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Preview: Bosox West

Bosox West



Just one man who struggled for a decade to follow Red Sox baseball from San Francisco, now back in the fold and struggling to survive the seasons.



Updated: 2016-06-09T12:49:36.574-07:00

 



RE:

2016-04-06T06:41:02.364-07:00

   


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Bosoxwest









from: Bosoxwest

2015-09-24T04:01:20.738-07:00


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From: Bosoxwest

2015-09-22T08:51:25.329-07:00

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From: Bosoxwest

2015-08-06T07:47:16.139-07:00

        
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from: Bosoxwest

2015-04-27T03:13:04.597-07:00

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2014-12-24T08:36:39.737-08:00

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No Santana, No Worries - For Now

2007-12-08T11:05:37.302-08:00

The Red Sox and the Twins conspired together throughout the days and long nights of baseball's winter meetings. They conspired not, apparently, to make a blockbuster trade involving Johan Santana and several of Boston's bluechip prospects, but rather to waste countless hours of productivity in their respective markets. Fans around the country (and in the Sox's case at least, globe) checked media outlets with breathless regularity, waiting to learn the outcome of the "wag the dog" production that was the Trade That Never Was.

In most circles, even the rarified fanbase air that are the Sox Prospects and Sons of Sam Horn messageboards, the failure of the teams to pull the trigger on a trade has been met with a soft relief from many posters. The cost of acquisition for most of the packages being thrown around was too much for Boston fans; and for the Twins, the thought of prematurely losing the face of the franchise was too agonizing.

Given the situation, this probably means that a fair trade was in place. The Red Sox should have to suck it up if they want to acquire the best left-hander in the business, and the Twins need to understand that Santana is leaving them, and they need to get some value back.

Twins GM Smith is walking a fine line right now. It would be hugely irresponsible for him to fail to get an excellent package for Santana, and the fact is that with other top-tier starters like Haren, Bedard, and Lincecum being shopped - all of whom are younger and will cost significantly less - he could end up without a chair when the music stops. That would be an unmitigated disaster: even if Liriano returns to health, the Twins will not compete next year. They just won't. And the midseason return on Santana will be far less than what's being offered now.

Still, Smith wouldn't pull the trigger, thinking he can get one of NYY or Boston to panic down the road and meet his demands (they are realistically the only two teams at the table). So the meetings came and went, and here we are with no Santana. And if you're a fan of a "homegrown" Sox team; if you're a fan of keeping the young players you've watched rise through the minors - not so much for Winning reasons, but for baseball reasons - you're okay right now. The emotional price was pretty high, and after everything was said and done, the family's still together.

Now, this deal could still go through, and everyone will understand if it does, and even celebrate. Nobody in their right mind could complain if the Sox sign Santana; especially if he only costs one of Lester or Ellsbury. He's too good, and it makes the Sox too good, and no matter the cost, those points are inarguable. But to many of us who wanted to watch a team of "our guys" go out there and compete, the cost will have been steep.

Moreover, the acquisition will just seem a little too "Yankee". And that might just be the highest price to pay of all.



Chasing Santana

2007-12-08T10:36:24.964-08:00

No doubt everyone is closely following the quest for Johan Santana, the Holy Grail of lefthanded pitching. The prevailing wisdom is that the trade market for the Twins has been narrowed down to three teams; the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox. The Dodgers seem to be a distant third however, so it's basically Yanks versus Sox, again.Before I get into who might be changing hands, let's look at the dynamics for a minute.Santana becomes an FA after next year, and it's already been made clear that the Twins cannot afford him. They could try to keep him and take a flyer on running the table next year with he and Liriano as a solid one-two punch, but it's unlikely. If that doesn't fly and they try to deal him mid-season but this would lessen the return for him. So there is some incentive to deal him now, for sure.The Twins, however, do not utterly control the terms of this deal. Santana is the best pitcher to come available in a long, long time, but there are the dual constraints of his ongoing cost, and the fact that Bedard, Haren, and Willis are hanging out there as well. Moreover, it is still a case of teams betting against each other. The Twins can demand player X all they want, but if the price is too steep, it's too steep. Both teams know they (the Twins) are not going let themselves end up with just the compensatory draft picks, and this mutual ceiling is to the benefit of the Sox.The ceiling I'm referring to is the "untouchables". For the Sox, it's probably Buchholz and Ellsbury, and for the Yanks it's Joba and Hughes. The benefit to the Sox is that if that ceiling stays the same for both teams, the Sox proposed package of Lester, Crisp, Lowrie and Masterson/Bowden wins. And let me tell you, if that package brings back Santana (and there is no reason it shouldn't, working in a vacuum; Bill Smith is getting a lot of major-league ready talent there), we should just rejoice, plain and simple.If it doesn't, because NYY dealt Hughes (Joba I think probably is untouchable), then it sticks in the craw, but it's not a total disaster. The package would likely be Hughes, Cabrera, Jackson and Tabata or Hughes, Jackson and Cano. That would mean that they dealt two or three of their top prospects/young players to get Santana, and that helps the Sox out to some degree in the long run.The reason it's not a total disaster is because the Sox will have kept Ellsbury, arguably the most exciting homegrown position player to put on a Sox uniform since Yaz, and Buchholz, a pitcher who is simply a mind-boggling talent.If the Sox have to give up Ellsbury, and Santana stays healthy for the duration of his contract (this aspect has been largely ignored in all the discussion I've read - Santana has a lot of wear and tear on the arm and stumbled badly in the last couple months of 2007), it's a palatable trade. However, if they give up Buchholz, I don't like the deal. Buchholz is pretty well past the prospect stage now, and has every indication of being the next Santana himself - Keith Law recently stated that right now CBuck has the best change-up in baseball. It should be noted that this pitch is how Santana makes his money, working off a fastball that he commands better than Buchholz does his, but with a curveball that is far inferior to CBuck's.Giving up the talent currently on the table, possibly with Ellsbury over Crisp in the deal, plus paying the $20-25M per year to extend Santana, makes some sense, because a rotation with Beckett, Santana, Buchholz, and DiceK in it for the next 5 years is simply insane. But when you factor in that you are trading what is likely to be equivalent talent in the one arm (Buchholz), plus three other players, plus the cost/risk of the extension - then the Sox are getting screwed. I say hell no[...]



Give Thanks, Red Sox Nation!

2007-11-23T21:47:03.726-08:00

The national day of thanks has come and gone, and it was a banner one for Boston sports fans in 2007, especially here at Bosoxwest HQ.Our firstborn son Miller arrived in the very, very, silly early AM on October 19th (taking me out of the blogosphere for the ALCS and World Series thereafter, obviously). His mom did the Nation proud. He is a healthy and happy baby boy, and remarkably, he has never witnessed a Red Sox (or Patriots) loss. Beckett stopped Cleveland while he was making his way into the world, and as we know the Sox got hot and ran the table from there. We give thanks for him every day.I've been explaining to him that past performance may not be indicative of future returns, but for now, we're enjoying it. A huge, heartfelt thanks to the Twenty-Five for bringing home the hardware in 2007. This team was incredibly easy and fun to root for.Ah. Boston Red Sox, World Series Champions. It has a nice ring, doesn't it? No pun intended.The organization wasn't done there though: this is a process. The front office has publicly stated that they try to manage the personnel of the team with the goal of winning 95-96 games. Get to the dance, and try to get hot in the postseason. Obviously, this year proved that this recipe can bring success, but it also acknowledges that in baseball anything can happen. We should take a minute to give thanks to the Yankees who proved beyond argument that you can't simply buy a championship. That axiom frames the Sox F.O.'s strategy and makes it palatable to the rabid fan base here in the Nation.Given the success of the current group of guys, the F.O. had a fairly simple offseason mandate - sign Mike Lowell. We were all tempted by the shiny bauble that is A-Rod but that was a path fraught with peril. A Boras bidding war can destroy an offseason in it's entirety - they could have ended up with neither player, and Plan C really looked like shit (Joe Crede, anyone?). Then, assuming they "won" the A-Rod sweepstakes, the signing itself is a risky proposition. One, you've got 20% of your payroll tied up in a position player who's 32, and this goes on for 10 years (although the percentage maybe shrinks, the cost for production doesn't). Two, if he gets hurt you are screwed, because that contract is pretty much uninsurable after three years. And three, there are the character questions. It's hard to argue A-Rod makes any team worse in the short-term, but the equation did not include a short-term component.So fan and clubhouse favorite Mikey Lowell returns, and on the terms the F.O. wanted, a three-year deal. Nearly every predictive analysis has Mike's production dropping off going forward, and I'm of the opinion he had a career year in 2007, but I think he's a very smart ballplayer who made some adjustments in his approach to the game this year. The home run power will almost certainly slide, as it has, but if he can continue to control the strike zone and improve in hitting to all fields, he'll still put up good offensive numbers. The second piece is the key: Lowell is an historic pull hitter who doesn't drive the ball the other way well, although he worked on that this year. He'll need to protect the outside half of the plate in order to get pitches he can put his power swing on. But he still has a short, compact swing, and I think he'll adjust okay. People are also forgetting that Drew should offer better protection next year, making Lowell's job easier.Statistics aside, I'm a believer in "chemistry", or basically attitude, and I think it benefits the team to have a guy like Mike on the field and in the clubhouse who keeps guys focused on staying in the moment. It has to be incredibly difficult to stay focused on the task at hand in the Boston mad[...]



Sox Drop Game 3 To Indians, Gorman, God.

2007-10-16T12:12:51.745-07:00

If you're like me, you ended Saturday night saying to yourself "That was the worst fucking game I have watched since the talentless Aaron Boone ended the 2003 season". But then along comes Game 3, and it just blows Game 2 out of the water. In the future when mankind's brains and technology are developed enough that you can compress several hours of information into a single impression, this game will be in the dictionary next to "Murphy's Law".Let's start with the basic, unassailable premise, which is this: in an Indians-Red Sox game where the starters are Jake Westbrook and DiceK, the Red Sox should win 9 of 10 matchups. This is unarguable, because while DiceK is a little shaky at times, Jake Westbrook absolutely sucks. No, really - he sucks.So what went wrong?ApproachWell, pretty much everything went wrong, but let's start with the approach at the plate. As an organization the Red Sox stress taking a lot of pitches and getting starters pitch counts up. This has the dual benefits of tiring the starter so they can get to him, get him out, and feast on the generally weaker middle relief. It worked well against CC and Carmona because they are both guys who throw hard with excellent stuff but shitty command. As we all know, the end result was disastrous on Saturday but the approach was correct.Against a guy like Westbrook who has good command but crappy stuff, it's not the best idea to take a ton of pitches, because he NEEDS to pitch ahead in the count to be successful. If you give him strike one every at-bat, you're playing right into his hands. But that's exactly what the Sox did. Moreover, against Cleveland whose bullpen is fantastic, there is no advantage to getting to them early because Lewis and Betancourt will just shut down your weak-ass bats. The Sox should have been pounding a few first pitch strikes to make Westbrook nibble a bit and get behind in a few counts, but they didn't.Adding the this mess was the execution. Westbrook, Lewis and Betancourt all threw quite a few mistakes that guys missed, although given the stuff the latter two have it's more forgivable. No matter what you're approach is, when you get your pitch, you need to hit it. And when you load the bases with nobody out against a guy as bad as Westbrook, that should be it - game over.Home Plate Umpire Brian GormanAnd....speaking of bases loaded situations...the Sox would have had another bases loaded situation but for the simply unbelievable incompetence (or is it Tim Donaghy Redux?) of home plate umpire Brian Gorman, who called strike one on a ball four pitch to Manny that was so far off the plate that the Fox strike zone imaging software could barely register it in the graphic. He later screwed Coco Crisp on ball four on a pitch that was very nearly as bad. Both incidents resulted in rally-killing at-bats that can be laid squarely at the feet of an umpire who called one of the worst and most one-sided ball/strike games in recorded history. On the flip side, DiceK struck out Casey Blake in the fifth but Gorman called it ball three, and Blake went on to single on the next pitch, and then score what proved to be the winning run. With the exception of a terrible first strike call on Pronk, every bad call went against the Sox. Conspiracy theorists, get our your pens.Let's go to the visual aid!Here is the strike one pitch to Manny, which if called correctly, puts Manny on first to load the bases with one out and Mike Lowell, the team's best RBI man, stepping to the plate. As I call it, "Gorman's Coup de Grace":Here is strike two (see #5) to Coco in the seventh, which if called correctly would have put him on first with one out (in front of a Lugo single although that can'[...]



ALDS Game 1: The Bosoxwest Live GameBlog

2007-10-03T18:07:48.136-07:00

6:05 That's all she wrote! Anderson drives one deep to center but Crisp is there to catch the flyball for the final out. Beckett with a dominant complete game shutout of the Angels to set the tone for the Sox. I disagree with the decision to send him back out there, but it worked out. Huge effort by the kid. If the bats come alive tomorrow we will be in good shape.6:04 Vlad grounds one cleanly up the middle for a hit. Considering the location and flatness of the pitch, not a bad outcome.6:04 OCab continues to help out with a first-pitch grounder to Lowell. Two down and the Beast approaching the plate.6:02 Tito sends Beckett out for the 9th in an attempt to weaken him. He's good like that. Figgins again gets his pitch and lines it to left, but thankfully Ellsbury makes a diving catch to save the day. His cape is cool.5:59 Santana hangs a curve to Manny and he pops it up. These guys have really cashed it in.5:57 Ortiz rips two pitches foul to go 0-2, gets back to 3-2....and gets a good pitch to hit but pops up to center field. Huh? What just happened? Is Santa dead?5:55 Youks does that slappy thing to fly weakly to right for the first out of the inning. The slappy thing doesn't work too often.5:50 Kendry Morales pinch hits. You can tell by his gut that he has some power, and possibly some snacky cakes stored away in the uniform. This discombobulates Beckett to the point that he throws a wild pitch. Beckett crosses the 100-pitch mark for strike two, then backdoors him for his 8th strikeout of the night to close down the inning, and probably his night. Nasty stuff.5:48 Beckett apparently hears the Announcer Corpse badmouthing the sharpness on his curveball and hits Admiral Aybar with a nasty one for strike one, then gets a quick strike two. The Admiral chops one to second and beats the DP throw for a tasty FC.5:47 Kendrick battles to stay alive, then singles between a diving Lowell and a picking-his-glove-up-too-sooning Lugo. He really does it all.5:45 Kotchman grounds to first, and the best First Baseman in baseball fields it cleanly and throws to Beckett for the first out. Youks.5:41 Pedroia goes down on a nasty curveball, but has looked pretty bad tonight. He needs to get on track pronto. Heading into the eighth.5:40 Watching Crisp and Lugo hit back to back is truly agonizing, isn't it? The difference is, at least with Lugo you could see how the mechanics could work; it's just that he doesn't understand hitting at all. Crisp's swing simply makes no physical sense. Anyway, Lugo shocks everyone by striking out. Two down.5:37-9 My desire to light Dane Cook on fire reaches an almost irresistible fever pitch. Why? Why have they done this to us? TBS sucks. Ervin Santana, who was destroyed by being on two of my fantasy league teams this year, comes in. Crisp embarrasses the uniform again, popping to third. One down.5:35 Beckett continues to shake off Tek (or appear to shake him off by design) and gets Izturis to ground into an FC by Pedroia on the cut fastball. Three down, and he's still under 90 pitches for the game.5:33 Good-lookin'-out by Anderson who first-pitch pops up. Two down.5:30 In a strange twist, Vlad appears to be swinging for the fences. Beckett stays away from him with repeated curveballs before trying to bust him inside, but Vlad uses his amazing powers of contact to stay alive before the umpire reverse fucks Beckett by not calling strike three on the same pitch that got Manny and Youks. Vlad singles on the next pitch, and Vegas Vice continues their investigation into home plate umpire Darling.5:29 Beckett gets behind in the count to Cabrera 2-1 but gets him to ground to Lug[...]



Sox Take On The Halos: ALDS 2007

2007-10-03T15:28:30.791-07:00

After a truly agonizing 4 months our beloved / beloathed Red Sox held on both to clinch the AL East for the first time in 12 years and finish the season with the best record in the AL. This allowed them to set the tone for the playoffs by starting it up early, and Wednesday we begin the post-season agony in a familiar way: taking on the Angels.While the Sox edged the Angels over the course of the year 6-4 in ten games (and correspondingly outscored them 64-42, largely on the basis of a few blowouts), the two teams are fairly well-matched, in spite of their opposing offensive philosophies. The Angels have very little power (less now that Matthews Jr. is out) and create runs by being extremely aggressive on the basepaths and playing a lot of small-ball. The Sox, obviously, do not. Both teams will put the theory that Championships are won with pitching and defense to the test - the Sox were #3 in the AL in Runs Scored and Anaheim (I refuse to call them Los Angeles due to the incredible douchiness of that move) is right behind them at #4.Tonight's game will feature the aces of the respective staffs in Beckett and Lackey. Both pitchers will be looking to make amends; Lackey for his 0-2 record and 8.38 ERA in Fenway this year, and Beckett for the awful outing against Minnesota last week. The primary focus for Lackey will be overcoming the mental aspects of having taken such a beating in his last two starts at Fenway. Fortunately for him he doesn't seem too bright, so he can probably barely recall those outings. For Beckett, it's the same focus as every other outing: throw his secondary pitches for strikes to keep hitters honest on the fastball, and keep the fastball down. Oh, and not get so insanely filled with rage that all bets are off.Anaheim will need Anderson to stay hot (September OPS .952) in order to protect Vlad and generate some quick offense, and they will need Izturis, slotted 5th in the order, to produce like a #5 hitter. At the bottom of the order they'll want Willitts to be the spark-plug he was earlier in the season. If he and Figgins can frustrate Beckett with long at-bats he may revert to overthrowing the fastball against the meat of the order, and Kotchman, Guerrero and Anderson will tee it up. To me, the bizarre placement of Izturis in the 5-hole, with Kendrick batting 7th, is the X factor here. In spite of two pretty serious hand injuries Kendrick put up great numbers this year, and has been raking in August and September, but he has pinkeye. If this is affecting him to the extent that he has to move down in the order I guess I'm not sure why he's playing, but so be it. If he can see the ball, he can hit it, and he could do some damage. If not, we'll just be thankful we're not facing Morales.The Sox are going to need to get to Lackey early while he's still thinking. This means Youkilis is going to have to ask someone in JP to sacrifice a fucking chicken or something to bring him back to life. He has struck out in nearly 30% of his at-bats since the beginning of August - not the mark of your typical #2. He historically has enjoyed hitting in the 2-hole but with his and Pedroia's total lack of speed at the top of the order, I could easily see myself ending the 2007 season by writing a kids book for my newborn son entitled "Everybody Poops... On His Team By Killing Innings With the DP". His performance will be a key to the series.And why is that? That is because the 7-9 spots in the order can be devastatingly awful, like having three consecutive pitchers hitting. Only Crisp has shown any signs of life. Lugo and Varitek have combined since the ASB to put t[...]



Faithless: The Final Chapter in the Saga of Roger Clemens

2007-05-07T14:19:53.892-07:00

The news came in yesterday: Clemens heads back to the Toilet. I was a little surprised, but only in that I thought it would be a few weeks until he made his decision. One thing I can say with certainty: I knew he would not be pitching for the Boston Red Sox in 2007.It was always between the Yankees and Houston, and what they could offer the game's greatest (or most mercenary) arm-for-hire. And when I say offer, do not cloud the issue with things like "history" or "Championships" or "fans" - this was a retail decision. The Yankees would outbid everyone, that was a mortal lock. But Houston is in Clemens' back yard, and there was a convenience factor there. Unfortunately, they could not pony up the cash, and they suck. In the end, Roger went for the cash, as always.The Sox were never really in the bidding - we didn't need him enough to mortgage the farm like New York did, we are inconveniently located, Dan Shaughnessy works in Boston, and Clemens hates Boston like Bush hates education. Sure, Clemens' uttered a few trite sentimental phrases, but at this point one can almost believe that was just to get the more gullible fans' hopes up so he could shatter them. Is it possible he was still exacting revenge on the Hub, after so much time?The question I would ask is: why wouldn't he? The key tenet in understanding the mind of a top-level professional athlete is this - they are the center of the universe. Some people, especially in Boston, seem to feel that since they buy the tickets, memorabilia, and overpriced vittles that pay the athlete, this engenders a synchronous relationship between the player and the fans. And sometimes, like in the case of a Trot Nixon or Tim Wakefield, the player has enough moral fiber to make this true.In the case of a Roger Clemens, this is not true. The fan perspective, rather finely put by Bill Simmons on numerous occasions, just doesn't seem to resonate with Roger. To Red Sox Nation, Clemens essentially tanked his last few years in Boston, boozing and whoring (according to many anecdotal references) his way through the season before moving on to Toronto and suddenly working his ass off to win Cy Youngs, and then committing the ultimate betrayal by going to New York. It was inexcusable, a shockingly vengeant "fuck you" to the fans who brought him into this world as a young rookie in 1984 at the tender age of 21, and lavished love and support on the pitcher through his 13 years in the organization.To be fair to Clemens, there is a third person in the equation - our beloved, departed Dan Duquette, who after badly misjudging Clemens in the negotiations that allowed him to move to Toronto said that he would not give out long contracts to players in "the twilight" of their career. The bad blood between Duquette and Clemens probably eased the latter's transition to the Evil Empire. After his move to Toronto Clemens said of Duquette "He wanted his team and he wanted some other guys he brought in for Mo [Vaughn] and everybody. It was an easy decision. It wasn't a hard decision at all for me."We all know the Duke could be a dick, and in the best of times came across as a robot invented to destroy the earth. But Clemens' sentiment points out to the average fan that in Clemens' mind there were only two factors involved in his decision - money, and Duquette. The fans were not at all an issue - they are not even mentioned here. Even if he thought the fans were a distant, distant third in the equation, he could have said "in spite of the way the negotiations panned out, I do have some regret for the fans of Boston" or something. But [...]



Well, that was crap.

2007-04-17T22:15:05.682-07:00

Is Daisuke Matsuzaka being hazed? You could make the argument. Maybe he was too successful in his first start and his teammates decided to cut him down a notch. Let's see...Against Seattle the Sox managed one hit versus the very talented - and morbidly obese - Felix Hernandez. Watching the game, one noted that King Felix was a very good pitcher, and one also noted that the Red Sox, as a team, were utterly incapable of doing anything with very hittable pitches, straight fastballs, on the inner half of the plate. This was easily explained away on Sportscenter by the pundits, who - using ESPN's cartoonishly juiced velocity gun (I mean, really people) - argued that his fastballs were consistently 99 MPH and his sliders consistently 93 and 94, and certainly unhittable. It should be noted that on various highlights the gun showed Hernandez's change-up to be clocked at 89-91 MPH. Credible? No. Nevertheless, one cannot argue that the kid has great stuff, and if his having the body and fortitude of a hippopotamus pinata doesn't cut his career short (say hello to your cousins, Colon and Sabathia!), he could really be one to reckon with. I'm betting he chunks out, though. He's only 21, and already one of the fattest non-comedians I have ever seen on live TV.In the Seattle game, there was a weird dynamic on the Dice-K side. I only saw the innings 5-9, but I was absolutely shocked by the pitch selection I was seeing. When any pitcher gives up a hit to Adrian Beltre, it should be cause for concern. When someone of Dice-K's ability does, you know there is a specific reason (and you suspect Vegas is involved). And there was. Beltre sat on the very same pitch he had watched Dice-K throw as the last three consecutive offerings in the Ichiro at-bat. Change-up; low in the zone (Beltre's favorite). With Beltre on second, Jose "I Really, Really Prefer Fastballs" Vidro got a fastball up around the chest. To me, watching with the game on mute, this was plenty of information to have me indict Varitek, but I have since read that Matsuzaka was shaking him off. So the jury's out there.Nevertheless, that game was just awful. Matsuzaka pitched well enough to win despite not having great stuff, and the bats were not there. Overmatched, maybe, but at that point there were doubts lingering from watching certain key at-bats. Was the offense overly concerned with going the other way? Why?Cut to tonight. Matsuzaka again pitches more than well enought to win, but this time he's pitted against poorly respected shitbum Gustavo Chacin. So when he loses, and moreover, the Sox again appear to have a contagion the symptoms of which are attempting to take inside fastballs to right field - but instead miss them or pop them up - I become suspicious. "Where have I seen this before?" I think. "Was it that episode of Kojak where he posed as a chubby bald lefty for a Canadian baseball team?" I queried. "No, that's not it, you idiot!" I then cruelly rejoindered, like a douche. But wait..."Of course!! They were missing fastballs middle inside last week too, as if they would be fined if they pulled a pitch down the left field line! especially that chubby bald righty, Youjak!"Of course, I am being somewhat facetious, however, the fact remains - prior to the seventh inning, two balls were hit to left: a double by Crisp and a single by WMPK. Chacin operates in the low-90s at best, so I struggle to understand the desire to go the other way. All in all, the only logical conclusion I can come up with is that the guys are hazing Dice-K by losing him a couple of g[...]



2007 Red Sox Pitching Staff

2007-04-08T20:24:20.276-07:00

A tardy closing to my look at the 25-man roster for 2007. It was helpful to have a few games I could watch to see the pitchers in game situations.Starters:Curt Schilling: 2007 ZiPS Projection 15-7 W-L | 3.98 ERAThis is a pretty standard projection for Schill, matching his three-year (2004-2006) averages very closely. At this point I think we all know what we can expect from a healthy Curt Schilling. The wrinkles this year are his advancing age (again), his attempt to work in a new change-up, and of course any stress that might result from the 2008 contract situation.Curt's first start was an inmitigated disaster. He couldn't locate the fastball, which is absolutely necessary, and the experimental change was tattooed. The rumor based on the announcers was that he was tipping the change, and certainly that makes some sense. He looked much better tonight, obviously, and in spite of the dinger by Red Sox killer Frank Catalanotto (Catalanotto must have his hookers wear Sox gear before coming to bed, I swear to you, his OPS against us is 1.2 and change). the change over the course of the game looked useful. Still, it's not vintage.The short story is this - Curt needs to win 15 for this team to have a chance. Even Joe Morgan recognizes this, which means it's a very simple thing.Josh Beckett: 2007 ZiPS Projection 14-10 W-L | 4.55 ERAWell, it probably goes without saying that if we get two years like this from Beckett, he is not worth Ramirez and Sanchez. I think we're going to see better than this from Beckett this year. He has had a year to adjust, should be a little more mature, and I think new pitching coach Farrell will be a benefit to him.Beckett looked very good in his first start, keeping his mid-90s fastball down in the zone and complementing it with a hook that was just nasty at times. Beckett doesn't need to be as much of a "pitcher" as Schilling is, but he has to locate the fastball. That will be the key for him this year. That, and Archie comics.Daisuke Matsuzaka: 2007 ZiPS Projection 15-8 W-L | 3.44 ERAAt this point it's not surprising that Dice-K projects to have the best numbers on the team. He is the real deal. Sit back and enjoy the maestro.Timmeh:2007 ZiPS Projection 11-12 W-L | 5.16 ERAAre these crappy numbers? Hells yeah. Might this be just what Timmeh puts together this year? Yup. A healthy Wake should go about .500, mid-to-high 4s ERA. Knuckleballers shouldn't regress as other pitchers do as they age, and I suspect that regression is built into this projection, so I'm expecting a bit better. That being said, we are all familiar with Timmeh's Jekyll and Hyde act. It's a crapshoot.Essentially you get a decent #4 at a good price with Timmeh, but of course you also get Doug Mirabelli, who is just awful in every way. I love Wake, and he is the consummate Boston guy, but if Snyder comes around, Lester comes back, and Hansack looks like he looks, it might be getting a little cramped for a pitcher who makes you waste a roster spot for his chubby binky.Julian Tavarez: 2007 ZiPs...ahh, I'm not even gonna botherTavarez has no business being our #5 while Snyder and Hansack are available. He doesn't strike guys out, and just cannot consistently throw strikes. Unless the idea was to let him carry over his lucky streak from last year in order to trade him, I am insulted that he's in this position. Hansack throws three pitches for strikes regularly, has a smooth repeatable delivery, and looks pretty much unflappable. We should be watching him pitch every fifth day. Also, the g[...]



2007 Red Sox Outfield

2007-03-29T22:24:45.927-07:00

So we now know that the Sox have decided to go with another arm instead of a bench OF who can actually field a position. I think this is a temporary situation, and I think Alex Ochoa agrees with me. I expect the Sox will look to move either (or both) Romero or Pineiro at some point in the coming months, although to be honest I would expect Lopez to draw the most interest based on his contract and effectiveness. If Pineiro pitches lights-out in April, then, well, his contract looks pretty good too, and he might move. Ironically, if Putz's arm is gone, Seattle would be a team who needs a closer. Reitsma is not that guy, IMO.So, what are we looking at?J.D. Drew: 2007 ZiPS Projection BA .266 | OBP .383 | SLG .452Here's where projections can be insane. Varitek projects to hit as well as Drew, and I think we all know that is about as likely as Varitek changing his haircut/goatee combo. I liked the Drew signing when we made it, and I really like it now. It goes without saying that he could blow his testicles out in a freak ferris wheel accident and be gone all season, but he is a true talent that is exactly what this ballclub needed. I personally think his line will look more like .290 | .390 | .510. Coco Crisp: 2007 ZiPS Projection BA .299 | OBP .352 | SLG .456So, naturally, when you look at Crisp's projection, you think "huh?" but this was the guy they signed (at a pretty reasonable rate I might add). I mean, we all loved the idea of Andy Marte hitting 84 dingers a year, but regardless of your feelings about the trade, it was never in question that Crisp was a young athletic kid who was trending the right way (also, Marte can't hit off-speed stuff yet, which can be a problem). I think his batting eye needs to improve for him to reach this level, but there is no reason a healthy Crisp doesn't have the above line by the end of 2007. Of course, the phrase "healthy Crisp" seems oxymoronic at this point doesn't it? Still, I know we will all be rooting for Coco, if only to force piece of shit non-journalist Dan Shaughnessy to eat crow after his latest hatchet job, which was focused on Coco. What is the common thread of the Shaughnessy hatchet job? The player won't talk to him. What a ginger clam.Manny Ramirez: 2007 ZiPS Projections BA .299 | OBP .408 | SLG .600Well, there are few players as easy to project as Manny. This is Manny with a more or less normalized BABIP, I suspect. The guy just hits. Defensively, the debate rages on - is Manny the worst fielder of all time, worth negative 20-plus runs over the course of a season? Is the Fenway Park left-field so twisted that all defensive metrics are crap with regard to playing it? Does it matter at all, as long as Manny shags extra flies during warmup and takes the occasional mid-game leak in the scoreboard? No.Manny is Manny, and his flailing around the outfield allows Papi's knees to hold up as the DH, and this pretty much makes the whole thing work. Is he kind of nut-job? Sure, but he is a pretty lovable kook, and when his career is done, and CHB is putting the axe to someone ese, and some real journalist takes us back over Manny's career here, we will miss that crinkly-haired genius. If WMP (now known as WMPK) can't put it together, or we don't somehow acquire a Cabrera, an A-Rod, or a Pedro Alvarez in the draft, a Manny departure will be a crippler.Wily Mo Pena: 2007 ZiPS Projections BA .276 | OBP .331 | SLG .483Well, the great debate rages on. I am in the camp that the Arroyo for Pena trade was a fair risk-[...]



2007 Red Sox Infield

2007-02-22T17:49:38.610-08:00

I'll start with these guys since I'm predicting the least amount of flux in the infield throughout spring training, and I don't want to have to keep going back and forth with updates based on who's looking like the closer, or the 4th outfielder, or the Fat Elvis Presley, etc.CatcherArguably the most important defensive position on the field when one takes game-calling into the picture.Varitek: 2007 ZiPS Projections BA .266 | OBP .357 | SLG .456The Captain's offensive productivity dropped off last year, possibly as a result of injury, but he has come back this year stating he feels better than he has in years. Still, he's 35 years old playing a position that often correlates with steep performance declines for players older than 30. Varitek is not a normal athlete though, in terms of training and preparation. Until proven otherwise there is no reason to believe he cannot have a bounce-back year offensively.Defensively, he remains the benchmark for game preparation and pitch-calling in the major leagues. With Matsuzaka coming on board for his first year in MLB, there can be no other catcher you would rather have behind the plate.Good Herald article/puff piece on Varitek here. As one would expect he doesn't use the injuries last year as an excuse for the offensive struggles, and as usual he sounds like the kind of guy you just have absolute faith in. And, as usual, he doesn't seem like the guy you'd want with you in Vegas at 2am, unless of course you had attracted the unwanted attention of the security crew.My personal prediction is that 'Tek ends up around where ZiPS has him. The swing is a little long, and the high inside heat will burn him a little more, but he will get on base, and when it's all said and done he is the Captain, and as long as he plays this team has a chance.Doug Mirabelli: 2007 ZiPS Projections BA .214 | OBP .304 | SLG .377Doug Mirabelli is the long-snapper of MLB. He does exactly one thing, catch the knuckleball, and apparently he does it well enough that he makes 3/4 of a million dollars to do only that while causing people to suffer cerebral edema just watching him hit. I personally find it hard to believe that catching the knuckler is so difficult that no other catcher can learn to do it (since Varitek did it just fine before Dougie came along), but evidently there is some "comfort" level that helps Timmeh here, so we get another year of Mr. Chubs. If we only get Dougie once every 5 or 6 days it's a manageable hit, but anything beyond that is just brutal.George Kottaras: 2007 ZiPS Projections BA .241 | OBP .331 | SLG .374Yes, the kid who's never been higher than AA is projected to hit better than Mirabelli. Shocking? No. My mom is projected to hit better than Dougie and she hasn't stepped into the batter's box since I bruised her ribs with an errant heater in 6th grade.Kottaras is the heir-apparent to Varitek unless some odd things happen with Wagner, Weeden, Egan or Otness. That said, he does not project to approach Varitek's abilities defensively, at least at this point. The Sox obviously hope 'Tek can work with him to instill some of those traits, hence his invite to S.T. Kottaras is a cerebral hitter, though, and may be able to transform himself defensively through hard work and tutelage. It's something to watch this year. He'll play every day in Pawtucket. The interesting thing to note about Kottaras is that he does have some experience catching the knuckler (caught Steve Sparks for a bit in th[...]



The 40-Man Roster

2007-02-21T20:30:04.121-08:00

Spring training is upon us! We will wish Lenny Dinardo well out here in the Bay Area as he leaves to make room for JD Drew. We can now look at the finalized Red Sox 40-man roster for 2007. I've compiled a quick view of the 2007 roster in the spreadsheet below, listing each player with their 2007 salary and ZiPS projection. ZiPS is a publicly shared projection methodology created by Dan Szymborski of the Baseball Think Factory. You can get them for all teams here.

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You can enlarge the image by clicking on it. Obviously, this is a projection system, and as such is based on historical statistics. Therefore some of the numbers will not reflect the new reality. For example, Pineiro doesn't have enough history as a reliever to generate projections for that role, so his projections are as a starter. Szymborski knew late last season that Papelbon would go into '07 as a starter, so his numbers are a hybrid. Et cetera, et cetera, blah, blah, blah, what I'm saying is take these numbers with a grain of salt.

I'll be covering the various groups of players (SP, RP, OF, INF, UTIL)in more detail in upcoming entries. I just wanted to baseline things here, and ease into the mayhem. This has been a hectic offseason, a lot of drama, but all in all you have to feel pretty good about this team as it's built right now (did I say this in 2006?... you bet your sweet ass). At the very least, with El Guapo just up the highway in Nashua, there will be ample opportunity for amusement.



FA Signings by WARP-3 (Position Players)

2006-12-12T12:10:02.780-08:00

Quick post with some analysis of the FA signings this offseason, as promised in an earlier article. What I've done here is taken Baseball Prospectus's WARP-3 value, and weighted it 3-2-1 in favor of the most recent seasons - so 2006 has the most weight. WARP-1 is described as "The number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done", but WARP-3 is adjusted for difficulty, and accounts for 162-game seasons (not really necessary since the seasons in question were 162 games). What I'm basically trying to show here is the amount of money teams paid per year (AAV = Average Annual Value) per WARP-3. This is quick and dirty, and doesn't take into account certain aspects of the player, but should serve as a baseline for analyzing some of these signings.

The graph file is pretty big, so hopefully it is readable. If you would like the original Excel email me for it at Bosoxwest@yahoo.com.

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Spreadsheet here:
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The interesting thing to note here for Sox fans is of course where Drew and Lugo fall in the mix. Drew is getting around $250K less per WARP-3 per year than Soriano, and about $100K more per year than Matthews Jr. In the abstract this isn't great in and of itself, except when you take into account the fact that Soriano's contract has three more years on it than Drew's and the fact that 2006 was Matthews Jr's career year almost by a factor of 2. In that upper echelon of AAV per WARP, outside of Soriano and perhaps Ramirez, there's no player I'd rather have than Drew, and given the years the contract looks pretty good. The Lee contract, as previously noted, is a fucking joke - pardon my french.

The Lugo signing, once again, looks very, very good. Look at the names above him, and it becomes pretty clear. Interestingly, the Cora signing looks absolutely ridiculous on paper. I guess they're paying for intangibles.

The best positional bargains of the offseason thus far? Kevin Millar, and Adam Kennedy. Of the guys who could play every day and help the team (Counsell and Clayton will be bench players), these guys signed for very short money in the current market. In baseball, as in all other areas of life, it does not pay to be an unathletic-looking white guy.

I'll try to take a look at pitchers in the coming weeks. It's a bit trickier, but we'll see how the trending works out.



Red Sox Select Nick Debarr in Rule 5 Draft

2006-12-07T10:23:44.033-08:00

In today's Rule 5 Draft the Sox picked up big righty reliever Nick Debarr. Debarr was a 14th round pick by Tampa Bay in the 2002 amateur draft. Debarr is 6' 4" 220 lbs. and pitched for Visalia in the California league last year. He came back last year from Tommy John surgery, apparently very well.

Here's a quick scouting blurb on him from Rays Baseball in 2004:

"DeBarr is a hoss; 6’4, 220, 20 years-old, possess a low-90’s fastball that BA thinks could improve as DeBarr continues to add strength, a plus splitter and a decent slider. He had better results when he became more aggressive, a trait he will need to keep as he moves up to Bakersfield this year."

What do we like about Nick? A good K rate (avg. 6.8 but nearly 8 last year), has fixed the K:BB rate (up to nearly 4:1 last year after a tough previous season), and a low WHIP (1.13 last year), and of course he has the prototypical "pitcher's build". What's not to like? Well, he's only had success at high-A, so he's a longshot to stick on the 25-man roster for the season. He'd really need to surprise.

Naturally, when your bullpen features Mike Timlin, you want to amass as many options as possible, and if Debarr can locate his fastball and in fact has a plus secondary pitch, he could help this team. Under normal circumstances we could decide we like him and trade or send cash to Tampa Bay to keep him, but since Tampa Bay despises our FO that might be tough. It may well be a situation where we throw him into the fire, and it's sink or swim. Or, I guess he might be a trading chip to be used in the near term, or kicked back to TB.

At any rate, for $50K, it seems like a reasonable chance to take. As I've always maintained, nothing's more fun than rooting for the longshot, so here's to Nick.

The other positive outcome from the Rule 5 Draft is that exposed Red Sox prospect Chad Spann was not claimed by any team. This probably explains why he was left unprotected. Spann has a ways to go yet, certainly defensively, but has the potential to be a big-league contributor, so I'm happy he stays with us. Moerover, Pawtucket already has a lot of holes on that team, and I don't want them to suck. So there's that.

And a week until the Matsuzaka deadline...