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Sox Therapy
— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Errors

I’m of the opinion that the Red Sox have actually gotten tight and have actually been affected by the pressure.  As per the post a week ago, I don’t think that this means the team is screwed - slumps and choking events can end, human beings can get themselves together, and events can turn out ok.  I’m still confident that these are professional baseball players who are likely to play professional baseball well when they take the field.

But I think that out on the field, the Red Sox have been ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 21, 2011 at 01:52 PM | 45 comment(s)
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Monday, September 19, 2011

The Red Sox may lose the Wild Card

I don’t foresee myself having a lot of time to talk baseball in the next week, so y’all ought to have a thread.  The chance of the Red Sox losing the Wild Card to the Rays is now somewhere 15 and 25%, and a lot of it depends on how well the Yankees play in their seven games with the Rays and three with the Sox.  Today we are all Yankee fans.  So even if the Sox do hang on, this has happened, and it is horrible.

Here are the numbers from the old log5 for the remaining schedule spreadsheet.  I’m ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 19, 2011 at 11:11 AM | 301 comment(s)
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Monday, September 12, 2011

In which I listen to Theo Epstein’s public statements

Theo gave an interview to WEEI this morning, helpfully transcribed at the Globe Extra Bases blog.  I like what he had to say about the losing streak.

On if the bad play becomes contagious throughout the team:

“It seems that way. It’s hard to tell whether it actually is. It probably is to a small extent and beyond that it’s just seems that way when so many things aren’t going well. I do think that when you have a run of bad starting pitching, it does obviously impact the bullpen, and has a ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 12, 2011 at 04:38 PM | 172 comment(s)
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

So you say you want to piss your pants, well, you know (pt 2)

I’ve recently been posting some aggressively optimistic things about the Red Sox, even as they stumble awkwardly down the stretch like some sort of drunken Kevin Youkilis.  I’d like to explain myself in a bit more detail, after yet another ugly loss.

There have been numbers tossed around in the other threads which were clearly based on a poorly calibrated PNOOMA system.  75% chance the Sox make the playoffs.  No, it’s 85%.  All while the BPro numbers still hold around 99%.  One of the ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 10, 2011 at 02:17 AM | 167 comment(s)
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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Call me Dr. Cliff Jinxtable

Today the Red Sox playoff odds on the BP postseason report broke over 99.95% and are listed at 100%.  I think it’s time to start talking about the playoffs. 

There are a lot of different topics worth covering, and this isn’t meant to cover all of them.  We can do playoff roster and bench player stuff later, it’ll be fun, but the outcomes probably won’t matter much.  What will probably matter is who pitches in a Game 4 and who pitches in the 7th inning.  The big problem with the Red ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 04, 2011 at 03:46 PM | 103 comment(s)
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Series of Imaginable Significance

Unlike Terry Francona and Joe Girardi, I care who wins the American League East pennant.  The three-game series between their clubs, which begins tonight in Boston, will shape that pennant race in important ways.  This would be a bigger deal if either the Red Sox or Yankees, as organizations, appeared to care about the outcome of the race.  With both teams secure in their playoff berths, barring historic meltdowns, we are unlikely to see three games managed with any particular intensity.  But I ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 30, 2011 at 05:27 PM | 11 comment(s)
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Full LaRussa, or, One Month to Solve the Bullpen

The Red Sox have a relief problem.  It’s not the worst relief problem a team has ever had, but it’s a peculiarly difficult one.  (If by some chance the Sox make the playoffs), with Bard setting up Papelbon, we should have as good a 1-2 punch for the playoffs as any other team in the majors.  However, the Red Sox are highly likely to have two starters in their rotation who can’t be expected to get through the 6th inning, let alone the 7th.  And I have absolutely no idea who should be ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 24, 2011 at 11:16 AM | 56 comment(s)
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tim Wakefield in comparative perspective

Tim Wakefield has been on the Red Sox for seventeen years now, an integral part of the club during the golden age of Red Sox baseball.  Other than his first season with Boston in 1995, when Wakefield pitched a Moneyball avant la lettre side into the playoffs, Wakefield has been an innings eater rather than a star.  There were several years, while I was living in Boston, when every time I got Sox tickets it seemed like Wakefield was starting.  The first time I got tickets for a Wakefield start, ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 21, 2011 at 11:53 PM | 89 comment(s)
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August is the 500est month

Counter to the happy expectations coming into the month, the Red Sox have failed to keep winning at a historically impressive rate.  If you select your endpoint one week earlier, following that nice sweep of the Mariners, the Sox are 12-10 in their most recent stretch.  This Red Sox team has been succeeding all year despite what appears on paper to be a very shaky pitching staff, and while one might expect the pitchers would be to blame, they aren’t.  The staff has a perfectly solid 4ish ERA ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 17, 2011 at 02:03 PM | 79 comment(s)
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

the villageidiom stretch-run thread

Longtime therapudlian villageidiom has put together his high-expectations quickie forecast for the Red Sox down the stretch this season.  I think this is a thing that is worth a thread.  This is what he calls the “strawman forecast”, with one very small change that I will explain shortly:

1 vs. KC (1-0) (0-1)
3 at CHW (2-1)
4 vs. CLE (3-1) (2-2)
3 vs. NYY (2-1)
3 at MIN (2-1)
3 at SEA (2-1) (1-2)
3 vs. TB (2-1) (1-2)
4 at KC (3-1)
4 at TEX (2-2) (3-1)
3 vs OAK (2-1)
3 vs. NYY (2-1) (1-2)
3 ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 10, 2011 at 11:59 AM | 153 comment(s)
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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Red Sox have a very good defense

First the numbers.  Fangraphs UZR has the Red Sox as the best defensive team in the AL with 38 runs saved above average, ahead of the Angels and Rays who are tied at +25.  B-Ref’s TZ places the Sox in a dead heat for second with the Angels and Rays (all at about 28 runs saved above average), trailing the league leading Indians by about ten runs.  The Red Sox have the 4th best Defensive Efficiency rating in the league, a .715 mark that places them in the middle of a crowd with the Indians, ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 09, 2011 at 03:39 PM | 13 comment(s)
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Thursday, August 04, 2011

So, Jacoby Ellsbury

He’s been one of the few most valuable players in all of baseball this year.  5.1 or 5.6 WAR already going by Chone and Fangraphs.  His power spike is really astounding - I always thought he had potential for medium power, a bunch of doubles and triples and a few homers.  With tonight’s walk-off bomb, Ellsbury’s isolated power is nearly .200.  He’s even walking a little more as pitchers are starting to be a bit more careful.  I have to admit I’m skeptical that Ellsbury is really this big a ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:43 AM | 58 comment(s)
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Trade Deadline Thread

The Red Sox are “inquiring on” or “hard after” or “basically stalking” about seven different pitchers at this point, but no reports so far have them “close” or “making progress” or “violating the court-mandated 50 yard zone of protection” with any of them.  All of Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jimenez, Eric Bedard, and Rich Harden would be upgrades on Tim Wakefield, and those four pitchers, as well as most of the California Penal League, would be upgrades on Andrew Miller.  The question is what sorts ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 30, 2011 at 07:49 PM | 86 comment(s)
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Winning without pitching

I made a joke a few weeks ago, after Jon Lester got injured, about the Red Sox looking into a radical new model of starting pitching, in which they rolled out a starting rotation composed of Josh Beckett.  I was trying to emphasize how bad the Red Sox’ remaining starting pitchers were, and draw some levity from what was likely to be three weeks of losing way more baseball games than anyone wants to.  But here we are, having gained 3.5 games in the standings since Lester last pitched.  The Sox ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 25, 2011 at 11:41 PM | 61 comment(s)
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Be a Prospect, the Lavarnway (Minor League Thread)

It’s been a while since the last minor league thread, so let’s talk about Ryan Lavarnway. The big question about him has always been whether he would be able to stick at catcher. That hasn’t really changed—reports on his defense are still iffy at best. But Lavarnway is crushing the ball into such a fine powder that he may make that discussion simply float away on an afternoon breeze. After putting up a respectable .284/.360/.510 line in AA, he has murdered the International League at a rate of ...

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Darren Posted: July 19, 2011 at 07:56 PM | 84 comment(s)
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Expectations

When evaluating a team halfway through a season, you have to account for over- and under-performance, and put together a rough guess as to who can be expected to play better or worse in the next couple months.  Since that discussion is ongoing in other threads, I thought it would be useful to give the discussion its own thread, and to provide some statistical baselines for conversation.

I took the preseason ZiPS projections, and I figured each player’s projected runs created.  I adjusted ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 18, 2011 at 03:00 PM | 19 comment(s)
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

All-Star Break Content II: Streakin’

The first half was by any reasonable standard a very successful one for the Red Sox.  They stand in first place by a game, with a winning percentage a little over .600.  Under Theo, the Red Sox have had three first halves this strong – 2009, 2007 (hey, this sounds pretty good…) and 2006.  So obviously it’s no guarantee of a division win or a world series, but the Red Sox have, in the aggregate, done everything you’d expect from a club that was supposed to be the best in baseball at the ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 12, 2011 at 05:21 PM | 33 comment(s)
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Monday, July 11, 2011

All-Star Break Content I: Makin’ Moves

The All-Star break means there’s no baseball, so I’m going to do a bit more writing about baseball than I usually do to try to fill up the sports-shaped hole in my soul.  The first thing I want to talk about is the upcoming trade deadline.  The Red Sox have three weeks to improve the roster for the stretch run, and while surely Theo is working the phones and trying to put together a seven-team, eighteen-player blockbuster that brings Hanley Ramirez back to Boston, I want to focus on trades ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 11, 2011 at 01:33 PM | 62 comment(s)
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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

One out of five ain’t good

The initial reports on Jon Lester’s injury could be worse.  Sean McAdam reports it’s a lat strain that will cost Lester two weeks.  Thing is, Buchholz was supposed to be out for the minimum, too, and now he’s heading to see a back specialist in North Carolina.  Daisuke Matsuzaka was supposed to be on the active roster.  And, of course, John Lackey was supposed to be a major league pitcher and not a curse visited upon the first-born.

The Red Sox will have to try to keep pace in the AL ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 06, 2011 at 03:13 AM | 71 comment(s)
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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Is Andrew Miller the new Wade Miller?

Theo Epstein has made something of a practice of taking high-upside pitchers off the scrap heap, rehabbing them, using them poorly, and releasing them after they lose a bunch of baseball games.  The list from Wade Miller and Matt Mantei to Brad Penny and John Smoltz records a litany of his greatest failures as GM.  That’s the thing with cheap high-upside pitchers – if there weren’t a real good chance they’d suck, they wouldn’t be cheap.

Andrew Miller, who won his second game with the ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 03, 2011 at 01:56 PM | 47 comment(s)
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Toast

I’ve been wanting to write something up about the midseason decisions that precede the trade deadline.  Tito and Theo and the rest of the organization need to determine which positions will require upgrading, and which players in the organization deserve a shot to help out before the team looks outside its own system and considers selling its prospects.  Even a very good club has multiple areas where it could make an upgrade, so to keep this short(ish), I want to consider just the question of ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 25, 2011 at 06:28 PM | 110 comment(s)
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Friday, June 17, 2011

That was supposed to be hard

This last nine-game stretch was one of the toughest of the season.  Nine games on the road against the Red Sox’ toughest competitors in the AL East.  Nine games on the road against teams that would be in contention in any division in baseball.  If I had run a log5 analysis on these series on June 6th, using BPro’s W3% at the time, I would have found the expected record for the Red Sox to be .500.  A 5-4 trip would have been a legitimate success.  The chance of the Red Sox winning eight or ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 17, 2011 at 12:06 PM | 33 comment(s)
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Minor League Thread: Where Prospects Come From

I was putting together a midseason review of the top ten prospects, but it was getting depressing.  In its place, here’s a happy topic – the Red Sox have a significant number of kids who weren’t in contention to be top 10 prospects last year, who have done a lot of good stuff this year.  A couple of these guys are having the sorts of seasons that get you into the next Baseball America, and a couple are having seasons that could get them onto a major league roster. 

Darren already ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 15, 2011 at 02:24 PM | 30 comment(s)
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2011: Dustin Pedroia’s Worst Year? Or His Best?

Normally, when I find out that a player on the Red Sox has been playing hurt for a long time, and it has obviously been hampering his game, I get pretty annoyed with the team’s decision making. Why oh why, I wonder to myself, would you keep sending a player out there to play terribly rather than putting him on the disabled list and giving someone else a shot. Past examples include running Mike Cameron out CF for months last season while his guts were falling out and letting Curt Schilling ...

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Darren Posted: June 15, 2011 at 01:23 PM | 87 comment(s)
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Today in Inconclusive Ramblings: Josh Beckett

I’d like to start these inconclusive ramblings with my one firm conclusion.  Josh Beckett is a good pitcher if any only if he is commanding his curveball.  Beckett’s curve is one of the great pitches of our era, the perfect platonic form of the hard breaker.  I think we don’t appreciate the pitch as much as we should because it looks like we think every curveball should look – except no one else throws one exactly like it.  The point is, that curve is such a dominant offering that ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 10, 2011 at 12:10 PM | 23 comment(s)
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Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Wonderful Two Months of Jacoby Ellsbury

Has anyone been playing around with the WAR leaderboards at Fangraphs or B-Ref?  I hadn’t really grasped just how good a season Ellsbury has been having until I saw it compared to the rest of league.  Ellsbury’s 366/473 slash line is good – and better than it looks because of the return of 1980s offensive levels to baseball – but when you combine it with his defense and baserunning, he’s an elite player right now.  Chone WAR has Ellsbury 10th in the league and 3rd on his team (behind ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 09, 2011 at 12:03 PM | 69 comment(s)
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Saturday, June 04, 2011

Minor League Thread: The Draft

The compensation structure of baseball’s amateur draft is basically broken.  The Red Sox are one of several teams that have figured out how to beat the system.  You use your financial advantage to acquire high-quality players, then when you let them go, you take the compensation picks.  Though you may lose a compensation pick for acquiring your own good player, it’s not hard to collect more compensation picks than you give up.  At the same time, because there is no hard slotting of draft ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 04, 2011 at 02:54 PM | 41 comment(s)
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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Regression to the Mean

Regression to the mean is that phenomenon in which continued observations will bring a measurement closer and closer to its predicted mean.  What the Red Sox have been doing over the last six weeks isn’t exactly regression to the mean.  Since their 2-10 start, the Red Sox have been playing .700 ball.  Since their little stagnation 8-9 run that I complained about in an earlier thread, the club has won 11 and lost 2.  The Red Sox, for the full season, and now on a 92-win pace, not meaningfully ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 28, 2011 at 12:03 PM | 26 comment(s)
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Monday, May 23, 2011

On Terry Francona… or, Jose Stirs the Pot

This is a guest post from Jose Is The Special Seabiscuit nee Can You Seabiscuit.

Earlier in the season, when the Red Sox were struggling and Terry Francona was taking his share of the blame for the club’s struggles, I spent some time reflecting on why I like and defend Francona as a manager as much as I do.  Having done this I realized that there a few things that lead me to give Terry Francona more rope than perhaps others do.  He is not perfect, but I think he continues to be the right man ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 23, 2011 at 11:30 PM | 67 comment(s)
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hassan Chop (Minor League Thread)

It’s been a while since the Red Sox have had a minor leaguer putting up ridiculous numbers for any extended period of time. Recent Sox stars have generally had good track records but not the type of breakouts that make you do a double take. Dustin Pedroia, for example, had some really nice batting averages and low K rates, but his best full season of stats was .305/.384/.426 at AAA. Jon Lester had some great stats in the low minors but his numbers in the upper minors were depressed by his ...

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Darren Posted: May 19, 2011 at 01:40 PM | 30 comment(s)
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