Red Sox

December 2003 Red Sox

December 23, 2003

 

The Team is Taking Shape

 

Pokey Reese at second? Hmmm, it reminds me a bit of the Rey Sanchez experiment at first glance.

 

While it isn’t official yet, rumor has it the Red Sox are going to sign Pokey Reese to be their second baseman in 2004. From all accounts, he has a fantastic glove, but very little bat.

 

His acquisition surprises me in some aspects as A.) He isn’t good with the bat and B.) He is a defensive wiz.

 

Before the start of the 2003 season Theo Epstein said he felt second base in the American League was an offensive position. That statement basically told me that offense is most important and defense is secondary. Hence the acquisition of Todd Walker. Walker had and still has a reputation of a decent fielding percentage, but lousy range to compliment his above average bat (for a second baseman).

 

Reese on the other hand, has great range.. Does this mean Epstein changed his mind or that he thinks Reese will hit better this year than he has in the past? I don’t know.

 

Take a look at Walker’s and Reese’s range factor’s the past 4 seasons at 2b:

Walker Reese
2000 4.51 5.44
2001 5.09 5.36
2002 5.14 5.87
2003 4.75 6.43
Total 4.93 5.67

 

Range Factor is essentially the total putouts and assists a player has in a 9 inning game.

 

As you can see, Reese has far better range. Of course, range isn’t a perfect judgment of glovesmanship. For instance, a fly ball pitcher is less likely to allow a grounder to second than a ground ball pitcher. Additionally, perhaps the shortstop is lousy at turning the double play, resulting in fewer assists for the 2b.

 

But, Reese has been consistently better over the past 4 seasons in which he played for 2 different teams and Walker 4 different teams. As for fielding percentage, let’s look:

 

Walker Reese
2000 .968 .980
2001 .984 .980
2002 .989 .988
2003 .975 .969
Total .981 .982

 


Fielding % is the number of assist and putouts safely converted.

 

Reese has a slight edge here too. Some would say the fact Reese has a similar fielding % as Walker goes to show how good he is. Why? Because Reese probably gets to balls Walker can only look at. Therefore, there is a chance if Reese flubs one of those difficult long ranging plays and gets and error, it is ok because Walker wouldn’t have touched it.

 

I’m convinced Pokey is a far better defender than Walker. Now, how about hitting?

 

Reese isn’t good. In his career he is a .251 hitter with a .310 OBP and a .357 Slg. He is fast though. He has stolen 138 bases over his 7 major league seasons and only been caught 24 times. That’s a fairly impressive 85% success rate. Keep in mind the all-time stolen base leader Rickey Henderson has a 81% success rate…although his does involve a few more attempts.

 

But if Reese can’t get on base, speed won’t help him much.

 

I have to assume Epstein feels, with his new pitching acquisitions, that he needs to make sure he has a solid 2b glove man even if it means sacrificing offense. But again, Curt Schilling is a fly ball pitcher. Oh well, Epstein doesn’t have too much money left over to spend on 2b, so Reese, with Mark Bellhorn back-up him up, will have to do.

 

In other Red Sox news, Gabe Kapler re-signed for 1 year at $750,000. In addition, Doug Mirabelli re-signed at $825,000 for 1 year. There had been some speculation that Andy Dominique might get the call as back-up catcher in case Mirabelli had refused to sign for a non-arbitration contract.

 

The Red Sox cut ties with Damian Jackson, Lou “The Governor” Merloni and Scott Sauerbeck.

 

Oh yeah, Texas Ranger owner Tom Hicks set his 3rd deadline on the ARod/Manny deal. Yikes, Hicks is a joker. Either waive the money requirement or look somewhere else for a trade. Quite extending your non-extendable deadlines.

 

Tom Warner is now negotiating the deal as Larry Lucchino managed to alienate ARod, the Texas Rangers, the Players Association and the Red Sox. Way to go Larry. If I were John Henry, I’d cut Lucchino loose. Lucchino’s track record isn’t really good and he apparently can’t handle stressful negotiations. Let Henry and Tom Werner worry about ownership stuff and Epstein handle the baseball stuff. Although keeping Lucchino around makes Henry look more intelligent when compared to Lucchino.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2003

 

The ARod stayeth

 

Well that stunk. I was just about to pencil in Alex Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez into the 3-4 spots in the Red Sox line-up. Now I guess we’ll have to settle for Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez….oh, and save $8.5m while doing so.

 

I have to admit, I like the idea of having ARod in the line-up. He is ultra-consistent and a better glove man than Nomar. More importantly, his arrival would mean the loss of Manny. While there is no question Manny can hit, there are question about virtually every other part of his game and his being.

 

During this hectic past week, I found myself reading various message boards sifting through the garbage in hopes of some helpful info. I have to say, I read some very funny things. One poster, I believe it was on the Providence Journal message board, said about Manny that he doubted he had any idea these negotiations were going on. Instead, he was at home playing with his toys and waiting for Santy to come.

 

For some reason, that cracked me up. It is probably fairly accurate too.

 

Ok, so it appears, at least for now, that we are “stuck” with Nomar and Manny. Is this a bad thing? No. In fact, this whole scenario was a win-win situation. If the Red Sox had successfully traded for ARod and Ordonez, one could argue you have better defense, and at worst, the same offense. I’d say you’d have had better offense in fact. Additionally, you’d have had a more positive vibe from those two.

 

Seeing as the deal didn’t work out, you still have a great hitter at SS and a great hitter in LF. Your defense probably isn’t as good, but you aren’t spending as much money and you have much greater financial flexibility down the road.

 

Can the relationships be fixed with Nomar and Manny? I think so. Nomar definitely, he is too much a professional and is in a contract year. Manny? Probably. As I mentioned before, Manny probably didn’t even consider this trade that much. He could hit playing in exile. He’ll be fine.

 

Of course, this deal isn’t dead in the water. Texas Ranger officials still insist talks are ongoing. I still think this trade will happen. It seems all parties want it to happen. But John Henry is a smart business man and he is obviously ready to walk away from the deal if it doesn’t make sense for the Red Sox.

 

Apparently Texas asked for Manny, minor league prospect John Lester and $5m a year over 5 years ($25m total). Texas backed off that offer a bit late in the negotiations saying they still wanted the same personnel, but just wanted $5m a year for 3 years ($15m total). That $10m savings to the Red Sox supposedly is going to help them close the gap in savings they had hoped to realize through the renegotiated ARod contract. Their original proposal to the Players Union would have resulted in a $28m savings, but the union countered with a deal that would save $13m, or $15m short of the Red Sox goal.

 

With Texas’ concession, they are only $5m apart. For these 2 teams, $5m is nothing. It’s squat!

 

Then again, the highly emotional Larry Lucchino released a statement that the deal was dead in the water because of the Players Union. Lucchino cracks me up. He is just the opposite of the thoughtful John Henry. Henry is well spoken and careful not to lash out or insult anyone or any organization. Lucchino will throw around accusations and call people silly things. It is just plain fun to see a man dressed in a jacket and tie say the things he says. He is the bad cop to Henry’s good cop.

 

I wonder if Lucchino is really like that or he and Henry have an understanding that Lucchino should act like that to allow Henry to always take the high road. It is entertaining whatever the reality.

 

So, get ready for this line-up:

 

Damon – cf
Mueller – 3b
Garciaparra – ss
Ramirez – lf
Ortiz – dh
Millar (I like ARod better) – 1b
Nixon – RF(platoon him please!)
Varitek – c
Bellhorn/Reese – 2b

 

Hey, that’s not bad. Bellhorn was acquired earlier this week and rumor has it Reese might be in the mix too. Bellhorn is the superior bat while Reese is the defensive wiz. Bellhorn isn’t bad with the glove, it’s just that Reese is excellent.

 

I see them platooning at 2b with Bellhorn getting the majority of the starts and Reese coming as a defensive replacement. That is unless one of them really outperforms the other from the start of spring training.

 

Oh, by the way, the line-up might look like this by next week:

 

Damon – cf
Mueller – 3b
Ordonez – lf
Rodriguez – ss
Ortiz – dh
Millar (I’m happy now) – 1b
Nixon – rf
Varitek – c
Bellhorn/Reese – 2b

 

Seriously, I don’t think you can loose with either one of these. The key to this off season will wind up being the fact the Red Sox traded for Curt Schilling and signed Keith Foulke. Getting or not getting ARod will mean more from a hype standpoint than a baseball performance standpoint.

 

I just hope this drama that is the Big Trade will conclude soon. I thought the 5pm deadline on Thursday was going to be it, but no, it lives on. Just figure it out already. Cripes!

 

Posted by Andy at 09:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2003

 

Front to Back

 

It’s been a good off-season for the Red Sox. As it stands right now, they have lost only John Burkett and Todd Walker as far as starters/everyday players go. They’ve added Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke, arguably the top 5 in baseball at their respective jobs. From front to back, the Red Sox pitching staff is much improved.

 

The Rotation:

 

Pedro Martinez
Curt Schilling
Derek Lowe
Tim Wakefield
Byung-Hyun Kim

 

The Bullpen:

 

Bronson Arroyo
Ramiro Mendoza
Alan Embree
Mark Malaska
Mike Timlin
Scott Williamson
Keith Foulke

 

Word has it Scott Sauerbeck is heading to the Chicago Cubs, so he is out of the picture. Additionally, there is talk of moving Williamson or Kim to free up enough payroll to sign a second baseman and to staff the bench.

 

Theo Epstein, by making the Schilling and Foulke moves, has basically resigned himself to the idea of a cheap solution at second, this at his own admission. We’ve been over the 2b thing before, so until the non-tender list is known, let’s not think about it except to say Tony Graffanino accepted a 2 year deal with the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. Not that he is a big loss, but it had been mentioned that he was offered a 1 year deal from the Red Sox.

 

Back to the bullpen. I personally would like it if Theo could manage to keep Williamson on board as a set-up guy. That or put him in the rotation (which he apparently wants) and use Kim as the set-up guy. You can never have enough good arms. NEVER!!!

 

That being said, it just might not be financially feasible. While I’m still trying to nail it down, I haven’t confirmed the salary cap before the luxury tax is triggered. The most common number I’ve seen batted around is $120.5m. So, to keep the Red Sox under that, he might have to unload an arm or two.

 

Or, he could trade Manny Ramirez and a prospect to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez and then turn around and move Nomar Garciaparra for prospects or a second baseman or a left fielder, or all 3 of the above. Even though this Manny/ARod trade has been mentioned for weeks now, I still won’t believe it when/if it happens. ARod is the best all-around player in baseball. What possible interest could he have in Boston?

 

Well, I don’t know what interest he’d have, but after Sunday, I’m think this trade has to happen. Here’s why. It was announced that Miguel Tejada signed with the Baltimore Orioles for 6 years, $72m!!!! Holy lord, that knocked me off my feet. $12m a year for Tejada? In this market? I didn’t expect to him to get another more than $10m a year tops. In fact, it was rumored that the Seattle Mariners only offered him 3 years at $8m per.

 

The key here is that if you assume Nomar is better than Tejada (not saying you do, but I think that is public perception), then there is no chance the Red Sox are going to be able to resign Nomar. If you believe the numbers floating around, the Red Sox offered Nomar a 4 year, $60m extension in early 2003. He turned it down indicating he wanted something in the Derek Jeter range of $17m per season or $68m over 4 years. The Red Sox sensed a correction in the market, as did many of us, and removed that offer and now are offering 4 years, $48m to Nomar. He rejected that too.

 

The Red Sox were probably figured Tejada would get $8-9m per season and that would justify their latest offer to Nomar. Now, $12m won’t get it done with Nomar anymore. My bet is that they’d prefer paying ARod $25 million per season than Nomar and Manny $37m per season. The thinking being they can get a more than solid Manny replacement for the $12m difference.

 

Additionally, if ARod were willing to somehow adjust/alter his existing contract to be more team friendly, then it might be an even better. Keep in mind, I glossed over the fact that the Rangers might not accept an ARod for Manny and a prospect deal. From all indications, Tom Hicks, the Rangers owner, wants a big chunk of cash to go along with Manny. If he fails change his tune this might be a moot discussion.

 

Things with Nomar might be so badly damaged that this move is the only way to get out from under the problems. I suppose giving him $17m a season would help too, but that to me is too much to pay him. I expected to know the outcome of the Manny/ARod talks by now, but there is still plenty of talk about it.

 

By the way, I really like how the media is painting a picture of a New York Yankee’s team that is in total disarray and in turmoil. Please. Sure, they might have lost Andy Pettitte, but they filled that hole with Kevin Brown. Ok, Roger Clemens retired (we think) but they traded for Javier Vazuez, one of the best young pithers in the game. And don’t forget, they broke up the Karim Garcia and Juan Rivera rightfield platoon, but they apparently signed Gary Sheffield to fill the void.

 

Face it, there is nothing wrong with the Yankees that can’t be fixed with a $12m contract. Doesn’t this sort of thing happen every season with the Yankees? Clubhouse turmoil, Joe Torre and Don Zimmer feeling disrespected from the man above. The Yankees winning 100 games.

 

Come on Red Sox fans. Don’t fall into the trap! The Yankees will be back next year stronger than ever. They have 3 top flight starters, they have 30 home run potential at catcher, firstbase, secondbase, left field, center field and right field. They’re a powerhouse and any management bungling will be quickly overcome with the help of cash.

 

Hey, if I were Gene Michael and Brian Cashman, I couldn’t wait to leave New York. Let the Boss hire a figure head General Manager and then make all the moves himself. Cashman and Michael can’t be getting any excitement or satisfaction out of their jobs. Sure they are making good money, but after a while, each will figure out they are likely to make 60 cents on the dollar with another major league team and be given actual authority to make or break that team.

 

Have some guts boys. Leave that power monger to run his team the way he wants. You are both quite employable after all.

 

Before I let you go, am I the only one that would like to see a platoon in rightfield with Trot Nixon hitting against righties and someone else hitting against lefties? That might mean only 400-450 at bats for Trot, but I think it is a crime to let him hit against lefties. Check out his past 3 seasons versus lefties:

 

Nixon .AVG .OBP .SLG .OPS
2001 .210 .309 .295 .604
2002 .233 .303 .353 .656
2003 .219 .296 .375 .671

 

Ok, he’s getting better, but he still isn’t good. I’m all for allowing a player to learn to do something, but man, he won’t be good at hitting lefties until 2012. Hopefully new skipper Terry Francono will agree.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2003

 

Keep the Hot Stove burning

 

Impact free agents are dropping like flies. The Red Sox have reportedly submitted a few bids, but to date have come up empty.

 

Who’s off the market?

 

Eddie Guardado – Seattle – 1 yr deal with 2 mutual options. $13m-16m over the 3 years.
Bartolo Colon Anaheim – 4 yr, $48m. Wow, that’s like Mo’s contract. They are both large…contracts that is.
Shigatoshi Hasagawa Seattle – 2 yrs, $6.3m.
Shannon Stewart – Minnesota– 3 yrs, reportedly $18m over the deal.
Kaz Matsui – New York Mets – 3 yr, $20.1m.
La Troy Hawkins – Chicago Cubs – 3 years, $11m.
Luis Castillo – Florida – 3 yr, $16m.

 

That leaves only a few leftover impact FAs and most of those are not in the Red Sox price range(Vlad, Sheff, Millwood, etc).

 

Boston seemed intent on signing Keith Foulke, but to date, he has yet to say “I do.” He told the SF Gate that Boston would definitely be the higher offer, but that if Oakland could come up a bit, he’d likely go with them.

 

Hmmm, not sure I want a guy who doesn’t want to be in Boston as a priority. That’s why I liked the Johnny Damon signing 2 years ago. Damon told his agent to work with Boston, first and foremost. It’s nice when a player wants to play for your favorite team.

 

Back to Foulke, should he sign with Oakland, there isn’t too much left in the closer bin. Ugueth Urbina is one option, although, it’d be for a lot less than the $7m per season he was asking for last year. It better be, otherwise he won’t be in Boston.

 

Looking through the listing FA closers, there’s nothing else. So if Foulke goes to Oakland and Urbina goes elsewhere, I guess Scott Williamson is the closer for the Red Sox in 2004.

 

I said it my 11/13/03 column that Williamson would be ok, but Foulke much better. Williamson walks too many guys. You don’t want your closer walking the lead-off guy…it brings back too many bad nightmares of Red Sox closers past.

 

To fill the void at 2b, the Red Sox are eyeing Tony Graffanino. Apparently they’ve offered him a 1 yr, $800k deal. He isn’t too exciting, unless he was part of a platoon. Graffanino is a righty with what would appear to be a slightly below average glove.

 

Graffanino .Avg .Obp .Slg
Career .258 .330 .398
vs. righties (career) .256 .316 .369
vs. lefties (career) .263 .348 .438

 

Based on these numbers Graffanino would be better as part of a platoon. I can’t think of a reasonable lefty 2b bat to make up the other half, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

 

Graffanino hits markedly better against lefties. He’s hit them especially well the past few years:

 

Graffanino .Avg .Obp .Slg
2003 .303 .356 .533
2002 .261 .361 .446
2001 .319 .418 .468

 

He still isn’t a particularly good fielder, but that’s ok to Theo Epstein who is on record as saying that second base in the American League is an offensive position. Who will round out this platoon? Surely Epstein won’t let Graffanino’s Rey Sanchezesque bat against righties hit full time.

 

The only one I can think of is Fernando Vina, but he’ll probably be too expensive, especially if the Red Sox land Foulke. It’s too bad. Todd Walker would have been the ideal platoon candidate. Walker has historically hit righties very well, but might as well have been blind against lefties. It doesn’t matter now though as the Red Sox can’t negotiate with him until May 1, 2004 being that they didn’t offer him arbitration.

 

This weekend’s “winter meetings” are usually the best time of the year for player movement. The status on FAs is known (offered or not offered arbitration). The GMs are all in the same facility and deals seem to happen faster than they can be reported.

 

The Hot Stove is still burning hot. Hear me touch the stove!!! Ok, that was James Brown, not me.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2003

 

Additions and Subtractions

 

Hot and heavy rumors are flying right now regarding the possible trade of Manny Ramirez for Alex Rodriguez. If all things were equal (salary for instance), this is a no-brainer. ARod is Manny’s offensive equal at worst and is defensively superior all the while playing a more important position.

 

I can’t imagine too many people would disagree. But things aren’t equal. ARod makes roughly $5m more per season than Manny and his contract runs 2 years longer than Manny’s.

 

The Texas Rangers must be eager to unload ARod’s salary. No matter what position they are taking publicly, they now realize signing ARod to his current contract was a monumental mistake. The Red Sox feel the same way about Manny’s deal. They proved as much by putting him on unconditional waivers in late October.

 

The biggest fallout if this deal happens is that the Red Sox would most likely have to unload Nomar. What is unclear right now is what they’d get in return for him. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Anaheim Angels appear to be the 2 most likely destinations.

 

What would this mean for the Red Sox line-up?

 

Add:
.OBP .SLG R HR RBI SB
ARod .396 .600 124 47 118 17

 

Subtract:
.OBP .SLG R HR RBI SB
Nomar .345 .524 120 28 115 19
Manny .427 .587 117 37 104 3

 

.OBP .SLG R HR RBI SB
Difference n/a n/a 113 18 101 4

 

That is a bunch of offensive off the Red Sox books, even if ARod had a better season than either one of them. By making these trades (Manny for ARod and Nomar for whoever), the Red Sox would be saving money, but would be losing offensive production.

 

Can Theo Epstein turn around and find a suitable left field replacement for Manny? There in lies the key. Epstein has proved effective at finding non-tender players and free agents who are under the radar of most other teams. Can he do it again? Getting a affordable left field who can replace the missing offense will be tough though, even if that player only replaces 85% of the missing offense. My guess is yes, Epstein can do it again.

 

Here is the salary breakdown:

 

2004 salary commitments:

 

Nomar Garciaparra: $11.5m
Manny Ramirez: $20.5 / $19.7m *

 

Alex Rodriguez: $21m / $20m #

 

* – Manny’s deal calls for $20.5m in 2004, but $4m of that is deferred. In addition, his original signing bonus calls for payouts of $3.2m per year from 2001-2005 all of which makes his 2004 actual compensation at $19.7m.

 

# – ARod’s deal calls for $21m in 2004, but $3m of that is deferred. In addition, his original signing bonus calls for $2m per year from 2001-2005 all of which makes his 2004 actual compensation at $20m.

 

figures courtesy of: http://www.bluemanc.demon.co.uk/baseball/mlbcontracts.htm.

 

Using the $11.5m, $20.5m and the $21m figures respectively for Nomar, Manny and ARod, the Red Sox would save $11m in 2004. But, presumably, the Red Sox would get some major league talent in return for Nomar, so after paying that talent, the savings could drop. Let’s say they end up netting a $5m savings, that might be enough for them to get a left fielder and a second baseman while still staying under the luxury tax.

 

Man, we are talking about some serious cash and talent flying around. Enough in fact to make Texas want to do this deal. Apparently Texas wants the Red Sox to assume a portion of Manny’s contract in order for this deal to happen. That doesn’t make much sense from the Red Sox standpoint. They would already be assuming the biggest contract in MLB history, why make it even worse? If Texas doesn’t change its stance, I say walk away.

 

The total saving Texas will get out of this is $96m in present day value according to Peter Gammons. How can Ranger owner Tom Hicks walk away from that? He can’t. Who could? Well, I can think of one owner who could walk away from saving money. What’s his name again? He splits time between New York and Florida. I can’t come up with it right now. Oh well. Anyway, the $96m will afford Hicks flexibility to spread the money around in a more judicious manner.

 

It sounds like a conclusion to all of this will be had by the end of the Winter Meetings in New Orleans which start on December 12th and end a few days later, I don’t know the exact date.

 

Additionally, Keith Foulke and Eddie Guardado might reach a decision on where they want to pitch. Having them both in the bullpen is unlikely, but fun to think about. Imagine have Guardado and Williamson hand the ball off to Foulke in the 9th?

 

In case you missed it, the New York Yankees traded Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and Randy Choate to the Montreal/San Juan Expos for Javier Vazquez. That was a major move. It now gives the Yankees a rotation of: Mike Mussina, Vazquez, Jose Contreras, Jeff Weaver and Jon Lieber. Expect the 4 and 5 spots to change as there are rumors the Yanks will get one of the following: Kevin Brown, Andy Pettitte, Bartolo Colon or even Odalis Perez.

 

The Curt Schilling trade was the first of many moves to be made by the Yankees and Red Sox this off-season. I imagine the 25 man rosters will change significantly by spring training. Ahhh, sunny spring training in Fort Myers, Florida. Seems like a world away from a snowy northeast in December.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2003

 

Park Debate

 

Originally published as a debate between Peter and Andy over which park is better, Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.

 

Which is better: Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park? I’m annoyed I even have to do this. Is there really any debate?

 

Fenway Park is better. Much better.

 

Where else can you enjoy a Major League baseball game in such an intimate setting? Each seat has a closeness that upper deck seats and even lower deck seats at Yankee Stadium can only hope for. Yankee Stadium is gigantic with its upper deck extending, at a ridiculously dangerous angel, toward the heavens. Watching the game from that altitude requires a telescope.

 

At Fenway the furthest seats, in my estimation the bleacher seats under the centerfield scoreboard, are a reasonable distance considering the $10 price. The Stadium, as it is sometimes pretentiously called, is a large, cold pit with no distinguishing features. Worst of all, its main color is blue. Blue! That’s no baseball color. Fenway’s green grass, green fences and green walls, now that’s baseball.

 

I’ll be the first to admit, being slightly goonish in size, that Fenway Park is a bit tough on the legs. The seating layout is basically the same as it was in the first half of the 20th century. People were significantly shorter and apparently thinner back then, as my love handles rest nicely on the arms rests, but seat size is the only second class citizen in this debate.

 

The Green Monster, the triangle and Pesky’s Pole combine to create a dynamic playing field that keeps players on their toes and fans on the edge of their seats. Yankee Stadium’s only interesting part is a shortened right field porch.

 

I’m sure this debate is moot amongst Red Sox and Yankee fans. The real key is asking the average baseball fan who doesn’t root for the Yankees or Red Sox. ESPN compiled a ranking system of all 30 ballparks in their Page 2 section. Fenway finished ahead of Yankee Stadium using their admittedly arbitrary measuring system.

 

In his write-up of Yankee Stadium, ESPN’s Jeff Merron wrote about the ushers: “They screen for ignorant and hostile applicants. Then they hire them.” Ouch. I just included that because it’s funny.

 

Additionally, Rob Neyer, a typically by the numbers kind of writer, also took Fenway over Yankee Stadium in a landslide.

 

That argument that Fenway is better than Yankee Stadiums has many well used components; it’s a warmer environment, it is like stepping back in time, it is as close-up to a ball game you can get, but that doesn’t make them any less true.

 

The Yankees may have the historically better team, but the Red Sox have the better park.

 

 

Posted by Andy at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2003

 

The Return Salvo

 

The New York Yankees didn’t waste too much time after the Curt Schilling trade assembling a good portion of their missing pieces.

 

Signed:

 

Aaron Boone – 1 year, $5.75m
Tom Gordon – 2 years, $7.25m
Enrique Wilson – $700k

 

Almost signed:

 

Gary Sheffield – 3 years, $36-38m

 

Rumored signings:

 

Paul Quantrill – 2 years – $6m
Felix Heredia – 2 years, $3.5m
Gabe White – 1 or 2 years, $2.5-$5m(unsure of details)

 

If all of these moves happen, they’ll have addressed their vacancies at 3B and RF and will have substantially bolstered their bullpen. Gordon was considered by some to be someone’s next closer, but must have felt his best chance at a World Series was by signing with the Yankees.

 

Quantrill has been reliable to outstanding the past 3 seasons. He seems to bounce around quite a bit, but usually puts together a good season. Heredia and White were on the Yankees last year, so they’ll bring some familiarity.

 

The biggest move remains, however, the signing of Sheffield. I remember his breakthrough season in 1992. His 33 home runs were kind of impressive back then. Now they are the stuff of David Ortiz. In fact, the lowest home run total to lead either the AL or NL the past 10 years has been Dante Bichette’s 40 in 1995 (note: Sheffield’s 33 in 1992 didn’t lead the NL. Fred McGriff had 35).

 

Yikes, got off track for a moment. I’m back. His 33 in 1992 were great, but he disappeared for a while until he had another great season hitting 42 HRs in 1996. Since then he has been solid. Sheffield will add yet another powerful weapon in the Yankees line-up. He is a tough out as he walks a bunch, hits for average (both contributing to his .401 career Obp) and doesn’t strikeout much for a power hitter (most k’s in a season for Sheffield – 79 in 1997).

 

One well publicized knock on Sheffield is his brittleness. Well, he isn’t an iron man, but does manage to stay in the line-up. His past 5 seasons he’s average 145 games. That works out to 90%. Not too bad (although I don’t think you’ll see him take a 10% discount).

 

What do the Yankees have now? Here’s my line-up for them (I’m sure Joe Torre will do something different, but why does he insist on leading off with Soriano?):

 

Johnson – 1b
Jeter – ss
Giambi – dh
Posada – c
Sheffield – rf
Williams – cf
Soriano – 2b
Matsui – lf
Boone – 3b

 

Are you kidding me? That is one scary line-up. I put Soriano 7th because the guys ahead of him are better.

 

Here are their career .avg/.obp/.slg and a few additional comments:

 

Johnson – .256/.376/.424 (.284/.422/.472 in 2003)
Jeter – .317/.389/.462 (after several consecutive down seasons, rebounded in 2003)
Giambi – .302/.415/.549 (down year in 2003)
Posada – .270/.375/.474 (3 straight years of improvement in all 3 categories)
Sheffield – .299/.401/.527
Williams – .305/.390/.492 (down year in 2003)
Soriano – .284/.322/.502 (what he lacks in Obp, he sort of makes up for in slg)
Matsui – .287/.353/.435 (entering his 2nd season in majors, I bet he improves these)
Boone – .270/.332/.448 (come into his own in 2002 and 2003)

 

If you look at the 1-6, there isn’t an easy out or a guy that can’t park one. The 7-9 guys aren’t creampuffs, but they aren’t quite as good as the others. Still, they’d be 3-4-5 hitters on most other teams.

 

This doesn’t make me happy. These guys are good every year, but there 2004 addition will be the best…line-up wise anyway.

 

Looking at their bullpen, cripes, they have:

 

Rivera
Karsay
Gordon
Quantill
White
Heredia
Hammond (3 lefties?!?)
Lieber

 

Hmmm, that is too big a bullpen. I’m sure one of them or more will be on the DL to start the season. Lieber is the most likely candidate. I sure hope he plays in 2004. Otherwise he’ll have received over $3m to sit on the DL in 2003 and 2004. He had TJ surgery (think I’m coining a new way to say it?) in late 2002, so he should be ready.

 

Now the only thing the Yankees have to work on is their rotation. That will fall into place shortly. Specifically after the December 7th deadline teams have to offer free agents arbitration.

 

Oh wait, I didn’t say anything about Enrique Wilson. What is there to say? He is the key to any successful World Series run. What with his specialized approach to Pedro Martinez. According to Bigleaguers.com, Wilson went 7-8 against Pedro in 2003. That is some amazing stuff. The good news is he went 0-3 against Curt Schilling in 2003. So, hero one night, goat the next, that’s what we can expect in 2004 from Enrique.

 

That Yankees have partially reloaded and will keep doing so. Expect some big news in the next 7 days from the Red Sox too.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2003

 

Schilling Secured

 

I never had any doubt.

 

I’m kidding, I had no confidence whatsoever the Red Sox could land Curt Schilling. When ESPN broke the news last Monday that the Red Sox had an agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks, I immediately figured it was some cruel joke to get Red Sox fans hopes up only to dash them at 5pm est Friday when Curt Schilling would announce to the world that he’d vetoed the trade.

 

Instead, Theo Epstein got the job done. From all accounts, it was Epstein’s tenacity and preparedness that won Curt Schilling over. That and the $25.5m he promised him over the 2005 and 2006 seasons. I find big gobs of cash always seem to be convincing.

 

Fred: Joe, clean that toilet.

 

Joe: Screw.

 

Fred: Here’s a big gob of cash, now clean that toilet.

 

Joe: Done and done.

 

Since the announcement was made Friday evening, I, along with many other Red Sox fans, have been dreaming about marching Pedro, Schilling and Lowe into any 3 game series. If Lowe can recapture his 2002 magic, this trio stands to win 55-65 games between them, right? I know that’s a ton of games, but they are all former 20 game winners, they’ve all started an All-Star game and none has completely lost his touch.

 

Ok, 55-65 games is perhaps a stretch. To give me a better idea of what we might get from these 3 and their other two starting partner, Tim Wakefield and Byung-Hyun Kim, I took a 3 year average for each and got the following:

 

That’s a bunch of info, but basically it is their respective past 3 seasons, divided by 3. I am assuming Kim is the 5th starter for now, although it sounds like the Red Sox may be shopping him around.

 

It is interesting to see that only Schilling has truly been a workhorse over the past few years. Martinez has missed a bunch of time due to injury, Lowe has only been starting for 2 seasons (one good, one average), Wakefield has also been back and forth from the rotation and bullpen, although seems to have settled in as a starter and lastly Kim, who had been a closer the past 3 seasons, except during the start of the 2003 season.

 

So, there are a few questions for this rotation. Health for Pedro and Schilling, bounce back years for Lowe and Wakefield (to their 2002 form) and a successful transition from bullpen to rotation for Kim.

 

I’m still fairly confident I’d put my money on these guys though. Check out the average strikeouts per nine innings (K/9). The strikeout to walk ratio is amazing too (K/BB).

 

Back to my first prediction of 55-65 wins for Pedro, Schilling and Lowe; their 3 year average as a group is 46 wins. That is still good, but let’s hope they can deliver more.

 

It is interesting to see that the five of them have managed a .653 winning % over the past 3 years. That works out to a 106 wins in a 162 game season. Of course, those 5 aren’t going to pitch each and every inning…

 

The Schilling acquisition brings into question team finances. My calculations have them at $120m already with a few roster spots still open. Apparently Schilling’s 2004 contract calls for $12m, of which, $6m is deferred. Major League Baseball uses a variation of present day value to determine team payroll. So Schilling’s hit on the payroll might be as low as $6m. I don’t know the exact formula used, so if any of you know, drop me a note.

 

I also don’t know if buyouts count toward the payroll limit (as it relates to the payroll tax which kicks in when a team meets or exceeds ~$120m in 2004). Either way, the Red Sox do have an internal budget and regardless of whether the buyouts count toward the 2004 payroll limit, the Red Sox still have to pay the buyouts and that impacts their spending ability.

 

The players in italics are arbitration eligible. I’ve made a best guess estimate at what they may get in either arbitration or a pre-arbitration hearing settlement.

 

There are so many holes on the roster right now, your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen. Will Keith Foulke sign? Will Doug Mirabelli be back or will arbitration price him out of the picture? Will Tony Graffanino accept the one year deal the Red Sox offered him. If so, what becomes of Lou Merloni and Damian Jackson?

 

Don’t worry too much about that stuff. Epstein has assembled a solid rotation and a decent bullpen, which he is sure to add to. His line-up is just fine with only 2b a question.

 

Now, in what has already been one of the biggest Red Sox off-seasons in memory, there might be even larger drama ahead. The Alex Rodriguez for Manny Ramirez deal is still being mentioned daily.

 

If that happens, Nomar will be dealt. Presumably for a second baseman and a left fielder. Or, perhaps just to offload some payroll in return for some prospects. Then Epstein can dip into the non-tender group (December 7th!) and fill the line-up openings that way.

 

Seriously, can you think of any team making the 3 moves the Red Sox might end up making in one off season?

 

Done:
Trade – Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon & 2 minor leaguers
Get – Curt Schilling

 

TBD:
Sign – Keith Foulke or Tom Gordon

 

Trade – Manny Ramirez
Get – Alex Rodriguez

 

Trade – Nomar Garciaparra
Get – ???

 

That is some serious roster movement in both quantity and quality. Expect the New York Yankees to counter early and often. Gary Sheffield is probably a soon to be Yankee. Bartolo Colon might be too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them trade for either Odalis Perez or Javier Vazquez. Oh yeah, they’ll probably resign Andy Pettitte as well.

 

So, you might see the Yankees counter the Red Sox rotation like this:

 

Red Sox Yankees
Pedro Martinez Mike Mussina
Curt Schilling Andy Pettitte
Derek Lowe Bartolo Colon
Tim Wakefield Javier Vazquez
Byung-Hyun Kim Jose Contreras

 

That’s doing a good job countering the Red Sox rotation. In other words, we can’t write the Yankees off just yet. Crap. They are still the defending AL East Champs six years running.

 

Then look at the line-ups:

 

Red Sox Yankees
Varitek – c Posada – c
Millar – 1b Johnson – 1b
Graffanino? – 2b Soriano – 2b
Mueller – 3b Boone? – 3b
Garciaparra – ss Jeter – ss
Ramirez – lf Matsui – lf
Damon – cf Williams – cf
Nixon – rf Sheffield? – rf
Ortiz – dh Giambi – dh

 

So you see, the AL East is still going to be tough to take. That Yankee line-up is frightening top to bottom. The Red Sox is good too, but can Mueller, Ortiz, Varitek, Nixon and Millar all have a 2nd consecutive career year? Not likely.

 

Keep checking back as I’m sure the names above are subject to change at a moments notice.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

 

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)

 

October 2003 Red Sox

October 31, 2003

 

Manny Fallout

 

It looks like Manny is still a member of the Red Sox. At least for now. Boston.com has reported as much on the front page of their sports section. There has been much speculation as to why the Red Sox put Manny on irrevocable waivers. There’s also been many opinions shared as to whether it was the right thing to do.

 

Here are some links to various sides of the argument:

 

Baseball Primer – Their take was that is wasn’t a good idea and would only serve to anger Manny. To their credit, they published this early Thursday am, meaning they weren’t privy to some of the news that has been reported on since.

 

Rob Neyer – Neyer’s thinks it was a good idea, albeit one that wasn’t likely to pan out.

 

Peter Gammons – As reported yesterday, Gammons feels this was a move that both sides felt was appropriate. In other words, it was designed to get Manny to the Yankees, or at least that is the picture the club wants to paint.

 

NY Daily News, The Hartford Courant, The NY Post and a bunch of other publications give various reasons why the Yankees won’t/didn’t claim Manny.

 

Some of the biggest nonsense being floated around is the idea of trading Nomar to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez, conditional on Boston being able to unload Manny. Help me out on this one. Get A-Rod for $25mm a year, unload Nomar for $11.5mm this year and probably no more than $14-15mm per year for 4-5 years on his next contract. Why is that good?

 

First of all, I admit A-Rod is the best player in baseball, at least as far as positional players. But at $25mm a year he ties up even more money than Manny did. I thought the Red Sox were looking for flexibility. Add to that the fact the Red Sox will also have to assume some part of Manny’s contract should they trade him and suddenly you are paying what, $30mm-$35mm a year to A-Rod??????? Those extra question marks are designed to show you that I’m thoroughly confused by this reasoning.

 

Best idea in my opinion, is to trade Manny. My bet is that Theo Epstein knew no one would claim Manny, but tried nonetheless, perhaps to prove a point to Manny and his agent, Jeff Moorad. All the while, he has been negotiating trades with other teams. Let’s say the Red Sox can unload him and have to take on a smaller contract, say $5mm a year, and they assume $5mm per season of Manny’s contract. That still leaves them flexibility this year to A.) Sign Nomar longer term or B.) Try and sign any of the other core guys beyond 2004.

 

If they quickly realize Nomar doesn’t want to be part of the Red Sox beyond 2004, unload him too, or keep him through 2004 and take the 2 draft picks when he bolts to the West Coast. If the Red Sox decide to trade him, his value is still high and I am willing to bet you could get some deep talent in return.

 

Ok, using my ideas, you have 2 giant holes in the line-up at SS and LF (or 1b as Millar can play left). With the money you’ve saved on Manny and maybe Nomar, the resources are there to sign a big bat and perhaps a stud starter. Yes, I know, the offense won’t be as potent as it was in 2003, working within a budget requires some give and take. One thing that will be true however is that the pitching should be better in 2004.

 

Ok, enough of this. I get rolling and then realize all I can do is speculate like everyone else. I am eager to see how this plays out and to see what Epstein can finagle.

 

To summarize:

 

Unloading Manny would A.) Create payroll flexibility and reduce team tension surrounding his boneheadedness. B.) Allow the Red Sox to acquire a top notch starter, easier said than done given the price required and the competition. Allow the Red Sox to get a somewhat decent leftfield/1b replacement. Given the expected number of non-tenders, I have faith Epstein will grab a quality bat or two at discount rates.

 

And lastly D.) Provide great fodder for Red Sox fans as we watch the team that acquires Manny handle his day-to-day behavior. Wait, weren’t we supposed to do the same thing when Carl Everett left? Well, that’s the idea anyway.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2003

 

Red Sox place Ramirez on irrevocable waivers

 

The Red Sox, it is being reported, placed Manny on irrevocable waivers. Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal has the most comprehensive report on the issue.

Basically, this means Theo Epstein is hoping someone takes Manny’s contract so that the Red Sox can spend that money in a wiser manner. Manny gets $20.5mm this year. That money alone would probably be enough to get a front line starter and sign a replacement for Manny, albeit a replacement with inferior stats but most likely a better head on his shoulder.

I mentioned in my 10/25/03 post, this is a dream for me. If some team claimed him the Red Sox will have eliminated a huge clubhouse headache. Manny’s rubbish has been too much to handle since his arrival. According to Art Martone, the Providence Journal’s Sports Editor, Red Sox executives know more about Manny’s behavior than the average fan does. That’s why we are seeing this move.

McAdam writes that George Steinbrenner has the Yankees front office debating this issue as we speak. It comes down to payroll flexibility. Only the Yankees, Mets and maybe the Dodgers could afford him.

Regardless, we’ll find out by tomorrow night if someone claims him. The waiver period lasts 48 hours.

Personally, I think this is the best thing that could happen for the Red Sox. Manny’s departure (along with his contract of course) would provide Epstein with flexibility. The Red Sox led the league in runs scored last year. Much of that was because certain players had career years, but, it’d be a mistake to chalk it up to complete luck. Manny leaving will leave a hole, but not one that can’t partially be filled. In other words, the Red Sox offense will be just fine next year.

This flexibility will allow them to add a starter. Maybe even Millwood, Colon, Maddux or Schilling via trade. I’m going to let this play out especially since Manny could very well be a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2004. Here’s to saying goodbye! Now hit the road Manny.

 

Late addition: Peter Gammons just weighed in on this topic. He makes the move sound much more a move to help Manny get to New York, rather than just a straight salary dump. In other words it sounds like both Manny and the Red Sox wouldn’t mind a change.

By the way, I was walking in Brookline, MA the other day when all of a sudden a silver mercedes pulls up. Out pops this guy wearing shorts and a trench coat. He looked a bit like a flasher. As he checked traffice to cross the street, I noticed it was the Commissioner himself, Peter Gammons (a/k/a Andrew Jackson. Just check your 20 dollar bills).

 

Posted by Andy at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2003

 

Some more thoughts on the 2004 Boston Red Sox:

 

Some more thoughts on the 2004 Boston Red Sox:

 

I think the Red Sox should trade for Curt Schilling, Jeff Kent, Eric Gagne, Carlos Beltran and then should sign Kevin Millwood as a free agent. I think the team would be marginally better….

 

….ok, who put this crack rock in my crack pipe? Kidding of course. Did you see how I acted alarmed that someone would give me crack, all the while admitting to owning a crack pipe? Get it? Man, I’m some kind of über-comic.

 

What were we talking about? Oh yes, the 2004 Boston Red Sox. As I mention in my last post, the Red Sox have much money tied up in very few players. Also in my last post, I included a list of players whose rights the Red Sox control for 2004. The combination of the two lists added up to $105mm or so.

 

With debt payments and infrastructure costs ahead, I can’t see the Red Sox ownership giving more than $105mm to Theo Epstein. Perhaps they’ll give him $110mm, but like 2003, he’ll hold $5mm for a rainy day (a/k/a the trading deadline(s)).

 

Ok, so what do they do? For this post, let’s first figure out the holes and some of the possibilities. Todd Walker is not likely to return. His playoff performance might have priced him out of the Red Sox budget. He made $3.4mm last year. I bet he gets $4.5-$5.5 per year over 3-4 years. Epstein won’t go for that, especially given his sub-par OBP and limited range.

 

So, what is there to do? On the free agent market, Luis Castillo will be the top 2b. Speculation has it that the Yankees will make a run at him, thereby instantly pricing him out of the Red Sox range (and all of MLBs range). The idea being that they move Alfonso Soriano to the outfield, just like in game 5 of the World Series. Then there is Roberto Alomar. He certainly seems to have lost a step. His last effective season was 2001. His past 2 seasons were horrible, at least compared to his early career.

 

I can’t see Epstein taking a stab at Alomar, unless it’s for short money. Alomar historically has been a great lead-off guy: Average/walks, speed and occasional power. Add to that his fantastic glove and Alomar has already assured himself a spot in Cooperstown, but at 36 (he turns 36 on Feb 5, 2004) the risk might to be too great. Short money is the only way Alomar happens. It won’t happen though as some team out there will over pay for his presence.

 

With the market thin at 2b, there is always the option of shimmying Bill Mueller over to 2b and shopping instead for a 3b. Ok, same exercise for 3b’s. The names you might know include Tony Batista, Joe Randa and Vinny Castilla.

 

Batista: Career .302 OBP
Randa: Career .341 OBP
Castilla: Career .323 OBP

 

The only outside option for Epstein would be Randa. His glove is solid and his bat is fairly disciplined. Still though, I don’t see it happening. The free agent options are limited it appears.

 

So, what happens? My guess is Epstein fills the hole at 2b/3b via trade. If my phone tap between Epstein and Bill James were working, I could probably answer this one, but until it is, your guess is as good as mine.

 

What next? Pitching. Fact is, had the Red Sox pitched as well as they had in 2002, they’d have not only gone to the World Series, but probably have won it. Epstein’s main upgrades were to the offense, not to the pitching staff. I have to imagine Tony Cloninger’s absence greatly influenced the increased staff ERA, but who knows?

 

2003 Red Sox ERA – 4.48
2002 Red Sox ERA – 3.75

 

That’s .73 more earned runs per game in 2003 than 2002. That works out to 118 or so earned runs over the course of 162 games. That is a butt-ton. The first notion for many is to blame the bullpen, but Derek Lowe has to step up and take his medicine as well. His almost 2.00 ERA increase has much to do with it. The 203 innings he pitched weighs heavily in the calculations.

 

That being said, can Tony help him in 2004? Will Tony even be around in 2004? There is way too much to be determined to answer that. What can be discussed though is if there talent out there and what can Epstein do to get it?

 

Firstly, Mike Timlin deserves a second shot with Boston. He was a star in the playoffs and was the most consistent regular season bullpen arm. What next? Move Byung-Hyun Kim to the rotation, where he wants to be, and then focus on the bullpen. See? The rotation will be fairly solid:

 

Pedro Martinez
Derek Lowe
Tim Wakefield
Byung-Hyun Kim
????

 

I suppose adding a # 5 is important, but not as important as solidifying the pen.

 

2004 bullpen:

 

Scott Williamson
Ramiro Mendoza (like it or not)
Alan Embree
Brandon Lyon
Casey Fossum

 

There is no guarantee Lyon will be back, but the other 4 are locks, baring trades.

 

What do to? One idea is to use Bronson Arroyo. He was good when they used him in 2003. He would be an ideal long reliever/mop-up man. Or, perhaps, you stick Arroyo in the 5 spot in the rotation. Either way, he deserves to be on the team in 2004.

 

Another idea is to spend some money and get a top notch set-up man. Oh yeah, and a 2b/3b, and a few other great players. Great idea, huh? Well it stands to reason that if Epstein hopes to affordably do what he wants to do, he’ll have to unload some payroll. I’ve said it here before, I fully expect Epstein to unload one of the big three: Nomar, Pedro and Manny.

 

This will free up enough cash to round out the roster. Trading Pedro would mandate the acquisition of another top line starter (Schilling via trade, Millwood or Maddux via free agency?). Trading Nomar wouldn’t save as much money as Epstein would probably need. Nomar’s $11.5mm 2004 salary isn’t so overwhelming as to hamstring the team.

 

That leaves Manny’s $3.7 trillion, I mean $20.5mm. Personally, if some team agreed to take Manny and all of his wads of cash for nothing in return, I’d do it. In other words, a cancellation of the contract. Why? I’d have $20.5mm to spend, that’s. That would probably get me Vladmir Guerrero. Wait, check that nonsense. It would easily get me Guerrero. In fact, if someone took all of Manny’s salary for a bag of donuts, jelly, I’d gladly pay Guerrero $20.5mm. He of the great power, improving patience (.390 career OBP), speed and howitzer for an arm. That’s just me. And that’s just me dreaming, it won’t happen. Guerrero is going to the Yankees and no one would take Manny’s contract in its entirety anyway.

 

Too many pieces of the puzzle have to fall into place before I can accurately predict the next moves. Teams and players have to decide on various contract options, arbitration has to be offered, or not, and owners have to decide if they’re going to add or subtract payroll before the picture clears up.

 

Personally, I’d like to see Beltran in one of the OF spots, Greg Maddux in the rotation and Everyday Eddie Guardado in the pen. So, where’s that crack rock?

 

Andy can be reached at Andy@yankeesredsox.com.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2003

 

Hot Stove Chatter

 

A few doozies are floating around the web right now for the Red Sox. One has Boston trading Nomar to the Dodgers for Odalis Perez and a handful of prospects. The other is contingent on the first being completed as it has Manny being traded to the Rangers for this youngster named Alex Rodriguez.

 

I’m not sure about you, but I can certainly see the first one happening, but would be surprised to see the second one happen. Theo Epstein would certainly be clearing out payroll in Nomar and getting a 2-3 starter in Perez, but I can’t seem him unloading Manny all the while taking on an even bigger salary commitment in A-Rod. If there is one player worth a boat load of cash it is A-Rod, but at $25mm per season, I can’t it.

 

Now, if Epstein can unload Manny and assume a smaller salary chunk in return, I bet he’d do it in an instance.

 

A-Rod has the following coming to him through 2010:

 

2004: $21.0M
2005: $25.0M
2006: $25.0M
2007: $27.0M
2008: $27.0M
2009: $27.0M
2010: $27.0M
Total: $179mm
Figures courtesy of http://www.bluemanc.demon.co.uk/baseball/mlbcontracts.htm

 

Manny has this coming to him:

 

2003: $18.0M
2004: $20.5M
2005: $20.0M
2006: $19.0M
2007: $18.0M
2008: $20.0M
2009: Team option $20.0M
2010: Team option $20.0M
Total: $115.5mm
Figures courtesy of http://www.bluemanc.demon.co.uk/baseball/mlbcontracts.htm

 

No way any team that has Manny will exercise the 2009 and 2010 options. So, by making this move, Epstein would be saddling the Red Sox with an addition $63.5mm in payroll, albeit it over two additional years.

 

On the other hand, there aren’t many SS better than Nomar. A-Rod is one, and it is easy to argue he is the best positional player in the Majors. Still though, this one just won’t happen. Epstein has too many good moves to make that involved cheaper talent. Why hamstring himself with this albatross?

 

Epstein will definitely try to unload either Manny, Nomar or Pedro this off season, if not 2 or all 3 of them, but he won’t be looking to take on a contract bigger than the one he ships out. While luck certainly played a part in it, Theo showed he can find everyday players for about $2mm a season, so why pick up guys at $12mm+ per season. It doesn’t make sense.

 

For example:

 

Player 2003 salary
Kevin Millar $2.65mm
Bill Mueller $2.10mm
David Ortiz $1.25mm

 

While it is true none of those guys had particularly great post-seasons, they were instrumental to getting Boston to the post-season.

 


***

 

I have the Red Sox 2004 payroll at $85.35mm already. That includes only 11 guys too.

 

Player 2004 salary
Manny $20.5mm
Pedro $17.5mm
Nomar $11.5mm
Damon $8.0mm
Varitek $6.7mm
Wakefield $4.35mm
Lowe $5.00mm
Embree $2.75mm
Mendoza(ugh) $3.6mm
Millar $2.65mm
Mueller $2.1mm
Howry* $200k
Suppan* $500k
Total $85.35mm
*The $ owed Howry and Suppan is for the buyout of their 2004 option.

 

Next there are a bundle of players that are under control of the Red Sox, but are not signed yet for 2004:

 


Player Estimated 2004 salary
Nixon $5.0mm
Kim $4.0mm
Giambi $2.0mm
Williamson $2.5mm
Sauerbeck $1.6mm
Ortiz $3.0mm
Mirabelli $905k
Kapler $750k
Fossum $315k
Lyon $325k
Total $20.395mm

 

The players immediately above are controlled via arbitration or are subject to team renewals. So, that combined with the guaranteed contracts puts the Red Sox at $105.745mm.

 

That still leaves 4 roster spots to fill on the 25 man roster. So, Epstein has his work cut out for him. If the Red Sox want to acquire another 2-3 starter type, they are going to have to make some changes. There is no way they go into 2004 with a payroll over $105mm or so. No way.

 

That’s all I’ve heard so far in the rumor department. I know the Hot Stove doesn’t really start cooking until November, but it is one of my favorite things to talk about.

 

If you’ve heard any other rumors, send ‘em my way. Try to include the source.

 

A couple of high traffic message boards where you can find current info on Red Sox Hot Stove talk:

 

Sons of Sam Horn – registration required to post, nothing to lurk.

 

Providence Journal – Red Sox – Your Turn – registration required just to get on the projo site.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2003

 

Gammons

 

It took him a while, but ESPN’s Peter Gammons finally shared his views on the ALCS. Gammons brings up some excellent points. He also, as is his want, makes some generalizations. He does that better than anyone.

 

First Gammons quote:

 

What some in ownership are asking Theo Epstein is whether blurred vision at a time of crisis management is what they want leading the Boston Red Sox.

 

An amazingly important question by Gammons. Are the Red Sox as solid a team in the post-season as they are in the regular season with Grady at the helm? Is Grady capable of handling the team in pressure situations?

 

As I’ve said before, I honestly don’t know if Grady choked or if he thought it was the right baseball move. If you ask Grady, he said 4 managers called him to tell him they’d have done the same thing. Well sure Grady, what are they going to tell you, that you you’re an idiot? “Grady, Lou Pinella here. Tough luck in game 7, but it’s your fault, you’re a moron.”

 

Another Gammon blurb:

 

Now, management wonders whether Grady Little can come back in the face of the backlash, or whether he even wants to come back to a region that wants an Operation Free Fenway.

 

Can Grady survive in an environment where most Red Sox fans feel he made the wrong move, including yours truly? Will the fans boo him out of Fenway each time he takes a stroll to the mound? Does Grady even want to come back given the second-guessing?

 

I don’t know the answer to those questions. I know that I wouldn’t have a huge problem if Grady came back in 2004. If he picks up where he left of in the ALCS and leaves spent pitchers out to die, then I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong. My biggest concern is if he can function with so many people second guessing him. This brings me to the last Gammons quote:

 

Understand, those of you where the Red Sox are not a life-and-death matter, this goes beyond vilification. This is pure, unadulterated hatred for a wonderfully decent man who was a large part in the centrifugal force that held together a team that had a few dysfunctional parts, not to mention the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" bullpen.

 

I have to assume Gammons feels comfortable saying this based on what he reads in the paper and what he hears on the radio. The Red Sox fans I speak to on a regular basis about baseball and all things Red Sox don’t hate Grady Little. They might be in shock over his decision and might even want him fired but also understand there is much to managing a team that is difficult to understand and there are usually many factors in any decision that has to be made. Not all Red Sox fans are the venom filled yahoos Gammons constantly makes reference to here in Boston. He is guilty of drawing conclusions based on 1% of the fanhood (ok, it might be a bit higher that 1%), specifically those who are loudest, those with microphones and those who say the most controversial things.

 

Peter G., I implore you to grab a beer with me and some of my baseball loving friends someday. We aren’t all like that, yet we still consider ourselves passionate baseball fans. Red Sox fans are capable of having thoughtful baseball discussions. It’s true and I think we are the rule rather than the exception.

 

I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from an e-mail I received from my friend Dave, a diehard Red Sox fan, the day after the game 7 loss. Dave was at Yankee Stadium for game 7.
I don’t have the energy to describe my thoughts about the game here, other than to say that the Boston media’s and fan’s criticism of Grady Little is overblown and a bit unfair, I think. (Basically, I don’t think that the decision regarding Pedro in the 8th was as easy and simple as we now seem to be making it out to be.) I spent the day feeling totally overwhelmed by all of it. We’ll talk about it over a few beers sometime — and probably for many, many years.
I sat in the upper deck in left field, in the section behind the left field foul pole. Not far from where Boone’s shot landed. I will never forget the vision of that ball screaming toward the left field pole as I hoped — for just a second — that it might go foul and then seeing the ball getting bigger and coming toward us. From where I was, the ball just fell out of view once it passed down below the upper deck. (From our seats, you lose the sight of the left field corner). But I didn’t need to see it land.
For the last 17 years, I thought that the despondency that I fell into after the sixth game (and seventh game) in 1986 was the result of an unhealthy obsession with the Red Sox as a 14 year old kid and that a loss couldn’t grip me again in the same way as an adult. But that same feeling is back.
I think that sums up with great accuracy the feelings many Red Sox fans had after game 7. There’s no cursing, just a thoughtful glimps into one Red Sox fan’s mindset the day after.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:33 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2003

 

Game 1 – 2003 WS

 

Still weak in the knees…..deep in depression….writing this from the ledge of an office building….

 

You’d be surprised how many office building ledges have internet access.

 

It’s the bottom of the 6th and the Marlins are up 3-2 in game 1. I haven’t watched much of the game, I just don’t have any interest. I did note however, an amazing amount of anti-Red Sox sentiment in Yankee Stadium a good 44 hours after game 7 of the ALCS.

 

I thought Yankee fans didn’t think of Boston as a big rival. Could have fooled me. People are actually wearing Babe, Bucky, Bucker, Boone shirts to the game. In another display, some fans hung a banner that says “Cowboy Out” with a picture of a disheveled Pedro Martinez.

 

I’m not sure how this makes me feel. Good I suppose because it confirms what Boston fans have always known, that Boston is New York’s biggest rival and that the Red Sox do keep Yankee fans up at night.

 

On another note, Grady Little defended his actions today. I must admit that my tone has softened a bit since two nights ago. While I still think it’ll be virtually impossible for Grady to effectively manage next season, I do think that Grady honestly believed leaving Pedro in was the best baseball decision. That is important to note as it I no longer think he was simply deferring to his ace pitcher.

 

Why do I think this? I haven’t a clue, just a hunch.

 

The biggest question is who will replace Grady should he get his pink slip? Is any manager capable of leading this Red Sox team? More to the point, is any manager capable of leading this team with this fan base? No manager will satisfy the fan base. It’s just the nature of the job. So now it becomes, who can handle the pressure of the job better than Grady does today? Good luck with that one.

 

Look at the Chicago Cubs? Their game 6 collapse was terrible and was caused by Dusty Baker leaving Mark Prior in too long. What is being said about it in Chicago? Quite a bit actually, but the volume of finger pointing in Chicago is nothing compared to the finger pointing in Boston. The circumstances were different sure (game 6 vs 7 and the foul ball in game 6), but Chicago has accepted Dusty’s decision and will gladly have him at the reigns in 2004. The same cannot be said for Boston fans feeling towards Grady.

 

Many tough decisions ahead for Theo. Namely, who stays and who goes. The following are arbitration eligible(player/2003 salary):

 

Player 2003 Salary
Trot Nixon – $4mm
Byung-Hyun Kim – $3.25mm
Jeremy Giambi – $2.0mm
Scott Williamson – $1.6mm
Scott Sauerbeck – $1.55mm
David Ortiz – $1.25mm
Doug Mirabelli – $0.805mm
Damian Jackson – $0.625mm
Casey Fossum – $0.3mm
Gabe Kapler – $0.3mm

 

Taking a look at those names, they made $15.68mm or so last year. All of them will expect a raise. Who is expendable? My guess is we’ll see all of them back except Kim. You might also see Kapler, Giambi and Jackson set free if they are unhappy with the Red Sox initial offers. Theo has to cut money somewhere, and unless he can unload a big contract, he’ll have to trim the fat from the lower paid players.

 

Speaking of Giambi, did anyone else find it odd that Mr. Giambi, that is the father of Jeremy and Jason Giambi, was only shown on Fox rooting for Jason’s team? I don’t know if Mr. Giambi even made it to Fenway.

 

He is the father to both Jeremy and Jason, right? Maybe he just likes Jason more.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2003

 

Red Sox regular season and post season grades:

 

In preparing this piece, I had to figure out exactly who played for the Red Sox this year. I counted 46. Holy lord, that is a ton of people. So, to keep this a reasonable exercise, I will be lumping several people into the “incomplete” category.

 

Player: regular season grade/post season grade

 

Andy Abad: Incomplete

 

Hector Almonte: Incomplete

 

Bronson Arroyo: A-/B+ During the regular season, he mowed them down. He wasn’t necessarily used in pressure situations, but he did a good job nonetheless. He had one slightly shaky post season appearance, but was otherwise just fine. He might be a useful piece in the 2004 bullpen, or perhaps the 5th starter.

 

Adrian Brown: Incomplete

 

John Burkett: C+/C- I don’t think anyone expected to see the 2001 John Burkett during his 2 year stay with Boston, but something close to it would have been nice. His regular season starts were all so similar. He’d often get roughed up in the first. If he didn’t, he’d pitch well for 4-5 innings until the batters were seeing him for the 3rd time. That’s when trouble set in. Too often Grady failed to recognize this(imagine that). His postseason was lousy. Grady had much to do with it. Proper in-game pitcher management would have resulted in a much lower ERA for Burkett. Good luck in your retirement years John. Oh wait, you wouldn’t mind pitching for the Yankees now. Good luck John, now go home.

 

Bruce Chen: Incomplete

 

Lou Collier: Incomplete

 

Johnny Damon: B/B I’ve come to expect much more from Johnny Damon that what he has produced. He is talented, but fails to get on-base like he did in 1999 and 2000 with Kansas City. His fielding is fine, but his arm is the worst I’ve seen. Not only is it weak but his throws just look funny, like he is just learning how to use his left hand. Johnny’s playoffs were much like his regular season. He showed some serious guts in coming back as quickly as he did after the Jackson/Damon tête à tête. I’d like to see more though from Johnny D.

 

Alan Embree: B-/A- Embree had some very poor moments during the regular season. My guess is that with his new-found velocity, comes serious wear on his shoulder. 2003 marked the second time he spent time on the DL. Once he came back, he seemed much better. His playoffs were just what we hoped for. Aside from allowing a key hit against Oakland with 2 men on, he was otherwise great.

 

Casey Fossum: D+/n/a Casey had one of the more disappointing seasons I can remember. There was much pressure heaped on him, but at the end of the day it was his mind and body that couldn’t handle the strain. Fossum bounced up and down from Pawtucket to Boston. I hope he can add a few pounds and make a big impact in 2004.

 

Chad Fox: D+/na His 4.50 ERA hides the real problem. Fox allowed 2 hits/walks per inning. He allowed 19 hits and 17 walks in 18 innings of work. His utter lack of control did way too much regular season damage. Enough in fact that the Red Sox ended up releasing him…where he then caught on with the Florida Marlins, found his control and then won the World Series. Crap.

 

Nomar Garciaparra: B/D Nomar certainly had a productive regular season. I give him a regular season B because it wasn’t as good as his prior seasons. He has had a decent sized drop-off in his productivity. I’m not sure we’ll see the Nomar of old again, or if this is as good as it’ll get. The playoffs were an utter nightmare for Nomar. 1 RBI in 12 games and only 2 extra base hits. I can’t explain it. No one works harder than Nomar and his prior post season record was fantastic. Bad luck? Bad timing for a slump? Whatever it was, it hurt the Red Sox deeply.

 

Jeremy Giambi: D/na I had big hopes for Giambi. This is the quintessential Bill James/Billy Beane player. He gets on base and hits for power. Because I tend to agree with those two, I was fired up to see what Giambi could do. Instead, he had a terrible, injury plagued season resulting in season ending shoulder surgery. I say give him one more chance, perhaps he’ll be the 2003 David Ortiz…or the 2003 Jeremy Giambi.

 

Bill Haselman: Incomplete.

 

Shea Hillenbrand: C+/na Hillenbrand got off to yet another good start. He didn’t show any power and wasn’t hot at the hot corner, but had some timely hits. I believe moving him was the right idea, however. It cleared the way for other hitters and got one of the dumbest players I can remember, out of the club house. Shea’s various remarks, both while in Boston and Arizona, touched on homophobia, and downright disdain for his former city and teammates. I’m not at all sad to see him go. I hope Byung-Hyun Kim can contribute in 2004 making this trade an even bigger success. More on Kim later.

 

Bob Howry: Incomplete

 

Damian Jackson: B+/C- His regular season was far better than his limited post season. Jackson showed versatility in the field and speed on the bases. He wasn’t a productive hitter at anytime, but his other contributions more than made up for that.

 

Todd Jones: C-/na I know Jones was on the postseason roster, but I can’t really grade him on 1/3 of an inning. His regular season was basically a tale of two seasons. I don’t mean the fact he started the year with Colorado and finished with Boston but rather he was either a 1-2-3 pitcher or got roughed up. His season totals with Boston don’t look all that impressive, but I do recall him providing some quality relief in a few games. Doubt he’ll be in a Red Sox uniform in 2004.

 

Gabe Kapler: C/D+ His first two games with Boston were great, but then he fell into his normal production levels. Kapler isn’t a great player. There was enough hype about him to warrant his own TV ad while he was still in the minors, but that never translated into starter material in the bigs. Still, he is a useful player to have providing good defense, above average speed, versatility and occasional pop. His postseason was downright bad, at least with the bat. He did a good job in the field though while replacing Damon for the first 2 games of the ALCS.

 

Byung-Hyun Kim: B+/F+ Much was asked of Kim upon his arrival from Arizona. First he was stuck in the rotation where he faired well enough. Then he was yanked and put in the closer role. He did very well there too. Kim’s unraveling came in the playoffs. It is astounding to me that he could have fallen so far so fast. I’m not sure what happened. I think his role next year should be as starter. He can take Burkett’s spot in the rotation. As for the postseason, I give him the F+ b/c he only had one appearance. That’s tough to judge. His middle finger presentation however, was totally uncalled for and essentially sealed his fate.

 

Derek Lowe: B/B Another 20 win season would have been nice, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. A 17 game winner isn’t bad though. Lowe’s remarkably poor road record was the main reason he didn’t replicate his 2002 season. I’m not sure there is any way to explain the home/road disparity. Lowe turned into a mini-hero in game 5 of the ALDS, although that will be forgotten given the end result of the 2003 playoffs.

 

Brandon Lyon: B-/na Lyon’s acquisition by Theo Epstein has to be considered a success. He pitched well beyond expectations, especially for the price (a waiver claim I believe). Arm woes later in the season resulted in too many hits allowed, but at the end of the day, I’m glad we got him.

 

Pedro Martinez: A-/B- Pedro had his usual solid regular season. He isn’t capable of 200 innings anymore, but the 180-190 he’ll give you will always be solid. Bad luck/poor run support resulted in only 14 wins, but that isn’t the true indicator of his success. Despite his gutsy efforts in the playoffs, his 4.76 era tells you he didn’t do well. 29 hits allowed in 28 innings is very un-Pedroesque. Too bad, proper management would have lead to say 3 fewer earned runs in the postseason. He’s back for one more year in 2004, at $17.5mm. That works out to about $92,000 per innings assuming he gives us 190 of them. As Captain John Millar in “Saving Private Ryan” said, “Earn this…earn it.”

 

David McCarty: Incomplete

 

Ramiro Mendoza: F/na Do I have to even write anything here? I do? Ok. Mendoza was the poster boy for the Red Sox 2003 regular season bullpen. Is that enough?

 

Lou Merloni: Incomplete

 

Kevin Millar: B+/D Millar’s regular season was more than most expected. Theo got him for a reason, he can hit. He can really hit bad pitchers, but as the playoffs showed, he doesn’t hit good pitchers. Some say his greatest contributions came in the clubhouse. Having never been invited, I wouldn’t now. Not that I have any idea what I’m talking about, but I have to figure that better conditioning would only improve his play. After all the effort to acquire him from the Marlins in the preseason, I was happy to have him. Then I saw him report to spring training with his gut leading the way and I was disappointed. For cripes sake, if I were being paid $3mm per season, I’d hire some sadist to wake my lard-laden body up each morning and work the fat off, though exercise and the like. I could even hire a cook to make sure I wasn’t cheating. At least I’d like to think I do all of that stuff.

 

Doug Mirabelli: C+/B Being the personal catcher for Tim Wakefield isn’t too bad. It guarantees you one start in every 5 games. Mirabelli has had success against lefty pitchers in years past, but this year he was awful. He showed overall power though, enough for a .448 SLG. That is probably more than one can expect or hope for from a back-up catcher. His post season was decent enough with him getting 4 hits in 11 tries. He is a good player to have behind Jason Varitek.

 

Bill Mueller: A/D How happy were you when he won the batting title, all the while playing great D? How angry were you with him during the playoffs. Night and day. His postseason slump was horrid. No RBI, lousy D? Yikes, what a nightmare.

 

Trot Nixon: A-/A- I still don’t know what to make of Trot. To me, he always seems on the verge of greatness or the minor leagues, I don’t know which. I’ve seen him hit too many important home runs while at the same time seen him make awful plays in the field to be able to access his worth. Looking strictly at his stats, he had a great season. His .975 OPS was good for 9th in the majors and 4th in the AL. He hit 4 post season home runs. I don’t know, I’m just not buying it. Statistics alone however, he’s a star. I’m confused.

 

David Ortiz: A-/C- His success surprised many. His ability to go the other way with pitches made him a terror at Fenway. At the same time, his road numbers were more than solid. Was this a career year? Hard to tell. He was highly touted in the Twins minor leagues and even put up some decent seasons while with the Twins, so perhaps this is his norm. Like so many other Red Sox batters, he was inconsistent in the playoffs. He’ll be back in 2004, just at a much higher price, say $3mm or so.

 

Robert Person: Incomplete

 

Manny Ramirez: B+/C There’s just too much bs with this guy. Everything he does. Even his home run trots are a topic of debate. To Manny’s credit, he put up respectable #s. His presence led to only 1 intentional walk to Nomar all season. To say Manny’s 2003 was satisfying would be a lie though. He is being paid $20mm to hit .350, score 130 runs, hit 45 home runs and drive in 145 rbi. His performance since joining Boston hasn’t cut it. His defense has improved, but I think that is more a function of him learning the Monster. He has an advantage out there seeing as he plays it 81 times a year (hopefully more). I am still waiting for one of Manny’s Clevelandesque seasons. One that includes driving in 165 runs. Really, that is not too much to ask. As for his postseason, it started off and ended poorly. He had a memorable home run in game 5 of the ALDS. It was especially memorable to him, as he watched is sail into the seats for several minutes. Manny needs to devote more of his brain to this game. Right now, he is playing on instinct. He never knows the significance of where he is or what situations are confronting him. If he could learn to concentrate and become a student of the game, who knows what levels he could achieve. In the meantime, I just have to face the fact that ever time I mention his name, I’ll be shaking my head. If I could, I deal him and use that money in a better way.

 

Ryan Rupe: Incomplete

 

Freddy Sanchez: Incomplete – I was really hoping to have Freddy as the everyday 2b in 2004, but in an effort to gear up for the 2003 postseason run, Theo unloaded him. Best of luck Freddy. With Todd Walker filing for free agency, perhaps Epstein can reacquire Sanchez. Doubtful though.

 

Scott Sauerbeck: D/na Sauerbeck fell apart after his first two appearances with the Red Sox. He couldn’t find the strike zone. Sauerbeck is a talented pitcher, but for some reason was so ineffective that Grady only used him once in the playoffs. Sauerbeck has said he’d take the same money as he got in 2003 to stick around in 2004, just to prove he can pitch. I’d like to see him return.

 

Rudy Seanez: Incomplete

 

Jason Shiell: Incomplete

 

Jeff Suppan: D/na Another bust trade deadline acquisition. Suppan, in my mind, wasn’t worth what we gave up in Freddy Sanchez. Of course had he and Sauerbeck been effective down the stretch, I wouldn’t be saying that. I believe the Red Sox had a $4mm option or a $500k buyout on Suppan next year and they took the buyout.

 

Mike Timlin: B+/A+ Mike Timlin was one of the few reliable bullpen arms in 2003. He let up his fair share of home runs, but otherwise, gave a solid performance almost every time on the mound. His postseason was fantastic. Timlin dominated, hitting 95mph with his fastball and getting batters to swing at his sinkers.

 

Kevin Tolar: Incomplete

 

Jason Varitek: A-/A- Many people have suggested David Ortiz was the MVP of the Red Sox, but my vote is with Jason Varitek. He put up career highs in HR, RBI and SLG. During the playoffs, he was one of few Red Sox bats I actually was happy to see at the plate. Who can forget his block of the plate against Eric Byrnes in game 3 of the ALDS.

 

Tim Wakefield: B/B+ The Red Sox player with the longest tenure, Wakefield, was solid in his starting role during the season. He has a knack of keeping his team in the game on most occasions. His ERA was a full run plus higher than 2002, but that’s because 2002 was an anomaly. His 2003 4.09 ERA was more in line with his career results. Wakefield was the most effective starter in the playoffs and despite being on the mound for Aaron Boone’s game winning blast in game 7 of the ALCS, without his fine play in the playoffs, specifically his 2 wins, there wouldn’t have been a game 7 of the ALCS.

 

Todd Walker: B/A Walker was on fire out the gate in April, but slumped badly in the 2nd half. He picked it up again in late September and carried that success over into the postseason. His 5 home runs led the squad and he had moments of defensive brilliance. I doubt we’ll see Walker at 2nd base in 2004, unless he is willing to settle for $3mm or so.

 

Matt White: Incomplete

 

Scott Williamson: C/A- Like all of the other trade deadline pitcher acquisitions, Williamson was awful. His 6.20 ERA can’t be explained. There was concern of shoulder trouble, but that proved to be a non-issue. Perhaps jumping into the fire that is Boston sports took its toll on Williamson. He got his act together just in time to be closer in the postseason with great success, game 5 of the ALDS notwithstanding. He will start off as the closer in 2004.

 

Steve Woodward: Incomplete

 

Coaching Staff: Given that Grady was let go today, I feel I needn’t say much more. He has taken a beating in the media and with the fans. Because I don’t know of any person out there who would do a better job, I am concerned with his dismissal. Don’t go thinking Joe Torre is going to land in Boston, it just won’t happen. Who is left? A bunch of retreads and a few interesting candidates out there that have little to no experience. Even Jerry Remy’s name has been mentioned (Jerry, please think this through. Do you want to be hated in 3 or 4 years? If you don’t win the World Series, you just might be. You are too good an analyst to subject yourself to the torture of managing the Red Sox).

 

I think we will end up seeing a coach that adherer’s to managements philosophy. In other words, there won’t be any guess work in what the next manager does. No debates over strategy as it will mostly be by the stat book. No gut-feeling moves. Kind of like how Billy Beane and Art Howe operated in Oakland. If you’ve read Moneyball, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If I haven’t mentioned it before, it is a great look at how Theo Epstein and John Henry will probably manage the Boston Red Sox for years to come, at least as far as strategy, not necessarily handling people.

 

As for the other coaches, I think we’ll see Dave Wallace and Ron Jackson back, but don’t have a clue on the others. Hopefully, for their sake, we’ll find out soon.

 

Thanks for a great season fellas. Here’s to another one in 2004, only a bit better.

 

Andy can be reached at Andy@yankeesredsox.com.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2003

 

Game 7 – 2003 ALCS recap

 

I can’t say I’m surprised.

 

You just knew the Yankees would pull game 7 out. Good luck to them versus the Florida Marlins.

 

The Red Sox had a great first season under Theo Epstein. Hopefully it is the start of a long line of successful teams. Honestly, 2003 was much more than I could have ever hoped for or thought was possible. Here’s to hoping the off-season treats them well and we see them advance even further in 2004.

 

As for the game itself, there were plenty of opportunities. Seeing Mariano Rivera working 3 innings, Joe Torre would have had to come back with Contreras, Kline or Weaver. That was appealing, but I knew we had to get them out in the bottom of the 11th, to no avail. Too bad.

 

Congratulations to both teams.

 

Ok, you didn’t think I’d end my last post-season column like that (Red Sox post-season anyway), did you? Time for some talk about what when wrong in game 7.

 

1.) Grady Little
2.) Pedro Martinez
3.) Grady Little

 

Does that sum it up? Sure Pedro pitched a nice game…through 7. He had no business telling Grady he could keep going in the 8th. No business whatsoever. But ultimately, the responsibility of managing pitchers falls in Grady’s lap. Grady should have weighed the fact that his pitcher had already thrown 115 pitches and pulled him when Matsui came up. This outcome really falls squarely on Grady’s shoulders. There is no other way to say it.

 

This is quite a disappointment. To be so close and fail is crushing. It was really what I expected though, especially when the Yanks tied it 5-5. Heaven forbid the Red Sox get blown out. No, instead they have to play one of the most pressure filled games in my lifetime. Instead they have to lose it in extra innings. Could it have been anymore painful?

 

So, there you go. Theo has his work cut out for him. I fully expect to provide move by move feedback on the Red Sox off-season throughout the next few months, so I won’t go nuts here, but the first order of business is Theo canning Grady. I’m not saying that is what I’d do, but I am certain it is what Theo will do.

 

Why? Because his manager didn’t do the right things when it mattered most. End of story. Who is a possible replacement? I haven’t a clue, that’s not my problem.

 

The next thing will be for Theo to try and trade one or more of the following: Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, BY Kim and Ramiro Mendoza. I don’t imagine he’ll have much success with any of them save perhaps Nomar.

 

Why will Theo try this? He can get far better value for his dollar whether it be through trade or free agency. Nomar, Manny and Pedro will make up roughly 50% of the Red Sox payroll. That is far to much tied up in 3 guys. The trend with salaries is heading downward, gone are the $20mm , $17mm and even $15mm contracts. It’s just not good business.

 

Theo will be aided by a high number of MLB non-tenders, so perhaps he’ll have good major leaguers to pick from as replacements, but trading any of the aforementioned guys will be tough because every other team is in payroll reduction mode.

 

I’m probably getting far too ahead of myself and am writing this in a terrible state of mind, so I’ll wrap it up.

 

Keep your heads up Red Sox fans.

 

Can I also make a request? Can we quit it with the “Yankees Suck” stuff? It is obvious they don’t. They just kicked our collective asses, so quit it with the low-grade Yankee bashing. It makes us look like fools.

 

If you have criticisms of the Yankees, use your head and put together something you can actually prove.

 

That’s all. I’ll be back soon with some Red Sox 2003 regular season grades as well as some playoff grades.

 

Andy can be reached at Andy@yankeesredsox.com.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2003

 

Game 6 – 2003 ALCS recap

 

After game 5, I showed these numbers representing a select group of Red Sox players playoff stats through game 5 of the ALCS:

 

Player AB R H HR RBI .Avg .Obp .Slg
Ortiz 37 2 5 1 4 .135 .256 .243
Millar 40 1 8 0 1 .200 .256 .200
Nomar 39 2 8 0 1 .205 .295 .231
Mueller 36 0 4 0 0 .111 .220 .139
Back-ups* 38 2 6 0 1 .157 .157 .184

 

*Kapler, Mirabelli, Jackson, Brown and McCarty.

 

Here’s what those same chaps did tonight in game 6.

 

Player AB R H HR RBI .Avg .Obp .Slg
Ortiz 5 1 2 0 3 .400 .400 .400
Millar 5 0 2 0 1 .400 .400 .400
Nomar 5 2 4 0 0 .800 .800 1.200
Mueller 5 2 3 0 0 .600 .600 1.000
Back-ups* 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000

 

While none of them hit any home runs, they clogged up the bases enough to generate some quality run production.

 

Ok, boys, now do the same tomorrow.

 

Speaking of tomorrow, game 7 of the 2003 ALCS could be one of the biggest games in decades! The Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees. Winner goes to the World Series. Wow. That is heavy duty.

 

Pedro Martinez (Yankee fan favorite of the year) and Roger Clemens (Red Sox fan favorite of the past 7 years) square off in a doozy. I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but the Red Sox bats have to come out swinging and making serious contact. Roger tends to get himself into trouble early in games, but has a knack for escaping with only letting up a run or two. The Red Sox need to pounce and get 4 or 5 runs if they hope to win.

 

At the same time, Pedro has to have his stuff from the first inning on. He admitted after game 3 (Does anyone remember game 3? Didn’t something interesting happen?) that it took him a few innings to find his stuff. During the first 4 innings, Pedro let up 4 runs while only hitting 87-88 with his fastball. That was all New York needed. By the time he was hitting 91-92, it was too late.

 

Anyone notice Nomar is starting to grow a goatee? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him change a personal hygiene habit before. He is such a man of routine. Perhaps I was seeing things, but it did look like he is starting to grow out the facial hair. That’s all I’m going to say about that. No point in me bring it up, I just thought it was interesting.
Tomorrow’s atmosphere should be charged. Fox stands to benefit especially since it’ll be the only game tomorrow. Chicago and Florida finish up tonight. As I write this, the Marlins are up 7-5 in the top of the 7th.

 

Should that score stand, the Cubs have no one to blame but themselves. I don’t care about the Moises Alou foul ball play in game 6. That fan did what any other fan would do. First off, the ball was in foul territory, and more importantly, it was going to land in the stands, not the field. The umpire agreed obviously because he didn’t rule fan interference.

 

Of greater importance, Chicago Cubs fans can’t pin their season, or their post season failures on any one play. They had too many chances to win that game and blaming some unlucky fan is the easy way out. He wasn’t the one throwing meatballs to Marlin hitters, he wasn’t the manager who clearly left his starting pitcher in too long (I’ve said all along that Mark Prior will have Tommy John surgery within two years. Of course I’ve been saying that for 2 years now.), he wasn’t the Cubs team that allowed 5 hits and committed 1 error in the 8th inning. The Chicago Cubs completely blew up in game 6, not the fans.

 

Trust me Chicago Cubs fans, don’t cling to anyone event as reason for continued failure. The way out of losing tendencies is to win. Just win. If you don’t win, well too bad, try again next year. No excuses.

 

Back to game 6 of the ALCS. I’m sure you’ll recall that I had an interesting line-up proposal for Grady. Well, thank goodness he didn’t listen. Ortiz, Mueller and Millar all came through. Congratulations to them, now do it again.

 

On a side note, game 7 stands to be one of the hottest tickets of all time. This game has the added twist of a major enemy of New York. Pedro Martinez is evil in Yankee country. The one benefit of this is that I don’t think we’ll see Pedro signing with the Yankees in 2005 as he publicly mentioned this year as a contact ploy.

 

The issue I’m getting at is safety. You might not have caught it, so read what Dave Anderson of the New York Times wrote about game 7 in Tuesday’s edition. I’m not sure about you, but I fully expect the fans of the New York Yankees to be on their best behavior. Any battery throwing would obviously be premeditated and would result in serious criminal charges. In addition, Yankee Stadium management knows about the threat and presumably will have the largest security force on staff in their history. If not, shame on them.

 

Not that I have too many Yankee fans reading this, but I know them to be a knowledgeable bunch that appreciates baseball and winning, lots of winning. Sure there are the 1% that make fools of themselves through their behavior, but every team has that. Yes, even the Red Sox have that, or should I say, especially the Red Sox have that.

 

Here’s to a good close game tomorrow and let’s keep it on the up and up guys.

 

Andy can be reached at Andy@yankeesredsox.com.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

Game 5 – 2003 ALCS recap

 

Heading to New York for game six down 3 games to 2, isn’t ideal. Maybe good pitching does always beat good hitting.

 

D-Lowe certainly had a rough night, but he did keep the Red Sox in reasonable range of a win. It goes back to the offense. It has been non-existent.

 

Check out these 2003 post-season stats from a few Red Sox bats through game 5 (ALDS and the ALCS stats included):

 


Player AB R H HR RBI .Avg .Obp .Slg
Ortiz 37 2 5 1 4 .135 .256 .243
Millar 40 1 8 0 1 .200 .256 .200
Nomar 39 2 8 0 1 .205 .295 .231
Mueller 36 0 4 0 0 .111 .220 .139
Back-ups* 38 2 6 0 1 .157 .157 .184

 

*Kapler, Mirabelli, Jackson, Brown and McCarty.

 


That says it all right there. Your regular season, 3, 5, 6 and 8 hitters are, as my brother says, “crapping the bed.” Add to it no contributions from the bench (in fairness to Brown and McCarty, they’ve had a total of 3 ABs between them) and you have a team down 3-2.

 

Ortiz and Millar are each slugging below their weight and Mueller is slugging below Damien Jackson’s weight, which is quite an achievement.

 

Fact, I tend to get very negative when discussing Red Sox players who aren’t pulling their share. Fact, it doesn’t make them hit better. I realize each of the guys above were keys to one of the best regular season offenses ever, but at the end of the day, the biggest games of a player’s season and career are in the playoffs. Perhaps this is telling, or perhaps the sample size is so small I shouldn’t draw any conclusions.

 

“Arrgghh,” that’s all I can muster.

 

Tomorrow we’ll have John Burkett yet again responsible for the Red Sox season. He faces Andy Pettitte. It’s a mismatch on paper but stranger things have happened. Here is what I expect Grady will do:

 

cf – Damon
2b – Walker
ss – Nomar
lf – Manny
dh – Ortiz
1b – Mr. Cowboy
3b – Mueller
rf – Nixon
c – Varitek

 

What I would do:

 

cf – Damon
ss – Nomar
2b – Walker
lf – Manny
c – Varitek
1b – Mr. Cowboy
dh – Mirabelli
rf – Nixon
3b – Merloni

 

Basically, you stack the line-up with righties where you can. Sure you have a short right field porch in Yankee Stadium, but the fact is Ortiz hasn’t hit so why not put Mirabelli in. He has a good career record vs. lefties and has some pop. Let’s face it, what Grady has been rolling out there hasn’t worked, so mixing it up can’t hurt. Put the Governor at 3b and who knows, perhaps he’ll get a hit. That’s better than what we’ve been given to date.

 

Maybe he should even bench Millar in favor of Kapler despite the glove concerns.

 

It is very depressing that I even have to consider the garbage I just wrote above. Well, tomorrow is a new day and maybe we’ll see some Red Sox offense.

 

Misc. As my Yankee fan friend Peter mentioned in his article tonight, Fox has really done a lousy job with this series. They have cut into virtually every inning to squeeze in more ad time. I know this is a business, one that allows Pedro to be unhappy with his $17.5mm pittance next year, but for cripes sake. Fox missed 50% of the Red Sox scoring tonight. Amazing. No apologies from Joe Buck and interestingly enough, no words out of his mouth until about 10 seconds after Manny had crossed home plate. It was odd.

 

I have enough issues with Fox as it is but sports shouldn’t be one of them. Where oh where are Sean and Jerry. Don and Jerry would do too. I really should be listening to the WEEI broadcasts, but I lost my AM antenna. My loss.

 

Posted by Andy at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2003

 

Game 4 – 2003 ALCS recap

 

You’ve got to give Tim Wakefield credit. He didn’t have it in the first inning last night, but found it and kept it in the second inning. As has been the norm, Mike Timlin and Scott Williamson nailed it down in the eighth and ninth respectively.

 

Considering the craziness of game 3, this game went about as smoothly as could be hoped. Baseball was the focus, that was refreshing.

 

Continuing themes: Nomar and Bill Mueller are still struggling. To Kevin Millar’s credit, he played some good defense last night and did have a key walk. Still, if the Red Sox can get these three rolling, it’d be nice.

 

Derek Lowe v. David Wells today. I don’t care to think about this one too much, so let’s just get the game started and see what happens. There were some rumors that Wells hurt his groin during the game 3 festivities, but he denied any injury. Perhaps a Yankee physical therapist gave his groin a good work-over. I will add that Derek Lowe has been a good guy to have pitch at Fenway this year.

 

Looking back on the bullpen altercation in game 3, I am really surprised at some of the comments I’ve read. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg said Pedro should be arrested. Bloomberg’s reasoning was that Don Zimmer is 72 years old. He failed to tell us at what age a man can be grabbed by the head and sent to the dirt.

 

He’s such a big Yankee fan, Mayor Bloomberg is. Being born in Medford, MA, I honestly think his rooting for the Yankees is from the heart and not a vote based tactic. Really I do.

 

Misc:

 

The trio in the booth is still wearing on me. McCarver is just brutal. I am starting to feel bad about my criticisms of him as he has frequently stumbled his way through segments and realized it at the last moment. He has had to apologize. I guess that’s how he wins over fans. He makes them feel sorry for him thus causing the fan to root for him, strictly for survival. That might be giving him too much credit.

 

Bret Boone has done an decent job considering he is new at this. Joe Buck sure isn’t afraid to tell Boone he isn’t providing enough analysis. Must be part of breaking in the new guy.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2003

 

Game 3 – 2003 ALCS recap

 

That was no fun. On so many levels, that was just no fun. The Red Sox lost and the site of 72 year old Don Zimmer bouncing off the ground made me sick. Regardless of whose fault it was, the Zim/Pedro confrontation, still isn’t good to see.

 

Because baseball generally isn’t a contact sport, I can’t recall any similar incidents to today’s. The one sports incident that I do think of occurred in the 2001-2002 Bruins round one playoff series against the Canadians. Kyle McLaren clotheslined Richard Zednik putting him out of the playoffs. I think McLaren was just playing hard and happened to catch Zednik the right/wrong way. Anyway, it stunk and so did today. Pedro seemed to be defending himself and reacted by grabbing Zim by the ears and tossing him to the ground. At first I figured it was Garcia b/c I saw a bald head, but when I saw it was Zim, I was stunned.

 

Without benefit of replays, it seemed a one sided affair. I thought Pedro had singled out Zim and took care of him. I really thought Pedro had lost his mind. Thank goodness replays showed Zim making the initial move.

 

Then we had a member of the ground’s crew in the Yanks pen. What happened? I haven’t heard the details on this one yet, but I can’t wait. That was a first.

 

Anyway, the game itself, the baseball portion, was disappointing. Pedro didn’t have his good fastball until after the damage was done. Or I could say the damage was done while he didn’t have his good fastball. Once he started hitting 91 and above, he was able to keep the Yankees bats off balance and dominated for the rest of the game. During his power outage, he threw a ton of curves. He didn’t seem to use his change-up much.

 

Roger Clemens pitched well. Despite the already high tension in the air to start the game, Clemens kept cool and handled the 4th inning fireworks with ease. In the end though, it came down to some key bats in the Red sox line-up just not getting it done.

 

Player AB R H RBI BB LOB
Nomar 4 0 0 0 0 5
Ortiz 3 1 0 0 1 2
Millar 4 0 1 0 0 0
Mueller 2 0 0 0 1 0
Nixon 3 0 0 0 0 1

 

Yikes. Mr. Cowboy, the batting champ, and the former batting champ have been awful. I mean really awful. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t want Nomar up in a crucial situation. I’m sure it is just a slump, but couldn’t it have ended with the regular season?

 

Nixon and Ortiz have each had hits in the playoffs, but they didn’t play well today.

 

The Red Sox are back in a very tough and frightening situation in game 4. They have to put the outcome of the season squarely on the back of John Burkett. At the same time, the Yanks get to roll out David Wells. I know who I’d prefer. This is why the Yanks get to me. Not the players on the team, but rather the holes they have. They have a good squad, but it should be much, much better. See, having David Wells as your 4th starter is a luxury. They can afford it. Why shouldn’t they have David Wells as their 4th starter? Then again, how in the world do they not have an everyday RF or DH?

 

At $180mm in payroll, how is this possible? The Yankees should be better than they are. More on that topic some other day.

 

Misc:

 

Tim McCarver gave kudos (the compliment, not the delightfully refreshing snack bar) to Posada for throwing out Ramirez in the bottom of the first. He said it was a great play because Jorge had to stay back to collect strike 3 on Ortiz before making the throw. While it certainly was a decent play, it wasn’t as good a play as McCarver made it out to be. Ramirez, like David Ortiz, Kevin Millar, Doug Mirabelli and Todd Walker, rate a 1 out of 10 on the newly created Andy’s Speed Scale (ASS – where 1 is a glacier and 10 is light). I might have had a chance of throwing Manny out. Posada certainly is a good enough defensive catcher, much improved in fact, but that wasn’t a great play. I’ll leave McCarver alone now. He can’t help it.

 

Wait, one more. McCarver said Pedro was 5’ 8 ½”. Not to quibble over facts, but he is listed as 5’ 11”. Not sure where he gets this stuff. Maybe I’m wrong on this one, having never met Pedro, I could very well be, but I think I’d have heard of it before.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2003

 

Game 2 – 2003 ALCS recap

 

No surprise to see the Yankees claim game two. They are tough at home and Red Sox fans should be happy to take 1 of 2. With their game 1 win, the Red Sox now have home field advantage.

 

Derek Lowe’s stats say one thing, but I saw something different. Reading the box score, one would get the impression that he pitched a poor game. While he didn’t have his good stuff, he did seem to have enough to keep the Red Sox in it. Scott Sauerbeck allowed a two run double to Posada in the seventh making it 6-1 at the time. Had Sauerbeck retired Posada, Lowe’s line would have been:

 

IP H BB R ER K
Lowe 6.2 7 3 4 4 2

 

Not great, but not bad either.

 

As it turns out, Andy Pettitte pitched a good game. The Red Sox had opportunities in the first 2 innings, but could only muster 1 run. Too bad too, grabbing a few extra runs could really have put a damper on the Yankees chances. Or not.

 

Not that I called it, but Nomar had 2 more pop-ups. I don’t get it. From what I understand, Nomar is a slave to routine, that much is obvious. Some would say obsessive-compulsive, so I bet Ron Jackson isn’t able to offer much in the way of useful advice. Useful from Nomar’s prospective. Something might have to change in the offseason though. While he is still an excellent player, he lacks the OBP he once had. That OBP was largely driven by his ability to hit for a high average. Now that he is in the .300-.310 range, his OBP has dropped. Take a look:

 

Nomar .Avg .Obp .Slg H BB HR R RBI SB
1997 .306 .342 .534 209 35 30 122 98 22
1998 .323 .362 .584 195 33 35 111 122 12
1999 .357 .418 .603 190 51 27 103 104 14
2000 .372 .434 .599 197 61 21 104 96 5
2001 .289 .352 .470 24 7 4 13 8 0
2002 .310 .352 .528 197 41 24 101 120 5
2003 .301 .345 .524 198 39 28 120 105 19

 

While he is still quite productive, gone are the .400+ OBPs. At quick glance, you might say “well yes, but did you notice he keeps having 190+ hits and 100+ rbi?” Sure, but those hits and rbi are spread out over 156 games and not the typical 140 or so he played from 1997-2000. His production per game is down in some important categories.

 

I could speculate all day about why he has fallen off a bit. The most obvious reason might be his wrist, but perhaps pitchers are now pitching him differently or even perhaps he has lost a step or two. If that last statement is true, it might mean he can’t quite get around on some pitches, or that the bad balls he used to get to for hits, he now pops them up or just doesn’t hit them as hard. Here’s to hoping Nomar is just in the midst of a 2 year slump and that he returns to the .350+ average and the .400+ obp. I know, I’m never happy.

 

Big game tomorrow. BIG GAME!!! Pedro vs. Roger. How great is that? Ever since that 1999 game at the Stadium where Trot Nixon took Roger deep with a 2 run shot, this head to head match up has been the best in baseball.

 

My guess is we’ll see the following:

 

Damon – cf
Nomar – ss
Walker – 2b
Manny – lf
Ortiz – dh
Millar – 1b (time to Cowboy up Kevin, no extra base hits, 1 rbi)
Mueller – 3b (you too Bill)
Trot – rf
Varitek – c

 

That isn’t a big surprise. The only question mark is if Johnny is really ready.

 

Sorry about my last post. I referred to Mark Williamson, but the Red Sox pitcher is Scott Williamson.

 

Posted by Andy at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2003

 

Game 1 – 2003 ALCS recap

 

Tim Wakefield came up big. It would have been nice to see him get through 7 full, but 6 isn’t bad. I can’t believe I can’t just be happy for the win. Instead I have to tell you how it could have been better. Cripes!

 

As I mentioned in yesterday’s notes, we saw Mike Timlin and Mark Williamson. Alan Embree even made an appearance. Basically Grady Little trotted out the only 3 bullpen arms we really should see this series if the Red Sox want to win.

 

The first game couldn’t have gone better for Red Sox fans. No one collided with anyone and the Red Sox are going to leave New York with at least 1 win. Ok, enough of the happy stuff.

 

The New York Yankees have been here before, they know how to win. Given the amount of post season experience they’ve had over the last several years, they certainly know how to approach a game 2 down one game. Derek Lowe and Andy Pettitte will be the starters.

 

Lowe pitched an inning on Monday night and will have had 2 days rest, but will be going on 4 days rest since his last start. Pettitte last pitched last Thursday, so he is going on 6 days rest.

 

It sure is nice seeing Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz pick it up. Even Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon came up with 2 hits each. 4 of the 5 bats I mentioned in yesterdays column as having slumped in the ALDS all came through big going 9 for 16 with 4 runs scored and 4 rbi. Now, if Bill Mueller can get straightened out, we might have something.

 

I don’t know about you, but Nomar has looked awful for the past month. He hit .190 in September and after Wednesday’s game 1, he is hitting .240 in the playoffs. I’m certain it has been discussed before, but have you noticed the amount of pop flies to first or shallow right he has hit? Also, he can’t seem to get around on the inside pitches. The pattern has been to bust him in with fastballs and sliders away. Hopefully he’ll snap out of it and go on a tear similar to the one he had in August. The good news is that he’s still contributed.

 

Ok then, game 2 in the Bronx. The Red Sox need to get a quality start out of D-Lowe…and 3 or 4 home runs would help…and strong bullpen work would be a bonus. That seems like a reasonable request.

 

By the way, I just saw that Theo Epstein shaved his head too! Well not completely shaved, but he did get a whiffle (that’s local talk for a buzz cut) as did Grady. Holy smokes, I didn’t see that coming. I wonder if business people would ever consider shaving their heads to get their sales numbers higher? If you showed up at your stockbroker’s and he had a shaved head, what would you think? I’ve got to think about that.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)