Let the Games Begin

The Red Sox are coming off a 2-1 series win in Toronto. The New York Yankees are coming off a series sweep of Cleveland.

 

All the makings of a great weekend series at Fenway.

 

For the Yankees, they have pounded the ball led by Alex Rodriguez and his MLB leading 10 home runs. The rest of the line-up is doing well too. And despite their rotation featuring several minor-leaguers, they have a 3.57 team ERA through Thursday.

 

The Red Sox have featured an inconsistant offense, but steady pitching (2.55 ERA through Thursday).

 

Boston has managed to line up their top 3 starters in Schilling, Beckett and Matsuzaka. Those 3 face Andy Pettitte, Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright. That’s a vet and 2 rookies…yes rookies. With all due respect for the Yankees offense, if the Red Sox let 2 rookies in games 2 and 3 shut down their offense, Boston probably doesn’t have as good an offense as we thought.

 

As a Red Sox fan, my biggest concern is that the offense fails to provide run support for Daisuke Matsuzaka. It’d be a shame for him to pitch well in 2007 and not get run support. It is only 3 games into the season, but Matsuzaka could very well be 3-0 rather than 1-2.

 

The offensive struggles continue for Jason Varitek. He went 0-4 Thursday and now has a .189 average and a sub-.300 obp. Things just aren’t right for JV. He is facing an uphill battle with age. I hope he can turn it around and be at worst an average hitter.

 

Coco Crisp had a good game Thursday getting on base twice and driving in a run via a sac fly. Crisp was creative Thursday and figured out ways on base. He has proven in the past he can hit. It just seems he is putting a ton of pressure on himself to perform. I’m happy Francona has shown some confidence in him putting him lead-off Thursday and 2nd on Monday. I think this kid is a good player, but just has his head off kilter.

 

But no matter how you paint it, the Red Sox are struggling with the bottom 3rd of the line-up. Varitek, Crisp and Pedroia aren’t hitting. Pedroia is getting on base, so he isn’t too big a worry, but Crisp and Varitek need to fight their way on base. Bunt, lean into inside pitches (yes, take an HBP), do whatever you can to get on base. I am confident they will collectively do better than they have so far, but I fear their ceiling might be must lower than we hoped.

 

Anyway, get set for a Friday 7:05 pm start (NESN), a Saturday 3:55 pm start (Fox) and a Sunday 8:05 pm start (ESPN game of the week). That’s 2 of 3 televised nationally. Wow, this match-up has taken on a new level of interest.

 

It’s the Rotation Stupid

As Red Sox fans, we discuss and debate the various components of the team we feel impact their performance. Offense, defense, speed, rotation, bullpen, manager, front office, etc. I think this long weekend’s performance against a good Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles (just rolls off the tongue) team proves that the most important part of putting together a successful team is starting pitching. Starters, if they are doing well, can go 7 innings per start or more. Even if a starter has a sub-par or just average performance (as opposed to horrendous), he is still likely to to go 5 innings. I bring this up because that one starter is likely to pitch greater than 50% of the game. So doesn’t it make sense to focus your attention on the 5 people on your team that are likely to pitch about 2/3 of all innings season-long?

Well, I think it is safe to say General Manager Theo Epstein did just that over the past 2 seasons with the acquisitions of Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and last season’s contributions of Jon Lester in 2006. In addition, with prospects Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard, the hope is to keep the rotation young, healthy and fully stocked.

Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield are getting old and there is always going to be concern about their health and performance. But if the Red Sox wanted to part company with both next season, they’d free up about $17m to play with. But I don’t see that happening just yet.

The starting rotation has posted a 7-4 record with a 2.51 ERA holding the opposition to a .214 average. It is just an 11 game sample, but it is the best we have to go by.

Schilling: 2-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
Beckett: 3-0, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
Matsuzaka: 1-1, 2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
Wakefield: 1-1, 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
Tavarez: 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 2.75 WHIP

The first 4 look good and you have to give Tavarez a break, he has pitched once all season. He must be itching to get back on the mound.

Certainly the questions that were brought up prior to the start of the season are still valid. Can this rotation stay healthy. Is Beckett really this good, or is he fooling us just like he did in 2006 when he also got off to a 3-0 start? How will Matsuzaka fair against the New York Yankees?

It is early, but good starting pitching makes life that much easier on everyone else. Good starting pitching can hide other weaknesses of a team, such as perhaps middle relief with the Red Sox.

Stay healthy boys and maybe in the meantime, Coco Crisp, Jason Varitek and Manny Ramirez will rediscover their swings.

Relax Curt and Don’t Forget There is a Big Game Tonight

Curt Schilling teed off on Gary Thorne on his blog today.

 

Some context (certainly not all, but some):

 

Gary Thorne last night: "He (Mirabelli) said one thing, and I heard something else. I reported what I heard and what I honestly felt was said. Having talked with him today, there’s no doubt in my mind that’s not what he said, that’s not what he meant …I took it as something serious, and it wasn’t."

 

Schilling’s reply to the above quote: "So Gary Thorne says that Doug told him the blood was fake. Which even when he’s called out he can’t admit he lied. Doug never told Gary Thorne anything. Gary Thorne overheard something and then misreported what he overheard. Not only did he misreport it, he misinterpreted what he misreported."

 

So Schilling clearly believes Doug Mirabelli’s version of events over Thorne. He is entitled to do so, but he is dismissing any possibility that Mirabelli did say something close to what Thorne said but was embarrassed by the controversy it caused and the harm it might to do his relationship with Schilling, so he bended the truth a bit when discussing it with Schilling. Please note, because I wasn’t there, I have no idea what was said, all I can go by is what Thorne says happened and what Mirabelli says happened. But the same has to be said for Schilling too, he wasn’t there, was he?

 

Obviously Schilling is close to Mirabelli and trusts him, why else close the door on any notion that Mirabelli is doing some cover-up. But at the same time, Gary Thorne, a well respected announcer on a local and national level, is getting crucified over this by Schilling. Why? Is it that big a deal? Thorne clearly underestimated the impact this issue would have, but I don’t think in any way, he had an agenda or was being lazy. He says he misinterpreted something Mirabelli said. Schilling is saying no, he lied and continues to do so, no bones about it.

 

Curt, you are full of hot air sometimes. You are entitled to as much hot air as you’d like and I hope you keep all of your irons in the fire (pitching professionally, running a business, raising money and awareness for ALS, blogging and whatever else it is that you do). I’m just saying I think your blind loyalty to a teammate has publicly hurt Thorne to a degree he might not deserve.

 

Oh yeah, and by the way, the Red Sox play the Yankees tonight. Is that big news?

 

Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-2, 4.00 ERA) vs. Andy Pettitte (1-0, 1.78 ERA) Rumor has it Pettitte will start the game and come into the game in relief in the 7th inning too.

 

The Red Sox are winning games despite an up and down offense. They have scored 106 runs, good for 4th place in the league (NY is 1st with 120 runs). The Red Sox as a team are hitting .259/.348/.416. So their average is down, but their OBP is pretty good (2nd best).

 

.234/.330/.286 – Lugo
.274/.384/.370 – Youkilis
.288/.387/.613 – Ortiz
.192/.297/.282 – Ramirez
.314/.417/.443 – Drew
.316/.357/.566 – Lowell
.237/.313/.373 – Varitek
.214/.250/.304 – Crisp
.184/.310/.224 – Pedroia

 

There is some good and some bad in that line-up. You have to be disappointed (not nec. worried) with Lugo, Manny, Varitek, Crisp and Pedroia and happy with Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew and Lowell.

 

Youkilis hasn’t hit for power, but he is getting on base, that’s why I put him in the good category. He’ll never be a power hitter by the way, but 15-20 isn’t out of the question.

 

So the offense really isn’t clicking yet, but the good news is, the arms are keeping them in each game.

 

3.27/1.09 – Schilling
2.48/1.04 – Beckett
4.00/1.15 – Matsuzaka
2.08/1.12 – Wakefield
8.36/1.79 – Tavarez

 

With the exception of Tavarez, the rotation has been giving them excellent innings.

 

0.00/0.72 – Papelbon
0.00/0.38 – Donnelly
0.93/0.62 – Okajima
3.12/1.73 – Pineiro
3.38/1.31 – Snyder
5.68/2.21 – Romero
6.35/1.41 – Timlin

 

Aside from Romero and Timlin, the pen has been solid too. What is interesting is that because the starters are going so deep, Terry Francona can afford to put Donnelly in for just a batter or two (8 games, 5.1 IP).

 

Romero is off to his 2nd consecutive bad year and Timlin is coming off a bad 2nd half in 2006, so if they can’t right their respective ships, it will be time to make a move soon. If Timlin goes, it’ll remind me of the farewell to Alan Embree.

 

Crisp has to get back in the line-up and Lugo has to find that stroke at the top of the order. Get on base and let Ortiz, Ramirez or Drew knock you in.

 

Rain expected tonight, let’s hope they get it in.

 

Crystal Ball III

Last year I managed to predict three of the "final four" playoff teams and that probably means I will get all four wrong this year. But, without further ado, here is how I see the 2007 season ending up.
AL East
1-Yankees Yes, there are reasons to pick against them again, but the offense is deadly and the bullpen is very deep. Clippard and Hughes are waiting in the wings and I think they won’t have to wait long, but that is the difference, unlike years past, the pitching has a plan B in the minors.
2- Red Sox I almost went with Toronto, but I don’t like their health concerns. Boston made some big moves in the offseason, but inexplicably didn’t get a closer. That sent Papelbon back to the pen and Tavarez into the rotation. Lester may save them from that, but he won’t replace a rapidly-aging bottom of the lineup. Will Lowell and Varitek hit this year? Can Drew withstand Boston? Too many questions for me to pick them any higher
3- Toronto As I said, I flirted with picking them 2nd, but I have questions here too. Can Frank Thomas repeat his performance from last season? Can Halliday pitch the entire season? Overall, they should be good, but I wonder if they are due for a step back.
4- Tampa Bay What, the Devil Rays not in last? Yup, Delmon Young, BJ Upton, plus a great farm system and ownership finally willing to use it brings the Rays out of the depths.
5- Baltimore Peter Angelos is hard to understand. Erik Bedard should have a very good year. Markakis is a star on the rise, but there are way too many holes.

AL Central
1- Twins I think everyone is overlooking Minnesota. The M+M boys are great and Santana is the best in the bigs. Nathan can close with anyone and Tori Hunter will be plenty motivated.
2- Indians I was going to put the Tigers in this spot, but I worry about their young pitching and losing Rogers for the year. Cleveland has developed a nice team and should be pretty dangerous when Lee comes back
3- Detroit The Tigers will be good and it is an indication of this division’s strength that they are my pick for third
4- Chicago Not that I hate what Kenny Williams has done, but I just think the other teams have moved faster than him (for now)
5- Kansas City At least the fans will get to see 162 games of Alex Gordon.

AL West
1- Angels They are the class of the division with a ton of talent in the minors and a great owner. They will be tough all year long
2- Oakland I don’t think Zito will hurt them as much as people think and Piazza will be a nice addition. They will be in it, just won’t win it.
3- Texas Some interesting things going on in Arlington, including a new ballpark name. More importantly, the team is improving.
4- Seattle Hard to figure out what the Mariners are doing. Maybe Hernandez develops this year and gives them a boost, but it won’t be enough.

NL East
1-Philadelphia I like the team and their offseason moves. Freddy Garcia will boost the rotation when healthy and Ryan Howard is quickly becoming better than Pujols.
2-Mets Hard to understand how they didn’t add a starter in the offseason. Pelfy may come along, but when Glavine and El Duque are your 1-2, you have trouble. They still have a great lineup and I think Alou gives a big boost.
3-Braves Atlanta has greatly improved their bullpen and I wouldn’t count them out of making a run, but I think they lack behind the Phillies and Mets talent-wise.
4- Marlins I don’t think this team will win 70 games, but they have a worse team bringing up the rear of this division
5- Washington The Nationals may be the worst team in the NL. Losing Soriano in free agency after trading for him was a huge blunder.

NL Central
1- Cubs Call it crazy, but I think all the spending and Lou Pinella add up to a nice run in Chicago this year.
2- St. Louis I think the champs take a step back, but I predict a great pennant race down to the wire.
3- Millwaukee If Ben Sheets could ever be healthy, this team would be able to go somewhere, I am guessing he is not again.
4- Houston No Clemens, no Pettitte and Cliff Lee will be the biggest bust of free agency.
5-Reds I like the first two starters and Bailey should be up soon, but I don’t see much beyond that.
6- PIttsburgh Are there any reasons to even watch baseball in Pittsburgh anymore?

NL West
1- Dodgers I hate the Pierre signing, but I think they have the most talent of a very balanced division.
2- Arizona Young players and some good pitching bring them back from the dead.
3- San Diego The thought of David Wells finally working out and taking care of himself saddens me. He could have been a wonderful pitcher if he had done it earlier.
4- Colorado The Rockies win more than last year, that’s progress.
5- Giants Old team with Barry Zito, I guess the rebuilding commences when Bonds breaks the record.
Playoffs 
Twins over Angels- Santana twice beats anything the Angels can do


Yankees over Indians-Too much offense and Hughes in the fourth game seals it.

Yankees over Twins- This will be an epic series, but I think the Yankees win Game 7 at home.

Phillies over Dodgers- Ryan Howard hits 4 HR’s


Cubs over Mets- Pedro’s back, but Zambrano is better
Phillies over Cubs- Ryan Howard in Wrigley backed up by a better pitching staff

And finally….
Phillies over Yankees- the quest for 27 will begin again in 2008.

February 2007

February 26, 2007

 

Manny Sighting

 

ESPN is reporting (as are all of the Boston newspaper blogs) that Manny Ramirez has reported to camp, 3 days earlier than expected.

 

Perhaps he had been reading the quotes of teammates and listening to sports radio.

 

We’d all like to think Manny cares about this kind of thing, but I have a feeling he just got confused and accidentally reported today instead of Thursday.

 

If nothing else, this has to be good news because he’ll get in a few extra days of work. He is getting older after all.

 

In other news, New York’s Mariano Rivera said he could not pitch for Boston because of the rivalry of the two teams (rough paraphrase). Well, Mariano, I’ll believe it when I see it. We’ve heard this talk before from Johnny Damon, Curt Schilling (his case is still pending) and Roger Clemens.

 

I respect Rivera, but I also know large dollar signs can change feelings quickly.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:24 AM | Comments (1)

February 25, 2007

 

Spring Training Spotlight: Diasuke Matsuzaka

 

As part of any spring training regimen, starting pitchers throw bullpen sessions. Normally you’ll see a starter pitch against some mid to high level minor leaguers.

 

Diasuke Matsuzaka threw 40 pitches today (Saturday) to Jacoby Ellsbury, Bobby Scales, Kevin Cash and Luis Jiminez, AA and AAA players.

 

All that witnessed the session had great things to say. It is certainly too soon to dub Matsuzaka the AL Cy Young (you read it here first), but I take some comfort in the Red Sox investment of $103m for 6 years (of course there is the debatable ROI evaluation on Japanese partnerships, etc.).

 

Here is one quote from NESN’s Tom Caron’s blog: "He threw a slider on his first pitch," said Ellsbury. "I don’t swing and miss a lot, but I missed by about six inches. And I knew it was coming."

 

Jeff Horrigan’s post on the Boston Herald’s blog offered this:

 

"Daisuke Matsuzaka finished throwing live BP just a few minutes ago and was very impressive in the 44-pitch workout, particularly with his untouchable fastball. Only two balls were hit well by batters Kevin Cash, Luis Jimenez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Bobby Scales. Cash hit a ball onto the left-center field warning track that bounced off the fence on a hop, while Ellsbury lashed what would have been an opposite-field single down the left field line."

 

Again, it is far too soon to declare Matsuzaka a success, but at least he isn’t having trouble reaching the plate. If we were hearing word that he couldn’t top 85 mph, I’d have worries.

 

Here is something I didn’t know: Rob Bradford relayed the concerns of Jonathan "Don’t Call Me Jon" Papelbon about MLB’s new rule governing the time a pitcher has between pitches. If no one is on base, the time has been reduced from 20 seconds to 12 seconds. Great news, if it is indeed true. Bradford said MLB was providing "encouragement" to pitchers to speed things up, but I’m not certain that’s actually on the books for 2007.

 

No major injury news to report. Julian Tavarez still hasn’t pitched b/c of an ankle sprain and Craig Hansen had to take the day off due to a minor ailment. Matt Clement hasn’t been given the ok to throw yet and it appears he’ll see game action in July at the very earliest.

 

Posted by Andy at 12:00 AM | Comments (4)

February 22, 2007

 

Schilling No Lock for 2008

 

Both Curt Schilling and the Boston Red Sox acknowledged today that a contract offer will not be extended to Schilling this season. Instead, Boston has decided to see what transpires in 2007 and re-evaluate things after the season.

 

Of course, by doing so, they have effectively lost the inside track in re-sign Schilling for 2008. Schilling indicated he plans on filing for agency at the completion of the 2007 season.

 

I am torn on this. My initial reaction when Schilling announced that he was going to pitch beyond 2007 and asked Boston for a 1 year deal for 2008 was that he had every right to do so, but that the Red Sox would be foolish to guaranteed $13m for a 41 year pitcher (he’ll be 41 at the start of the 2008 season).

 

I still hold that opinion, but it has softened somewhat. The fact is, Schilling had a solid 2006, he is a power pitcher and $13m while big money to the average slob, is not what it once was in MLB. Still though, guaranteing him the money now is still too risky. 41 years old is old in baseball. Please don’t compare Schilling to Roger Clemens as Clemens has proven himself a freak of nature. Clemens is that rare breed, like Nolan Ryan, that can maintain a performance level far longer than the average pitcher. It just isn’t realistic to think Schilling is similarly freakish.

 

With Schilling just entering his 40’s,there are so many unknowns. In 2006, Schilling’s 1st/2nd half splits were pretty much the same as the Red Sox as a team. He did well in the 1st half, but saw his ERA and H/9 increase in the 2nd half.

 

No matter what your opinion is of Boston’s decision not to offer a contract, you had to agree that both sides handled today’s announcements nicely. Schilling said "Obviously, I’m disappointed, but it is a business" while Larry Lucchino said, "He’s been sensational over the years and this is, by no means, meant to be a sayonara to Curt Schilling in any way, shape or form."

 

So it would appear there is still a chance Schilling will return in 2008, but if he has a good 2007, he’ll be asking for more than $13m. If he stinks it up in 2007, good move by the Red Sox. As a fan, let’s hope Boston regrets this decision.

 

In another interesting developement at camp today, Diasuke Matsuzaka threw a 103-pitch bullpen session. While most pitchers are in the 40 pitch range at this point, Matsuzaka showed MLB that in Japan the pitchers prepare differently.

 

I’ll be interesting to see how, if at all, the techniques and strategies employed in Japan gain a foothold here in the States. It would seem Japanese pitchers do far more throwing than in MLB while in the States, more emphasis is put on taking a more conservative approach.

 

Posted by Andy at 04:22 PM | Comments (2)

February 19, 2007

 

Here We Go Again

 

ESPN.com is reporting that Manny Ramirez won’t arrive to Spring Training in Fort Myers until March 1st. According to the article, Julian Tavarez told WBZ TV that Manny’s mother was schedule for surgery for an undisclosed condition.

 

Just when it seems things are moving along swimmingly, leave it to Manny to upset the apple cart. Any camp that appears to be proceeding smoothly can expect news like this.

 

A March 1st reporting date is fairly big to me as by March 1st, the spring training game schedule is underway. He’ll have to take 10 days or so to get up to speed, pass his physical, work into some baseball shape before he can even think of playing in a game. Then they will probably work him in slowly meaning he might only play 12-15 spring training games and get 50 at bats at most.

 

For an aging superstar, I would think this to be bad.

 

No matter, this is what we always received from Manny. He is a fantastic talent, but mails it in on so many levels. As long as he gives a .970 OPS and hits 35 HRs, I guess I won’t complain too much.

 

As for the rest of the team, position players are due in camp today.

 

Here are a few links to the local writers covering Spring Training.

 

Rob Bradford’s Blog – Bradford on Baseball

 

Boston Globe – Extra Bases

 

Boston Herald – Insider

 

Providence Journal – Sox Blog

 

Lastly, if you haven’t done so already, please bookmark our home page www.yankeesredsox.com.

 

Also, please check out the other side of this site, the Yankees page. The main man over there, Peter, is sure to be causing some controversy.

 

And if you’d like a notification of posts from this side (a/k/a. the good side, the Red Sox side), just leave a comment with your email address and we’ll add you to the list (you can also email me at andy@yankeesredsox.com, but the email is not as reliable as just leaving a comment).

 

Posted by Andy at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2007

 

Wily Mo and Co.

 

Wily Mo Pena and the Red Sox settled their arbitration tustle. Pena had been asking for $2.2m while the Red Sox had offered $1.75m. Well, they settled on a $1.875m deal. Hmmm, I think the Red Sox won this one. Normally the team and player settle on something in the middle, perhaps Wily Mo should have a talk with his agent.

 

With pitchers and catchers (30 to 3 ratio) offically reporting, the next step is to figure out the important news. Well, there really isn’t any. Diasuke Matsuzaka has been making an impressive debute, at least from a media standpoint. The real evaluation will come when he faces MLB batters.

 

Josh Beckett said in his first day of camp that "I want to be better…my goals are my goals." I assume his goals are to not allow 36 home runs.

 

Aside from that, there isn’t much to discuss.

 

I did glean this from the New York Yankees camp:

 

Mike Mussina wants Carl Pavano to show some heart. I suppose the Red Sox are not the only team to have to handle the spouting off of players. Please keep in mind I’m not judging the specific spouting off in question. I just find it revealing that all teams have to handle this sort of distraction.

 

Posted by Andy at 01:35 AM | Comments (2)

February 14, 2007

 

36 Hours

 

With the opening of Spring Training for the Red Sox just 36 or so hours away, it might be a good time catch up on things.

 

First things first, Lenny DiNardo will not be a Red Sox in 2007. He was claimed by the Oakland A’s today off of waivers. I like Lenny a bunch, but I don’t think he had a role here in 2007.

 

ESPN ran an interesting, especially visually, article on Davern Hansack the other day. ESPN’s Amy Fisher travels to the east coast of Nicaragua to visit Hansack’s home region of Pearl Lagoon/Laguna de Perlas. Take a read.

 

The Red Sox and Wily Mo Pena appear to be headed toward an actual arbitration hearing. It is scheduled for Friday. If it does happen, it’ll be the first for Theo Epstein since he was named GM…the first time. The Red Sox are offering $1.725m and Pena is asking for $2.2m.

 

Principle owner, John Henry, invested $50m into NASCAR’s top racing team, Roush Racing. The Boston Globe has an interesting piece in its otherwise skimpy and lame business section about Henry’s investment. Knowing very little about NASCAR, and, as I’m sure Yankee fans will suggest, baseball, I will not comment further.

 

Diasuke Matsuzaka, you might have heard his name in the past few months, reported early to Spring Training for the Red Sox. As other teams that have signed popular Japanese stars can attest, the media atmosphere has been cranked up a bit.

 

With Spring Training officially starting Friday (pitchers and catchers anyway), here is a list of non-roster invitees.

 

Here’s a nod to Joe McEwing. He’s got a small chance of making the squad given the depth of the Red Sox roster/spring training list, but for whatever reason, I’ve always been a fan. I think if space allowed, he’d be a great addition. Here’s my take Joe, accept a Pawtucket assignment (buy a home on the South Shore) and expect a call-up by June.

 

Here is my prediction for the opening day bullpen:

 

Brendan Donnelly
J.C Romero
Mike Timlin (assuming he hasn’t been hurt in a hunting accident)
Joel Piniero
Manny Delcarmen
Julian Tavarez
Hideki Okajima

 

As for Craig Hansen, my bet is he starts the year in Pawtucket. Rumor has it he like to party at an after-hours establishment in Boston. Grow-up kid. You can make a solid career if you work hard. Of course, I am being fairly irresponsible here, so I’ll offer you the fact that I have no first-hand information on this topic.

 

Lastly, Baseball Think Factory has posted it’s projections. Based on their ZIPS projections, expect Matsuzaka to be the best starter in Boston for 2007.

 

Way to go Boston Celtics. 1 and 18 over your past 19 games, with the the 1 coming tonight, is a great way to secure a top 2 lottery pick.

 

Pitchers and catchers on Friday. This is a good time of year.

 

Lastly, with New York dealing with the Bernie Williams situation, it made me think about Trot Nixon. I’m not sure I said it properly before, but here is to a class act. Nixon was fun to watch and cheer for. He played hard and was always accessible. Good luck in Cleveland Trot.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2007

 

Is This Team Good Enough?

 

Is This Team Good Enough?

 

Spring Training is 9 days away and it is time to assess the squad. Are the Red Sox, as currently constituted, good enough to win the World Series? After all, that is really the only successful 2007 I can envision.

 

line-up:

 

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

 

A good line-up capable of getting on base and slugging. Crisp, Varitek and Pedroia have something to prove to us all.

 

bench:

 

of – Pena
of/if – Hinske
ut – Cora
c – Mirabelli
of – Murphy?

 

rotation:

 

Schilling
Beckett
Matsuzaka
Papelbon
Wakefield

 

pen:

 

Tavarez
Donnelly
Romero
Timlin
Pineiro
Okajima
Lester

 

Ok, that is 26 guys, but those are the ones I see likely to make the opening day roster. Obviously there will be 1 casualty. David Murphy is likely to be that guy assuming there are no other injuries.

 

Back to my initial question, is this team good enough to win the World Series. My answer? Well, yes, they are good enough. Any team is good enough in Spring Training. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 2006 after winning only 83 regular season games.

 

But Boston has some decent talent that should yield more than 83 wins. In 2006, the Red Sox scored too few runs (820) and allowed too many runs (823). That nonsense has to stop. The line-up as I see it should score 900 runs, hopefully more. Why? Well, if Varitek can hold his 2006 performance (I don’t expect improvement, he is an aging catcher), Crisp can rebound and Lugo can improve the SS production, the Red Sox have a very good chance of scoring 900 runs.

 

The bigger goal is to allow less than 823 runs. How Boston gave up 832 runs is beyond me. To put that in perspective, Tampa Bay gave up 856 runs. Tampa Bay does not produce good pitching (save Scott Kazmir). In fact, I was reading that the State of Florida legislature has required 50% of Devil Ray pitchers…stink. I’m ready to go in coach, just give me a chance coach!

 

The Pythagorean theorem, as Bill James sees it, goes like this:

 

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

 

The 2006 team should have had a 81 – 81 record using this theorem. If the Red Sox score 925 runs in 2007 and allow, say…775 runs, the theorem suggests they will go 95-67. Good enough to contend, but no guarantee to make the playoffs. Don’t forget, the Wild Card team, Detroit, won 95 games in 2006.

 

The Red Sox need to score 925 runs and allow only 725 to guarantee a playoff spot. That works out to 100 – 62 season.

 

More runs scored and less runs allowed, a novel concept, is what will help Boston. The Achilles heel over the past 2 seasons has been the amount of runs allowed. Like a good realtor, baseball executives know there are 3 keys to winning baseball games, pitching, pitching and pitching.

 

The Boston Red Sox have a bunch of talented players on their 2007 team. The key will be to maximize runs and minimize runs allowed. Terry Francona, Dave Magadan and John Farrell have better eaten their Wheaties.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2007

 

Curt Schilling in 2008

 

So Curt Schilling announced he was going to pitch in 2008 and maybe beyond. His immediate goal is to get a deal for 2008 before spring training breaks. If he doesn’t, he will test the free agent waters after the season.

 

There tend to be two sides to this announcement. One side says Curt Schilling has earned the right to a contract with Boston for 2008. Not only that but it should be signed ASAP. The other side says that giving Schilling is 40, he would be very lucky if Boston signs him for 2008 prior to this season. In fact, the Red Sox should wait to see how he does this season and then try to re-sign him if it is warranted.

 

Camp 1 and Camp 2 are arguing with each other about how this should play out. Personally, I’m in camp 2. At the risk of losing Schilling, the smart move is to see how he holds up in 2007.

 

No matter my feelings, I’ve heard many people attack Schilling for announcing this when he did. His announcement could have messed up the Red Sox 2008 plans considering they were fully expecting him to retire.

 

But let’s face it, Schilling is smart. He made the announcement when he did because he knew it was his best chance to get a $13m deal in 2008. Don’t be mad at him, this is a business. But at the same time, the Red Sox should bow down to him and sign an automatic deal for 2008.

 

So to summarize, the Red Sox should wait to sign Schilling until after this season, even if it means potentially losing him. Signing him now opens the Red Sox up to what happened to Pedro Martinez when the Mets signed him and to Mo Vaughn when the Angels signed him. My detractors would point to Johnny Damon as a counter example. Well, with Pedro there were worries (his shoulder), with Vaughn there were concerns (his weight gain). With Damon, there were only slight concerns (he was a bit banged up, but the Red Sox messed up based on year 1 of his new deal and how Coco Crisp performed). With Schilling, he is old. 40 is old for baseball. Yes he is a power pitcher, but old. Pitchers 40 and older are ticking time bombs. They can fall apart at any time.

 

Don’t point to Roger Clemens and say I’m wrong, but he is an anomaly.

 

At the end of the day we know Schilling will pitch for Boston in 2007, but it remains to be seen if he is here in 2008. My money is that he will be re-signed for 2008 within the next few weeks as the Red Sox are probably not in the mood for another Damon backlash.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:21 PM | Comments (4)

 

 

March 2007

March 27, 2007

 

Roster Shape-Up

 

In a bit of a surprise, today the Red Sox sent Manny Delcarmen to Pawtucket. I’m surprised because he pitched in 50 games for Boston last year coving 53.1 innings.

 

A closer look reveals their motivation.

 

Okajima
Romero
Donnelly
Papelbon
Lopez
Snyder
Pineiro
Timlin – DL

 

With Delcarmen having options, he was the easiest candidate, not to mention he could stand to sharpen his performance. Delcarmen joins Craig Hansen and Davern Hansack in Pawtucket.

 

Fact is, the Red Sox added so many arms for the bullpen this off-season, they just ran out of roster spots.

 

This bullpen set-up provides Terry Francona with 3 lefty options. When was the last time the Red Sox had 3 lefty relievers in the pen at the same time?

 

The rest of the roster is what you’d expect

 

starters: Schilling, Matsuzaka, Beckett, Tavarez and Wakefield

 

catchers: Varitek, Mirabelli

 

infield: Ortiz, Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowell, Lugo and Cora

 

outfield: Ramirez, Crisp, Drew, Pena and Hinske

 

Opening Day, Monday April 2, 4pm @ Kansas City

 

Posted by Andy at 11:13 PM | Comments (4)

March 22, 2007

 

A Closer He Shall Remain

 

UPDATE: Rob Bradford is reporting on his blog that Papelbon will close and Julian Tavarez will take his spot in the rotation. Curt Schillig has more on his blog too.

 

ESPN is reporting the Red Sox have decided to place Jonathan Papelbon back into the closer role.

 

Wow, that was a bunch of rhetoric and bluster. The Red Sox maintained all off-season that Papelbon was better suited, health-wise, being a starter. They supposedly put together a workout regimen to help him build stamina.

 

I guess I don’t know what changed medically since the end of last season that justifies this move. Or were they just screwing with us from day 1?

 

I prefer Papelbon at 200 innings over 70 innings, but since he has proven he can close, I can’t be too angry. I will be angry if he has another partial shoulder seperation however.

 

I hope the Red Sox know what they are doing.

 

Posted by Andy at 02:56 PM | Comments (3)

D. Matsuzaka

 

As most of you know by now, Diasuke Matsuzaka pitched a beaut yesterday. 5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO. I think most people would take that. It is only one start, I know.

 

Speaking of Matsuzaka, SI’s Tom Verducci just wrote a great piece on Matsuzaka and how Japanese baseball chooses to condition its pitchers. Verducci points out that what is considered a large workload in the States is just a warm-up in Japan.

 

In America, the idea is to minimize wear and tear on a pitchers arm while balancing that with some kind of stamina build-up. In Japan, the idea is to throw early and often. Many throws leads to a stronger arm. Former MLB manager and current Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine says "After being part of this for three years, I am convinced we do a bad job of coaching in the U.S. for pitchers."

 

Interesting. The clash might be upon us. Anything I say about this topic would basically be taken directly from Verducci, so you are best to read it yourself.

 

It is interesting to see the two different approaches. Driving in to work the other day, I had a similar thought. Why do the cars we drive look the way they do? 4 wheels, rubber tires, etc. Is this the most efficient and practical way to design personal transportation? Or had Henry Ford made a slight change to the basic premise of an automobile years ago, perhaps the cars we drive today would look much different. It is just like the strength and conditioning programs used in Japan and the States. For whatever reason, the philosphies split somewhere along the way (or perhaps were never the same at any point) and evolved to Japanese pitchers throwing 3, 4 or 5 times as many pitches in practice and games as their American counterparts.

 

We might see some signficant changes here in the States to the and conditioning programs employed by MLB teams.

 

Anyway, when you read Verducci’s piece and then look at Matsuzaka’s performance so far in spring training, 12.2 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 13 SO, you can’t help but get excited. Please though, the real test comes in about 10 days.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:53 AM | Comments (4)

March 19, 2007

 

Jon Lester

 

As Opening Day approaches, I got to thinking about the rotation and specifically about Jon Lester. Lester as we all know, has had a tough off-season fighting cancer. It seems he has recovered nicely, but he did lose a few pounds of muscle.

 

When spring training opened, the Red Sox were fairly cautious with Lester, but he has basically demonstrated that no caution is necessary. So we have great news that Lester is healthy and seemingly, no worse for the wear.

 

That being said, we all know Lester performed nicely for a rookie in the rotation last year. We also know we have 5 starters slated to start ahead of him, Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Papelbon and Wakefield. Baring injury, what happens to Lester? Does he start in the pen? Or do the Red Sox send him to Pawtucket?

 

My guess is there is no way they put him in the pen and instead send him to Pawtucket to work on his conditioning and to make sure he can handle 6-7 innings at a time. The Red Sox hand is also being force on this issue by the nice performance by Kyle Snyder this spring. Snyder is out of options and therefore can be claimed by any team should the Red Sox try to send him to Pawtucket.

 

I think Boston would like to try and trade Snyder rather than lose him in a waiver claim. But because Snyder is pitching well and b/c he has no options, this further cements the status of Lester.

 

Have no fear, with 2 old pitchers and 3 young pitchers with spotty health records, I’m sure the Red Sox will have a need to call on Lester early and often this year.

 

Posted by Andy at 02:02 PM | Comments (1)

March 17, 2007

 

Going Concern

 

As Spring Training progresses, the Red Sox appear no closer to settling on a closer (wow, what a poorly written sentence). No reliever has seperated himself from the others.

 

Taverez – 4.66 era
Pineiro – 4.91 era
Donnelly – 6.75 era
Hansack – 3.86 era
Hansen – 9.00 era
Delcarmen – 7.94 era
Timlin – hurt

 

Others have performed well, but probably aren’t in the mix because of their stuff:

 

Okajima – 2.70 era
Romero – 1.35 era
Snyder – 2.45 era

 

Based on all of the numbers above, and assuming the Red Sox don’t look outside the organization for a closer, I’d be tempted to give it to Hansack. Granted he has limited MLB experience (or even AAA experience), but he is older and pitched well last year. It would certainly be a gamble, but so would any of the other internal options.

 

Having said all of that, there is some buzz that the Red Sox are being positive about the situation to the press, but behind the scenes they have dispatched scouts to find a closer from outside the organization.

 

Here are some bits and pieces I’ve picked up so far:

 

Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports the Red Sox are looking at Derrick Turnbow and Jorge Julio.

 

ESPN’s Rumor Central says the Red Sox may have some interest in Armando Benitez.

 

Of course Chad Cordero is still an option too, but he’d most likely be the most expensive option. I think you’d have to part with Wily Mo Pena and a good minor leaguer.

 

If it were up to me, I’d try to get Cordero if the price wasn’t too steep. I would not give up Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden or Jacoby Ellsbury. But aside from those 3 and maybe another 1 or 2, I’d be tempted.

 

If the price were too high, then I’d focus on Turnbow. He was dominant in 2005, but came crashing down to earth in 2006. Turnbow has two pitches, hard and harder. Things really fell apart for him in July. The wheels came off both in terms of hits allowed but also walks. Turnbow might have an injury otherwise his 2005 might have been the fluke of the century.

 

I have no idea what the cause of his collapse was in 2006, but so far in Spring Training, he has gone 6 scoreless innings while giving up 3 hits and 1 walk and striking out 4. Good so far, but such a small sample size.

 

If Turnbown were not available, then I’d probably forget the Julio and Benitez options. Julio just isn’t that good a pitcher. A career 4.20 era and a 1.38 whip with no dominant seasons mixed in. Julio has been the kind of player to grab the closer job and then lose it half way through the season.

 

As for Benitez he is due $7.6m this season and has had a rocky history. There is no doubt he has great stuff, but his head is questionoable. Add to that he has had injuries issues the past 2 years and at 34, that probably isn’t good. He has only pitched a total of 68 innings ovoer the past 2 seasons.

 

If his cost wasn’t so high, I might take a flyer on him, but because of some high-profile blown saves, he was essentially run out of town as a Met and if a big market crowd turns on you, then maybe you shouldn’t pitch in a big market.

 

This is a tough situation for Boston. They really should have taken care of this months ago, especially when you consider how much they have spent on this squad. I’ve always been critical of the Yankees for spending $200m, but not having a good firstbaseman/DH combo. Well, I have to be fair here and say the Red Sox have spent too much to have allowed this to happen.

 

If they do make a move for a proven closer, well then great, but I’d prefer to see this issue resolved in the next few days rather than drag on into the regular season.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:36 AM | Comments (2)

March 13, 2007

 

Rotation Debate

 

WEEI’s Dale and Holley had an interesting debate on the Red Sox starting rotation today. Dale said the 2007 edition, will be better than the 2006 model while Holley, who I suspect was playing devil’s advocate, didn’t agree and instead he had worries about the 2007 rotation.

 

2006

 

Schilling
Wakefield
Beckett
Clement
and then a combo of Tavarez (4.47 era), Lester (4.76 era), Snyder (6.02 era), Hansack (2.70 era), Wells (4.98 era), DiNardo (7.85 era), Johnson (7.36 era), Gabbard (3.51 era), Jarvis (4.86 era) and Pauley (7.88 era).

 

Before I go onto 2007, what stuns me about the number of guys that had a start with Boston in 2006 is that it is such a contrast to 2004 when the Red Sox really only needed 5 starters:

 

2004

 

Lowe – 33 starts
Pedro – 33 starts
Schilling – 32 starts
Wakefield – 30 starts
Arroyo – 29 starts

 

Then 3 for Kim, 1 for Astacio and 1 for Alvarez. So the core rotation made 157 of a possible 162 starts. That tells me health plays just about as big a role in success as does talent.

 

Back to 2006, had Matt Clement and David Wells been healthy, we would not have seen the constant shuttling of AAA players to Boston for spot starts, etc.

 

So here is what we think we know for 2007:

 

Schilling
Beckett
Matsuzaka
Papelbon
Wakefield

 

Certainly if these 5 guys make 30 starts each, Boston has a very good chance of success. But I don’t think it realistic to count on that in 2007. Schilling is 40 and Wakefield is 40 (and he missed a significant amount of time in 2006 with injury).

 

Because trying to predict health is impossible, let’s move onto talent.

 

Schilling = Schilling
Wakefield = Wakefield
Beckett = Beckett

 

I’m ok with the above, that is to say those 3 are going to be the same as they were in 2006. While Beckett might show some improvement, it is fair to say Wakefield and Schilling might show some drop-off.

 

Papelbon > Clement and the other fill-ins
Matsuzaka > Wells and the other fill-ins

 

I’m confident with the notion that Papelbon will be better than Clement and the others because Papelbon has shown success in both of his seasons in Boston. In 2005, he had a 2.65 ERA in 17 games (in 3 starts he had a 2.25 ERA) and of course in he was very good as closer in 2006. I have to assume that he will be better than who he is replacing from 2006, it seems like a lay-up. Of course Papelbon did have some shoulder trouble last year.

 

Matsuzaka is a tougher call. Certainly scouts like his pitches and he has had success in Japan and at the World Baseball Classic, but there is still much unknown. He seemingly has it all to be a good to great pitcher, but until he does it, I’m not going to tell you he is a lock for a dramatic improvement over Wells and the others in 2006. But I certainly like Matsuzaka’s chances. By the way, NBC Nightly News did a feature on Matsuzaka tonight and his "gyroball." This is exactly the kind of exposure I’m sure the Red Sox are very happy to see. While the ways they can profit from Matsuzaka specifically are debatable, it does increase both the Red Sox and Matsuzaka’s visibility.

 

Anyway, I see this rotation being better than the 2006 version (I’m taking Dale’s side). It has the chance to be much better, but if old age rears its ugly head, we might be back to 2006.

 

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

March 01, 2007

 

2007 Red Sox Projections

 

I love projections. I always have…

 

I’m not sure they are worth a thing, but they are fun to look at. I posted some Bill James projections in December, now it is time to look at the ZIPS projections.

 

ZIPS is a creation of Dan Szymborski’s at Baseball Think Factory. Like any set of projections, these are easy to criticize and generally have their fair share of bombs. But, I never let thinks like "actual results" or "proof" or "statistical evidence" get in the way of me projecting the Red Sox to score over 1000 runs in 2007!

 

Yikes, I think I just fainted. I’m better now.

 

Ok, what do we have for offense? Well if you assume 13 position players make the squad; Cora, Crisp, Hinske, Lowell, Lugo, Mirabelli, Drew, Ortiz, Pedroia, Pena, Ramirez, Varitek and Youkilis, then ZIPS projects this group will score 860 runs. That’s an improvement of 40 runs over 2006.

 

In addition, this group will hit .277/.357/.463 with 215 HRs and 73 Steals (31 CS).

 

Not an overpowering projection and one I’m fairly disappointed with. Keep in mind, Boston scored over 900 runs in 2003, 2004 and 2005, so this kind of drop-off is not good, but it is better than last season.

 

As for the pitchers, as the following 12; Beckett, Delcarmen, Donnelly, Lester, Matsuzaka, Okajima, Papelbon, Pineiro, Romero, Schilling, Tavarez, Timlin and Wakefield. Actually, that’s 13, but with injuries to Timlin and with a bunch of old dudes on the staff, you can expect these 13 to contribute at some point. Of course I did leave off Craig Hansen and one could make an argument that either Delcarmen or Lester might start the year in Pawtucket. No matter, ZIPS has these 13 posting a 4.42 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP while going 102-77. Yes, that is too many wins and losses combined and the innings pitched total of 1547 is too many innings, but no one is perfect here.

 

The key here is that this staff is projected to allow 831 runs!!! No!!! Ok, let me make myself feel better and actually take away Delcarmen and reduce the staff to 12. Results: 4.44 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 796 runs allowed. That’s better. Plug that info the Bill James Pythagorean win/loss machine and the Red Sox will have an 87-75 record. That’s not going to get it done.

 

So shrewd managing by Terry Francona and key talent acquisition are going to be necessary to improve the runs scored and runs allowed projections, right?

 

But before I get too worked up, keep in mind these projections assume that Joel Pineiro will have a 5.60 ERA. If anyone thinks Francona and Epstein will keep Pineiro around if he posts that kind of ERA, they’re crazy.

 

So projections are fun, but thank goodness, not really meaningful.

 

By the way, spring training has begun and as of this post, Boston is 0-1-1. I’m worried. No, I’m not. But it is fun to see some baseball again.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:15 PM | Comments (2)

 

 

January 2007

January 31, 2007

 

Site Update

 

We had some technical troubles today. We seem to be back in action, sorry for the trouble.

 

Let the banter continue…

 

Posted by Andy at 11:52 PM | Comments (3)

January 29, 2007

 

Helton to Red Sox…Not Happening

 

According to the Rockies owner, Charlie Monfort, there will be no deal trading Todd Helton to the Boston Red Sox. Monfort was insisting the Red Sox include Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen along with Julian Tavarez and Mike Lowell.

 

It is interesting that Monfort is making all of the statements, yet he hired Dan O’Dowd to be the team GM. O’Dowd must feel like he has lost some player personel authority.

 

No matter, as the Boston Herald’s Tony Massarotti said on WEEI today, why add Helton and trade Hansen and Delcarmen (and Tavarez) when the offense is in good shape and the bullpen is filled with questions?

 

So Helton is going to stay in Colorado.

 

I will admit the idea of him at 1b was fun, but this deal was only going to get done if it made complete sense to Boston. I guess the terms they were presented didn’t make sense.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:21 PM | Comments (3)

Curt Schilling

 

Schilling announced this morning on WEEI that he wasn’t retiring after all in 2007. He and his family have decided he will keep pitching in 2008 and perhaps beyond.

 

Because he is only signed with Boston through 2007, there is no guaranteed he will pitch beyond 2007 in Boston.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:26 AM | Comments (5)

January 27, 2007

 

Todd Helton

 

Buster Olney is reporting (registration required) that the Red Sox and Colorado Rockies are discussing a trade that would move Todd Helton to Boston. Helton makes a ridiculous amount of cash and will continue to do so until the Sun eats the Earth, but that doesn’t mean him playing 1b for Boston would be a bad thing.

 

Helton has slipped the past few years. Some say it is because of injury, others think it is just a natural erosion of skills. At 33, the Red Sox must think he has a bunch left in the tank.

 

Given Helton’s salary through 2011 (yes 5 more seasons), it is assumed Colorado would assume a big portion of the contract (a double-"assumed" faux pas). In addition, Olney reports that Matt Clement’s contract would be sent to the Rockies. Clement is going to make $9.5m in 2007 and he probably won’t throw a pitch.

 

Here is what Helton is due:

 

2007 – $16.6m
2008 – $16.6m
2009 – $16.6m
2010 – $16.6m
2011 – $19.1m

 

The Red Sox would need that figure to come down quite a bit.

 

The risks are many. Helton’s production has gone down 3 years in a row with 2006 being weak for Helton’s standards.

 

2004 – .357/.469/.620
2005 – .320/.445/.534
2006 – .302/.404/.476

 

He is signed through 2011 (with a 2012 team option at $23m). That will put him at 39 by the time he is done with the guaranteed part of the deal.

 

Helton has put up boffo numbers at Coors field, a notorious hitter friendly park. History has proven that players have a tough time making the transition from Coors to other parks. Home/road splits generally play that out. Helton is no different:

 

career at home: .371/.465/.676
career on road: .294/.393/.507

 

The road numbers aren’t bad, but they are a significant drop-off when compared to his home numbers.

 

So, Red Sox management, please do not expect the Helton we’ve seen to show up in Boston. Expect his road numbers…at best. In summing up the risks, Helton is getting older, has seen his production slip, has a massive contract both in terms of dollars and years and his home/road performance are night and day.

 

The pluses to this deal are that Helton is a very good defensive player. He draws a ton of walks and if indeed injury was the reason he struggled in 2006, there is reason to believe he might return to form. Even his road performance, after all, is good.

 

If Boston can unload Matt Clement and Colorado picks up half of Helton’s deal, then suddenly we are talking. Helton at $8m or $9m a years is much better than at $16.6m a season.

 

If you are into meaningless small sample sizes, Helton has killed at Fenway Park. In 3 games, he has gone 6-12, yes a .500 average, and posted an OBP of .538 and an SLG of .750. Wow. Project that out to 600 at bats and he will get 300 hits!!! A record, take that Ichiro.

 

If it were only that easy.

 

Back to reality. This deal would add another hitter that makes pitchers throw a boat load of pitches. With Youkilis, Ortiz, Manny and Drew already on board, Helton’s addition would make things nice. Also, being a lefty, the Red Sox would have 3 very good lefty bats in an AL East that doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of lefty starters. Andy Pettitte and Scott Kazmir are the 2 best.

 

So, here is my take. If Boston can get Helton for 50 cents on the dollar and trade Matt Clement and Mike Lowell to Colorado (with Youk moving to 3b), then I’d do this in a heartbeat. If Colorado isn’t willing to assume a hefty portion of the deal, then it is a good idea to walk away.

 

It occurred too me that at this stage in his career, Helton is posting J.D. Drew like numbers and yet I am unwilling to take him on for more than $10m a year or so. That is pretty consistent with my take on Drew, at 31 years old. If Boston could have gotten him at $10-$12m max, then great, but at $15m I am uncomfortable.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:26 AM | Comments (7)

January 26, 2007

 

J.D Drew Signed…Again

 

There are reports that J.D. Drew is indeed a Red Sox. With language added that allows the Red Sox to void the 2010 and 2011 years should Drew suffer a shoulder injury related to whatever nonsense was discovered in the physical, the deal has finally been settled.

 

Of course neither Drew, Scott Boras nor the Red Sox have officially confirmed a thing.

 

Cripes!

 

We’ve seen this before, but here is the Red Sox 2007 line-up with respective attributes that Terry Francona is looking at to make his line-up decisions and some attributes Francona might have missed:

 

ss – Julio Lugo: Speed, .340 caree OBP %. Keep in mind, Red Sox had a .351 in 2006 as a team.
1b – Kevin Youkilis: Great OBP, average speed, strikes out a bunch, 120 K’s in 2006.
dh – David Ortiz: Great power, great OBP. Good fit in 3-hole.
lf – Manny Ramirez: Great OBP, great power. Good fit in 4-hole.
rf – J.D. Drew: Great OBP and good SLG. Best option at 5-hole.
3b – Mike Lowell: Hmmm, average OBP, ok SLG. At 6 spot, not a bad choice.
cf – Coco Crisp: Speed, average OBP. If the 2005 Crisp show up, great, otherwise, the 9-hole is ideal.
c – Jason Varitek: Solid hitter for a catcher, but skills in decline. Let’s hope for the 2005 Varitek.
2b – Dustin Pedroia: Continuation of rookie campaign. His OBP potential might put him at leadoff should Lugo struggle.

 

I like this line-up. It should score more runs than the 2006 edition. I originally had this line-up as my ideal and I stick with that, but as I wrote before, Lugo has to get on base. If he doesn’t, then Crisp would be nice…if he can get on base. If neither can, then let Pedroia take a stab at lead-off.

 

Speed is nice, but with Ortiz and Ramirez, the key is to get on base and stay safe on base so they can hit home runs and doubles.

 

As we get closer to spring training, my goal is to write more often. But being as important and sophisticated as I am, time is scare. Did I mention I am also modest?

 

Posted by Andy at 12:03 AM | Comments (3)

January 15, 2007

 

T-Minus 34 Days…

 

…until pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers FL. Wow, time flies.

 

There hasn’t been much to report of late. Kyle Snyder settle his arbitration status and signed a one year, $535k deal. J.D. Drew is no nearer to being officially signed.

 

There are a handful of players playing winter ball. Reports have it that Wily Mo Pena is really struggling in winter ball. Too small a sample size to get worried about.

 

That’s really all that I can think of.

 

In the meantime, please excluse our front page. We are trying to upgrade but in the process have run into a technical glitch. The page still works, but it is missing our images, etc.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2007

 

Randy Johnson

 

Many sources are saying the Yankees have reached an agreement in principle to deal Randy Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

 

I understand Johnson was not all the Yankees hoped, but what did they expect from a 43 year old pitcher? Granted he was only 40 or 41 when they got him, but the over 40 crowd hasn’t ever been the dominant age group in major league baseball, right?

 

In his 2 seasons as a Yankee, Johnson went 34-19 and pitched 430+ innings. It seems as though most Yankee fans want to see Johnson go. Peter, the Yankee fan on this site, is for it if the Yankees get a good package in return and reserving judgement until the deal is officially announced. While I can see there might have been some disappointment in his overall Yankee experience, he was hardly a slouch. Above all else, he was a durable pitcher that gave his team a chance to win more often than not.

 

His departure, assuming no solid starter is acquired by the Yankees in the deal, leaves a starting spot open for New York. They will certainly fill it, but I’m certain the replacement will do what Johnson would have done.

 

It looks as though the Yankees rotation looks like this:

 

Mussina
Wang
Pettitte
Igawa
Pavano/Hughes/etc.

 

The 5th spot, is not going to be manned by a reliable player, assuming you aren’t convinced Carl Pavano is a lock for 30 starts and assuming you understand that rookies, like Hughes, who has never pitched above AA, are a toss up.

 

As a Red Sox fan, I am thrilled to see Randy Johnson go. 17 wins gone is a great thing. I fully understand the Randy Johnson we see today is not the one from 10 or even 5 years ago, but he gave New York 200 innings and still had the intimidation factor.

 

I suppose Johnson’s initial encounter with that reporter and photographer on the streets of New York in 2003 or 2004 (I can’t recall the specifics) was a sign of things to come. Johnson was clearly not an ideal fit in New York just like probably a majority of players are not a good fit in New York or Boston for that matter.

 

Anyway, I’m glad to see him shipped to Arizona, it can only help the Red Sox.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:45 PM | Comments (17)

January 03, 2007

 

Joel Pineiro

 

The Red Sox have reached a preliminary agreement with Joel Pineiro to a 1 year, $4m deal plus incentives.

 

Some background on Pineiro: Had an impressive 2001-2003. Has stuggled since 2004. Of his 185 games, 148 have been starts.

 

This signing appears to be designed to give Pineiro a chance to be the fulltime closer. What business does a guy with a 4.67, 5.62 and a 6.36 from 2004 to 2006 respectively have in being the 2007 Red Sox closer? Well, his starter/reliever splits suggest there might be something there. By the way, it isn’t lost on me that only in Major League Baseball can a guy post a 6.36 ERA and sign a $4m deal plus incentives. Wow.

 

Anyway, Pineiro has posted the following ERA splits from a starter/reliever standpoint:

 

4.58 – starter (148 games covering 926 IP, 292 BB, 596 K)
3.21 – reliever (37 games covering 70 IP, 35 BB, 62 K)

 

Is there something there? I have no clue. Pitchers tend to throw harder when only pitching an inning, but I’m not sure that is relavent with Pineiro. Basically I have to assume the Red Sox think Pineiro will fair better as a reliever than as a starter.

 

$4m is an awfully large amount to gamble on a player that really hasn’t had a good year since 2003. Then again, $103 is a bunch to pay for a player and his exclusive rights that has never pitched in the Eastern, Central, Mountain or Pacific time zones. I’m telling you, if you have a child, please teach him/her to throw lefty. Or if a righty is all you can muster, make sure he/she sticks with it and who knows, a multi-million deal might be possible. Joel Pineiro at $4m?

 

BTW, we are working on a new front page for www.yankeesredsox.com, but are having some techincal difficulties. That’s what you get for not being technically savvy. We’ll be there soon with a much better entry point thanks to Peter.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:51 PM | Comments (2)

 

 

December 2006

December 21, 2006

 

Run Production

 

The Red Sox have essentially made 3 changes to their line-up.

 

Dustin Pedroia replaces Mark Loretta
Julio Lugo replaces Alex Gonzalez
J.D. Drew replaces Trot Nixon

 

What might this mean for run production in 2007?

 

The Red Sox scored 820 runs in 2006. They allowed 825. Wow. I’m not sure I realized they allowed more than they scored. Their pythagorean win/loss total should have been sub .500. In other words, they were lucky to have gone 86-76 in 2006. Red Sox fans, we should have seen a 80-82 team.

 

Using the Bill James Handbook 2007 as a projected stat guide, here is what we can expect from the Red Sox replacement starters:

 

Pedroia – 79 runs vs. Loretta – 75 runs = + 4 runs
Lugo – 85 runs vs. Gonzalez – 57 runs = + 28 runs
Drew – 92 runs vs. Nixon – 71 runs = + 21 runs
total = + 53 runs.

 

Of course, James would be the first to tell you how difficult it is to project offensive performance. Playing time is one of the biggest factors and PT is offen the biggest factor in determining results.

 

James projects the following batters (based on what we know today about the Red Sox MLB roster) to score:

 

89 – Lugo
101 – Youkilis
110 – Ortiz
94 – Ramirez
92 – Drew
66 – Lowell
60 – Varitek
74 – Crisp
75 – Pedroia
15 – Mirabelli
43 – Hinske
32 – Cora
851 – Total

 

So perhaps the Red Sox will score approximately 31 more runs in 2007. That isn’t good enough if the pitchers again allow 825 runs. So as I’ve mentioned, the offense, while it could have been better, was not the real problem in 2006. The pitching was. Let’s hope the additions of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Brendan Donnelly and J.C. Romero can help the Red Sox to lower their runs allowed in 2007, by about 100 runs or so.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:49 PM | Comments (2)

December 19, 2006

 

Pitches per PA

 

Buster Olney had an interesting post today. He reports the Yankees might be interested in Mark Loretta to play firstbase.

 

The most interesting comment was this:

 

Loretta apparently was discussed as a first base option in staff meetings Monday, and what was recalled was how Kevin Youkilis and Loretta, the first hitters in the Boston lineup, often forced the Yankees’ pitchers to throw a lot of pitches.

 

So Loretta and Youkilis, per Yankees staff, made the Red Sox throw a lot of pitches. I have to say I figured that to be true given I recall both giving pitchers a hard time.

 

But upon review, I realized that wasn’t the case at all as a whole last year. Here are the pitchers per plate appearance (P/PA) for the Red Sox starters:

 

4.42 – Youokilis
3.67 – Loretta
4.07 – Ortiz
4.16 – Ramirez
3.81 – Lowell
4.02 – Varitek
3.72 – Nixon
3.85 – Crisp
3.68 – Gonzalez

 

So while their observation about Youkilis (he was tops in MLB in 2006) is correct, it might be wrong about Loretta. In fact, of the guys that started most in 2006 for Boston, Loretta saw the fewest pitches per plate appearance. I don’t know what Loretta did specifically against the Yankees last year, but overall, when compared to his teammates, he saw the fewest pitches per plate appearance.

 

So if the Yankees want to sign him to play first, is Loretta likely to contribute to a high P/PA? Here is the Yankees projected line-up in 2007 without Loretta and in no particular order. Not being as educated on the Yankees line-up in 2007, I realize this might not be exact.

 

4.09 – Damon
3.81 – ARod
3.76 – Jeter
4.37 – Giambi
4.44 – Abreu
3.71 – Posada
4.06 – Matsui
3.65 – Cabrera
3.22 – Cano

 

Loretta would rank better than just 2 of the projected Yankees in 2007. So I’m not sure the Yankees staff is right on this one. But, to Loretta’s credit, he does do many things well. He seems to move runners along, he doesn’t strikeout much (key for the hit and run) and despite his age, he is still a fairly effective hitter. His .345 OBP in 2006 was a bit disappointing, but that number is not awful.

 

For those interested, the Red Sox will have at least 3 new hitters in 2007, Pedroia, Lugo and Drew (I realize given recent health reports, Drew might not be a given). Here’s how they did in 2006:

 

4.02 – Pedroia vs. Loretta’s 3.67
3.96 – Lugo vs. Gonzalez’s 3.68
3.97 – Drew vs Nixon’s 3.72

 

All 3 are improvements.

 

What does P/PA matter? Well for those who poo poo P/PA, a high P/PA makes opposing starting pitchers throw more pitches than they would otherwise. More pitches means a quicker exit and a quicker dip into the bullpen. In a 3 or 4 games series, this can be a benefit to the opposition.

 

I understand there are players out there that have a low P/PA yet excel. Vladmir Guerrero was a 3.16 last year and is a career 3.17, yet he is an awesome hitter. Nomar Garciaparra is a career 3.18. Vernon Wells is a career 3.38.

 

Here are the top 10 for 2006

 

4.42 – Youkilis
4.37 – Giambi
4.36 – F. Thomas
4.31 – Thome
4.20 – Glaus
4.20 – Hafner
4.16 – Ramirez
4.12 – Inge
4.12 – Peralta
4.10 – Dye

 

That is a pretty good list of players. Here is the bottom 10 for 2006 of players that qualified for batting awards:

 

3.12 – Payton
3.16 – V. Guerrero
3.22 – Cano
3.27 – Betancourt
3.36 – Pierzynski
3.36 – Johjima
3.37 – Berroa
3.38 – G. Anderson
3.39 – I. Rodriguez
3.39 – V. Wells

 

I’d take the top 10.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:09 PM | Comments (2)

December 15, 2006

 

Bullpen Construction

 

The Red Sox announced two acquisitions today. They traded Phil Seibel to the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles for Brendan Donnelly and they signed J.C Romero to a free agent contract.

 

I like both of these moves. I’ve always routed for Donnelly. First off he has great mound presense. At least from this fans perspective. Those horn-rimmed glasses and that "I eat dirt" expression really freak me out. Additionally, I’ve always rooted for Donnelly because he didn’t crack a big-league roster until he was 30. I’ve always wondered what hell he went through to make it to the majors and how he must appreciate his income that much more than a Craig Hansen, a draft pick that immediately signed a 4 year, $4m contract at age 21.

 

Donnelly in his 5 full MLB seasons has earned a total of $2m. Not bad, but considering he didn’t make that until 30 and above, I think he qualifies as the feel good story for relievers.

 

Having said all of that, Donnelly has put together a very nice career so far pitching a total of 295 innings and posting a 2.87 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Great numbers. But, his numbers have slipped each of the last 3 seasons. While 3.94/1.35 would have been outstanding on the Red Sox last season, those 2006 numbers for Donnelly represented some slippage.

 

But to me, Donnelly is about as reliable an option as any other the Red Sox will have in 2007. He was paid $950k in 2006 and is arbitration eligible. I expect he’ll make about $1.4m in 2007.

 

Romero is a lefty that had a terrible 2006. He too was on the Angels last season. Some think his WBC participation impacted him in 2006. Let’s hope so as his 6.70/1.76 performance was tough to watch. Romero has always walked too many people (237 in 456 innings) but has managed some decent seasons nevertheless.

 

The key with Romero is his effectiveness against lefties. Last year, a horrible overall season, he held lefties to a .202 batting average against (BAA) and allowed a 1.22 WHIP. Against righties, Romero grabbed his ankles to the tune of a .382 BAA and a 2.35 WHIP. I have to imagine Terry Francona will use Romero against lefties and more lefties. To be fair, Romero was just as good against lefties in 2005, and slightly better against righties. But the bet here is that he works to lefties only. The Red Sox signed Romero to a 1-yr, $1.6m deal plus incentives. This is fairly short money if he can continue his mastery of lefty bats.

 

Overall I like these moves. If gives the Red Sox more options for the bullpen. Middle relievers are tough to predict from year to year, so perhaps the quantity theory will work out.

 

Despite these 2 signings, Theo Epstein insists the Red Sox will keep looking for a closer. It might be a future acquisition, or it might be one of the guys already signed.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:46 PM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2006

 

Welcome Aboard

 

It seems official. The Red Sox have agreed to terms with Daisuke Matsuzaka on a 6 year, $52m (plus incentives, a $2m signing bonus already included in the $52m, and personal comforts such as transportation, massage, housing, etc).

 

Matsuzaka landed at Hanscom Field last night and was taken directly to Mass General for a physical. Welcome to Boston Matsuzaka-san. He landed in the cold rain and went directly to a hospital. What a welcome.

 

He is expected to be announced at a 5pm ET press conference today. I imagine it will be well attended by Boston and Japanese media alike.

 

Upon the signings of J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo, I had said it was time for Boston to address the pitching. With Matsuzaka signed, the rotation has some depth to it. The next step is finding a closer and perhaps another bullpen arm.

 

To be blunt on Matsuzaka and his worth, we just have no idea how he will do. He is young, at 26, certainly talented, but untested in the majors. There are questions about his future arm health and about his ability to handle the U.S. let alone Boston. Boston isn’t always an easy place to play, perhaps you’ve heard.

 

The upside is that in the World Baseball Classic, he was the MVP and his competition included many major league players, so with a very small sample size, he performed well. In addition, many people in the know are high on his upside.

 

I am happy this deal happened as there is some intrigue as to just what this kid can do. His old team, the Seibu Lions, played in the Pacific League. A league considered more like the National League here. That being said, it is more a pitchers league, so Matsuzaka coming here might be like a National Leaguer coming to the American League, so expect some adjustment time (Josh Beckett is a good/bad example).

 

Hot Stove accomplishments:

 

Julio Lugo signed to play SS
J.D. Drew signed to play RF
Daisuke Matsuzaka signed to start
Hideki Okajima signed to relieve
Doug Mirabelli signed to be back-up catcher
Mike Timlin re-signed to relieve

 

I have the Red Sox payroll at $138m after the Matsuzaka signing and including all of the above moves. With a $148m luxury cap tax, the Red Sox have room to fit the cost of a closer or other pitching help. Of course Roger Clemens name has been tossed about. You never know.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:59 AM | Comments (7)

December 13, 2006

 

Rumored Deal

 

Sports Illustrated’s John Heyman is reporting the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka have agreed to a deal for 6 years and $52m with clauses that could make it worth $60m total.

 

That is a far cry from the 6 year, $66 we heard Matsuzaka and Boras were asking for. It still is a ton of dough for a guy who has never pitched in the majors though. Including the posting fee, it works out to $17.2m per season. Wasn’t Pedro’s final year with the Red Sox at $17m?

 

Of course Heyman is just reporting what he has heard and until we hear it from the horses mouth, I say don’t believe it. John Henry’s plane is over Massachusetts at this moment and if you’d like to track it, start at FlightAware.com. Give Boston Dirt Dogs credit for that site. I’m sure the FAA is a bit worried about all of the excitement surrounding this particular flight.

 

So things look and sound good, but take warning from John Henry himself who, on WEEI this afternoon, said that when the various negotiators for both sides boarded the plane, no deal had been reached. The good news is that the deadline is only 30 hours away or so and this soap opera will be over.

 

Oh yeah, forgot to mention that Doug Mirabelli signed a 1 year deal rumored to be for $700k (he made twice that last year). Looks like Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher will be back in 2007.

 

Posted by Andy at 06:09 PM | Comments (7)

Daisuke Airborne

 

Both the Herald and Globe are reporting that Daisuke Matsuzakam, his agent Scott Boras, Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino and Assistant GM Craig Shipley are Boston-bound on John Henry’s private jet. Actually word has it that since the cost of Matsuzaka is going to be so high, Henry sold the jet and bought 5 ultralights that will fly the interested party members in a V formation back to Boston in a trip that is expected to take several weeks.

 

Seriously, the Globe is saying a deal is close and likely.

 

Since Thursday 11:59pm is the deadline, we might not get official word until then, but things look brighter than they did 24 hours ago.

 

Posted by Andy at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

Getting Closer?

 

The Boston Herald is reporting that Scott Boras and Daisuke Matsuzaka have asked for 6 years at $11m per. That is 6/$66m. I don’t know about you, but suddenly that figure looks pretty good.

 

When you consider what we’ve read out there already with Peter Gammons saying Boras and Matsuzaka were asking for 6 years, $18m-$20m per, Boras himself said Matsuzaka was a $100m player. When you look at those and compare them to $11m a season, suddenly I have hope that a deal will get done.

 

Of course Boston has offered 6 years, $8m per. So the total cash difference over the length of the contract (what Boras wants and what Boston is offering) is $18m. Certainly the Red Sox would be willing to split the difference and offer 6 years at $9.5m each, but the question remains if Boras and Matsuzaka would agree to that.

 

Let’s say a deal gets done for 6 years and $10m per (to make the math easy). That would mean Boston is paying $60m to Matsuzaka and $51.1m to the Seibu Lions for a total outlay of $111.1m. If you amortize the total payout over 6 years, you are looking at $18.5m or so.

 

The big question is whether or not Boston can make back the $51.1m through various marketing efforts. Anything that would make them money would probably be limited to in-park advertisements and any special programming that NESN and Tom Werner can come up with. One WEEI caller suggested a reality show that could be sold to a Japanese network that would follow Matsuzaka’s every move. Just what he needs, more pressure.

 

Any additional merchandise sales outside of Fenway Park would be shared equally with the other MLB teams, so this is not where the Red Sox make up for their fee.

 

Anyway, this is pure speculation on my part while I await word on whether Daisuke is going to fly east or west today.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:13 AM | Comments (5)

December 12, 2006

 

The Deadline Looms

 

These Daisuke Matsuzaka negotations are tough to follow, mostly because there isn’t much concrete information.

 

Here are the sources I’ve been using:

 

Boston.com’s Extra Bases – A blog updated by the Globe baseball writers.

 

Boston Herald’s Clubhouse Insider Blog – A similar blog format updated by the Herald baseball writers.

 

These are your two best sources.

 

Both sites are suggesting little to no progress has been made today and that if nothing budges by tomorrow, Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino (both in L.A. negotiating directly with Scott Boras) are going to fly back to Boston on Wednesday.

 

If Matsuzaka does not sign, I will be very disappointed. Sure there is no guarantee what this kid will do, but it would have been fun to witness his efforts in a Red Sox uniform. Alas I think most Red Sox fans should be prepared for life without Matsuzaka because even if he does sign, it might be an outrageous contract that could make the team look super-foolish (even more than they do already for offering up the posting fee).

 

Be ready for:

 

Schilling
Beckett
Papelbon
Wakefield
Lester/Tavarez

 

That 5th spot is iffy given Lester’s health and Tavarez’s lack of talent. Too bad.

 

In other news, Marcus Giles, 2b for the Atlanta Braves, was non-tendered today making him a free agent. There was a time Giles was considered an all-star, but he fell a bit in 2006. Giles is an excellent fielder and prior to 2006 was considered a good bat.

 

It will be interesting to see if Boston makes a run for him. Obviously Dustin Pedroia is the player we all expect to see at 2b in 2007, but maybe Giles is an idea. Of course Giles will probably want a 3-4 year deal at good money, so perhaps he just isn’t a financial option. Then again, if the Red Sox aren’t on the hook for $51.1m and a contract for Matsuzaka, then perhaps they sign him.

 

Giles is probably a better option in the short term than Pedroia, but maybe not for the long run.

 

A final note, Gabe Kapler retired today and instead will manage the Red Sox single-A affiliate in Greenville S.C. While Kapler didn’t offer much with his bat the past few years, no one will argue he is a great clubhouse presence and one of the smartest, most thoughtful players the Red Sox have ever had. That being said, I would not be at all surprise to see him excel in his new job. At 31 years old, Kapler is probably a few years from getting a sniff at a major league job, but it wouldn’t surprise me when it happens.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:45 PM | Comments (7)

December 10, 2006

 

Dice-K and a Closer

 

With the offense pretty much set, the Red Sox are now focusing on pitching and the bench. As most of you have heard by now, the negotiations with Scott Boras and Daisuke Matsuzaka are not going well. The Boston Globe first reported this late last week, much to the amusement to those who think the Globe sports section is edited by Larry Lucchino and Dr. Charles Steinberg, only to have Sunday’s Boston Herald report that things are all but dead with the negotiations.

 

Peter Gammons suggests a deal really needs to be done by this Tuesday in order that there be enough time to have Matsuzaka pass a physical the next day and then get things formally presented to the commissioner by Thursday.

 

Obviously the Red Sox are a better team with Matsuzaka than without him. Of course we don’t know until he actually pitches here, but most agree he is a special talent. Losing him to the negotiation process will create a void that was never really filled in the first place. With the age of Schilling and Wakefield, it sure would be nice to fill in a 26 year old into the rotation.

 

As for the global ramifications of a failed negotiation, some suggest the Red Sox brand would be forever ruined in Japan and the far east. Well maybe, but that sounds a bit extreme, especially if it is Scott Boras that feels his client isn’t being respected even though a $9m offer would represent a 300% raise from Matsuzaka’s 2005 salary.

 

From stritcly a baseball standpoint, not signing Matsuzaka would be rough.

 

As for a closer, Jonathan Papelbon is not an option, so knock it off. Here are the possible options:

 

option/likelihood
Eric Gagne – 20%
Devern Hansack – 35%
Craig Hansen – 5%
Chad Cordero – 5%
Trade – 35%

 

As of late this past week, things were looking quite negative with Gagne. A team or teams had reportedly offered him $6m guaranteed with incentives, this for a guy with 15 innings under his belt the past 2 seasons. The Red Sox might be forced to up their offer if they become desperate. With Boras as his agent, expect Gagne to take the most guaranteed money possible.

 

Hansack, who you ask? He is the AA call-up that pitched a 5-inning no-hitter the last game of the 2006 season (it was rain-shortened). He’ll be 29 to start the season, so he’s no prospect, but he has done well at every level of baseball to date. Hansack played in the Nicaraguan league in 2004 and 2005 as a result of injury and general disinterest but was brought back to the States by the Red Sox for the 2006 season.

 

Hansack is polished and composed, but with only 10 innings above AA, he is a huge gamble. He has exactly 1 professional save to his credit in the States.

 

Craig Hansen needs to figure a few things out before being the Red Sox closer. Some time in AAA this year might be a good thing as he has proven mostly ineffective at the major league level. He has the stuff, I’m just not sure he has the brain power or discipline to go with it.

 

Chad Cordero had been rumored as a possibility with the Red Sox offering one of two packages. Package one was Wily Mo Pena and package two was Craig Hansen and Clay Buchholz. The deal isn’t going to happen because A.) The Washington Nationals would need more than just Wily Mo and B.) the Red Sox would never part with Hansen and Buchholz in the same deal.

 

Trade – this one is the co-favorite with Hansack as with Theo Epstein, he’ll be tireless in exploring anything he thinks will help. The scenarios are limitless, so I won’t dig in other than to say the Astros and Angels have good bullpens with players that could prove useful. One of those 2 teams might make sense. But remember, just because Epstein will be tireless, doesn’t mean he’ll strike it rich.

 

So this week will be interesting as we will learn the fate of the Boston Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka courtship. Thursday is the deadline, but word should come sooner given logistic requirements.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2006

 

Red Sox Cash Flow Analysis

 

With all of the cash the Boston Red Sox have spent this off-season, it made me wonder just how the Red Sox look financially beyond the 2007 season. My concern was that there would be little resources available for 2008.

 

Here is some of what I found.

 

Contracts up at the end of 2007:

 

Schilling – $13m
Lowell – $8m
Wakefield – $4m
Timlin- $2.7m
Tavarez- $3.35m
Clement – $9.5m
Hinske – $2.8m
Total = $43.4m

 

That is a good amount of cash. Most importantly, it’ll mark the end of Matt Clement. This list includes a bunch of old guys, a bunch of hurt guys, a bunch of ineffective guys and perhaps a helpful player or two. If Wakefield does well in 2007, then that is money well spent and given his unique contract ($4m annual team option that runs forever).

 

As of this moment, the Red Sox have $139m committed to player salaries. This is just the 2007 value of each contract, not the AAV. You figure they will drop $8-12m on Matsuzaka, so this number is likely to bump up to $150m or so.

 

With the salary cap $148m ($148 million in 2007, $155 million in 2008, $162 million in 2009, $170 million in 2010 and $178 million in 2011.), it’ll be interesting to see what the Red Sox do about getting under it. They have stated very publicly that they’d like to stay under it.

 

Anyway, that is what I’m thinking about right now. In addition, I am trying to settle my feelings on the Drew/Lugo signings. Well here you go. I like the Drew signing, although not at that money. I know things have changed, but still is a bunch of cash. Drew makes the line-up better by extending it. I’d rather have Drew get more at bats than Mike Lowell or Jason Varitek.

 

As for Lugo, I just don’t get it. $9m a year for 4 years (5th year performance based option) is a bunch of cash for a shortstop who is probably above average for shortstops offensively, but not so defensively (he is below average). Lugo is above average offensively, but not anywhere close to the level of the elite offensive shortstops. Unfortunately he is closer to the bat skills of Alex Gonzalez than Miguel Tejada.

 

Here are some raw numbers about Lugo’s defense (as a shortstop):

 

Career fld % = .965 vs. league average of .970
Career range factor/g = 4.39 vs. league average of 4.05
Career range factor/9 innings = 4.69 vs. league average of 4.53

 

It looks like his range is better than average and his fld % is below average. So perhaps one might say he is an average fielding, but probably not below average.

 

Since I know little about fielding stats and just how meaningful they are, let me instead turn to an expect source. The Fielding Bible, by John Dewan, is a comprehensive look at defense in baseball. Here is their take on Lugo (published prior to the 2006 season, so this is based on data only through 2005):

 

Lugo shows good range and is a very athletic defender with a strong arm. However, he is very erratic and inconsistent. He does not have the best instincts in the field. One minute he can make a great play and then boot a routine grounder in his next chance. A lot of his problems seem to come from issues with his footwork and throwing mechanics.

 

The Fielding Bible (TFB) has a plus/minus system that attempts to calculate how many plays a specific fielder makes compared to what an average replacement player would make. As an example, Adam Everett of the Houston Astros is considered to be the best shortstop in baseball per TFB.

 

Over the past 3 seasons (2003-2005), here are some samplings on where players rank on the plus/minus scale:

 

1.) Adam Everett +76
2.) Jack Wilson +50
3.) Jimmy Rollins +40
13.) Julio Lugo +5
16.) Alex Gonzalez -1
17.) Nomar Garciaparra -1
30.) Derek Jeter -64
31.) Michael Young – 73

 

So based on observation and their plus/minus system, I think it is safe to say TFB considers Lugo as average. Average isn’t great, but it isn’t bad either and to make some of us relax a bit, it appears he isn’t all that much worse than Alex Gonzalez based on TFB’s analysis.

 

Anyway, I like the Drew deal, I’m still not so hot on the Lugo deal. Prove me wrong Julio, you’d better!

 

Posted by Andy at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2006

 

The Logjam Breaks

 

Finally, news.

 

The Red Sox announced Tuesday night that they’ve reach agreements in principle with both J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo.

 

Drew’s deal is 5-yr, $70m. Year 5 is a team option, although the Associated Press release doesn’t specify.

 

Lugo is set to receive $36m over 4 years. Here is the AP link.

 

So the positional players are set for now, assuming Manny Ramirez isn’t traded.

 

If it were up to me, here’s how I’d put the line-up:

 

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

 

I’m torn because Lugo or Crisp have the dynamics of fun lead-off guys, but I’m not convinced they will get on base enough. So if Lugo and Crisp prove to be lousy OBP guys, then, Youk goes back to #1.

 

With Youk, Ortiz, Manny and Drew, you have 4 bonifide .400 OBP guys. Ok, Youk hasn’t quite done that yet, but in his first full season of ball, he posted a .381 OBP, a nice number.

 

Both of these deals apparently are all but done, pending physicals.

 

Ok, enough time wasted on the bats, let’s focus on pitching. It was the pitching after all that was the most trouble in 2006. Arms, arms and more arms are needed to compete in the AL East and to compete for a World Series each year.

 

Andy’s agenda for Theo and Co.

 

– Sign Matsuzaka
– Sign or trade for a closer*
– Add additional bullpen help
– Repeat

 

* The Boston Globe reported that the Red Sox have a good shot at signing Eric Gagne. Gagne of course hasn’t done much since 2004 and is coming back from serious elbow trouble. But, he apparently is ready to start throwing again and is represented by…can you believe it, Scott Boras.

 

Gagne presents many questions marks, but if he can be had for an incentive laden contract or even reason guaranteed dollars, great, but given it is Boras we are talking about, I’m not sure. The Globe’s Nick Cafardo noted that of all teams interested in Gagne right now, only the Red Sox need a closer. If Gagne still wants to close, it would be a great fit. He was born in Montreal too, so perhaps that would be an appeal.

 

I assume the Red Sox invited Boras to stay with them in the suite at the Winter Meetings this week.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:33 PM | Comments (4)

Amazing!

 

…that nothing of note has happened yet. And sorry for the teaser there.

 

JD Drew seems likely still.
Manny moving doesn’t seem quite as likely.

 

I like the idea of Ortiz, Manny, Drew.

 

Julio Lugo seems likely, but not certain.

 

Whatever, I’d like something to come into focus soon.

 

Status:

 

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

 

bench ui – Cora
bench ui/uo – Hinske
bench c – ???
bench of – Pena

 

sp – Schilling
sp – Beckett
sp – Papelbon
sp – Wakefield
sp – Lester (wouldn’t have said this until today’s news)
sp – ??? Matsuzaka

 

cl – ???
rp – Tavarez
rp – Hansen
rp – Delcarmen
rp – Timlin
rp – Okajima

 

If the Red Sox do sign Matsuzaka, I hope I don’t hear anyone suggest trading away starting pitching. Remember, you can never have enough starting pitching.

 

Posted by Andy at 05:05 PM | Comments (1)

 

 

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)