Red Sox April 2004

Patriots Day 2004

 

The Red Sox took 3 of 4 against the Yankees this holiday (in MA anyway) weekend. I’m not getting too excited though, there are still 150 games left.

 

It was nice to see both Tim Wakefield and Curt Schilling hold the Yankees to 2 runs apiece and even Bronson Arroyo on Monday, despite a rough start, battled and kept his team in the game.

 

Only Derek Lowe’s disaster of a start on Sunday failed to meet muster. I won’t dwell on it too long, but his 10 days between starts may have had an impact, although I really don’t know. Why didn’t he throw a simulated game in between? Who cares, you can’t win them all after all.

 

The one common denominator in the 3 Red Sox wins was the bullpen. In the Red Sox wins, the pen pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6. Not too shabby.

 

Add to that the 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for Lowe on Sunday and the bullpen went 13 2/3 innings, 6 hits, 9 walks, 8 k’s and only 1 run. While the walks were high, the hits were low, so all in all, an overwhelming success.

 

Imagine me writing about the strength of the Red Sox bullpen last year at this time.

 

So the Red Sox are at 7-5 and head to Toronto for 3 and then on to the Bronx for 3 more. Certainly not an easy trip ahead.

 

A side note, what a day Patriots Day proved to be in the Boston sports world. The Red Sox won, the 108th running of the Boston Marathon came and went, the Patriots traded for Corey Dillon and the Bruins….wait, the Bruins are an embarrassment.

 

Other than the Bruins, quite a sports day.

 

Back to the B’s for a second. What a pathetic lump of an organization they’ve become. In the past 10 years, they’ve won one playoff series. All the while losing 6. Oh yeah, they completely missed the playoffs in 1997, 2000 and 2001.

 

Face it Bruins fans, there are just too many things working against us. 1.) A terrible place to watch hockey (or any sport for that matter) in the Fleet Center. The bowl is so wide and spacious, there is no way to generate any noise. It is the exact opposite of the Boston Garden. 2.) The constant neglect of the regular season squad by ownership has sent once faithful fans packing. So on any given night, the New England Revolution are more likely to be talked about at the water cooler. 3.) Finally, look at the on ice leadership for the Bruins. You have Captain Joe Thornton. He is amazingly talented, but is there a player in the league who took more stupid penalties than he did all season long? No. Wait, yes, his Assistant Captain, Martin LaPointe. He took just as many, if not more. As for the other Assistant, Sean O’Donnell, I’ll give him a free pass.

 

So the Bruins really need an ownership change, but since that isn’t likely to happen, I think it time Jeremy Jacobs sent Mike O’Connell and Harry “I haven’t won a Stanley Cup in 33 years” Sinden packing.

 

In the time the Bruins last won the Cup, the Canadians have won 7 times, the Oilers 5 times, the Penguins 2 times, the Islanders 4 times, the Flyers twice, the Avalanche twice, the Red Wings 3 times, the Devils 3 times and the Stars, Flames and the Rangers once each.

 

So save yourself some grief and root for the Celtics…oh crap. I mean root for your local High School teams.

 

 

 

Posted by Andy at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2004

 

Francona’s Way

 

A week and change into the season and we are starting to get a better idea as to how Terry Francona is going to manage. While it is far too early to see if his style is a good one, there are a few points I’d like to comment on.

 

Francona pulled Pedro Martinez midway through the top of the 8th in his most recent start because Pedro had exceeded his pitch count. Who cares? I care. Last year, Grady Little would have left him in out of respect.

 

Respect? Grady’s idea of respect was to allow a competitor to pitch his way out of trouble or in some cases allow him to finish what he started. I certainly can understand how that approach would endear a manager to his players, it just isn’t sound strategy though. Especially with Pedro.

 

Respect, when it comes to a fragile shoulder, is taking a guy out so he can pitch another day. It is also understanding when to get a player out when he has nothing left. Francona is a student of relevant statistics. The stat that told him batters hit Pedro at a .370 clip last year from pitch number 106-120 was enough for him to realize Pedro had given all he could give.

 

How many pitches did Pedro throw in his last start? 106.

 

In addition, I liked Francona’s use of David McCarty in relief in the April 9th game. It’s hard for me to understand why people were so upset by it. With Ramiro Mendoza unable to pitch and Bobby M. Jones unable to throw strikes, Francona didn’t have much choice.

 

Down three runs with runners on in the top of the 9th, Francona brought in McCarty to spare further bullpen usage. While McCarty wasn’t effective, he did finish the 9th.

 

I suppose my biggest gripe about this is why did Boston management think Jones was worthy of a bullpen spot in the first place and how did they manage to overlook Mendoza’s injury?

 

Jones is a bad pitcher. My guess on him is that he has a ton of talent, but can’t seem to get it coordinated with his head. As a result, he wows his employers during spring training, but crumbles when it matters.

 

His career 5.77 era and 1.73 whip ((hits+walks)/innings pitched) prove he is lousy. That’s over 324.2 innings and 6 seasons.

 

I’m being serious here, Jones has never really had a good season whatsoever. The Sports Forecaster has each of his pro seasons listed. Take a look for yourself. Only his 2003 AAA stats were something resembling good.

 

I don’t mean to get on his case, but I have to ask Theo Epstein why he thought Jones had a better chance of contributing than Tim Hamulack or Mark Malaska.

 

As for Mendoza, I think it is time the Red Sox just sent him packing. If he was unwilling/unable to pitch when it mattered, how was this fairly important revelation missed prior to the game? To that I say, “Who cares.” Just release him and move on.

 

Lastly, I was very sorry to see Brian Daubach cut loose when the Red Sox brought Frank Castillo up as a boost to the bullpen. As it turned out, they didn’t need Frank Castillo making the move unnecessary in hindsight. That’s not to say Castillo won’t contribute in the next few days, but his presence was certainly a result of last week’s overworked bullpen.

 

According to Wednesday’s Boston Globe, Daubach cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Pawtucket meaning he could be back in Boston in no time. With the Red Sox carrying 12 arms, Daubach will have to wait until the starters are completely stretched out and the bullpen ready for an 11 man staff.

 

A big series starts this Friday. The Red Sox will host the Yankees. While it is too early in the season to give these games too much attention, they’ll make for some good baseball.

 

The match-ups (as of Wednesday’s rainout):

 

Friday 8:05 pm – Javier Vazquez vs Tim Wakefield
Saturday 1:20 pm – Mike Mussina vs Curt Schilling
Sunday 2:05 pm – Jose Contreras vs Derek Lowe
Monday 11:05 am – Kevin Brown vs Bronson Arroyo

 

 

 

Posted by Andy at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2004

 

161-1?

 

The Red Sox still have a chance to win 161 games this year. Phew. I thought the prospect of a 160 win season so unappealing, I nearly swore off the 2004 campaign.

 

Honestly, have you ever seen such hysteria after an opening day loss? It was one game. So what? The Red Sox started the season off 0-1. Well now they are 1-1, happy?

 

I have to say the actual hysteria seems driven almost exclusively by the media. I normally am not one for talk radio, but I happened to catch a fair amount of it Tuesday. WEEI’s Dale and Neumy show devoted an inordinate amount of time to the Red Sox 0-1 start and the furor caused by Pedro Martinez leaving the ballpark prior to the completion of the Sunday night’s game.

 

Let me get the Pedro thing out of the way. Was it wrong? Yes. Should his teammates be annoyed? Yes. Is it a big deal? No, not really. After all, this sort of thing probably happens all the time. But in cities like Kansas City, Seattle, Los Angeles and Miami, this sort of thing is dealt with and everyone moves on and no one really gives a crap, at least not the fans.

 

In fact, the media probably doesn’t even consider it news worth enough to write about it save perhaps for a brief mention in the team “notebook” section.

 

So, let’s allow Terry Francona the time to talk to Pedro and put the issue in the past.

 

Back to Tuesday’s game. Curt Schilling stepped up and pitched solidly in his Red Sox debut. Add to that the great performances from Alan Embree, Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke and one could conclude the Red Sox just might do alright this year.

 

I’m certainly happy for the win, but if the Boston media doesn’t get a grip, I might not be able to read another paper, listen to another AM station or watch a sports news segment for the rest of the season.

 

It used to be that people wouldn’t really start paying attention to the Red Sox until mid-May or so. In May, the weather starts getting consistently nice, college students are just completing their finals, younger students start dreaming of summer vacation and there are enough completed games in hand to start forming an opinion of the Red Sox chances.

 

With this year’s approach, talk radio is already worrying about the Red Sox ability to compete. It is just too much, too soon.

 

Notes for Tuesday’s game.

 

Johnny Damon must be thrilled with Kevin Millar and his wandering ways. For those who missed it, Millar playing RF and Damon playing CF collided making what should have been a routine play on a fly ball. While Damon was the one delivering the blow to Millar’s head, he must not have taken kindly to yet another Red Sox teammate running into him.

 

Surely he was thinking about the playoffs last year and his collision with Damian Jackson. Interestingly enough, immediately after Millar hit the ground, Damon stood over him without showing much concern, but rather, what would appear, disbelief.

 

I guess this goes to show not having an experienced everyday RF (Trot Nixon) in there is a risk.

 

I have to say I love watching Foulke pitch. That change-up is just devastating. Even though he has had trouble getting his fastball into the 90 mph range, he does such a good job matching his change-up delivery with his fastball delivery that no batter is safe.

 

I’m not sure I had realized this, but the Red Sox have 3 set-up guys in their pen that can each hit 95 mph with their fastball. Alan Embree has been known to hit 96 and 97, Scott Williamson can hit 95 while healthy and Mike Timlin easily tops 94 while occasionally hitting 95 (a recent development in his lengthy career). That is some good stuff. Let’s hope they all stay healthy, no guarantee especially with Williamson and Embree.

 

Late in 2003, I wrote about Derek Lowe being a weak link in the Red Sox rotation. Specifically that he was far too up and down for the Red Sox good. Well, I’m beginning to wonder if I was just plain wrong. Perhaps his inability to prepare for the 2003 season was the key factor in him not performing consistently in 2003.

 

Wait, I’m falling into a trap. How can I start gushing about Lowe based only on his spring training numbers? I can’t. Let’s talk in mid-May.

 

Some payroll numbers:

 

Per my new favorite payroll site, Dugout Dollars, the Red Sox have a cap number of $129.54mm. With the luxury tax triggered at anything over $120.50mm, it looks like they’ll have to pay some extra this year.

 

The interesting news is that they are only at $72.83mm for 2005 and $52.80mm for 2006 with the luxury tax kicking in at $128.00mm and $136.50mm respectively in those years.

 

The New York Yankees are as follows:

 

2004 – $195.18mm
2005 – $170.44mm
2006 – $117.29mm

 

Can they afford to pay the luxury tax? Don’t worry, I’m kidding.

 

 

 

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

March 2004 Red Sox

March 30, 2004

 

Oh So Close

 

The Red Sox open the regular season this coming Sunday night. A primetime match-up against the Baltimore Orioles. I’m fairly happy to get this thing going.

 

As it turns out, the injuries I mentioned in my last post actually have lingered and now stand to impact the start of the 2004 season.

 

Nomar Garciaparra is just now trying to get back into game shape. Even if he is able to resume playing in the next day or so, it remains to be seen if he will be ready for opening day.

 

The good news is that it doesn’t appear he’ll need to go on the DL.

 

Trot Nixon’s injury on the other hand is the most serious of the bunch. He has a slightly bulging disc in his lower back that will keep him out until May.

 

Nixon’s injury means the Red Sox will rotate Manny Ramirez, Gabe Kapler, Kevin Millar, Brian Daubach and Ellis Burks in and out of rightfield. Fortunately, Theo Epstein has put together a deep bench, one capable of filling in for Nixon during his injury.

 

Lastly, Byung-Hyun Kim is battling through shoulder inflamation. His injury should hopefully keep him on the DL no longer than mid-April. Bronson Arroyo stands to get the 5th spot in the rotation during Kim’s injury which means the Red Sox have a little more bullpen capacity.

 

The following are assured to have a spot on the 2004 pitching staff:

 

Pedro Martinez
Curt Schilling
Derek Lowe
Tim Wakefield
Bronson Arroyo

 

Keith Foulke
Scott Williamson
Mike Timlin
Alan Embree

 

But who will round out the staff? Assuming 14 bats, that leaves 11 pitchers. I’ve listed 9 above. The candidates appear to be from the following:

 

Frank Brooks
Tim Haulack
Mark Malaska
Ramiro Mendoza
Reynaldo Garcia
Bobby M. Jones
Anastacio Martinez

 

Of interest, of all the guys listed above, only one has an ERA higher than 3.00 this spring. That’d be Mark Malaska with a 4.50. So Terry Francona and Theo Epstein have a tough decision ahead.

 

Brooks was claimed off waivers from Oakland on March 18th. He has had a good spring and has a pretty good track record in the minors. All of the guys above though have pretty good to great performances this spring. Let’s hope Kim gets healthy soon.

 

Oh yeah, I didn’t mention Mendoza’s chances. Unfortunately, he makes too much money to be waived unless he completely falls apart. So far, in just 2.2 innings, he hasn’t been scored upon this spring, so I’m assuming he’ll be one of the 11 arms making the 25 man roster.

 

So, are you all happy with the following line-up?

 

cf – Johnny Damon
3b – Bill Mueller
lf – Manny Ramirez
ss – Nomar Garciaparra
dh – David Ortiz
1b – Kevin Millar
c – Jason Varitek
rf – Gabe Kapler
2b – Pokey Reese

 

Nomar, of course, might not be in the line-up come opening day and would presumably be replaced by Reese. 2b would be manned by Mark Bellhorn. If that happens, just move everyone up a spot and move Bellhorn to the 8 spot.

 

For arguments sake, let’s assume Nomar is in the opening day line-up. This 9 is pretty solid. I’m happy with things.

 

The rotation looks solid too as does the bullpen. So while things look good on paper, it is time for the Red Sox to go out and play some winnning baseball.

 

 

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

March 18, 2004

 

Zzzzzzzz

 

To date, spring training has been fairly boring. That’s a good thing no doubt. Byung-Hyun Kim is trying to overcome some arm troubles, Trot Nixon’s back is bad, Nomar Garciaparra has been battling a strained Achilles and David McCarty got too tired trying to balance a position player’s workload and a pitcher’s workload.

 

That about sums things up.

 

Kim’s injury means the Red Sox will probably use Bronson Arroyo in the 5 spot to start the season. That also means they’ll have to keep an extra reliever around. Not sure who that’ll be especially since we don’t know who they would have kept had Kim stayed healthy.

 

Nixon’s back problem means the Red Sox may use Manny Ramirez in right and Kevin Millar in left as reported by the Boston Globe in Wednesday’s sports section.

 

An outfield of Millar in left (limited range), Damon in center (no arm) and Ramirez in right (hmmm, I was going to criticize him, but he isn’t that bad), isn’t too appealing, but it’ll have to do. My point about Ramirez is that he really hasn’t been that bad in left. In fact, he turned into a pretty good outfielder last season. He has spoken about his desire to improve his defense and apparently the hard work is paying off.

 

Let me know if I’m way off base with my assessment of Ramirez with the glove.

 

Nomar played in Wednesday’s game going 0-2. Glad he is back in the line-up because as it stands now, there is a good chance the Red Sox will start the season with Nixon and Kim on the DL. That would not be a good start to the season, especially when compared to the overall health the Red Sox had in 2003.

 

Yikes, I’m reaching into the well and have nothing. Sorry, it’s just been a slow spring training.

 

Actually, the Providence Journal’s Art Martone had an interesting piece in Sunday’s Projo. Basically, it revolves around the steady change in how baseball teams conduct their baseball operations.

 

Michael Lewis’ Moneyball best described the new way as being more statistically oriented with less input from traditional scouts. As it is today, close to the start of the 2004 season, there seems to be more statistically oriented teams than old school teams. Martone has a good look at the change and those still doing things the old way.

 

I still like the Red Sox approach. Theo Epstein has surrounded himself with a great sampling of all styles. Bill James and Voros McCracken representing those using numbers and Bill Lajoie and Lee Thomas are more the scouting types. Epstein makes his decisions based on input from all of the above.

 

Like most of you didn’t already know that.

 

One last thing. I’m quite concerned that one of my favorite sites hasn’t been update since November 2003. MLB Contracts/Red Sox Contracts hasn’t been updated in months and even has some code issues with its counter. It has been my salary bible for the past few years. While I don’t know who publishes the site (it is a uk site I believe), I just hope the owner finds the time to keep it going.

 

As a fallback, USA Today has a great salary database. The only problem is that it only covers contracts of years past, it doesn’t show existing contracts and their terms. So sad.

 

Wow, while I was feeling sorry for myself, I decided to visit Doug Pappas’ site. Pappas is an expert on baseball finance, but I have never found his info easy to use. BUT, and that’s a big BUTT, I reviewed his links page and found a new site, dugoutdollars. It is a different format than I’m accustom to, but I’ll take it.

 

Funny, the person that runs dugoutdollars credits MLB Contracts/Red Sox Contracts as his starting point.

 

I hope you all enjoyed the running drama of the past 4 paragraphs.

 

As you can tell, real baseball needs to start soon.

 

 

Posted by Andy at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2004

 

The swap

 

Well howdy-doody. I think the Boston Herald’s Jeff Horrigan reads this site. Why? This is why. Then again, perhaps that means Terry Francona reads this site, not Horrigan.

 

For those too lazy to read the link above, Horrigan reported in today’s Red Sox Notebook that Francona has swapped Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez in the line-up. Nomar will now hit clean-up while Manny will hit 3rd.

 

The reason I think Francona reads this site is because I mentioned in my 02/05/2004 post that the swapping of Nomar and Manny in the line-up was an idea worth testing. I continued to say I didn’t think Francona would have the guts to try it. Not because he is worthless and weak, but rather because Nomar hitting 3rd and Manny 4th seems to work just fine.

 

Well, I stand corrected and conceed that Francona does indeed have the guts to try it. He has already made the change and plans on sticking with it this season. Good for you Terry.

 

Now, let’s test my theory one step further and see if Red Sox management is reading the site.

 

Many experts think the Red Sox should hire Andy (this author) to a 10 year, $500,000 per year contract to act as a professional fan. Duties would include watching every game and drinking beer in the stands at Fenway.

 

However, those same experts think the Red Sox don’t have the guts to hire Andy.

 

If my theory is correct, I soon will be hired!!!

 

By the way, I completely and totally forgot to include the Oakland A’s rotation in my 2/23/2004 rotation debate. My mistake. They are good, I just forgot about them. Perhaps the training I am undertaking to get the "professional fan job" is taking its toll. Drinking beer and watching baseball will do that.

 

Andy can be reached at Andy@yankeesredsox.com.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2004

 

They’ll be back. Or will they?

 

Things are a bit slow in Red Sox training camp so far. That is a good thing. With that in mind, I figured I’d take a look at some of the players who could walk next year unless they get something done with Red Sox management this year.

 

Who are they?

 

Pedro Martinez
Derek Lowe
Nomar Garciaparra
Jason Varitek
David Ortiz
Scott Williamson
Doug Mirabelli

 

Well, some of those names aren’t quite as big as the others, but these guys are all important members of the team…and they are listed in no particular order.

 

Let’s first look at what they are going to make in 2004:

 

$17.5m – Pedro Martinez
$4.5m – Derek Lowe
$11.5m – Nomar Garciaparra
$6.7m – Jason Varitek
$4.6m – David Ortiz
$3.2m – Scott Williamson
$825k – Doug Mirabelli

 

Let’s pick these guys apart.

 

Pedro – He seems to realize that he’ll be lucky to get anything close to the $17.5 he is making this season. Then again, if the New York Yankees (you are all familiar with them) go after him, the sky’s the limit. Seriously.

 

If, however, he realizes he is so hated in New York and Pedro eliminates them from his list of suitors (or they eliminate him), then I have to figure he’ll get a $14m per year contract assuming he has a good year.

 

If you are Theo Epstein and John Henry, do you give him that kind of money over 4-5 years. See, Martinez is one of, if not, the smartest players in baseball. Sure he can be immature and is overly sensitive, but he is still smart and knows how to use the press to ratchet up the pressure on his bosses. I have to figure Pedro, by mid-season, will be in front of the press telling the world the Red Sox brass best “sign me quickly or the price will keep going up.” Who will blink first? I’d say the Red Sox. Expect Petey back in 2005.

 

Lowe – Derek has it in his mind that he is a goner after this year. Well, I don’t know about that. If he has another 2003 type season, then his price won’t be that high. Yes he won 17 games, but his 4.47 ERA was terrible (especially when compared to his 2.58 ERA in 2002). It is true though that his second half was better than his first half. Lowe blames his first half struggles on his inability to properly prepare for the 2003 season due to the rest he need to recover from his skin cancer.

 

While that might be true, his second half wasn’t that good either. He posted a 4.02 in the second half. Not chopped liver, but not his 2002 either. Will he be back in 2005? I think that depends on his performance. If he has a great year, I think he is out, but if he manages another mediocre effort, then he probably will be back. The better he does, the more he’ll cost and vice versa (not rocket science I know, but just trying to make a point).

 

Nomar – This is a tough one. Nomar is still grumpy with the Red Sox and the Red Sox are obviously not thrilled with Nomar now as they were a year ago. Ok, so Nomar is man enough to put all the off-season trade talk behind him (he’s said so publicly…), does that mean he’ll be back in 2005?

 

If not, the Red Sox would have to bid on the likes of Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Renteria. Both are good, but neither has put up the kind of numbers Nomar has put up. Then again, if Nomar’s best days are behind him (read the latest Gammons to seen what I mean), then dropping $60 or more over 4 years would be a foolish move.

 

I think I’m in the “Nomar will have a great year in 2004” camp. Why? I don’t know. Maybe Mia (the better of the two athletes in the marriage) will give him a few tips or perhaps the fear of getting married has passed and he’ll knock the cover off the ball again. I don’t know, but I’m betting Nomar will be back in 2005.

 

Varitek – I think one of 2 things will happen with Varitek in 2005. Either he’ll stay with the club in a reduced manner or he’ll be gone. Why? Well for one thing, Bill James is on the Red Sox payroll. James has looked at the history of catchers and concluded that they decline at an earlier age than other players.

 

Varitek is 32. That’s about the time catchers start showing their age (or the effects of their difficult job). With Kelly Shoppach waiting in the wings, I think this is Varitek’s Last Harrah, at least as a starter. If Shoppach is even just OK at Pawtucket this year, I think the Red Sox will try to re-sign Varitek with the understanding he is to be Shoppach’s mentor and will only play 40% of the time. If he is ok with that great. If not, then he’s a goner.

 

Ortiz – Another doozy. I’m not sure what to expect from Ortiz this year. On the one hand, he had a career year in 2003, he’s still fairly young at 28 and might still have a few great seasons in him. On the other hand, he has a history of injuries and has never had the pressure of putting together a repeat season.

 

I have to guess that whether he has a good season or bad, he isn’t going to be a member of the Red Sox in 2005. If he does well, Epstein will let him go (maybe tender him and get the 2 draft picks) and find another cheap alternative. If he does poorly, Epstein might cut him loose and again, find another cheap alternative. Tough call though as Ortiz is very much into the Red Sox atmosphere and might be willing to stick around at a lower cost.

 

Williamson – I’m thrilled the Red Sox kept him around for 2004. Given the performance of the 2003 bullpen, Williamson and Timlin handing the ball off to Keith Foulke is a zillion times better than Ramiro Mendoza and Alan Embree handing the ball off to Chad Fox. That’s no knock on Mendoza, Embree and Fox….ok, it is a knock. They stunk. They were horrid. Yuck.

 

Ok, so Williamson, to me anyway, is a great guy to have in the bullpen. Does that mean he is back in 2005? I doubt it. He’ll start getting antsy about his career and realize that it’s time he was either a closer or a starter and not a set-up guy. Some team will drop the cabbage and grab him for one of those 2 roles. Fine, as long as he gives the Red Sox a great 2005.

 

Mirabelli – Well he’s back if Varitek isn’t and isn’t if Varitek is. Got it? Good.

 

Ok, now on to the important stuff. Did anyone else see the Nomar interview with Joe Amorsino from Channel 7 this past Sunday night? The format was basically a staccato burst of questions from Amorsino to Nomar. Many in the true/false or yes/no vein.

 

One, however, was bigger than that. Amorsino asked Nomar the following: “Eddie Vedder or Justin Timberlake.” The answer……………Justin Timberlake.

 

Dear Lord no! What? Are you kidding? How is that possible? Amorsino was shocked. As was I. Peter Gammons must be spinning in his gra….er….Baseball Tonight analyst chair.

 

Well, perhaps we have the 2004 version of Kevin Millar’s Bruce Springsteen lip-sync.

 

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

 

February 2004 Red Sox

February 12, 2004

 

Any moment now

 

Pitchers and catchers in 9 days or so. We’re getting close.

 

Some interesting stuff I’ve found floating around the web of late:

 

An interesting 2 part interview with Theo Epstein on Baseball Prospectus. Unfortunately, they’ve only published part 1 while part 2 is available through premium subscription.

 

Peter Gammons has started his reviews of each division.

 

The New York Mets new pitching coach, Rick Peterson, has introduced some high-tech evaluation to his Mets pitchers.

 

Also, how is Kevin Millwood worth $11m a season? He has had 2 good seasons and the rest are just average or to be fair, slightly above average. This week, he agreed to an $11m, one year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

 

See, this is where the current baseball economic system stinks. Millwood has been able to piece together some ok seasons while mixing in a few good ones. The result is a constantly rising salary for a slightly above average pitcher. The Phillies must think they couldn’t possibly walk away from his salary because A.) other teams would laugh and B.) they couldn’t replace his arm.

 

While B.) is probably true, A.) isn’t likely to be true. Another team would surely step up to sign Millwood, but anyone giving him $11m should be the team being laughed at. Ok, enough on that. By the way, I fully realize the teams are as much to blame as anyone for the current system, after all they feed it (isn’t it bad to end a sentence, let alone two in a row, with a preposition?).

 

It seems one of my favorite sites has been put on mothballs. MLB Contracts/Red Sox Contracts hasn’t been updated since 6/6/2003 for the MLB side and 11/18/2003 for the Red Sox side. Too bad, it has always served as my first click when trying to find contract info. Here’s to hoping the site owner is just in his off-season mode.

 

I highly recommend playing Diamond Legends or ESPN Classic Fantasy Baseball. They are essentially the same game, but with a slightly different salary cap structure. If you do play, subscribing to DL Fans is a must. DL Fans has a database of actual performances for the entire roster of available players on each game. Good stuff and a bit addicting.

 

A sad bit of news. Art Martone, the Providence Journal Sports Editor, is no longer publishing his blog on the Projo.com website. Too bad. He always was a thoughtful, non-yahoo writer.

 

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

February 05, 2004

 

Welcome Back Ellis

 

I like the addition of Ellis Burks. I realize he isn’t the same player he was a few years ago, but his bat should help out quite a bit.

 

First of all, it seems like yesterday Ellis was making his debut with the Red Sox. I remember recording his major league debut with the family VCR. The game was in the Kingdome in Seattle. I don’t remember the outcome of the game or even how Burks did, but I do remember one incident.

 

Jim Presley, the Mariners third baseman, was at the plate versus big Steve Crawford. Now when I say Crawford was big, he was huge. He was big back in a day players, especially pitchers, weren’t big at all. He may not have been the tallest or widest, but he was the biggest overall player in the game. Quite intimidating.

 

Well, for some reason, Crawford plunked Presley. Presley decided to charge Crawford who was hoping for just that. Crawford stepped off the mound, took his glove and spiked it to the artificial turf. He was ready.

 

Red Sox catcher, Marc Sullivan, in his greatest moment in a Red Sox uniform, saw Presley sprinting toward the mound, feeling great sympathy, he tackled Presley from behind, probably saving his life. Had Presley made it to Crawford, I’m sure we’d have witnessed the first on field homicide (Ray Chapman was an accident…I think).

 

Anyway, Burks’ debut was overshadowed by the fisticuffs. I think my folks still have that tape hanging around somewhere, I’ll have to view it sometime.

 

Back to 2004. Burks inclusion will allow Terry (since when did they start calling him Tito. That’s his dad’s name, right, but they’ve always called Terry, Terry, not Tito. I’m confused) Francona the chance to sit David Ortiz versus lefties or even sit Trot Nixon versus lefties and put Kevin Millar in right.

 

I know Millar isn’t a good glove man in the OF and he has little range, but let’s look at the defensive stats for Nixon. He doesn’t cover much ground out there either. Since Nixon stopped chewing, he has gained about 30 lbs and has lost the once decent speed he had. I’ll stop talking about defensive stats because we all know there are reasons, sometimes, players have a low range factor and it isn’t always because they are slow.

 

But, if you get Nixon’s bat out of the line-up against lefties, you might just have something.

 

I’m not for a straight platoon in left and DH necessarily, but I think you have to argue this is your best line-up versus lefties, while maintaining respectable defense:

 

Damon – cf
Mueller – 3b
Garciaparra – ss
Ramirez – lf
Burks – dh
Millar – 1b
Kapler – rf
Varitek – c
Reese – 2b

 

To help my argument (as opposed to hurting it), here are some career #’s for Nixon, Gabe Kapler, Ortiz and Burks:

 

Versus lefties (.avg/.obp/.slg)

 

Nixon – .216/.302/.339
Kapler – .281/.340/.464

 

Ortiz – .251/.317/.448
Burks – .311/.391/.528

 

While it probably isn’t realistic given his recent health to have Burks take all the DH at bats against lefties, it certainly is a good option. As for Nixon, while he absolutely kills righty pitching, he shouldn’t be an everyday player against lefties. Using Kapler and Burks against lefties will also give you 2 potent bats on the bench for later in the game in Ortiz and Nixon.

 

It certainly is amazing that we are even talking about Ellis Burks right now. Going into this off season, I figured the Red Sox would hold the payroll just short of the tax limit, or $120m or so. Now, with this latest signing (reports have Burks getting $750k, plus perhaps another $250k in attainable incentives) they are around the $128m-$130m range.

 

Let’s face it, there were many people in Boston that figured the sale of the Red Sox to John Henry and his cohorts meant the slow dismantling of a franchise that had previously spent lots of money. After all, Henry paid ¾ of a billion dollars for the team and Fenway Park and it was thought his debt servicing requirements would be too extreme to field a winning team (or at least one with a sizable payroll. We’ve learned a high payroll doesn’t guarantee success).

 

Well, nothing could be further than the truth. The Red Sox are finding new ways to generate revenue and seemingly are turning around and spending it in the form of quality player acquisitions.

 

Hey, a bench of Brian Daubach, Mark Bellhorn, Kapler, Burks and Tony Womack isn’t so bad.

 

One last note, 2 years ago, the idea of batting Garciaparra 4th and Ramirez 3rd was tossed around, but Grady Little didn’t implement it. I’m for trying it, at least for a while. Check out their career #s from the 3rd spot and the 4th spot in the line-up:

 

Garciaparra:

 

3rd – .321/.365/.550 in 1656 at bats
4th – .360/.416/.612 in 1115 at bats

 

Ramirez:

 

3rd – .350/.429/.638 in 354 at bats
4th – .325/.426/.625 in 2876 at bats

 

Well, historically, Garciaparra hits better in the 4th spot and Ramirez in the 3rd spot. It is true though that Nomar had his best seasons while in the 4th spot prior to his wrist injury, so his slumping (relatively speaking) in the 3rd spot might just be a nothing more than the new, post-injury Nomar.

 

Additionally, Ramirez has had far too few at bats in the 3rd spot to definitively claim he is a better hitter there.

 

Anyway, food for thought. I doubt Francona will have the guts to try it. After all, where they are hitting now seems to be working. The Red Sox did have the best offense in baseball too. Why mess with success?

 

Posted by Andy at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

 

Rocket Return

It is official, Roger Clemens has signed a deal with the Houston Astros. Hopefully, this will end the ridiculous notion that Clemens is one of the great Yankees and should go into the Hall of Fame in Pinstripes.

Clemens is a great pitcher, one of the best ever, and he was an important part of the Yankees who went to four of the last five World Series. Yet, Clemens should not be remembered as a Yankee, but as a Red Sox. He pitched for them the longest and won more games for them than he did for any other team. Yes, he won his 300th and struck out his 4000th with the Yankees, but those moments do not erase all his time with Boston.

There were bad feelings on both sides when he left Boston and I imagine those will be repaired in the next few years. Remember, Carlton Fisk wasn’t exactly a fan of Boston when he left, yet he is in the Hall of Fame as a Red Sox.

Clemens won 77 games for the Yankees, or 14 less than Tommy John did. He deserves to be remembered as a big contributor for the Yankees, but he doesn’t deserve a monument.

Peter can be reached at peter@yankeesredsox.com

January 2004 Red Sox

January 27, 2004

 

Boone-Head

 

It looks like the Yankees need another 3b. Aaron Boone reportedly tore his ACL playing basketball, a violation of his contract. Who cares if it was a violation of his contract, either the way, the Yankees aren’t worried about the $, they are worried about finding a replacement. While Boone isn’t a superstar, he is more than adequate.

 

There doesn’t appear to be much out there in the way of free agents or players in the organization: Drew Henson (minors and not playing well), Enrique Wilson (utility guy, they wouldn’t want him in there any more than necessary)., Miguel Cairo (same deal) and Travis Chapman (who? A non-tender from Philly. Plays 3rd, I know nothing more about him).

 

Perhaps the Yanks will decide to go with a rotation of utility guys and minor league call-ups to man third, or most likely, they’ll trade for a mid-level 3b. The Yankees don’t have too much more to offer in trades, so Cashman and Steinbrenner will have to be creative…I mean, give the other team a ton of cash.

 

Well, it’s too bad Boone injured himself. Playing pick-up basketball doesn’t sound too risky to me but then again, if I had $5.75m coming my way and a clause in my contract forbidding hoop, I think I could turn my attention to Sega basketball instead.

 

Seriously though, it isn’t good to see a player on a competitor get injured. My preference is to beat a team playing my best players vs. his best players, etc. Of course, this doesn’t mean the Red Sox are the better team but you get the idea.

 

Some other Red Sox notes: The team is looking at Ellis Burks as a possible bench option. I have to imagine this won’t work, because he’ll either ask for too much money, or the Red Sox will realize his health is just too shaky, at best.

 

Also, the Red Sox announced 2 minor league deals. One for Terry Shumpert and the other for Tony Womack. Neither gets me too fired up. Even in his prime, Womack was nothing better than a really fast player (fantasy owners thought he was useful) with nothing much else. Shumpert has always amazed me that he’s been able to make a go of it this long in the majors.

 

I’m amazed because when the Red Sox signed him in 1995, his career to date was terrible!!! I’m talking about an average just above the Mendoza line and no power or on-base capabilities. Sure he could play a few positions, but there were certainly better utility player options. But since then, he has actually posted some decent numbers including a really great season in 1999 with Colorado.

 

Sure the light air helped, but in ’99 he went .347/.413/.584 in 262 at bats. Wow. He never approached those numbers again, but he remained fairly solid with Colorado.

 

Anyway, had I not looked at Shumpert’s post Red Sox exploits, I would have continued to see this guy as a nothing. My mistake.

 

Don’t forget:

 


Damon

 

Ramirez Nixon

 

Garciaparra Reese

 


Mueller Millar

 

Martinez
Schilling
Lowe Ortiz
Wakefield
Kim

 


Varitek Foulke
Williamson
Timlin
Embree
Arroyo
Mendoza

 

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

January 20, 2004

 

On again, off again

 

Ok, ESPN is reporting that the mega-du-wop trade between the Red Sox, the Rangers and the White Sox is back on the burner. I really had convinced myself that this thing was finally dead and had turned my attention to Manny and Nomar in the heart of the line-up.

 

Oh well. Perhaps not.

 

But, since you brought it up, er….I figured I’d once again see what the so-called experts are predicting for the 4 main players in this trade.

 

Baseball Notebook has the ARod and Magglio Ordonez as the better option. Because I’m not sure how much info I can pass along to you without Baseball Notebook getting upset with me, let me give you the totals from package A.) Nomar and Manny and for package B.) ARod and Magglio.

 

Package A.)

 

G Runs HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG E
309 235 77 246 13 .329 .400 .611 29

 

Package B.)

 

G Runs HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG E
318 259 95 256 26 .328 .402 .636 16

 

BM is projecting 64 HR’s for ARod in 2004, that’s why package B is offering up so many more home runs. I’m not sure how realistic that is. Overall though, it looks like not only will Package B give you more offense, it’ll also give you better D and more durability. Interesting.

 

How about Stats, Inc.? Well they don’t provide the same stats, but here is what they do provide:

 

Package A.)

 

Runs HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG
202 61 224 9 .326 .391 .555

 

Package B.)

 

Runs HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG
232 81 255 22 .312 .392 .578

 

Their numbers are a bit more conservative and again, an advantage for package B.). Stats is projecting a down year from Manny, in both overall production and durability. He is still solid in their eyes, but isn’t the Manny from Cleveland anymore. So sad.

 

Well, that’s about all I can muster on this renewed trade talk. Apparently both sides are meeting this weekend to see what they can accomplish. Don’t they realize the Patriots are in the Super Bowl? Priorities for cripes sake.

 

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

January 17, 2004

 

More Projections

 

Some more statistical projections for the 2004 Red Sox I thought you might find interesting. As I mentioned earlier this month, Stats, Inc. has a projections feature, in the meantime, I also stumbled upon BaseballNotebook.com’s projection data as well. Like Stats, Inc., Baseball Notebook has various updates to their stats as the regular season approaches, so I used what both sites are using today.

 

For the purpose of these projection notes, I used the following 25 man roster:

 


Jason Varitek
Kevin Millar
Pokey Reese
Bill Mueller
Nomar Garciaparra
Manny Ramirez
Johnny Damon
Trot Nixon
David Ortiz
Mark Bellhorn
Gabe Kapler
Doug Mirabelli
Brian Daubach
Pedro Martinez
Curt Schilling
Derek Lowe
Tim Wakefield
B-H Kim
Mike Timlin
Alan Embree
Ramiro Mendoza
Mark Malaska
Bronson Arroyo
Scott Williamson
Keith Foulke

 

Ok, Stats, Inc. has the Red Sox scoring 832 runs and allowing 521 earned runs (can anyone tell me why else 521 is an important Red Sox number?). Stats, Inc. doesn’t indicate how many total runs they think a pitcher will allow. I guess this is because they aren’t as interested as team fielding or perhaps they just haven’t found an acceptable way of determining unearned runs.

 

Regardless, to get an idea of how many total runs the Red Sox might allow in 2004 based on Stats, Inc. earned run total of 521, I took the previous 3 Red Sox seasons to see how many more total runs they allowed than earned runs.

 

Here’s what I got:

 

R ER R/ER
2003 809 729 1.110
2002 665 602 1.105
2001 745 667 1.117
2219 1998 1.111

 

So over the past 3 years, the Red Sox have allowed about 11% total runs than earned runs. Applying that to the 2004 Stats projections, that means the Red Sox will give up 579 total runs. So now Stats has the Red Sox scoring 832 and giving up 579. I realize me taking a 3 year average isn’t that scientific, but that’s all I can think of doing.

 

Baseball Notebook has the Red Sox scoring 878 runs and allowing 614 total runs. Baseball Notebook does us the favor of including earned and unearned runs in the projections, phew.

 

Ok, with my 25 man roster, Stats, Inc. and Baseball Notebook.com have fewer than expected plate appearances. Now because they only project At bats and Walks, that’s all I can really work with here (you see I’m far too lazy to project sacrifice hits, sac flies and hit by pitch totals). To adjust for this, I’ve added 5.7 % more runs to the Stats, Inc. total and 6.1 % more runs scored to the Baseball Notebook totals, or 880 for Stats, Inc and 932 for Baseball Notebook.

 

Oh crap!!! One more problem popped up. My 25 man roster translates into only 1351 innings pitched through Stats, Inc. projections and 1403 innings pitched through Baseball Notebook.com. The reason that is a problem is because the Red Sox have done pitched the following of the past 3 seasons:

 

IP
2003 1464.2
2002 1446.1
2001 1448.1

 

That works out to a 3 year average of just about 1453 innings pitched, 7.5 % higher than Stats, Inc. IP total and 3.5 % higher than Baseball Notebook’s IP total. So I added 7.5 % and 3.5 % to their projections respectively and got 623 total runs allowed on Stats, Inc. and 636 total runs allowed on Baseball Notebook.com.

 

Here’s what we have now:

 

Stats, Inc.

 

Now that we have that info, let’s use it to determine the expected Red Sox record in 2004. For those of you who have read Bill James, you’re probably familiar with the Pythagorean winning percentage. It is essentially the expected winning percantage a team can expect based on how many runs they score and allow. The Pythagorean winning percentage specifically is this:

 

Runs Scored * Runs Scored_______________
(Runs Scored * Runs Scored) + (Runs Allowed * Runs Allowed)

 

Apparently, in recent years, it has been determined that instead of using the squared value of these, to get a more accurate reading, you instead use this:

 

Runs Scored to the 1.83 power________________
(Runs Scored to the 1.83 power) + (Runs Allowed to the 1.83 power)

 

All that is way over my head. All I know is that the Pythagorean winning percentage is surprisingly accurate in determining a teams wins and losses.

 

So applying the first formula above to Stats, Inc and Baseball Notebook’s projections, here are the expected wins and losses for the 2004 Red Sox:

 

Stats, Inc: 108 wins, 54 losses and a .666 winning %.

 

Baseball Notebook: 111 wins, 51 losses and a .682 winning %.

 

Hmmm, pretty similar. I think it is safe to say that any Red Sox fan would love to have either of those win totals for 2004. But, it is important to note that I’ve done a fair amount of assuming doing this. I am assuming a specific 25 man roster even though there are 2-3 roster spots wide open. Additionally, there are bound to be minor league call-ups and trades, but since I can’t possibly predict those (wait, isn’t this whole piece about predictions and projections?), I’ve simply used the 25 man roster above.

 

By simply assuming that any shortfall in at bats and innings pitched can simply be made up by applying the same runs scoring ability and runs against average is wrong as most likely the players making up the differences are likely to be bench players or minor league call-ups…guys that just aren’t as good as the front line players.

 

Additionally, Stats, Inc. and Baseball Notebook don’t give team projections, just player projections, so while the sum total of the 25 man roster provides the Pythagorean winning percentages above (with the previously mentioned tinkering), I’m certain most employees of either one of these firms would tell you it’s highly unlikely the Red Sox will win 108 games, let alone 111.

 

Alright then, enough excuses and disclaimers from me. Some interesting Baseball Notebook individual projections include Manny Ramirez having a monster season. Monster to the tune of a .335 average,115 runs, 43 HRs and 127 RBI. They also have Nomar Garciaparra bouncing back with a more Nomar-like season: .324 average, 120 runs, 34 HRs and 119 RBI.

 

On the negative side of things, they aren’t expecting so much from Pokey Reese with the bat: .219 average, 44 runs and 44 rbi. Ughh, that’s some awful run production.

 

While they expect Nomar and Manny to have great seasons, the general overall trend is for the rest of the squad to fall back to earth a bit.

 

Yes, I know, this stuff doesn’t mean a thing, but I’ve said it before, it is fun to think about. The 2004 season is just around the corner, about 1 month.

 

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

January 14, 2004

 

AL West

 

The Anaheim Angels signed Vladimir Guerrero this week. 5 years, $70m or $14m a year. That’s a ton of cash in this day and age. It is also a ton of cash for an Angels team that was supposedly already at $95m in payroll for 2004.

 

Angel ownership has already stated they wanted to be only around $90-$95m level for 2004. Was this a good move? Can they get themselves back down to $95m before the start of the season?

 

First off, let’s talk about the bold move of signing Vlad in the first place. The last time they opened their wallet for a big-named free agent was when they signed Mo Vaughn in December 1998. We all know what happened to Mo. We don’t? Ok, I’ll tell you. Mo, had a decent enough 1999 hitting 33 home runs and driving in 108 runs, but his averages across the board fell. In addition, he only played 139 games.

 

2000 was more of the same. Good numbers, but not like his Red Sox numbers. In spring training 2001, he got hurt and missed the season. From there, Mo was never the same. He came back in 2002 and struggled with the Mets, having been traded over the off season for Kevin Appier. 2003 was even worse. He is now almost assuredly out of baseball for good.

 

Too bad too, he was a great player and an entertaining interview.

 

Back to my point. The Angels certainly didn’t make out on the Vaughn signing. Appier had one good season for them, but other than that, Vaughn’s signing was a big-arsed mistake.

 

Will Guerrero’s signing be the same? I have to assume most of you think not. After all, Vlad will only be 28 in 2004. Vaughn signed his deal when he 31. That being said, Vlad missed 50 games in 2003 with a back injury. But he’s young, he’ll get better, right?

 

Well Juan Gonzalez also has back problems and his durability, or lack of it, is well documented. In fact, over the past 2 seasons, Gonzalez has played a total of only 152 games for the Texas Rangers. That for $24m. Crazy. What a crappy investment. That’s ok though, Tom Hicks, the Rangers owner, is known for flushing his money down the drain. Just take a look at Chan Ho Park or Rusty Greer’s contracts.

 

But for Anaheim, money is usually more a concern than it is for the Rangers.

 

So, is signing Vlad a mistake? Is it fair to assume that one player with a back injury is going to perform like another player with a back injury? Probably not. But I’m not sure spending $70m is a good way to find out.

 

Personally, I think Vlad will average 140 games or so for the length of the contract. With his skills and improving plate discipline, he’ll still make an impact, but I don’t know, it still seems so risky. I realize Vlad was the premier free agent on the market, but can Anaheim justify shelling out another large chunk of money when A.) They’re last big FA signing burned them and B.) They were already at budget before they signed Guerrero.

 

Time will tell if it was a good signing. Now, who are they going to unload to make budget? I can’t imagine anyone taking on $14m worth of contracts from the Angels. No team has that kind of flexibility (well, maybe one). So what will they do?

 

Move Darin Erstad? No chance, he stinks. They’d have to take on another large contract to move him. On a side note, look at just how bad Erstad has become. It’s a shame.

 

Can they move Glaus? Same thing, he is on a major decline and they’d certainly have to take on a big contract to unload him.

 

I don’t know who they’ll move. Perhaps ownership will allow a $109m payroll this year. Who knows? At the very least though, Anaheim has greatly improved their chances for 2004. They’ve added Bartolo Colon, Kelvin Escobar, Jose Guillen and Vlad Guerrero. Add those guys to Garrett Anderson, Troy Percival, Ben Weber, Brendan Donnelly and Francisco Rodriguez, and they will certainly be competitive. But good enough to beat out Oakland and Seattle?

 

Wow, the AL East should be fun to watch this year.

 

Red Sox notes: Absolutely nothing happened this past week worth mentioning, expect that Larry Lucchino signed a 4 year contract extension. One that guarantees him a Red Sox paycheck through 2011. See, I just don’t understand the relationship he and John Henry have. Lucchino must really be smart and a key behind all of the good things the Red Sox have done these past 2 years, because if you just looked at his public statements, you’d think he was a yahoo.

 

I guess he must have something going for him. It’s probably just a case of the public having the wrong impression of a very public personality.

 

Some interesting negotiations are due to take place in the coming month. The arbitration cases of Scott Williamson, Trot Nixon, David Ortiz and Byung-Hyun Kim will be handled soon. My bet is that the Red Sox will come to terms with each one prior to an arbitration hearing.

 

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

January 05, 2004

 

Hot Stove on Simmer

 

Things have slowed to a crawl since the death of the ARod deal. That’s probably just as well. I was too wrapped up in the whole mess.

 

One small signing did take place. Brian Daubach was signed to a minor league deal. That means he could platoon with Kevin Millar at first or give Manny a day off or two. Daubach was a good fit with the Red Sox through 2002, but just became too expensive. He was an example of the collective bargaining agreement working against the player.

 

Daubach made $2.35m in 2002 with the Red Sox and was arbitration eligible. Had the Red Sox tendered him arbitration, he’d probably have made $4m or so in 2003. Because the market corrected a bit last off-season, the Red Sox rightly figured they could grab a much cheaper replacement. In fact, they did just that by signing David Ortiz, himself a non-tendered casualty, to a 1 year, $1m contract. Daubach probably thought he could do better than what the Red Sox could offer, so he tested the market. By the time things settled, he was left taking the White Sox offer.

 

While Ortiz proved himself a terrific bargain, Daubach ultimately signed with the Chicago White Sox on a minor league deal and wound up sticking with the big league club and earned $450k, but struggled badly at the plate.

 

Throughout 2003, Daubach frequently mentioned that he had hoped to stay with the Red Sox. He is great friends with Tim Wakefield and absolutely loved his time in Boston. Hopefully for his sake, things work out. He certainly won’t be a distraction and assuming his skills haven’t completely deteriorated, he should be a decent lefty bat off the bench. His career versus right pitchers: .270/.351/.496. He’s probably best sitting in the dugout rather than facing lefties though: .218/.295/.387.

 

There really aren’t too many more moves the Red Sox have to make. Aside from a few arbitration cases (Nixon, Ortiz, Kim and Williamson) and the standard offering of spring training invitations, there isn’t too much more to settle. From what I can tell, the line-up is set.

 

Jason Varitek – c
Kevin Millar – 1b
Pokey Reese – 2b
Bill Mueller – 3b
Nomar Garciaparra – ss
Manny Ramirez – lf
Johnny Damon – cf
Trot Nixon – rf
David Ortiz – dh

 

Additionally, it’s safe to assume the following pitchers will make the opening day roster assuming their not traded or released first:

 

Pedro Martinez – sp
Curt Schilling – sp
Derek Lowe – sp
Tim Wakefield – sp
Byung-Hyun Kim – sp
Alan Embree – mr
Scott Williamson – mr
Mike Timlin – mr
Ramiro Mendoza – mr
Keith Foulke – cl

 

That’s a 10 man pitching staff. The only pitching contests might be the remaining bullpen spot. Mark Malaska and Bronson Arroyo are the leading candidates at this time. If Terry Francona goes with a 12 man staff, problem solved. If he goes with 11, either Malaska or Arroyo goes to AAA Pawtucket. Or, if Theo Epstein doesn’t like what he sees during spring training, he might just cut or, if humanly possible, trade Mendoza. I’m not sure anyone has the stomach for what he might bring to the table in 2004. If he is dispatched, again, problem solved.

 

Assuming an 11 man staff, that leaves 5 bench spots. Gabe Kapler, Mark Bellhorn, Doug Mirabelli almost certainties to be on the team. As of now, I don’t have a full list of spring training invitees, but I do know David McCarty and Brian Daubach are in the mix. If there are indeed 5 bench spots available, then they both make the squad. McCarty is the superior defensive player while Daubach is the better hitter. They’d make a fairly good 1b platoon actually. McCarty cannot hit righties: .227/.281/.339 but is ok against lefties: .259/.330/.407. You saw Daubach’s splits above.

 

Looking at McCarty though, his bat is just too weak for the 1b position. Millar is much better suited to play there. Perhaps McCarty gets the ax in spring training in favor of someone else. Adam Hyzdu perhaps?

 

On another note, Stats Inc. recently released their projections for the 2004 season. Stats will update these projections as the off-season progresses based on expected playing time, injuries, etc. One must subscribe to Stats Fantasy advantage to get them so I’ll share a few interesting things.

 

Based on the following pitching staff: Martinez, Schilling, Lowe, Wakefield, Kim, Embree, Williamson, Timlin, Mendoza and Foulke(10 man staff), Stats Inc. projects them to go 106-43. That’s a .711 winning % or 115-47 over a 162 game schedule. Wow. That includes a team ERA of 3.06 and a WHIP of 1.14.

 

As for the bats, assuming the line-up I have above and a bench of Mirabelli, Bellhorn, Kapler and Daubach (13 positional players), Stats Inc. projects a .280 average, a .353 OBP (close estimate), a .471 SLG, with 832 runs scored, 207 HRs, 822 RBI, 630 Walks and 74 SBs.

 

That isn’t bad, but it’s a big drop off from last year’s run machine. The 2003 Red Sox scored 961 runs, hit 238 HRs, and hit .289/.360/.491.

 

But, with the much improved pitching staff (projected anyway), that should make up for it. The one problem with all of these projections, other than the obvious fact they are just projections, is that Stats Inc. doesn’t have projections for Arroyo, Malaska and McCarty either because they haven’t played enough major league ball, or because of too few appearances over the past few years. While I don’t put too much stock in this stuff, it is fun to look at.

 

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

 

December 2003 Red Sox

December 23, 2003

 

The Team is Taking Shape

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

December 19, 2003

 

The ARod stayeth

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, get ready for this line-up:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

December 15, 2003

 

Front to Back

 

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

 

The Rotation:

 

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

 

The Bullpen:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

December 10, 2003

 

Keep the Hot Stove burning

 

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

 

Who’s off the market?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

December 06, 2003

 

Additions and Subtractions

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Here is the salary breakdown:

 

2004 salary commitments:

 

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

 

Alex Rodriguez: $21m / $20m #

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

December 04, 2003

 

Park Debate

 

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

 

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

 

Fenway Park is better. Much better.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

December 03, 2003

 

The Return Salvo

 

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

 

Signed:

 

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

 

Almost signed:

 

Gary Sheffield – 3 years, $36-38m

 

Rumored signings:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Looking at their bullpen, cripes, they have:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

December 01, 2003

 

Schilling Secured

 

I never had any doubt.

 

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

 

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

 

Fred: Joe, clean that toilet.

 

Joe: Screw.

 

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

 

Joe: Done and done.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

TBD:
Sign – Keith Foulke or Tom Gordon

 

Trade – Manny Ramirez
Get – Alex Rodriguez

 

Trade – Nomar Garciaparra
Get – ???

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Then look at the line-ups:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Goodbye Andy

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Well, Andy Pettitte is going to be a Houston Astro.  Frankly I am surprised and not just because I thought the Yankees would resign him, but because of what this means for him.

 

First off, for the Yankees, this leaves a hole in the rotation.  The Yankees just pulled off a great trade for Javier Vasquez (Yes, I liked Nick Johnson, but 27 year old power pitchers are hard to come by.) to replace Roger Clemens and now they need to replace Andy Pettitte.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Perhaps they could have been more aggressive in their pursuit of Pettitte and things wouldn’t have gotten to this.  Apparently, they did ultimately offer thirty-nine million, but that was not enough to get things done. Why did the Yankees drag their feet on this? 

 

Well, I suspect two reasons and I am surprised that the media hasn’t focused on these issues more.

 

  1. Yes, Pettitte has been a solid performer for the past nine years for the Yankees, but he is not the ace of the staff and never would be.  Mike Mussina is an ace pitcher, Andy Pettitte is a good guy to have in the middle of the rotation, but a team with playoff aspirations would be in trouble with him in the front of it.  Look at his career numbers compared to Mussina or Pedro or Randy Johnson.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked Pettitte and wish he was still a Yankee, but he is not an ace.

 

  1. The media is infatuated with the idea that Pettitte is a great post-season pitcher.  Fact is, he has pitched some amazing games, Game Five 1996 World Series for example, but he has also pitched some real clunkers, Game Six 2001 World Series.  He was brilliant in the 2003 World Series, but it is a stretch to compare him to Orel Hershiser. 

 

And for Pettitte this move makes me scratch my head.  Yes, going home is important, but Pettitte may be overlooking a few important things.

 

  1. The Yankees have scored a tremendous amount of runs for Pettitte in his career.  Last year he was second in the American League in run support per start with 7.04 runs scored for him.  Wad Miller was the Astros leader with 5.48.  So, it is probably safe to assume that Pettitte have as many runs scored for him this year as he did last.

 

  1. Minute Made Park is not overly friendly to pitchers.  It was 8% easier to score a run there compared to the rest of the National League Parks.  (Yankee Stadium was 6% harder than the American League Parks)  Couple this with the fact that Pettitte has a better ERA at Yankee Stadium than on the road, and you can assume that Pettitte may give up a few more runs next year.

 

  1. Why should this matter?  Because, if Pettitte had stayed in New York and pitched as he has the past nine years he would project to win around 17-18 games a year.  (He wins an average of 53.9% of the starts he makes and starts around 33 games a year)  In three years, that would bring his career win total to 200 games and he would still be only 34 years old.  From that point, he might be able to get close to 250 wins and with that, he might have a chance at the Hall of Fame.  I think his win totals will decrease and his ERA will increase now. 

 

  1. Lastly, Pettitte is not a spotlight guy.  He doesn’t come out and say brash things and look for media attention.  Houston is expecting a savior to walk in the door and I would argue that there might be more pressure on him in that role than there would have been in continuing to be a quiet star on the New York stage.

 

I hope Andy does better than I think he will and I thank him for a great nine years. We will miss him.

 

So, with Andy gone, who fills his shoes?  Rumor has it some sort of trade involving Kevin Brown for Jeff Weaver.  If Brown is healthy, that gives the Yankees a very dangerous Big Three and gets rid of a problem in Jeff Weaver.  If they can, I hope they do it.  That would mean that they have replaced Clemens and Pettitte with Brown and Vasquez.  To me, that is an improvement. 

 

Wells is supposedly coming back with weight and conditioning clauses in his contract.  If he were healthy, he would be a good fifth starter, though I am still angry with him for Game Five of the World Series.

 

Something tells me the Yankees might go after Kevin Millwood now.  Interesting thing about Millwood, he and Pettitte have exactly the same number of win shares since 1998- 77 for each of them. 

 

I really can’t figure out what Gary Sheffield is thinking.  Steinbrenner is already volatile enough; I don’t think he will take kindly to this turn of events.  That is too bad; Sheff would be a great addition to the lineup.  The only other Right Fielder who I would rather have is Vlad Guerrero. 

 

Rumor has it Kenny Lofton might be Yankee bound as well.  Lofton would be a good fit as a leadoff hitter, but would we get the guy who hit .327 in Chicago or .277 in Pittsburgh?  He could be a great option against right handed pitching.  Maybe a DH platoon of Lofton and Spezio?

 

This is a somewhat sad day considering we lost a member of the Yankee family, but I am sure the Yankees will continue to retool and their bullpen looks really good for 2004.

 

Peter can be reached at pete@yankeesredsox.com

November 2003 Red Sox

November 25, 2003

 

Andy – New York Yankee General Manager

 

Being a Red Sox fan, this post should be very difficult for me. The thought of trying to make the New York Yankees better is sickening, but it is the job at hand, so let me get to it.

 

Step 1: Demolish Yankee Stadium
Step 2: Sell all the players and wire the proceeds to the Red Sox.

 

No? Ok, I’ll stop fooling around. Here is a serious plan.

 

Do that Yankees have a budget? If so, what is it? I have no idea. I suspect few do. Let’s just assume it is $157m, the amount ESPN lists on the Yankee home page, plus 10%. I believe $172.7m is realistic considering other sources had their payroll at $180m+ in 2003.

 

Positional players 2004 salaries:

 

c – Jorge Posada – $6mm
1b – Nick Johnson – $0.6m
2b – Alfonso Soriano – $1.8m~
ss – Derek Jeter- $17m
lf – Hideki Matsui – $7m
cf – Bernie Williams – $12m
dh – Jason Giambi – $10m

 

~estimated as he is a 3yr arbitration eligible who made $800k in 2003.

 

Those seven make $54.4m. They need a 3b and a fulltime RF. Although the platoon of Juan Rivera and Karim Garcia fared well in 2003, I have to assume they’ll get a fulltime RF.

 

Here’s how to fill the line-up holes:

 

– Sign Gary Sheffield for 3 years, $36m. Per his cousin Doc Gooden, he wants to be a Yankee. I always take everything Gooden says as gold. GOLD BABY!

 

– Go after Joe Randa. He made $4.5m last year, but would certainly accept $4m a year for 3 years to go to the Yankees. He is a perfect fit. Great defense: .961 fld % in his career vs. the average of .950 and a 2.56 range vs. average of 2.46. Add to that he gets on base a fair amount, mostly as a result of a good average, and you have a solid # 8 or 9 hitter. Think Brosius from 1998…well, Randa might not be that good, but he’ll do just fine.

 

Assuming they pay Randa $4m a season, he and Sheffield push the line-up payroll to $70.4m. Easy enough.

 

Starting rotation 2004 salaries:

 

SP – Mike Mussina – $14m
SP – Jose Contreras – $7m

 

That’s all they have right now. Hmmm, some serious cheque writing to do. Ok, re-sign Andy Pettitte at $12m a season for 4 years, he’s a lefty at the Stadium and has had success, why would either Pettitte or the Yanks mess with a good thing? Houston is courting him, but Andy knows he can win with the Yanks whereas he’ll just be on a .500 team with the Astros. I’m willing to bet he is using the Houston thing to drive up his price.

 

Sign Kevin Millwood for $8m per season for 3-4 years and then lastly sign Bartolo Colon for $12m per season for 3-4 years. Colon did turn down a 3 year, $36m deal from the White Sox already, but insiders said much of it was deferred, or at least enough to make Colon say “no”. If the Yanks don’t defer any of the money, I think they have a good shot at him.

 

Colon’s agent told the press he wants to get his client a 4 or 5 year deal. Fine, play hardball. Sign him to a 4 year, $48m deal. That’ll take him through the 2007 season at which point Colon will weigh 325 lbs, but still be throwing peas.

 

So as not to seem too simplistic, let’s assume the Yanks can’t land either Colon or Millwood. The Yanks could get involved in the Eric Milton sweepstakes. After all, who doesn’t want a $9m pitcher who threw 15 innings in 2003? Seriously though, all he’d be expected to do is act as a 4th starter. He certainly has talent, and pitching at Yankee Stadium would help his cause as long as he can become more consistent. Perhaps Mel Stottlemyre could help.

 

I mentioned in a previous article that I didn’t think much of Milton, not at $9m a year, so if the Yankees were to get him, I have to assume they could unload a $2m contract on Minnesota to help move things along. Not knowing enough about each Yankee contracts, I can only think of Drew Henson as a possible candidate to go along with a semi-prospect to the Twins.

 

Or, as has been reported, the Yanks could go after Javier Vazquez. Personally, I wouldn’t do this as the reported asking price would include Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and minor leaguer Jorge De Paula. Nick Johnson is the best first baseman and pure hitter the Yankees have. He is only 25 and had a .422 Obp last year. Young players that do that, keep doing that. It’s a steep price to pay, but the Yankees always focus more on pitching than hitting, which isn’t a bad idea.

 

If the Yankees could somehow avoid giving up Soriano or Johnson and still get Vazquez, then go for it. Vazquez is a fantastic pitcher just entering his prime. He has pitched at least 215 innings 4 seasons in a row and set a career high in strikeouts in 2003 with 241. He is money, he’ll cost a fair amount both in talent and money.

 

Because this is all pure speculation anyway, let’s assume the Yankees stick with the free agent options, Pettitte, Colon and Millwood.

 

Add those 3 and you’ve spent $53mm on the rotation in total.

 

Bullpen 2004 salaries:

 

cl – Mariano Rivera – $8.89m
mr – Chris Hammond- $2.4m
mr – Steve Karsay – $5.0m
mr – Jon Lieber – $2.45m (Tommy John surgery in 2002, should be ready for 2004)
lr – Jeff Weaver – $6.25m

 

I think that’s all the guys under contract for the Yankees bullpen in 2004. They’ll make $24.9m in total. Presumably the Boss will be looking to add a few good arms to that mix.

 

Grab Tom Gordon for $3-4m per season over 2 years and add Tim Worrell for $4m a season over 2 years and you have a decent bullpen again. Not that it was so bad in 2003. Detractors might say my plan doesn’t take into count the need for a lefty specialist. Hammond was supposed to be that guy, but wasn’t in 2003.

 

Well there’s no evidence to suggest Hammond can’t rebound to his 2002 form where he held lefties to a .174 average, but if there is still concern, fine, don’t sign Gordon, sign Steve Kline instead for the same amount earmarked for Gordon.

 

Either way, you are committing an extra $7.5m or so for Worrell and Gordon/Kline. That brings your bullpen total to $32.4.

 

As a note, I had considered going after La Troy Hawkins, but I’m not sure he’d be the best guy for a Yankee uniform. Whenever he has been asked to close, he has been shaky. Is that because the closer deals with the most pressure (or doesn’t deal with it) or is it just a fluke? If I were the Yankees, I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way that Hawkins doesn’t do well in pressure situations. Obviously he wouldn’t close, but I have to think being a Yankee middle reliever is about as much pressure as the Twins closer.

 

A bigger issue with the bullpen is that there are tons of free agent relievers out there who are capable of throwing quality innings. Paul Quantrill, Kerry Lightenberg, Hawkins, Ugueth Urbina, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Rod Beck and Jose Mesa to name a few. Selecting 1 or 2 for the Yankees is tough as there are quite a few good options. Be certain Brian Cashman will get 2 quality guys.

 

Let’s tally this stuff up.

 

Sub Totals:
$70.4m – line-up
$53.0m – rotation
$32.4m – bullpen

 

$155.8m – Total

 

$155.8 total for 21 of the 25 roster spots. That leaves $16.9mm to sign the remaining 4 roster spots if they aren’t signed already.

 

Peter Gammons has made a point of this of late that the Yankees concentrate on pitching first and offense second. Why else would they start the 2003 season with 7 potential starters? Pitching is what has lead them to their recent stretch of success (ok they haven’t won a WS in 3 years, but making it there 2 or the past 3 and 6 of the past 8 is successful in this Red Sox fan’s opinion).

 

That reason alone might be why they send Soriano or Johnson for Vazquez or Odalis Perez from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

I’m glad I’m not Brian Cashman. I really don’t know how good a GM he is. His actions are overshadowed too often by George Steinbrenner. I’d be interested to see how Cashman would do with another team, one that allowed him to be the main man.

 

Until then, that’s my blue print for the 2004 Yankees.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2003

 

Curt Schilling

 

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m fired up about the thought of getting Curt Schilling. Here’s the breakdown:

 

Boston gets: Curt Schilling

 

Milwaukee gets: Casey Fossum
Brandon Lyon
Jorge De La Rosa
Michael Goss

 

Arizona gets: Richie Sexson

 

So the Red Sox mortgage the future a bit to get better now. I’m ok with that. After all, the only one of that group that is highly touted is De La Rosa. Fossum was, but after an injury plagued 2003, his stock has fallen a bit, although not enough to dissuade Milwaukee. The point is, prospects are just that. There is no guarantee whereas getting a proven all-star should help immediately.

 

Adding Schilling would put the 2004 Red Sox rotation like this: Martinez, Schilling, Lowe, Wakefield, Kim. Let me give you their stats for 2003:

 


Not too shabby. For fun, here is the starting five’s best season to date. For Kim, I used his start only stats for 2003.

 


Asking for 928 innings of 2.60 era baseball would be asking a great deal, but I can dream damn you!!!

 

I’ve gotten way too far ahead of myself. There are some major obstacles in the way of this deal coming to fruition.

 

A.) Schilling has a no-trade clause.
B.) Schilling wants an extension through the 2007 season. He’ll be 40 in 2007.
C.) Schilling doesn’t know if his pitching style will work in Fenway.

 

Basically, it all comes down to whether Schilling wants to pitch here or not. The one factor working for the Red Sox is that Schilling would most likely have to find a new home after the 2004 season anyway as the Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t likely to resign him given their financial situation. Or, they might try to trade him during the 2004 campaign.

 

One has to imagine the Red Sox know he’ll waive his no-trade clause otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten this far. So assume concern A.) has been satisfied.

 

Still, the ball is in Schilling’s court. Perhaps he’ll want at least $10-12m per season of 3 years.

 

Interruption: Wow, while writing this, ESPN has reported the Diamondbacks and Red Sox may elect to pull this trade off themselves:

 

Red Sox get: Curt Schilling

 

Diamondbacks get: Casey Fossum
Brandon Lyon
Jorge De La Rosa
Michael Goss

 

Back to the Schilling issues. Schilling will want his extension of $10-12m per season through 2007. That is a ton of money for an old pitcher. Let’s assume the Red Sox give him his extension, whatever it turns out to be, concern B.) satisfied, although some reports are saying he wants $30m over 2 years. That is a bunch of dough for an aging All-Star, but only he knows the truth.

 

Schilling was quoting as saying Monday “I won’t leave here without an extension…I’m reading that I’m demanding three years. I’ve never demanded anything from anybody, but I will get a contract extension before I leave Arizona.”

 

Lastly, Schilling has been quoted as saying Fenway doesn’t support fly ball giving, home run serving pitchers like him. Well, no matter where he pitches, I assume he’ll do just fine. Or will he? Schilling has pitched 25.1 innings at Fenway giving up 31 hits and 3 home runs. Not that bad, right? But he has a 6.04 era and a 1.54 whip. Yikes.

 

Looking at Fenway park, it appears it is actually not a home run park. Rob Neyer has been saying this for years, so why is Schilling so worried? Using the Bill James Handbook 2004, you’ll see that Fenway had a 92 Home Run Index meaning it was 8% harder to hit a home run at Fenway than in other American League ballparks.

 

It was 8% easier to hit a home run at the BOB (Bank One Ballpark – home of the Diamondbacks) than in other National League parks as the BOB had a 108 Home Run Index. What I’m telling you is that the BOB allows more home runs than Fenway does. If anything, Schilling should be thrilled to come to Fenway and leave Arizona. Schilling has pitched 419.1 innings at Bank One Ballpark with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.05 Whip. I think he’ll rise to the occasion and excel at Fenway. As Peter Gammons pointed out in a Monday interview, Schilling and Pedro Martinez have an almost identical ground ball to fly ball ratio.

 

G/F ratio – 2003
Martinez – 1.14
Schilling – 1.05

 

As a comparison, Derek Lowe had a 3.92 ratio. While it is a small sample, it proves that just because you don’t keep the ball on the ground, doesn’t mean you can’t have success at Fenway. And it can’t hurt to average 92.3 mph on your fastball as Schilling did in 2003. good for 7th best in the NL.

 

Alright, let’s see what happens. The Boston Red Sox and Curt Schilling have until 5pm est Friday to decide if this thing can work. Theo Epstein and John Henry are flying to Arizona Tuesday to meet with Schilling to try and work something out. Good luck Theo and John.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2003

 

I’m Bored

 

The Boston Herald reported yesterday that the Red Sox were looking to deal for Eric Milton of the Twins. Milton is in the final year of his contract and is due $9m in 2004. I’m not sure spending $9m on an average starter is such a hot idea.

 

Conventional wisdom would suggest Theo would also unload a contract or two in his efforts to get Milton. Say perhaps Ramiro Mendoza at $3.6m in 2004. That would net out to $5.4m for Milton. Still too much in my opinion.

 

Milton has pitched 987.3 major league innings. His ERA is 4.76. Milton spent almost all of 2003 rehabbing his knee. His 3 seasons prior, he won a total of 41 games while losing 26. That isn’t too bad. The knock on Milton is his up and down performance. He can be unhittable one game and absolutely lousy the next. Having no consistency makes you an average pitcher. Perhaps if Atlanta got their hands on him, Leo Mazzone’s hands to be specific, he’d turn into an 18-20 game win, but short of that, he is just average.

 

There are plenty of other average pitchers on the market that can be had for much less than $9m.

 

It was mentioned in today’s Boston Globe that the Red Sox won’t tender Jeremy Giambi a contract. I’ll be the first to admit Giambi was a total disaster in 2003, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him back next year at a reduced amount. He definitely can hit.

 

In 2002, he hit 20 home runs in only 400 or so plate appearances. He managed an .OBP of .414 and an .SLG of .505. as well. That means he has some talent, right? There’s something there the Red Sox can use.

 

He’d be ideal at filling in at DH and pinch hitting or even becoming the fulltime DH if Manny gets moved, Millar moves to left and Ortiz to first. That’s as far as I’m willing to go however in getting Giambi in the game. No glove for him!

 

Other than that, not much is happening around Red Sox land. The manager search continues with Francona the apparent favorite. Joe Maddon and DeMarlo Hale have a follow-up and initial interview respectively next week sometime.

 

Reports say the Sox have no shot at Pettitte, but that they are going to keep at it if for nothing else than to raise the price for Houston or New York.

 

I’m still waiting for Theo Epstein to make a big trade. Manny or Nomar seem to be the prime candidates. The 2004 Red Sox could look radically different than the 2003 Red Sox. If all the trades that have been rumored pan out, you could be looking at this:

 

c – Jason Varitek
1b – Kevin Millar
2b – Adam Kennedy (although he is apparently going to be tendered)
3b – Troy Glaus
ss – Alex Rodriguez
lf – ???
cf – Johnny Damon
rf – Trot Nixon
dh – David Ortiz

 

I can’t think of who will play left if Manny is traded. Too many choices.

 

sp – Pedro Martinez
sp – Derek Lowe
sp – Jared Washburn
sp – Tim Wakefield
sp – BY Kim

 

Those would be some big changes. Not sure they are for the better, but they are changes.

 

Lastly, I just got my Bill James Handbook 2004. It is just like the publication of old. Wonderful…sniffles. It has a few interesting additions, including his Win Shares and a fairly comprehensive review of managers and their tactics/habits.

 

Because I can think of no one better to display, check out Grady Little in 2003:

 

LUp PL% PH PR DS Rel LO SBA SacA IBB PO W L W%
127 .64 113 62 31 437 4 123 32 41 28 95 67 .586

 

Got all that? Good.

 

Ok, here is a key to make some sense of it all:

 

LUp – Line-ups used
PL% – Platoon % – specifically, what % of all the hitters in Grady’s various line-ups had the platoon advantage.
PH – Pinch Hitters used
PR – Pinch Runners used
DS – Defensive Substitutions
Rel – Relief pitchers used
LO – Long Outings – games where the starter went 120 pitchers or more.
SBA – Stolen bases attempted
SacA – Sacrifice bunts attempted
IBB – Intentional walks
PO – Pitch outs
W – Wins
L – Losses
W% – Win %

 

James makes some great points while introducing his Manager’s Record section. Namely, this is the first time someone has tried to create a select group of stats (not create necessarily, but compile and publish) that clearly show a manager’s tendencies. There are stats for players, why not managers. The things they do have importance. If you don’t believe me, just listen to sports radio.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2003

 

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

 

In (maybe): Keith Foulke, Luis Castillo, Bartolo Colon, Kevin Millwood, Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Freddy Garcia and Adam Kennedy.

 

Out: Curt Schilling, Vlad Guerrero, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, and Andy Pettitte.

 


Schilling put a damper on trade talks yesterday telling the Philadelphia Inquirer that he didn’t think he was a good fit for Fenway. Being a fly ball pitcher and one that gives up his share of home runs, Schilling feels the short left field would do him in.

 

I included Guerrero and Sheffield because there is no way the Red Sox sign one of them with the roster as it is. If Manny is somehow moved for someone other than ARod, then perhaps they are possibilities.

 

We already know that ARod isn’t coming here, unless the Texas Rangers have a change of heart and why would Pettitte sign here when the Yankees will pay him more and a lefthander is much more appropriate in the Stadium than Fenway.

 

That brings us to the guys that might end up in Boston. The top of the list appears to be Foulke. The Boston Herald says Theo Epstein met with Foulke’s reps yesterday. I would be thrilled to see Foulke in a Red Sox uniform. Imagine having Scott Williamson hand the ball to Foulke in the 9th.

 

Williamson wouldn’t be a bad candidate either, but Foulke has a much better track record:

 

Foulke W L SV IP H BB K ERA WHIP
1999 3 3 9 105.1 72 21 123 2.22 0.88
2000 3 1 34 88.0 66 22 91 2.97 1.00
2001 4 9 42 81.0 57 22 75 2.33 0.96
2002 2 4 11 77.2 65 12 58 2.90 0.99
2003 9 1 43 86.2 57 20 88 2.08 0.89

 

An ERA under 3.00 for five straight seasons and a WHIP at or under 1.00. That is impressive.

 

Williamson W L SV IP H BB K ERA WHIP
1999 12 7 19 93.1 54 43 107 2.41 1.04
2000 5 8 6 112 92 75 136 3.29 1.49
2001 0 0 0 0.7 1 2 0 0.00 4.48
2002 3 4 8 74 46 36 84 2.92 1.11
2003 5 4 21 62.2 54 34 74 4.16 1.40

 

Williamson has had an ok run of it too, but his WHIP is too high to be a closer. There is nothing worse than a closer who walks too many guys, even if he limits hits. Entering the 9th, Red Sox winning by 1 and their closer pulls a Heathcliff Slocumb and walks the first guy. That blows. Williamson has that potential, Foulke doesn’t.

 

At second base, Luis Castillo is probably the top FA, but I doubt the Red Sox will make a play for him. Most likely we will see them go after Adam Kennedy should he be non-tendered or even go after Frank Menechino. I’m not sure why I’m mentioning Menechino’s name, other than he has a good career OBP. He has been mostly a utility infielder for the past two seasons, but like Jeremy Giambi last year, he might interest Epstein for his OBP capability.

 

Menechino’s OBP history:

 

MLB – .354
AAA – .391
AA – .415
A – .407
R – .444

 

He is a long shot at best, but who knows? He’d be a cheap alternative at 2b and would allow the Red Sox to focus their limited available resources to their pitching staff.

 

Kennedy remains the most likely option though.

 

Starting pitching is another area of focus for the Red Sox. With some of the bigger names too expensive (both in $ and compensation draft picks), look for the Red Sox to make a run at Freddy Garcia should he be non-tendered or even in a trade if Seattle does make him an offer.

 

These GM meetings have been slow to bring any developments, but that is probably because the GMs know tons of players are going to flood the market in mid-late December when teams have to tender contracts (or not).

 

With the sheer volume of players on or soon to be on the market, this off season will last quite some time and might drive player salaries sharply downward. A good trend in my opinion because it allows good GMs with limited resources to play the game and field a quality product.

 

Footnote: The new Bill James Handbook will soon be available. I haven’t seen it yet, but those who have say it is another amazing work by James. Both Rob Neyer and Peter Gammons raved about it in their ESPN columns earlier this week. Click here to order your copy. It is the 2nd book listed.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2003

 

*******Breaking News*******

 

AROD to Boston? Don’t bet on it….yet.

 

The biggest rumor to come from the GM meetings involving the Red Sox has the Red Sox dealing Nomar Garciaparra and receiving Alex Rodriguez.

 

Newsday wrote about it in the 11/11/03 edition.

 

The trade is actually a 3 team deal that would have Nomar going to Anaheim, ARod going to Boston and David Eckstein and a few pitchers would head to Texas.

 

Here is why this won’t happen based on the current state of each team. Boston already has 1 albatross contract in Manny Ramirez. How can they take on another? While having Manny and Arod hitting back to back in a line-up would be fantastic, it would virtually assure Boston not being able to acquire another top starter (Curt Schilling, Javier Vasquez, Bartolo Colon or Kevin Millwood) and a top notch closer (Eddie Guardado or Keith Foulke).

 

The fact is, the Boston offense was just fine in 2003 and as it stands today, will be just fine in 2004. It probably won’t be the # 1 offense, but more realistically top 3. Their needs fall on the pitching side of the game.

 

The only way this trade happens is if Boston can unload Manny Ramirez. When and if that happens, then this trade might go down. Imagine starting the 2004 season without Nomar or Manny in the line-up. That would be different.

 

.avg r hr rbi sb .obp .slg
AROD – 2003 .298 125 47 118 17 .396 .600

 

That is a great bat in the 3 or 4 hole. Add to that great defense, he won the Gold Glove in 2002, and you have an amazing contributor, the best in the game in fact.

 

But for Epstein to work on offense and not on pitching would be folly. By having Manny and ARod in the same line-up, Epstein would eliminate the Red Sox from acquiring a top pitcher.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2003

 

GM Meetings

 

Man the GM meetings must be fun. While not 100% certain how they play out, I imagine them to be a 3 day session of trade and free agent banter aided by coffee, junk food and no sleep.

 

A few years ago, ESPN had a special show that dealt with Dan Duquette negotiating the Manny Ramirez contract with Jeff Moorad. It wasn’t that interesting because A.) Dan Duquette, a/k/a Jacob Silj, was a featured performer and B.) How tough is it to sign someone when you are offering him $20mm a year for 8 years and the team you are bidding against is $30mm or so short on the length of the contract. Still though, if you put Theo Epstein, or anyone for that matter, in Duquette’s shoes and make the deals at hand a bit more interesting, it has to be fun.

 

Making things more complicated for Epstein is the juggling act he is performing. He is trying to set his coaching staff and his roster. Epstein might as well just tape his cell phone to his head.

 

There have been tons of rumors about certain players the Red Sox might trade for or sign via free agency. I’m going to roll out a some over the next few days.

 

Todd Helton – Apparently the Colorado Rockies are toying with the idea of unloading Todd Helton. Should the Red Sox bite on Helton? I say no. Here’s the reason:

 

2003: $10.6M
2004: $11.6M
2005: $12.6M
2006: $16.6M
2007: $16.6M
2008: $16.6M
2009: $16.6M
2010: $16.6M
2011: $19.1M
2012: Team option $23.0M or $4.6M buyout

 

contact info from: http://www.bluemanc.demon.co.uk/baseball/mlbcontracts.htm

 

Ouch, his contract runs through 2011 guaranteed. He can void it after the 2007, but I don’t think he will. Anyway, this contract is the longest running contract to date in baseball as far as I can tell. 2011 is a long time from now.

 

Finances aside, Helton also suffers from the Coors Field high. His home/road splits differ greatly. So much so that it makes me wonder if the Rockies didn’t overpay for his services (obviously they overpaid him, all baseball players are overpaid, but haven’t the Rockies realized that marginal hitters can hit for power and average at Coors? Why not just sign a bunch of guys who have 20 home run power and plant them 1-9 in their line-up. Watch them hit 30-35 dingers each. Then, when one of them thinks he deserves more cash, unload him and bring in another 20 home run guy. There are countless examples of this. Jeffrey Hammonds, Jeff Cirillo, although he was good in Milwaukee before he went to the Rockies, Dante Bichette, Vinny Castillo…..). Take a look at his career splits:

 

avg obp slg ops
Home .378 .463 .704 1.167
Road .294 .385 .523 .909

 

While he is still a great hitter on the road, he in no way compares to his home reputation. The reputation that got him his contract. Assuming he could maintain a .909 ops playing with another team, he’d still be making $8 – $10mm per season, but not $16mm+. So, no way, the Red Sox should stay away, unless they can get him at a deep discount of his current contract but even that is dumb because of the length of it.

 

Jose Cruz – The San Francisco Giants didn’t pick up his option, so Jose is free. At first glance I wasn’t impressed. In fact, after a terrible 2002 fantasy season on my team, I was downright repulsed. Then I took a closer look.

 

Cruz did something very few players do in 2003. He drew over 100 walks. 102 to be exact. His previous personal best was 71 in 2000, not a bad number in its own right. But 102, wow, he must have learned a thing or two from Barry Bonds. That or pitchers thought he looked like Bonds (Cruz would have to wear a pumpkin on his head to look like Bonds). Anywhodily, Cruz would only be an option if Epstein knew he’d give him another 102 walks, which he he won’t. Why do I know this. Here’s why:

 

Cruz .avg runs hr rbi sb
2001 .274 92 34 88 32
2002 .245 64 18 70 7

 

That is the hell I went through having drafted Cruz in the second round of my keeper league fantasy baseball draft before the start of the 2002 season (I did draft Beltran in the first round). Cruz went from stud to dud in one season. Check out the drop in SBs! Check out the drop in all the major fantasy catagories. Ok, I’m better now. But this, I believe, is evidence enough to say Cruz can’t put it together 2 seasons in a row. Highly unscientific I know. Bill James must be spinning around in his office chair right now.

 

Up next: Richie Sexson and Kelvim Escobar……..

 

Richie Sexson – Now this name interests me. He is due $8mm in 2004 and then is free. He is a strikeout machine, but is also an OBP and HR machine.

 

Sexson .avg runs hr rbi .obp .slg k
2001 .271 94 45 125 .342 .547 178
2002 .279 86 29 102 .363 .504 136
2003 .272 97 45 124 .379 .548 152

 

His 2002 season was spent dealing with hamstring problems, but he obviously rebounded in 2003 playing in all 162 of his team’s games. I like the increase in obp each year and downwardish trend in the k’s.

 

Put him in Fenway for 81 games in 2004 and I have to assume he’d do some damage. Considering his price tag, it is a good idea. Of course, what do the Brewers want in return? Fossum? I’d do that. A few other prospects? Sure, throw them in. Do the Red Sox have any prospects? Fortunately yes. Epstein has transformed the Red Sox into an organization with the appearance of solid prospects if not actual young talent.

 

Sexson would give the Red Sox an everyday first baseman, he is better than Millar or Ortiz, and would allow Grady…I mean…whoops…it’ll allow the next manager to platoon Millar and Ortiz at DH or keep Ortiz at DH and Millar in the outfield full time. Most likely though, it’ll mean something will have to give in the current Red Sox outfield of Ramirez/Damon/Nixon.

 

Kelvim Escobar – He’s a free agent, so he might be a reasonable risk, but only if he isn’t deemed a top free agent and his compensation isn’t 2 first round picks from the signing team. I doubt he’d be worth top comp, so it is reasonable to think Epstein will look at him.

 


ERA W S IP H BB SO .Avg
Reliever 7.79 1 4 17.1 27 8 23 .338
Starter 3.92 12 0 163.0 162 70 136 .261

 

Ok, his first 15 appearances were as a reliever, but he stunk, so Carlos Tosca put him in the rotation. He faired much better, but that really isn’t saying anything. I might have done better than Escobar did as a reliever. Maybe not.

 

Was Escobar a good starter? Sure, but don’t get too carried away. His last three months he posted a 4.50, 4.22 and a 4.20 ERA. That is below league average, but nothing to get too excited about. So if the Red Sox do go after him, they have to realize he has pitched 849 major league innings and has a 4.58 ERA to show for it. Don’t overpay for this guy. $3mm per season tops. Then again, Estoban Loaiza had pitched over 1000 innings before 2003 and he is a Cy Young candidate this year despite his now 4.58 career ERA. Maybe the key is leaving Toronto or not listening to me.

 

Up next: Sidney Ponson and Bartolo Colon……

 

Sidney Ponson – This guy is big, as in fat. His career 4.54 era is telling. For years and years everyone expected a big breakout season for Ponson. Well, I guess he had it in 2003 winning 17 games and posting a 3.75 ERA.

 

Theo, please stay away. Ponson is fat. Don’t get me wrong, many of us are fat, but very few of us get paid gobs of cash to do everything possible to maximize physical performance. Ponson has no excuse. And the team that signs him for $8-10mm or so per season also has no excuse. The warnings are all out there:

 

1.) He’ll be in the first year of a big contract.
2.) Physical fitness is foreign to him.
3.) He is from Aruba! Nothing wrong with being from Aruba, but if you were really rich and spent your off season in Aruba, just how much training would you do?

 

Wow, could I have more generalizations in my reasoning?

 

If he gets a big contract, he’ll probably only throw 120 innings next year with a 5.00 ERA. That’s my prediction.

 

Bartolo Colon – He is the one reason Sidney Ponson might actually do well next year. He is shorter and heavier than Ponson. The important thing with Colon is that despite his girth, he has had many solid seasons, 2002 being his best. He too could blow up at any moment, but so far so good. Maybe bigger is better.

 

Colon will come at great price including the 2 pick compensation. He really would be a great addition to any rotation, but I don’t think Epstein will do it. His pitcher acquisitions will be done by trade. It has been reported that Colon turned down a 3 year, $36mm offer from the White Sox. Apparently the overall amount was decent, but the White Sox wanted to defer a big chunk of the payments making the present value of the contract significantly less. Just imagine turning down $36mm whether over 3 years or 100 years. Crazy.

 

So there you go. A few names to talk about. Man I wish I were Theo Epstein and could make these decisions.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2003

 

The 2004 Red Sox will soon take shape

 

I give the guy a hard time on occasion, but Peter Gammons remains one of my favorite baseball writers. I remember reading him back when he was with the Boston Globe. On my own at an early age, I found Gammons’ baseball notes in the Sunday globe. It was a whole page of nothing but major league baseball talk.

 

Now that he has joined ESPN, I still look to him for his baseball knowledge. Sure he makes generalizations and his trade rumors often never materialize but no baseball writer has more contacts and more inside scoop than Peter Gammons.

 

The reason I mention PG is because of his most recent ESPN article. In it he harpoons Jeff Moorad, agent to Manny Ramirez, and the players union. Basically his take is that wealth is far more important, to agents and the union, than personal happiness. I’ll let you read it to get the rest. I felt it was well written and brings up several questions I think the union and the agents should answer. I doubt we’ll see that though.

 


I haven’t talked too much about the Red Sox search for a manager, so now seems like a good time. Glenn Hoffman, Bud Black, Terry Francona and Joe Maddon are the current front runners.

 

I don’t know much about any of these guys. Francona, Hoffman and Maddon have major league managerial experience:

 

Francona:

 

Year League Team G W L WP Finish
+—-+———–+——–+—–+—-+—-+——+——+
1997 NL East Phildlpa 162 68 94 .420 5
1998 NL East Phildlpa 162 75 87 .463 3
1999 NL East Phildlpa 162 77 85 .475 3
2000 NL East Phildlpa 162 65 97 .401 5
+—-+———–+——–+—–+—-+—-+——+——+
TOTAL 648 285 363 .440

 

Hoffman:

 

Year League Team G W L WP Finish
+—-+———–+——–+—–+—-+—-+——+——+
1998 NL West LosAngls 88 47 41 .534 3
+—-+———–+——–+—–+—-+—-+——+——+
TOTAL 88 47 41 .534

 

Maddon:

 

Year League Team G W L WP Finish
+—+———-+——-+—-+—+—+—–+—–
1996 AL West Califrna 22 8 14 .364 4

 

1999 AL West Anaheim 29 19 10 .655 4
+—+———-+——-+—-+—+—+—–+—–
TOTAL 51 27 24 .529
Manager experience info from www.baseball-reference.com – a sweet site.

 

Only Francona has a sizable portfolio. Hoffman and Maddon, it would appear, were mid-season replacements. Hoffman, of course, was the shortstop for the Red Sox in the 80’s. My recollection was that he was a fairly solid overall player, but when I look at his stats today, man he couldn’t hit. A career .242 avg, .291 obp and .332 slg. Yikes. His glove was just average. Amazing he played 678 games for the Red Sox. Anyway, that certainly isn’t an indication of his manager skills.

 

Then there is Bud Black. I’m not sure why the Red Sox have interest in Black. He was a decent enough pitcher, but that’s all I know. In fact, I’ve always heard that former pitchers don’t make great managers (Joe Kerrigan perhaps). I haven’t a clue why that would be true though, it’s just something I heard/read.

 

If I had to put odds on the next Red Sox manager of the 4 mentioned above, I’d put it like this:

 

3-1 Maddon
4-1 Hoffman
6-1 Black
10-1 Francona

 

Is that how odds work? Is there some formula as to how they work? Being a bad gambler, I’ll just throw that out there and hope it makes sense.

 

The reason I put Maddon at the top is because from what I’ve read about him, he is a stat oriented coach, personable and doesn’t mind the media. In other words, he sounds like a Grady Little, but with a more “numbers” approach to pre-game preparation and in-game management.

 

All guesses on my part though.

 

The rest of the 2004 Red Sox should start to take shape in about 10 days or so. The General Managers meetings start on Nov. 10th in Arizona. That’s the same day free agency starts. More specifically, free agents are allowed to negotiate with any team.

 

Next comes the Winter Meetings on Dec. 12th in New Orleans. This is when many trades are made and the last few impact free agents are wrapped up.

 

MLB has a pretty good schedule posted on their site. Back to my point, we will all know much more about the 2004 Red Sox by the middle of December. I expect we will see a major trade with the Red Sox. Theo Epstein has to free up some cash otherwise don’t expect a decent 2b/3b replacement (depending on where Bill Mueller plays) and don’t expect a top starter to join the rotation. I’d still prefer to unload Manny, but don’t be surprised to see one of the other “core” players to go.

I feel like the other shoe is going to drop, I just can’t wait for it to happen.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)

 

Turn The Page

Well, things did not exactly go to plan tonight. Let’s talk about it before I get sick.
 
There is no other way to say it, Wells let his team down tonight.  Obviously, his back wasn’t hurting him last night when he boasted that he was all about his "no conditioning" when talking about how Clemens was about "conditioning"  So, what happened?  I pray that he wasn’t out having a good time last night, I imagine we will hear if he was soon.  I can almost guarantee that all chances of the Yankees picking up that six million dollar option just went out the window.
 
Ok, I know Wells is hurt at the end of the first inning, but why did Torre pinch hit for him?  Let’s review, Top of the second, two outs, runner on first, Wells up.  Ok, you never want to give up an out, but I would have sent Wells up to hit in that situation.  Why?  Two reasons.  
 
1- The odds are strongly against Delluci doing much and by putting Wells up there, you save him for later.
 
2- You let Wells sit there and take three strikes, come out to the mound and need an injury replacement.  That way Contreras gets to warm up for as long as he needs.  Contreras was asked to make a tough transition from short to long relief, I think he would have benefited from some more warm up time.
 
Come to think of it, wouldn’t this have been the game to use Weaver?  Not to dwell on last night, but wan’t he the long reliever and wasn’t that what they needed tonight?
 
Nice to see the Yankees know how to execute a run down play.
 
According to my "unofficial" boxscore, the Yankees left nine runners on base tonight.
 
The end of game rally was nice to see.  It is the one positive they can carry over to Saturday night.
 
As I write this ESPN News is showing lowlights of the Knicks-Jazz game, where the Knicks shot 25% and scored 60 points TOTAL.  Let’s review, Knicks suck, Rangers suck, Giants suck, the Yankees have to come through for me!!
 
Well, the last two World Series went seven with the Home Team coming back from a 3-2 hole.  The Yankees will need to take that Home Field advantage to heart and I hope Destiny and Aura decide to show up as well.  
 

Day Off Doodles

Well, it is the first day off for the World Series, but your hard working staff here at yankeesredsox.com is still at it, keeping you on top of things. On the Red Sox side of the ledger, you will notice a photo Andy took today of his shoes. He’s been out there for four days and swears he will break David Blaine’s record by Thanksgiving. Don’t worry folks, we won’t let him jump, he is too valuable to the page and a fun guy to hang out with.

Wanted to mention that I posted the wrong Yankee rotation for the World Series. Sometime after the initial story, Torre decided to go with Pettite in Game 2, not Mussina. Now Mussina goes in Game 3 against Beckett. This is the one Marlin starter who really scares you. He is 23 and not afraid of anything. His start in Game 5 of the NLCS turned it all around. Mussina has yet to win in the postseason, but hopefully his relief effort in Game 7 will get him back on track. Either way, both teams will now have their pitchers rested and should be able to get back to business.

In case you missed it, Dave Anderson wrote an interesting piece on the Yankees in todays New York Times. He correctly pointed out how the Yankees disavow their heritage of 39 American League Pennants by making no mention of their teams that lost the World Series. I guess the thing is, when you have won 26 and lost 12, you don’t need to highlight your near misses. Look at the NY Rangers, they have banners for all their playoff teams. When you look at the banners, it kind of cheapens the Stanley Cup banners. Now, I will admit, making the NHL playoffs is not as big a deal as making the MLB playoffs, but I think that the parallel is appropriate. 38 (now 39) pennants would be a bit of an overload in the Stadium.

By the way, I have email now, peter@yankeesredsox.com. Please feel free to write and hopefully we will get enough mail in the future to do a column about it.