Solid Weekend

Anytime you can sweep the Yankees, you have to be happy. But understand the Yankees are limping right now. They are missing just about their entire rotation and some key positional players.

 

Enjoy this, but don’t expect Yankee Stadium this weekend to be a cake-walk, nor can you expect some of the mid-season match-ups to go this well.

 

A few notes on Sunday’s game: I generally don’t have too much to criticize about how Terry Francona manages, but I thought he made a mistake bringing in Hideki Okajima in the 8th. Okajima got the save in Friday’s game, pitched well Saturday and then was brought in for a 3rd consecutive appearance Sunday and struggled. With the amount of arms available, Francona would have been better suited to J.C. Romero. Romero, as previously discussed, cannot seem to get out righties, but he is good against lefties. I believe Okajima was brought in to face Jason Giambi, a lefty. So why not rest Okajima and let Romero do this thing against Giambi, then Cano and then bring in Brendan Donnelly?

 

It turned out to be harmless, but if your starters are working into the 7th each night (so far), don’t lean too heavily on one guy, mix it up a bit.

 

A good example is the Yankees pen right now. Normally a solid group, but because their starting pitching is a mess, Joe Torre is absolutely abusing the pen. Consider this:

 

17 games played:

 

Proctor – 12 games – 114 game pace
Vizcaino – 11 games – 105 game pace
Myers – 10 games – 95 game pace
Bruney – 9 games – 86 game pace
Henn – 9 games – 86 game pace
Farnsworth – 8 games – 76 game pace

 

Obviously that can’t continue. If they Yankees don’t figure things out soon (see Peter’s post), there will be long term trouble in the pen. These guys will have dead-arm or worse by August.

 

This of course bodes well for Boston, but it is important that Francona not wear out the bullpen in a similar fashion, especially when there are so many options (none great perhaps, but options nonetheless). It is a marathon after all.

 

Tonight: Toronto at Boston: 7:05pm start. Old friend Tomo Ohka (0-2, 7.02 ERA) vs. Tim Wakefield (2-1, 1.35 ERA)

4 in a Row

The Red Sox did something that has only happened 5 times previously in Major League Baseball history, they hit 4 consective home runs, also known as back to back to back to back home runs.

 

My research on this matter consisted of a yahoo search where some blogger said it has happened 4 times prior to the Dodgers doing it in 2006. So take this with the usual grain(s) of salt.

 

Anyway, pretty impressive. Chase Wright seems like a good pitcher and probably doesn’t deserve such treatment, but if he has his head screwed on straight, this won’t impact his future much. This kid shut down the Red Sox for 2.2 innngs despite having never pitched above AA prior to this season. I bet we’ll hear more from him sooner than later.

 

Joe Torre took Wright out after the 3rd. I’m not sure why he did that after 3 instead of after the 4th home run. I’d have trotted the kid back out in the 4th to give him another taste. 4 home runs is bad, yes, but if you are going to yank the kid, yank him right away, don’t leave him to face Wily Mo Pena, whose talent is probably limited to the humongous long-ball. Hey, I realize managing a team in the Majors is tough and Torre has earned the right to his opinion, but I’d have sent him back out for the 4th.

 

Interesting notes: Former Red Sox farmhand Colter Bean (actually he was a rule 5 pick that was returned) was the replacement pitcher. Bean is huge, like he should probably lose a few lbs huge (that applies to me too, but again, I’m nothing close to an athlete. I suppose less weight would yield more productivity).

 

Also, Yankees catcher Wil Nieves, playing because Jose Posada is hurt, apparently jammed his thumb or finger on a Bean pitch and was momentarily headed for the trainers table, but recovered and continued on. ESPN’s Jon Miller said that "rookie" Josh Phelps was the emergency catcher. Rookie? Phelps is 29 and has played in 360 major league games since 2000 and has hit 58 career home runs.

 

More later.

 

I’ll Take It

I was disappointed with Curt Schilling’s performance Friday night. He was having reasonable success with his curve, but twice tonight he got taken to town on his fastball by Alex Rodriguez. Granted, A-Rod is in a zone right now. Check that, he is on an unprecedented tear right now, but Schilling and Varitek have to know that A-Rod is going to hit a fairly straight fastball over everything.

 

With my "The Sky is Falling" attitude always present, I have to say this win was nice. The things that surprised me:

 

– Mariano Rivera not throwing dominantly.
– Coco Crisp hitting a 2-run triple.
– Curt Schilling didn’t put a fastball under A-Rod’s chin
– Hideki Okajima getting the save.

 

Kudos to Okajima for getting the win and for appearing genuinely happy to be pitching for the Red Sox and against the Yankees (see the post-game mound congratulations session). Okajima doesn’t have anything overpowering, but he has a few things working in his favor, he has a very good change, split and when throws, he is actually looking at the ground, not the batter. That will keep any batter on his toes.

 

I have no idea why the Red Sox never pitched A-Rod inside. Not just on the inside corner, but rather, at him. I’m not saying the Red Sox needed to bean A-Rod (head shot), but as Peter suggested earlier on Friday (actually, Peter said he wouldn’t be surprised if Schilling put one in A-Rod’s ear, I assume that was some hyperbole), I think some inside heat is a good idea. Why let A-Rod get comfortable?

 

Crisp’s triple was completely unexpected. That is bad news because Crisp has been a good hitter in the past, but hasn’t done much in the past 12 months. If Crisp can get his mojo back and hit for average, ok OBP and be a terror on the bases, the Red Sox, and their fans, will be thrilled.

 

Lastly, the comeback we saw Friday was largely due to an ineffective Mariano Rivera. If he threw a cut-fastball (his bread and butter pitch), I didn’t see it. His pitches lacked snap, pizzaz, moxie, spunk, beefiness, clout, kick, muscle, power, punch, robustness, steam, stank, thew, vigor (yes, I did check dictionary.com’s thesaurus section for help on that one…notice how the last few are alphabetized). Thank goodness as a Rivera on his game is tough to beat.

 

Friday’s game was my biggest concern as Andy Pettitte is a proven pitcher. Not to take anything away from the Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright, but Pettitte knows how to win and has won 187 times thus far.

 

It is just April, but it feels good to take the all-time lead in the Yankees/Red Sox match-up at Fenway. Actually it doesn’t. I’m modern and only care about the here and now! Win now!

 

Beckett vs. Karstens Saturday (3:55 pm start on Fox)
Matsuzaka vs. Wright on Sunday (8:05pm start on ESPN)

 

P.S. Step up and give me your take on this game and the YankeesRedSox series in the comments section.

 

Pre-Game Report and Some Feather Ruffling

In anticipation of the first Red Sox vs. Yankees game of 2007, I figured I’d encourage you to check out what is being said on the Yankees side of this site.

 

Peter is still basking in the glow of A-Rod’s game winning home run yesterday. No doubt the Yankees will be on a high at Fenway tonight. But the good news is the Red Sox also had a pretty good comeback win yesterday.

 

Touché!

 

In my previous post, reader Matt pointed out that Jason Varitek has done very well against Andy Pettitte and that the Red Sox in general have faired nicely againsts him. Check out the comments section of my previous post to see the detailed stats. They have beat Pettitte up in the past.

 

To help create more excitement, I figured I’d link to some famous Red Sox/Yankees moments:

 

The A-Rod slap

 

Bucky "F-In" Dent – as he’s known in these parts

 

Don Zimmer vs. Pedro – something I wish never happened

 

The Babe Ruth Trade – we don’t hear as much about this anymore for some reason

 

A-Rod vs. Varitek – Red Sox fan perspective

 

A-Rod vs. Varitek – Yankees fan perspective: "Wait, let me take off my mask before we fight! Keep waiting, almost done."

 

And of course, 2004.

 

I hope I stirred the pot a bit, all in good fun.

 

I like the Red Sox chances this weekend. Then again, I liked their chances last year in the 5-game series at Fenway. Ahem.

 

Let the Games Begin

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

 

All the makings of a great weekend series at Fenway.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It’s the Rotation Stupid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Some context (certainly not all, but some):

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Crystal Ball III

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Phillies over Dodgers- Ryan Howard hits 4 HR’s


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

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

February 2007

February 26, 2007

 

Manny Sighting

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

February 25, 2007

 

Spring Training Spotlight: Diasuke Matsuzaka

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

February 22, 2007

 

Schilling No Lock for 2008

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

February 19, 2007

 

Here We Go Again

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Rob Bradford’s Blog – Bradford on Baseball

 

Boston Globe – Extra Bases

 

Boston Herald – Insider

 

Providence Journal – Sox Blog

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

February 17, 2007

 

Wily Mo and Co.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I did glean this from the New York Yankees camp:

 

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

 

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

February 14, 2007

 

36 Hours

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Here is my prediction for the opening day bullpen:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

February 07, 2007

 

Is This Team Good Enough?

 

Is This Team Good Enough?

 

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

 

line-up:

 

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

 

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

 

bench:

 

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

 

rotation:

 

Schilling
Beckett
Matsuzaka
Papelbon
Wakefield

 

pen:

 

Tavarez
Donnelly
Romero
Timlin
Pineiro
Okajima
Lester

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

February 01, 2007

 

Curt Schilling in 2008

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

March 2007

March 27, 2007

 

Roster Shape-Up

 

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

 

A closer look reveals their motivation.

 

Okajima
Romero
Donnelly
Papelbon
Lopez
Snyder
Pineiro
Timlin – DL

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The rest of the roster is what you’d expect

 

starters: Schilling, Matsuzaka, Beckett, Tavarez and Wakefield

 

catchers: Varitek, Mirabelli

 

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

 

outfield: Ramirez, Crisp, Drew, Pena and Hinske

 

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

 

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

March 22, 2007

 

A Closer He Shall Remain

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I hope the Red Sox know what they are doing.

 

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

D. Matsuzaka

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

March 19, 2007

 

Jon Lester

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

March 17, 2007

 

Going Concern

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

March 13, 2007

 

Rotation Debate

 

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

 

2006

 

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

 

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

 

2004

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So here is what we think we know for 2007:

 

Schilling
Beckett
Matsuzaka
Papelbon
Wakefield

 

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

 

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

 

Schilling = Schilling
Wakefield = Wakefield
Beckett = Beckett

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

March 01, 2007

 

2007 Red Sox Projections

 

I love projections. I always have…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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