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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

No More Wallowing 


It's 5:00pm and well past time to put last night behind us.

We have hit 2003's nadir. Comfort in this accompanies my current despair.

Enjoy the three and a half month ride up to the top, fellow Sox fans.

Chin Up 


I refuse to rant.

- That said, why is Kevin Millar playing for this team? Outright him. I am serious. I would love for a reporter to ask Millar, “Kevin, what exactly, if anything, do you add to the Boston Red Sox?”

- I am going to give Nomar another few weeks before I worry. Obviously I would like to see him playing better but people ought to lay off of him a bit. Remember the way Jeter started his season?

- Jeff’s right. The track meets that ensue every time someone reaches base are humiliating.

- I know the defense was bad. But even most of the outs the Yanks made last night were pounded. It has been written here before. Patient teams, like the Yankees, will own Lowe. He is simply too reliant on the opposition swinging at balls out of the strike zone. If he faced Nomar every at-bat, he would be a hall-of-famer.

I think this will be the low point. I really do. The local media is hooting and hollering. WEEI will be all over Nomar, Pedro and everyone else. But you surely remember last year at the end of August. The Sox had dropped two of three to the Yanks and fell 5.5 games behind New York, 3.5 behind Oakland and even 1.5 games behind Seattle for the Wild Card. Manny had just sat out the Yanks series and was taking it on the chin from the talking heads. As far as most folks were concerned, the Sox were dead in the water. The very next day, the Sox had an inspiring, come-from-behind victory in a make-up game at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, capped by a Trot Nixon grand slam. They wouldn’t look back.

Well Jon Lieber seems like as good a break-out candidate as anybody.

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




New York 11, Boston 3 


There is a beautiful thing about baseball in the summer time. I use baseball as a therapeutic exorcise. It's fun to sit back, with beverage, and just take in the game.

Tonight wasn't baseball, nor was it really relaxing.

When the game was over, I was full of anger at this team. Four men really inspired me to kick puppies, steal candies from babies, and essentially resort to other brands of hooliganism usually reserved for such people as British Soccer fans, and Abu Girab guards.

I've never been a fan of Derek Lowe, ever sense I found out about him beating his then-girlfriend, Trinka. I can't comment rationally on him, so I'll just say that he pitched like hell tonight. You can't fall apart because the defense behind you has.

Jason Varitek has a noodle-arm behind the plate, and looked bad on the three strike outs.

Kevin Millar needs to slug over .400 to be a useful first baseman. I believe that part of the reason why there has been some trouble in scoring runs is that the 5-6 hitters haven't really been hitting the ball for extra-bases when Bellhorn/Ortiz/Manny are on base. Millar was part of that problem. I really should write a column on him soon.

Nomar Garciaparra is the most frustrating great player in the majors. In 2001, he had surgery on his wrist. At the time of the surgery, he was a top 10 hitter in the majors. Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, and Nomar himself, the split wrist sapped him of his ability to drive almost any pitch thrown to him (if you missed it, he was like a line-drive version of Vlad Guerrero, only you couldn't get him out with off speed pitches up). He still tries to drive everything though. Because of that, the end result are popups to the outfield, and groundballs pulled.

Nomar doesn't have a plan. He doesn't wait for his pitch, and he tries to pull everything now. He really hasn't ever had a plan, but his natural talent was enough to cover that. It's not anymore. His bat isn't so quick, and his wrists aren't so strong. In two years, he went from a top 10 hitter in the MLB (2000) to a top 40 hitter in the AL (2003).

His fielding has been poor as well, but I think that might have something to do with his ankle injury, rather than a disintegration in skills. I'm really starting to wish the ARod/Magglio deals went through though.

Despite all that crap that came out of this game, there are some things to keep in perspective. The Red Sox have played some crappy ball, but teams play crappy baseball throughout the season anyway. Take 2003 for example.

On June 30th, the Sox were 47-33, 4 games behind hated obsession New York Yankees. This year, they are 42-33. You want to know a common bond? They were in second place, and tied for the Wild Card lead both years. When I was really losing control after the game, my friend Sam put things in perspective. He said "The Sox went 18-19 from May 1 to June 12. They'll be fine".

I'm convinced now that he's right.

Tomorrow there is Leiber vs. Wakefield in a game of the unimpressive starters. If things hold in Leiber's elbow that is. That game should be a toss-up with a slight edge to the Yankees because of the home field thing. Thursday, the tables should turn with Brad Halsey against some fellow the Sox picked up a few years ago from Montreal. I like the Sox on Thursday.

I just need to keep repeating that the Sox will be fine. After all, the season is 162 games, not 75.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Hope 


Surviving Grady points out that with runners on, Javier Vasquez's E.R.A. jumps to 7.83. A great sign for the On-base leading Red Sox offense.

Tonight's the Night 


The Sox head back to the Bronx tonight for a pivotal three game set with the Bombers. While the pitching probables favor the Sox Wednesday and Thursday, the Yanks send Javier Vasquez to the hill to face Derek Lowe tonight. Daunting on paper though the pairing may be, Lowe has posted an impressive 1.71 ERA in his last three starts. A win tonight with the two subsequent pitching match-ups and who knows? Maybe the Sox leave the Bronx just 2.5 back?

Obviously, there is quite a bit of hype out there in various local and national publications. Murray Chass has an especially hacktastic write-up in this morning’s New York Times. Check out this gem of a quote…

“Like it or not, Red Sox fans, no matter what changes the Red Sox have made, no matter the team's ingredients, the uniform shirts the players wear at Yankee Stadium the next three nights will still say "Boston." Nothing more need be said, no further explanation needed.”

See that type of spot on analysis? Truly expert material there, Murray. Unfortunately, Chass does not heed his own advice and actually does take a stab at some actual analysis.

“Since Nixon's return from a bad back a week later, the Red Sox have a 5-6 record. Nixon is hitting .258.”

Yeah Murray, .258/.368/.613.

Ass.

You know, over the last year or so, Murray Chass has shot up maybe to the very top of my list of people to call the morning after the Sox win the Series (and yes I do have that list). Why in God’s name someone would get their Yankee analysis from Chass and not Alex Belth or Larry Mahnken or Steven Goldman or Joe Sheehan is beyond me.

Anyway, enjoy the first game of what really is a vital series for the Sox if they want to hang around in this AL East race.

Mariners Microcosm 


One of my favorite blogs out there is the USS Mariner. Because of the intellectual discrepancy between the site's writers and the folks currently running the Mariners, this season has provided plenty of material for some scathingly hilarious entries on the site.

Last night in the 2nd inning of the Mariners' nationally televised game against the Rangers seemed to be the prototypical Mariners inning in 2003. Bear in mind that Texas starter Nick Bierbrodt had already walked two guys in the first inning. Here are the details...

Scott Spiezio: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Spiezio walked.
Hiram Bocachica: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Spiezio to second on wild pitch, Bocachica sacrificed to first, Spiezio to third.
Ichiro Suzuki: Ball, Ball, Ball, Suzuki walked.
Randy Winn: Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Suzuki caught stealing, pitcher to first to second to pitcher, Ball, Ball, Winn walked.
Jolbert Cabrera: Strike swinging, Ball, Cabrera grounded into fielder's choice to third, Winn out at second.


So Spiezio walks to lead off the inning. Then after a first pitch strike to Bocachica, Bierbrodt misses thrice consecutively, including a pitch directly behind Bocachica's ass that ESPN2 showed on K-Zone. Funniest part of any baseball telecast I have seen in a while but I digress. Anyway now it's 3-1 and I am thinking "Bierbrodt's all over the place, he might not throw another strike this inning". On the very next pitch, yes a 3-1 pitch, Bocachica bunts a pitch over his head but manages to get it down, sacrificing Spiezio (who had advanced on Bierbrodt's pitch behind Bocachica's ass) to third. So with a man on third now and maybe the most unnecessary out in the history of baseball, Ichiro predictably walks on four pitches. Bierbrodt has now thrown 3 strikes and 12 balls in 3 at bats in the inning. So first and third with 2-3-4 coming up and one out. What happens? Ichiro is picked off as he was clearly about to steal. So now two outs, Winn walks (Bierbrodt's third of the inning) and Jolbert Cabrera (batting third ?!?!?) hits into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

I have never seen a team so unwilling to accept runs with an opposing pitcher apparently as happy as can be to simply hand them over.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Boston @ New York 


I need to start writing more.

Offense
c - Jorge Posada 273/418/515 (6.8 RC/27)
Jason Varitek 286/396/458 (5.6 RC/27)

1b - Tony Clark 207/336/371 (4.2 RC/27)
Kevin Millar 270/350/398 (4.4 RC/27)

2b - Miguel Cairo 290/331/427 (5.1 RC/27)
Mark Bellhorn 264/389/435 (6.5 RC/27)

3b - Alex Rodriguez 288/378/537 (6.7 RC/27)
Kevin Youkilis 298/391/456 (7.0 RC/27)

ss - Derek Jeter 266/327/451 (4.8 RC/27)
Nomar Garciaparra 233/277/400 (4.7 RC/27)

lf - Hideki Matsui 277/382/506 (6.9 RC/27)
Manny Ramirez 343/442/660 (9.0 RC/27)

cf - Bernie Williams 276/374/440 (5.2 RC/27)
Johnny Damon 289/383/425 (6.1 RC/27)

rf - Gary Sheffield 304/405/494 (7.2 RC/27)
Trot Nixon 258/368/613 (5.1 RC/27)

dh - Jason Giambi 237/377/457 (6.8 RC/27)
David Ortiz 304/359/592 (7.8 RC/27)

New York - 262/353/455 (5.5 RC/game)
Red Sox - 275/358/456 (5.5 RC/game)

Offensive Efficiency:
New York - 100.3%
Boston - 97.2%

'Clutch number'
New York - 1.745
Boston - (-7.828)

Stolen Bases
New York - (-9.7 BG) 67%
Boston - (-11.1 BG) 66%

BG is Net Bases Gained, based on the assumption that a player must steal at 73% to add runs to the offense.

Sacrifices
New York - 2.67 per 550 PA
Boston - 1.11 per 550 PA

Pitching

Tuesday - Lowe (6.168) vs. Vazquez (25.832)
Wednesday - Wakefield (10.477) vs. Lieber (2.895)
Thursday - Martinez (25.592) vs. TBA

Rotations
New York - 79.403
Boston - 85.702

Bullpens
New York - 49.374
Boston - 63.743

Usage
New York - 2.5 RpG, 1.19 IPpAPP
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.08 IPpAPP

Best 4 Bullpen-
Yankees
Rivera - 20.357
Gordon - 18.247
Quantrill - 12.347
Prinz - 3.979

Red Sox
Foulke - 21.025
Timlin - 13.908
Williamson - 11.115
DiNardo - 5.100

The Weekend that Was 


Again, more good than not to report from the weekend but sustained strong play, or at least something resembling a win streak, continues to evade the Sox. The Sox won the two games they would have had no excuse losing (Pedro and Schilling’s starts) and lost the game one might have expected them to (Wolf vs. Arroyo). Still, would a win against a rusty Randy Wolf be too much to ask? Is passable defense an impossibility? I remain more eager for the impending 23-7ish streak, whenever it may come, than I am chagrined by the uninspired play.

Anyway, I attended yesterday’s game and here are my impressions…

- Jim Thome’s 2nd inning fly ball was the highest I have ever seen. Contact just 1/32nd of an inch higher on the baseball and it hits the center field scoreboard. I’m serious.
- Pat Burrell and David Bell put some nice swings on those home runs. I sincerely believe this Phillies team is close to putting things together.
- Of course Larry Bowa doesn’t really help things much. In the top of the 5th, trailing 4-3 with one out, Bowa decided to send Placido Polanco with Bobby Abreu hitting and Jim Thome on-deck. Polanco was caught stealing and Bobby Abreu promptly followed with a wall-ball double to left center that almost surely would have plated Polanco. Thome followed with a strikeout and the Sox were out of the inning. Why one would ever attempt a steal with the National League’s most fearsome 3-4-5 batting is so far beyond me I can’t articulate it. I said to my pal Brian, “I am more offended by the tactic than I am pleased by the result.”
- Why was Bobby Abreu playing so shallow on Manny’s 3rd inning double?
- With all due respect to Jason Michaels, I am pretty sure Doug Glanville catches Nomar’s double right after Manny’s in that same 3rd inning.
- Great showing by the Philly faithful at Fenway this weekend. What a sports town!

- One last thing. David Pinto perceptively observes that the chief reason the Sox have failed to score as often as, say, their RC27 or EQA might suggest is that their 5-7 batters have slugged in the low .400’s. Makes sense that if the big RBI spots fail to produce extra base hits, you will under-perform run expectations. Well obviously help has arrived in the form of Nomar and Nixon, now manning two of those three spots in the batting order. Expect run totals to increase going forward.



Friday, June 25, 2004

Philadelphia @ Boston 


Offense
c - Mike Lieberthal 249/311/427 (3.0 RC/27)
Jason Varitek 278/393/454 (5.5 RC/27)

1b - Jim Thome 320/426/719 (9.1 RC/27)
Kevin Millar 266/347/395 (4.4 RC/27)

2b - Placido Polanco 244/309/354 (2.8 RC/27)
Mark Bellhorn 262/389/430 (6.2 RC/27)

3b - David Bell 265/351/429 (5.0 RC/27)
Kevin Youkilis 272/372/427 (6.0 RC/27)

ss - Jimmy Rollins 277/332/395 (4.8 RC/27)
Nomar Garciaparra 271/321/458 (6.3 RC/27)

lf - Pat Burrell 276/391/480 (7.0 RC/27)
Manny Ramirez 331/434/630 (8.2 RC/27)

cf - Doug Glanville 197/240/239 (2.7 RC/27)
Johnny Damon 285/379/427 (6.1 RC/27)

rf - Bobby Abreu 295/427/556 (9.8 RC/27)
Trot Nixon 320/400/760 (6.5 RC/27)

dh - Jason Michaels 269/415/462 (5.4 RC/27)
David Ortiz 300/352/571 (7.6 RC/27)

Philadelphia - 258/341/438 (5.0 RC/game)
Red Sox - 271/355/451 (5.3 RC/game)

Offensive Efficiency:
Philadelphia - 101.2%
Boston - 97.0%

'Clutch number'
Philadelphia - (-14.289)
Boston - (-9.547)

Stolen Bases
Philadelphia - 7.0 BG 76%
Boston - (-11.1 BG) 66%

BG is Net Bases Gained, based on the assumption that a player must steal at 73% to add runs to the offense.

Sacrifices
Philadelphia - 5.81 per 550 PA
Boston - 1.16 per 550 PA

Pitching
Friday - Abbott* (1.771) vs. Martinez (21.961)
Saturday - Wolf (20.679) vs. Arroyo (10.978)
Sunday - Myers (11.587) vs. Schilling (32.474)

*Numbers with Philadelphia only. With Phi and Tampa Bay, Abbott was a (-3.008)

Rotations
Philadelphia - 62.399
Boston - 81.777

Bullpens
Philadelphia - 50.921
Boston - 60.450

Usage
Philadelphia - 2.7 RpG, 1.19 IPpAPP
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.08 IPpAPP

Best 4 Bullpen-
Phillies
Madison - 19.648
Worrell - 11.938
Wagner - 6.107
Cormier - 4.801

Red Sox
Foulke - 20.364
Timlin - 12.364
Williamson - 11.115
DiNardo - 5.998

Best Baseball Writer on the Web 


Steven Goldman:

Teams: A Critical Guide @ BP.

My new favorite installment over there.

Underachievers Abound at Fenway This Weekend 


The Philadelphia Phillies, currently in second place in the National League East despite a pedestrian 37-33 record, come to Fenway Park tonight to take on the Sox. A combination of injuries and under-performance (sound familiar?) has hampered the Phills this year. The offense has been pretty good but largely because of one man. Jim Thome is once again murdering opposing pitchers, this year to the tune of a .320/.426/.719 line. What's worse for the Sox, he is scorching of late, slugging .882 thus far in June. The biggest drain on the Phills' offense this year has has come from the dreadful performance by players manning the middle of the diamond. Take a look...

C Mike Lieberthal: .249/.311/.427
SS Jimmy Rollins: .277/.332/.395
2B Placido Polanco: .244/.309/.354
2B Chase Utley: .234/.261/.449
CF Marlon Byrd: .224/.297/.304

Wow.

I think it is time for the Phills to just suck up the defensive downgrade and go with former Yankee Ricky Ledee in center field. Ledee has actually been a nice surprise this year for Phills fans, hitting .312/.385/.584 in spot duty. I mean, just hand him the reigns out there. Can't hurt.

More disappointing than their hitting, however, has been Philadelphia's pitching. They rank 11th in the National League in E.R.A. and 10th in WHIP. Billy Wagner has missed a lot of time and so have Vincente Padilla and Randy Wolf. Furhtermore, their three regular starters that have remained healthy have been pretty ordinary. Eric Milton does have 9 wins, but also a 4.22 E.R.A. and a 1.50 WHIP. Kevin Millwood is in the midst of his worst professional season and Brett Myers still has not made "the leap".

But like Boston, I expect things to get better for the Phills. Jimmy Rollins is hitting .344/.396/.527 in June. Pat Burrell is looking like the player they thought they acquired. Placido Polanco is improving now that he is healthy. And I have to think Byrd's days are numbered. All of these factors ought to mean a boost in run scoring.

On the pitching side, Randy Wolf returns this weekend and, if in form, could be the horse the Phills ride down the stretch. Billy Wagner has returned to solidify an already serviceable bullpen. I still believe the Phills will win the National League East.

All that said, the pitching matchups present a pretty good opportunity for the Sox to at least take the series and perhaps sweep. Tonight, journeyman Paul Abbott (I know, I couldn't believe he was on their roster either) faces Pedro Martinez. Tomorrow, Bronson Arroyo, who was as sharp as all hell last Sunday in San Francisco, takes on Randy Wolf. It will be Wolf's first start since June 2nd. He ought to show some rust. And Sunday, a game I will be attending, Curt Schilling will doubtless want to make quick work of his former team. He faces Brett Myers.

Enjoy a great weekend of baseball between two talented clubs looking to right their respective ships.

- For a Brotherly Love kind of perspective, check out this Phills blog.

Anytime Now Fellas... 


I am kinda sick of explaining why the Sox should have won more and how they are going to win more and all that stuff. It's just time for them to, you know, win more. They lost another blah game yesterday as Brad Radke, who is quietly having a great year, shut down everybody but David Ortiz (3 RBI's). Nomar Garciaparra made a critical 10th inning throwing error that led to the game winning run. Oh and he popped out to end the game too.

The good news is that Tim Wakefield pitched as well as he has in over a month.

I'll be back with a Phillies preview later on.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

OK 


The Red Sox have had a better OPS than their opponent in 45 of their 70 games. Not surprisingly, their second order record (based on Clay Davenport's equivalent runs) on Baseball Prospectus' Adjusted Standings page is 45-25.

I guess we all just have to stay the course and wait for this team to morph into the juggernaut we expected. Thing is, they kinda already have played like the juggernaut we expected. The 45-25 record would translate into a 104-win pace over the course of a full season. And that's with all of the injuries. I can't wait for this club to go all 2002-A's on the rest of the league this summer.

The wins come more often than not but they haven't come in bunches.

They will.

A Little Project 


I want to see how many times the Sox have out OPS'ed their opponent this year and compare it to their won-loss record.

They again outplayed the Twins last night but failed to outscore them.

The Sox seem to be a solo-home-run, RISP stranding machine.

I will be back with the results of my study.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

What a Night 


Last night was the sort of game we were growing accustomed to in April - an unrelenting offensive attack to go along with great pitching. David Ortiz homered in the first and hit a 420 foot double in the seventh. Manny hit another home run - his 19th - another that landed somewhere on Lansdowne. Or in the Charles. Or in Cambridge. Who knows? And the Fenway faithful cheered Nomar Garciaparra wildly after his seventh inning grand slam. He even gave a little curtain call.

On the pitching side, Curt Schilling was sharp, if unspectacular. He only struck out five and the Twins hit a few outs quite hard but still, he again walked nobody. Scott Williamson pitched a nice eighth before Keith Foulke pitched a sloppy ninth to finish Minnesota off.

There is a little more credit to dole out. I thought last night’s was NESN’s best telecast of the season. They miked up Trot Nixon and managed to catch a number of great other shots. Some highlights…

- Great job by the NESN cameraman on Jacque Jones’ miraculous 4th inning catch off of Trot’s bat.
- After Schilling came out after the 7th, there was a great shot in the Sox dugout of Manny mocking Curt for taking notes – really hamming it up too. Giggling and pointing, mock writing, hitting Tim Wakefield and all the while Schilling had no idea.
- Two great audio bits from Trot. The first was just as Manny hit his home run in the 6th. The second Manny made contact Nixon began trotting out of the dugout to the on-deck circle and exclaimed, “three to one, boys” as it was a 2-1 game before the home run. There was just no doubt about Manny’s bomb. The other bit that I thought was great was after Nomar’s grand slam. Nixon smacked Garciaparra’s helmet and exclaimed, “Atta boy Nomie!! Atta Boy!.”

Last night was just a great time and I hope it carries over. Carlos Silva vs. Derek Lowe tonight. Silva, acquired in the Eric Milton trade with Philadelphia, started the year tremendously but has come back to earth of late. On the other hand, Lowe started the year catastrophically and has regained his form his last three starts.

Let’s hope the trend continues.

Edward Cossette has a nice round-up. And Soxaholix has become can't miss stuff.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Twinkies 


It would seem to me that, in order to have success in a small market, a team would have to be especially deft with respect to identification of organizational strengths and weaknesses. After all, small market teams cannot simply make injudicious forays into the free agent market without paying dearly for large contracts lacking production to match. Therefore, if a team has a nice pipeline of say, outfielders, corner infielders and starters, they probably ought to commit the funds from the free agency piggy bank elsewhere.

It is in this particular area that I think tonight’s Red Sox opponent, the Minnesota Twins, have fallen a bit short. Never was it more magnified than in this past off-season. The Twins re-signed outfielder Shannon Stewart to a 3 year, 18 million dollar contract and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to a 2 year, 6.55 million dollar extension. I don’t think I have much of a problem with the terms or rates for either player. They’re both good players. The problem is that Lew Ford, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Restrovich and Michael Ryan could all have been reasonably expected to contribute far more than Stewart on a per dollar basis. Similarly, with first base uber-prospect Justin Morneau punishing International League pitching, there was no need to extend Mientkiewicz. The Twins could have retained the services of both Eddie Guardado and Latroy Hawkins with money to spare if they had more faith in the players they have done so well to develop. According to Baseball Prospectus’ “Adjusted Runs Prevented”, the Twins would have three of baseball’s best 13 relievers had they chosen this route (Joe Nathan being the third).

That’s just one alternative for the use of the money. The point is that it is imperative to take advantage of cheap talent, especially in a small market, because it affords one the ability to lure truly top-of-the-line talent with the limited resources a club has to spend.

-- Some good stuff around the blogosphere on the Twins lately. Aaron Gleeman looks at what a surprise Luis Rivas has been and today analyzes David Pinto's recent entry on the Twins.

Minnesota @ Boston 


Offense
c - Joe Mauer 286/368/551 (6.9 RC/27)
Jason Varitek 275/395/454 (5.4 RC/27)

1b - Doug Mientkiewicz 246/336/349 (3.5 RC/27)
Kevin Millar 269/348/404 (4.5 RC/27)

2b - Luis Rivas 299/327/476 (5.9 RC/27)
Pokey Reese 265/305/368 (3.8 RC/27)

3b - Cory Koskie 251/340/492 (5.2 RC/27)
Mark Bellhorn 260/393/426 (6.5 RC/27)

ss - Cristian Guzman 278/312/346 (2.8 RC/27)
Nomar Garciaparra 265/333/412 (5.2 RC/27)

lf - Lew Ford 314/386/502 (7.1 RC/27)
Manny Ramirez 335/437/637 8.4 RC/27

cf - Torii Hunter 263/325/479 (4.5 RC/27)
Johnny Damon 287/384/429 (6.4 RC/27)

rf - Jacques Jones 254/309/456 (4.8 RC/27)
Trot Nixon 357/444/857 (7.7 RC/27)

dh - Jose Offerman 218/352/386 (3.7 RC/27)
David Ortiz 291/344/549 (7.2 RC/27)

Minnesota - 263/332/422 (4.6 RC/game)
Red Sox - 271/356/448 (5.3 RC/game)

Offensive Efficiency:
Minnesota - 98.0%
Boston - 97.2%

'Clutch number'
Minnesota - 0.325
Boston - (-7.094)

Stolen Bases
Minnesota - (-11.1 BG) 68%
Boston - (-11.1 BG) 66%

BG is Net Bases Gained, based on the assumption that a player must steal at 73% to add runs to the offense.

Sacrifices
Minnesota - 3.52 per 550 PA
Boston - 1.21 per 550 PA

Pitching
Tuesday - Lohse (4.400) vs. Schilling (28.843)
Wednesday - Silva (16.444) vs. Lowe (5.537)
Thursday - Radke (29.054) vs. Wakefield (7.066)

Rotations
Minnesota - 36.467
Boston - 74.103

Bullpens
Minnesota - 42.546
Boston - 57.039

Usage
Minnesota - 2.9 RpG, 1.15 IPpAPP
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.10 IPpAPP

Best 4 Bullpen-
Twins
Nathan - 16.308
Rincon - 15.482
Roa - 12.047
Fultz - 7.438

Red Sox
Foulke - 19.379
Timlin - 11.702
Williamson - 10.233
DiNardo - 5.998

Monday, June 21, 2004

Weekend Recap 


Weekend Recap

Before sitting down to watch Friday night’s game with my roommates, I said to them, tonight’s game decides the series. After all, with a Pedro-Noah Lowry match-up on Sunday and a Jason Schmidt-Bronson Arroyo tilt on Sunday, it seemed as though Friday night’s contest was the only one not predetermined. Well, I was wrong. The Sox did win Friday night and they did lose Sunday but in between they lost a heartbreaker as Pedro Martinez was out-pitched by a 23 year old B-level (at best) prospect whose fastball must make teammate Kirk Rueter feel like he’s Randy Johnson. Here are some disjointed thoughts from the weekend…



- Tim Wakefield has been awful lately. I know he has had stretches like this current one in the past but I am growing concerned.

April: 2.14 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .197 BAA
May: 4.32 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .259 BAA
June: 10.13 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, .342 BAA

Of course the good news is that Wake has always demonstrated a propensity to follow up terrible stretches with very good ones. In 2003 he followed his month of June, in which he posted a 5.01 ERA, with a 2.85 ERA in July. Subsequently, he regressed once again to 5.71 ERA in August and followed it up with a 2.01 ERA in September to end the season.

Tim Wakefield will always be a bit inconsistent. When the knuckler is on, he can be devastating. When it’s not, there might as well be a pony league pitcher on the mound. I urge patience. As long as Wake follows his career patterns, he should revert back to solid form in due time.

- The 5 home run outburst Friday was great. Not much else to say.

- The bullpen, save Alan Embree, was terrific on Friday night. But why, with a four run lead in the ninth, hand the ball to Keith Foulke? I said at the time that the team would almost surely need him in higher leverage situations the rest of the weekend. Well surely enough the very next day in a 4-4 game in the eighth, Tito goes to Alan Embree, who had given up 6 earned runs in his previous 3 2/3 innings and subsequently sticks with him with 2 outs against Edgardo Alfonzo. Yes, that Edgardo Alfonzo of the .940 OPS vs. lefties this year and a .668 OPS vs. righties. Furthermore, the Giants had already used their closer, Matt Herges. The Sox had the clear advantage in terms of available bullpen arms if the game were to have gone long.

- Pedro has been infuriating. Consider these numbers (pitch count, OPS against)…

1-15: 1.208
16-30: .594
31-45: .789
46-60: .494
61-75: .758
76-90: .694
91-105: .643
106-120:.161

I mean, what the hell. I am not generally one to criticize based upon circumstantial evidence but this pisses me off. Pedro, prepare yourself for the beginning of the ballgame.

That is all.

- Great pitcher’s duel between Schmidt and Arroyo yesterday. The Sox weren’t winning that game so no sense getting upset. Arroyo’s start was encouraging.

Schmidt’s baseball’s best starter if you ask me.

The 2-4 road trip to San Francisco via Denver was disappointing. The Twins and Phills come to town this week.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Sweet N' Lowe 


Derek Lowe looked great last night and David Pinto posts a little reminder of a spirited discussion a number of we Baseball Musings readers engaged in after Pinto gave the Yanks a nice ballwashing a little while back. Much of the discussion turned to Lowe.

Phew 


Well after an 11-0 thrashing of the Colorado Rockies yesterday, things appear to be looking better for the Sox. The first two games were major disappointments as time after time Sox players came to the plate with men on base and an opportunity for a big inning only to strand runner after runner. It was exasperating, maddening and yet simultaneously encouraging after I dug a bit deeper. The Sox peppered the base-paths to the tune of a .402 OBA all game long both Tuesday and Wednesday nights. They even slugged .493 in the two games. What ought to have been a recipe for offensive outpouring translated into just 9 runs. Some like my boss, clamored, “this team can’t hit in the clutch”. And while I would disagree with the assertion, it is tough to argue that the Sox have not under performed in some “clutch” situations this year.

Overall: .807 OPS, 3rd in MLB
Scoring Position and 2 Out: .734 OPS, 17th in MLB
Bases Loaded: .530 OPS, 28th in MLB

The bases loaded figure demands further investigation. Let’s try and figure out just how many runs the Sox may have scored had they produced as they normally do in the bases loaded situations.

Overall numbers: .272/.359/.448
Bases loaded numbers (87 AB’s): .188/.247/.282

In order to align the Sox’s bases loaded stats with their overall stats, you would have to convert 17 outs into 11 walks, 3 singles, 2 doubles and a home run. So…

11 Walks: 11 runs
3 Singles: say, 5 runs
2 doubles: say, 5 runs
1 Home Run: 4 runs
TOTAL: 25 Runs

Of course there would almost certainly be even more runs because each of these hits would have meant subsequent more opportunities with men in scoring position, or in the case of the walks, another 11 at bats with the bases loaded. 25 runs is basically the bare minimum.

Now, how many extra wins would that have translated into? Who knows? But most likely a couple, and an additional 5 is nowhere near out of the question. Baseball’s funny. You can drive yourself nuts worrying about why your team isn’t winning. Or you can take a closer look and understand that often times, short-term anomalies can account for underachievement (or overachievement) in the win column.

The Sox are fine.

-Finally, my Sox source just read Dr. Morgan’s report verbatim to me. Contrary to what Dirt Dog has reported, Curt Schilling will start Tuesday's game against Minnesota.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Boston @ Colorado 


Offense
c - Charles Johnson .260/.363/.539
1b - Todd Helton .345/.464/.601
2b - Aaron Miles .316/.331/.428
3b - Vinny Castilla .272/.340/.563
ss - Royce Clayton .285/.344/.456
lf - Matt Holliday .276/.342/.503
cf - Choo Freeman .200/.310/.320
rf - Jeromy Burnitz .284/.365/.590
Team - .270/.342/.461
Red Sox - .272/.356/.447

Offensive Efficiency:
Colorado - 98.4%
Boston - 97.3%

'Clutch number'
Colorado - (-11.383)
Boston - (-4.991)

Stolen Bases
Colorado - (-21.7) BG (57%)
Boston - (-12.4) BG (64%)

BG is Net Bases Gained, based on the assumption that a player must steal at 73% to add runs to the offense. I reworked the formula to make it more accurate.

Sacrifices
Colorado - 8.25 per 550 PA
Boston - 0.89 per 550 PA

Pitching
Tuesday - Arroyo (6.252) vs. Kennedy (20.052)
Wednesday - Schilling (30.971) vs. Jennings (-3.861)
Thursday - Lowe (1.661) vs. Estes (5.683)

Rotations
Colorado - (-5.330)
Boston - 73.089

Bullpens
Colorado - 18.328
Boston - 56.676

Usage
Colorado - 3.1 RpG, 1.05 IPpAPP
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.10 IPpAPP

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Housecleaning  


Great game yesterday, eh?

Anyway, I will be in attendence tonight to see Red Sox Ace v.2001 against Red Sox Ace v.1998-2000,2002-2003. Good times.

Tomorrow, sometime around nighttime, I will have the draft review up. Tuesday I'll have the Rockies series preview. From then, I'll be back on a regular posting schedule.


Friday, June 11, 2004

Los Angeles @ Boston 


Just a note: I'm working on some things that will be added to these previews. It will probably make them more useful/entertaining.

Or they might suck more. Who knows!?

Offense
c - Paul Lo Duca .356/.396/.487
1b - Shawn Green .240/.338/.418
2b - Alex Cora .291/.383/.426
3b - Adrian Beltre .306/.339/.563
ss - Caser Izturis .314/.347/.393
lf - Dave Roberts .286/.387/.429 OR Jayson Werth .200/.273/.500
cf - Milton Bradley .270/.346/.422
rf - Juan Encarnacion .252/.279/.435
Team - .275/.332/.426
Red Sox - .272/.356/.447

Offensive Efficiency:
Los Angeles - 91.1%
Boston - 97.4%

'Clutch number'
Los Angeles - (-5.463)
Boston - (-7.527)

Stolen Bases
Los Angeles - (-8.4) BG (69%)
Boston - (-12.7) BG (63%)

BG is Net Bases Gained, based on the assumption that a player must steal at 73% to add runs to the offense. I reworked the formula to make it more accurate.

Sacrifices
Los Angeles - 5.56 per 550 PA
Boston - 0.92 per 550 PA

Pitching
Friday - Perez (15.220) vs. Lowe (-2.748)
Saturday - Weaver (5.983) vs. Wakefield (16.721)
Sunday - Nomo (-12.361) vs. Martinez (19.812)

Bullpens
Los Angeles - 37.329
Boston - 57.756

Usage
Los Angeles - 2.8 RpG, 1.12 IPpAPP
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.10 IPpAPP


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Rest of the Way 


As the Red Sox get set to commence the annual peculiarity we all know as "interleague play" let us take a step back and analyze where we are now and where we are going. The Red Sox are currently 33-23, 2.5 games behind the New York Yankees. Despite drastic underperformance from 3 of their 5 starting pitchers, the Red Sox have been the fourth stingiest team in the American League with respect to yielding runs. Furthermore, the Red Sox now lead Major League Baseball in runs scored, with 304. They have achieved this of course despite the absence of Trot Nixon, Nomar Garciaparra, Bill Mueller and Ellis Burks. What's even more encouraging is that the simple runs scored and runs allowed figures fail to tell the entire story. According to Clay Davenport's Adjusted Standings over at Baseball Prospectus, due to their adjusted equivalent runs figures(317 AEQR and 251 AEQRA), the Red Sox - as they stand now - could be expected to win another 65 games. In other words, the Red Sox appear to be a 98 win team - Crespo, Millar and Kapler suckitude and all.

But what about trying to project the almost certain improvement that will result from Garciaparra's and Nixon's respective returns from injury?

Let me take a crack.

Here are some introductory numbers, in BA/OBA/SLG format, to plainly illustrate the discrepancies between the production the Red Sox have received thus far from SS and RF and what they did in 2003:

SS
2003: .300/.344/.518
2004: .240/.272/.332

RF
2003: .310/.386/.557
2004: .292/.343/.431

There is not much need for further explanation here. However, in order to analyze this information in terms of runs and subsequently wins and losses, it would be appropriate to take a look at Runs Created, a more easily accesable cousin of Davenport's Equivalent Run.

At their current pace, Sox right-fielders would create 82.7 runs, or an additional 51 on top of what they have already created. Last year, Trot Nixon and his platoon pals Gabe Kapler and Kevin Millar created 122.8 runs. So discounted for the additional 100 games or so the Sox will have remaining when Nixon returns, they could reasonably hope for an additional 76 runs - 25 better than their current pace.

The Sox shortstops are on pace to create a pathetic 52.6 runs for the season, or an additional 34 or so. Based on Nomar's 119 runs created last year, the Sox can expect 78 runs created from shortstop the rest of the way, a 44 run upgrade.

Based upon these figures and implementing Bill James' Pythagorean formula, the Red Sox still appear to be a 102-103 win team. Some may question the reliability of these figures given that they assume Trot and Nomar will bounce back to their 2003 levels of performance. To that I would respond that whatever excessive optomism lies in my offensive projections is offset by the fact that my win-loss estimates assume that the team will continue its current runs allowed pace - an unlikely prospect.

Despite what a predominantly negative local media might have to say, the Sox still have great hope for the rest of the way.




San Diego @ Boston 


Offense
c - Ramon Hernandez .252/.335/.408
1b - Phil Nevin .289/.367/.450
2b - Mark Loretta .306/.361/.437
3b - Sean Burroughs .329/.367/.394
ss - Khalil Greene .265/.351/.378
lf - Terrence Long .293/.343/.394
cf - Jay Payton .301/.384/.422
rf - Brian Giles .282/.385/.488
Team - .269/.340/.387
Red Sox - .272/.357/.448

Offensive Efficiency:
San Diego - 100.3%
Boston - 97.9%

'Clutch number'
San Diego - (-1.066)
Boston - (-5.374)

Stolen Bases
San Diego - (-7.4) BG (67%)
Boston - (-13.7) BG (62%)

BG is Net Bases Gained, based on the assumption that a player must steal at 73% to add runs to the offense. I reworked the formula to make it more accurate.

Sacrifices
San Diego - 5.38 per 550 PA (2.18 w/o pitchers)
Boston - 0.97 per 550 PA

Pitching
Tuesday - Wells (7.473) vs. Martinez (14.380)
Wednesday - Lawrence (8.103) vs. Arroyo (4.141)
Thursday - Tankersley (5.023) vs. Schilling (28.717)

Bullpens
San Diego - 35.151
Boston - 57.003

Usage
San Diego - 2.8 RpG, 1.07 IPpApp
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.12 IPpApp

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Cleaning out my head 


I'm working on a project this week, so updates from me will be sporatic. There will be the Padres, Dodgers previews, and a MLB draft review, which I will probably write next weekend.

ESPN has made the pitching stats kind of hard to sort, so I don't have an update on the gb/fb thing.

Two good wins against a terrible team. Yay.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Boston @ Kansas City 


Offense
c - Benito Santiago .259/.283/.388
1b - Mike Sweeney .270/.335/.454
2b - Desi Relaford .209/.298/.253 OR Tony Graffanino .317/.355/.396
3b - Joe Randa .250/.320/.352
ss - Angel Berroa .223/.250/.325
lf - Bryon Gettis .250/.368/.250
cf - Carlos Beltran .281/.368/.548
rf - Matt Stairs .269/.338/.446
dh - Ken Harvey .379/.418/.552
Team - .266/.327/.414
Red Sox - .273/.359/.446

Offensive Efficiency:
Kansas City - 98.0%
Boston - 98.0%

'Clutch number'
Kansas City - 0.117
Boston - (-6.313)

Stolen Bases
Kansas City - (-9.5) BG (61%)
Boston - (-6.0) BG (64%)

BG is Net Bases Gained, based on the assumption that a player must steal at 73% to add runs to the offense.

Sacrifices
Kansas City - 3.69 per 550pa
Boston - 1.02 per 550pa

Pitching
Friday - Wakefield (16.488) vs. Gobble (4.288)
Saturday - Schilling (27.341) vs. May (3.217)
Sunday - Lowe (-3.895) vs. George (1.623)

Bullpens
Kansas City - 40.331
Boston - 53.771

Usage
Kansas City - 2.8 RpG, 1.14 IPpApp
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.10 IPpApp

Just a note, Kansas City has had the best bullpen in the majors in the last 3 weeks, Boston is among the worst.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Bone-Picking of Sorts 


David Pinto had this to write over at his fantastic blog this morning.

"As I look at the standings this morning, the Yankees have the best record in baseball. Now given the team Cashman and Co. have assembled, this shouldn't be a surprise. But consider this:


-Derek Jeter hasn't hit this season.

-Bernie Williams hasn't hit this season.

-Sheffield hasn't hit for power this season.

-Mike Mussina has been awful.

-Contreras has been awful.

-Giambi's been on the DL.

-They have gotten nothing from second base.


Despite all that, they are tied with the Red Sox for the league lead in runs scored with 289. I find that a bit scary. Three of their best hitters in slumps, and they are at the top of the league in runs scored. And it looks like Jeter and Sheffield are starting to hit again. Giambi comes off the DL on Sunday. Matsui is playing more like he used to in Japan. A-Rod is A-Rod. Posada just keeps getting on base. If they can score like this with their offense not hitting on all cyliners, what are they going to be like when everything is in place? What if Mussina regains his form? It's doubtful that even the return of Nomar and Nixon will be enough to overcome this juggernaught."

To which I responded in his comments section...

"As I look at the standings this morning, the Red Sox are just 2 games behnd the Yankees. Now given the team Theo and Co. have assembled, this shouldn't be a surprise. But consider this:

- Nomar hasn't played an inning this season
- Kevin Millar hasn't hit this season
- David Ortiz hasn't gotten on base this season
- Derek Lowe has been beyond awful
- Kim and Arroyo have been awful
- Nixon's on the DL
- They have gotten nothing from RF

Despite all that, they are tied with the Yankees for the league lead in runs scored with 289. I find that a bit scary. Two of their four best hitters having not played even a single inning and they are at the top of the league in runs scored. And it looks like Nomar and Nixon are getting healthier. Nomar comes off the DL and will play Tuesday. Damon is playing more like he used to in Kansas City. Manny is Manny. Varitek just keeps getting on base. If they can score like this with their offense not hitting on all cyliners, what are they going to be like when everything is in place? What if Lowe regains his form? It's doubtful that even the return of Giambi will be enough to overcome this juggernaught."

My contention was not that the Red Sox are clearly better, but rather that trying to conclusively decide which team is better at this point is crazy. Both teams have persevered and performed quite nicely in the face of some adversity. Last night, the Yankees beat the Orioles 6-5, scoring their 6 runs on just 3 hits. Meanwhile, Pedro was hit hard as Vlad had a career night,leading the Halos to a 10-7 win over the Sox.

I thought that pointing out the Yankees are "the best of the best" this particular morning was a case of shortsightedness on Pinto's part. The Yankees have proven themselves to be the best at this point every bit as much as the Red Sox had proven themselves to be the best on April 25th.

In other words, they've proven squat.

Angels 10, Boston 7 


First post in June. After three losses. It kinda sucks.

Derek Lowe is pitching like crap, which is what happens when pitchers don't strike guys out, and allow a lot of hits. And runs. He allows a lot of runs too.

And then Bronson Arroyo, and Pedro Martinez were introduced to Vlad and the Popguns offense, which opened for Bullpen of Death by Movement. Yes, I know those were shitty analogies. They were shitty games.

So I've found a few deficences in the Red Sox right now.
*Starting pitching is ineffective, past Schilling and Wakefield. Ever since beating the Yankees, Pedro's era is over 5. Bronson Arroyo is showing why he was placed on waivers, and Derek Lowe, the less said the better.

*Weak bench. Talk to Nomar, Trot, Mueller, and Burks. Williamson too. Injuries suck.

*Terry Francona and his slow hook. Sure, the starters haven't been going deep into ballgames, but Arroyo was up over 100 pitches when Vlad Guerrero killed him. Pedro came out for the sixth inning, despite ineffectiveness and set up the 3-run homer that Timlin gave up to Vlad by giving up a hit to Eckstein and walking Figgins.

This is creating a disturbing pattern, because of the last guy we had out there.

I'm just frustrated. Tomorrow I'll have something good. Friday, Kansas City will try to get us back on track.