Red Sox

That John Henry is Full of…

Remember the line when Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn are driving into what they think is the Rockies only to see a vast plain?  “That John Denver was full of crap!”  Well, John Henry is too.  Just 2 months after saying this about Ben Cherington, “The GM is going to be the GM of this club for a very long time,” we find out that Dave Dombrowski has been hired as President of Baseball Operations and Ben Cherington is out.  Apparently Cherington was given the option of staying but when you lose your – authority, it probably makes sense to move on…along with your recently signed 3 year extension.

What does this mean for the Red Sox?  Dombrowski, fired by the Tigers in June, is a more traditional baseball mind, preferring old-timey scouting vs. modern analytics.  The Red Sox under Cherington had become heavy in analytics and sometimes I felt that the numbers were the only reason for moves.  Things like personalities and hard work were overlooked as long as a player’s Fenway splits were solid.  Hanley Ramirez is a good example of an analytic signing whereas a traditional baseball mind might have said his tendency to dog it is a reason to stay away.  Heck, even Hanley warned a Dodger teammate not to be like him, hated by his teammates…wasn’t that warning enough Ben?

This calls into question what will happen with analytical people like Bill James.  Will they leave, get fired or figure out a way to co-exist with Dombrowski?  Regardless, this all happened very quickly and came out of nowhere.  When Dombrowski left Detroit, a fairly well-known writer (can’t remember if it was Ken Rosenthal or Buster Olney) tweeted that the Red Sox had no interest in him.  Well that turned out not to be the case and today we have a decidedly new way of doing things.

Dombrowski, won a World Series with Florida in 1997 and went to 2 others with Detroit in 2006 and 2012.  There will be, most likely, many other changes with the Red Sox between now and the start of the 2016 season.  That can be said of any season, but the front office, which has been largely stable since Henry took over save for the moving of Theo Epstein, is undergoing a makeover and one that was needed as continuing this trend of feast or famine can’t be allowed.

Glass Houses and Stones

I was going to devote this morning to my excitement about heading to the Bronx tonight. I will be there at Luis Severino’s debut, and I can’t wait. But, some other news got in the way, and I feel compelled to say something about it. I will write about Severino tomorrow, but for now, bring on the PED’s!

David Ortiz said something last night that nobody can disagree with. When asked about Alex Rodriguez and his PED use, Ortiz said, “It is what it is. The guy is playing the game the right way now — as far as we know.”

At this point, you would have to be either an idiot, or completely naive to assume that A-Rod is doing what he is doing clean. He does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.But, that doesn’t make what Ortiz said very smart, in fact it is pretty dumb for him to go anywhere near that question because he is not an innocent bystander to the PED era.

It’s hard to remember now, but it was the news in Fenruary 2009 that A-Rod, along with 103 other players, failed the 2003 PED test that started all of the “fun” with Alex. When the news came out, Alex held a big press conference and admitted he did it, but claimed that it was for only the three years in Texas because of the pressure of living up to the contract. In July of that year, the news came out that one of the other 103 players was Ortiz. Ortiz issued a statement saying that he was surprised at finding out he tested positive and he would find out what he tested positive for and let the fans know. To my knowledge, that has never happened.

What you think from here probably depends on who you root for. Ortiz is beloved in Boston, and A-Rod has seen a redemption of sorts from the fans in New York. You just need to look at the reaction to Tom Brady inside of New England and outside of it to see how fans “root for the laundry”. Personally, I think A-Rod is a despicable person and a liar, but that doesn’t make Ortiz innocent. Ortiz’s claims that he has never failed a PED test since 2003 don’t sway me to his side either. Other than that 2003 test, I can’t think of a test that A-Rod failed. He was, from a testing standpoint, squeaky clean and his latest crimes only came to light because of Tony Bosch and a FBI investigation. Furthermore, the evidence uncovered during that investigation told us about things like steroid lozenges that you could use up to a certain point on game days and still pass a drug test after the game. Clearly. the cheaters have the advantage over the testing.

I hope A-Rod, Ortiz, and all the rest of the players aren’t cheating now, but I have no idea.  And if MLB ever wanted to really say they have cleaned up the game, the way to do it would be to store all samples taken for future testing- 5 or 10 years down the line. That way the science could potentially catch up with the cheating, and the players who were inclined to cheat might be dissuaded because there was the potential of their legacies being tarnished in the future.

2015 Trade Deadline Blog

Check back here throughout the day for updates on your favorite Yankees and Red Sox player trades.

4:08pm- Looks like that may be it. I will recap any additional moves later.

4:02pm- Cubs get Tommy Hunter according to Ken Rosenthal.

4:01pm- Jack Curry reports the Yankees did nothing.

4:00pm- We have reached the deadline, but trade reports can still come in.

3:58pm- Bob Nightengale is reporting that both the Red Sox and Yankees are standing pat.

3:56pm- Sherman tweets that unless something changes in next five minutes, the Yankees are not making a move.

3:55pm- Five minutes…..

3:52pm- Ken Rosenthal confirms the Cespedes move.

3:51pm- Jason Stark reporting Mets have traded for Cespedes.

3:49pm- Astros are apparently out on Kimbrel.

3:48pm- Looking back at last year’s trade deadline blog, the last trade report came at 4:11pm.

3:45pm- Bruce and Chapman are with the Reds, though Bruce is reportedly getting a day off.

3:44pm- Blue Jays tweet they have traded Felix Doubront to the A’s for cash.

3:40pm- 20 minutes to go….

3:38pm- Sherman reminds everyone that Cespedes cannot be offered arbitration, so if the Tigers want something for him in case he signs elsewhere they need to trade him today.

3:31pm- Rosenthal, Heyman, and Sherman are all reporting the Yankees offered Mateo to the Padres in a Kimbrel trade, but haven’t heard back.

2:52pm- John Farrell has apparently told WEEI in Boston he doesn’t anticipate any big moves from Boston.

2:47pm- In an addition by subtraction move, the Yankees have announced that they received cash from a Korean League team for Emil Rogers.

2:36pm- Blue Jays are adding Ben Revere according to multiple reports. This is on top of a trade for Mark Lowe earlier today.

2:20pm- Jon Heyman reports the Mets are making a push for Cespedes.

2:17pm- In addition, Chris Capuano has cleared waivers and been outrighted to AAA.

2:15pm- The Yankees announce they have DFA’ed Garett Jones in order to put Ackley on the roster.

1:55pm- Good point by Rosenthal on MLB Network- teams need to review medical records before 4pm today, they can’t review them afterwards, so teams are probably reviewing multiple medicals right now.

1:54pm- Jon Heyman on MLB Network reports that Yankees are not in on Chapman.

1:52pm- Joel Sherman reporting the Padres are working on something big for Kimbrel, but not with the Yankees. Padres won’t trade him to Yankees without Mateo in the deal. <Peter says- Mateo would be a deal-breaker for me in that discussion. No reason to take on all of that money and give up a big contract.>

12:08pm- Arizona is apparently out on Aroldis Chapman

12:05pm- Jerry Crasnick tweets that Broxton is headed to St. Louis.

11:38 am – The Yankees are in on several bullpen arms including Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

11:31 am – ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal are reporting the Red Sox and Padres are having discussions about Tyson Ross and perhaps Craig Kimbrel.

11:31 am – ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting the Red Sox are kicking the tires on Cleveland’s Carlos “Don’t Call me Hector” Carrasco.

 

Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez is set to be enshrined today in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.  As you know, I’m not a man of words…good words anyway.  That said, watching Pedro pitch was must see viewing.  There have been better pitchers than Pedro in terms of higher cumulative stats but I would argue, there hasn’t been a better pitcher over a 7 year period than Pedro was from 1997 – 2003.  Sandy Koufax comes to mind but his prime was over 5 years.  Both Koufax and Pedro were similar in that they had relatively short careers for Hall of Famers and whose prime years were other worldly.

Consider this, from 1997-2003, Pedro’s stat line was:

W-L 118-36, 1408 IP, 1009 H, 315 BB, 1761 K’s, 2.20 ERA, .940 WHIP, 213 ERA+.

All of this pitching during the steroid era.  Pedro has been quite vocal on his anti-steroid stance and I fully acknowledge that this alone doesn’t mean he didn’t do steroids himself.  But even if he did do steroids (which I don’t think he did, call me biased or naive, fine) he still did things no other pitcher did during or outside of the steroid era.

I isolated Sandy Koufax’s prime years of 1962-1966 and came up with this:

W-L 111-34, 1377 IP, 959 H, 316 BB, 1444 K’s, 1.95 ERA, .926 WHIP, 167 ERA+.

Koufax’s prime came over 5 years and of course he pitched in a time where 300 IP a season was normal.

I’ve looked and admit, probably not thoroughly enough, I haven’t found another modern day pitcher who’s prime was as dominating in all aspects as Pedro and Koufax’s.  ERA, control, strikeouts, ERA+.  Every element of their games was perfect.  I give the nod to Pedro because he pitched in a hitters era and did so over a longer period of time.

As a Red Sox fan, I realized early on that I was watching a player whose performance would probably never be duplicated again by a Red Sox player.  I didn’t have to force myself to watch Pedro’s starts, I had to watch them, I demanded to watch them.  Start after start of mowing the opposition down, Pedro allowing 3 ER was a bit of a shock, if just didn’t happen that much.

His best game were both against the Yankees.  His 17 strikeout, 1-hit win and his head to head match-up game against Rogers Clemens which was won by a late Trot Nixon home run.  Epic baseball.

Congratulations to Pedro Martinez and thank you for making watching baseball such a joy.

Cruel Summer

Bananarama couldn’t have know that their 1983 hit would be the anthem for the 2015 Red Sox.

It is time to be sellers, not that there is much to sell.  Hanley Ramirez is a train-wreck of a left-fielder but can still hit a bit.  Pablo Sandoval has performed about how you’d expect from a player who cares so little for his fitness.  The rotation has been a nightmare (Porcello at $20m a year for the next 4 seasons, oh boy!).  The only real marketable pieces are Koji Uehara and perhaps a contending team in need of some power in Mike Napoli or leadership in Shane Victorino but the Red Sox would assume most of the salary hit.

It is hard to pinpoint just what went wrong with this team, aside from the fact that both the Ramirez and Sandoval signings felt like the signing of Carl Crawford a few years back.

John Henry needs to look at the approach the Red Sox have taken as they are heading for their 3rd last place finish in 4 seasons.  Ben Cherington, Larry Lucchino and everyone else needs to be evaluated and some tough choices are needed.  Doesn’t it feel like winning, while important, is getting tangled up with other things like ratings and marketing deals?  I have no direct proof, but signing two flawed players in Ramirez and Sandoval wreaks of some bean counter/entertainment person asking to buy a reason for fans to tune in.  Except that, winning is what causes fans to tune in, not gimmicks or overpriced hacks.

Despite the sinking ship, there are a few glimmers of hope, not for this season, but for beyond.  Xander Bogaerts has become what we all expected, Mookie Betts has been solid, Blake Swihart has started to hit a bit and Eduardo Rodriguez has surprised.  Now if you look at the above mentioned individual stats, none will overwhelm you or even impress you, but they are all very young (23 or younger) and could develop into the future cornerstones of this franchise.  Ugh.

Hello Boston

Fear not Red Sox fans. Andy may have abandoned you to live out his dream as a carney, but I am still here. And since the Yankees are coming to town this weekend, I will provide you some analysis of your season so far.

At this point you really have to look deep into your soul and wonder if this is worth it. Why do you keep following this team? This “relationship” is destroying you. Give it up, and come join the good guys.

Not convinced? Ok, I’ll analyze the Red Sox then.

The popular notion is that the rotation is sinking the team. While I can’t completely refute it, I will say it is not as bad as it looks. Every Boston starter looks significantly better when looked at though the lens of FIP and not ERA. Buchholz’s FIP is 2.56. Miley’s is 3.90. Porcello 4.46. Masterson 4.64. Significantly better than their ERA’s and a suggestion that they can show improvement in their overall numbers in the second half.

The bullpen trends the opposite way. Ogando has a 4.92. Breslow has a 5.58. The other main guys in the pen, with the exception of Uehara, have FIP’s slightly higher than their ERA’s. Still overall, the pitching should be better and if the offense can do its end, the Red Sox should be better. And in a division where the separation from worst to first is only five games, that could be significant.

That’s part of what makes this weekend so compelling. This is a chance for both teams to send a message heading into the break. Boston can show that their recent play is for real and they will be a force in the second half. The Yankees can show that they are not going to surrender first without a fight.

Back after the game.

New Deal

Rick Porcello inked a 4 year, $82.5m extension with the Red Sox yesterday.  Good for him.  But why are the Red Sox paying him so much?  Aren’t teams supposed to reserve such high annual salaries for the very best?  Porcello has a career 4.30 ERA and a low strikeout rate.  That isn’t the very best.

I see this as Ben Cherington wanting pitchers only in their primes, Porcello is 26 and this carries through his age 30 season.  Cherington’s idea is to pay for the prime years, even if it means a bit more.  But really, $20m a year?  I think Porcello is a fine pitcher, but he has a ton of innings under his belt for such a young age and while he is entering his most productive age, he has a lack of track record.  Ugh.  I see this deal and just think why did the Red Sox bid against themselves here?  I also think this is the Red Sox trying to convince either themselves or their fans, that they have an ace in Porcello while I don’t believe they do.

Loud Panda

Newest Red Sox, Pablo Sandoval, has been in a war of words with the San Francisco Giants and frankly I’d like him to shut his gob.

For some reason he felt the need to make his criticisms personal by basically telling all his former teammates and his coaches, save for Bruce Bochy and Hunter Pence, that he missed none of them.  Nice Pablo, nice.  You really seem like a good guy.

When someone calls out 23 other players, and however many coaches, well that worries me.  The Red Sox signed him up for how many years?

Sandoval’s former teammate, Aubrey Huff, he of the suspiciously timed boffo seasons (seriously, take a look), fired back at him, kinda like I am now.   Naturally, Sandoval didn’t appreciate the feedback and went off on another juvenile rant.  It’s spring training Pablo, take it easy man.  It’s a long season and don’t forget you are really rich and play baseball for a living.  You should be happy.

All of this makes me really worried about the 2015 team dynamics.  I thought Hanley Ramirez was going to be the problem child given his reputation, but it turns out Pablo might be instead. I’d like to think veteran players like David Ortiz or Dustin Pedroia could talk to Pablo and have him cool his act, but given the rhetoric of the past few days, I’m not sure what to expect.  If Pablo really is this immature and this big a clubhouse problem then the Red Sox might have a major problem on their hands.

Oh, and here’s a prediction, Christian Vasquez will be the best catcher at stopping stolen bases this year, percentage-wise.

Cuban Relations

Many sources are reporting that the Red Sox have signed the latest Cuba amateur player offering his services to the highest bidder.  19-year old Yoan Moncada, an infielder, was highly sought after and one NL Scout, per ESPN’s reporting, told Jerry Crasnick that Moncada would go 1/1 if the draft were held today.  And a report says he immediately becomes the best Red Sox prospect and number 10 overall in baseball per Baseball America.  Wow, that is good to hear for Red Sox fans.  Reports are that it is a $30m deal minor league deal meaning he’ll start the season in the minors.

What is interesting is that Moncada plays SS and the Red Sox have their infield set with Napoli at first, Pedroia at second, Sandoval at third and Bogaerts at SS.  Where will they play him, even if he does start the year in the minors?  It is with some sadness that I say if you made me decide today, I’d have to strongly consider moving Dustin Pedroia.  Now I realize it is never wise to bet against him as he has always overcome doubters but the fact is he has declined offensively 4 years running with his OPS dropping from .861 in 2011 to a .713 last season.  His contract is relatively modest and could probably be moved without too much trouble.  He is 31 and at his own admission has been injured for the past 2 seasons, but he is also quick to point out he has never felt better.

At some point, Ben Cherington will have to make a few difficult decisions to free up the logjam both in the infield and in the outfield.  These are good problems to have mind you but as a player, it might be an anxious time trying to figure out where the playing time might come.

Lester

The departure of Jon Lester was set into motion 8 months ago when the Red Sox offered him 4 years and $70m.  Considering Chicago signed him for 6 years and $155m (plus a vesting option), then you can understand why Lester felt the Red Sox hadn’t built much good will with such an initial low-ball offer.  Any notion of a home town discount ended when they put forth that bid.

First off, a question I’d love answered is, are the Red Sox happy they didn’t land Lester?  Did they just continue to stay close enough in negotiations so they could turn around and tell Red Sox fans they tried?  Are they happier with the idea that they will have to not only trade prospects to get a top-flight starter, but that they will also have to pay that top-flight starter as well?  Lester just cost money, a guy like Cole Hamels will cost much talent and money.

For them to think 6/$135m would get it done is laughable which makes me think indeed, they really didn’t want to resign him.  If the Red Sox had matched the Cubs offer, I am guessing he’d have taken it.  So for $20m, they will have to ship a Betts, a Swihart, a Bogaerts or another top prospect and they’d best hope the prospect they are sending doesn’t turn out to be an impact majorleaguer as that in turn will cost them far more than $20m.

Also, are we going to get a smear campaign, a very distasteful thing we’ve seen when people leave the Red Sox.  Terry Francona’s departure is a first and foremost example and while I cannot pinpoint it on any one person, the fact is, there are Red Sox sources who leak the worst kind of information, personal information.  As a Red Sox fan, I am thrilled they have won 3 World Series in the past 10 years but they way they conduct business leaves much to be desired.  For instance, using their high horse to disparage the way the Yankees do business, specifically spending large sums of money on free agents, then to turn around 12 months later and do the same thing themselves.  The previously mentioned smear campaigns are upsetting.  If I am to believe former GM Theo Epstein, he said of signing Carl Crawford, that he felt a pressure from above to “feed the monster” that was the Red Sox marketing juggernaut.  Feeding the monster means signing players not for what they bring to the success of the baseball team, but rather what PR boost, what ratings boost, what revenue boost a signing might deliver.

I’d like to think that winning ballgames and doing so in a classy manner aren’t mutually exclusive.

Of course the main concern I have is who the hell is going to start for the Red Sox next year?  I sure hope Ben Cherington has been staying at a Holiday Inn Express of late because he is going to have to work miracles over the next 2 months.  Seriously, the rotation is a total and complete mess and as it stands today they won’t have any chance of making the postseason.