Red Sox June 2004

June 27, 2004

 

So Long A Drought

 

I’m sorry for not posting in such a long time. The play of the Red Sox hasn’t inspired me to write anything.

 

It has been a painful stretch, watching them Red Sox win one, then lose one. The biggest winning streak they’ve had in June is 3 games. The longest losing streak also is 3 games (it was actually 4 but the first game was played on May 31st).

 

I can’t put a finger on what, but something has to change. Could it be an instance where too many guys are playing for a new contract and that has them thinking with a “me first” approach?

 

With Nomar, Pedro, Varitek, Lowe and Ramiro Mendoza all fighting for a new contract (relax, I was kidding about Mendoza), we might be looking at a team not focused.

 

I don’t think anyone can argue that the four mentioned above are all big factors to the team. Are they doing what they should be doing?

 

Varitek
.avg/.obp/.slg games runs hr rbi
2003 .273/.351/.512 142 63 25 85
2004 .281/.390/.450 69 31 9 29

 

Nomar
.avg/.obp/.slg games runs hr rbi
2003 .301/.345/.524 156 120 28 105
2004 .250/.290/.406 16 7 1 9

 

Pedro
era whip w ip h bb k
2003 2.22 1.04 14 186.2 147 47 206
2004 3.73 1.16 8 103.2 93 27 97

 

Lowe
era whip w ip h bb k
2003 4.47 1.42 17 203.1 216 72 110
2004 5.47 1.68 6 82.1 102 36 40

 

Well, they’ve all slipped from last year save perhaps Varitek. While his slugging is lower, his .OBP is much higher.

 

If you consider the 4 above to be key contributors to the 2004 Red Sox cause, then there really isn’t any surprise as to why the Red Sox have been lousy these past two months.

 

Now, I realize that the reason teams do poorly is because the players on that team are doing poorly. I know I haven’t discovered anything here, but when you consider who is playing lousy baseball, you have to think that perhaps all of these outstanding contract issues are effecting the club performance.

 

If so, I imagine Epstein has already commissioned a report from Bill James entitled Unresolved Contracts: A look at superstars playing in their contract years and the impact it has on team performance.

 

In all seriousness, I’m sure that study has been ordered and that Theo will be able to make future decisions based on its content.

 

Anyway, I really think something has to give. Be it a tirade from Terry Francona (“Come on fellas, I’m just frosted at our lousy play. Ahh nutty fudgekins!), a major trade by Epstein (especially one where the Red Sox move a big player to shake things up), or a team meeting call the poor performers out. Or it might be another option all together. I just hope whatever it is, it happens quickly.

 

Notes:

 

It was announced that the Red Sox signed Pedro Astacio to a minor league deal. This is interesting as it is sure to smell like a Dan Duquette styled deal. Astacio is coming off June 2003 surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum.

 

That sounds like serious surgery to me.

 

Astacio was a pretty good pitcher early in his career. Then, he got traded to the Colorado Rockies. His went from 4.14 in 1997 (the year of the trade in which he pitched 153.1 innings in LA and 48.2 in Colorado) to a sloppy 6.23 in 1998.

 

Like any promising pitcher, he went there to die. Mike Hampton is just now recovering from his 2 years in Colorado. Seriously, other than his 1993 season in Seattle in which he threw only 17 innings, Mike Hampton had never posted an ERA at the end of a season higher than 3.83 (1997). In his 2 years on Colorado, he posted a 2001 ERA of 5.41 and a 2002 ERA of 6.15.

 

Dear goodness, why did MLB allow a team back in Colorado? I realize they have every right to have a MLB team and appear to be great fans, but how can this be good for pitchers? Over the past 4 years, the Rockies have posted:

 

2001 ERA – 5.29 (29th)
2002 ERA – 5.20 (28th)
2003 ERA – 5.20 (28th)
2004 ERA – 5.98 (30th)

 

With 2004 being the exception (there’s time yet!), their crappiness is remarkably consistent. Perhaps Rockies GM, Dan O’Dowd, should take note that regardless of his pitching staff, he is probably going to post a 5.20-ish ERA. Interesting…

 

Where were we? Right, Pedro Astacio. Once Astacio left Colorado, he slowly started to improve, until 2003 when doctors found the 2 tears in his shoulder. Probably a result of over-throwing in Colorado

 

I can’t imagine Epstein is counting on Astacio for help this year, but perhaps is trying to garner some good will in hopes that Astacio will re-sign next year and help the 2005 product.

 

Game 2 tonight at Yankee Stadium. Tim Wakefield (4-5, 4.59 ERA) vs. Jon Lieber (5-5, 5.26 ERA). Two pitchers who aren’t pitching well right now.

 

The Red Sox need to find some momentum. Who cares about watching the Yankees? The Red Sox just need to take care of their own house and worry about where they stand at the end of the season. Now get to it, chop, chop.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2004

 

They’re Better Now

 

Since I last posted, Red Sox starters have offered up the following performances:

 

Date Pitcher IP H BB ER K ERA WHIP
6/2 Martinez 5.0 11 2 7 4 12.60 2.60
6/4 Wakefield 6.2 9 4 4 4 5.81 2.10
6/5 Schilling 7.0 6 1 3 3 3.86 1.00
6/6 Lowe 5.0 3 1 2 4 3.60 0.80
6/7 Martinez 8.0 2 1 0 8 0.00 0.38
6/8 Arroyo 5.0 6 2 1 1 1.80 1.60
6/9 Schilling 7.0 6 2 2 8 2.57 1.14

 

Well, if you take out the 6/2 and the 6/4 games, you have a fairly strong run of Red Sox starts, the best being from Martinez on 6/7. It reminded me of the Pedro of 2000.

 

Pedro maintains he prefers pitching in warm weather, well Tuesday night’s game was played in some hot and humid stuff.

 

The biggest development this past week was the return of Nomar Garciaparra Wednesday night. His addition to the line-up extends the heart of the order by one. Ortiz-Ramirez-Garciaparra sounds a whole lot better than Ortiz-Ramirez-Varitek or Ortiz-Ramirez-Millar. You know opposing pitchers think that way too.

 

So far, so good in Nomar’s two games back. He is 2-6 since his return with 1 run and 2 rbi’s. It was good to see him hit that wall ball double in Thursday night’s game. Deep down, I am still nervous that something is wrong with Nomar, above and beyond his Achilles.

 

His September slump and subsequent flop in the playoffs (his ALDS batting average was strong, but it lacked pop and his ALCS performance stunk) worried me that perhaps something was ailing the slugger. I don’t know if it was just me, but he seemed to pop up far too many pitches to the infield.

 

Regardless, he is back and only time will tell if he is capable of some positive run generation (PRG – a new Bill James stat perhaps?).

 

With Nomar back, Scott Williamson a day or two away and Trot Nixon a week or so from returning, the Red Sox have a good opportunity to string together some wins and prove they are worth their high payroll.

 

Trot’s return will especially help as Gabe Kapler just hasn’t gotten it done with the bat. With Trot’s return, I see the following line-up:

 

Damon – cf
Youkilis – 3b
Nomar – ss
Manny – lf
Ortiz – dh
Millar – 1b
Nixon – rf
Varitek – c
Reese/Bellhorn – 2b

 

That is a fairly imposing line-up. Better than the one with Kapler, Crespo and McCarty in it.

 

With interleague play here, I’m fairly interested to see the Red Sox at Pac Bell. The match-up I can’t wait for is Pedro vs. Barry Bonds. I believe Pedro is scheduled to pitch the 6/19 (Saturday) game. From what I can tell, it is Fox’s game of the week, so the Giants and Red Sox will share the national stage. That should be fun.

 

Maybe some real pitching will make Bonds look human…as human as a steroid user can look anyway. That wasn’t fair of me…

 

Posted by Andy at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2004

 

Lowe Down Dirty Shame

 

The Boston papers have already played this one to death, but in case you missed it, Derek Lowe stinks.

 

So far in 2004?

 

51.1 innings
74 hits
25 walks
49 runs
39 earned runs
21 strikeouts
6.84 ERA
1.93 Whip

 

Ugly.

 

In my 2/23/04 piece, I mentioned Lowe’s inconsistency. It is now rearing its ugly head. Is it too much to think that Lowe doesn’t belong in the rotation? A 6.84 ERA just about assures a team of failure. Some might prefer to look at Lowe’s terrible May (8.19 ERA) and say it’s just one month, but his April (4.98) was sub-par too.

 

I’m not sure I care why he is pitching poorly. I just hope that he and Dave Wallace can figure it out soon. If not, let’s hope Terry Francona makes the appropriate decision. I think “hope” is playing too much into this equation.

 

Let’s look at the rest of the rotation:

 

Player IP H BB R ER K ERA WHIP
Pedro 70.2 65 18 32 30 72 3.82 1.17
Schilling 78.0 75 11 26 26 70 3.00 1.10
Wakefield 62.2 57 20 28 25 36 3.59 1.23
Arroyo 45.0 44 12 31 25 33 5.00 1.24

 

Schilling and Wakefield have certainly pitched well. Pedro hasn’t been awful, but he has not been his normal Pedro self. He posted a 3.00 ERA in April, but had a 4.50 in May. What’s been most striking is the amount of hits he’s allowed.

 

Coming into this season, Pedro had only allowed just under .75 hits per inning. This season he is at just under .93 hits/inning. While .93 isn’t terrible (in fact it is still quite good) and the sample size is quite small it is still worth watching.

 

On a side note, Pedro had averaged just .729 hits per inning as a member of the Red Sox coming into this season. But, a big portion of that low number came from his 2000 season when he allowed just .590 hits per inning. Amazing.

 

1998 – .804
1999 – .750
2000 – .590
2001 – .720
2002 – .723
2003 – .787

 

2000 was an anomaly, but one carried out over 217 innings. That’s why many people believe Pedro’s 2000 season was the best by a pitcher ever. His WHIP was the best ever in a season.

 

Oh yeah, he only walked 32 while striking out 284.

 

Back to the rotation. Bronson Arroyo has pitched his share of good games this year, but he has also thrown a few stinkers. In fact, he has thrown just 3 quality starts (at least 6 innings and no more than 3 earned runs) in 7 tries.

 

His performance also bears watching (bares or bears?).

 

Last week I mentioned how much fun I was having watching Kevin Youkilis play. Well that hasn’t changed. I had predicted some tough times for him, but they have yet to arrive. So far, he is hitting .318 with a .446 OBP and a .447 SLG. That’ll keep him in the majors a while.

 

For those that don’t believe OBP plays a big role in a batters value, look at Youkilis who has scored 15 runs in only 13 games. Look at Mark Bellhorn, he of the .247 average but .389 OBP. He has scored 38 runs in 49 games.

 

Now look at Pokey Reese. He is hitting .255 with just a .297 OBP and has scored just 21 runs in 47 games. Dusty Baker and Jack McKeon, are you listening? Ok, I’ll give Mr. McKeon a pass seeing as he just won the World Series.

 

Onto the first left coast trip of the year. All true Red Sox fans are easily identified what with the shadows under their eyes the following morning. The good news is that the Red Sox only play Tuesday and Wednesday with 10pm starts. Then it is on to Kansas City and more reasonable viewing times.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)