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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year 


Articulating the phenomenon is a virtual impossibility but it's most definitely upon us. It's the stretch run and I know it because the Red Sox were the very last thing I thought about before I went to bed last night and the first thing that popped into my head this morning. I know it because on more than a couple of occasions today at work, while in the midst of projects requiring undivided attention, I have wondered if John Lackey would have it tonight. Or if we might catch a glimpse of the transcendent Schill instead of the merely very good one? Do the Rangers have what it takes to stick around? Are the Yanks really going to fade? Is this Oakland's best team yet? Hell can anyone even beat the Cards anyway? I am consumed by baseball and I know I will be for the next 50-60 days.

Tonight marks the first night of the rest of the baseball season and signs of late-season ball will abound. It won't be light out anymore in the 4th inning. The crowd may raise to its feet with two strikes and two outs...in the first inning. There will be buzz and announcers will speak in flowry prose and the cliche machines will be cranking 'em out and fathers will check in with sons every morning and goosebumps will get goosebumps and elation will give way to heartache and heartache to overwhelming glee...

...all because it's here.

Enjoy.

Anaheim @ Boston 


I wouldn't miss these games for the world...

One interesting thing to watch...right now the Angels are going with a 4 man rotation, and a 10 man pitching staff.

Offense
c - Benji Molina 282/307/431 (4.5 RC/27)
Jason Varitek 306/400/509 (6.5 RC/27)

1b - Darren Erstad 316/365/432 (6.6 RC/27)
Kevin Millar 295/379/456 (5.6 RC/27)

2b - Adam Kennedy 271/343/392 (4.3 RC/27)
Mark Bellhorn 264/377/450 (6.2 RC/27)

3b - Chone Figgens 292/350/414 (5.2 RC/27)
Bill Mueller 286/365/448 (5.6 RC/27)

ss - David Eckstein 288/344/341 (3.8 RC/27)
Orlando Cabrera 270/291/432 (3.9 RC/27)

lf - Jose Guillen 304/365/528 (7.2 RC/27)
Manny Ramirez 316/407/618 (7.8 RC/27)

cf - Garret Anderson 311/353/444 (6.1 RC/27)
Johnny Damon 305/383/463 (6.0 RC/27)

rf - Vlad Guerrero 331/384/571 (7.5 RC/27)
Dave Roberts 250/333/375 (3.4 RC/27)

dh - Troy Glaus 291/391/682 (10.2 RC/27)
David Ortiz 301/375/605 (7.7 RC/27)

Bench
Anaheim
Alfredo Amezaga 141/193/154 (0.3 RC/27)
Jeff DaVanon 304/388/456 (6.8 RC/27)
Jose Molina 251/285/361 (3.1 RC/27)
Josh Paul 263/317/404 (4.1 RC/27)
Curtis Pride 286/318/381 (3.3 RC/27)
Adam Riggs 133/188/200 (1.9 RC/27)

Boston
Rickey Guiterrez 367/387/400 (2.9 RC/27)
Gabe Kapler 275/307/400 (3.3 RC/27)
Douf Mientkewicz 245/273/358 (2.8 RC/27)
Doug Mirabelli 280/348/528 (6.4 RC/27)

Team
Anaheim - 288/344/432 (5.2)
Boston - 283/360/471 (5.6)

Offensive Efficiency:
Anaheim - 99.7%
Boston - 96.2%

Clutch Number:
Anaheim - 2.063
Boston - 1.878

Stolen Bases:
Anaheim - 8.5 BG 74%
Boston - (-11.1 BG) 69%

Sacrifices:
Anaheim - 5.13 per 550 PA
Boston - 1.17 per 550 PA

Pitching
Tuesday:
John Lackey 11-10 5.00 (11.040)
Curt Schilling 16-6 3.38 (54.255)

Wednesday:
Aaron Sele 8-1 4.35 (16.080)
Bronson Arroyo 7-9 4.07 (31.436)

Thursday:
Bartolo Colon 13-10 5.38 (5.288)
Derek Lowe 12-10 5.22 (14.442)

Rotations:
Anaheim - 71.580
Boston - 173.763

Bullpens:
Anaheim - 95.732
Brandon Donnolly - 7.425
Kevin Gregg - 13.766
Ramon Ortiz - 13.994
Troy Percival - 9.352
Francisco Rodriguez - 28.827
Scot Shields - 24.793

Boston - 83.598
Terry Adams - (-4.047)
Alan Embree - 7.819
Keith Foulke - 32.155
Curt Leskanic - 2.483
Ramiro Mendoza - 9.059
Mike Myers - 2.702
Mike Timlin - 12.553

Usage:
Anaheim - 2.1 RpG, 1.43 IPpApp
Boston - 2.5 RpG, 1.02 IPpApp

Monday, August 30, 2004

Picture Me Rollin'... 


Back in April, when the Sox couldn't seem to lose, I wrote this:

"Simply put, on almost every night, the Red Sox will start the better starter, field the better lineup, replace their starting pitcher with better relievers and replace their position players if needed with better role players than their opponent. It’s a simple and simultaneously alarmingly effective means of achieving baseball success."

Of course if you happened across that excerpt plowing through our archives in say, June, you would have thought me an imbecile. And you might be right but that's neither here nor there. With respect to this particular quote, I just want to say that this 18-4 stretch the Sox are currently in the midst of has been a bit vindicating for me. All season my attitude was that teams that hit and pitch as well as the Sox do win at a far greater clip than they did for three months. Patience was not always easy and admittedly, I lost mine in brief fits of anger from time to time. But on the whole, I remained confident that wins would come and they would come furiously. I wrote this on June 30th:

"Hang in there, Sox fans. Your team is too talented to fade."

And I wrote this on June 24th:

"I can't wait for this club to go all 2002-A's on the rest of the league this summer."

So it took until late summer but here we are taking on all comers and winning in a variety of ways, a true mark of a great team.

Conventional wisdom might have it that they are playing over their heads. But are they? When you look up and down the Red Sox August statistics, only Jason Varitek is really going crazy and I would submit that this is more than offset by disappointing months from Gabe Kapler, Doug Mientkiewicz, Orlando Cabrera and to a lesser extent, Johnny Damon. On the pitching side of things, there has been clear improvement but just mean progression really. Derek lowe has been far more consistent but his E.R.A. for the month is just about right on his PECOTA weighted mean projection. Wakefield is still far below his norm for the month but that is only because of his 6 home run shelling he took in Detroit. He was phenomenal yesterday. Quietly, Pedro has become Pedro again and Schilling is looking as strong as he has all year too. The bullpen is once again looking strong and is there a better fifth starter in baseball right now than Bronson Arroyo?

It would be irresponsible to dump all this praise on the Sox without noting that their competition in August has been terrible. The true test lays ahead. Their next nine games are against their main playoff competition (although the Yankees are close to joining this group), the Anaheim Angels and Texas Rangers at home and then three against the Athletics in Oakland. Luckily for the Sox, they miss Anaheim's two most formidable starters, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar and Texas' only formidable starter, Kenny Rogers. Anything less than 4-2 this week would undoubtedly be a failure.

Get ready for the home stretch, folks.




Friday, August 27, 2004

Big Night for Bronson 


Bronson Arroyo shook off some of his Fenway jitters and pitched a whale of a ballgame last night for the Sox. His knee-buckling breaking ball was this particular night's special but the well-placed heater was also a dependable item. He really got into trouble just once - in the sixth - and was able to get out of it with a devastating, 3-2 breaking ball that made MVP-candidate Carlos Guillen look silly.

There were a couple of encouraging signs on the managerial front. First, Terry Francona did not push his luck with Arroyo. He pulled him for Mike Timlin with one out in the eighth inning after the artist formerly known as Bobbby Higginson doubled. Timlin has become the bullpen flavor du jour for the Sox, now more confident than I have him seen all season with his fastball. He is getting it up there 93-94 MPH and with some serious action on it too. The other hopeful sign last night was that Francona penciled Mark Bellhorn back into the number 2 slot in the batting order. Bellhorn respnded finally aftyer three consecutive strikeouts with a double and a single, the latter plating an important eighth inning insurance run.

Seemingly back to pitching like he is capable, Keith Foulke dusted off the Tigers in the ninth, preserving a 4-1 lead and picking up a worry-free save in the process.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Something I Forgot to Mention 


Why has Dave Roberts been batting second?

The only thing that sucked about last night's top of the 4th was that Roberts, batting second in Terry Francona's lineup, made both outs. One on a bunt pop-up to the catcher (smallball...wheeeee) and the other when he made the inning's final out with the bases full on a feeble grounder to third base.

I don't think I need to go far beyond saying that any lineup consisting of Bill Mueller and Mark Bellhorn has no need whatsoever for Dave Roberts in the 2-hole. Hopefully last night put an end to that.

Wild Card and the Strength of Schedule 


I really love that Sully has taken to doing a write up for many of the games. Not only does that task bore me, but it frees me up to other things, like play with numbers [/geek]

What I did was go and figure out the strength of each teams schedule currently in the playoff hunt. The method was to take the winning percentage of each team on the schedule (the Home WP if the team was home, Away if they were away), and multiplied by the amount of games left.

Then I summed that, and divided by the amount of total games, and got this:

BOS .514
ANA .514
OAK .465
TEX .495
NYY .466

Then what I did was use the log5 system in Bill James 81 Abstract and used the SOS and the current W% to figure out the records if things hold.

Nyy 101 -61 --
Bos 93-69 8 GB

Oak 95-67 --
Ana 93-69 2 GB
Tex 91-71 4 GB

Bos 93-69 --
Ana 93-69 --
Tex 91-71 2 GB

So...if everything holds up as it has been, it looks like the Yankees would play the Twins in the first round, and the Red Sox would play Oakland.

Unless the Sox lost the one game playoff...then it would be Yankees/Anaheim and Oakland/Minnesota.

Repeat of 2002 or 2003.

Hell Yeah 


The top half of the fourth inning was the most enjoyable half inning of baseball I have witnessed in 2004.

Three home runs by three players with wonderfully contrasting styles. Manny hit an 0-1 pitch out to dead centerfield by virtue of his swing that combines mechanical precision with violent power. Manny creamed the slightly high pitch and right after he hit it, I just yelled, "what!?!", as if I were uttering aloud what Manny was thinking as he swung. "How dare you even think you are getting me on that pitch?"

David Ortiz came up next. His home run was majestic. His gorgeous, uppercut swing resulted in a towering fly ball that anyone watching knew the field of play would be unable to contain. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are both sluggers of the highest orders and yet they get it done in strikingly different manners. Manny is precise, fundamentally perfect and hits the ball with dumbfounding authority. David Ortiz, due mostly to his size, is equally powerful. But whereas Manny uses the six iron to muscle the ball with a nice trajectory a long way, Ortiz can crush the sand wedge. His is ball flight reaches unthinkable heights and is, to me at least, poetic.

The final home run in the inning was smacked by new Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Like the smallish but proud, strong kid on the playground that wants to stake out his claim, Cabrera seemingly just wanted to establish his presence. As though he had no idea he is an undersized middle infielder, Cabrera took a Hank Aaron-esque, violent cut at a mistake from Bllue Jay pitcher Josh Towers and blasted a four-bagger of his own over the left field fence.

I won't soon forget that inning. The Sox went on to win 11-5 and now come home to face the Detroit Tigers for four games at Fenway.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

We'll Take It 


The Sox stole one last night. Outplayed, Boston still managed to come away with a 5-4 victory. Doug Mirabelli and Mike Timlin, in my estimation, were the game's heroes.

Doug Mirabelli, the Red Sox primary backstop for two more days because of Jason Varitek's suspension, pounded a 2-1 offering from Miguel Batista over SkyDome's left field wall for a three-run home run. Almost instantaneously, what had been a plodding and lackluster effort by the Red Sox turned into a more enthused one. Mike Timlin's performance in the bottom half of the sixth evidenced this point. After Tim Wakefield loaded the bases with nobody out, Terry Francona called upon Mike Timlin to try and preserve the two-run lead. Timlin was able to strikeout Reed Johnson and Orlando Hudson and then set down Alex Rios on a routine grounder to wiggle the Sox out of the inning unscathed. The Jays would get another run across the board off of Timlin in the seventh before Ramiro Mendoza and Keith Foulke would finish off the Jays, pitching the eighth and ninth respectively.

I imagine much will be said today of the renewed Sox spirit - how they are able to win one-run games now and some may even praise Theo, assigning credit for the recent one-run wins to Nomar's absence and Minky and Cabrera's presence. Try and block it out. The recent spate of one-run victories represents little (if anything) more than mean regression. The Sox were not going to be as bad as they had been in one-run games all season. So enjoy it and try and account for it if that's your thing. But be rational. "This team's just got a different feel" doesn't cut it.

Elsewhere, The Soxaholix have turned in another bang-up effort this morning.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Whaddya Gonna Do? 



So faster than I can say "the Red Sox are baseball's best team", Ted Lilly twirls the game of his life. To be perfectly honest and especially when you consider that Boston's lineup is MLB's best, it was the most masterful performance I have seen since Pedro's unforgettable September-'99-17K gem. Not much you can do other than tip your cap and move on. His breaking ball was unhittable and he spotted a crisp fastball impeccably all night.

Just 28, I would not be surprised in the least to see Lilly put it together and become one of the league's best pitchers one of these seasons.

Tonight, Tim Wakefield faces Miguel Batista. Both have fallen a bit short of expectations this season so expect the offense for both teams to make more noise than least evening. Of course, even a whimper from the visitors' lineup would constitute more noise than last evening...

Oh well.



Monday, August 23, 2004

Now We're Talking 


Now this is fun.

The Red Sox won their sixth consecutive game last night, polishing off an impressive three game sweep against the South Side Other Sox. I am not interested quite yet (but I very well might be soon) in discussing our southwesterly neighbors but let's just say I think they hear us coming. Damn it's cool to be pulling for a team playing like a bunch of bad-asses and having a good time doing it.

Knowing a strong August push would be essential in their quest for the postseason, the Red Sox have responded by posting a 14-6 record for the month while outscoring their opponents 130-88 in the process.

Looking at ESPN's standings page and further, at team OPS totals, it is hard to argue that the Red Sox do not at least have a case to be considered baseball's best team.

Look at these numbers in "Runs Scored / Runs Against / differential" format...

Boston: 703 / 583 / +120
New York Yankees: 671 / 606 / +65
St. Louis: 669 / 504 / +165

It appears that these numbers would indicate that the Red Sox are still a little ways behind the Cards, despite appearing to be better than the Yankees (at least with respect to scoring and preventing runs). But remember, the Red Sox have one of baseball's most inefficient offenses and their peripheral statistics indicate that they ought to have plated more runs. Similarly, their pitching has been better than their runs-against number would indicate.

Consider these, in "OPS / OPS-against / OPS differential" format...

Boston: 832 / 729 / +103
New York Yankees: 807 / 758 / +49
St. Louis: 808 / 713 / +95

Bear in mind that OPS is a merely quick-and-dirty means of evaluating performance. But I think you get the point. The Sox have been producing all year without the wins to show for it.

I think it is important for me to stress that I write this now not to express any embitterment about the Sox's underachievement to this point. Instead, I write this to warn doubters that this 14-6 stretch is no hot streak - no anomaly - but instead a long overdue attainment of a record befitting both their ability and performance levels.

Expect more of the same going forward.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Cleveland Rocks! 


Probably not, but I'm gonna find out.

I'll be going to Cleveland from tomorrow until Tuesday to see the fine city, and go to the Jake on Monday to see Mike Mussina against Cliff Lee.

I'll catch up with you guys Tuesday night/Wednesday.

Also, PokeyPerson took exception to Big Analysis in the comments section of my last post. Sorry. I'll start changing what I do for people that troll blogs. We already have a designated troll.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Big Anaylsis! American League 


I'm going to level with you. I won't be saying much in this post. Instead, I give you Big Analysis. Big Anaylsis is me just giving you the stats that I usually use in my Series Preview on the team level for every team.

Upon discussion with Dewey's House stalker Gerbil, Clutch Number has been renamed Cajones Factor. Who said stats are boring? Certainly not me.

American League
Adjusted Runs/Game

This is the park adjusted, runs per game that each team creates.

1. Cleveland Indians 5.64
2. New York Yankees 5.63
3. Detroit Tigers 5.62
4. Boston Red Sox 5.51
5. Chicago White Sox 5.22
6. Anaheim Angels 5.17
7. Baltimore Orioles 5.11
8. Oakland Athletics 4.99
9. Texas Rangers 4.99
10. Minnesota Twins 4.52
11. Tampa Devil Rays 4.49
12. Seattle Mariners 4.42
13. Kansas City Royals 4.08
14. Toronto Blue Jays 4.06

Offensive Efficiency

Runs scored/Runs created

1. Yankees 102.6%
2. Orioles 102.0%
3. Indians 101.9%
4. Blue Jays 101.4%
5. Royals 101.3%
6. Rangers 100.4%
7. White Sox 100.1%
8. Tigers 99.3%
9. Athletics 98.9%
10. Angels 98.3%
11. Red Sox 97.6%
12. Devil Rays 97.1%
13. Mariners 93.8%
14. Twins 93.7%

Cajones Factor

Hits with RISP+HR with MOB over expectation

1. Yankees 24.614
2. Athletics 19.117
3. White Sox 14.734
4. Devil Rays 9.919
5. Rangers 8.578
6. Angels 7.624
7. Royals 5.022
8. Tigers 0.590
9. Red Sox -4.143
10. Mariners -7.209
11. Indians -16.804
12. Blue Jays -18.800
13. Twins -19.496
14. Orioles -25.922

Bases Gained on Steals

Bases gained or lost via the steal, given a 73% break even rate

1. Angels 16.9
2. Yankees 12.9
3. Mariners 7.6
4. Devil Rays -1.5
5. Orioles -3.1
6. Twins -4.5
7. Athletics -13.1
8. Red Sox -14.7
9. Blue Jays -24.1
10. Rangers -24.8
11. Indians -33.5
12. White Sox -35.5
13. Royals -41.1
14. Tigers -50.1

Sacrifices

Number of Sacrifice bunts per 550 plate appearences

1. White Sox 5.49
2. Angels 5.47
3. Tigers 4.71
4. Mariners 4.64
5. Indians 4.43
6. Orioles 4.00
7. Royals 3.89
8. Twins 3.71
9. Yankees 3.30
10. Devil Rays 3.06
11. Rangers 2.18
12. Blue Jays 2.14
13. Athletics 1.61
14. Red Sox 0.92

Runs saved - Full staff

Runs saved over a hypothetical replacement level staff

1. Twins 233.3
2. Red Sox 228.1
3. Rangers 225.0
4. Athletics 211.8
5. Blue Jays 167.0
6. White Sox 164.3
7. Angels 156.2
8. Yankees 145.4
9. Devil Rays 137.4
10. Royals 124.7
11. Orioles 119.7
12. Indians 99.6
13. Mariners 87.4
14. Tigers 79.3

Runs saved - Rotation

1. Athletics 157.9
2. Red Sox 151.4
3. Twins 140.8
4. Blue Jays 113.0
5. Rangers 99.2
6. White Sox 90.4
7. Indians 81.3
8. Angels 66.2
9. Yankees 65.8
10. Mariners 57.3
11. Orioles 42.8
12. Devil Rays 41.7
13. Royals 39.9
14. Tigers 34.2

Runs saved - Bullpens

1. Rangers 122.9
2. Devil Rays 93.6
3. Twins 91.5
4. Angels 90.0
5. Royals 82.9
6. Yankees 79.6
7. Red Sox 78.1
8. Orioles 76.0
9. White Sox 73.9
10. Athletics 53.8
11. Blue Jays 51.0
12. Tigers 44.4
13. Mariners 30.1
14. Indians 17.3

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Atlanta Braves 5, San Diego Padres 4 


Well, it's sunny again today down here in San Diego this morning - just as it was last night for my first trip to Petco Park, the San Diego Padres' new ballpark right in the heart of the Gaslamp District. Petco is nice though noticeably without a real defining characteristic. That's ok though. Because of the natural climate in San Diego, there was no need to try too hard. Just erect a pleasant structure with a little bit of that retro feel and some good site lines, mix in 73 degrees and sunny every night at first-pitch time and the place was going to be a hit. And it is. A few different times during the game I found myself shaking my head at just how great my life was at that particular moment - great ballpark, two good teams and absolutely perfect weather.

The game itself was pretty darn exciting too. It was an important tilt for the Padres who entered last night's game deadlocked with the Chicago Cubs for the National League Wild Card lead. Sterling Hitchcock squared off against Atlanta's Mike Hampton.

Hitchcock had a fine first inning but struggled in the second. Andruw Jones began the inning with a rocket of a home run that had little problem negotiating Petco's spacious center field. After an Eli Marrero double, Hitchcock was able to strike Eddie Perez out and with the pitcher coming to the plate, it appeared as though one run might be all the Braves would get. Not so, however, as Mike Hampton jumped all over Hitchcock's first offereing and missed a home run by just inches. Marrero would score to make the game 2-0.

The Padres again went quietly in the second and Sterling Hitchcock was again victimized by a Jones leading off the third inning. This time it was Chipper, batting righthanded, roping a ball into the left field seats for his fourth homer in four games and more interestingly, his 300th career home run. Chipper and to a lesser extent Andruw both started off 2004 a bit slowly but man are they both htting now.

Pre All-Star:
Chipper: .214/.327/.414
Andrue: .250/.344/.491

Post All-Star:
Chipper: .296/.381/.583
Andruw: .305/.392/.524

It was now 3-0 and it looked like Atlanta might have Hitchcock on the ropes. But Hitchcock settled down nicely, giving up just a hit and two walks until he was lifted with one out in the seventh inning for Blaine Neal. The Padres, having tallied in the home half of the fourth when Mark Loretta and Phil Nevin doubled and singled consecutively, were trailing by two runs with Rafael Furcal on first and Marcus Giles at bat when Neal entered. Giles grounded out to first, moving Furcal (who stole second) to third. Atlanta's best player, J.D. Drew, came to he plate. He got ahaead of Neal 2-0 before fouling off the third pitch. He then crushed a 2-1 fast ball into the left field stands. It was the best opposite field swing I have ever seen somebody not named Manny Ramirez take - truly a thing of beauty.

The incident called into question Padres manager Bruce Bochy's decision making process a bit and it is something Red Sox fans have grown accustomed to with Terry Francona. The Padres employ two lights out relievers in Scott Linebrink and Akinori Otsuka. Why were the two nowhere to be found in last night's nail-biter? Because Bochy pitched both in a 7-2 victory in Cincinnati the day before. When Linebrink entered in the seventh, it was already 7-2 - a lead most any Major League caliber reliever ought to be able to preserve. That's Blaine Neal time. Not in the seventh inning of a two-run game with Giles and Drew coming up. That's Linebrink time.

In the bottom half of the seventh, the Padres looked dead in the water. Trailing by four with two outs and nobody on and the brutal Jay Payton at the plate, there was little hope or buzz around the ballpark. But Payton would change that with a triple into the left field corner. Ramon Hernandez followed with a single that plated Payton and made it a three run game befor Brian Buchanan, hitting in the pitcher's spot, bounced out to end the frame.

When we first sat in our seats and I saw Bruce Bochy's lineup for the night, I wondered why the hell Rich Aurilia would ever be batting second in this lineup. I have no problem with him spelling the struggling Sean Burroughs, especially against a southpaw, but why bat him in the two-hole? Without a prototypical two-hitter, why not try and get your best hitters as many at-bats as possible?

Well the Pads clawed their way back into the ball game by stringing together baserunners and even collecting consecutive base hits off of the mighty John Smoltz in the eighth to come within one run. In the ninth, after Smoltz retired the firs two Padres hitters, Khalil Greene walked. So with two outs and the game winning run at the plate, the Padres sent up their number two hitter, Rich Aurilia (.677 OPS). He struck out with Mark Loretta (.893 OPS), Phil Nevin (.871 OPS), Brian Giles (.803 OPS) and Ryan Klesko (.792 OPS) all waiting to take hacks of their own.

I left the game thinking Atlanta was scary. With Hampton, Wright and Ortiz pitching as they are and the lineup starting to pound, this team can score with the best of them and prevent runs as well as anybody. Look at these pre and post All-Star numbers:

Braves Batting:
Pre: .262/.330/.430
Post: .279/.355/.439

Braves Opponents' Batting:
Pre: .273/.33/.409
Post: .238/.299/.344

The Braves are seventeen games over .500 and improving daily. They are, in my opinion, favorites to represent the National League in 2004's Fall Classic.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Toronto @ Boston 


Unlike my Irish friend, I will not be in Southern California for the next week. Due to a crazy work schedule, look for bizarre posting times in the future!

Offense
c - Greg Zaun 276/378/401 (6.2 RC/27)
Jason Varitek 302/399/485 (6.4 RC/27)

1b - Carlos Delgado 236/339/476 (5.8 RC/27)
Doug Mientkiewicz 270/308/324 (3.9 RC/27)

2b - Orlando Hudson 258/340/419 (5.5 RC/27)
Rickey Guiterrez 278/316/333 (-0.3 RC/27)

3b - Eric Hinske 251/314/373 (3.8 RC/27)
Bill Mueller 278/355/447 (5.6 RC/27)

ss - Chris Gomez 286/343/347 (5.9 RC/27)
Orlando Cabrera 203/230/322 (2.4 RC/27)

lf - Reed Johnson 274/327/379 (5.1 RC/27)
Manny Ramirez 317/407/617 (7.5 RC/27)

cf - Vernon Wells 281/344/456 (5.3 RC/27)
Johnny Damon 301/379/461 (5.8 RC/27)

rf - Alex Rios 290/334/398 (4.7 RC/27)
Kevin Millar 306/382/473 (5.8 RC/27)

dh - Frank Catalanotto 309/357/411 (6.3 RC/27)
David Ortiz 311/378/617 (8.1 RC/27)

Bench
Toronto
Dave Berg 266/288/353 (4.4 RC/27)
Kevin Cash 195/254/308 (2.5 RC/27)
Gabe Gross 200/333/450 (6.1 RC/27)
Frank Menechino 310/415/523 (8.6 RC/27)
Chris Woodward 236/275/360 (4.0 RC/27)

Boston
Gabe Kapler 282/316/423 (3.6 RC/27)
David McCarty 246/323/384 (3.6 RC/27)
Doug Mirabelli 287/363/564 (6.3 RC/27)
Dave Roberts 222/273/333 (1.1 RC/27)
Kevin Youkilis 281/384/461 (6.8 RC/27)*
*Suffered lower leg contusion on 8/15.

Team
Toronto - 261/328/398 (5.0)
Boston - 282/359/469 (5.5)

Offensive Efficiency:
Toronto - 123.2%
Boston - 97.2%

Clutch Number:
Toronto - (-19.776)
Boston - (-4.450)

Stolen Bases:
Toronto - (-23.4 BG) 62%
Boston - (-15.7 BG) 66%

Sacrifices:
Toronto - 2.19 per 550 PA
Boston - 0.95 per 550 PA

Pitching
Monday:
Justin Miller 1-1 4.38 (9.573)
Derek Lowe 10-10 5.33 (8.808)

Tuesday:
Ted Lilly 8-8 3.82 (36.606)
Pedro Martinez 13-4 3.72 (41.846)

Wednesday:
Miguel Batista 9-8 4.35 (31.609)
Tim Wakefield 8-7 4.67 (19.158)

Rotations:
Toronto - 112.085
Boston - 141.974

Bullpens:
Toronto - 51.806
Vinnie Chaulk - 9.817
Sean Douglass - 2.076
Jason Frasor - 18.555
Kevin Frederick - 0.153
Kerry Lightenberg - 0.120
Justin Speier - 8.290

Boston - 76.036
Terry Adams - (-0.623)
Alan Embree - 6.693
Keith Foulke - 28.527
Ramiro Mendoza - 7.357
Mike Myers - 2.251
Mike Timlin - 10.725

Usage:
Toronto - 2.6 RpG, 1.11 IPpApp
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.04 IPpApp

Friday, August 13, 2004

Off to So. Cal 


I am off to Southern California tomorrow morning and will be posting infrequently. I will be taking in games at PetCo and Dodger Stadium so I will hopefully be able to report back.

Go Sox!

Chicago @ Boston 


Be sure to scroll down to read posts from this morning and last night.

Offense
c - Ben Davis 308/308/481 (6.5 RC/27)
Jason Varitek 286/381/467 (5.9 RC/27)

1b - Paul Konerko 284/364/549 (6.1 RC/27)
Doug Mientkiewicz 281/303/344 (3.3 RC/27)

2b - Roberto Alomar 143/136/286 (3.1 RC/27)
Bill Mueller 278/355/449 (5.6 RC/27)

3b - Joe Crede 232/288/412 (3.1 RC/27)
Kevin Youkilis 282/383/471 (7.0 RC/27)

ss - Jose Valentin 231/298/523 (5.6 RC/27)
Orlando Cabrera 196/229/326 (2.0 RC/27)

lf - Carlos Lee 291/353/506 (6.3 RC/27)
Manny Ramirez 317/409/610 (7.6 RC/27)

cf - Aaron Rowand 303/354/536 (6.1 RC/27)
Johnny Damon 304/379/468 (5.9 RC/27)

rf - Timo Perez 250/297/335 (4.6 RC/27)
Kevin Millar 305/382/466 (5.7 RC/27)

dh - Carl Everett 243/296/378 (4.7 RC/27)
David Ortiz 311/377/610 (8.1 RC/27)

Bench
Chicago
Sandy Alomar 241/299/293 (2.5 RC/27)
Joe Borchard 193/281/246 (2.0 RC/27)
Ross Gload 277/329/392 (3.9 RC/27)
Willie Harris 272/363/332 (4.7 RC/27)
Juan Uribe 261/315/461 (4.4 RC/27)

Boston
Rickey Guiterrez 267/267/333 (-1.5 RC/27)
Gabe Kapler 286/321/427 (3.8 RC/27)
David McCarty 246/323/384 (3.7 RC/27)
Doug Mirabelli 278/358/567 (6.2 RC/27)
Dave Roberts 250/300/375 (2.3 RC/27)

Team
Chicago - 268/335/459 (5.2)
Boston - 279/357/467 (5.4)

Offensive Efficiency:
Chicago - 100.4%
Boston - 98.3%

Clutch Number:
Chicago - 13.927
Boston - (-11.051)

Stolen Bases:
Chicago - (-34.8 BG) 62%
Boston - (-15.7 BG) 66%

Sacrifices:
Chicago - 5.29 per 550 PA
Boston - 1.00 per 550 PA

Pitching
Friday:
Jose Contreras 1-0 1.93 (6.406)
Tim Wakefield 8-6 4.58 (20.756)

Saturday:
John Garland 8-8 4.70 (23.013)
Curt Schilling 13-6 3.61 (43.687)

Sunday:
Mark Buehrle 10-6 3.83 (42.106)
Bronson Arroyo 5-8 4.14 (25.810)

Rotations:
Chicago - 88.083
Boston - 138.859

Bullpens:
Chicago - 71.589
Jon Adkins - 12.545
Neal Cotts - 5.081
Mike Jackson - 5.649
Damaso Marte - 17.831
Cliff Politte - 6.664
Shingo Takatsu - 21.560

Boston - 75.908
Terry Adams - 1.147
Alan Embree - 7.203
Keith Foulke - 27.793
Ramiro Mendoza - 5.543
Mike Myers - 1.799
Mike Timlin - 11.444

Usage:
Chicago - 2.4 RpG, 1.07 IPpApp
Boston - 2.5 RpG, 1.05 IPpApp

Hate to Do This... 


There is an article up over at Dirt Dog's site that I just cannot resist tackling here.

DJS (not sure who this is) starts like this...

The Marlins and Angels have won the Series with "backdoor entry", while the Sox have only rare post-season play by any other avenue since its inception, but there is something particularly unsatisfying about groveling for a wild card with this team and it's not even my $120 million.

Gramatically, this sentence would make Gammons blush. But forget that for a minute. He is taking a jab at the Red Sox for only being able to compete for the Wild Card when they have ponied up $120M-plus for this club. According to DJS and I think I would agree to some extent, wins ought to correlate closely to payroll. But isn't the only viable conclusion to this line of thought, given the Yankees $183M payroll that the only playoff spot the Sox have a shot at would be the wild card? There is an argument to be made that the Sox have underachieved. But when they have a payroll just 2/3rds of another division opponent, that argument is not that that their payroll ought to afford them a division crown.

Certainly, all will be forgiven if a playoff and October white-wash emerges, but looking at it from the investment and return perspective of...say...a billionaire options trader, a finish equivalent or worse than last season seems money poorly spent, with heads to roll in consequence.

This is just a mindless jab catering to the lowest common denominator fan. Ignore all the circumstances and then kill management - classic Boston mook fan mentality. I wonder how many wins DJS thinks all the games lost to injury would have been worth?

Start with the talent brain trust, which added one of the best pitchers and relievers in the game, re-signed one of the best power hitters cheaply, but botched a mega-trade that left bridges burned and ultimately necessitated a trade, further undermining any sense of this team's development relevance.

Let's recap the "botched" trade. We would have Alex Rodriguez but no Manny.

AROD: .279/.366/.515
Manny: .317/.409/.610

Now sure, Manny plays left field and AROD would have played shortstop but still, that trade was no slam dunk, a point further reinforced when you consider that we also would have had the hobbled Magglio Ordonez as well.

And I have absolutely no idea what "development relevance" is.

In that, there are a mere handful of Sox players who actually worked for the club in the minors and while this may be par for the MLB now, i.e. you trade to success, this year's result may again indicate such a temp staff road is also paved with nothing more than good intentions.

Again, I don't understand this sentence but I think he is trying to say that developing home-grown talent is better. But is it? Like Sheffield, Brown, Giambi, Matsui, AROD and those powerful Yankees? What are those intentions paved with?

The mid-season discovery that the Club lacked gloves, omitting a fix for the still questionable 3-4-5 slots and relief woes, struck me as disingenuous from the molders of this team and possibly worse -- cheap. While it's nice to see double-digit ass-kickings of late and a fire lit under a previous offensive underperformer, whom do you trust to start in game three of any playoff series -- Wake, Lowe or Arroyo? Depending on the day, you could get a no-hitter or softball game.

The team in the field was essentially the same defensive club that played last year. So the "lacking gloves" would seem to be offset by improved pitching. That Lowe and Wakefield both regressed badly was, in my opinion, entirely unforseeable and just something that happened. Further, both have been better of late. I don't blame management there. As for Arroyo, to answer DJS' question, damn skippy I am quite comfortable with Bronson starting Game 3 of a playoff series. He has given up more than four earned runs in a start just once since June 1st.

I see little chance Lowe will be resigned, which may preclude postseason starts should it happen, but that digresses from the view that somebody -- in a suit -- gets whacked for this season if the fund does not show better returns on year.

This is just crazy. What the hell does this mean? So if management has decided not to sign Lowe, this may hinder his ability to make postseason starts...should it happen...but he digresses...in a suit...and if the fund has poor returns...screw it, I give up.

After all the navel-gazing about ALCS Game 7, was the managerial selection a tremendous step up from Grady or a trump card in placating new acquisitions on the future Fenway house approach?

I am no big Tito fan so we can find a little common ground here. I think. But I don't know what the "future Fenway house approach" is.

Close games still are not going the Sox way, which means either strategic, talent or motivational weaknesses or likely all three.

The Red Sox are 7-15 in one-run games this year. Wouldn't it be better if they were more like, say, the Philadelphia Phillies. What with their spiffy 19-13 record in one-run games, they must be one of the best franchises in baseball this year. Right?

Fact is, and history supports this, that winning a great majority of one-run games is as much luck as anything else.

Our closer had 43 saves last year, while at this point in August has 18; is this just the nature of how the current team wins or the fact that it is not in a position to win too frequently?

Through 113 games last season, Oakland had 3 more wins than the Red Sox currently do. So, um, I think it is the former.

Rising E.R.A. for all starters indicate more latitude extended to get the W, but at what cost? Yippee, Wake gives up six bombs and wins, but the decision to keep him out there in a wildcard race, regardless of middle relief woes, boggles the mind. Francona is managing to win player trust, not games, and that is a liberty the Sox do not have.

I guess it boggles his mind but not mine. Wake, over the course of his career, has always demonstrated a propensity to settle down after getting hit hard. No need to exhaust the bullpen when there is a pretty good chance that your starter will be able to bounce back and do just as good a job.

And why is he claiming to know Terry Francona's mangerial intentions?

Similarly, the traders of John Henry's account must continue to execute whether a deadline has passed or not, using the same arbitrage that brought starters and relievers late last year. Just getting to the dance, as noted, is not enough, and the fund managers should expect termination or worse - comparison to their predecessors - if returns are not up on year.

Of course, when holding his portfolio managers accountable, I am sure Henry also considers market conditions.

The Red Sox have the American League's best run differential. Stop flinging mud and try to realize that baseball's a quirky sport. In short, shit happens. Why can't we just leave it at that and root that fortunes change going forward?







Thursday, August 12, 2004

Chatroom Fun 


Today, I was hit with my unique brand of writer's block, so I asked the SoSH chatroom what I should write about. The ideas they had were ok, but I didn't think I could spin a column out of them.

Therefore, what you are getting is topic ideas, and my terse reply. This is what makes Dewey's House the Official Blog of the People. So much so, that ODB will ramble about it next time he's at the Grammy's, is cracked out, and wants to make RZA's life a living hell.

I'm very white, by the way.

The Mets trading Kazmir

He's one of the best prospects in baseball, and he was traded for Victor Zambrano? In terms of value, the Mets paid a steep price for a guy that will probably be a 4th starter.

Young pitchers are hard to project. Kazmir is slightly built, and might actually be destined to be a closer, but man, can he throw. Sometimes things just fall into your lap. Chuck LaMarr should put a picture of Jim Duquette up in his office.

Am I the last one to hear that Jimmy Anderson was traded?

Probably not, but the king of the mediocre Sox, Jimmy Anderson, was traded back to the Cubs. That means for a few weeks of Anderson, the Red Sox gave the Cubs non-prospect Andrew Shipley.

If Anderson is essentially traded for himself, does anyone care?

Just do what every blog does. Bitch about the Twins

Terry Ryan is overrated, and the team is the best in a crap division. They might have the best pitching staff in the AL. Their offense has been upgraded with Monreau, who will be a stud.

Gardenhire seems to be Tom Kelly's understudy in getting under people's skin, as he has exchanged words with Doug Mientkiewicz, and Jacque Jones.

Johan Santana is scary good.

The End of an Error

I guess this ment that in jettosing Garciaparra for Cabrera and Mientkiewicz, we upgraded defense. The Sox have committed five errors in the last 12 games, for two unearned runs.

Sweet.

Top 10 Reasons Dale Sveum is a douchebag

10. His name is pronounced Swain. It's spelled Sveum.
9. He was on the 1998 Yankees
8. He hung Bellhorn out to dry against the Royals.
7. He looks like a shady poolhall attendant
6. He didn't stick the screwdriver in his eye. He made Lynn Jones go first.
5. The way he got Dave Roberts, Jason Varitek, and Kevin Millar thrown out at home by Rocco Baldelli in the span of eight days.
4. Career on base percentage of .298, but he had a 12 year career.
3. He was traded for Bruce Ruffin and Keith Shepherd. That jerk.
2. The way his uniform top is too big so it tapers off at the belt. Numbers should be straight, not turning in.
1. The fact that he replaced Mike Cubbage, one of the best third base coaches in baseball.

Why did it take Pedro 4 years to throw a shutout?

In 2001, he missed most of the year. In 2002 and 2003, his shoulder was protected. And he's a Dominican pansy, according to Dan Shaughnessy.

How did OC hit so well last year? Was it Vlad?

Fluke I suppose. I don't buy protection theories, so I don't know. He seems to be one of those every-other players, vacillating between good and bad. They should figure that out if they want to resign him for next year.

2005 will be a "good" if the pattern holds.

Why do people hate me?

Because you hooked up with Dale Sveum. You harlot.

Wow, I hope it this piece comes off as awkward as I think it will. The Official Red Sox Blog of the People owes that to it's readers.

Red Sox 14, Devil Rays 4 


Kevin Millar and Jason Varitek paced a ferocious Red Sox attack, as they defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 14-4 last night. Devil Rays prospect Dewon Brazelton never stood a chance. He gave up 7 earned runs in just an inning and two-thirds. Derek Lowe on the other hand was pretty good. He left in the sixth inning with a large lead after his recurring blister nuisance once again reared its head.

Afternoon ball today at Fenway and Pedro is on the hill. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Isolating Ichiro (and why I hate the single) 


You all know that batting average isn't very useful for the purposes of anaylzing baseball players. If you don't know that, and that last statement made you angry, then I'm sorry, but you probably aren't going to buy what the rest of what I'm writing today anyway, so go have a beer on me.

Ready.

Good.

Batting Average is basically boosted by singles. My reasoning behind thinking that is if you hear player A is batting .323 and player B is batting .285, then you don't really know what kind of year they are having. You can probably guess though that player A has hit more singles.

I know that singles aren't glamorous, and they are necissary pieces of offense. However, generally, teams with a lot of singles generally don't score many runs. Teams with a lot of doubles, home runs, and walks do.

My friend Neil, a statistics grad, actually studied the issue, and he determined that singles have a weaker correlation with run scoring than walks do (.500 for singles, .591 for walks). I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds like singles generally aren't very significant compared to other ways to get on base. Yes I know you can't score from second on a walk, but it doesn't seem to matter.

Of course, Ichiro is the posterboy for singles. Because he hits singles at such a high rate (147 in 491 ab) his batting average is usually very high (.360 this season). And because of the high batting average, he posts a very good on base percentage (.401) and a good slugging percentage (.442).

Of course, if you look at an OPS line of 360/401/442, you think that Ichiro is having a good year. He is, but you don't know more important things, like how much he's walking and how much power he has in relation to other players.

That's why I like to isolate the rates, as I call it.

Isolated discipline (sorry, but I can't think of a better name) and it's much more famous cousin, Isolated slugging, are those two rates, with batting average subtracted out. This tells you a players on base independant of hits (mostly singles) and a player's power independent of the single-based bastards.

For the American League in 2004, you have a stat line of 270/336/432. That makes the two isolations are 066/162.

Here are the Red Sox:

BA OB Slu Iso d Iso s
Bellhorn 0.256 16 0.373 7 0.432 11 0.117 1 0.176 9
Burks 0.133 23 0.235 20 0.233 21 0.102 2 0.100 18
Cabrera 0.211 20 0.231 21 0.368 18 0.020 20 0.157 12
Crespo 0.165 22 0.165 23 0.215 22 0.000 21 0.050 21
Damon 0.300 5 0.375 5 0.462 6 0.075 11 0.162 11
Daubach 0.227 19 0.326 14 0.413 15 0.099 4 0.186 5
Dominique 0.182 21 0.182 22 0.182 23 0.000 21 0.000 24
Grcprr 0.321 1 0.367 8 0.500 4 0.046 16 0.179 8
Guiterrez 0.308 3 0.308 17 0.385 17 0.000 21 0.077 20
Kapler 0.290 7 0.325 15 0.435 10 0.035 18 0.145 15
McCarty 0.246 17 0.320 16 0.388 16 0.074 12 0.142 17
Mntkwcz 0.259 15 0.286 18 0.296 20 0.027 19 0.037 23
Millar 0.298 6 0.377 4 0.448 9 0.079 8 0.150 14
Mirabelli 0.281 10 0.361 9 0.573 3 0.080 7 0.292 3
Mueller 0.265 14 0.342 12 0.432 11 0.077 9 0.167 10
Nixon 0.273 13 0.345 11 0.424 14 0.072 7 0.151 13
Ortiz 0.308 3 0.374 6 0.610 2 0.066 14 0.302 1
Ramirez 0.317 2 0.406 1 0.611 1 0.089 6 0.294 2
Reese 0.230 18 0.274 19 0.315 19 0.044 17 0.085 19
Roberts 0.286 8 0.333 13 0.429 13 0.047 15 0.143 16
Varitek 0.283 9 0.379 3 0.462 6 0.096 5 0.179 7
Youkilis 0.280 11 0.382 2 0.460 8 0.102 2 0.180 6
Pitchers 0.095 24 0.095 24 0.143 24 0.000 21 0.048 22





The number right next to the rate stat is the team rank. Happy parusing.

Derek Lowe vs Dewan Brazelton tonight. I've been more confident...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Edgar Martinez and the Mariners 


As I'm sure you've heard, Edgar Martinez has decided to hang it up at the end of the 2004 season.

If you've been reading for a while, you know that Martinez is my kind of player. What I didn't realize is that in our little corner of the internet (Red Sox fans), I've read that Edgar was pretty much the most popular non-Red Sox amongst the fans.

I don't know if its the career .420 on base percentage, or the way he completely destroyed the Yankees in the 1995 ALDS (.571/.667/1.000), but Edgar seemed to have carved out a little nitch for himself among the Red Sox Internet Clique.

Before I get on to the meat of this post, let me post the line from Edgar's 1995 season:

356 batting average
479 on base
628 slugging

That from a guy that didn't hit 30 home runs in a year until he was 37 years old.

Now, the Mariners. They might be my least favorite franchise in the American League. Not only do they do goofy things like wait to give Edgar a job until he was 27, and release John Olerud without much warning, but they are perennial underachievers.

Think about it. Think about the talent on the Mariners teams in the mid-late 90s. How they never even made the World Series is beyond me. In 1997, they had Paul Sorrento, Joey Cora, Alex Rodriguez, Russ Davis, Ken Griffey, Jay Buhner, and Edgar Martinez all having above average years for their position.

They had Jeff Fassaro, Randy Johnson, and Jamie Moyer all having good years. Woody Williams never saw it fit to put a bullpen on the team, and they won 90 games in a weak AL West.

They lost to a very good Baltimore team in the ALDS, but the Orioles lost to very, very mediocre Indians team in the ALCS. That's the story of those Mariners teams. They always had a good amount of talent, but when it came to exploiting an opponet's vurnablity, they never could.

So that's when the Mariners started to annoy me.

Fast forward to 2004. The Mariners were getting old, and new GM Bill "My dad built the Dodgers!" Bavasi decided the best way to combat that was to make the team older with 30+ signees Scott Spiezio, Raul Ibanez, and Rich Aurilia. In the process, he lost a draft pick to the Royals with the Ibanez signing.

Since then, the Mariners have gone into the tank. They DFA'ed John Olerud, Pat Boarders, and Aurilia. They've essentially platooned Edgar Martinez with 28-year-old "rookie" Bucky Jacobson. They've refused to cash in chips Eddie Guardado, and Randy Winn for tasty prospects. In short, the franchise is a mess.

Not saying the trio of DFA's weren't deserved (although I don't see the logic of paying Olerud to play for the Yankees), but the Mariners should have never have been in that situation in the first place. The only good move they've made this year, and I'm saying good, not fixing a past mistake, is somehow getting Miguel Olivo and Jeremy Reed for Freddy Garcia and Ben Davis. I don't know if that's Bavasi's good, or Kenny Williams being Kenny Williams again.

The Mariners are the AL West's premier franchise in terms of revenue. However, rather than capitalize on that, Bavasi has turn the franchise into one with little direction, other than to try and out old the Yankees.

It's a shame in their history, despite having a few great teams, they never capitalized. And now that Edgar Martinez is leaving at the end of the year, the organization loses the last bit of personality it had from those great teams. With Ichiro little more than a glorified singles hitter, and your best pitcher being 68 years old, it looks like some dark days in Seattle until people like Felix Hernandez are ready, and Chris Snelling learns to stay out of the hospital.

I think it will probably be a while before the Mariners aren't just another random, faceless team. And I don't think Howard Lincoln, and Bill Bavasi are smart enough to prevent that.

Answering the Call 


Obviously readers of Dewey's House, the Red Sox responded to my challenge and manifested a little spunk tonight at Fenway. After falling behind by a run early, the Sox responded with three runs in the fifth inning, stringing together four hits with the most crushing blow coming off of Jason Varitek's bat for a double. As is their recent custom, the Red Sox would squander the lead quickly. The Devil Rays came back in the visitor half of the sixth with three ground ball hits of their own, the last a triple down the first base line by Rocco Baldelli that plated the previous two Devil Rays that had reached. With the score 3-3 and a runner on third with nobody out, Bronson Arroyo did some of his best work of the evening, escaping the inning with the contest still tied. The Sox offense would reward Arroyo for his gutsy strand job in the top half. After Doug Mientkiewicz and Manny Ramirez made the first two outs of the inning, then next six batters would reach and before you knew it, the Sox had an 8-3 lead. While the hits themselves were obviously integral, it seemed that Ramirez's 10-pitch fly out to deep right field depleted Jorge Sosa's remaining resources, which to that point had been plentiful and effective. Arroyo came out for the seventh and made quick work of the first two hitters but gave up a flukey, spinning grounder off the bat of Julio Lugo that initially appeared to be a sure foul ball but curved back to hit the first base bag. The next batter being Aubrey Huff, he of the three hits to that point off of Arroyo, Terry Francona called upon Mike Myers, resident LOOGY, to finish the inning. He would strike Huff out. The Red Sox went on to an 8-4 victory.

We have all learned not to make too much of one victory. But a dark cloud loomed today as the local papers killed the Sox after last night's debacle and I think it ought to be noted that the Sox came out and played a whale of a game tonight with the weight of a city on its shoulders.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Torn 


I have no idea what to make of tonight's game. On the one hand, a Curt Schilling-John Halama Sox-Rays matchup should not mean that the Sox get their asses handed to them. Because they did. On the other hand, they just arrived home from a two-week road trip and all night they looked sluggish and fatigued. I mean, how many times can John Halama jam a team with 610 runs scored before you are forced to conclude they were tired? Still, it's an excuse.

So that's all I got. I am terribly perplexed right now - simultaneously outraged and somewhat understanding. Hopefully Manny returns tomorrow night and this team shows us something.

It's well past time that this team take some responsibilty for their underachievement. You can talk about run differentials and yeah, perhaps they bear more predictive value than simply previous records. But at the same time, a team that comes through with men on base and a team that wiggles their way out of jams time after time deserves credit for doing so.

I remain very much on board with this team. But man, do they make it unenjoyable.

Tampa Bay @ Boston 


Offense
c - Toby Hall 272/324/390 (4.9 RC/27)
Jason Varitek 277/376/458 (5.5 RC/27)

1b - Tino Martinez 282/376/482 (6.0 RC/27)
Doug Mientkiewicz 316/350/368 (5.1 RC/27)

2b - Julio Lugo 273/340/404 (5.6 RC/27)
Bill Mueller 264/342/436 (5.1 RC/27)

3b - Aubrey Huff 280/347/464 (5.2 RC/27)
Kevin Youkilis 281/386/464 (7.0 RC/27)

ss - BJ Upton 222/263/278 (2.6 RC/27)
Orlando Cabrera 200/226/400 (2.4 RC/27)

lf - Carl Crawford 307/337/458 (5.8 RC/27)
Manny Ramirez 320/409/618 (7.7 RC/27)

cf - Rocco Baldelli 281/328/412 (4.4 RC/27)
Johnny Damon 303/379/469 (5.9 RC/27)

rf - Jose Cruz 235/352/443 (5.5 RC/27)
Kevin Millar 295/375/449 (5.1 RC/27)

dh - Bob Fick 201/276/333 (3.4 RC/27)
David Ortiz 308/374/616 (8.2 RC/27)

Bench
Tamp Bay
Geoff Blum 198/245/329 (2.1 RC/27)
Brook Fordyce 179/223/236 (0.4 RC/27)
Damian Rolls 171/264/211 (1.7 RC/27)
Rey Sanchez 257/295/359 (3.8 RC/27)

Boston
Rickey Guiterrez 308/308/385 (-1.8 RC/27)
Gabe Kapler 281/317/413 (3.5 RC/27)
David McCarty 246/320/388 (3.7 RC/27)
Doug Mirabelli 281/361/573 (6.3 RC/27)
Dave Roberts 286/333/429 (4.0 RC/27)

Team
Tampa Bay - 256/320/398 (4.4)
Boston - 279/357/467 (5.4)

Offensive Efficiency:
Tampa Bay - 97.0%
Boston - 98.3%

Clutch Number:
Tampa Bay - 9.848
Boston - (-11.051)

Stolen Bases:
Tampa Bay - (-0.1 BG) 73%
Boston - (-15.7 BG) 66%

Sacrifices:
Tampa Bay - 3.05 per 550 PA
Boston - 1.00 per 550 PA

Pitching
Monday:
John Halama 5-5 4.39 (2.174)
Curt Schilling 13-5 3.38 (46.381)

Tuesday:
Jorge Sosa 3-0 4.69 (5.620)
Bronson Arroyo 4-8 4.15 (24.361)

Wednesday:
Dewan Brazelton 4-3 2.56 (21.699)
Derek Lowe 9-10 5.50 (7.910)

Thursday:
Mark Hendrickson 8-10 4.24 (22.784)
Pedro Martinez 12-4 3.94 (35.682)

Rotations:
Tampa Bay - 60.068
Boston - 133.391

Bullpens:
Tampa Bay - 40.084
Danys Baez - 15.115
Lance Carter - 14.597
Jesus Colome - 8.109
Jeremi Gonzalez - 1.328
Travis Harper - 7.327
Trever Miller - 11.590
Bobby Seay - 3.233

Boston - 73.514
Terry Adams - 1.125
Alan Embree - 7.545
Keith Foulke - 27.143
Ramiro Mendoza - 4.974
Mike Myers - 0.225
Mike Timlin - 11.468

Usage:
Tampa Bay - 2.5 RpG, 1.32 IPpApp
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.05 IPpApp

Era of Luke-Warm Feelings Rolls On... 


The Sox took two of three from the Detroit Tigers this weekend, the one loss coming by a margin of - you guessed it - one run. The Sox once again left runners on base all night. Derek Lowe pitched OK, well enough to win in my opinion but he was let down both by a lack of offensive support and some pretty crappy defense as well. I am not one to rail against Terry Francona like some others do. I think he has certainly made some questionnable decisions this year but I am also open to the possibility that he has the right personality for this club and he may yet become an excellent manager. OK, now that I got that out of the way...why in sweet, sweet heavens would he ever play Bill Mueller at second base when Derek Lowe is pitching? Mueller has extremely limited range for a third-baseman, much less a middle infielder. Lowe had his groundball mojo working again Friday night but Francona failed to deploy a suitable infield behind him. The offensive downgrade from say, Youkilis to Gutierrez is dwarfed by the potential defensive upgrade with a pitcher on the mound that yields groundballs almost exclusively. Sure enough, the most backbreaking play of the game came in the Tigers half of the fourth when Carlos Pena hit a 37-hopper into right field that plated two runs.

Saturday night, the Sox turned to Pedro Martinez to help turn things around. Pedro was excellent early and good enough later as the offense, in an unspectacular performance, managed to register 7 runs on just 8 hits. The story of the game if you ask me was that Pedro Martinez set a Red Sox club record for the most ten-strikeout games. He did so in his 191st start in a Sox uniform, exactly half the total starts that Clemens made in the Carmine Hose. Let me repeat. Pedro Martinez exceeded Roger Clemens' record for 10+ strikeout games in a Sox uniform in just one half the starts. I am dumbfounded by this even though I have always been of the belief that Pedro and Clemens were in separate galaxies as hurlers. I suppose this is just another data point. Sure, Clemens far exceeds Pedro in the areas of longevity and durability but as far as who the better pitcher has been, especially at their respective peaks, it's not close. I guess I will just move on, as I think this may be a topic worthy of a column all to itself.

Yesterday, the Sox outslugged the Tigers, 11-9 as Tim Wakefield gave up six home runs and, um, earned the win. I am sure if you are reading this blog you understand this but for anyone that doesn't, this is why it is dangerous to evaluate a starting pitcher based on his win-loss record. Put simply, six gopher balls per start generally won't get it done. No need to dwell on the negatives of the victory, however. The Sox offense really exploded for the first time since the Nomar deal. Kevin Youkilis smacked two home runs and David Ortiz added another. Johnny Damon had three hits and Orlando Cabrera and Gabe Kapler each contributed a pair of doubles. Ramiro Mendoza relieved Wakefield and pitched wonderfully again. For some reason Francona lifted him for Mike Timlin, who gave up a two-run home run in the eighth before Keith Foulke slammed the door in the ninth. The story of the bullpen these days is Mendoza. He lowered his E.R.A. yesterday to 1.74 on the season and his emergence could not be happening at a better time as Scott Williamson suffers injury setback after setback. I hope Francona begins to turn to Mendoza some more in high leverage situations.

So it was another luke-warm series to cap off another mediocre road-trip. The Sox now come home for 30 of their last 53 games and some of the macro signs are looking brighter. Derek Lowe and Bronson Arroyo both are pitching well of late. Pedro and Schilling seem healthy and ready for the stretch-run. And Wake, well he's Wake; prone to the occasional shelling but never unable to bounce back. With capable starting pitching, improved defense, some home cooking and more consistent offense (Manny's gotta break out soon), I think one quits on this Red Sox team at their own peril.

It starts tonight.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Boston @ Detroit 


Today is the offical One Year Birthday of Dewey's House. I wanted to thank the people that continued to read us, despite three prolonged vacations by myself. With out the readers, it would just be Sully and I posting our unique brand of inanity for eachother's benefit. F that. Here's the preview.

Offense
c - Ivan Rodriguez 347/394/522 (8.1 RC/27)
Jason Varitek 277/376/446 (5.4 RC/27)

1b - Carlos Pena 226/311/426 (4.7 RC/27)
Doug Mientkiewicz 545/583/636 (20.2 RC/27)

2b - Omar Infante 269/333/469 (5.4 RC/27)
Bill Mueller 261/339/437 (5.1 RC/27)

3b - Brandon Inge 282/341/482 (5.8 RC/27)
Kevin Youkilis 275/381/430 (6.4 RC/27)

ss - Carlos Guillen 322/388/564 (7.9 RC/27)
Orlando Cabrera 125/176/375 (1.0 RC/27)

lf - Rondell White 272/342/465 (6.1 RC/27)
Manny Ramirez 321/411/621 (7.8 RC/27)

cf - Alex Sanchez 328/348/391 (4.5 RC/27)
Johnny Damon 301/377/467 (6.0 RC/27)

rf - Bobby Higgenson 250/346/361 (5.3 RC/27)
Kevin Millar 298/374/456 (5.1 RC/27)

dh - Dmitri Young 276/355/462 (5.8 RC/27)
David Ortiz 310/377/617 (8.1 RC/27)


Bench
Detriot
Mike DiFelice 143/250/238 (1.4 RC/27)
Eric Munson 224/307/452 (6.0 RC/27)
Chris Shelton 243/356/351 (3.6 RC/27)
Jason Smith 318/338/636 (5.5 RC/27)
Marcus Thames 273/319/580 (7.7 RC/27)

Boston
Rickey Guiterrez 308/308/385 (-1.8 RC/27)
Gabe Kapler 271/309/396 (3.2 RC/27)
David McCarty 238/312/389 (3.6 RC/27)
Doug Mirabelli 287/350/585 (6.2 RC/27)
Dave Roberts 000/000/000 (-2.5 RC/27)

Team
Detroit - 277/342/448 (5.5)
Boston - 278/356/465 (5.4)

Offensive Efficiency:
Detroit - 98.8%
Boston - 97.8%

Clutch Number:
Detroit - 7.230
Boston - (-10.519)

Stolen Bases:
Detroit - (-53.8 BG) 57%
Boston - (-9.7 BG) 68%

Sacrifices:
Detroit - 4.78 per 550 PA
Boston - 1.03 per 550 PA

Pitching
Friday:
Derek Lowe 9-9 5.52 (7.713)
Mike Maroth 8-7 4.44 (18.055)

Saturday:
Pedro Martinez 11-4 4.07 (32.603)
Jeremy Bonderman 6-8 6.06 (-5.972)

Sunday:
Tim Wakefield 7-6 4.15 (24.977)
Nate Robertson 9-6 4.31 (14.717)

Rotations:
Detroit - 36.676
Boston - 135.554

Bullpens:
Detroit - 40.084
John Ennis - (-2.175)
Al Levine - 5.540
Roberto Novoa - 3.092
Ugueth Urbina - 7.417
Jamie Walker - 11.387
Esteban Yan - 12.374

Boston - 74.073
Terry Adams - 0.679
Alan Embree - 7.722
Keith Foulke - 27.045
Mark Malaska - 3.587
Ramiro Mendoza - 3.888
Mike Timlin - 13.139

Usage:
Detroit - 2.7 RpG, 1.13 IPpApp
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.05 IPpApp

The Motor City Felines 




Stop by and check out the Detroit Tigers Weblog.

Off Day 



Off day last night for the Sox so I guess I will just offer up a little sampling of my favorite stops on the web...

- Dirt Dog is still just pummeling the bejesus out of the dead horse that is the Nomar story.

- We've turned the corner. Really...we have.

- Aaron's a little fed up too with mainstream baseball coverage. He's right. Baseball Tonight has become unwatchable.

- Alex Belth draws a parrallel between John Olerud and an Edward Hopper painting.

- Bruce Allen has all the Pats links any gloomy Sox fan could hope for.

- BP's Triple Play featured the Sox yesterday and it was the first blog/stathead type media piece I have seen defending the trade. It's a free article, although that ought to be irrelevant because why anybody truly interested in baseball would not join BP is beyond me.

- For NFL scoop, nothing compares to this site.

That's about all I got at this point.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Focusing Our Attention Elsewhere 


Despite being idle today, the Red Sox have lost even more ground in their respective races. Both the Yankees and Texas Rangers won this afternoon, extending their leads over the Sox to 9.5 in the division and 2 for the Wild Card, although I suppose since Oakland lost, it is now the A's the Sox trail by just 1.5 games. Ahhh, Wild Card fever. Who can resist?



Beginning tomorrow night, the Red Sox are in Detroit for a three game series against the Tigers, who happen to be one of the more fascinating turnaround stories of 2004. I was wondering how it was exactly that the Tigers had already reached the 50 win mark while winning just 43 in all of 2003. The answer is that Dave Dombrowski, Detroit's General Manager, had one doozy of an off-season.



We have said in this space before that one of the very most important components of being a quality Major League General Manager is possessing the abilty to accurately recognize strengths and weaknesses, both on your Big club and down through the organization. Last year, the Tigers had one of the most inept offenses of all time, but also featured some of the youngest regulars in all of baseball. Dombrowski, especially in his lineup, was able to identify weaknesses and address them through the execution of nearly flawless transactions. Last year, Tigers' catchers and shortstops each posted OPS totals resembling a couple of medium length par 5's. On a team full of holes, these two positions represented enormous, gaping vacuities. All Dombroski did to fill these holes was acquire the two players that respectively would become the best catcher and shortstop in baseball in Pudge Rodriguez and Carlos Guillen. If you are going to patch a hole, might as well do it right, no?



There have been incremental upgrades elsewhere, mostly because Dombrowski trusted some of his young talent and the natural progression that tends to accompany trust in young talent. Omar Infante and Eric Munson have made strides. Craig Monroe, of whom Dombrowski was understandably skeptical, had his at-bats replaced largely by Rondell White, who also has produced for the Tigers. The other holdovers from 2003, Alex Sanchez, Carlos Pena and Bob Higginson have progressed, treaded water and continued regressing respectively. Higginson just sucks and when the Tigers are relieved of his unrivaled albatross of a contract, Dombrowski should be able to make good use of the funds.



This weekend's series is improtant for the Sox and unlike last year's contests against Detroit, they will actually have to defeat a Major League Baseball team in order to accomplish anything.

Quick Note 


I checked over at BP's situational run probabilities page to find out just how likely it was that the Sox would score one run had Dale Sveum held Dave Roberts at third in the ninth inning. According to the report, and this is for 2004 only, there was an 84.1% chance that the Sox would score at least one run. Of course this does not even factor that Dave Roberts, one of the fastest players in baseball, was the potential tying run.



This is the type of stuff that Dale Sveum has to be able to decide in a split second. It's a third base coach's job. "Is there more than an 84% chance that Roberts will score if I send him here with Baldelli, last year's AL outfield assists leader, charging hard? Because if not, I gotta hold him because there just isn't that much to be gained. It's damn likely we score him anyway."



The numbers are pretty much immaterial, as I do not expect Sveum to know the exact figure specifically. The figures do provide the hard evidence however in this case. But I would imagine that many astute baseball fans could guess that about 85% of the time, with runners on first and third and nobody out, you score.



It's baseball-101 and a first-rate bungling by Dale Sveum.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Galling 


The Red Sox lost tonight because of two of the most costly errors you will ever see in a baseball game.

The first was a seventh inning error with men on first and second by Kevin Youkilis. He parlayed what was sure to be a double play into a bases-loaded-no-outs situation for the Rays. The next batter, Toby Hall, spoiled what had been a great outing by Bronson Arroyo by driving the second pitch he saw over the left field wall for a grand slam. Good thing we shored up the defense.

The second gaffe was just inexcusable. Down by one in the ninth, Kevin Millar lined a leadoff single into left. Terry Francona promptly called upon Dave Roberts to pinch run and on the second pitch to Doug Mientkiewicz, Toby Hall misplayed the ball and Roberts swiped second. Minky would line a hard single to center field, with nobody out mind you, and third base coach Dale Sveum sent Roberts. The play wasn't close. Baldelli gunned down Roberts at the plate and the Sox would go on to lose, 5-4.

It's losses like these that make you wonder if it is in fact your team's year. Thankfully, the Sox are off tomorrow.

Thought This Was Funny... 


There's apparently a guy named Mark Bechtel who apparently writes a blog on si.com and he has just had it with Red Sox Nation. He writes,

"But there's nothing more annoying than seeing Boston fans scramble to justify the Nomar Garciaparra trade."

I don't know why he feels this way, but whatever. Some strawman really pissed him off, I guess. He continues,
"I realize the guy had to go. Nomar was a cancer in the clubhouse, he's a liability defensively, he's not the same hitter he was three years ago, he's as delicate as a hothouse flower, etc. "

He realizes he had to go? He did? Nomar was a cancer in the clubhouse? He was? A liability defensively? Maybe. Not the same hitter he was three years ago? He played in 21 games three years ago. As delicate as a hothouse flower? Oh now we are taking cheap shots. Super. He's not done...
"But if anyone should have seen these things happening it's Theo Epstein. "

Got that, Theo? Mercilessly, he continues...

"A few years back Carlos Baerga was basically Nomar. He had put up a series of incredible offensive seasons in Cleveland, and then he lost it, taking limos to games and yapping on his cell phone at inappropriate times, while putting on pounds and forgetting how to hit. (Baerga might have been the best bad-ball hitter I've ever seen; he made Nomar look patient. But when he got fat he lost enough of his reflexes that he could no longer golf sinkers off the plate and into center field)."

I don't even know how to respond to this. I really don't. Analogies do not get any less analogous than this. Did Nomar get fat? Or start using his cell-phone inappropriately? Assuming what he has to say about Baerga is true, and something tells me that would be quite a leap, what the hell does it have to do with Garciaparra?

It's truly remarkable just how poor some mainstream media outlets' sports content has become. Did you catch Jayson Stark's trade winners and losers yet? Or how about Joe Morgan telling us that the Sox won and the Dodgers lost at the deadline?

Perhaps more than any time over the last few years, this weekend's trade deadline has polarized the mainstream media folks and the stat-head blogosphere types. Over at all-baseball.com, there was a fantastic roundtable in which Mark McLusky put it best...

"We’ll look at this weekend, and especially the Dodgers’ deals, as a turning point in the ongoing revolution in baseball. Every single mainstream outlet is calling DePodesta’s trades a failure and that they’re horrible; almost every blog I’ve seen, BP, etc. are saying it was a huge win for LA. I happen to think it’s a win for them, and if that’s borne out over time, we might be able to look at this moment as when the mainstream media finally lost its credibility talking about this stuff. Seriously, I can’t find one guy who’s saying he liked the Dodgers’ moves."

Well said.


Now That Some Time Has Passed... 


So it has been over three days now since the trade and still, mud is flinging from both sides. Nomar has called the front-office a bunch of liars while Larry Lucchino and John Henry have countered by publicly accusing Garciaparra of, well, lying. It’s awfully childish and a tragic ending to one of the truly fun tenures in Sox history. I wish the front office would take the high road and shut up. I wish Garciaparra would publicly acknowledge, at least to some extent, that he was not particularly fond of the current Red Sox management. Unfortunately both sides seem intent on kicking and screaming, each trying to do so more loudly than the other, until they have satisfactorily swayed the court of public opinion. It sucks and I have no interest in any of it.

From a baseball perspective, I have begun, a little bit at least, to come around. Orlando Cabrera does play one hell of a shortstop and as long as he is getting healthier, totals closer to his 2003 line of .297/.347/.460 might reasonably be expected. Curt Schilling certainly has had some ringing public endorsements for the kid. Maybe the combination of knowing where your home is, playing in front of pumped up fans and having the support of future hall-of-famers will aid Cabrera’s progression to the mean.

I too like Doug Mientkiewicz as a player. Unfortunately, I also like Kevin Millar when he is slugging .600 as he has for the last month. And I like Gabe Kapler who is also hitting of late. And I like Dave Roberts who is as automatic as they come when it comes to stealing bases (33 in 34 attempts in 2004) and also quite good at getting on base against right-handers. So who sits when David Ortiz returns from suspension? Mientkiewicz and Millar both have non-existent platoon splits. Roberts is productive against right-handers and Kapler hits left-handers proficiently. So the latter two would seem to be ideal platoon partners, what with their defensive abilities and speed. But if you platoon Kapler and Roberts, one of your five or six best hitters (Millar or Mientkiewicz) has to ride the pine everyday. And I don’t want to even think about the logjam if Trot Nixon returns to health any time soon.

So this is my new problem with the trade. Even if you think the Sox may have received an acceptable amount of talent in return for Nomar and Murton (they didn’t), how the hell do you allot the appropriate amount of playing time to four guys that all probably should be playing with some regularity, and in the case of Millar and Mientkiewicz, every day? This issue represents another data point for the case against this trade. The more and more I think about it, the more I try to give it the benefit of the doubt, even the most tride and true Theo apologist would have to concede is that the deal appears to have been, at the very least, rushed into.

And does their public trashing of Nomar not support this? Does it not seem to others as though by tirelessly dragging Nomar through the mud (and Nomar is no innocent bystander), that the front office is somehow acknowledging that they were backed into a corner and just had to get something? If they truly believed it was a good baseball deal, then simply say, "trades are part of the game, we did what we had to to get better". But they know better.

Either way, there is a silver lining in that the team’s biggest problem now as I see it, is a talent logjam. So things could be far worse. There does appear to be some new enthusiasm. Minky does seem tremendously likeable. Cabrera is a pleasure to watch in the field. The team should yield fewer runs and the offense is still formidable. So by no means is all lost.

The fairness of the deal itself aside, this Red Sox team as presently constituted is still fantastic and I look forward to renewed faith and energy - my two Sox garments that I treasure most - that were temporarily stripped from me when one of my all-time favorites was unceremoniously shipped out of town.


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Thoughts 


The Sox won their second straight game tonight. But I still wonder what kind of team they are going to feature down the stretch.

As you might be able to tell, I was not thrilled about the Nomar deal. I think chiefly because it was the first major deal by this front office that could not be rationally and reasonably defended with clear statistical evidence. The only way it makes any sense is if Mientkiewicz and Cabrera revert back to their 2003 numbers and even still, I am not sure they improved. For the first time, I think local media pressure got to Theo et al.

I will miss Nomar. I think mostly I miss the demi-god that played in 1999 and 2000 but even with his regression, I thoroughly enjoyed Nomar. Around the turn of the century, I didn't think there was a chance I would never see Nomar celebrate a World Series title in the carmine hose.

Sigh.

We got Mientkiewicz and Cabrera! 


Today, my job has brought me to the precipice of hell (Clay Aiken concert), so I can't post my thoughts yet in a congizant manner until sometime tomorrow.

Depending on how it goes, Sully and I might get into a knife fight. I'll sell tickets through this website.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Nomar Traded 


Small-ball! Defense! Chemistry! Intangibles! Wheeeee!

I will post my thoughts on the deal when I am of more sober mind. Or just sober for that matter.

Blech.