: .259/.330/.407. You saw Daubach’s splits above.
Looking at McCarty though, his bat is just too weak for the 1b position. Millar is much better suited to play there. Perhaps McCarty gets the ax in spring training in favor of someone else. Adam Hyzdu perhaps?
On another note, Stats Inc. recently released their projections for the 2004 season. Stats will update these projections as the off-season progresses based on expected playing time, injuries, etc. One must subscribe to Stats Fantasy advantage to get them so I’ll share a few interesting things.
Based on the following pitching staff: Martinez, Schilling, Lowe, Wakefield, Kim, Embree, Williamson, Timlin, Mendoza and Foulke(10 man staff), Stats Inc. projects them to go 106-43. That’s a .711 winning % or 115-47 over a 162 game schedule. Wow. That includes a team ERA of 3.06 and a WHIP of 1.14.
As for the bats, assuming the line-up I have above and a bench of Mirabelli, Bellhorn, Kapler and Daubach (13 positional players), Stats Inc. projects a .280 average, a .353 OBP (close estimate), a .471 SLG, with 832 runs scored, 207 HRs, 822 RBI, 630 Walks and 74 SBs.
That isn’t bad, but it’s a big drop off from last year’s run machine. The 2003 Red Sox scored 961 runs, hit 238 HRs, and hit .289/.360/.491.
But, with the much improved pitching staff (projected anyway), that should make up for it. The one problem with all of these projections, other than the obvious fact they are just projections, is that Stats Inc. doesn’t have projections for Arroyo, Malaska and McCarty either because they haven’t played enough major league ball, or because of too few appearances over the past few years. While I don’t put too much stock in this stuff, it is fun to look at.