Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gagne to Boston

As you probably have already heard, the Red Sox are close to finishing a deal where they send Kason Gabbard, David Murphy, and Engel Beltre (whom i wrote about here) to Texas for Eric Gagne. I am extremely excited about this deal. Gabbard is nice but nothing more than a #4-5, Murphy is a 4th outfielder, and Beltre is nice but only 17 years old and has a long way's away.

The bullpen will look like Tavarez/Snyder/Timlin/Delcarmen working primarily in the 6th and 7th or long relief. That leaves Gagne and Okajima to work the 8th and Papelbon closing. I could easily see Gagne closing a couple games, giving Paps a rest. It is hard to say this isn't a scary bullpen. When you consider that they will have Lopez, Breslow, Hansack, and Hansen in the minors, there are many many fall back options in case of emergency. Theo just shorten the game and i think that will pay dividends come October.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Farm Hens : Jacoby Ellsbury

Red Sox fans have heard a great deal about this kid, and almost all has been good. He is the "next Johnny Damon." Well, that is not quite true. I have never really been huge on this guy. There are a bunch of reasons, but before i get there let me go over the things he does well.

Ellsbury is fast and when i say fast i mean FAST. The kid has wheels and knows how to use them. This season he has stole 35 bags while only getting caught six times. Those are the type of numbers that can truly effect a game. That doesn't mention all the times he goes first to third or scores from first on a double. He is fast and smart. You will find no complaints from me about his speed.

To complement his speed, he is a great defender. He has great range and has always had a good read off the bat. He has won numerous awards at almost every level for his defense. He has an alright arm, but the range makes up for it. He also has a good eye. He isn't an OBP machine, but its nice to have a guy that can walk than steal a base.

Now to way i don't like him. He has zero power to speak of. He has nine home runs in his whole career, that spands 3 years. In spots where he has more than 100 ABs, he has never posted a slugging percentage over .434. Based on that, we can see he isn't even hitting many doubles. It is one thing to have a guy that has little power, but no power is unacceptable.

On a same wave length as the power, he doesn't hit many line drives. For a player like him, to have a LD% around 12 just isn't good enough. Going with that, he has a GB% around 60 most of the time. Those two numbers are killers. If you can't get the ball into the air, you are bound to fail. Basically, he is relying on his ability to beat our slow hit balls. In the majors, that isn't going to work. He will probably have a BABIP around .300. Using that and what we know about his power, a line of .280/.360/.400 is a realistic goal. While that is alright for a player with his tools, he is nothing like the hype.

Alright, so i don't hate the guy. I just want people to temper the excitement. Ellsbury is probably the next Chris Duffy (as PECOTA thinks). I wouldn't hate that. I just want people to understand we aren't getting Johnny Damon. They are completely different types of players and if we compare the two, we are bound to be disappointed.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Manny's back

One of the biggest disappointments of the season, to this point, has been Manny Ramirez. He got off to a really slow start, which is starting to become a trend. But don't fret, he is coming around. In July, he has hit .360/.448/.674. Those are incredible numbers and are a lot closer to the Manny we know than his April numbers, .202/.314/.315.

To Manny's credit, he has got on base pretty consistent this year. In OBP, he is out performing his 2004 and 2005 number by posting a .399. But Manny is our clean-up hitter, we need more than just getting on base. He is getting payed to hit home runs and knock in runners. That is also starting to come around. As you can see from the graphs below, provided by firstinning.com, you can see his ISOP coming back. You can also see the how is power has looked the past two seasons as well.

As you can see, he is still not hitting to his potential, but i think this is what you are going to start getting from him. He is getting older, and his bat is starting to slow down. That doesn't mean he can't SLG .600, but it is starting to get hard. Right now he is at .519 and i would expect that to be much higher by the end of the season. My best guess is he'll end the year with 30 home runs and a SLG around .560. That is much closer to the Manny we know and love.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Boston's Defense

There is a pretty strong correlation between a teams defense and their success in the playoffs. So that made me wonder how well the Sox are playing D. The best two stats that i like to look at his FRAA and Defensive Win Shares. First, lets take a look at the FRAA:

Jason Varitek - +8
Kevin Youkilis - +7
Dustin Pedroia - 0
Julio Lugo - 0
Mike Lowell - -9
Manny Ramirez - 0
Coco Crisp - +17
J.D. Drew - -6

Total = +17

As you can see, the team is doing extremely well. Crisp has been a real stud, posting a +17. Some things i weren't expecting is Drew having a -6, Lowell having a -9 and Manny having a 0. I would have expected a flip of that. Manny is generally a poor defender and Drew and Lowell are normally above average fielders. Our double play combo has been completely neutral. I don't mind that when you are so strong at center and catcher. Defense starts up the middle, that is why Crisp is so important. Now lets look at Defensive Win Shares:

Name/DWS/postion ranking
Jason Varitek - 2.9 (19th)
Kevin Youkilis - 1.5 (2nd)
Dustin Pedroia - 3.5 (4th)
Julio Lugo - 4.1 (6th)
Mike Lowell - 2.3 (6th)
Manny Ramirez - 1.9 (14th)
Coco Crisp - 5.6 (1st)
J.D. Drew - 1.4 (19th)

These stats aren't too different from the FRAAs we saw above. Crisp is actually leading the league in Defensive Win Shares, which is extremely impressive. The only big thing to point out that both DP and Lugo rank strong on this list. That can be slightly attributed to their position but they both rank high for their positions, so it is no fluke.

In summation, the Defense has been a great surprise. Without a truly great defensive stat to look at for ranking, I'm gonna say they are a top 8 defensive club. That will do wonders for them come October.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Farm Hens: Lars Anderson

Here is a kid that could be great. Lars Anderson is the Red Sox prime corner infield prospect. He is a 19 year old lefty first baseman. He stands 6' 4" and 240 lbs. The Red Sox drafted him in the 18th round last year. He went so late because of sign ability, he had sandwich round talent. In High School he was a complete monster, posting a line of .423/.574/1.013.

Lars has spent this year playing A ball at Greenville. He has posted pretty good numbers, .284/.381/.448. To go along with those he posts a nice 16% Line Drive rate and 13.4% walk rate. Those are very encouraging numbers for a young kid. He has yet to reach his huge power potential. With the way he is built, there is almost no end to his power. He has played acceptable defense, which is what they thought they were drafting.

Anderson has a lot of potential and has done a good job of showing that at Greenville. I don't think we will be seeing this kid for awhile, so it's a little early to pronounce him the future. I would guess that he starts next season at Portland. After that, I'd assume he would get a full year at Pawtucket. Best guess, he'll be a late season call-up in 2009 and starting for the big club in 2010. There is a lot of time between than and now, but keep an eye on him.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pineiro staying in town

Oddly, Joel Pineiro agreed to his assignment and will report for the Paw Sox.

This is a bit of a surprise: the Sox just announced that Joel Pineiro cleared waivers and accepted an optional assignment to Pawtucket. The right-hander, who officially was designated for assignment on Monday, is scheduled to pitch three innings tonight for the PawSox at Toledo. Seeing that using him as a reliever didn’t work out as hoped, the Sox appear ready to stretch out Pineiro and see if he can make a contribution later in the season as a starter.

Red Sox Nation lives

Two quick little stories that made me happy. First, apparently Red Sox Nation is extremely strong in Cleveland. And apparently, C.C. Sabathia is pissed about it.

For the second straight night, Jacobs Field rocked to the cheers of thousands of Boston fans.

"It bothers me," said Sabathia. "It's a little embarrassing. There are such great fans in this city. I was here when we sold this place out. But when you hear 'Youk, Youk, Youk' when Youkilis comes to the plate , that's not Cleveland."

I'm someone that thinks this Red Sox nation stuff is a bunch of crap. But when you hear stories like this, it's hard not to think their is a true fan base. I have never gone to a game outside of Fenway, so i wouldn't know if this happens everywhere, but it appears it does. I know there are lots of fans in Baltimore and Tampa, along with West Coast places like San Diego and Oakland. It really is extremely interesting. It's not like this team has had a ton of success over the years. We only have one championship in the past 89 years. Regardless of why this team transcends regions, it has to help the team in some way to have fans cheering for them where ever they go.

Bench worries

You look at this team and it's hard to find a real issue with it. The starting rotation looks great, the lineup is very good, and the bullpen has been the best in baseball so far. The one problem i can find is the bench. What looked like could be a strength in April has been a disappointment almost four month's into the season. The only player that has put up acceptable numbers is Cora.

Alex Cora - .267/.303/.430
Wily Mo Pena - .197/.269/.341
Eric Hinske - .211/.310/.431
Dough Mirabelli - .182/.258/.307

I think it should be a top priority of Theo to improve the bench at the deadline and in the off-season. I think Pena should be traded for either prospects or bullpen help. The long rumored Bobby Kielty rumor would not be bad at all. He can play all three defensive positions, which is the key. If that doesn't happen we have many in house options. Brandon Moss, David Murphy, and Jacoby Ellsbury could all be really good 4th outfielder come September.

While Pena looks like the only person that can be replaced this season, Mirabelli needs to go this offseason. If that means we have to get rid of Wakefield, so be it. An awful backup catcher is not worth keeping around because a league average pitcher likes him as his catcher. One of Theo's biggest mistakes was trading away Bard and Shoppach. Both would be great backups for us this season and going forward. Teh FA class for catchers is very small, but maybe a trade for Jarrod Saltalamacchia might be in order? The Braves have no where to play him and need a center fielder. The Red Sox need to get rid of a center fielder, Crisp or Ellsbury, and get a backup catcher/catcher for the future. It makes a lot of sense, we will have to wait and see how it turns out.

Playoff chances

The Sox are 7.5 games up, but the Yanks are surging. So that begs the question, should we be worried? The answer to that is, not really. You should be no more worried right now than at any point this season. If the Red Sox were to win 50% of the games left (31-31) they would be at 92-70. Not a bad record. For the Yankees to pass that they would need to go 40-23, to put them at 93-69. That is no easy task. Lets say the Sox go on there pace. At the end of the season they would be 99-63. For the Yanks to reach that they would need to go 47-16. As good as the Yankees may be, that's impossible. I think playing .600 ball is completely possible for the Sox. They have a cream puff schedule in September and are currently beating a very good Indian's team. PECOTA puts the Red Sox chances of making the playoffs at 98%, and I have to agree.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kevin Goldstein Chat #2

BP's prospect guy had another chat yesterday, here are the Red Sox questions.

"RS (Virginia): What's your opinion on two middle infielders who have taken a step forward this year: Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie? Both are showing excellent discipline and a reasonable dose of power. What sort of realistic upside are we talking about for each of these guys? Who do you like better?

Kevin Goldstein: Cabrera is a year and a half younger and a better defender, so I'll favor him. He's definitely having a bounceback year, and scouts think it's for real. I'm still not sold on Lowrie, primarily because he's pretty fringy defensively on the left side -- could be a nice utility/part starter in the end.

ekanenh (NH): Justin Masterson. For real?

Kevin Goldstein: He's for real if that means a nice big league reliever, which is what I think he is in the end.

joe (boston): do the yankees sign joel pinero just to get redsox nation second guessing, like they did with bellhorn/embree

Kevin Goldstein: Do you really think at any point during any decision making process, that the Yankees care at all about what Red Sox nation thinks? They really don't, I assure you.

Trieu (Cambridge, MA): A prediction for Lester tonight? Will you be tuning in?

Kevin Goldstein: Not sure I'll watch every at-bat, but I'm planning on watchin a good portion. If there's a pool, gimme a line of:

5 4 3 3 3 3

Felix (Boston): I remember you said in your chats that Hughes is better than Lester and it's not that close. Can you explain please?

Kevin Goldstein: Philip Hughes is an elite pitching prospect who went into the season as the best pitching prospect in baseball. Lester is a very good pitching prospect and one to be excited about, but he's not in Hughes' class.

Steve (Boston): Clay Buchholtz looked extremely dominate at times the other day, 10 ks in 5 innings, what do you predict for his future?

Kevin Goldstein: I think he's one of the top 10 prospects in the game and a future all-star starter.

Jason (Stowe, VT): Regarding the Lester/Hughes non-debate: isn't there a debate whether Lester is even in the Joba class of prospect at this point?

Kevin Goldstein: I'd probably give the slight edge to Joba there. Buchholz/Hughes is a much more salient arguement. I'd still give the nod to Hughes, but I'd take Buchholz over any other Yankee pitching prospect, and there are a TON.

William (Cincinatti): Bailey or Buccholz?

Kevin Goldstein: I'm gonna give Buchholz a tiny edge, but I could go the other way next week. VERY close."

Monday, July 23, 2007


Last night, the Red Sox scored their 500th run. That got me thinking, why are people complaining so much about the offense? Yea, they aren't going to scored 1,000 runs or have many games where they score 20 runs, but they are still a good squad. When you consider that some players are under performing, Manny and Drew stand out the most, i actually think this is a really strong offensive teams and the number's show that.

BA - .277 (5th)
Runs - 500 (4th)
OBP - .359 (2nd)
SLG - .441 (4th)
OPS - .801 (3rd)
SB - 53 (7th)

Imagine if Drew, Papi, and Manny start hitting for the power we know they can. Or how about if Lugo and Crisp keep this up or Youkilis and Pedroia go back to how they were playing. This team is not the Yankees, but they are pretty damn close.

Lester returns

I'm pissed. I think this makes no sense in the slightest. Lester will be brought up tonight to pitch against the Indian's. I just wrote about Lester and how he is showing signs of tiring. Why are we bringing up a guy that is struggling? Both Pauley and Hansack are out pitching him at Pawtucket and i think Tavarez would have done better than Lester is going to. Of coarse, the Red Sox hope that Lester has a future, while those players are AAAA type players at best. This fact alone should not have made this move, but it appears that it has. I really don't get the plan either. With Gabbard pitching great and Schilling on his way back, where does Lester fit after 2 starts?

I'm not only mad about Lester coming up. I can at least understand their motivation in that. Why on earth are the DFAing Piniero. I have made it pretty clear how much i dislike that guy, but Lopez can be optioned to AAA. We didn't need to get rid of this guy. Lopez is not a LOOGY. Lefties actually hit him well for a left handed pitched. Why not option him down, keep Piniero, and wait for another injury to bring a lefty up. September call ups are extremely far away, i think we can last the next 6 weeks with no real LOOGY.

I don't even know, this is jsut pissing me off. This is the reason why i hate Theo. He has no idea what it takes to make a pen. Even i knew that Piniero and Romero had no reason being in our pen, and neither made it into August. We have good arms in our farm, but he insists on bringing out players like Lester and Lopez, neither of which should be on this team.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lefty Righty problems

So here we are in July and Manny and Ortiz are still under performing. People say Manny's swing has slowed down and Papi's hurt, which are both true to some extent. That isn't the real problem however. The real problem is their complete inability to hit in the lefty/lefty or righty/righty situation. Meaning Manny can't hit righties and Ortiz can't hit lefties.

Manny Ramirez
Left - .386/.519/.771
Right - .265/.344/.415

David Ortiz
Left - .257/.354/.330
Right - .352/.468/.680

Clearly, this is a huge issue. Maybe we could just combine the two players into one and have the best hitter in baseball. Danny Ramtiz would be hitting .365/.490/.720. He would be a complete monster. Until we learn to do that, we are just going to have to hope that they figure this out.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Farm Hens: Jon Lester

Normally i would talk about the players stuff, like his arsenal, but that really isn't needed for Lester. We have all seen him at the big league. We've seen him succeed and struggle. He is a lefty with great potential. But after getting cancer about a year ago he has not looked the same. So what are we to expect from Lester going forward?

I don't want what kind of a toll the cancer took on Lester, but from personal experiences i have seen it do a lot of damage. This season he has posted an ERA of 3.89 and a BB/K rate of 31/51. The ERA does not look all that bad, but when you delve deeper into things you see a bigger issue, he is tiring. His June ERA is 5.52 and his July isn't much better, at 4.26. Clearly I am speculating, but how could the cancer not be in some what related. He could not have come into camp in perfect shape.Here is a graph of his ERA of the past year. The green line is his time in Pawtucket, the grey line is his time in Portland.

It is hard to speculate the future for Lester. I always thought he was a tad overrated. He is a lefty with not-so-overpowering stuff. But as a lefty, he will always have value. I am going to work under the assumption that a lot of his struggles can be traced back to his cancer. I think he will be able to come into Spring Training next year in the best shape of his life. If this is the case, i see no reason why he couldn't join the club when the season starts. I don't know if their will be a need for him, however. With Buchholz not to far off, Gabbard has shown he can be a good #5 in the majors, and the possibility that Wakefield and/or Schilling will be back, there might be no room. I think a lot will have to do with how he can finish the last month and a half in the minors and the almost certain call up in September. I'm rooting for him, as all baseball fans should. The man has gone through a lot just to be pitching, success would be nice for this kid.

What is going on?

The Red Sox aren't playing well, or at least that's how it appears. Since June they have a record of 20-22. On June 1st, the Sox had a 12.5 lead on the Yanks, now it is down to only 7. Clearly this isn't good, but it isn't as bad as you would think. The Sox are getting extremely unlucky. The Red Sox have scored 189 runs over than period and only allowed 176. Based on Pythagorean record, they should have won 53% of his games. That would put the Sox at 23-19. If that had happened than the Yankees would still be 10 games out, the sky wouldn't be falling, and Red Sox nation would be at peace. So please fan, relax. We are under performing and getting unlucky. When those things come around, so will the Sox. The Yankees are a clear threat, but they still have a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

RSN president

While watching the game last night, it was hard not to hear about this whole Red Sox Nation presidency. To me it is completely retarded, and is a total marketing ploy. John Henry and Co. know that Red Sox fans will buy literally anything if it has anything to do with the ball club. I can never knock people for trying to make money, even though this way is so ridiculous. But when i think that this is how we are paying for Dice-K and Papi, it makes me a little sense concerned.

Last night, Remy went through a list of people running. A lot of good names are out there, but one stands out, Bill Simmons. He is one of the funniest men in sports, and is an avid Boston sports fan. I see no reason why he would not fit the bill. But apparently Remy has a problem with him. He basically attacked Bill last night saying:

Don't be writing in and saying you want to be president because I always wanted to be president of something. You want to be president of one of the greatest nations in the world, Red Sox Nation, you have to represent the people. He's talking about getting free tickets. He's ripping Mike O'Malley. He's ripping my health. I mean, c'mon. The sports guy. There's a lot of sports guys out there, right? Your campaign is officially over. Now he'll rip... what does he write for again?
Obviously, Remy isn't completely serious but still. When he was saying this i had no idea what Simmons stance was, so i looked it up and fell in love. Remy may not like it but i do. So here is the platform for the man i am supporting as president of RSN.

I'm running for the President of Red Sox Nation for ten reasons.

First, I've always wanted to be the President of something; at this point, I don't really care what it is.

Second, I think I can get free tickets out of this.

Third, I heard Mike O'Malley might run and, as much as I enjoy his work, we can't let him be President after he already subjected us to seven years of "Yes, Dear."

Fourth, I'm the guy who once wrote a column called "Why Roger Clemens is the Anti-Christ," you have to vote me just for that.

Fifth, unlike with that chainsmoker Jerry Remy, you'd never have to worry about my health during my tenure - and even if something does happen to me, you'll be in capable hands with my running mate, Rich Garces.

Sixth, I dressed up as Fred Lynn for two straight Halloweens in '75 and '76 - even as a kid, I was making great decisions.

Seventh, I'm sure you have people in your life - in the office, in your dorm, in your family - who claim to be true Sox fans but couldn't pick Todd Benzinger or Dewey Evans out of a police lineup. I'm going to create a nationwide competency test to weed out these bandwagon jerks.

Eighth, I spent the last four years in California learning about political leadership from the great Arnold Schwarzenegger - with that kind of training, I'm going to be unstoppable.

Ninth, I have not one, not two but THREE friends named Sully. That has to count for something.

And tenth, I'm going to use my presidential powers to get more free stuff for kids - free Red Sox Nation memberships, free tickets, free stuff from the Pro Shop and everything else. Vote for Simmons or you're basically admitting that you don't care about kids.
Go and vote or do whatever there is to do for this thing. Honestly, i have no clue how this is suppose to work, but anything that gets Remy's panties in a twist is worth a look.

BA's Jim Callis chat

Jim Callis is one of the few man I take real stock in their opinion's on prospects. Him and the rest of Baseball America's staff do a great job and do as good a job as anyone in recognizing young talent.

"Mike (Boston): The red sox seem to have a good amount of top end talent picthers in their minor league system but only ellsbury really sticks out as a position prospecr. Do they have any other position players that i should be aware of? Also, do you think that they are auditioning Kason Gabbard as a potential trading chip, young cheap lefty with decent stuff?

SportsNation Jim Callis: (2:04 PM ET ) Their pitching does stand out more, but they also have guys like first baseman Lars Anderson and middle infielder Jed Lowrie in addition to Ellsbury. I know Gabbard is coming off a shutout, but he's a finesse lefty without a huge ceiling. They might use him in a trade, but it's doubtful he'd be a centerpiece.

Jon (Boston): Buchholz or Joba?

SportsNation Jim Callis: (2:15 PM ET ) Buchholz.

Jerry Wisconsin: Why Do you think Bucholz is better than Joba's? Is it because of health concerns? Bucholtz has better offspeed offerings? Hughes or Bucholz?

SportsNation Jim Callis: (2:17 PM ET ) Buchholz has a deeper repertoire and I'm less concerned about his health. I'd still take Hughes over Buchholz.

Nik (Hoboken): I have two issues on players that seem extremely similar, yet rated differently as prospects. 1. Gardner vs. Ellsbury - periphirals are very close. Yet Gardner is viewed as an org player while Ellsbury is viewed as a potential star. I just don't see the difference between the two. 2. Kennedy & Bowden - neither are flamethrowers, Kennedy has been much more dominant, and seems vastly underrated, yet Bowden is generally regarded as a better prospect. Based on repertoire and results, I find it hard to make a case for Bowden over Kennedy. And you're def off on Joba (4 pitches, 3 plus pitches = deep repetoire) and Buchholz, but I'll let that slide

SportsNation Jim Callis: (2:32 PM ET ) 1. Ellsbury is a far superior center fielder, and that's worth a lot right there. And while he's no power hitter, he has more pop than Gardner, too. 2. Bowden throws about 3-4 mph harder than Kennedy and he's two years younger.

Brian (Concord, NH): Can we look past Buccholtz for a moment - what do you think of the next two in line: Masterson and Bowden?

SportsNation Jim Callis: (2:43 PM ET ) Bowden.

Scott (Lexington, KY): M. Teixera to BOS for Jon Lester, Willy Mo and a low A pitcher with minimal upside.

SportsNation Jim Callis: (2:48 PM ET ) Interesting. Not sure Boston would give up Lester when Tex will hit the free-agent market in October, but that looks fair to me.

Taylor (NYC): Alan Horne or Ian Kennedy? Alan Horne or Bowden?

SportsNation Jim Callis: (3:02 PM ET ) Kennedy. Bowden.

Ben (Minneapolis): Who wins this trade: Cy-tana to Boston for Clay Bucholz and Jacob Ellsbury

SportsNation Jim Callis: (3:03 PM ET ) Boston would. You can't argue with Santana for two unproven prospects, even if they're good prospects. "

New month, new life

While the team is struggling, one player is finally starting to turn around. That man is Julio Lugo, and since July started is hitting .395/.449/.535. His walks are up, his strikeouts are down, his ground balls are down and his line drives are up. Everything you want from this guy he is doing. Obviously, this numbers are a little inflated, much like his previous stats were really deflated. For the month Lugo has a BABIP of .421, which is unsustainable. That really isn't the point though. He looks like a new player. He has confidence, which for Lugo means a heck of a lot. Since we don't really have another option for a good two years, i hope he can keep this up. At this point, he is a complete wild card, but I'd bet that he hits around .300/.350/.450 the rest of the way. If he can do that, this offense could finally hit its stride.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tito's mistake

Generally speaking, I think Tito does a good job. But he has made two of the oddest and, to be blunt, dumbest decisions of late. First, he has been hitting Pedroia 2nd and Youkilis 5th. While Pedroia is a fine hitter, he does not deserve that spot. The two hole is made for Youks. Here is a breakdown of the two:

#2 - 171 ABs .351/.450/.561
#5 - 91 ABs .264/.355/.341

#2 - 101 ABs .307/.391/.436
#9 - 119 ABs .328/.412/.471

I am not advocating putting DP back in the nine hole, but rather Youks should be bat second. There is a clear difference between not only Youks to DPs production, but also Youks production from 5th and 2nd. Come on Tito, even without looking at the stats, you have to see this.

The other problem i have is with Okajima's usage. He has been our best pitcher out of the pen, why are we using him in the 9th inning of a blow out? He has already pitched over 45 innings. Why could Snyder, Timlin, Lopez, or Piniero come in to end the game? It just doesn't make sense. Don't waste your good arms. There are only so many innings in these arms. We will need Paps and Okajima come September and October.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Drew pulled with tight hammy

My man, J.D. Drew, was pull during yesterday's game because of a tight hammy. This is what Tito had to say after the game.

"Tight hammy. The same one he had before May. Hopefully, we got him out and didn't do something silly where he misses something significant, but hopefully he'll be OK. We will reevaluate him in the morning and see how he 's doing."
Hopefully this wont be anything big and he'll be in the lineup tonight and put to rest any worries. Sadly, with Drew's history we must trend carefully with him. If i was to knock him, the injury issue would be fair game.

Farm Hens: Taiwan

The Red Sox have two extremely interesting players from Taiwan. They both have great promise, but are still far from the majors. Their names are Chih-Hsien Chiang and Che-Hsuan Lin. Expect to hear their names going forward as the Red Sox try to build a bigger influence in the East.

Chih-Hsien Chiang is the older and more highly totted of the 2. He is a 19 year old 2nd baseman. Standing 6' 1" and 180, he is slightly big for a 2nd baseman, but his deficiencies in the field limit him. It is possible to see him move to the outfield, but i strongly doubt it. He isn't your typical Red Sox player, walking only 5% if the time. To his credit, he is known for making good contact. That hasn't stood up so far in A ball, but the reputation is there. He has great power for a second baseman, but his LD% is very concerning. So far this year, he has only been able to post a 7% rate. That goes along with the other numbers he has posted, 10% and 11% at Lowell and the GCL respectively. For all the things that i don't like about him, he has been able to put up good numbers. Last year he had an OPS of .836 and this year at A ball he is hitting .737. The "Lebron of Taiwan" is a player that many are excited about. I would temper the excitement. The reality is far less than the reputation.

The man that i am more excited about is Che-Hsuan Lin. He is one year younger than Chiang and has far more athletic ability. He has great speed and a gun for an arm. Their are striking similarities to another Asian player, Ichiro. It was believed that if he had been in the draft he would have been a top 60 pick. He has already started Rookie ball, and has marginal success. For all of the down things, their are positive trends. He has been able to walk 13% of the time and shown an ability to steal bases. So far he has hit .211/.304/.333 but i'd expect that to rise because of his weak BABIP, which stand at .289. For a man that grounds the ball less than 50%, it should be higher. I believe the power will come along. It is much easier to teach a man power than teach a man to be patient. Odd how that is, but it's true. The simple size is so small at this point, it's hard to make a real judgement on the stats. So unlike Chiang, i think we will have to believe the hype for a little longer.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Expiring contracts

After the 2007 season, several contracts will have expired, freeing up some cash for the Red Sox. The Sox current payroll is $143,026,214. I think that Henry and Company would be willing to pump the payroll up to around $150 million, but not much further. I base that on their willingness to pursue Clemens. The contracts that are expiring this year are:

Curt Schilling - $13 million
Matt Clement - $9.5 million
Mike Lowell - $9 million
Eric Hinske - $5.625 million
Joel Piniero - $4 million

That means the Red Sox will have about $41 million dollars to work with. Add on the extra money they are probably willing to spend, I say Theo will have about $50 million to work with this off-season. My guess, however, is not much of that money is spent. Looking at the 5 big loses you see one injured old pitcher, one pitcher that has hardly pitched the past 2 years, a starting 3rd baseman, a utility man, and a 6th inning reliever. Basically, only Schilling and Lowell need to be replace.

Clement has been a complete non-factor on this team. He has no spot to be replaced. Eric Hinske is a nice bat to have coming off the bench, but a David Murphy or Brandon Moss could do the same thing at a league minimum. Joel Piniero is a nice like reliever. He has his days were he is great and his days were he is worthless. By no means is he irreplaceable. I would love if Craig Breslow would replace him today. Once again, would probably we pitching for a league minimum. Those 3 players are making close to $20 million this year. Their replacements could easily be in the range of $1-2 million.

Schilling and Lowell are going to be harder to replace. Their are no internal options to play 3rd. The only player that can is currently manning 1st, Youkilis. To be blunt, there are no options in free agency either. Adam Dunn may have his contract opted out of and A-Rod may opt out himself, but i don't see the Sox as a major player in either of those players. More likely than not, Lowell will get a new contract. I think a 2 year $20 million contract would be great. It all depend on what Lowell wants. I'm sure he could get a better deal, but hopefully the allure of playing in Boston for a contender will help out the cause.

Schilling is interesting. He has said he wants to come back to Boston. But with his current injury and the age concerns, i don't know if that's all that great of an idea. He will probably ask for a 1 year deal worth anywhere between $10-15 million. It is too early for me to judge whether i want it or not. If he can come back health and pitch well in October, I'd go for it. I just don't believe that it will happen. The Sox have both Lester and Buchholz waiting in the wings. They would both be nice options, since they are young and cheap. It kind of scares me to have that many young pitchers, however. I'd love to watch a rotation of Dice-K/Beckett/Buchholz/Lester/Wakefield but i just don't know if that's enough. A lot of inexperienced pitchers in that group. The only pitcher older than 28 would be Wake. I'm on the wait and see side with Schilling. If he does walk, i would not be shock if Theo makes a trade for a Dontrell Willis type player to round out the rotation.

The Red Sox have money to spend, and even more this off-season. I would expect them to sit back this year and let some of these farm hens to strut their stuff, but nothing would surprise me. No matter what happens, expect the team to look different next year.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Farm Hens: Under 18

The Red Sox have 3 extremely interesting players in their organization. What links these four players together is all are under the age of 18.

The newest, and most highly tooted player is Michael Almanzar. He is a 6' 5" 16 year old from the Dominican Republic. He recently signed with the Red Sox for a $1.5 million signing bonus. The name might seem familiar because his father, Carlos Almanzar, spent time in the major leagues and is currently in the Red Sox minor league system. He has played both SS and 3b but because of his size, he is more likely to stay at third. The kids has great bat speed but not much of a glove. He has all the potential in the world, but like most young kids, he needs to turn that potential into reality. He is likely to start next year in the GCL.

Oscar Tejeda, a 17 year old SS also from the Dominican Republic, is a very exciting player to keep and eye on. He is not built like Almanzar, standing only 6' 1", but has all the potential. He plays a solid D for SS and has a good eye at the plate. Great bat speed and blistering wheels, Tejeda could be an exceptional lead off hitter. To go along with those attributes, he has very good power potential and may be able to SLG .500 some day. Currently, he is hitting .299/.355/.478 at the Red Sox GCL team. He has great composure for a 17 year old and may be the quickest out of this group to make an serious impact.

If you can say a 17 year old has been disappointing, Engel Beltre fits the bill. Another 17 year old out of the Dominican, he has 5 tool potential as and OFer. He is the only lefty of the group, so he does have that going for him. Like many players coming out of the DR he is undersized. He needs to put on muscle to the 6' 1" build before he can really make an impact. Once that happens, he has the swing to be a serious power hitter. Defensively, he is already there. He has a great arm and decent range. He could either pass as a CF or RF. Center field is his natural position. Thus far, he has hit .172/.316/.250 at the Gulf Coast League. His BABIP is kind of low, .275, so i expect the number to improve naturally. Keep and eye on Beltre because he may be the Red Sox version of Tabata in 2 years.

Update: Engel Beltre is now a member of the Texas Rangers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I love Drew

Once again, I am here to defend J.D. Drew. I am not going to run down his attributes again. If you don't believe that he has all the skills to be a great player, than fine. But for those people that see what i see and are confused why he is not succeeding, i have a some numbers to explain. Here are his lines by month's.

April - .278/.376/.392
May - .171/.315/.237
June - .325/.404/.558
July - .250/.400/.333

At this point I should not that he hasn't had many ABs in July, so all those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. What is clear is he was great in June and awful in May. That begs the question, what was so different about the two month's? I think it can be explained by his BABIP, GB%, LD%. Here are the breakdowns by month:

April - .333/.51/.13
May - .210/.58/.19
June - .368/.53/.19
July - .353/.38/.06

His career line is normally about .320/.50/.17. Looking at that, May was an extremely unlucky month. With that LD%, he should have had a BABIP near .300. If that had happened, his line would have looked closer to .250/.400/.350. While the power still looks bad, if i can get and OBP of .400 every month i'll love it. There aren't many right fielders that can do that, but he can.

The only real knock on him is the lack of power. He is putting up way to many ground balls, about 53%. What stresses me more about that is 42.9% of those are pulled. Only 18.2% of all his contact is making it to left field. If he can get that up, he will be hitting the monster more. That means more doubles, based on the way he runs. More doubles means higher SLG%.

All that being said, the guy will walk 17% of the time every season. He will play an extremely good right field. Finally, he will start to hit doubles. Patience is a virtue. Fenway is an awful place for lefties. Until they learn to go to the opposite field, he will not be putting up the power numbers. This guy is too talented not to learn that. If it doesn't happen this year, i will promise you it will next year. Once Theo and Tito understand how to use him, he will begin to shine. You can hold me to that.

Defense matters

Crisp and Lugo have taken a lot of slack this year, and believe me i've lead the charge. But to my surprise, both have been amazing at defense. In defensive Win Shares, both rank in the top 10 in the AL. Crisp ranks #1 overall, with a 5.6. That is an extremely high number that is hard not to mention. This just goes to show you, there are many different ways for a player to help a team.

Oh no

Injuries are finally starting to catch up with the Red Sox. Curt Schilling has had an extremely rough time coming back from a sore right shoulder. He has been pushed back 3 times already from returning. Crisp and Beckett have already missed time. Now, it appears that Ortiz may be out for awhile. He has been having soreness in his quads and hamstring problem. The plan right now is for the surgery to wait till the off-season, but that could easily change.

The question must be ask, if Papi is gone what do the Sox do? If they are going with internal options, it must be Brandon Moss. He could take over in left and put Manny at DH. I know everyone will want to see Ellsbury up, but i really don't think he is ready. Not to mention that he doesn't really make up for what we lose in Papi. I think a platoon of Moss and Pena will take up some of the slack left from Papi. Obviously, Drew, Manny, Lugo, and Crisp are going to need to start playing to their potential.

If we go outside the organization, where do we look? There are only 2 players out there that could help make up for Ortiz, Adam Dunn and Mark Teixeira. The problem with Teixeira is he's a first baseman. I would much rather find an outfielder or DH so the transition could be smooth. Getting a first baseman means either Youks or Lowell will be DHing, and both are extremely good in the field. Dunn would be very nice. We could throw him in left, than next year put him at 1st when Lowell walks. That would be my choice. But to be honest, i don't know if the price for either player would be worth it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Farm Hens : Justin Masterson

Masterson is the often forgotten pitcher in the Sox farm system. This 6' 6" 22 year old righty was a 2nd round draft pick in 2006. His pitches include a 2-seam fastball that is devastating, a really good slider, and a circle change. As you can see from those pitches, he pitches to contact and gets a ton of ground balls. At Lowell last year, he posted a 74% GB rate in 31.2 innings. He also was able to post an ERA of 0.85 and stroke out 33 while walking only 2.

Coming into this season, he was converted into a start. To make things worse for Masterson, Lancaster is a hitters haven. As one would guess, his numbers regressed a little. He posted an ERA of 4.42 in 95.2 innings before getting the promotion to Portland. While at Lancaster his GB% came back down to earth, 54%, as well as his BABIP, 313.

The future for Masterson is still in doubt. Nobody knows if his future is as a starter or reliever. Personally, i think he should stay as a starter. There is no reason why he couldn't pitch 6 innings every 5th day. He has the build of a starter, not to mention the attitude. This is a very confident young man. His stuff does not translate to a set-up or closer. Because of that, i think he has too much talent as a long reliever. Either way, this is a player to keep an eye on.

Players with Options

We have looked at the players that will be FAs, now lets look at the players with options. These players could become free agents if they decide to opt out or their team declines their options, it all matters on what the contract stipulates. A-Rod has a player option, however Dunn has a team option. The line goes name, age, contract stipulations, than OPS+ or ERA+.

Ivan Rodriguez - 36 - $13MM club option for '08 - 113
Adam Dunn - 28 - $13MM club option for '08; becomes free agent after season if traded - 128
Jeff Kent - 40 - $9MM club option vests with 550 PAs this year - 125
Marcus Giles - 30 - $4MM club option for '08 - 106
Juan Uribe - 29 - $5MM club option for '08 - 80
Cesar Izturis - 28 - $5.45MM club option for '08 -67
Alex Rodriguez - 32 - Has ability to opt out of contract after season - 145
Geoff Jenkins - 33 - $9MM club option for '08 - 117
Bobby Abreu - 34 - $16MM club option for '08 - 135
Jose Guillen - 32 - $9MM club option for '08 - 99
Shawn Green - 35 - $10MM club option for '08 - 120
Randy Wolf - 31 - $9MM club option for '08 - 102
Paul Byrd - 37 - $8MM club option for '08 - 105
Tom Glavine - 42 - $9MM player option for '08 - 119
Kris Benson - 33 - $7.5MM club option for '08 - 101
Odalis Perez - 31 - $9MM club option for '08 - 94
Brett Tomko - 35 - $4.5MM mutual option for '08 - 93
Jason Isringhausen - 35 - $8MM club option for '08 - 120

Like the FA's, look for these names to come up in trade talks. My prediction is Dunn will get moved, and he will be the biggest name of all that move.

Free Agent Pitchers

We already took a look at the FA hitters, now we will look at the pitchers. The first number is the pitchers age than his career ERA+.

Starting pitchers
Carlos Zambrano - 27 - 130
Curt Schilling - 41 - 126
Jason Jennings - 29 - 103
Freddy Garcia - 32 - 111
Kenny Rogers - 43 - 110
Jon Lieber - 38 - 103
Bartolo Colon - 35 - 112
Joe Kennedy - 29 - 97
Tomo Ohka - 32 - 108
John Thomson - 34 - 103
Kip Wells - 31 - 96
Wade Miller - 31 - 109
Livan Hernandez - 33 - 101
Jeff Weaver - 31 - 95
Jaret Wright - 32 - 90
David Wells - 45 - 109
Eric Milton - 32 - 94
Kyle Lohse - 29 - 95
Matt Clement - 33 - 96
Rodrigo Lopez - 32 - 92
Josh Fogg - 31 - 89
Byung-Hyun Kim - 29 - 110

Mariano Rivera - 38 - 195
Bob Wickman - 39 - 124
Francisco Cordero - 33 - 146
Armando Benitez - 35 - 143
Eric Gagne - 32 - 129
Todd Jones - 40 - 111

Middle relievers
Scott Linebrink - 31 - 134
Jorge Julio - 29 - 102
Kerry Wood - 31 - 116

It isn't an awful list. There are some definite good pitchers on this list. Sadly, with Buehrle signing a contract extension the best pitcher is off the market. Look for these pitchers names to come up in trade talks this month.

Buchholz gets promoted

Buchholz has finally got the call to pitch at Pawtucket. Clay is widely considered the best pitching prospect left in the minors. He is clearly the best prospect the Red Sox have to offer. So far, he has completely dominated AA. He posted a 1.77 ERA and was sporting an amazing K/BB rate of 116/22. Looking at that, it's not hard to see why he is so highly totted. Now that he will be pitching in Pawtucket, he is only one step away from the big show. If he continues to succeed at AAA, i would not be shocked at all if he see time with the Red Sox. If Schilling continues to be hurt and Lester continues to strike no one out, Buchholz may be next in line. If he hasn't been up yet, come September expect Buccholz to be wearing a Big League jersey.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Where are we at?

The Starting pitching has been great this season. Lets take a look at where we are and where Marcel says we should be at.

Projected - 4.28 - 1.28 - 7.5 - 3.1
Actual - 3.44 - 1.14 - 8.4 - 1.9

Projected - 4.45 - 1.33 - 7.5 - 1.9
Actual - 4.20 - 1.36 - 6.8 - 1.8

Projected - 4.74 - 1.39 - 5.9 - 3.2
Actual - 4.39 - 1.33 - 5.3 - 3.6

Projected - 4.55 - 1.48 - 5.8 - 3.4
Actual - 4.97 - 1.45 - 5.2 - 3.2

Sorry, no Dice-K. Marcel didn't do a projection for him and i feel like i need to keep the numbers constant. The only other thing i need to to is Tavarez's numbers. Those are projections as him relieving. They might have been different had the fact that he'd be a starting pitcher been factored in.

Besides Tavarez, everybodies ERA is lower than the projections. I like to see that, but it also is kinda scary. I hope that these are the real numbers not the projections. Beckett has been the real star. He is killing his projections. He has become the ace that he has always viewed himself as. The command is much better, and that is the key.