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

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What’s Wrong With John Lackey?

John Lackey was the Red Sox’ big offseason signing.  I hailed the move as “pretty logical” at the time, and most folks agreed that Lackey’s a good pitcher - maybe he was being overpaid some, maybe he wasn’t, but he was a solidly above average pitcher.  The contract could be a problem by 2013, that was the objection.

Instead, the Red Sox would very nearly be better off without Lackey, this year.  He’s given them a couple of good starts, but the overall numbers are bad - a 5.07 ERA that can’t be ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 22, 2010 at 02:07 PM | 99 comment(s)
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Papelbon Debate

Is Jonathan Papelbon still a good closer?  I think he is - he was one last year, he was one the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that. Any statistical engagement with the question will hold that Papelbon is among baseball’s best relievers.

The case that Papelbon sucks has to rest on observations about his pitching - that there are real changes in quality that haven’t shown themselves over a long enough period of time to produce a useful statistical sample.  (ie, ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 19, 2010 at 04:19 AM | 91 comment(s)
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Good News, Bad News on Papi

David Ortiz’s two HRs on Friday and his general power surge of late are certainly good news for the Red Sox. If his turnaround is similar to last year’s, only beginning a month earlier this year, then he should have good numbers by the end of the season. But there’s one part of his game that may hold him back: strikeouts. Ortiz fanned 2 more times on Friday, bringing his seasonal total to 34 in just 99 plate appearances—a rate that would put him well over 200 Ks in a season. Even during his ...

Darren Posted: May 15, 2010 at 03:23 AM | 61 comment(s)
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Minor League Thread: The Irresistable Draw of an Old Non-Prospect

This time it’s for real, folks. This time I mean it. No more falling for the 2nd baseman who can’t play 2nd, has no power whatsoever, and is too old for his league. No more getting excited about a 39th rounder who hits well on the distant planet known as Lancaster. And no more guys married to women 20+ years older than them and carrying on some secret feud with the owners that only Dan Syzmborski knows about.

No, this time, I really have found an old, non-prospect minor leaguer to root ...

Darren Posted: May 13, 2010 at 11:52 PM | 40 comment(s)
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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Are the Red Sox Properly Preparing Starting Pitchers?

For the 2nd year in a row, the Boston Red Sox have come out of the gate with their top pitchers struggling quite badly. In 2009, Josh Beckett had a 7.22 ERA in April. Jon Lester was in the mid-5’s through May. Daisuke Matsuzaka was at 8.23 when they shut him down in June. Meanwhile, reclamation Brad Penny and John Smoltz were deemed ready to pitch, joined the rotation, were dumped, and then picked up by other teams where they pitched much better—even accounting for league. (Warning: If you ...

Darren Posted: May 09, 2010 at 02:01 PM | 29 comment(s)
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Friday, May 07, 2010

This Series Matters in a Quantifiable Way

One of the requirements for helping to write a bi-monthly addition to a sabermetric blog is that, when the Red Sox play their first series against the Yankees, you have to talk about how most early season series don’t matter, but this one is different.  I swear before every series someone says that.  Someone’s probably already said it on this board somewhere. 

I thought I’d take a very quick-and-dirty look at how much this series matters.  I put together a spreadsheet that uses the ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 07, 2010 at 12:49 PM | 14 comment(s)
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Weird Week That Was Weird

On the surface, this was a very successful rebound week for the Boston Red Sox.  They came in at 4-9 and took back to back series from the Rangers and Orioles, then won their first game at Toronto for a 5-2 record since being swept by Tampa.  The Rays and Yankees continued to play well, but the Red Sox at least managed not to lose more ground on the league leaders.

Anyone who watched the games, though, knows the week was, well, weirder than all that.  Six of the seven games were decided by one ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 27, 2010 at 05:34 PM | 43 comment(s)
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Should Tito Manage the Slump?

We all believe that 15 games generally cannot amount to sufficient data for any confident conclusions about teams or ballplayers.  .  It seems pretty evident that Theo Epstein and Terry Francona agree with us on this score.

It doesn’t follow from this, though, that the manager should do nothing.  He shouldn’t do anything stupid like swap one of his best pitchers out into middle relief, but clearly Epstein and Francona decided, before the Texas series, to make a show of aggressive ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 22, 2010 at 08:56 PM | 57 comment(s)
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Minor League Thread: Pulling Me Back In

Ten games into the season is no time to be making dumb extrapolations from minor league statistics, but from another perspective, it is the perfect time.

Three of the Red Sox top prospects of 2008 have been encouragingly not terrible, even kinda great, over the first games of 2010.  Lars Anderson is the biggest – he has three homers in the first ten games, after knocking only nine all of last season, en route to a nice 316/381/632 line.  The Dominican bonus baby pair of Oscar Tejeda and ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 20, 2010 at 12:07 PM | 66 comment(s)
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Monday, April 19, 2010

What’s Wrong?  Everything.

They say that failure is an orphan, but in the case of the Red Sox 4-9 start to the season, failure is like some sort of test tube clone freak spliced from the DNA of dozens of different people.  And it is like other, better similes as well.

The Sox have been outscored 69 to 50, which projects to a record closer to 5-8 than 4-9.  So they’ve been marginally poor at turning runs into wins.  The Sox have a .329 wOBA, 5th in the AL, but they’re 10th in the league in runs scored.  So they’ve ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 19, 2010 at 09:17 PM | 57 comment(s)
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

I’m Stumped

If someone can explain to me how the Red Sox playing time and positional assignments are being determined, I’d love to hear it. David Ortiz starts for the first four games, two of them against lefties, and then sits against a righty. Mike Lowell, whose strength is hitting righties and obvious weakness is defense, finally gets a start and it’s against a righty and playing the field (when he could easily have DH-ed). Jason Varitek, who also mashes lefties, gets his first start against one of the ...

Darren Posted: April 11, 2010 at 02:11 AM | 37 comment(s)
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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

How Good Is Josh Beckett?

There appears to be a developing BTF consensus that Josh Beckett’s 4/68 extension is perfectly fair, and probably somewhat favorable to the Red Sox.  John Lackey, whose ERA+ numbers have been functionally equivalent to Beckett’s the last three years, got a bit more from the Red Sox.  Walt Davis mentions Carlos Zambrano (5/91), AJ Burnett (5/82) and Derek Lowe (4/60) as comparables.  That all looks reasonably good.

But we’re statheads, right?  We stopped caring about actual runs prevented years ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 06, 2010 at 01:45 PM | 35 comment(s)
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Sunday, April 04, 2010


What’s the deal with this?  It’s opening day and it’s 75 degrees out and it’s a night game.  Consider this an open thread to draw far-reaching and panicky conclusions about the Red Sox after just one game, and then consider this an open thread to perform your emotional and intellectual superiority as represented by your lack of concern and/or tempered excitement about the events of the game.

In unimportant news, Terry Francona’s lineup matches almost exactly what I projected in one of the ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 04, 2010 at 11:10 PM | 64 comment(s)
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Haven’t Been Watching Spring Training

For a variety of boring reasons, I’ve watched only a handful of innings this spring.  I think this lack has also shaped my expectations, in that I haven’t really changed any of the opinions I held after watching the team in ’09 and then seeing the projection spreadsheets in February.  The two major divergences between my expectations and those of the broader March-baseball-watching Therapudlian population seem to be David Ortiz and Josh Reddick. 

The following are their projections ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 28, 2010 at 12:13 PM | 12 comment(s)
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Your Two Thousand and Ten Boston Red Sox

We’re a week away from opening day against the Yankees, so it seems like a good time to look at the roster.

C: Martinez, Varitek
IF: Youkilis, Pedroia, Beltre, Scutaro, Hall, 25th man
OF: Ellsbury, Cameron, Drew, Hermida
DH: Ortiz

SP: Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Wakefield, Buchholz
RP: Papelbon, Okajima, Bard, Ramirez, Delcarmen, 6th reliever, 7th reliever

Mike Lowell is the 25th man if he can play baseball, but that appears doubtful.  While Lowell’s role would be to back up the corners and ...

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 27, 2010 at 03:36 PM | 63 comment(s)
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Red Sox Offseason Shopping With the Benefit of Hindsight

Let’s take a look at what the Red Sox have done this offseason, acknowledging of course, that we have the benefit of hindsight. Here are most of the annual salaries they’ve committed to since the season ended (all numbers are 2010 AAV salary, from Cot’s Baseball Contracts):

John Lackey, $17.5M
Adrian Beltre, $10M
Mike Cameron, $7.75M
Marco Scutaro, $6.25M
Jeremy Hermida, $3.345M
Bill Hall, $2.6M

Total: $47.445M

That is a pretty hefty chunk of change that the Red Sox were willing to plunk ...

Darren Posted: January 30, 2010 at 09:11 PM | 53 comment(s)
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Festivus Miracle?

Maybe it’s a gift from three wise men (Larry, John, and Tom?) or maybe it’s just a nice bit of PR as they try to unload tickets this holliday season, but the Red Sox are making noise about continuing to spend even though they’ve already upped their budget substantially. This Bradford article suggests that they are considering increasing payroll to make an offer to Jason Bay. Putting aside the wisdom of going after Bay, this makes sense and should be a welcome sign to Red Sox fans.

It makes ...

Darren Posted: December 24, 2009 at 02:30 PM | 47 comment(s)
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lowell Dealt for Max Ramirez?

Robothal says Lowell + $12 mil to the Rangers for Max Ramirez is a done deal, pending physicals and owner approvals (???).

Wow, they ate lot—I hope that means they think a lot of Ramirez. Then again, maybe they think Beltre will be under-priced by at least $12 mil.

Darren Posted: December 10, 2009 at 05:37 AM | 60 comment(s)
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Putting Scutaro in Context

Because there just haven’t been enough articles about the Scutaro signing on this site, I’ve decided to add one more. I’ve been pretty surprised about how negative (or indifferent) some posters here have been toward this move. This is understandable, I suppose, in light of how other recent shortstop signings have worked out. Both Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo looked liked solidly good players when they were signed only to perform below expectations and be dealt away (with cash added).

But I ...

Darren Posted: December 05, 2009 at 04:06 PM | 31 comment(s)
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The 2009-2010 Offseason, Theo Style Part 4: The Big Deal that Is Really Going to Happen (or not)

I hadn’t thought of this piece of the offseason puzzle when I came up with this idea for an offseason series, but the big deal is a part of every offseason. ARod was the first, IIRC. Weeks of fevered speculation followed by the news that the darn players union hadn’t allowed it to go through. Curse you, organized labor for not bowing to our needs! For several years, Manny Ramirez filled this role with aplomb. Manny was always about to be dealt. Things had finally reached a boiling point and the ...

Darren Posted: November 26, 2009 at 02:41 AM | 26 comment(s)
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

The 2009-2010 Offseason, Theo Style, Part III: The Rotation

Last offseason, the Red Sox took some quite large risks in the rotation by shelling out moderate contracts to Brad Penny and John Smoltz, neither of which provided them with much value at all. The one nice thing about those deals was that they were only for one year, allowing the Red Sox to have some money freed up for the rotation this year. And with Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Buchholz, and Wakefield in the rotation, there’s certainly room for another starter. That’s especially true in light ...

Darren Posted: November 21, 2009 at 03:38 AM | 36 comment(s)
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Friday, November 13, 2009

The 2009-2010 Offseason, Theo Style, Part II: SS

Remember, the key here is to pile up a depth of decent to good players. Because this is the case, there’s just no way that the 2010 season can start with Jed Lowrie as the starting SS and only a utility infielder behind him. He’s just too risky in the health (and possible talent) department. Option 1 would be to trade for a SS who’s established himself as a good Major Leaguer, pushing Lowrie into a utility role. Hardy would have been a good fit but he’s already been dealt. Another option would ...

Darren Posted: November 13, 2009 at 02:45 AM | 23 comment(s)
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The 2009-2010 Offseason, Theo Style

It’s taken me a couple years but I’ve finally come to terms with how this team operates. They place an extremely high priority on reaching 95-ish wins and very little importance on winning the division. I’ve found this frustrating and often disagreed with some of the ways they went about it, but now I’ve realized that there is no point in getting all bent out of shape about it. They’re not going to change their tactics to please a small minority of fans (I think there are 2 of us) who want ...

Darren Posted: November 11, 2009 at 01:28 AM | 64 comment(s)
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Hot Stove Already?

[MCOA at it again, figuring what to do this offseason.]

There are already three threads with Red Sox off-season talk ongoing.  My quick take is that a lot of these discussions center on the Red Sox acquiring Joe Mauer, Felix Hernandez, Albert Pujols, or Mecha-Pedro.  Suffice it to say that I support Theo Epstein’s ongoing effort to construct a Mecha-Pedro out of muffin tins and VCR chips, and I would whole-heartedly sign off on any similar acquisitions.  There’s not really much further ...

Darren Posted: October 12, 2009 at 10:34 PM | 132 comment(s)
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Well, That Sucked

[MCOA chimes in the the postmortem.

I just got back from the ballgame, and I thought it might be interesting to post
my thoughts after watching the game, see how they match up.

There were so many ways that the Red Sox could have not lost this game.
Papelbon makes a two-strike pitch to one of Aybar, Figgins, or Abreu.  Or
Papelbon picks Aybar off second after Gonzalez got in behind him.  Bay hits the
cut-off man and maybe holds Abreu to a single.  Youkilis makes a pretty routine
play on a ...

Darren Posted: October 11, 2009 at 10:14 PM | 55 comment(s)
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Back to Boston, Down 2-0

Someone didn’t send the Angels the message that they are supposed to be losing. Heading back to Boston, the Red Sox have their work cut out for them. They’ve burned their two best starters and now must hope for their lesser lights to get the job done. Here’s hoping.

Darren Posted: October 10, 2009 at 04:50 AM | 73 comment(s)
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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Why the Red Sox Are Going to Be Totally Awesome in the Postseason

[MCOA breaks out the CFBPS to size up the Red Sox’ chances in the postseason.]

1) The Red Sox are best at preventing runs of the AL playoff teams.  Despite working in the worst pitcher’s park in the American League, they ranked third in runs allowed, behind only the White Sox and Mariners.  The playoff staff reflects the season staff – Lester is one of the five best pitchers in the league, and Beckett tops any other club’s #2.  Matsuzaka is clearly healthy and back to his old 110 ERA+ ...

Darren Posted: October 06, 2009 at 10:52 PM | 39 comment(s)
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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Through 162—What Say You?

A lot of the focus at this time of year is, for good reason, on the upcoming playoffs. But now is also a great time to take a look back at the season. After all of the ups and downs, the Red Sox came in at 95-67, the third best record in the American League. They got some very exciting performances, including Jacoby Ellsbury’s shattering of the team’s SB record, another sub-2.00 ERA out of Jonathan Papelbon (ho hum), and great partial seasons from trade acquisitions Victor Martinez and Alex ...

Darren Posted: October 04, 2009 at 10:54 PM | 46 comment(s)
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Playoff Roster Thread: Finally, Our Chance to Talk about George Kottaras

[Matt Clement of Alexandria has volunteered to contribute some content during the playoff drive. Here’s his first entry—it’s quite entertaining. Enjoy.]

The Red Sox clinched the AL Wild Card last night in dramatic fashion, sitting around in their underwear watching Texas lose on the teevee, following a five-game losing streak.  Bathos is a kind of drama.  The team has used the last two weeks for a specific purpose – not winning games, but determining their playoff roster.  So we actually ...

Darren Posted: September 30, 2009 at 10:49 PM | 64 comment(s)
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Monday, September 21, 2009

The Wonderful Year of Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury is having just about the type of offensive year that most projection systems expected him to have. His slash line of .304/.356/.423 is just about what ZIPS, James, and company had him for coming into the year. Yet, somehow, I’m very happily surprised at his success. Perhaps it was his mediocre start to the year or his stellar 63/10 SB/CS ratio. But whatever it is, he’s been a lot of fun to watch.

What is baffling about this year is how horrible Fangraphs’ UZR thinks his ...

Darren Posted: September 21, 2009 at 11:04 PM | 47 comment(s)
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