Season Analysis

The Red Sox have been a just slightly above .500 team since June 1st.  To be specific, they played .679 ball through June 1st going 36-17.  From June 2nd to August 5th, they went  32-26, a .552 clip.  Basically they came out of the gate like gang busters but have coasted a bit since (with expressions like "clip," "gangbusters" and "out of the gate," I sound a bit like a "rube").

I did some digging, which I’m sure most of you have done too and here is why the Red Sox have fallen of a bit.  These are June and July splits (i.e. they include June 1st):

Youkilis: June – .264/.395/.368, July – .219/.348/.356

Varitek: June – .234/.322/.403, July – .294/.398/.368 (July yielded a good OBP, but little production).

Lugo: June – .089/.170./139, July – .313/.377/.448.  Lugo was good in July, but beyond horrendous in June.

Drew: June – .325/.404/.558, July – .213/.318/.307.

The Red Sox have had a few players that have not necessarily been awful in both June and July, but who have had one good and one bad month or vice versa.  As for the pitching:

Beckett: June – 4.46/1.30 (era/whip), July – 3.50/.1.11

Wakefield: June – 6.00/.1.47, July – 5.52/.1.42 (wow, those are bad vitals yet he went 7-4 in that time).

Tavarez: June – 3.30/.1.30, July – 6.75/.2.03 (very bad in July).

The good news is that while these individual performances have hurt the Red Sox somewhat, the Red Sox limited their poor production on an individual basis for the most part.  In fact, despite these individual weaknesses, the Red Sox actual Win/Loss % through August 5th is .613 (68-43).  Their expected (Pythagorean Winning Percentage – a Bill James creation) is .630 (70-41).  So they have basically produced a record consistent with their run production/prevention. but the success was overstated in April and May and understated in June and July.  It’s funny how things even out.

In other news, Eric Hinske has taken a 3 day leave of absence to deal with family issues and Brandon Moss was called up to take his place.  Bobby Kielty is still an option for the bench but somehow he has 5 teams vying for his services.  You tell me, what’s the appeal of Kielty?  He does fair well against lefties, but he has proven he is not an everyday player.  I just don’t see him as an improvement over Wily Mo Pena lest we forget Wily Mo (or is it just Wily) hit 26 HR’s for Cinci in 2004 (in only 336 at bats) and 19 HR in 2005 (in only 311 at bats).  Wily Mo has the slugging edge while Kielty has the OBP edge.  What do the Red Sox need more?  I say stick with Wily Mo…again.

Citgo Sign photo used with permission from Lumiere2005 via flickr.com.

What Happens Tuesday?

Kudos to Joe Torre for going for it this afternoon with his bullpen. The last three innings were Vizcaino and Rivera, his two best relievers. The question is, what happens if the Yankees are in a close game tomorrow night? I can’t see either Vizcaino or Rivera being used, so that leaves Farnsworth, Villone, Brower, Karstens and Bruney to pitch critical innings. Anyone else see a problem here?

Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad they got the win today and I can’t argue with how they did it, but this is where you need Scott Proctor. Since he is gone, the Yankees have just over 24 hours to find someone who Torre will trust in a similar role.

That will be next to impossible, but if they are truly going to remake the bullpen, now would be a good time to do it, They may need a different name for tomorrow and whether it is Ramirez or Chamberlain, the Yankees need to figure it out quickly, no one wants to see Kyle pitching with the game on the line and it would be best to just send him away soon.

The truly amazing thing is that the Yankees are now tied for the wild card. On July 1st they were 38-41 and 8 1/2 games back of Detroit. The Tigers have gone 14-16 since then while the Yankees have gone 24-9. Cleveland has also cratered at 13-17 since then. So, the two AL Central teams gave the Yankees the opportunity and the Yankees have made the most of it by feasting on weaker teams. Now the schedule gets much harder, but the playing field is level. 50 games to go and we have a horse race.

Who Is It?

Can anyone tell me exactly who the Yankees are bringing up to the bullpen?  The Journal News has either Ramirez or Chamberlain, Newsday has Jim Brower, while the Post definitively states it’s Joba time.

While the speculation is interesting, the important thing is that the Yankees have broken a pattern by designating Mike Myers for assignment.  Usually, they have coddled veterans and given them the benefit of the doubt at every turn.  And, since Myers has the lowest ERA on the staff (2.66) it stood to reason that he would be safe if the Yankees decided to make a change.  But, Myers was brought in with one job to do, get lefties out, and he isn’t doing it.  

The Yankees may finally be willing to take some chances with younger players and while I still am uncertain about the Joba experiment, the overall trend is great.  We will see if they stick with this when Jason Giambi is activated Tuesday. (the easy move is to demote Duncan, the right one is to DFA Cairo.)

We will know the identity of the "mystery pitcher" by 1pm when the Yankees play the Blue Jays.   

 

UPDATE: Peter Abraham is reporting that it is Jim Brower. You can forget the stuff I wrote above about a new approach. Brower hasn’t been good since 2004 and while he has been closing well at Scranton, it’s hard to see how this will help.

Red Sox Trade Deadline Review 2007

First off, I realize taking a vacation only to miss the MLB non-waiver trade deadline is just a terrible thing.  Secondly, sticking you with Peter the Yankee fan is really akin to saying "I don’t like you."  So, sorry for both.

But something nice sure did happen while I was away (btw, the place I go is literally like stepping back in time with only dial-up, limited cell coverage, no cable or satellite TV.  It’s like being on an island…wait, I was on an island).  The Red Sox acquired Eric Gagne.  Gagne is not the pitcher he was from 2002-2004, but since coming back from major arm issues, he has put together a great 2007 thus far.  What makes Gagne different since coming back from injuries?  Namely his strikeout rate.  Gagne struck out 114 in 82.1 IP in 2002, 137 in 82.1 IP in 2003 and 114 in 82.1 IP in 2004 (yes, he pitched 82.1 IP 3 straight seasons).  Those K rates are off the charts good.  So far in 2007 he has struck out 31 in 34.1 IP.  Still good, but not nearly as impressive as before.  Having said all that, Gagne’s addition is welcome and it is nice to see Boston making a major move prior to the deadline.

What the Red Sox didn’t do was acquire offense.  So get used to the starting 9 and the bench as I don’t think the free agent pool nor the waiver trade deadline will yield much help.  Jermaine Dye was one possible target (he has hit 2 HR’s since the deadline), but apparently the White Sox didn’t like what the Red Sox had to offer and are now trying to re-sign Dye to a long-term deal themselves.

So moving on, the Red Sox as they are currently constituted are likely to be the guys on the field come playoff time (let’s make the playoffs first of course).  That’s not such a bad thing.  With an 8.0 game lead, an added arm to the bullpen and the return of Curt Schilling to the rotation, the Red Sox have no excuses.

As for who the Red Sox gave up to get Gagne:  Kason Gabbard, David Murphy and and pre-pubescent Engel Beltre.  We know a fair amount about Gabbard and Murphy, but Beltre was a big question mark.  He is only 17 years old and was signed at 16 (is that legal?).  Per SoxProspects.com, Beltre is "Five-tool left-handed hitter with excellent power potential.  Strong arm and good range in centerfield.  Highly touted signing out of the Dominican Republic, signed for $575,000.  Hustles at every step . Very projectable as a power hitter once he grows into his body."

Others said he had potential to be a Ken Griffey type hitter.  A stretch to be sure, but he certainly was a decent prospect.  So give Boston credit, they took an end of the rotation starter, a roll/bench player and a 17 year old prospect and turned that into Gagne.  Sure, they also had to deal with $ issues like guaranteeing Gagne’s incentives, but with 2 months left (1/3 of the season) it costs the Red Sox about about $4.6m total.  Not terrible.  I calculate that based on a $6m base salary and $3m in incentives that were guaranteed of which Texas paid $400k and the Red Sox $2.6m.

It is nice having Delcarmen, Gagne, Okajima and Papelbon in the pen right now.

Other news, Brendan Donnelly is going to have Tommy John Surgery.  Not sure if he figures into their plays in 2008 as it is not likely he’d be ready to pitch until mid-late 2008 if he is lucky.  Also, Curt Schilling is set to start Monday night in Anaheim.  Keep an eye on Bobby Kielty.  He was recently waived and can be had by the Red Sox.  Not sure if he is an upgrade to Wily Mo Pena though.  I say stick with Wily Mo.

Must Read

Sorry for the not updating the Betemit for Basak move, but another thing that I missed from Wednesday was this.  Just read the first paragraph.  We all know this is true and I am very glad the Yankees’ front office has agreed. The question now is, how do they prevent it from happening again?  It seems unlikely that Torre is about to change after almost 30 years of managing, so how exactly are they going to get him to use and not overuse rookie pitchers?  Stay tuned….

Karstens Up

The Yankees have recalled Jeff Karstens to take Proctor’s place on the roster. My understanding is that Betemit hasn’t made it to the Stadium yet, so Basak is still active as of now (6:10pm) Interesting that Karstens got the call, I wonder how Joe will use him? I have a feeling this is only the beginning and we will see Ramirez and Chamberlain here soon.

Trade Deadline Thoughts

It’s interesting, but as I have heard the Yankees and Brian Cashman repeatedly bashed on the airwaves the past few hours, it has made me more sure than ever that Cashman is doing the right thing.  

I have been saying in this space for years that the Yankees have to get younger and they certainly did so today, trading a 30-year old middle reliever for a 25-year old third baseman.  No, it wasn’t a sexy deal, but it gives the Yankees a nice bat off the bench who might be able to play some first as well.  

Yes, Proctor will be missed, but let’s face it, the bloom was off the rose.  The guy who dazzled us last year wasn’t the same this year.  Last year he walked 33 in 102 IP, this year he has given out 29 walks in 54.  His strikeout rate is way down as well.  Hey, I loved watching the guy and I really admired his toughness, but you have to wonder if Torre’s overusing him has finished his career.  I certainly hope not because he deserves better, but I think the Yankees got good value for a guy who could very well be hitting the downside quickly.  

And yes, it is tough to sit here today and see that Boston acquired Eric Gagne, but they are in a position where they should make trades like that.  They have the best record in the AL and are clearly gunning for a title.  They have an eight-game division lead and they are willing to pay an expensive price for a rental.  The Yankees are four-games back of a playoff spot and giving up on some of the young pitchers now would not be smart.  Let me put it to you this way, if October rolled around and the Yankees missed the playoffs with Gagne, what would you have thought of that deal then?  

Instead Cashman chose to try a different plan.  The Yankees are already getting two significant pieces back in the next week or so, Hughes and Giambi.  Maybe Chamberlain, maybe Ramirez, maybe Britton maybe no one can fill the bullpen role that they needed filled.  But, they have kept all of their chips for another day.  That may be the smartest thing of all.  This offseason could be devastating with the losses of Rivera, Posada and A-Rod, so the Yankees might just need some chips to trade for a new closer, catcher and third baseman.  I don’t know if Gagne would have helped them get over the hump in 2007, but I do know the prospects they kept will help them in 2008 when Gagne is back to closing for another team.  

Plus, the Indians didn’t make any moves today and they are the team the Yankees have to catch and as much as you don’t want to see Gagne in Boston, it would be worse if he went to Cleveland.

The one thing I will knock Cashman on is not dumping Farnsworth, but it is a small knock.  I assume he didn’t want to trade Proctor and Farnsworth without getting back someone for the pen and I bet he just couldn’t do that.  Plus, you can always send him though waivers if he doesn’t improve his performance and attitude and if a team does claim him, you can just let him go.

Looking at the big picture, I would say Atlanta and Boston are clearly the winners, but I can’t find anyone else who really won.  On the losing side, it’s also hard to identify a clear loser, but I have to wonder what the Pirates were doing grabbing Matt Morris and his entire contract.  

Some Trades/More Rumors

ESPN is reporting on their trade deadline special that Eric Gagne is going to either Boston or the Brewers, if he is traded. 

Meanwhile, the Red Sox have traded Joel Piniero to the Cardinals for the infamous "PTBNL"

The Yankees have sent Scott Proctor to LA for Wilson Betemit.

I will update this post as I hear more rumors and expect a full breakdown of the deals after 4pm. 

UPDATE 2:10- Jon Heyman says the Red Sox have made a deal for Gagne, no word on the players involved.

UPDATE 2:50 Buster Olney is reporting that the Red Sox will send Engel Beltre, Kason Gabbard and David Murphy for Gagne. He further states that the Yankees could have had him, but refused to part with either Ian Kennedy or Melky Cabrera.

UPDATE 3:05- There is a surreal scene at Yankee Stadium as members of the Yankees and MLB gather to unveil the 2008 All-Star logo. Lon Trost, Hank Steinbrenner and Randy Levine are there on the field as speeches are being made. Does this mean it’s Cashman and Steinbrenner in a bunker somewhere trying to trade Farnsworth? How does this get scheduled one hour before the trading deadline??

UPDATE 3:45- Gagne deal is done according to Olney with the Red Sox guaranteeing $3.6 million in incentives. Jon Heyman is reporting the Dye deal is unlikely. Still very, very quiet on the Yankees side, maybe they spent up all their creative energy on the All-Star logo?

This And That

Chamberlain looked pretty good in AAA tonight according to this report.  All I can say is "wow".

I normally don’t go with unsubstantiated rumors, but this one comes from one of our frequent commentators and a web author on his own, Jimmy.   Now, Pete Abraham says it isn’t so and I am not sure if he has the right names, but it is interesting that both Jeff Marquez and Alan Horne do not show up on minorleaguebaseball.com with a team name next to their entries.  Yes, it is a conspiracy theory, but Alberto Gonzalez was just promoted to AAA today and his name is listed on the correct team.  Plus, you know the Yankees would want to really check Gagne out medically, so is it possible a trade has been agreed to in principal and Gagne is on his way to New York from Cleveland where the Rangers play tomorrow night? 

Should be fun to sleep on tonight, back in the morning.

The Deadline Looms

I hate to break this for you Red Sox Fans, but Andy has selfishly gone on a family vacation which means you are stuck with me for the next 24 hours. Then again, I am quite sure this experience will do us both some good.

Anyway, for the next day I will be dishing info about both teams, Yankees and Red Sox as we approach the non-waiver deadline.

So far, not much is going on. The Red Sox were reportedly close to getting Jermaine Dye but that deal seems to have stalled.

The Yankees and Red Sox are both in Gagne according to Jason Stark, but the Rangers asked for Hughes or Chamberlain from the Yankees which won’t happen and Gagne can block a trade to Boston which means the Red Sox would probably have to pony up some cash. (Don’t forget Scott Boras is Gagne’s agent)

The big movers are clearly the Braves who have reportedly landed Teixeria and could be adding Octavio Dotel (see above) and maybe even Bronson Arroyo

If the Braves make all those moves would that compel the Mets to up the ante on Gagne? What do you think will happen? Feel free to vote below