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Friday, September 23, 2011

Kriegel: Red Sox are anything but ‘Money’

Money: (Marty) Barrett Strong ~ (Mark) Kriegel Weak.

Going into Friday night’s three-game set with the Yankees, the Red Sox have dropped 14 of their past 18 games. Still, despite what you think, what you feel, what you know deep in your bones, they are not — repeat not — choking.

Choking, like clutch-hitting, is an archaic expression. They are really counterintuitive notions rendered obsolete with the advent of sabermetrics. It’s worth reminding you that the Red Sox have for years employed one Bill James, who espoused and popularized the bloodless idea — I simplify, of course, but you get the point — that position players can be represented by their statistics, particularly those that take into account on-base and slugging percentages. It was “Revenge of the Nerds” meeting that least nerdy of endeavors, sports. And its gospel was spread through the book “Moneyball,” now a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt.

...The Red Sox, meanwhile, acquired the aforementioned Crawford (whose $142 million contract represents more than three times the Rays’ annual budget), and Adrian Gonzalez to go with John Lackey, whom they signed before the 2010 season. In his first year with Boston, Crawford has an on-base percentage of .295. Lackey, 32, in the second year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract, has an ERA of 6.49. Unfortunately, the geeks have yet to devise a statistic that measures the falloff in performance when one goes from the second team in town (the Angels) to the second team in baseball. Perhaps, that, too, is counterintuitive.

...Only two Boston players have been there that long — David Ortiz and Tim Wakefield. I don’t know if they subscribe to the theory of “Moneyball,” but they’re old enough to remember when the Red Sox were chokers.

Repoz Posted: September 23, 2011 at 09:15 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: books, media, red sox

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   1. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: September 23, 2011 at 09:58 PM (#3934399)
OMG FAUX SPORTS!!!
   2. Walt Davis Posted: September 23, 2011 at 10:04 PM (#3934402)
Indeed, prior to the publication of Moneyball, the Red Sox were recognized as the most clutch franchise in the history of baseball.
   3. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 23, 2011 at 10:28 PM (#3934411)
I think it's clear that whatever plan the Red Sox undertook in 2002 has to be judged as an abject failure at this point.
   4. Dale Sams Posted: September 23, 2011 at 11:18 PM (#3934438)
Let me translate the entire article. "I hate the Red Sox and Moneyball is bad."
   5. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 23, 2011 at 11:26 PM (#3934441)
Unfortunately, the geeks have yet to devise a statistic that measures the falloff in performance when one goes from the second team in town (the Angels) to the second team in baseball.


Take out the snark and attitude, and there's a point in there. Why do successful players in one city fail in another? If you're in a front office and you're thinking of acquiring a big player, does that enter your decision process? Is there a way to identify a player who will not be a good fit in your particular situation?
   6. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 23, 2011 at 11:37 PM (#3934445)
Take out the snark and attitude, and there's a point in there. Why do successful players in one city fail in another? If you're in a front office and you're thinking of acquiring a big player, does that enter your decision process? Is there a way to identify a player who will not be a good fit in your particular situation?



There was an article in Spring Training that talked about the Sox doing just crazy levels of investigation (bordering on stalking it seemed) on Carl Crawford. I'd be stunned if every team doesn't do some sort of background check on players before they sign them ranging from a phone call to a former manager to something like the Sox and Crawford.

At the same time, I just don't know how useful it is. It seems to me that doing a psychiatric profile on someone is a pretty tough thing to do with any accuracy unless you are doing the type of stuff that spy novels are based on. I mean, Lackey won Game Seven of the World Series as a rookie and was pretty regularly a horse and an Ace for the Angels with a darn good post-season record. He looked like a guy you would expect to step in in Boston and deliver.

That's just one example and there are plenty of contraexamples but I just think doing psychiatric evaluations of players is a virtual impossibility. Doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried, just that it's unlikely to succeed.
   7. Dale Sams Posted: September 23, 2011 at 11:51 PM (#3934457)
re: Lackey

Ignoring pitchers attitudes about the team they are heading towards and said pitchers numbers in the park of the team they are heading towards is the new market ineffciancy.
   8. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 23, 2011 at 11:56 PM (#3934458)
It is amazing to me that teams bet their franchise's futures - their fortunes over the following decades - on a guess about how the player will perform for them. The Yankees and Red Sox are rich enough that they can carry a $20 million mediocrity or two and still win a lot of games, but other clubs do not: I suspect the Nats will rue the Werth contract for years and years.
   9. Dan Posted: September 23, 2011 at 11:57 PM (#3934459)
Unless there's something in the water in LA that regrows UCLs, I don't think staying in LA would've made Lackey's last couple seasons much different.
   10. Dan Posted: September 23, 2011 at 11:59 PM (#3934460)
It is amazing to me that teams bet their franchise's futures - their fortunes over the following decades - on a guess about how the player will perform for them. The Yankees and Red Sox are rich enough that they can carry a $20 million mediocrity or two and still win a lot of games, but other clubs do not: I suspect the Nats will rue the Werth contract for years and years.


The problem for the Red Sox isn't that Lackey and Crawford haven't been expensive mediocrities; they've been expensive negatives on the field. Even if they were each paid $5M, these guys would be killing the Sox by playing every day and starting every 5th day. A team that wants to win 95-100 games is pretty hamstrung by a 0.5 WAR player in LF every day and a -2 WAR starter taking the hill once every 5 days.
   11. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 24, 2011 at 12:04 AM (#3934466)
I suspect the Nats will rue the Werth contract for years and years.


Jayson Werth can't be as bad as his numbers this year though, can he?
   12. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 24, 2011 at 12:56 AM (#3934493)
The problem for the Red Sox isn't that Lackey and Crawford haven't been expensive mediocrities; they've been expensive negatives on the field. Even if they were each paid $5M, these guys would be killing the Sox by playing every day and starting every 5th day. A team that wants to win 95-100 games is pretty hamstrung by a 0.5 WAR player in LF every day and a -2 WAR starter taking the hill once every 5 days.


But the theory is that if they weren't so invested in Crawford, both because of the expense and the expectations of the acquisition, they might have been able to develop or buy a legitimate backup plan, so if Crawford put up a replacement-level season, they can replace him in the lineup. If you sign Carl Crawford, you figure that LF is taken care of; you don't acquire a LF option, as the Sox might have had they never signed the man.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2011 at 03:59 AM (#3934563)
Jayson Werth can't be as bad as his numbers this year though, can he?

I'll take things we used to say about Jason Bay for $500.
   14. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 24, 2011 at 04:11 AM (#3934569)
Jayson Werth can't be as bad as his numbers this year though, can he?

Numbers don't lie, Tommy Lasorda does.
   15. PreBeaneAsFan Posted: September 24, 2011 at 06:34 AM (#3934624)

Jayson Werth can't be as bad as his numbers this year though, can he?


(Many) People thought it was a bad contract before the year even started. Even if he's not really this bad (which I'm inclined to agree is the case) this year still has to substantially lower our expectations for his future compared to what we would have thought last year. Since most of us already thought the contract was bad, it's now looking quite likely to be truly awful.

The Crawford contract is similar in this regard-many people thought it was bad to begin with, and even though I doubt Crawford is truly this bad, it is hard to see him performing at a level that comes close to justifying his pay.

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