November 2006

November 30, 2006

 

Hideki Okajima

 

Update: From the AP, the deal is as follows:

 

2-yr, $2.5m with a team option for 2009 of $1.75m.

 

Wow, that is much less than I thought it’d be. A total of $4.25m over 3 seasons. Interesting. I have little knowledge of the salary structure in Japanse baseball other than I know the posting fee for Matsuzaka was something like 3 times the size of the Seibu Lions payroll. So a deal like this for Okajima is proably a bit of a raise for him.

 

———

 

The Red Sox signed Japanese lefty reliever Hideki Okajima. Okajima played for, my favorite team name, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in 2006.

 

He got a 2-yr deal, no word on the money involved. My guess is 2-yr, $5m total.

 

He’s not the pitcher we hope to have wrapped up already, but he is a start.

 

Posted by Andy at 05:56 PM | Comments (6)

J.D. Drew

 

This J.D. Drew thing has taken on a strange tone. Yesterday, veteran Globe columnist pleaded with Theo Epstein not sign J.D. Drew (I like the impartial reporting Bob…). Today, on Boston Dirt Dogs, a link to a "Don’t Sign Drew" petition appeared.

 

What gives?

 

No matter whether Manny Ramirez stays or goes, how can any sane fan argue that the Red Sox are not a better team with Drew than without? Even if he plays only 120 games, he is a very good hitter. My guess here is that people haven’t gotten used to the $ being thrown around baseball this year. The Boston Herald reported on its blog that Drew has been all but signed to a 4-yr, $56m deal with perhaps a 5th year team option.

 

Is that a ton of cash? Yes, but is it necessary to sign a good bat, probably. If your thought is to wait until 2007 to sign a free agent RF, then you are probably going to be faced with the same dilemna. Tons of cash available, many teams with many holes and too few players to fill the holes.

 

Additionally, Drew has been labeled a loner and someone who doesn’t always give it his all. I cannot verify any of that. I’ve heard those that support that and those who do not (Curt Schilling on WEEI said Drew is one of those naturally gifted athletes that makes things look easy, thus the lazy tag). Fact is, while I’d prefer Andruw Jones, that isn’t happening right now, so Drew is the next best available option. He doesn’t cost prospects or draft picks and given the adjustment to salaries, his compensation doesn’t look all that bad. Wait, I’m lying, his compensation still looks bad, but I stand by the fact I’d rather then sign him than not.

 

In an ideal world, we’d have Ortiz, Manny, Drew hitting 3-4-5. Whether Manny is here or not remains to be seen.

 

Epstein hinted that we might get news on one free agent before the Winter Meetings start on December 4th and might get news on another before they end on December 7th.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)

November 29, 2006

 

Idle Time

 

UPDATE: In reference to why the Red Sox are delaying the signing of J.D. Drew (or the announcement), I indicated it was because the Red Sox wanted to see if the Dodgers were going to offer arbitration, thus requiring the Red Sox to give up draft compensation (their 1st round pick and 1 supplemental pick).

 

Well, Sean McAdam on WEEI today said that Scott Boras, Drew’s agent, put a clause into Drew’s contract that the Dodgers could NOT offer salary arbitration, thus freeing the Red Sox of any compensation requirement. That in itself makes Drew worth more than his equal who would require compensation. It also shows that Boras is a genius and that the Red Sox have no good reason to delay the announcement.

 

—-

 

So much news, so little action.

 

I’ve been out of it for the past 2-3 days, so let me catch up on things:

 

– Matsuzaka has been formally offered a contract
– Red Sox appear close to a 5-yr, $70m deal for J.D. Drew
– Manny Ramirez on the way out of town
– Hideki Okajima close to a 2-yr deal with the Red Sox
– Misc

 

The Red Sox have formally offered Daisuke Matsuzaka a contract offer believed to be worth $8m a year or so. Matsuzaka’s agent, Scott Boros, is said to be looking for $16m a year. As you can see, there is a divide.

 

Speculation has it that the Red Sox or Boras will ask the Matsuzaka’s current team, the Seibu Lions, to kick on some $ towards his contract. But MLB has made in clear that any side deal would be unacceptable. Interesting.

 

I have to assume, the Red Sox are not going to budge. They have all of the leverage here. Boras will do what he can, but in the end he has 2 choices, take what is offered, or let Matsuzaka go back to Japan, something he does not want to do.

 

The Boston Globe is reporting the Red Sox are close to signing J.D. Drew to a 5-yr, $70m deal. That works out to $14m a season. What I’ve heard most about this deal is that the Red Sox were unwilling to give Johnny Damon $13m a year, but they are willing to give a lesser player $14m a year just 365 days later.

 

The only problem with that logic is that the market has changed. Gary Matthews Jr. is a prime example. He just signed a 5-yr, $50m deal with LAA. Mathews sports a career .336 OBP and .419 SLG. If that is worth $10m a year, certainly Drew’s .393 OBP and .512 SLG must be worth $14m, no? I have to conclude that people more mad at the current market than at signing J.D. Drew for $14m a year.

 

As for the specifics of signing Drew, it won’t happen until after December 1 as the Red Sox want to see if the L.A. Dodgers offer him arbitration, thus determining if they owe compensation or not.

 

Many reports have the Red Sox shipping Manny Ramirez out in the next 10 days. Can his bat be replaced? No. Is he such a distraction in the clubhouse that this makes sense? We’ll never know.

 

The Red Sox, if you believe media reports, are eager to move him. Knowing they will never get equal value, I think most people better be ready for a bunch of good prospects and maybe a solid contributor or role player. I won’t waste any more of your time on this until we get some concrete info.

 

Boston is apparently close to signing lefty Hideki Okajima from Japan. He is a free agent, therefore does not have to go through the posting process. Scouting report: Umm, I had never heard of him until I read Boston Dirt Dogs. DBB has a contributing editor who writes for Japaneseballplayers.com who has the following to say:

 

Hideki Okajima, a 30-year-old lefthanded-specialist relief pitcher, is a three-time Japan Series winner, twice with the Yomiuri Giants in 2000 and 2002 (he was a teammate of Hideki Matsui, who he would be facing a lot, if signed), and this year (2006) with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

 

Okajima has faced tough lefty opponents in critical situations out of the ‘pen and proven his ability in Japan. He has a "big" curve, which is tough for lefthanded batters to hit, and he’s held lefty hitters to less than a .200 average in ’05 and ’06. Okajima’s last three years of innings pitched (IP), bases on balls (BB), and strikeouts (SO).

This move makes sense on many levels. First off, if he is a decent pitcher, great, especially since it won’t break the bank. Secondly, having Okajima around will only make Matsuzaka’s transition, if he ever gets here, easier one would think.

 

By the way, I’m beginning to think every other player from Japan is named Hideki (Irabu, Matsui, Okajima).

 

Some miscellaneous things. The Yankees won the bidding/posting process for Kei Igawa. The posted $26m for him. Considering the Yankees posted $33m for Matsuzaka, from all reports, the much better pitcher, this goes to show how the Red Sox bid of $51.1m for Matsuzaka changed the landscape. Or, as Peter points out, it tells us George Steinbrenner has recovered, had a cup of coffee and is again calling the shots for the Yankees, results be damned.

 

Igawa is a lefty and just one year older than Matsuzaka. The funny thing about this is that no one really knows how either will fair in MLB next season. Igawa might be the much better pitcher, but at much less cost. Who knows? The money being thrown about is off the charts.

 

Posted by Andy at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2006

 

Constructing the 2007 Red Sox Line-Up

 

There hasn’t been much concrete information to talk about of late. The Boston Globe says the Red Sox are quietly making progress on a J.D. Drew deal, but that the length of contract is a sticking point.

 

To waste some time, I thought I’d construct the line-up for the 2007 Red Sox based on what we’ve been hearing.

 

Additions:
J.D. Drew
Julio Lugo

 

Ok, if the Red Sox did sign those 2, I would make my line-up look like this (not including any platooning opportunities).

 

1b – Youkilis
ss – Lugo
dh – Ortiz
lf – Ramirez
rf – Drew
3b – Lowell
cf – Crisp
c – Varitek
2b – Pedroia

 

It pains me to drop Varitek that low, but he is probably not going to get much better unless 2006 was the result of injury. Crisp I am expecting a bounce-back year because at least some of his trouble can be attributed to his finger injury and how can’t a player bounce back from such a terrible season?

 

Pedroia could easily move to the 2nd spot if he comes anywhere close to his minor league numbers in OBP.

 

Pedroia’s career OBP by season:

 

2002 NCAA – .432 in 58 games
2003 NCAA – .570 in 68 games
2004 NCAA – .645 in 53 games
2004 Augusta A – .560 in 12 games
2004 Sarasota A – .523 in 30 games
2004 Scottsdale – Fall League – .370 in 16 games
2005 Portland AA – .409 in 66 games
2005 Pawtucket AAA – .356 in 51 games
2006 Pawtucket AAA – .384 in 111 games

 

By the way, check out the Pedroia link and the photo they have. If that is Pedroia, he did some serious maturing since the season ended. In fact, Pedroia looks about half this guy’s age.

 

But it seems Pedroia’s OBP developement has slowed since joining AAA. The numbers are still nice, but not indicative of a player that will be .400 and above at the Major League level. Still, there is a good chance he’ll do better in that catagory than will Lugo.

 

For those wondering why I’m caught up on OBP at the top of the order? Well, first off, you’ve never read this site and secondly, give that the Red Sox are not a running team, overall speed isn’t that important. Couple with that the fact Boston has 2 very good hitters in Ortiz and Ramirez (for now) that drive in a ton of runs. It would make sense to have as many guys on base for them as possible, no?

 

I’m sure most of you are on board with this notion. Back to speed, even if the Red Sox did have some speed and used it frequently, there is a general rule that says you need to be successful 75% of the time or greater otherwise you are actually hurting your team by generating too high a rate of outs when attemtping a stolen base (check out this thread on Baseball-Fever.com, interesting discussion on stolen bases).

 

Terry Francona knows this and would be reluctant to send his guys if it was likely to negatively impact the chances of scoring. I’ve talked about this concept before and this post has an exhibit I lifted from a very good book.

 

Anyway, my point, albeit unnecessarily long-winded, is that OBP is far more important than speed, especially to the Boston Red Sox and their current management group.

 

All I know is that the line-up I listed above would probably score more runs than the 2006 edition. Of course the 2006 edition wasn’t so bad up until mid-August or so.

 

There you have it, some filler until we get some actual news.

 

Posted by Andy at 02:45 PM | Comments (4)

November 20, 2006

 

Baseball Economics

 

It appears the MLB player salary scale has changed. If you listen to the rumors being discussed and the actually signings, players stand to make much more in 2007 than they did in 2006.

 

This leads me to wonder whether $15m a season is so much for J.D. Drew and $51.1m is too much to bid for an unproven pitcher from Japan. Considering this free agent class is generally considered weak for bats and average at best for arms, I think the money we’ve been seeing proves baseball is financially very healthy and players are going to get richer.

 

Salaries have basically increased year after year, save perhaps a blip from 2001-2004, since the onset of free agency. With that, I suppose we could have expected the inflated numbers we’ve been seeing.

 

If Alfonso Soriano is worth $17m a season (at age 31) for 8 seasons, then why is Drew for 2 – 4 years at $15m crazy? If baseball keeps up with their revenue trends, then the players will just keep making more and more while the fans and media outlets pay more and more. Inflation has been slightly over 3% for the past 50 years in the US. With that we shouldn’t be surprised at MLB salaries growing too.

 

These contracts seem crazy today, but might seem like bargains in 5 or 6 seasons (just look at Manny’s deal). There is a reason the new salary cap is at $148m for 2007 (up over $15m from last season).

 

So get to it Boston, nail down Drew for $15m a year, Daisuke Matsuzaka for $30m a season (factoring in the posting bid) and perhaps re-sign Doug Mirabelli for $5m a year. Can’t the Red Sox cough up $3m or $4m for Mark Bellhorn? Get to it!

 

Posted by Andy at 09:39 PM | Comments (5)

November 19, 2006

 

Manny: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

 

Ever since John Henry and co. bought the Red Sox and especially since Theo Epstein was named GM, there has been an effort to move Manny Ramirez. The reasons are many:

 

A.) He’s expensive.
B.) He mails it in on occasion.
C.) He plays for one thing, himself.
D.) He’s a pain in the arse.

 

I think every Red Sox fan has had at least one moment when he/she just wanted to send Manny away, to anyone. At the same time, there is no argument that Manny is an elite hitter. His consistency is remarkable and his ability to set up pitchers second to none.

 

So the scale delicately balances his flaws and his strengths.

 

Now the Red Sox are preparing for the 2007 season and Manny Ramirez has only 2 years left on his contract. With a contract that once called for the Red Sox to pay $160 million over 8 seasons only $38 million or so is due over the remainder. Reports have Alfonso Soriano signing with the Chicago Cubs, at age 30 (he’ll turn 31 in January) for 8-years and $137 million. Soriano is a very good hitter in his own right, but not on the same level as Ramirez. Given the amount being thrown at less-than-Manny-type-hitters, the market for Ramirez is higher than it’s ever been. If Boston really wants to get rid of him, now is their chance.

 

When Epstein first became GM, he wanted Manny gone and Manny couldn’t wait to leave town. Epstein taught Manny, or at least his representation as I’m not sure Manny understands anything other than hitting a baseball very far, that no team wanted him and his contract. Boston placed Manny on Irrevocable Waivers. Being placed on Irrevocable Waivers meant that any of the other MLB teams could have claimed Manny without giving Boston any compensation, the only obligation would have been to assume his entire contract.

 

Well that was a few years ago and now Manny’s contract looks palatable. Does Boston still want to move him? There have been reports that players and management alike have grown tired of his act. Yet Epstein publicly says they are always listening, but not actively trying to move Ramirez.

 

Moving Manny would leave an enormous hole in the line-up. Even if the Red Sox signed a Carlos Lee or J.D. Drew, neither could provide the same protection Ramirez provides David Ortiz. Nor would the opposition spend as much time psyching themselves out worrying about the Ortiz-Ramirez combo.

 

My take is that unless the Red Sox can get dollar for dollar return for Manny, it just isn’t worth moving him. I understand he is a distraction, but I also understand he posts a 1.000 OPS and drives in 100+ runs each year. Short of Albert Pujols and, well, Albert Pujols, no one hits as consistency well as Ramirez.

 

Knowing Boston can’t get Pujols, it seems certain a Manny trade would likely bring a combo of pitchers and prospects and that the only way to replace his bat would be via additional trades and free agent signings combined, a tall order.

 

The idea of freeing themselves of Manny and all that he represents is tempting, but unless the trade makes the Red Sox as strong as they were with him in the line-up, I can’t endorse moving him.

 

Posted by Andy at 07:44 PM | Comments (9)

November 18, 2006

 

Nixon vs. Drew

 

J.D. Drew may or may not be playing for the Red Sox in 2007. What has surprised most of us is the amount of money it is being reported that it will take to sign him. I’ve heard:

 

4 years, $56m
4 years, $48m
2 years, $30m

 

Considering many were surprised Drew opted out of his 3 year, $33m deal, if any of these rumors are true, it might be a good move for him.

 

The biggest complaint about signing Drew is that most feel Trot Nixon is just as good a player as Drew all things being equal (just listen to WEEI). Add to it Nixon would probably sign for much less.

 

Let’s analyze the two players.

 

Baseball-Reference.com list the player most similar to J.D. Drew as, who else, Trot Nixon (thanks D.S. for pointing that out). Drew ranks as the 7th most similar player to Nixon.

 

So based on cumulative performance, they seem similar. The problem is, the most similar player doesn’t have to be alive anymore. That is to say, this tool only captures a player’s total performance, no matter when he played. So Bob Nieman and Trot Nixon are listed as similar players, even though Nieman played his last game in 1962.

 

A more appropriate thing to do would be to perhaps look at recent performance for Drew and Nixon.

 

Past 3 seasons:

 

TNixon: .278/.367/.435 147 runs, 27 HRs, 142 RBI, 128 BB, 139 K’s
JDDrew: .293/.415/.532 250 runs, 66 HRs, 229 RBI, 258 BB, 272 K’s

 

There is no argument that Drew not only wins this comparison, but it really isn’t close. Many will say that Nixon’s injuries are the reason he didn’t have higher stat totals. Well sure, but isn’t that the knock on Drew too, the fact he is injury prone? If you point that at Drew, you have to do the same with Nixon. In fact, Drew has played 363 games over the past 3 seasons, Nixon 286. So Drew has proven the better offensive player and the more durable. Add to it Nixon’s .620 OPS vs. Lefties over the past 3 season compared to Drew’s .814 OPS vs. Lefties. With Nixon, you have a RF that will need a platoon partner.

 

For all of the Nixon fans out there, I think it is time to face facts, Nixon is a fantastic individual, but his baseball skills have tailed off. He had a run of 3 good years from 2001-2003 (and 2002 wasn’t that great). Nixon works hard, but doesn’t have the same octane left in the tank. Even though he is only 1 1/2 years older than Drew, salaries not withstanding, I’d take Drew 10 times out of 10.

 

But, I can’t just take salaries out of it. The idea of paying Drew $15m a year is tough to take. While he has been the much better player since 2004, he still has his minuses. He isn’t exactly durable compared to what you’d like out of a starter and despite enourmous skill, reports suggest he isn’t always interested in playing baseball. That characteristic will go over very well in Boston, no?

 

I like the idea of Drew playing RF for Boston next year, I just don’t like the idea of giving him $15m a year. What annual figure would I be happy with? $10m or $11m, but I know that since he had $11m guaranteed on the table, he won’t settle for anything less than $12m.

 

The Red Sox front office has been doing some strange things lately. At least they seem strange from the outside looking in. Rob Neyer had an interesting take in his latest piece. (registration required, although it has been "free" on the weekends of late). Neyer basically says that from what he can tell, the posting fee for Diasuke Matsuzaka seems outragous, but then he acknowledges that the Red Sox "rarely behave irrationally" and wonders if they know something the rest of don’t. Let’s hope so because if not, given the rumors we are reading about, the $ they are tossing around is so big, it leads to the concern about future financial flexibility.

 

Let’s hope they know what they are doing with Drew and more importantly, before we cast final judgement, let’s see what really happens.

 

Update: For those hoping the Red Sox would re-sign Alex Gonzalez, too late, the Cincinnati Reds just inked him to a 3-year $14m deal.

 

Posted by Andy at 01:49 PM | Comments (5)

November 17, 2006

 

Predictions – Bill James

 

The Bill James Handbook 2007 is out (Manny is on the back cover). I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said over and over. This book is kicks Butte.

 

It has a complete registry of current players of course, but also includes splits, ballpark info, manager tendencies, projections and much more.

 

Of greatest importance, Bill James takes a stab at projecting batter performance (he doesn’t want a anything to do with pitcher projections feeling it cannot be done, so he leaves that to others). Here is a quick look at what he has in mind for the Red Sox players we know to be on the roster today.

 

2007 Projections from Bill James:

 

Kevin Youkilis: .283/.395/.433, 101 runs, 14 HR, 103 BB
Dustin Pedroia: .284/.355/.418, 79 runs, 72 Rbi, 67 BB
David Ortiz: .285/.391/.592, 110 runs, 47 HR, 138 RBI, 103 BB
Manny Ramirez: .305/.414/.590, 94 runs, 37 HR, 118 RBI, 90 BB
Jason Varitek: .259/.343/.434, 17 HR, 56 BB
Mike Lowell: .273/.341/.452, 18 HR, 77 RBI
Coco Crisp: .284/.337/.419, 74 Runs, 23 SBs

 

I’d be happy with the preformance for You, Pedroia (.355 OBP? I’d take it for essentially a rookie), Ortiz, Manny and Lowell. Varitek’s show what we’ve been talking about since he signed his big deal. Catchers do not go gracefully into the night. They tend to fall off the face of the earth. Varitek’s aren’t terrible numbers, but a far cry from what we saw earlier this decade. As for Crisp, I’d be disappointed if that’s all he does. That OBP is not good for a veteran and there is little else.

 

Based on these projections alone, it shows the Red Sox line-up to be top heavy. That is to say, once you get past the first 4 or so, a pitcher can take a break. The Red Sox line-ups from 2004 and the current Yankees line-up don’t allow for such breaks.

 

With talk of J.D. Drew joining the ranks, forget about his pricetag, the Red Sox line-up would look much better.

 

J.D. Drew Projections: .283/.398/.493, 24 HRs, 92 runs, 82 rbi, 91 BB

 

He’d be a nice addition. You can see the line-up is projected to walk a ton keeping the overall team OBP at a high level. OBP is a key to a Theo Epstein, Bill James and John Henry team.

 

Anyway, the Bill James book is a great addition to your baseball library.

 

As for stuff we know, Alex Cora was officially inked today to a 2-year deal. The reports are that it is for $4m total.

 

That’s all we know for now.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2006

 

Can Matsuzaka be Signed?

 

I’m starting to think that perhaps the $51.1m bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka’s negotiation rights was more for blocking purposes than anything else.

 

The have seen so many speculative reports as to what Scott Boras will ask for ranging from a 2 year deal with a free agency clause to a 6 year deal. The annual figures have been betwee $7m a year and $16m a year.

 

If Boras is firm on a $16 deal for 2 years, then it means the Red Sox paid $83.1m for a 2 year deal. $41.5m per season? Does that make sense? Even Boras has to see that is a joke. For this to be a good deal for Boston, they need to sign him to 4 years minimum. That would put Matsuzaka at 30 years old. Plus it gives more time to spread out that bid fee (at least psychologically).

 

The numbers are staggering, so I hope they know what they are doing if they do indeed sign him. Andrew Zimbalist, a baseball economist, says that if the Red Sox do strike a deal to broadcast NESN in Japan, they stand only to gain $3m a year. Alternatively, I’ve heard that the Yankees, through TV ad space and other marketing make $21m a year on Hideki Matsui. So I imagine the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

 

If the season started today with Matsuzaka signed, here is the rotation in no particular order:

 

Schilling
Beckett
Wakefield
Papelbon
Matsuzaka

 

That looks good, but realistically, all of these guys has a question mark. Schilling is 40, Beckett was not good last year, Wakefield is 41, Papelbon is making a significant transition from closer to starter and Matsuzaka, well, he’s never pitched in the big leagues.

 

While I doubt all of these guys will struggle, I wouldn’t surprised if some of them do. Then again, that can be said for all rotations, not just Boston’s.

 

Posted by Andy at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)

November 14, 2006

 

Done Deal

 

It’s official, the Red Sox won the bidding war for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka. MLB.com has been reporting on this live and perhaps you can get some archives.

 

Not included or made available tonight is what exactly Boston bid. That should bubble up to the surface soon, but as of now, no one is saying. Word has it that it is somewhere between $42m and $50+m.

 

Now that the Red Sox have the rights to negotiate, the wind is taken out of their sails a bit as reality sets in…Scott Boros is Matsuzaka’s agent. Boros is not an easy agent to deal with nor is he reasonable. With that in mind, I am fully prepared for 2007 without Matsuzaka on the Red Sox and at the very least, a negotiation that lasts the full 30 days. I just don’t think this will go smoothly.

 

No matter, step one is done, now sign the guy.

 

Update: ESPN is reporting the winning bid was $51.1m. That is some serious cake. There is no source for that figure, but I’ll believe such a specific number.

 

Props to Buster Olney for breaking the story, albeit in a very cautious way, usings phrases like "the Red Sox might have the high bid." Also props to Orestes Destrade for being closest to the bid amount.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:00 PM | Comments (6)

November 13, 2006

 

GM Meetings 2006 – Red Sox Rumors Day One

 

The following info has, for the most part, been taken from other outlets and compiled for your convenience. I have added some of my own opinions too. Nick Cafardo of the Globe and Michael Silverman of the Herald are giving updates on their respective employers websites. Please check them out with the links I provided in my last post.

 

Here is what I have determined: The Seibu Lions will hold a press conference tonight at 8pm ET or tomorrow night at 8pm ET. Cafardo thinks it is tonight while Silverman thinks it is tomorrow night. The confusion exists most likely because of the 14 hour time difference. I have to imagine it is 8pm est tonight (Monday) because the Lions had a deadline of Tuesday their time, so holding a press conference tomorrow night our time would really be Wednesday their time thus past the deadline. So there you go.

 

Cafardo is reporting that the player the Red Sox made a FA offer to was J.D. Drew, no surprise. Remember, you read it here first, the Red Sox and Scott Boros are intwined in an elaborate conspiracy theory.

 

UPDATE 3:04pm ET: ESPN’s Peter Gammons is reporting that the Red Sox are the highest bidder with a bid of $42m. "Sources told Gammons" was how they sources the news. So now Buster Olney and Peter Gammons are reporting the Red Sox were winners.

 

2nd UPDATE – 3:37pm ET: Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe is reporting that ESPN’s Baseball Tonight analyst, Orestes Destrade, formerly of the Japanese Baseball Leagues, is hearing it from his old contacts that the Red Sox won the Matsuzaka contest with a bid of $more than $50m!!! Wow! In addition, David Lefort, also of the Globe, has updated the Globe blog to indicate that the announcement will indeed come Tuesday, 8pm ET and not tonight with the both MLB and the Japanese Commissioners Office holding simultaneous announcements. Peter Gammons is the source behind this info.

 

Again, the Boston Globe’s Extra Bases Blog has had far and away the most info on this issue. It appears they have at least 3 reporters in Naples digging around for info.

 

Posted by Andy at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

The Watch Continues…

 

Ok, word around baseball is that the Seibu Lions will be meeting Tuesday AM their time to discuss this matter. It is about time too considering their deadline is Tuesday at some hour.

 

That means we should know something tonight. They are 14 hours ahead, so an 8am meeting in Japan is 6pm for us Monday. So if the meeting lasts 2-3 hours, we could start to see news leak out at around 8-9pm tonight.

 

This is crazy and I have to admit, I’ve gotten a bit caught up in the hysteria. I have to prepare myself for the possibility the Red Sox might not have the winning bid and/or that their bid is so huge, it might have a negative impact on the Red Sox buying power.

 

We shall see.

 

By the way, the General Manager meetings kick off this morning in Florida. These meetings use usually the place GMs and agents start talks on signings and where GMs and other GMs talk specifics on trades and learn about who might be available and for what.

 

Here are 3 links that should prove useful to keep updated on Red Sox news:

 

Boston.com – Extra Bases with Nick Cafardo. Cafardo is in Naples reporting some interested news. The most interesting so far is that Theo Epstein acknowledged that the Red Sox have already made a firm offer for a free agent. Although he declined to say who.

 

Boston Herald – Insider/ Sox Blog – Not sure who, if anyone, is manning the blog this week, but they are sometimes useful.

 

The Providence Journal – Soxblog – This isn’t updated all that much and again, I’m not sure they have anyone covering the meetings.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)

November 11, 2006

 

Conspiracy Theory

 

Ok, I thought of this conspiracy theory when taking about the Matsuzaka sweepstakes yesterday with Peter, this site’s Yankee fan.

 

Here it goes:

 

Scott Boros represents Matsuzaka and probably promoted his abilities to all major league teams. That being said, he probably had more detailed conversations with some teams than others, that is to say he spoke in more detail to the teams he thought would make a legit bid.

 

As the bidding process started, he figured out which teams were going to be making the highest bids, based on casual conversation and gave them indications what it would take based on his conversations with the other interested teams. As part of giving up this important information, he offers up this condition: If I give you what I think is the bid you need to offer to win the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka, you need to offer my other client, J.D. Drew, a 3-year deal worth a minimum $12m per season.

 

So, perhaps this unfolded with Boston. They reportedly (although hardly confirmed) offered the highest bid and have been said to be very interested in Drew to play RF at Fenway as well. So I tell you what you need to bid and you give my other client a bigger contract than he just walked away from.

 

Could be? Maybe?

 

If the Red Sox end up with both Matsuzaka and Drew, then perhaps we are on to something. Then again, both where targets from the beginning, so perhaps it would just be coincidence.

 

In other news, Keith Foulke gave the Red Sox a nice holiday gift by walking away from his player option of $3.75m. Instead, he is due just the $1.5m buyout from Boston. They didn’t want him and he certainly didn’t want to be here.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2006

 

Jaw Dropping…If It’s True

 

ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that the Red Sox may have the highest bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka. The bid is said to be between, I hope you are sitting down for this, $38m and $45m!!!

 

Holy smokes, that is a ton of cash. Olney sited MLB sources.

 

Do you realize what this means? If the Red Sox did indeed win the bid and sign Matsuzaka to a 3 year, $30 deal (probably conservative), when you factor in the posting bid, it now becomes a 3 year deal valued at between $68m and $75m or $22.67m and $25m per season.

 

How can a team justify that? I understand the bid does not count towards the salary cap, which fyi is $148m in 2007, but still, that is a tremendous financial committment to a player who has never pitched in the Majors before.

 

Before we get too excited about Olney’s report, there have been other reports that the Seibu Lions were disappointed by the top bid of only $15m and were still meeting to figure out whether or not to accept it. So we won’t know for sure until either the Lions or MLB says something.

 

Still though, if Matsuzaka is all he is cracked up to be, it would be a great addition to the rotation and it would happen without losing any prospects or draft picks, but man is that expensive.

 

Posted by Andy at 02:15 PM | Comments (4)

Foulke Part II

 

We will hear today on whether Keith Foulke remains a Red Sox or not. I think I messed up his contract status. Because the Red Sox declined the team option, they owe him a buyout of $1.5m OR, Foulke can take his $3.75m player option. If he takes his player option, he will NOT also get the team buyout.

 

Cot’s Baseball Contracts set me straight on this one.

 

Still no word on Matsusaka. We will probably hear something today, although the Seibu Lions has until Sunday night I believe before they have to make an announcement.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

Matsuzaka watch continues

 

So the bids are in and the Seibu Lions know who won, but are now determining if they will accept the bid or turn it down and keep Daisuke Matsuzaka for themselves.

 

As Peter points out on the Yankees side of this site, Japan is 14 hours ahead of us here in Boston. The Lions are holding a board meeting to determine what to do on Friday at 2pm local time (Japan that is). So that would be Friday 12:01 am our time. If the meeting last a few hours and it then takes another hour or so for the news to hit the news, we will be finding out when we wake up Friday morning. Then again, the Lions have 4 full days to mull this over from the ending of the bidding process which ended Wednesday at 5pm EST.

 

This kid has been fantastic, but if the Red Sox have to pay $20m or more just for the right to negotiate with him, and his agent Scott Boros, is it worth it? That is a fair amount of cabbage…as I’ve said before.

 

In other news, J.D. Drew has opted out of his guaranteed contact (his option) that was scheduled to pay him $33m over the next 3 years. My reaction? Is he nuts? Drew is very talented, but he is also made of balsa wood. If he could stay healthy and play 155+ game each year, he’d be a HOFer but he doesn’t therefore he isn’t.

 

So why would a 31 year old opt out of a $33m 3-year deal? Probably because his agent is Scott Boras. I think this one might bite Boras because his client is frail and incapable of playing fulltime. That being said, I would not be at all surprised to see Drew in a Red Sox uniform in 2007, probably at 3-years and $34m. What do I know after all?

 

Posted by Andy at 06:04 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2006

 

Keith Foulke

 

The Red Sox will learn by late Thursday or Friday morning whether or not Keith Foulke will be pitching for them in 2007.

 

The Sox held a $7.5m option on Foulke which they declined on Tuesday. As part of declining the option, there is a $1.5m buyout to be paid to Foulke. In turn, Foulke now has 48 hours to decide if he wants to exercise his $3.75m player option to stay with Boston.

 

A nice position to be in, no? Either way he is guaranteed $1.5m which he can up to $5.25m if he exercises his player option, or he can declare free agency and sign with another team and still get his $1.5m buyout. Foulke basically has to decide if he wants to live in Boston for another year.

 

Foulke’s ride here has been up and down. The up came in 2004, but it has been down since. He has clearly shown he does not like the attention of pitching in Boston and has proven to be a good sized ass about it. He is sullen and not open to the media much anymore.

 

My take is the money is hard to walk away from and greater than if he signs with another team, but he has been so unhappy here, why stay? 2007 with Keith Foulke will just add up to more misery for both player and team. He is unhappy and should pack his bags and ride, make that, sprint off into the sunset.

 

The Boston Herald confirmed the Alex Cora signing, although the Red Sox have not yet made it official.

 

The bids for Daisuke Matsuzaka are due today. The Seibu Lions will have 4 days to evaluate the bid and decide whether they want to accept it or not (a part of the process I previously left out. It makes sense that they could walk away in case MLB teams lowball them).

 

More soon I expect.

 

Posted by Andy at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2006

 

Alex Cora Re-signs…I think

 

The Red Sox reportedly have re-signed utilityman Alex Cora to a two year deal. Boston Dirt Dogs broke this story with a link to El Nuevo Dia. Given my limited (read non-existant) Spanish skills, I decided to cut and paste the text into Googles "language translator" and came up with this. I am printing it in its entirely because I’m certain I would never be accused of copyright infringement given the VERY ROUGH apparent translation.

 

LAST COMMENTARY Beam that your commentary is first. The player of the picture boricua Alex Cora not only will play this season with the Creoles of Caguas, but that finishes signing an extension by two years with the Red Averages of Boston. Although he did not mention inasmuch as he signed with Boston, yes was contentment to remain in the tax exemption. Cora played 96 games the passed campaign, where she connected a quadrangular one and she pushed 18 races. 96 amount of parties that Alex Cora played east year with the Rojas Averages Cora will be united to the Creoles in the middle of December, and began to practice from first of November. “I believe that all the equipment has made an incredible work in improving. It is necessary to see how the fanaticada one reacts. At least there is just a little bit of controversy with the entrance of Benito and Igor, but that is important, is good or bad, after she is spoken of the league”, Cora said yesterday during a beneficial activity, when talking about to the critics that have received these two players to return behind schedule to the winter league in their races. Moved away of that, campocorto waits for one season competitive. “That, is equipment that wins, Caguas either another one, we pruned to represent Puerto Rico with dignity and to win Series of the Caribbean, that I believe that it is the goal of each one of us”, indicated Cora. Another subject that will maintain it occupied at the end of year will be the opening of clinics of ball in Villanueva, Caguas, calls `Jose Manuel Cora’, in honor to its father. The clinics will begin next 8 of November, beginning from the 6:30 of afternoon, and are free of cost. There boricua will accompany campocorto Alex Cintrón. “Not only we will be teaching the tools to the children of how to play baseball, but that also will have to char them to the trainers and parents. This is to educate”, maintained Cora. Each celebrated clinic will be of different ages, and will count on the participation of other players of the patio.

 

The tranlation refers to our Red Sox as the "Red Averages." Hmmm, that isn’t a great endorsement…

 

So, I think Cora is going to be with the Red Sox for 2007 and 2008. A very good signing in my book. He can play any infield position without making a fool of himself (he has no 1b exp.) and can handle the bat. That’s not to say he has a great obp or slg, but he is a good situational hitter, can bunt and move runners along.

 

Good move.

 

In other note, the Boston Herald is reporting that Japanese thirdbaseman Akinori Iwamura is also being posted. I assume it’ll take much less to win his negotiation rights than it will Daisuke Matsuzaka’s. Bids for Akinori are due by Friday.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2006

 

Buzz

 

As the Red Sox continue to work on a restructured 2007 squad (we hope), some of the areas of interest are starting to come into play. First off, the idea of signing players from the Japanese Baseball League is being analyzed.

 

First off, posting means the player’s Japanese team is making him available to Major League teams. Any team that wants exclusive rights to a player that has been posted must submit a blind bid to the Japanese team. The team that submits the highest bid is granted exclusive rights to negotiate with the Japanese player. If a deal is struck, well then welcome to the Major Leagues. If no deal is struck, then he is returned to his Japanese team thus ending any chance of him coming to American in 2007.

 

The pros to this are that a player can theoretically come to the States for an inexpensive amount and no compensation, other than cash, is due anyone or any team. Additionally, the Japanese League has proven that their talent translates nicely here in the Majors. Ichiro, Hideki Matsui and Kazuhiro Sazaki are examples of players that have excelled in the Majors.

 

The cons are that this process can get very expensive for a player garnering the attention of multiple teams. For example, Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, has been posted. Blind bids are due by this Wednesday. Speculation has it that it will take between $20 and $30 million to win the rights to negotiate with him. Keep in mind that $20-$30m is just the fee paid to negotiate, it does not count toward any contract he might sign. Furthermore, he is expected to get well north of $10m a season. Let’s say he gets a 4 year, $48m deal and his posting bid was $25m. That is $73m for a guy that has never pitched in the Majors before. Expensive and risky, no?

 

So this avenue of talent acquisition is interesting, but loaded with pitfalls (i.e. potentially expensive).

 

There are expected to be several players posted this off-season and I have to guess Boston will be involved with most.

 

No other major developments to report other than perhaps the fact Boston did not have any gold glove winners despite posting the 2nd fewest errors in major league history. The Red Sox infield especially was probably done in by A.) not winning and B.) not being flashy.

 

The biggest controversy I’ve see is Derek Jeter winning over Alex Gonzalez.

 

Jeter 150 games, 1292.2 inn, .975 fld%, 3.97 range/g, 4.14 range/9, 15 errors, 81 DPs.
Gonzo 111 games, 966.3 inng, .985 fld%, 4.22 range/g, 4.36 range/9, 7 errors, 68 DPs.

 

Every stat category favors Gonzalez in this except one. Perhaps it was the amount of games played that swayed voters. The key is that voting is done by managers and coaches, who have proven time and again, that statistical measurements aren’t necessary for them to tell us who are the best…

 

Note: Nothing against Jeter, he is the ultimate professional and his resume is overflowing with accomplishments and high praise and I’d rather him the Red Sox shortstop than Alex Gonzalez all things considered (A "no kidding" kind of statement I realize), but he is not as good a fielder as many American League shortstops and in fact, if you look up the numbers, his winning 3 gold gloves in a row is a bit of a joke.

 

Anyway, I’m ok with the Red Sox not getting personal awards as long as they win.

 

I’ll keep you updated when things happen. Additionally, I’ll work on more frequent posts as it has been about 2 weeks since my last.

 

Posted by Andy at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

 

 

October 2006

October 27, 2006

 

St. Louis Cardinals

 

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals on winning the 2006 World Series Championship.

 

Now that the season is over, teams can start their rebuilding process. Again, for reference, visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts for key dates for the off-season.

 

The first thing we will see is a flurry of players filing for free agency.

 

Let the fun begin.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2006

 

Mike Timlin

 

You might have missed it, but the Boston Globe reported on Tuesday that Mike Timlin will return for another season. The deal is reportedly worth $2.8m with a chance for more via incentives.

 

Timlin’s 2006 salary was $3.5m.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:26 PM | Comments (2)

Carlos Lee

 

Moving down the line of possibly available talent, let’s look at Carlos Lee, a free agent.

 

Positives:

 

31 or more HRs the past 4 seasons
Averaged 158.5 games played over same period.
99 or more RBI the past 4 seasons.

 

Negatives:

 

Wrong side of 30 (dob – 6/20/76)
6′ 2" 240lbs
Career .835 OPS.

 

Lee has proven to be a consistant power threat since 2003. In addition, he has shown speed on the bases. Not just with his sb totals but his success rate. He is durable and despite a trade deadline address change in 2006, hemaintained a hot bat.

 

Lee, however is about ready to exit his prime. His weight has increased over the past few years and the combo of weight and age rarely leads to good things. Now before you get on my case about David Ortiz and his extra heft, I understand some players handle weight better than others, but that in the long run it is a concern. That is no different for Ortiz.

 

Lee is coming off of a career season. I just worry that he is a signing similar to the trio Tampa Bay signed in 2000, Greg Vaughn, Jose Canseco and Vinny Castillo. All three were coming off of boffo years in 1999. In 2000, Castillo turned 32, Vaughn 34 and Canseco 35. None of them produced anything close to what was hoped for by Tampa Bay.

 

If I were running the show, I’d consider Lee strongly, but I wouldn’t commit more than 3 years and I’d set a budget and refuse to break it. My guess is Lee will get $11m-$12m per season. I’d give him $9m or $10m max, which means I probably wouldn’t get Carlos Lee for 2007. All of the variables with Lee lead me to believe his signing will not necessarily produce the average of his prior 4 seasons. Maybe this falls into the catagory of "hunch," something the Red Sox probably disdain. Or perhaps my hunch is based on similar type players and their career paths.

 

What’s your take?

 

Posted by Andy at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2006

 

Adam Dunn

 

Nothing in the way of rumors here, but I did read on a message board the idea of Boston acquiring Adam Dunn. For discussion sake, I ask, would it be a good move?

 

First, is Dunn a player who could be acquired without mortgaging the future? Well, some in Cincinnati are souring on his performance. In 2006, he was down to a .855 OPS. Not bad, but well off of is high of .957 in 2004. In addition, he struck out 194 times (one shy of the record…that he holds). It seems Dunn has fallen off of his superstar pace and become something less than most had hoped.

 

So yes, I think Dunn could be had without offering up Jon Lester or all of the Red Sox minor league talent.

 

But, the question remains, is Dunn a good player? Is he an all-star? Is he a superstar? Is he good enough to hit 5th in the Red Sox line-up or 4th should Manny Remirez get dealt? Well, I don’t think he is a superstar (whatever that means), but he seems like he might be an all-star. Let’s look at the numbers over the past 3 seasons. I’m not trying to swing the argument by showing limited info, it is just that I’m too lazy to post it all of his stats. If you want his complete history, baseball-reference has it.

 

2004 – .266/.388/.569/46 HR/102 RBI
2005 – .247/.387/.540/40 HR/101 RBI
2006 – .234/.365/.490/40 HR/92 RBI

 

Good power and production, but his average is very low. A low average and tons of K’s makes some think of Mark Bellhorn, but K’s and a low average aren’t the worst things in the world. Additionally, his OBP and SLG have declined the past 3 seasons. Dunn is about to turn 27 years old, so he has accomplished a fair amount in his career at such a young age. But, Dunn is big and seems to be getting bigger. At 6′ 6" 275 lbs, he might be eating his way out of baseball. Or maybe he just needs a little discipline.

 

No matter, Dunn has proved a productive hitter so far. He walks a ton (108, 114, 112 walks from 2004-2006), strikes out a ton (195, 168, 194 from 2004-2006) and hits a bunch of home runs. He gets on base nicely and is young.

 

The negatives are that he is getting bigger, plays a lousy outfield (12 error in LF last year) and is limited in where he plays (108 games at 1b with a fld % of .986 vs. league average of .993).

 

Dunn has tremendous power and probably can be had for a reasonable price. If Boston were to get him, could new hitting coach Dave Magadan cut down his strikeout rate, not in itself a terrible thing, but frustrating to most fans.

 

Dunn’s performance is heading in the wrong direction, but he has tons of power and walks a boat load, 2 things the Red Sox like. Finding a position for him and figuring out a way to get him to Boston might prove too challenging, but I’d like to see him in Boston.

 

Make it happen!

 

Posted by Andy at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2006

 

Slow Motion

 

This postseason has been tough. The Mets and Cardinals are down to game 7 while the Tigers have been in the World Series for what seems like a month now.

 

While I don’t mind the teams currently in the World Series mix, I am frustrated waiting for the Red Sox rebuilding plans to commence.

 

Given the fact that the baseball season hasn’t ended, the Red Sox are limited in what they can do. In the meantime, the Red Sox have made a few minor moves:

 

Adam Stern traded to Baltimore to complete the trade for Javy Lopez (c).

 

Bryan Corey and Mike Burns signed minor league deals and were assigned to Pawtucket. This gives them some emergency, major league tested (and failed) arms for 2007.

 

Carlos Pena, Ken Huckaby and Alajandro Machado are now free agents.

 

The Red Sox also switched minor league affiliate at their high A level. Actually their minor league high A team ditched the Red Sox leaving the Red Sox in a bind. They decided on a team in the California League, the Lancaster JetHawks. This is not ideal given any players heading to or from Lancaster are guaranteed jet lag. Look for the Red Sox to search out a better option in 2 years.

 

The Boston Globe reported in their Sunday addition that there are rumors that Kevin Millar might find himself in a Red Sox uniform again. Interesting and maybe annoying.

 

Lastly, I saw a Red Sox message board plea to sign Barry Zito. I know, why do I read such nonsense? Well, if you look at Zito’s performance at Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Tropicana Field and the Rogers Centre, you’ll see a pitcher that isn’t great. At Camden Yards, however, he is an ace.

 

But given his struggles at the other 4 fields, perhaps Boston should let Zito find another home (not that he wants to pitch in Boston). Maybe Zito signing with New York would be a good thing.

 

More news as it becomes available.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:05 AM | Comments (2)

October 11, 2006

 

No Joy in Mudville

 

Peter Gammons had an interesting comment in his most recent post (subscription required). By the way, welcome back to PG, I was thrilled to see him on ESPN a few weeks back. He hasn’t missed a beat and his love of all things baseball is still intact. Back to his comment. He said "What did anyone expect to see when the Yankees were losing Saturday night? With the Yankees, and a growing extent the Red Sox, childish joy is not a part of the equation."

 

Is he right? I can see it with my own eyes with the Yankees. The game is more business than fun. Is it happening to the Red Sox too? Did Kevin Millar mean more to the Red Sox than we care to admit? Johnny Damon and Alan Embree too?

 

Baseball is a mix of many things. Skill, hard work, fundamentals, coaching, willingness to be coached, power, quickness, the list goes on.

 

There also are intangibles. Things like fulfillment, joy, love of baseball, happiness again, the list goes on.

 

Just how much do these intangibles factor into performance? If baseball as a job is anything like other career choices, it must help to love what you do. Having a good work environment (it is different for everyone) must be a plus too. Your co-workers/teammates have to play a big part in it, right

 

Just what makes a good recipe? We’ve heard it countless times over the past week, the Yankees spent $200m this year and have nothing to show for it. Well the Red Sox, despite spending 30% less than the Yankees, still spent $130m. That is a ton of cash and proves that payroll alone guarantees nothing. All-Stars 1-9 mean nothing by themselves. There is more to it.

 

I wonder if Bill James has a formula or equation for this. Perhaps a personality profile of each player on every championship team. What combination turned into a successful mix? Would that be too hard to do? Certainly personality mix alone couldn’t mean everything otherwise the next World Series winner might consist of guys like Bob Uecker at every position.

 

As for the Red Sox, isn’t David Ortiz capable of childish joy? Aren’t there plenty of character guys on the Red Sox (or weren’t there in 2006)? Someone figure this out, please.

 

Edit: The news yesterday of Cory Lidle’s passing stinks. My thoughts to his family.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:35 PM | Comments (5)

Which Way to Go

 

I was thinking about how the Red Sox could improve their starting pitching the other day. It dawned on me that free agent studs (this year’s class anyway) might not be the best method. I’ve identified Andy Pettitte, Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito as the 3 available starters as the most likely to command the highest dollars.

 

Let’s assume the Red Sox signed all 3. This is purely for sake of my conclusion as I know there is no way they’ll sign all 3 and most likely, any of them. But again, let’s assume they sign all 3.

 

Just what can we expect in 2007 for these guys?

 

Pettitte
Schmidt
Zito

 

Pettitte is the only one with intense AL East experience, but he had some injury concerns in 2004 and despite pitching in the NL Central in 2006, posted a 4.20 ERA while going 14-13.

 

What price would you pay for Pettitte? The asking will probably be around $10m a year.

 

Schimidt is going to be 34, but has pitched fairly well over the past 5 years. His 2005 was a step back from his unbelievable 2004 season, but he rebounded to start 32 games in 2006 going 11-9 with a 3.59 ERA. But again, that ERA (4.40 in 2005) is in the NL West. How will that hold up in the AL East, especially for a career NLer.

 

I say he gets $8-9m a year.

 

Lastly there is Zito. Zito has been super durable over his first 7 major league seasons. There are a few concerns that I’ve noticed. First off, he has pitched 200+ innings isnce he was 23 years old. His former teammate Mark Mulder is now experiencing a breakdown possibly (just a guess) as a result of such a high workload at an early age. Additionally, his ERA, once in the 2.70-3.50 range, has been at 4.48, 3.86 and 3.83 over the past 3 years.

 

His strikeout to walk ratio has gotten worse (fewer K’s, more BB’s) and for those believing in the value of a good win-loss record, he has gone 55-45 over the past 4 years. Not bad, but a far cry from his 47-17 record the 3 years prior.

 

He will probably get the most of this trio because of his age (29 in 2007). Perhaps $13-$14 per.

 

So let’s say the Red Sox get all 3.

 

Is it fair to include an ERA penalty for joining an AL East team for each? Let’s say so.

 

Pettitte – 4.00ERA
Schmidt – 4.20 ERA
Zito – 4.25 ERA (he has gotten pounded by the Yanks and Red Sox in his career).

 

These are off the top of my head guesses. I penalized Zito, or rather, gave him the lowest ERA because he has done it before in the AL East, but if you look at his ERA’s while with the Yankees from 1995-2003, they look like this: 4.17, 3.87, 2.88, 4.24, 4.70, 4.35, 3.99, 3.27, 4.02. So that might be generous, but so what.

 

Are those ERAs for the three mentioned above going to get you excited? Are they going to translate into good win totals? Perhaps those ERAs are not likely as many players have imploded upon joining the Red Sox.

 

I guess my point in all of this is that there is too much unknown involved with each player to be committing such resources. None is a guaranteed stud like Pedro Martinez was (was), or perhaps a Randy Johnson was (was).

 

I think the best course of action is to acquire players that prove low risk in terms of cost while holding potential upside. The key is finding those guys. They don’t grow on trees and certainly their upside isn’t readily apparent. Scouting and statistical analysis will be bigger than ever before this offseason.

 

If you’d like to be notified of new posts, just email me at: andy@yankeesredsox.com Please put the words: "notification request" in the subject line.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:14 AM | Comments (2)

October 07, 2006

 

This Could Be Bad

 

The Yankees early exit from the playoffs might be a really bad thing. Some Red Sox fans might find this a time to rejoice. The Yankees, like the Red Sox, were a flawed team. Their offense was fine, but their pitching had holes.

 

The Yankees had 2 starter arms they could count on coming in the post-season. Johnson was ailing and beyond that, they had concerns, Jaret Wright being one of them.

 

So now that they’ve left the playoffs so quickly, expect that the Yankees "wrath will be terrible, their retribution swift."* That is to say they are going to spend lots of money on lots of free agents.

 

They are going to identify trade partners and secure better pitchers than they had in 2006. It could get ugly for the Red Sox. The last thing Boston needs is the Yankees in on every one of their free agent targets.

 

I don’t know exactly what this means of course. George Steinbrenner has proven to be a bit of a different man these past few years, but history suggests this will be a very uncomfortable off-season for Brian Cashman and Joe Torre. Enough so that they, especially Cashman, will work harder than ever.

 

As for the Red Sox, there is much baseball to play, so don’t expect more than rumors at this point to satisfy your hot stove cravings.

 

Here is a cut/paste from MLB.com of important dates:

 

November 13-17, 2006 – General managers meeting, Naples, FL

 

December 4-7, 2006 – Winter Meetings, Orlando, FL

 

Wow, those are the only 2 entries MLB has on it site for off-season date of importance. Fairly weak.

 

For a much better site that has all of 2006 AND 2007 dates check out this page on Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

 

* Yes, I am a nerd.

 

Posted by Andy at 07:46 PM | Comments (5)

October 02, 2006

 

Hitting and Pitching

 

The Red Sox ditched hitting coach Ron Jackson and pitching coach Dave Wallace today. Give the Red Sox credit, they didn’t waste any time making this decision.

 

In addition they announced Jonathan Papelbon will join the rotation in 2007. As you might know, I like lists, so here is a list of the potential starters for 2007:

 

Schilling
Wakefield
Beckett
Papelbon

 

The others that might be in the mix include:

 

Lester
Tavarez
Snyder
Hansack (he of the 5 inning no-hitter yesterday)
Gabbard

 

The first 4 look solid enough assuming they stay healthy (big assumption, I know), but the 5th isn’t as certain. It would be really nice to get a bonafide starter in the mix because as we know, you can never have enough starting pitching.

 

Anyway, the news is certain to come in fits and spurts and I’ll do my best to get it relayed.

 

Posted by Andy at 03:31 PM | Comments (3)

 

 

Red Sox December 2004

December 27, 2004

 

Subject to Change

 

Things sure can change quickly.

 

A week ago, the Red Sox were in need of a starting catcher, help for an aging and brittle rotation and something fans could hang their collective hats on. Good news. Jason Varitek was re-signed (and made captain), Wade Miller was added to the rotation and suddently things don’t look so bad.

 

Varitek’s re-signing is not only a boost to the line-up, it is most certainly a boost to the pitching staff. The Red Sox admitted as much themselves, Varitek brings many intangibles to the table. One being his ability to work with pitchers.

 

The Red Sox line-up was going to be good starting off 2005 with or without Varitek, but his on-base ability and power should not be discounted.

 

A quick look at the projected 2005 opening day line-up without Varitek and with Varitek. I used Mike Matheny as his replacement. In other words, this is his impact on the starting nine based on last year’s (2004) stats.

 

Without Varitek (Matheny instead):

 

Player Pos Avg G AB R H HR RBI BB SB PA OBP SLG OPS
Damon cf .304 150 621 123 189 20 94 76 19 702 .380 .477 .857
Bellhorn 2b .264 138 523 93 138 17 82 88 6 620 .373 .444 .817
Ramirez lf .308 152 568 108 175 43 130 82 2 663 .397 .613 1.009
Ortiz dh .301 150 582 94 175 41 139 75 0 669 .380 .603 .983
Millar 1b .297 150 508 74 151 18 74 57 1 588 .383 .474 .857
Nixon rf .315 48 149 24 47 6 23 15 0 167 .377 .510 .887
Matheny c .247 122 385 28 95 5 50 23 0 419 .292 .348 .640
Renteria ss .287 149 586 84 168 10 72 39 17 642 .327 .401 .728
Mueller 3b .283 110 399 75 113 12 57 51 2 460 .365 .446 .811
Totals .290 1169 4321 703 1251 172 721 506 47 4930 .366 .484 .850

 


With Varitek:

 

Player Pos Avg G AB R H HR RBI BB SB PA OBP SLG OPS
Damon cf .304 150 621 123 189 20 94 76 19 702 .380 .477 .857
Bellhorn 2b .264 138 523 93 138 17 82 88 6 620 .373 .444 .817
Ramirez lf .308 152 568 108 175 43 130 82 2 663 .397 .613 1.009
Ortiz dh .301 150 582 94 175 41 139 75 0 669 .380 .603 .983
Millar 1b .297 150 508 74 151 18 74 57 1 588 .383 .474 .857
Nixon rf .315 48 149 24 47 6 23 15 0 167 .377 .510 .887
Varitek c .296 137 463 67 137 18 73 62 10 536 .390 .482 .872
Renteria ss .287 149 586 84 168 10 72 39 17 642 .327 .401 .728
Mueller 3b .283 110 399 75 113 12 57 51 2 460 .365 .446 .811
Totals .294 1184 4399 742 1293 185 744 545 57 5047 .375 .496 .870

 


I’m not trying to pick on Mike Matheny, from all accounts, he is a valuable catcher, but there is no doubt Varitek is far superior with the bat. His presence forced pitchers to work hard as evidenced by his .390 OBP. A .390 OBP, with a .482 SLG is potent, especially when it is your catcher.

 

I have to admit I’m not fond of spending $10m or more on a single player per season. Then again, it isn’t my money….wait, it is my money. I spend $40 to sit in right field grandstand seats that face the bleachers, slowly, but surely, sever my patella tendon and force me to go far too long without refreshments. Ok, got a bit fired up there. What I mean is that the Red Sox are fortunate in that they can spend a bunch of money, but I do believe they have a budget and each bad signing impacts their ability to sign good players for the future.

 

So spending $10m or more on one person is crazy to me, but in this case, I’m ok with it.

 

Theo Epstein has once again assembled a line-up that gives the opposing pitchers no rest. In the National League, a pitcher can count on the 8th hitter and the 9th hitter (the pitcher) as some time off. They aren’t guaranteed outs, but they are easier outs.

 

In the American League, there isn’t the luxury of facing the opposing pitcher in the 9th spot, but there still are some easier outs there. In 2005, the Red Sox will put forth a line-up of discipled hitters. Edgar Renteria is the lone weak spot in on-base-percentage at .327 in 2004, but that was an anomoly considering his career OBP is .346. Not great, but not bad either. Renteria did post a .394 OBP in 2003.

 

Wade Miller, in my book, is a great signing. He is guaranteed only $1.5m in 2005, but can reportedly earn an addition $3m in incentives.

 

Miller comes on the cheap because A.) He was released by the Houston Astros and B.) Because he has a frayed rotator cuff. He was shut down last year to rehab the shoulder so he could get ready for 2005. He did not undergo any surgical procedures, so his rehab is limited to strength and flexibility work. Much like Pedro Martinez after he was diagnosed with a partially torn/frayed rotator cuff in 2001.

 

If it is possible to draw comparisons between Miller’s and Martinez’s injuries, then we might expect some slippage in Miller’s fastball for 2005. Martinez used to throw 95-97mph at will, but once he went down with shoulder problems in 2001, his regular fastball topped out at 91mph.

 

Now I can’t hit a 30mph fastball throw by a little-leaguer, but I’ve heard the difference to major league hitters is drastic.

 

The addition of Miller pushes the 5-man rotation to a 6-man rotation. That’s ok though as Curt Schilling has publicly stated he doesn’t think he’ll be ready until May.

 

So get ready for these five:

 

David Wells
Wade Miller (if healthy)
Matt Clement
Bronson Arroyo
Tim Wakefield

 

It’d be a bit better with Schilling anchoring that staff though…

 

Lastly, it looks like the bench players will be Kevin Youkilis, Jay Payton (platoon with Trot Nixon in right as Nixon can’t hit lefties), Doug Mirabelli, Doug Mientkiewicz and Ramon Vazquez. It is safe to assume either Kevin Millar or Doug Mientkiewicz will be traded before April 4, 2005. If that’s the case, perhaps Youkilis and Vazquez will be the infield back-ups, Payton will be the primary outfield back-up, Mirabelli the back-up catcher and perhaps an Adam Hyzdu, or Adam Stern will be the 5th man on the bench.

 

Regardless of how it falls into place, the Red Sox will once again have a pretty good bench. It might not be as good as 2004, but so be it. I’m interested to see if Epstein and Terry Francona will give Youkilis more time at firstbase.

 

Well, have no fear New England, the Red Sox are looking solid going into 2005. I still maintain there will be a major starting pitching acquisition by the 2005 trading deadline, so what you see now is probably not what you’ll get by August 2005.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2004

 

Out with the old…

 

I suppose I got my wish. In my last post, I asked for the Pedro negotiations to be done quickly. Well they wrapped up quickly and Pedro is now a New York Met.

 

I don’t know what to say about his parting shots. Peter Gammons made a great point in his 12/18 column that Pedro chose to talk about the Red Sox at his press conference instead of the New York Mets. That might show you how committed he is to New York.

 

Regardless, he is a goner and Red Sox management acted fairly quickly, but probably not completely. They signed Matt Clement to a 3 year, reported $25m – $25.5m contract. Because Clement hasn’t taken his physical yet, the deal hasn’t been formally announced by the Red Sox. Contract details are still sketchy.

 

Here is the 2005 Red Sox team for the most part:

 

Rotation

 

Curt Schilling
David Wells
Matt Clement
Tim Wakefield
Bronson Arroyo

 

Bullpen

 

Keith Foulke
Mike Timlin
Alan Embree
Matt Mantei
John Halama
Byung-Hyun Kim

 

Line-up

 

c – Varitek???
1b – Millar/Mientkiewicz
2b – Bellhorn
3b – Mueller
ss – Renteria (WEEI told us he’d be called Edg-a Renterier soon)
lf – Ramirez
cf – Damon
rf – Nixon
dh – Ortiz

 

Bench
Youkilis
Mirabelli
Millar/Mientkiewicz

 

That equals only 23 I think, so there is a bit more work to be done.

 

How many of you are happy with the line-up? I would imagine, assuming they re-sign Varitek (not a given certainly), that most would be very happy.

 

How many of you are happy with the bullpen? Ditto.

 

How many are happy about the rotation? Here is the problem. I bet most are a bit concerned about this. So, what can be done?

 

I don’t know. I believe though that Theo Epstein is going to save his remaining trade bait and go after one of the premier starters in baseball.

 

Who are the premier starting pitchers? Good question. I had this debate last night while enjoying a tall wobbly pop with 2 friends. I could be like Bill “The Sports Guy” Simmons and refer to them as “Shooter” and “Bulldog” but in fact, their names are Chad and Matt. Lame, I know.

 

Anyway, we came up with the following players:

 

True # 1’s
Jason Schmidt
Curt Schilling
Roy Oswalt
Ben Sheets (while acknowledging he’s only had 1 great year)
Johan Santana
Randy Johnson

 

Borderline # 1’s
Pedro Martinez (slipped in 2004)
Kerry Wood (injuries)
Mark Prior (injuries)
Tim Hudson (injuries)
Rich Harden (youth)
Mike Mussina (off-year, injuries)
Oliver Perez (youth)
Roger Clemens (would have been a true # 1, but might retire making him iffy)

 

Basically we all agreed on the first list and each had differing opinions on the second list. Additionally, I might have forgotten a name or two, but you get the idea.

 

The reason I brought this question up was because I’m convinced Epstein will pull off a trade between now and the 2005 non-waiver trade deadline (late July 2005) for one of these guys.

 

You can probably eliminate Pedro (gee,I wonder why), Johnson (doesn’t want to play in Boston), Santana (because is he young and cheap right now), the same can be said about Perez and Harden (both young and inexpensive).

 

Mussina, (too expensive), Hudson (just landed in Atlanta), Clemens (might retire but has publicly said he’d either pitch in Houston or not at all).

 

That leaves, Sheets, Schmidt, Oswalt, Woods and Prior.

 

It’d be tough to pry Schmidt loose as he is the anchor for the Giants staff. They can afford him and really need him. Woods and Prior would also be tough. Chicago needs them but each also has health worries that might scare the Red Sox off.

 

Lastly you have Sheets and Oswalt. Doug Melvin, the GM of the Milwaukee Brewers, has stated he will not trade Sheets. That might be true given Sheets won’t be eligible for free agency until 2007 and is just entering elite status. Still, it’ll be tough for the Brewers to give him enough money to convince him to forgo his first year of free agent eligibility, so they might be forced to unload him for prospects/players rather than lose him for nothing.

 

That leaves Oswalt. He is going to be a free agent in 2007, just like Sheets. He already made $3.25 this year in his first arbitration eligible year. He’ll probably make about $6-8mm this year given he did win 20 games in 2004. Houston might determine they just can’t afford Oswalt after 2005. Should that happen, he might be put on the trading block.

 

Looking again at the overall list, it’ll be tough to acquire anyone of these guys. But it can happen, just look at the trades of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and the pending trade of Randy Johnson.

 

Anyway, my money is on Epstein getting one of these guys. Otherwise, a rotation of Schilling, Wells, Clement, Wakefield and Arroyo, is subject to age related injuries (Schilling, Wells and Wakefield), inconsistency (Clement, Wakefield and Arroyo) and a general lack of star power.

 

With Hanley Ramirez, Jon Lester, Jon Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon Moss and Dustin Pedroia to name a few, Epstein certainly has the bullets to make a big trade.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2004

 

The Winter Meetings

 

The rumors are hot and heavy in Anaheim. Too many to mention them all in fact.

 

Here are the supposed done deals for the Red Sox:

 

David Wells – Theo Epstein got a bit creative here. The breakdown looks like this:

 

2 years
$3mm signing bonus
Salaries of $2.5mm in 2005 & 2006
Incentives – $200k for starts 11-20 & $300k for starts 21-30.

 

So if Boomer can make 30 starts both seasons, he can make a total of $18mm over 2 years. Interesting. I’ll be honest, at first glance at the 2 year, $18mm headline, I almost fainted. That is a bunch of money for a 41-year-old (he’ll be 42 in May).

 

Then I saw the structure and felt a bit better. Basically Wells is due $8mm in guaranteed money. The other $10mm is based on his performance. I’m sure many think this deal is too expensive, but I’m ok with it. If Wells is able and allowed to start 30+ starts per season, that means he pitched well. If not, that means he either got hurt or pitched so poorly that Francona took him out of the rotation.

 

So, if he pitches well, he gets the full $18mm and the Red Sox get 2 good years. If he pitches poorly, he gets far south of $18mm and the Red Sox limit their losses.

 

John Halama – I was surprised by this one. Again, it took me some research to get on board with this. It is a short contract and reasonably short money.

 

1 year, $1mm.

 

Halama has been a serviceable major leaguer. I remember him mostly from his days in Seattle. With a 4.52 career ERA though, I was initially skeptical. Then I read, on ESPN I believe, that he was going to be used as a reliever and nothing else. That is good news.

 

Over the past 3 seasons, here are Halama’s splits:

 

Starter
ERA WHIP W L IP K
5.30 1.58 12 11 192 92

 

Reliever
ERA WHIP W L IP K
2.64 1.14 4 5 126.1 88

 

I’m not sure I expected to see such extremes. Perhaps Halama approaches a relief appearances as a “let it all hang out” thing. I have no idea. Just glad he’ll be in the pen and not the rotation.

 

Matt Mantei – The former Arizona Diamondbacks closer is looking to rebound from a terrible 2004.

 

1 year, $750k with additional incentives (I haven’t seem the specifics yet).

 

I see this is a small gamble with big upside. Mantei has a career 3.86 era and has averaged 1.27 strikeouts per inning. He only went 10 innings last season due mostly to shoulder problems.

 

If Mantei can rebound, a great signing. If not, only $750k down the drain. Easy for me to say….

 

Some of the rumors:

 

Edgar Renteria – I would love to see this guy in a Red Sox uniform, but at 4 years, $40mm? That seems steep. I had an interesting discussion yesterday. Who would you rather have, Renteria or Julio Lugo? First off, I realize Lugo has had some domestic issues that make him, perhaps, less than ideal for an organization aiming to be fan friendly, but as a player, I was surprised to see how close Lugo and Renteria actually are performance-wise.

 

I won’t bore you with the details, but take a look at Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo on Baseball-Reference.com. As batters (OBP & SLG), runners (Steal %) and defenders (fld % & range), they are fairly close.

 

Anyway, the latest rumors now indicates a deal with Renteria, originally thought complete, is now not as likely.

 

Pedro Martinez – Rumor has it that a deal is basically in place, only dollars remain unsettled. In other words, the basic premise of the deal is NOT in place. I’d like Pedro back, but not at the cost of financial flexibility. Additionally, I’m getting tired of how long this is taking. Either re-sign or beat it Pedro.

 

Jason Varitek – Another instance where many people thing it is a forgone conclusion Varitek will re-sign. A local paper today suggested that with only the Pittsburgh Pirates in need of a catcher (and they can’t possibly meet Varitek’s asking price), the Red Sox have the leverage on this. They’ve supposedly offered 4 years at $9mm per. Varitek wants 4 years at $10mm per. Theymight be happy to let Varitek and his agent Scott Boras drift in the wind a few weeks. Just figure it out boys.

 

Jay Payton and Ramon Vazquez – A trade of Dave Roberts and Byung-Hyun Kim (that is BH Kim, not BK Kim) to the San Diego Padres in return for Payton and Vazquez.

 

Payton would be the 4th outfielder and Vazquez the utility infielder.

 

Roberts wants to start again and while he would be ideal for the Red Sox bench, Epstein is going to try and get him to another team to start again. I think if Epstein succeeds here, he will be buying himself a great deal of respect from many ball players in the league. Let’s face it, not every GM would try and trade a guy for the purpose of letting him start again.

 

Payton would be a solid addition. Like Gabe Kapler, Payton was once highly touted, but never really put it all together. So him landing in Boston might be a good fit. I don’t know a thing about Vazquez, but I do see he has played a bunch of the infield positions and is average with the bat. Payton stands to earn $3.5mm in 2005, but if the Red Sox can unload Kim and his $6mm salary, great.

 

Kazuo Matsui – The Mets shortstop wasn’t all many expected last year. In addition, he is due $7mm in 2005 and $8mm in 2006. Rumor has it Doug Mientkiewicz would be the guy going to the Mets.

 

I think this would be a great move. Especially if Boston can get the Mets to even out the $. The two hitters I think most people think about when they think of Japanese hitters are Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. Well Kaz Matsui was the 3rd highly touted hitter to cross the Pacific. While his rookie year didn’t impress many people, it should be noted that Hideki Matsui’s rookie year didn’t go as well as expected either.

 

In no way did Hideki have a bad first year, it was just no where near as good as his second season. So why can’t Kaz experience the same thing?

 

Even if he doesn’t, his defense at shortstop is decent (his fld % could use work, but his range is excellent) and his bat wasn’t all that bad for a shortstop. I’d pull the trigger on this one, as I mentioned, especially if the two teams can even out the $$$.

 

More to come I’m certain. There is talk of a trade for Tim Hudson and many other ideas.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

Red Sox November 2004

November 28, 2004

 

Have We Started Yet?

 

Nothing exciting has happened yet this off season, the Greg Myers signing notwithstanding.

 

For the Red Sox, they’ve officially lost Gabe Kapler. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to miss Kapler. To me, he was the kind of ballplayer that played the game the way I like to see it played. He ran hard on the bases and in the field and always seemed to be giving it his all. I realize he wasn’t loaded with talent and swung like a cricket player, but he was a good player and one the Red Sox will miss.

 

Once he collects his $3m from the Yomiuri Giants, perhaps he’ll re-sign with the Red Sox in 2006.

 

The Boston Globe reported on 11/27 that the Red Sox and Doug Mirabelli had tentatively reached a deal. No word on length, but the Globe said it would about double his salary ($825k in 2003). Not sure if that means it’s a 1 year deal or what.

 

Pedro Martinez is still shopping his services to both New York teams. Most think his talking with the Yankees and Mets is a ploy to get the Red Sox to raise their offer. Peter Gammons has some interesting words on the matter in his most recent piece.

 

The Red Sox have reportedly offered 2 years at $25.5m with a 3rd year option that vests based on certain achievements. It has also been reported that when Pedro met with George Steinbrenner, the Red Sox guaranteed the 3rd year. If that is the case, then why hasn’t be signed yet?

 

Perhaps he thinks he can get 4 years guaranteed or perhaps he is full of crud and his best offer is the 2 years with a non-guaranteed option with the Red Sox. Crud I tells ya!

 

Jason Varitek is also in negotiations with the Red Sox. He is reportedly (by the way, everything I tell you around here is “reportedly” because I don’t have any sources. I’m not in the know. I’m just a shlub with zero contacts) seeking 5 years at $50-55m total and a no-trade clause.

 

The Red Sox initially offered, reportedly, 3 years a $27 and then guaranteed a 4th year making it 4 years at $36m. But, if the two sides cannot figure out the no-trade thing, then all bets are off. Because Manny Ramirez has a clause in his contract that states if any of his teammates is given a no-trade clause, then his contract becomes untradable too. I don’t think the Red Sox have a decent shot of trading Manny’s contract either way, but Red Sox management has publicly stated they are not willing to give a no-trade clause.

 

Then again, if the Red Sox sign players to reasonable, smart contracts in the first place, then a no-trade clause might not be such a big deal. Let’s hope they get themselves into that position with all the players on the 40 man roster….once Manny is done in 2008.

 

Also left undecided is the hole at shortstop (Orlando Cabrera), another starter (Derek Lowe), a 5th outfielder/pinch hitter type (Gabe Kapler) and various bullpen spots…oh yeah, and the bullpen coach.

 

Ok, now onto some stats. This past pre-season, I displayed some stat projections. Here are how they panned out for most of the Red Sox players.

 

I originally showed two sources, Stats, Inc. and Baseball Notebook. Baseball Notebook has since “closed its projections section for the off season.” So forget them. Let’s look at home Stats, Inc. faired with its Red Sox projections.

 

Player 2004 Pos AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB SB Avg OBP SLG OPS TB
Damon Actual cf 621 123 189 35 6 20 94 76 19 .304 .380 .477 .857 296
Damon Stats Inc. Projections cf 624 113 175 32 7 12 66 66 30 .280 .348 .412 .760 257
-3 10 14 3 -1 8 28 10 -11 0.024 0.032 0.065 0.097 39
2004 Pos AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB SB Avg OBP SLG OPS TB
Bellhorn Actual 2b 523 93 138 37 3 17 82 88 6 .264 .373 .444 .817 232
Bellhorn Stats Inc. Projections 2b 253 37 55 10 1 8 28 42 5 .217 .331 .360 .691 91
270 56 83 27 2 9 54 46 1 0.047 0.042 0.084 0.126 141
2004 Pos AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB SB Avg OBP SLG OPS TB
Ramirez Actual lf 568 108 175 44 0 43 130 82 2 .308 .397 .613 1.010 348
Ramirez Stats Inc. Projections lf 507 91 158 33 1 34 112 86 1 .312 .415 .582 .997 295
61 17 17 11 -1 9 18 -4 1 -0.004 -0.018 0.031 0.013 53
2004 Pos AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB SB Avg OBP SLG OPS TB
Ortiz Actual dh 582 94 175 47 3 41 139 75 0 .301 .380 .603 .983 351
Ortiz Stats Inc. Projections dh 451 70 125 35 1 26 83 56 1 .277 .357 .532 .889 240
131 24 50 12 2 15 56 19 -1 0.024 0.023 0.071 0.094 111
2004 Pos AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB SB Avg OBP SLG OPS TB
Millar Actual 1b 508 74 151 36 0 18 74 57 1 .297 .383 .474 .857 241
Millar Stats Inc. Projections 1b 479 64 135 31 2 20 77 47 1 .282 .346 .480 .826 230
29 10 16 5 -2 -2 -3 10 0 0.015 0.037 -0.006 0.031 11
2004 Pos AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB SB Avg OBP SLG OPS TB
Varitek Actual c 463 67 137 30 1 18 73 62 10 .296 .390 .482 .872 223
Varitek Stats Inc. Projections c 433 54 113 29 1 16 68 46 2 .261 .336 .443 .779 192
30 13 24 1 0 2 5 16 8 0.035 0.054 0.038 0.092 31
2004 Pos AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB SB Avg OBP SLG OPS TB
Nixon Actual rf 149 24 47 9 1 6 23 15 0 .315 .377 .510 .887 76
Nixon Stats Inc. Projections rf 504 86 139 30 4 25 86 71 5 .276 .367 .500 .867 252
-355 -62 -92 -21 -3 -19 -63 -56 -5 0.040 0.010 0.010 0.020 -176
2004 Pos AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI BB SB Avg OBP SLG OPS TB
Mueller Actual 3b 399 75 113 27 1 12 57 51 2 .283 .365 .446 .811 178
Mueller Stats Inc. Projections 3b 478 79 141 29 2 13 59 63 2 .295 .381 .446 .827 213
-79 -4 -28 -2 -1 -1 -2 -12 0 -0.012 -0.016 0.001 -0.015 -35

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Schilling Actual 21 6 0 206 35 203 82 23 226.7 3.26 1.06
Schilling Stats Inc. Projections 18 7 0 189 39 267 69 22 221.0 2.81 1.03
3 -1 0 17 -4 -64 13 1 5.7 0.45 0.03

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Martinez Actual 16 9 0 193 61 227 94 26 217.0 3.90 1.17
Martinez Stats Inc. Projections 19 4 0 133 48 220 42 11 191.0 1.98 0.95
-3 5 0 60 13 7 52 15 26.0 1.92 0.22

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Lowe Actual 14 12 0 224 71 105 110 15 182.7 5.42 1.61
Lowe Stats Inc. Projections 16 9 0 198 74 117 84 14 209.0 3.62 1.30
-2 3 0 26 -3 -12 26 1 -26.3 1.80 0.31

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Wakefield Actual 12 10 0 197 63 116 102 29 188.3 4.87 1.38
Wakefield Stats Inc. Projections 14 8 0 163 66 157 73 20 189.0 3.48 1.21
-2 2 0 34 -3 -41 29 9 -0.7 1.39 0.17

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Arroyo Actual 10 9 0 171 47 142 80 17 178.7 4.03 1.22
Arroyo Stats Inc. Projections 1 1 0 21 5 13 9 2 18.7 4.34 1.39
9 8 0 150 42 129 71 15 160.0 -0.31 -0.17

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Foulke Actual 5 3 32 63 15 79 20 8 83.0 2.17 0.94
Foulke Stats Inc. Projections 4 2 35 64 19 73 22 7 84.0 2.36 0.99
1 1 -3 -1 -4 6 -2 1 -1.0 -0.19 -0.05

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Timlin Actual 5 4 1 75 19 56 35 8 76.3 4.13 1.23
Timlin Stats Inc. Projections 7 3 0 74 11 56 29 11 88.0 2.97 0.97
-2 1 1 1 8 0 6 -3 -11.7 1.16 0.27

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Embree Actual 2 2 0 49 11 37 24 7 52.3 4.13 1.15
Embree Stats Inc. Projections 5 3 0 55 18 62 24 7 57.0 3.79 1.28
-3 -1 0 -6 -7 -25 0 0 -4.7 0.34 -0.13

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Williamson Actual 0 1 1 11 18 28 4 0 28.7 1.26 1.01
Williamson Stats Inc. Projections 6 3 4 51 35 76 23 5 66.0 3.14 1.30
-6 -2 -3 -40 -17 -48 -19 -5 -37.3 -1.88 -0.29

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Mendoza Actual 2 1 0 25 7 13 12 3 30.7 3.52 1.04
Mendoza Stats Inc. Projections 4 3 0 82 17 48 34 8 75.0 4.08 1.32
-2 -2 0 -57 -10 -35 -22 -5 -44.3 -0.56 -0.28

2004 W L S H BB SO ER HR Inn ERA Whip
Kim Actual 2 1 0 17 7 6 12 1 17.3 6.23 1.39
Kim Stats Inc. Projections 12 6 0 123 45 125 50 14 144.0 3.13 1.17
-10 -5 0 -106 -38 -119 -38 -13 -126.7 3.11 0.22

 

It goes without saying that there were some real surprises. Mark Bellhorn being probably the biggest. Anyway, projecting stats has always been interesting, yet difficult. Playing time is often a big deciding factor in what a player is able to accomplish. Then again, poor production leads to reduced PT. Wow, I just discovered a better way of describing the whole chicken and the egg thing.

 

Work it into your next cocktail party.

 

You (holding a giant martini): So anyway, I really hit it big on the market this week. I think cyclicals are hitting their usual late Autumn lows. Or perhaps it is late Autumn only because cyclicals are low. You know, it’s the ol’ player production/reduced playing time thing….

 

Person you are with (if he/she is still listening): You’re a nerd.

 

Let’s heat this hot stove up and get some player movement for goodness sake. If it were up to me, I’d take Pedro, Carl Pavano and Edgar Renteria, all at the right price (i.e. cheap).

 

Posted by Andy at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2004

 

Is There No Time for Sleep?

 

Some resources to find out where your favorite players are heading.

 

ESPN Rumor Central – requires sign-up and fee. Well worth it in my mind.

 

CBS Sportsline Rumor Mill – Good, but not as detailed as ESPN’s.

 

Fox Sports Hot Rumors – No specific link. It looks like it changes, so find “Hot Rumors on the Fox MLB page.

 

Unofficial MLB Site – New site I found with 3 pages of player salaries. Good resource for upcoming FA’s as well. Interesting. All info taken from other sources, but a great site for consolidated info.

 

Dugout Dollars – Disappointing because it hasn’t been updated since 7/11/04, but still a decent source on current contracts.

 

USA Today Salary Database – Great site, for past salaries, but not current contracts.

 

YankeesRedSox – The # 1 source for info on the Yankees and Red Sox.

 


It still hasn’t sunk in. Even with all the replays and constant media attention, I still haven’t completely come to terms with the fact the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. Crazy.

 

But they did and I must cope.

 

As I so prematurely mentioned 2 weeks ago, the Red Sox have a great deal of work to do for the 2005 season.

 

Looking at a few of the bigger FA names, I’ll offer my take.

 

Pedro Martinez – This is a tough one until you realize that Pedro is essentially a 6-7 inning pitcher. Good for him for pitching 217 innings this year and not missing a start, but he cannot be counted on to give the bullpen a day’s rest.

 

So what is he worth? Coming off of his worst season ERA-wise, I don’t believe he can ask for much more than $12-14m per year. If the Red Sox offered him 4 years and $60m, I bet he’d take it, but I can’t see Theo Epstein committing that much to him for that many years. Pedro’s shoulder is always going to be a source of concern and given his slip over the past 4 years, is there any reason to believe he is worth that kind of risk?

 

I don’t. As tough as it is to go into 2005 without him, I would probably let Pedro sign elsewhere. He just doesn’t represent a value or good investment in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, if he took 4 years at $40m, I’d jump on that, but it is unlikely to happen.

 

Jason Varitek – JV is also tough. With his agent, Scott Boras, Varitek’s signing price might be through the roof. Rumor has it he is asking for 5 years, $50m. That is a ton of money for a catcher, even one as good as JV.

 

Weighing against Varitek re-signing with the Red Sox is the amount of faith Epstein puts in Bill James. I’ve mentioned this before, but James has concluded that catchers fade after their early 30’s pretty quickly. Varitek is 32.

 

The one thing he has going for him is he got a late start. So maybe his prime extends into his mid-30’s. Tough call. Also, I can’t seem to find the exact words James used, so I don’t want to pin this theory on him if I can’t verify it.

 

The alternatives to Varitek are slim baring a trade, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens here. It also will be a good indicator of just how much Varitek wants to win. He could sign elsewhere and make a ton of dough, or stay in Boston, remain competitive and win. By the way, I can’t imagine him signing with the New York Yankees, as some articles have suggested, or floated as an idea. Can you?

 

Orlando Cabrera – I like this guy. He plays good D, hits for some power and is durable. Peter Gammons said he turned down a 4 year, $30m offer from Montreal, not because it was too little money, but because he wanted to play for a winner. Well he got his wish, now the question is, will he still accept 4/30? To me, I’d sign him for that money. The contract isn’t that large that you couldn’t move it down the road (assuming he stays a productive player) for when Hanley Ramirez is ready.

 

Derek Lowe – Goodbye. No offense, he did, after all, win all 3 series deciding games this postseason, but can anyone tell me which Derek Lowe will actually show up on a given start? Because of his inconsistency, I would stay away from him, especially if he and his agent turned down a 3 year, $27m offer this past spring training.

 

His money could be better used elsewhere.

 

Please email your thoughts on the Red Sox reloading process.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

 

 

Red Sox October 2004

October 27, 2004

 

At Last

 

Amazing.

 

I don’t think I’ll fully appreciate this until days, months down the road. I jumped up and down a bit when Foulke tossed the ball to Mientkiewicz, but didn’t get the rush of joy and happiness I fully expected. Why? I think it is because my mind is trying to flush itself of 32 years of negative thoughts and results.

 

Still, even less than an hour after the game, I am getting little spells of joy and waves of bliss. The Red Sox won the World Series!!! The Red Sox won the World Series!!!

 

Not only that, no one can say anything anymore to the Red Sox and their fans. 1918 means nothing now. The Curse of the Bambino means nothing now. Boy, that is a relief.

 

I mentioned to a friend of mine after the game that now Red Sox fans can start yelling “2000!” to the Yankees next year.

 

Let’s hope tomorrow/later today we aren’t reading about senseless violence in Boston and beyond.

 

Be happy Red Sox fans. This is as good as it gets. 2004 World Series Champions!!!

 

Posted by Andy at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

Up 3-0 in the World Series?

 

The Boston Red Sox being up 3-0 in the World Series is probably the oddest feeling I’ve had, short of the full body massage I got when I was in…..wait, that isn’t right.

 

Seriously though, it is, as Butch Sterns said immediately after the game, “uncharted territory.”

 

This whole postseason, I’ve constantly felt that impending doom is right around the corner. In fact, I was talking with my brother the other day that the ALCS felt like the opening of Monty Pythons Flying Circus. The opening has the various animation and theme music (The Liberty Bell March) that reaches a peak and all of a sudden, a giant foot comes squashing down. Listen to the “pblblblbpt” at the end.

 

Well, even now, I still feel disaster is ready to rear its ugly head. It isn’t my fault, after all, the Boston Red Sox just proved it is possible to overcome a 0-3 deficit. Regardless, should the Red Sox pull this off, I hope I have a chance before the final out is made to really soak this in. To really let myself get carried away.

 

But because the worst of all bad things that could happen to Red Sox fans is most certainly around the corner, I fear I’ll remain ultra-guarded until the final out is recorded…should it be recorded.

 

Despite all of that, kudos to Pedro Martinez. What a start. 7 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks. Wow. I really had lost a bit of confidence in the man, but he proved me wrong, even it was just for one start, perhaps his last start for the Red Sox.

 

Trot Nixon also delivered a timely hit. I’ve said all along, Nixon really needs to contribute to make this team a winner.

 

Game 4 tonight, Derek Lowe vs. Jason Marquis. Lowe is coming off a great game 7 outing in the ALCS. Marquis is coming off a relief appearance in game 2 of the World Series.

 

Stay focused boys. This one isn’t over.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2004

 

Game 3 in St Louis

 

The Red Sox took games 1 and 2 in somewhat craptacular style. They hit the ball well, but committed 8 errors in the 2 games combined. It was ugly in the field and, fortunately, ugly for the St. Louis pitchers.

 

First off, my experience with game 1 was as bad as I had feared. Deep in the Adirondacks, stuck in a valley, no TV in the house, just the radio and dueling banjos playing nonstop. The good news was that many AM stations were carrying the game, the bad news is it sounded like a wise-assed intern at the radio various stations was turning on and off the transmitter throughout the broadcast. “Broadcast on, broadcast off….”

 

AM 990, 1050 and 1090 turned out to be the 3 channels we used to get the game. I think 1050 is ESPN radio out of Manhattan!

 

Anyway, the Monday off-day could not have come sooner. All of Boston has been severely sleep deprived. Those in business, take note. If you are involved in any business deals, law cases, investments, you name it with people from Boston, now is the time to pull the wool over a Bostonian’s eyes. We are just too tired to catch you.

 

Ok, game 3 will feature Pedro Martinez vs. Jeff Suppan. On paper this looks uneven, but figuring Martinez has now pitched close to 237 innings this year, posted his worst ERA ever in the regular season and Jeff Suppan had been the Cardinals go-to starter in the playoffs and you have a close match, perhaps one tilted in the Cardinals favor.

 

Game 4 will feature Derek “I just increased my future worth ten-fold” Lowe for
Boston and Jason Marquis for St. Louis.

 

Playing in the Cardinals home park is going to be tough. The fans in St. Louis are some of the best and know how to make noise. Additionally, the idea of David Ortiz playing 1b is not appealing. Perhaps Terry Francona will have Pokey Reese play 2b for a game just to help tighten the team D.

 

Some keys to games 3 and 4. Trot Nixon has to show up. He has .205/.255/.295 numbers so far in the 2004 playoffs. If he can’t pick it up, look for Kevin Millar to get a start.

 

Check out the 2004 batting stat totals through game 2 of the World Series. It is pretty similar to the regular season totals.

 

NAME G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
Johnny Damon 12 61 11 16 2 0 2 8 3 11 5 1 .262 .297 .393 .690
Manny Ramirez 12 52 7 18 3 0 1 9 7 9 0 0 .346 .410 .462 .871
Orlando Cabrera 12 50 8 15 3 0 0 11 7 7 1 0 .300 .390 .360 .750
Bill Mueller 12 48 9 15 2 0 0 2 6 2 0 0 .313 .400 .354 .754
David Ortiz 12 48 12 20 2 1 5 19 12 10 0 1 .417 .533 .813 1.346
Jason Varitek 12 45 9 12 1 1 3 11 4 12 0 0 .267 .346 .533 .879
Trot Nixon 11 44 5 9 1 0 1 5 3 7 0 0 .205 .255 .295 .551
Mark Bellhorn 12 43 8 9 3 0 3 8 12 15 0 0 .209 .382 .488 .870
Kevin Millar 12 40 8 10 4 0 1 6 8 6 0 0 .250 .388 .425 .813
Playoff Totals 12 431 77 124 21 2 16 79 62 79 6 2 .287 .376 .450 .825
Reg. Season 162 .282 .360 .472 .832

 

Considering Mark Bellhorn and Johnny Damon are on the incline, that leaves only Trot really as struggling.

 

There is so much to say about the various individual efforts to date, but in the interests of remaining within expectations, let’s not talk about them today. There’s time for that next week.

 

Let’s hope Boston can stayed focused, go into St. Louis and take 2. Easier said than done as there is a reason St. Louis won the most games in the majors this year (105). Additionally, when Larry Walker (1.444 OPS in WS), Albert Pujols (1.270), Scott Rolen (.000) and Jim Edmonds (.347) all turn it on at once, watch out. They are arguably the 4 toughest 2-5 hitters in baseball. So far, only Walker and Pujols have shown up. That means Rolen and Edmonds are due.

 

Ok, that’s all I have. I’m very nervous, worried and borderline freaked out. Things are going to be very tough over the next 3 nights. St. Louis is very good and will be difficult to beat. Not good having to play 3 in a row there.

 

Talk with you soon. Oxygen……

 

Posted by Andy at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2004

 

The St. Louis Cardinals

 

First off, I will be away until late Sunday, unable to update this site. That’s too bad…for me anyway. Secondly, I’ll be in the middle of nowhere for game 1. Seriously, I’ll be in a valley, deep in the Adirondacks of all places with little hope of catching a radio or tv signal. Lake Placid bars here I come!

I was wrong about the rotation. Tim Wakefield will be pitching game 1 on 4 days rest.

It should be a great series. Here’s to hoping, win or lose, Boston and Massachusetts residents behave themselves lest we have another tragedy. It just isn’t worth it if someone gets hurt or dies.

Lastly, a reader of the site, Uri, gave me a well deserved slap on the wrist for my essentially giving up on the Red Sox after game 3 of the ALCS. He never, NEVER gave up even against all odds. So, I promised him I’d drag myself through the mud if the Red Sox came back and won. Here it goes:

Andy (that’s me) is a big fat DOOFUS!!!

I’m so happy I got to do that.

Anyway, let’s get this puppy started, I can’t wait.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2004

 

Shocker

 

I admit it, I was wrong. I fully gave up on these guys after Saturday’s slaughter. While I’m certain I was not alone, I still feel a bit foolish. Perhaps it is part of being an avid Red Sox fan, something in me kept imagining just how the New York Yankees would come back, be it in the 4th inning or with 2 down in the 9th.

 

The Yankees are such a good team with such amazing leadership (Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams, I’m talking about you), it just seemed a given they’d figure out a way to pull this one out.

 

Well, I was wrong and I’m very happy about that.

 

Give Derek Lowe the bulk of the credit, he pitched 6 innings of 1 hit, 1 walk baseball. Amazing considering his status on the pitching staff. Scott Boros is wetting his pants with excitement right now (his own pants, now Lowe’s…not that I know of anyway.).

 

I suppose Johnny Damon deserves equal billing after hitting 2 dingers and driving in 60% of the runs in game 7.

 

We could go on and on about who played well and who was MVP, but regardless, the Boston Red Sox are heading to their first World Series in 18 years. They await an opponent (Houston or St. Louis) but certainly don’t mind as they can all use the rest.

 

Speaking of rest, Boston and I’m sure New England has been dragging the past few days. Dark circles under the eyes are the norm of late. It’ll be nice to get a few good days of productivity at work and sleep at home.

 

I believe the Red Sox will have 2 off days. That means Curt Schilling will have had 3 days rest, Tim Wakefield 3 days, Pedro Martinez, 2 days, Derek Lowe 2 days and Bronson Arroyo 3 days.

 

It’ll mean someone has to come back on short rest, but given it’s the World Series, I’m sure no one will mind a great deal. At least the bullpen will be fresh and ready to go.

 

So, let’s see who wins tonight, Houston or St. Louis, and then buckle up for what is sure to be an interesting ride.

 

Lastly a salute to the dude on the other side of this website, Peter. I had the benefit of reading his 10/21 post prior to posting mine. It goes without saying that each city has its own collection of yahoo fans, those that guarantee wins, chant obscene chants and show a legitimate disdain for their opposing fans.

 

But it needs to be said that there is another kind of baseball fan, one that can appreciate the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s the reason this site is up in the first place, to acknowledge good baseball, even it is being played by the opposition. My whole point here is that Peter is a class act as are most Yankee fans (and Red Sox fans too). That’s what baseball is all about, isn’t it?

 

Posted by Andy at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2004

 

A First

 

I’ll be brief as it is late and I am exhausted from this series.

 

The Red Sox are the first team to force a game 7 after starting a series 0-3 (as if Fox didn’t make that abundantly clear). Give all the credit to Curt Schilling. He went out there and pitched a gem, hurt or not. For those doubting the severity of his ankle woes, fine, but you have to admit that his outing tonight was good for a perfectly healthy pitcher too.

 

Game 7 looks to be Kevin Brown vs. Derek Lowe. Lowe, the starter relegated to mop-up duty early in the playoffs, is now starting game 7 for the Red Sox. A big start indeed.

 

Back at it again Wednesday night. Have you had enough? I hope not.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2004

 

Am I a Bad Person?

 

I basically threw in the towel 2 nights ago. The Red Sox were down 0-3 and had looked pretty horrible getting to that point. Am I a bad person? Can you blame me? Well some of you did. I got assailed via email. Probably deservedly so. I was frustrated, but really had written these fellas off. Was that smart?

 

David Ortiz just delivered his 2nd walk-off hit in 2 nights and 3rd of the postseason. Wow. He has been über-clutch.

 

So now the Red Sox head back to New York for game 6, down 2-3. As a friend of mine pointed out last night, the Red Sox were down 2-3 in 2003 too.

 

From all I can tell, Curt Schilling is going to try and give it a go tomorrow night in New York. Starting game 6 and providing 7-8 quality innings would be a tremendous boost for Boston. Consider this, Boston trotted out the following tonight:

 

Martinez – 111 pitches
Timlin – 20 pitches
Foulke – 22 pitches
Arroyo – 17 pitches
Myers – 4 pitches
Embree – 9 pitches
Wakefield – 38 pitches

 

No big deal, right….wait, check out Sunday night’s pitchers:

 

Lowe – 88 pitches
Timlin – 37 pitches
Foulke – 50 pitches
Embree – 30 pitches
Myers – 4 pitches
Leskanic – 13 pitches

 

That means in game 6, the bullpen will most likely be hoping to avoid using Timlin, Foulke, Embree and Wakefield. That leaves them with Mendoza, Myers and Leskanic. Hmmm, that is unsettling.

 

But, given every game is possibly Boston’s last and given the character of these guys (despite what Gary Sheffield says….talk about character), Timlin, Foulke, Embree and Wakefield will probably make themselves available for game 6.

 

Cheers to two fun, if not exhausting games in the ALCS. What happened to a 9 inning, 2 hour and 30 minute victory…for Boston? My spastic colon can’t take anymore of this.

 

By the way, it’s also time for a few of the Boston bats to get it together. Ortiz can’t win these things alone. I’m talking about Johnny Damon, Mark Bellhorn, Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek and Bill Mueller. Or 2/3 of the Boston line-up. Come on, pick it up now!!!

 

Posted by Andy at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2004

 

A Total Embarrassment

 

As a Red Sox fan, I’m trying to figure out how I feel.

Past history certainly has prepared me for the outcome that surely awaits the Red Sox (down 0-3 as of this writing). That’s not feeling sorry for myself, it is the truth. But the Red Sox have a way of always topping the previous defeat. Or is it that any defeat seems worse than the last because it is so fresh?

I don’t know.

I do know that the Red Sox put on an embarrassing display last night. They have nothing to be happy about. Not the coaches, the pitchers and not the line-up. No one performed well. Sure they mustered 8 runs of the Yankees staff, but I wouldn’t pat myself on the back considering the total inability Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez to get men out on their own. Instead, the Red Sox ran themselves into important outs. Manny Ramirez at third and Bill Mueller at home.

Where does this leave the 2004 Red Sox? It leaves them preparing for a meaningless game 4 Sunday and it leaves Red Sox management preparing for the upcoming player transactions and important deadlines.

They’ve left me with no option but to start talking about the 2005 Red Sox. So, here it goes.

How’s signed for 2005 (club options and 3 yr or less players included):

$20m – Manny Ramirez
$12m – Curt Schilling
$8.5m – Johnny Damon
$6.5m – Trot Nixon
$4.875m – David Ortiz
$7m – Keith Foulke
$4.35m – Tim Wakefield
$6m – Byung-Hyun Kim
$3.75m – Doug Mientkiewicz
$3m – Alan Embree
$3.5m – Kevin Millar
$2.7m – Mike Timlin
$3m – Bill Mueller
$300k – Kevin Youkilis
$86.370m – Total

Who is a free agent or arbitration eligible?

Pedro J Martinez
Jason Varitek
Orlando Cabrera
Derek Lowe
Ramiro Mendoza
Scott Williamson
Pokey Reese
David Roberts
Doug Mirabelli
Gabe Kapler
Ellis Burks
Mark Bellhorn
Bronson Arroyo – Arb.
David McCarty
Terry Adams
Curt Leskanic

There are a few others that made minor contributions, but who cares.

Basically Theo Epstein needs the following assuming he doesn’t re-sign his free agents:

Starter – #2
Starter – #3, 4 or 5
Catcher
Shortstop
Second
Some bullpen arms
Some utility pieces

That’s a ton of work to do and he doesn’t have much to spend for it and doesn’t have much to pick from.

Theo has about $40m to play with to sign 11 players to fill out the 25-man-roster, assumign they land in the same area payroll-wise. In reality, teams usually have more than 25 players to juggle, so it probably means $40m to sign 13-15 players.

As for who is available via free agency this year, the pickings are slim. For starting pitchers you have Carl Pavano, Matt Morris and Matt Clemente. All are just fine, but have uncertain histories. Regardless, they will all probably be signed by the Yankees anyway because the Yankees staff is so terrible….said with tongue firmly in cheek.

So the Red Sox season is basically over and they have a ton of work to do and little to work with as far as talent. Another brutal ending to what was a promising season.

Oh well.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2004

 

What Just Happened?

 

Hmmm, that wasn’t supposed to happen. I don’t think I expected the Red Sox to be down 0-2, I really didn’t.

 

I didn’t expect Curt Schilling to pitch like butt and I didn’t expect Jon Lieber to throw a 3-hitter over 7 innings. Well, it happened and the Red Sox have to deal with it and so do I. Sniffles.

 

Game 3 will be back at Fenway Park with Bronson “I don’t mind if you call me Charles” Bronson facing Kevin Brown. The only positive I can think of here is that in a best-of-seven series, home field advantage means you get to play 4 games at home. If each home team wins its respective games, the team with home field advantage wins the series.

 

So the Red Sox simply need to do what the Yankees have done and win their home games. The challenge comes in games 6 and 7 back in the Bronx. The Red Sox have to take one of those. Simple, right?

 

I’m trying to get my hands around what happened Tuesday and Wednesday. The fact Schilling was hurt in game 1 and now appears likely out for the season is about the worst thing that could have happened. Really, if given the choice of losing Schilling or Manny Ramirez for the playoffs, I think 90% would have preferred losing Manny. No offense to Manny, but great starting pitching wins games.

 

Add to that the fact Boston batters popped out about 50% of the time against Lieber, a ground-ball pitcher. So odd. I can’t figure it out. I can’t say it is unfair, because many teams go through adversity, but wow, what a time to go through adversity.

 

Let’s hope being back in Boston helps this team rally and string together 4 wins. The hard part to handle is that Boston has to win 4 of the next 5 (or 4) to advance to the World Series….against New York no less. Not an easy task.

 

Here’s to hoping a Red Sox player will tell his teammates “Jump on my back and let’s win 8 more games.” I don’t know who that player is and I don’t care, I just want someone, anyone to go out there and drag his teammates along kicking and screaming, if necessary, to a playoff level of play. Otherwise, we’ll be talking about the 2005 Boston Red Sox far too early. I don’t like the idea of that this early in the year.

 

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

October 09, 2004

 

Sweet Sweep. Rematch on Deck.

 

David Ortiz took care of bid-ness Friday putting the Boston Red Sox back in the ALCS. The New York Yankees took care of the Minnesota Twins Saturday setting up a rematch of last years ALCS series.

 

The Red Sox have had plenty of time to rest, so their rotation will be perfectly set: Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez (son of the Yankees), Bronson Arroyo and Tim Wakefield.

 

The Yankees should be able to set their ideal rotation too. By winning their ALDS in 4 games, Mike Mussina will be ready to go this coming Tuesday to face Schilling. The only question is who will Joe Torre actually want to follow Mussina. In the ALDS, it went Mussina, Jon Lieber, Kevin Brown and lastly Javier Vazquez.

 

What if Orlando Hernandez is ready to go by Wednesday (game 2), will he take Lieber’s spot? Too many rotation questions that will work themselves out in the coming days.

 

I have to assume most observers think Boston’s rotation is better than New York’s. Perhaps they are a more known quantity (quality) this season, but the fact remains New York has some stud arms in their rotation each of whom is capable of a shutout.

 

Here is a quick look at the expected starters:

 

Player Career 2004
Record IP ERA WHIP Record IP ERA WHIP Age
Schilling 184-123 2812.2 3.32 1.11 21-6 226.2 3.26 1.06 37
Martinez 182-76 2296.0 2.71 1.03 16-9 217.0 3.90 1.17 32
Arroyo 19-23 383.0 4.63 1.39 10-9 178.2 4.03 1.22 27 Avg. Age
Wakefield 128-111 2066.2 4.29 1.37 12-10 188.1 4.87 1.38 38 33.5
622-421 .596%
Player Career 2004
Record IP ERA WHIP Record IP ERA WHIP Age
Mussina 211-119 2833.1 3.59 1.17 12-9 164.2 4.59 1.32 35
Brown 207-137 3183.0 3.20 1.21 10-6 132.0 4.09 1.27 39
Vazquez 78-78 1427.1 4.26 1.28 14-10 198.0 4.91 1.29 28
Lieber 100-91 1687.0 4.20 1.27 14-8 176.2 4.33 1.32 34 Avg. Age
El Duque 61-40 876.1 3.96 1.24 8-2 84.2 3.30 1.29 34 34
596-425 .584% (not including El Duque)

 

Let’s assume for a moment that Lieber is the 4th starter for the Yankees and not El Duque (I have seen no word from the Yankees camp that El Duque is over his “dead-arm” issues).

 

Each team has a veteran all-star/possible Hall of Fame pitcher going in games 1 and 2, followed by a young, up and comer. In all fairness, Vazquez is the better pitcher than Arroyo, but in 2004, Arroyo would have to be given the nod. Vazquez started out very well, then posted, 6.61, 7.43 and 6.29 ERA’s in July, August and September respectively. There was no clear reason given as to why he struggled so badly.

 

Arroyo on the other hand posted 2.83, 4.01 and 4.24 ERA’s over the same respective months. His season record doesn’t show it, but he did have the better season (as evidenced by the lower 2004 ERA).

 

Regardless, they are both good pitchers.

 

Lastly there is Wakefield and Lieber. Both veterans that have similar career winning % and ERA’s. So overall, they appear to be quite evenly matched up. But, when you take 2004 performance, the Red Sox had the better staff.

 

That’s where the bullpens comes in. Boston’s relief corps were good in 2004, so were the Yankees. But the Yankees had extreme’s. Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera were amazing, while Paul Quantrill and the others (I counted at least 6 with at least 20 relief appearances) all posted ERA’s of 4.72 or higher.

 

This basically says the Red Sox batters have to get to the Yankees starters early and often in order to force Torre to bring in one of the lesser relief arms to bridge the gap from the starters to Gordon/Rivera. If the Red Sox let the Yankee starters off the hook and allow them 6 or 7 innings, then it’ll be tough to win many games.

 

The Red Sox bullpen is a bit more defined and its depth not as reluctantly utilized. Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Mike Myers, Curt Leskanic and Derek Lowe might all see action. Of those, Terry Francona has confidence in Foulke, Timlin, Embree and Myers. Only Foulke had a great statistical season, but the other 3 had good enough seasons to be considered reliable relievers.

 

So the Yankees will have a different challenge, they will need to get to whoever they can, but won’t get to face some potential cream puffs relievers, but won’t necessary be faced with getting shut down in the later innings.

 

As if things are so cut and dried. The key is that in the playoffs, Torre won’t have a problem trotting out Gordon for 2 innings (maybe 3) and Rivera for 2 innings.

 

So unless the Red Sox can batter the starters in consecutive games, it’ll be an uphill climb.

 

As for the bats, both teams hit very well in the regular season. It’s close to an even match-up.

 

Using 2004 performances, here is how I see the line-up comparison:

 

Catcher: Jason Varitek vs. Jorge Posada
Nod – Even

 

First Base: Kevin Millar vs. John Olerud
Nod – Red Sox (although with Olerud’s good defense, this is close)

 

Second Base: Mark Bellhorn vs. Miguel Cairo
Nod – Even

 

Third Base: Bill Mueller vs. Alex Rodriguez
Nod – Yankees

 

Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera vs. Derek Jeter
Nod – Yankees

 

Leftfield: Manny Ramirez vs. Hideki Matsui
Nod – Red Sox

 

Centerfield: Johnny Damon vs. Bernie Williams
Nod – Red Sox

 

Right field: Trot Nixon vs. Gary Sheffield
Nod – Yankees

 

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz vs. Ruben Sierra
Nod – Red Sox

 

That’s 4 for the Red Sox, 3 for the Yankees and 2 splits. While I think Bellhorn is probably the better player at second I also realize my analysis could be biased, so I consider this an even match-up.

 

So here we find ourselves, the Yankees in their 6th ALCS in 7 years and the Red Sox their 3rd in 6 years. The Yankees have a decided edge in experience. Rivera, Williams, Jeter, Posada, El Duque and Joe Torre have all been part of the recent Yankee dynasty, but amazingly, from what I can tell, Rivera, Williams, Jeter Posada and El Duque are the only ones that have won a World Series as a members of the Yankees.

 

I guess I assumed it was more. Either way, here’s hoping the Red Sox can beat the New York Yankees and then find success in the World Series.

 

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

October 04, 2004

 

Anaheim Angels

 

It took a while, but the Boston Red Sox finally learned who they’d play in the ALDS. The opponent, the Anaheim Angels.

 

I’m not particularly happy about this match-up, I’d have preferred the Oakland A’s being that Boston had success against them last year in the playoffs, this year during the regular season and the “Big Three” has been scuffling.

 

Let’s take a look at the 2004 regular season match-up against Anaheim. The Red Sox went 5-4 against them. The pitching staff really struggled against them, posting a 6.08 ERA. That’s one seriously ugly number. Of greatest concern, the Red Sox 4 schedule ALDS starters did the following:

 

NAME G GS W L Sv Hld IP H ER HR BB SO K/9 WHIP ERA
C. Schilling 2 2 2 0 0 0 15.2 12 4 1 0 11 6.3 0.77 2.30
P. Martinez 2 2 1 0 0 0 11 16 9 2 6 12 9.8 2.00 7.36
B. Arroyo 2 2 0 1 0 0 8.1 14 9 0 6 7 7.6 2.40 9.72
Tim Wakefield 1 1 0 1 0 0 4 8 5 2 1 4 9 2.25 11.25
Totals 7 7 3 2 0 0 38.3 50 27 5 13 34 7.99 1.64 6.34

 

Man, 7 starts, 38 innings and some ugly stuff. Yes, I know, the sample size is small, but wow. Let’s hope the law of averages applies here to everyone but Curt Schilling. The other 3 have been so bad, they are due for a good game.

 

So how did Boston win the season series against Anaheim, it must have been the offense. Yup, it was the offense. Here is the projected 9 for Boston in game one and how they did during the regular season against Anaheim:

 

NAME POS G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
Johnny Damon cf 9 35 9 13 3 0 2 22 3 4 3 1 0 .371 .436 .629 1.064
Mark Bellhorn 2b 9 31 7 10 5 0 0 15 2 7 5 0 0 .323 .447 .484 .931
Manny Ramirez lf 7 25 6 8 2 0 3 19 8 4 7 0 0 .320 .400 .760 1.160
David Ortiz dh 8 30 5 9 2 1 2 19 9 5 9 0 0 .300 .378 .633 1.012
Kevin Millar 1b 8 27 4 7 1 0 2 14 6 1 6 0 0 .259 .276 .519 .794
Jason Varitek c 8 31 3 11 3 0 0 14 2 3 6 1 0 .355 .429 .452 .880
Orlando Cabrera ss 3 13 4 5 2 1 0 9 2 2 4 0 0 .385 .467 .692 1.159
Trot Nixon rf 4 14 1 5 1 0 0 6 0 1 1 0 0 .357 .400 .429 .829
Bill Mueller 3b 6 22 3 6 2 0 1 11 4 2 7 0 0 .273 .320 .500 .820
Totals 62 228 42 74 21 2 10 129 36 29 48 2 0 .325 .401 .566 .967

 

The starting 9 as a total have close to a 1.000 OPS. That is good. Again, a small sample size indeed.

 

The good news is that Anaheim pitchers posted a 5.67 ERA in 2004 against Boston and hit just slightly less well that Boston batters did. So, perhaps both teams failed to put their best foot forward during the regular season.

 

Here are the expected match-ups and times, lifted straight from ESPN:

 

Tuesday, Oct. 5
Boston (Schilling 21-6) at Anaheim (Washburn 11-8), 4:09 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, Oct. 6
Boston (Martinez 16-9) at Anaheim (Colon 8-12), 10:09 p.m. (ESPN)
Friday, Oct. 8
Anaheim (Escobar 11-12) at Boston (Arroyo 10-9 or Wakefield 12-10), 4:09 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, Oct. 9
Anaheim or Minnesota at Boston, if necessary
Sunday, Oct. 10
Boston at Anaheim or Minnesota, if necessary
The one thing here is that this absolutely stinks for Boston TV viewers. Game 1 at 4pm and game 2 at 10pm?!? That is bad news for Boston fans. That basically means all you managers out there, expect a large portion of your employee base to have to leave early for a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday and a total lack of production on Thursday…should anyone make it into the office. You’ll know which people watched the late Wednesday game immediately.

 

I can honestly say I wouldn’t be surprised at any outcome for Boston this 2004 playoffs. They might get swept by Anaheim or they might go all the way. There is no one team I’d consider the favorite in the American League. Each playoff team has its problems. I suppose St. Louis might be the favorite in the National League, they did win 9 more games than any other NL team in 2004.

 

Here are some hopes for the ALDS. I’m hoping Pedro has figured things out and is going to pitch lights out, I’m hoping Tim Wakefield’s last start was an indication of things to come and I’m hoping the Angels pitchers performing against Boston like the did during the regular season against Boston.

 

Jared Washburn had a 6.10 ERA in 10.1 innings, Bartolo Colon had a 5.52 ERA in 14.2 innings and Kelvim Escobar had a 4.50 ERA in 6 innings. Then again, Brendan Donnelly had a 0.00 ERA in 3.1 innings, Francisco Rodriguez had a 0.00 ERA in 5.1 innings and Kevin Gregg (who?) had a 0.00 ERA in 6.1 innings over 3 games. Yikes, their bullpen seemed to do well, especially their set-up men. The good news is that Troy Percival had a 9.00 ERA in 2 innings.

 

All this stuff mean squat as come playoffs, as something special seems to happen. That which made you successful during the regular season, seems to lose relevance. Just look at the Oakland A’s the past few years.

 

The playoffs produce special things. Does it matter that Terry Francona has never managed a playoff game, or that Orlando Cabrera has never played in a playoff game. Does that really mean anything? Does experience play a big role, or does an innate trait take over, something that can’t be learned?

 

Does a career .300 hitter hit .300 in the playoffs, or does he fail while the career back-up wins the ALCS MVP? That’s what makes baseball so wonderful. Anything can and does happen.

 

Anyway, here’s what we’ve all waited 162 games for, the playoffs.

 

 

 

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

Red Sox September 2007

September 22, 2004

 

Fall is Here

 

The last time I posted, the Red Sox had just taken game 1 of the Red Sox vs. Yankees series in the Bronx. Things were looking fairly good. The Boston nine was 2 ½ back and in good control of the wild card race.

 

Then Boston crapped the bed 3 straight times. The last of which, Monday night vs. Baltimore, I had the honor to witness in person. It was such a crappily played game (on a beautiful night I might add) that my brother and I walked out of the park after the botched run down of Melvin Mora.

 

Totally humiliating. Tim Wakefield couldn’t get ME out and the defense was horrendous.

 

What gives? Why did 3 straight starting pitchers, Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield give it up? I don’t know. All I can say is that let’s hope they are getting the bad stuff out of their systems.

 

But, lest we forget that Curt Schilling pitches for Boston. He put together his best performance of the year Tuesday night, thus grabbing the label as Boston’s stopper and ace, right from the slowly moving arm of Pedro Martinez.

 

It is tough to argue that Schilling is not the # 1 in this rotation.

 

No?

 

Check out these stats. They are the stats for the various Red Sox starters over the last 11 games:

 

Starters W L GS ERA BR/9 IP H ER BB SO Avg
Arroyo 1 0 2 1.38 6.9 13.0 8 2 1 9 .170
Lowe 0 2 2 9.00 14.6 8.0 9 8 4 7 .281
Martinez 0 2 2 8.18 16.4 11.0 11 10 8 14 .244
Schilling 1 0 2 2.37 8.3 15.2 11 4 3 20 .162
Wakefield 0 1 2 10.61 19.3 9.1 11 11 8 9 .289

 


You have 3 guys you have been terrible and 2 guys who have been great.

 

The key is, the Red Sox as a whole haven’t played well since they left Oakland 2 weeks ago. But through it all, the team and its fans have been able to rely on one guys, Curt Schilling. Ok, Bronson Arroyo too. This is an important part of the season, time for leaders to step-up.

 

Let’s hope Pedro, Lowe and Wakefield figure things out soon.

 

Why else have the Red Sox been stinking it up Over the past 10 games (not including Tuesday’s game), here are some key performers:

 

Line-up Avg OBP SLG
Damon,Johnny .278 .350 .472
Bellhorn,Mark .194 .265 .452
Ramirez,Manny .161 .250 .323
Ortiz,David .273 .314 .485
Millar,Kevin .313 .371 .625
Varitek,Jason .083 .214 .125
Cabrera,Orlando .250 .300 .286
Nixon,Trot .500 .529 .875
Mueller,Bill .083 .083 .083

 

Other than Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon, everyone is playing below his season averages. Look at Varitek…yuck. Look at Mueller…wretch. Look at Manny and Bellhorn. Mercy.

 

So, things have stopped clicking. The formerly well oiled machine is now running like a mid-80’s Detroit auto. No offense intended, I drove a 1980 Oldsmobile Regency Ninety-Eight and consider it my favorite car…when it worked.

 

Well, just a few games left and one big series this weekend vs. the Bombers. The wild-card is really the only hope for Boston. They are in good position, but need to right the recently listing ship.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2004

 

A Good Start

 

I have to say, a Red Sox vs. Yankees game is guaranteed to produce some amazing things. There is just no such thing as a boring match-up between these two.

 

Last night was a perfect example. The game wasn’t 10 minutes old when Manny Ramirez hit what appeared to be a foul ball down the left field line. Somehow, the third base umpire called it fair, good for a home run.

 

Replays clearly showed it to be foul, but man, it did cause the heart rates of all watching to jump. The umps had a meeting and eventually made the correct call, foul ball. Things like this happen all of the time in these games.

 

My memory is horrible, but off the top, here is what has happened in the Red Sox vs. Yankees match-ups so far this year:

 

· The fight in July
· Derek Jeter flying head first into the seats
· Nomar’s inability to play due to injury
· Manny’s great catch on Miguel Cairo (Cairo didn’t find out it was an out until crossing home).
· The foul/fair ball controversy mentioned above

 

Like I said, my memory is fuzzy in general, but there are certainly many more things I could have listed. To put this in perspective, think about the Red Sox games vs. the Kansas City Royals over the past 5 years. Nothing, NOTHING interesting has happened in one of them. I know it is because usually nothing was on the line, but just by chance something interesting should have happened.

 

Great baseball game last night. Johnny Damon came out and gave the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead. Both Bronson Arroyo and Orlando Hernandez pitched well until the rains came. When play resumed, Arroyo stayed on and El Duque hit the other showers.

 

Tanyon Sturtze, the perennial Red Sox whipping boy, actually stepped up and shut down the good guys for almost 4 innings. A very impressive outing considering how poorly he has pitched against the Red Sox over the years. A Worcester native, good for him.

 

Tom “Flash” Gordon also did a great job.

 

On the other side, Alan Embree and Mike Timlin did a great job too. Both Embree and Timlin are carrying ERA’s over 4 right now. With relievers, one bad outing can spike your ERA, so I’m not too worried about it, but I’d prefer the 2003 version of each guy (each had a lower ERA and WHIP last year). But, by the end of this season, each might improve and get below last year’s numbers.

 

Then there is Mariano Rivera. To suggest something is wrong with him is absurd. His ERA is still mini and he has 49 saves. He is fine. I will say he hasn’t pitched well against the Red Sox this year. Is it a mental thing or just bad luck? In 8 games in 2004 vs. the Red Sox, Rivera has gone 0-2 with 2 saves posting a 4.66 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.
The fact is, Rivera is still a good pitcher, but has performed a bit worse than his overall numbers against the Red Sox. He is 8-4 with 25 saves in 55 games lifetime vs. the Red Sox. His ERA is 2.89 and his WHIP 1.19.

 

Yes, all are above his career totals, but lets face it, the Red Sox have had a better than average team during his career. They spend $100m+ each year on players that hit the ball well, so this is to be expected.

 

In his career, he is 1-1 with 25 saves in 38 games, with a 1.94 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP vs. the Kansas City Royals, a historically terrible team (during Rivera’s career anyway) , so he does average it out against the bad teams. Sorry to pick on KC twice, but what can you do?

 

My point in all of this is that when you put an all-star pitcher on the mound against all-star hitters, something has to give. Sometimes Rivera wins, sometimes he doesn’t. As a Red Sox fan, I’m not patting myself on the back based on last night. With the players the Red Sox have, they should beat Rivera now and again, they’ve spent far too much not to.

 

On to Manny’s catch last night. Wow. He has made a handful of crazy-good catches this year. Yes, he can still be a meathead, but so what. He is hitting the crud out of the ball and turning in an above average fielding effort this year.

 

Poor Cairo, he ran all around the bases thinking it was a home run only to find out it was an out. I know the feeling. It was summer 2002. I was in Chicago for a wedding. There I was at the plate and I hit a deep, deep drive to left. I was running so hard around the bases, I lost track of the ball. But, no worries, I had hit that puppy so hard, it was surely a home run. I raced around the bases and crossed home plate with my arms in the air. “I’m a stud!” I thought to myself.

 

Only then did I see my teammates laughing at me…the ball had been caught on what turned out to be a fairly routine play…in shallow left. I sat on the bench silently weeping. Sniffles…..

 

So rain threatens Saturday’s match-up, so either they’ll delay today’s game as long as possible, or schedule a doubleheader for Sunday.

 

Regardless, I can’t wait to see what crazy thing happens today and/or tomorrow.

 

By the way, I poked fun at Kevin Millar’s girth a while back. As I look at him of late, his belly seems to have slimmed down a bit. Perhaps it jumped ship and joined forces with Curt Schilling’s belly. Either way, I think my criticism of Millar was wrong. Sorry KM.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2004

 

Expected Wins

 

Sorry to have been silent during the best run of the year for the Red Sox. No excuse.

 

Everything is working well at this point. The starters are pitching 7-8 innings per start, the batters keep hitting the ball out of the park and when they can’t, seem able to generate a run playing small ball (to be discussed more later on) and the fielding has been solid.

 

So what’s the reason?

 

Many point to the July trade deadline and the swapping of Nomar Garciaparra for Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera (plus a few other exchanges) as the start of all of this, but if you look at the first 2 weeks of August (through 8/15), the Red Sox went 8-6. Not bad, but hardly a hot streak.

 

Since 8/16 however, they’ve gone 17-2.

 

Why is everything coming together? Well, if you look at the early part of the season, the Red Sox were still playing decent ball, they just weren’t winning at the rate you’d expect.

 

At the same time, the New York Yankees were winning at a much higher rate than you’d expect. Please note this isn’t an article devoted to “catching the Yankees.” The Red Sox should just worry about getting to the dance, but the point here is that the Red Sox and Yankees, up until mid-August, had been going in opposite directions even though the amount of runs scored and runs allowed would indicate they should have swapped records.

 

Bill James came up with (I believe he developed it) the Pythagorean theorem for baseball win/loss records. Basically, based on the number of runs scored and runs allowed by a team, they should have a certain winning %. Each year, there are teams that have won or lost many more games than you’d expect based on their run differential. Here is the formula:

 

runs scored * runs scored
(runs scored * runs scored + runs allowed * runs allowed)

 

To date (through 9/5), the Red Sox and Yankees have scored and allowed the following:

 

RS RA Diff W L
Boston 779 631 148 81 54
New York 741 680 61 84 52

 

The Red Sox have scored 38 more runs and allowed 49 few runs than the Yankees, yet they trail the Yankees by 2.5 games.

 

Wow, that is striking.

 

Applying James’ Pythagorean Theorum, you’d find the following win expectations:

 

RS RA Diff W L W% PT W/L % PT W PT L +/-
Boston 779 631 148 81 54 .600 .604 82 49 -1
New York 741 680 61 84 52 .618 .543 74 58 10

 

The Red Sox should be at 82 wins (they are at 81) and the Yankees should be at 74 (they are at 84).

 

So if the Pythagorean Theorum were to hold up exactly, the Red Sox should hold an 8.5 game lead on the Yankees. But, as I mentioned, each season finds a few teams way above or below their expected win/loss totals.

 

At the same time, allowing for a big enough sample size, teams and players tend to play to their average. So while the Red Sox severely under produced through August 15, they are finally winning to their expected total. 3 weeks ago, they were nowhere close.

 

Derek Jeter’s early season slump is a good parallel. He hit .172 in April and .261 in May. Well below his normal production. In June, he snapped out of it and hit .396. For the year, he stands at .275 with a .337 obp and a .440 slg. Still below his normal numbers, but much better than April and May.

 

The Yankees too are settling into their expected win total, although they have quite a few losses to go to get there.

 

The whole point of this is that regardless of what we all think the Red Sox are doing to create their recent success, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. They were generating enough runs and allowing few enough runs to be a really good team. It just didn’t work out that way up until August 15.

 

Ok, with Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Tim Wakefield and Bronson Arroyo all pitching well of late and the line-up taking pitches, fouling off pitches and slugging home runs, things are just fine. Add to that the great defense of Mientkiewicz at first and the rest of the team, things are really fine.

 

It is amazing to see Mientkiewicz play. Remember last year when people were touting Kevin Millar as the most improved first baseman (defensively) last year? Well, even at the top of his game, Millar is mediocre compared to Mientkiewicz. It is fun to watch.

 

As for playing some small ball, Jerry Remy during sports final last night on CBS 4 hinted that he believed Terry Francona had heard it from upstairs that he should be bunting, running and playing for the single run more often.

 

Who knows if that is true, but I will say it makes sense that if you have your players practice things like bunting, hit and runs and other small ball techniques, it will be an option in the postseason rather than a moth-balled technique that no player can perform due to a lack of practice.

 

While there is no way to point to one event or philosophical change as the catalyst to the recent winning ways, it is safe to say this winning was a long time coming.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

Red Sox August 2004

August 12, 2004

 

Hot Topics: Dale Sveum

 

I’d like to review a few recent hot topics:

 

Dale Sveum – In today’s 6-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Red Sox had 2 runners thrown out at home plate. In both cases, Rocco Baldelli was behind the outfield throw.

 

After the game today, instead of focusing on the great shutout thrown by Pedro Martinez, Red Sox fans and WEEI host Pete Sheppard called for Dale Sveum’s head. It wasn’t all Sveum talk, but it was more than half of the first hour.

 

Sveum is the Red Sox thirdbase coach. Sveum is a fairly young coach and given that he was playing in the majors up until 1999, he couldn’t possibly have that much experience as a coach. He must have shown Terry Francona and Red Sox brass something during the off season.

 

Is Sheppard right? You judge.

 

Here is a list of Sveum’s failures at home plate this season (on plays from the outfield. I also assumed in each case the runner didn’t ignore a stop sign b/c I just don’t know).

 

8/12/04 – Millar at home. Assist R. Baldelli. Red Sox win 6-0.
8/12/04 – Varitek at home. Assist R. Baldelli. Red Sox win 6-0.
8/8/04 – Cabrera at home. Assist C. Monroe. Red Sox win 11-9.
8/6/04 – Mientkiewicz at home. Assist R. White. Red Sox lose 3-4.
8/4/04 – Roberts at home. Assist R. Baldelli. Red Sox lose 4-5.
8/2/04 – Ramirez at home. Assist C. Crawford. Red Sox win 6-3.
7/4/04 – Mueller at home. Assist C. Thomas. Red Sox lose 4-10.
7/3/04 – Ramirez at home. Assist A. Jones. Red Sox win 6-1.
6/4/04 – Bellhorn at home. Assist M. Stairs. Red Sox lose 2-5.
5/12/04 – Ramirez at home. Assist M. Lawton. Red Sox lose 4-6.

 

It is interesting to note that 6 of the 10 outs at home (on throws from the outfield) have occurred in the past 10 days and Rocco Baldelli had 3 assists himself.

 

Is Sheppard right? I have no idea. In fact, I don’t even know if anyone has ever decided to record thirdbase coaches success/failure rates before. I had to go through each Red Sox game this year to come up with the data above.

 

No where on the world wide web did I find a stat source that compiled this crap. I’m not saying it is meaningless, but instead an unknown. Bill James, can you help us out here?

 

It might be possible the average team has 20 runners thrown out at home each year and that Sveum is well under that pace. Maybe the average team only has 10 and Sveum has already reach that. I don’t know and I bet Pete Sheppard doesn’t know either.

 

Additionally, you’d expect a high scoring offense like the Red Sox to be in a position to have more runners trying to score than a low powered offense. More times heading toward home is of course going to lead to more outs at home.

 

Sheppard went as far to say that Dave Roberts being thrown out at home on 8/5 “lost the game for the Red Sox.”

 

What?

 

They weren’t exactly winning the game when that out occurred, where they Pete?

 

BOSTON 9TH
-Top of the 9th inning
-K Millar singled to left.
-D Roberts ran for K Millar.
-D Roberts to second on passed ball by T Hall.
-D Mientkiewicz singled to center, D Roberts thrown out at home. D Mientkiewicz to second advancing on throw.
-B Mueller grounded out to second, D Mientkiewicz to third.
-G Kapler hit by pitch.
-J Damon popped out to first.

 

Above is the Red Sox ninth inning play-by-play for the 8/4 game.

 

Even had Sveum held Roberts, the infield probably would have been in and Mueller’s subsequent grounder to second would have either led to Roberts staying on third and Mueller getting thrown out at first or Roberts being thrown out at home if he’d run (with Mueller reaching first and Mientkiewicz reaching third)

 

Then Kapler gets hit by a pitch. The situation would have been bases loaded and one down.

 

Damon’s pop out to first would have made it 2 outs and then the big question is what would the next guy have (Youkilis) done? Sheppard suggested he’d have won the game for them….or at least tied it with the Red Sox winning later.

 

My point here is that this is a typical knee-jerk reaction. Look at the big picture and then judge. Additionally, until anyone has stats or historical performance for this sort of thing, zip it!

 

Now that I’ve said that, watch Epstein fire Sveum tomorrow…..

 

Nomar – I wish this whole Nomar debacle would just go away. He is gone. Let’s take the high road here and wish him luck, congratulate him on a wonderful career with the Red Sox and lastly welcome the 2 new guys and focus on winning.

 

Both Nomar and Red Sox management have looked pretty foolish in this mess. Let’s not forget the Boston media too. They will do anything to keep this garbage alive. I sometimes wonder why we seem to be the only town in America to let this sort of thing happen.

 

Millar – Wow has he been hitting the stuffing out of the ball. Since the all-star break (through 8/11) he has gone .395/.457/.691.

 

He’s also shot off his mouth a bit too. Last week he openly questioned Terry Francona’s line-up inconsistency. If I were Francona, I’d have A.) fined him as heavily as I could under current laws/rules, B.) told him to shut-up from now own or have his ass married to the bench.

 

Francona is the one guy that stuck with Millar through his positively horrid first half. Millar had 25 RBI in his first 81 games to go along with 5 home runs. That isn’t first baseman/DH production. In fact, Millar’s slump could be traced back to last year. His 2003 second half yielded .251/.331/.421 with 11 HRs and 35 RBI.

 

So the fact that Francona stuck with him despite much rumbling from fans only to have Millar sell Francona down the river is pathetic. If Millar is the leader he’d like you to think he is, he should show more respect for his manager and get in better shape. That would show leadership.

 

Ok, that probably goes too far on my part. Millar did apologize, but man, what was he thinking? He still could be in much better shape though. Tubby.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)

Red Sox July 2004

July 31, 2004

 

So Long Nomar

 

So long Nomar.

 

It finally happened. Even though the 4:00pm trade deadline, for non-waiver trades, came and went this past Saturday and no news of any significant Red Sox trades were hitting the wire, one almost felt as though something must have happened, but someone just forgot to tell us.

 

In fact, I was looking at the MLB.com website up until 4:10pm and then listed to the radio beyond that and heard nothing. It wasn’t until the co-author (Peter) on this site called me to tell me the news:

 

Nomar to the Chicago Cubs, from the Red Sox
Cash and Matt Murton to the Chicago Cubs, from the Red Sox
Doug Mientkiewicz to the Red Sox, from the Minnesota Twins
Orlando Cabrera to the Red Sox, from the Montreal Expos

 

It was actually a 4 team trade, but those are the only moves that involved the Red Sox.

 

Nomar is a great shortstop. He is as talented as any shortstop that has ever played the game (yes, even Honus Wagner and ARod). I am thrilled to have been able to see him play in Boston for the past 10 seasons. I enjoyed watching his patented throw from deep in the hole and I was amazed seeing his 3 home run game in person. There are obviously many more things, but I haven’t got all day.

 

I wish him nothing but the best from here on out. Good luck Nomar.

 

Ok, now that that is out of my system, it’s time to break this deal down.

 

Orlando Cabrera: Cabrera is in his 8th major league season. He is eligible for free agency after earning $6mm this season. Cabrera has been primarily been used as a shortstop during his career.

 

He is an above average fielder:

 

Fld % Range
Career* .976 4.45
League Avg* .969 4.36
* through 2003

 

Not that you are interested, but Nomar posted a .969 fielding % and a 4.41 range through 2003 compared to league averages of .973 and 4.38 respectively.

 

So Cabrera is better than Nomar with the glove. Offensively, they aren’t even close, although Cabrera isn’t that bad.

 

AB R HR RBI SB BB .Avg .Obp .Slg Ops
Cabrera 3288 407 66 381 93 233 .267 .315 .405 .720
Nomar 3968 709 178 690 84 279 .323 .370 .553 .923

 

Ok, Nomar is in another world offensively. It wasn’t until I did up this table that I realized how much better Nomar is as a batter.

 

But, take a look at the past 3 years (2001-2003) for each hitter:

 

AB R HR RBI SB BB .Avg .Obp .Slg Ops
Cabrera 1815 223 38 232 68 143 .279 .331 .424 .755
Nomar 1376 234 56 233 24 87 .305 .349 .523 .872

 

That closes that gap a little bit. But still, Nomar’s loss will be felt most at the plate.

 

Overall, I have to assume Theo Epstein felt losing Nomar this off season without getting anything in return was too great a risk. Yes, if the Red Sox had offered him arbitration and he signed elsewhere, they would have gotten that other team’s top pick and a sandwich pick, but there also remained the possibility Nomar would accept arbitration and be rewarded a salary far higher than the Red Sox were willing to pay.

 

By trading Nomar now, they get something in return and lose a player in Nomar that just didn’t appear to be having any fun playing in Boston.

 

Doug Mientkiewicz – Mientkiewicz is a slick fielding first baseman earning $2.8mm this year. He is under contract through 2005 ($3.75mm) with an option for 2006 ($3.75mm, I’m not sure if it is a player, team or a mutual option). Mientkiewicz is in his 7th season.

 

Mientkiewicz won the gold glove at first in 2001. That is 1 more gold glove than Kevin Millar, David Ortiz and David McCarty combined (no offense to the good gloved McCarty). He is a good at getting on base, but lacks the power you usually see in first basemen.

 

I expect he’ll play against righties and be the designated defensive glove at first in late innings. This might mean the end for David McCarty’s tenure here in Boston.

 

Because I did it for Nomar and Cabrera, here are Mientkiewicz’s career stats:

 

AB R HR RBI SB BB .Avg .Obp .Slg Ops
M’kiewicz 1863 239 38 241 9 262 .279 .371 .415 .786

 

I suppose Epstein had Mientkiewicz included in the deal because he just isn’t convinced Kevin Millar is back to his old self, despite his recent turnaround (.380/.437/.658 in July). Without the ability to hit, Kevin Millar is just another borderline first baseman.

 

The thing that bothers me most about this trade is the fact the Red Sox had to give up Matt Murton and cash (presumably to even out the deal financially). I would think Nomar alone would have been enough to get Cabrera and Mientkienwicz. But that is just me. I guess this means I’m not overly thrilled with this trade overall. I’m not saying I am mad that the Red Sox traded Nomar, I’m just not happy with the value they got back versus what they gave up.

 

I know many will knock Epstein for not getting another starting pitcher, but one would have to assume that he tried, but the Cubs just didn’t want to part with Matt Clement or any one of their other talented pitchers.

 

The Red Sox line-up certainly isn’t what it was prior to this trade. But close watching fans know that the Red Sox weren’t lacking runs, they were lacking defense. This trade certainly helps them defensively, especially at first base.

 

Additionally, I would suggest not dwelling on the loss of Nomar. He is gone and there’s nothing we can do about it. Focus on the team as it is now constituted.

 

There was one more move for the Red Sox. They traded early season acquisition Henri Stanley to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Dave Roberts. Roberts is fast and can play all 3 outfield positions (although CF and LF are his specialties based on his recent experience).

 

I mentioned Roberts’ speed. This year he has 33 steals and only 1 caught stealing. He’ll make an excellent pinch runner and utility outfielder. I’m not sure his arrival will mean he has taken over for the recently done-for-the-year Trot Nixon, but he’ll compliment the other options from which Terry Francona has to choose.

 

It remains to be seen how this trade will help/hurt the Red Sox. At the very worst, they are a better defensive team with less run production. At the best, Cabrera, Mientkiewicz and Roberts will click and send this team into an August and September hot streak.

 

Some quick reviews of various Red Sox fans sites and I have the feeling most people thing the primary trade stinks. I must say I was surprised Matt Clement wasn’t involved, but that’s the way things go. I’m not sure this trade stinks, but I do think the Red Sox could/should have gotten more.

 

My faith in this team and management isn’t shaken however. For those that turn on Epstein for this one forever are too quick to react. After all, how many other bad moves does he have under his belt?

 

Posted by Andy at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2004

 

What is Going On Here?

 

To me, this season feels like the 2001 season. The Red Sox were in the thick of it back in 2001 until the 2nd half when things absolutely fell apart. Jimy Williams got canned and Joe Kerrigan took over. I remember learning about the Williams firing while driving up to Maine. I thought “boy, this could be the kick in the seat the team needs!”

 

Boy was I (and Dan Duquette) wrong.

 

So what is wrong with this squad? Is it Terry Francona? Management/ownership? The players?

 

During spring training this year, a gentleman, whose hobby is baseball prognostication, emailed me. His publication was called the Baseball Bulletin. His focus was specifically forecasting how the AL East would wind up in 2004.

 

His pre-season write-up had the following outcome in the AL East:

 

New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Devil Rays

 

The first one wasn’t a big surprise, but picks 2-4 were. His reasoning for having Toronto and Baltimore in the 2-3 spots were more a result of the failings of Boston, not because Toronto and Baltimore were anything special.

 

His feeling for Boston was that the choice of Terry “Franconia” to manage the Red Sox was the beginning of the end. His Red Sox brief was devoid of any explanation as to why “Franconia” was the wrong choice. So, I won’t talk about this guy any further except to say could he might be right (even without explanation).

 

I don’t know.

 

Here is a hunch. Name a few managers that run a tight ship:

 

Joe Torre
Buck Showalter
Tony LaRussa
Lou Pinella

 

What I mean by a tight ship is one where players are NOT free to come and go as they please. The are expected to do things a certain way. No exceptions.

 

Well with the Red Sox players seem to do whatever they feel like doing. Some examples are Pedro Martinez leaving early for the All-Star break, Manny not properly communication his hamstring problems and David Ortiz pulling a nutty the other day.

 

Beyond that, it is just a sense that there isn’t enough unity in achieving the ultimate goal. I’m not saying that not all Red Sox players want to win a World Series, but I don’t think they can collectively get there if they aren’t working in unison.

 

Not to say a collection of independently minded players can’t win the World Series, I just don’t think they can contend year after year.

 

So, there’s my totally unsubstantiated theory of the week.

 

By the way, if I had to put the current 40-man roster into 2 groups, group A being players that play the game the right way and respect the concept of team focus and group B being players that are either more in it for themselves or just aren’t good at being focused on team success, I’d be here a long time. So instead of that, I’ll give some prime examples of guys how belong in either group A or B:

 

Group A Group B
Kapler Manny
Varitek Kim
Wakefield

 


I probably have no business conducting this exercise, but so what.

 

Notes:

 

The Red Sox pulled off a major trade in acquiring Ricky Gutiérrez today. This move says to me: “With Pokey Reese going down, we figured trading outside the organization was a far better move than recalling Cesar Crespo.”

 

Ok, so it isn’t major, but it does give the Red Sox some depth in the infield. They need it considering with Nomar getting a night off, Bellhorn is playing shortstop and Mueller second.

 

In Wednesday night’s game, Manny Ramirez pulled one of the biggest bonehead plays I’ve seen before. On a deep ball to center, Johnny Damon failed to make the catch. Manny thought it a good idea to act as a cutoff man thus turning what should have been a throw from Damon to the cutoff man to the catcher into a play of Damon-Manny-Bellhorn-Varitek.

 

Each of the throws were of the pathetic nature by the way. Damon’s was his usual I’m really a righty throw, Manny’s was from his knees and Bellhorn’s spiked off the pitchers mound.

 

This team needs to wake up.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2004

 

Start of the 2nd Half

 

So the Red Sox went 48-38 in the 1st half. Not much point in rehashing the ugly details other than to say I believe everyone thinks they can do better. Well, not everyone, but most folks.

 

Now onto the 2nd half and the approach of the non-waiver trade deadline. As a way of capturing the spirit of the trade deadline, I’ve come up with a few titles:

 

Trade-O-Rama
Trippedy-Trade-Time
Tantamountatudenal-Trade-Triumphantness (courtesy of Don King)

 

While I haven’t settled on a favorite, I think it is safe to say Randy Johnson is the headline trade bait. If you don’t believe me, just check out the poll on our home page.

 

What does Johnson bring to the table? How about these career figures through 2003:

 

230 wins
114 loses
3.10 era
1.18 whip
3122.1 ip
2435 hits
1258 walks
3871 strikeouts(he got his 4000th recently)
57 pants pooped in while facing him.

 

Just ask John Kruk if you don’t believe that last one. Sasky city.

 

While it is true he has been a dominant pitcher since 1993, Johnson is now 40 years old (he’ll turn 41 in September). Should his age play a part in the decision making of any team interested in acquiring him? So far in 2004, Johnson has pitched 129.1 innings with a 2.99 era, 0.90 whip (WOW) and 145 k’s. Those numbers are a vast improvement over his injury filled 2003 season which produced his worst era since 1989.

 

It would appear age hasn’t slowed him down too much. To support that, one only has to look as far as Bill James in Lawrence, KS. James has written in the past that power pitchers last longer than finesse pitchers (knuckleball pitchers not included…after all, there isn’t much finesse in a knuckleball). Using Roger Clemens, Johnson and Nolan Ryan as examples, James might just be right.

 

Personally, I think Johnson would be a great addition to the Red Sox…assuming it is the right price. What I mean by that is Johnson is getting paid $16mm in 2004 and another $16mm in 2005. So the team that trades for him is on the hook for about $8mm this year and $16mm next year. $24mm is a hefty price to pay a soon-to-be 41 year old to pitched for a year and a half.

 

My detractors, and there is a never ending supply, would say “who cares about the money?” Well…I do. I can’t help but worry about next year. Sure if the Red Sox won the World Series this year I wouldn’t mind Johnson pitching from a wheelchair next year, but the fact is, there are quite a few good teams in the majors this year and it isn’t a lock the Red Sox will win the World Series (I could have said that many times the past few….decades after all. Don’t blame me for my down to earth approach).

 

All I’m saying is let’s not mortgage the future to get Johnson today.

 

The odd thing is that the Red Sox would probably have one of the better packages to offer Arizona. Kevin Youkilis did well during his call-up (he was sent down today to make room for Ramiro Mendoza) and Kelly Shoppach, despite his struggles with the bat, would be two top prospects for Arizona.

 

Let’s let this stuff play out. There seem to be a never ending supply of rumors and rumor squashing articles out there. Here is a sampling:

 

Chicago Tribune – 7/15(registration required-free)
Boston Herald – Tony Massarotti 7/15
New York Times – 7/15(registration required-free)
Providence Journal – Art Martone(all-star Art) 7/15(registration required-free)
New York “Gephardt VP” Post – George King 7/15

 

So there you have it.

 

A quick observations. How can anyone think that Pokey Reese is a better option at shortstop than Nomar Garciaparra? Now I’m not trying to pick on anyone, but I’ve heard some fairly well educated people say Pokey is better than Nomar overall.

 

To use a phrase a high school English teacher actually said to me “I think you are dumb for thinking that.”

 

Why? Here’s why!

 

Career Batting through 2003:

 

PA* Avg Obp Slg Runs HRs RBI SB
Pokey 3103 .251 .310 .357 334 41 242 138
Nomar 4291 .323 .370 .555 685 173 669 82
*Plate Appearances

 

Career Fielding through 2003:

 

SS fld % Range Errors Games
Pokey .964 3.84 32 222
Nomar .969 4.41 130 919

 

The fact is, Pokey made his fielding reputation at second base. He won his two gold gloves there, not at shortstop.

 

So far in 2004 with the glove:

 

SS fld % Range Errors Games
Pokey .977 4.86 326 62
Nomar .944 3.63 5 25

 

I will give the nod to Pokey in 2004 defensively, but given the sample size, it doesn’t convince me one bit that Pokey is the better answer at short.

 

Nomar is by far the best option at shortstop. Stop debating it. Stop! I mean it!

 

Posted by Andy at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

Red Sox June 2004

June 27, 2004

 

So Long A Drought

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Notes:

 

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

 

That sounds like serious surgery to me.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

June 10, 2004

 

They’re Better Now

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

June 01, 2004

 

Lowe Down Dirty Shame

 

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

 

So far in 2004?

 

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

 

Ugly.

 

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

 

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

 

Let’s look at the rest of the rotation:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

One Third Done

On the eve of interleague play, the Yankees have reached the conclusion of the first third of the season, a point where it is still too early to sweat the standings, but long enough to see some individual trends and patterns. Clearly, it has been a successful first third of the season for the Yankees; they end it with a 35-20 record, which is the best mark in baseball. This is even more impressive when you consider they were 8-11 after getting swept at home by the Red Sox.

The 2004 edition of the Yankees is currently made up of mediocre starting pitching, an excellent bullpen and a scary lineup. Let’s take a look at each area of the team.

Unlike years past, the Yankees do not roll out a starter who can dominate every day. Mike Mussina got off to a horrible start, but seems to be getting back on track. Kevin Brown was great at the start of the season, but has been roughed up as of late. Javier Vazquez has been dominating, but tends to give up a long ball at the most inopportune times. Jon Lieber has been up and down; his last two starts the down part of his season. Jose Contreras, I don’t want to talk anymore about Jose Contreras. On talent alone, this squad should improve and the Yankees will definitely need better in October.

The reason why the Yankees have not been hurt by their so-so starting pitching is that their bullpen has been lights out. Mariano has converted 23 out of 24 saves and Tom Gordon has given Joe Torre a second closer out of the bullpen. Paul Quantrill has been solid, with a few bumps along the way. The only real problem in the bullpen has been the lefties, White and Heredia have been terrible, but Joe Torre hasn’t needed to use them in crucial situations.

Offensively, the Yankees are a team you can never count out of a game, regardless of the score. A Rod, Sheffield, Matsui, Posada and Giambi are all having monster years. Ruben Sierra has been great when used. Enrique Wilson and Miguel Cairo have hit enough to cover second. The only real problems in the lineup are Bernie and Jeter. Bernie’s OPS has gone from .601 in April to .789 in May to .868 in June. An OPS over .800 for the season would make the Yankees happy. Jeter seems to have turned things around since the end of May, but he has a lot of hitting to do to get up to his normal career levels.

So, the Yankees head into the next part of the season with a solid foundation and apart from some minor tweaking here and there, no need for a bigger move- though that doesn’t mean one won’t be made in Yankeeland.

Peter’s columns appear Monday, Wednesday and Friday and he can be reached at peter@yankeesredsox.com