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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 23, 2006 at 04:44 PM (#2033290)
Thanks for getting a post up in here, MHS.

I think it's interesting to look back at the season after two months in terms of the big open questions in the preseason - rearranging MHS's analysis a bit...

-what about the injured aces? Schilling has been very solid, no need to make a move there. Foulke has been ok, and Timlin good, but Tito played it aggressively and put Papelbon in the closer role to great effect. I disagree with this - "Besides Timlin and Johnny Cakes the bullpen has been pretty mediocre" - I mean, other than Manny and Papi, the Red Sox offense was pretty mediocre last year. Having two excellent pitchers as your top two relievers means you have a good bullpen.

-what about the depth at hte corners? Youkilis and Lowell have been the best players on the club, and Tito very quickly made them both starters. Snow looks worthless and Choi has been disappointing, so the bench and depth don't look as good as they once did. I'll take weak depth in exchange for Youks and Lowell combining to a 930 OPS.

-what about the depth in the middle infield? Loretta has done his job ok, though I'm not impressed with his range. Gonzalez's offense has been much worse than projected, but Cora's no better, and Gonzalez has the better glove. Petunia started a hot streak last night that should get him in the majors by July, and that will make everything better.

-what about the back of the rotation? I agree with MHS that DiNardo isn't a major league starter right now. To be successful with such marginal stuff, he needs to hit the corners, and he's not really much good at hitting the corners. I have little faith in David Wells at this point, so I'm really hoping that Lester continues his recent hot streak. I think Matt Ginter stands a shot at giving up a 5.00 ERA or so if no other options are available, and that would be, you know, better than DiNardo or Alvarez.
Hanley - looks like the one who got away - what a player he has turned into, he has been the best player in the NL this year who isn’t named Albert. We missed out on a heck of a player, who is exciting as anyone in the game. He looks like the player that Mets fans hoped Reyes would turn into.
Agreed. He was the cost of Beckett, a 25-year-old with upside among the top 5 of all pitchers in baseball. By all reports, Hanley was the make-or-break piece for the Marlins' front office. It appears they were right. I'm still amazed that the kid who just couldn't make great contact is hitting .350, but that's what you can do when you're 22 and insanely athletic. I'm rooting for him.
The runs scored/runs allowed isn’t indicative of a 100 win team, but we will leave the Pythagorean World Series to the A’s fans.
The Beane A's have consistently outperformed their Pyth records in the regular season. Given that the Sox haven't won a 2006 playoff series yet, you're misfiring your snark a bit.
   2. Mister High Standards Posted: May 23, 2006 at 05:27 PM (#2033322)
The snark wasn't intended for the A's or Beane, but the fans who whine about luck. But I did want to make the RS/RA point - though I'm never sure how meaningful it is.
   3. Cowboy Popup Posted: May 23, 2006 at 05:36 PM (#2033325)
"It won’t take a huge addition to improve on Sea Bass."

You're gonna need that upgrade if you want to hold off the Blue Jays down the stretch.

"Hanley - looks like the one who got away"

His walk rate is pretty damn solid too, 15 in 154 ABs, which will keep a lot of people from yelling fluke for now. I'm kinda stunned. I just assumed you Sox fans were pumping him up. Good for Hanley and the Marlins, glad to see they didn't get ripped off.
   4. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 23, 2006 at 05:39 PM (#2033330)
My point was that A's fans don't actually whine about Pyth luck, because their team is relatively "lucky" on Pyth. It's not a big point, but there it is.

The people who whine about Pyth luck are Red Sox fans, really. Missing the playoffs in 2002 with the best Pyth in the league caused a lot of whining. Then there were the claims of being much better than Pyth in 2003, and 2004. I feel there's some evidence for justification in '04, though...

The Sox' two highest-leverage relievers have ERAs under 1. That should lead to Pyth overperformance. What Papelbon and Timlin are doing isn't sustainable, but they should be good enough to help out in close games.
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 23, 2006 at 05:42 PM (#2033334)
His walk rate is pretty damn solid too, 15 in 154 ABs, which will keep a lot of people from yelling fluke for now. I'm kinda stunned. I just assumed you Sox fans were pumping him up. Good for Hanley and the Marlins, glad to see they didn't get ripped off.
Have you watched him play? Hanley's got that kind of ineffable athleticism that makes him look like a born ballplayer. I was worried he's never quite get a handle on good pitching, or that he'd be unable to stay healthy, but he was always the real deal in terms of upside. After watching Ramirez play in the minors, I ceased to be surprised by his touts.
   6. PJ Martinez Posted: May 23, 2006 at 05:44 PM (#2033335)
I'm rooting for Hanley, too, but best outside of Pujols? I can't speak to his defense, but his OPS is "only" 891-- and it's very BA dependent. (Anyone know his BABIP numbers?) Anyway, I hope he continues to play great baseball.

Back to the Sox: the depth will look better when Coco comes back. And even if Choi isn't lighting up McCoy, he's a better option than Snow, so that will be an improvement, too.

What's up with the power numbers on this team? The Sox have hit 49 HRs and given up 52.
   7. Cowboy Popup Posted: May 23, 2006 at 05:54 PM (#2033343)
"Have you watched him play?"

Outside of a couple clips on BBTN, no. I'd like to, but the Marlins are almost never on TV. I'm certainly keeping my eye out for any Marlins game that gets national coverage though. Or I'll watch him when they play the Mets.
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:06 PM (#2033360)
Hanley does have a .450 BABIP. It's basically impossible to hit .350 while striking out as often as he does. I think he'll still have a very good season even while hte single rate drops.
   9. PJ Martinez Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:19 PM (#2033366)
Ineffable athleticism, eh? Is that anything like body quickness?

I'm just joking, mostly: I saw him play in Lowell, and he looked very good, so I have some idea what you mean. But if that BABIP was .315 or so, he'd be hitting... oh well, I can't do math.
   10. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:27 PM (#2033375)
Not only does Ramirez lead the NL in average, but he is 14th in MLB in pitches per plate appearance (far ahead of any other rookie who doesn't play for the Tigers).

<a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/batting?split=0&league=mlb&seas>It's an interesting stat:</a>
Top 30:

4.56 Giambi
4.48 Youkilis
4.46 Abreu
4.38 Jh. Peralta
4.30 Wilkerson
4.27 Hafner
4.26 Manny
4.26 Glaus
4.25 Nick Johnson
4.24 Podsednik
4.24 Carlos Beltran
4.23 Burrell
4.22 Ensberg
4.21 Hanley
4.19 Edmonds
4.18 Casey Blake
4.17 Granderson
4.17 Chris Shelton
4.16 Frank Thomas
4.16 Jim Thome
4.16 Brandon Inge
4.15 Adam Dunn
4.14 Bill Hall
4.13 Jason Michaels
4.12 Ryan Freel
4.11 Willy Taveras
4.10 Geoff Jenkins
4.10 David Ortiz
4.09 Swisher
4.08 Austin Kearns

What do these players have in common?

Tigers, Reds, Red Sox, Indians each have 3 players in this list.
   11. chris p Posted: May 23, 2006 at 06:53 PM (#2033389)
i don't think granderson is a rookie.
   12. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: May 23, 2006 at 07:20 PM (#2033417)
Granderson lost his rookie status last year. His awesome status remains, however. Surprised to see Inge on their. I'm sure Meathook and Pudge are on the opposite list.
   13. Addicted To Glove Posted: May 23, 2006 at 07:23 PM (#2033422)
I'm very happy with where we are after 42 games. With all the injuries the Empire has had, it's been easy to forget that we've had a few injuries ourselves (Wells, Coco, Riske). Now all of those are seen to be back soon, and we'll see what we can do with the full complement of players (knock on wood).

Has anybody ever done any research into whether discrepancies against Pyth records (positive or negative) regress to a mean? My gut tells me that while the Sox RS/RA ratio is somewhat disconcerting, that in and of itself doesn't mean that we should be concerned for the future. I just have this feeling that so far when we've lost we've lost big and we've been good at winning the close ones.

Which leads to an interesting thought: What if a positive discrepancy against Pyth could be related to an unbalanced bullpen, with good setup men and closers and bad long men. (Which we've certainly seen in the Sox this year.) When things go bad they go real bad, but you give yourself a good chance in close games. So the RS/RA looks bad but it's really an illusion because bad losses have gotten worse. Or to look at it another way, a large percentage of the runs against happened at low leverage.

Just a thought.
   14. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: May 23, 2006 at 07:52 PM (#2033448)
thank you for this thread. i have seen similar things on the other team blogs and have been jealous that no one was doing this for the sox. please make this a more regular feature.
   15. tfbg9 Posted: May 23, 2006 at 08:12 PM (#2033464)
#13-People have said on this board that the bullpen syndrome you describe explains Torre's pythag magic since becoming the NYY's skipper. Seems as good an explanation as any.
   16. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: May 23, 2006 at 08:19 PM (#2033474)
I think Lorreta's been fair in the field - his range doesn't seem impressive, but he does seem to turn the DP well. With the bat, Loretta's turned it around since his terrible April, hitting 400/425/467 in May.

The Red Sox offense seems to be playing a little above its head right now, though. I don't see Wily Mo sustaining his .446 BABIP, and Lowell is not going to hit 80 doubles this year. Varitek is going to have to start hitting and the team needs to get more from SS if they're going to go anywhere this year.
   17. PJ Martinez Posted: May 23, 2006 at 08:53 PM (#2033502)
"With the bat, Loretta's turned it around since his terrible April, hitting 400/425/467 in May."

True, but look at the isolated SLG and OBP numbers there-- very low. It's great that Loretta has brought his average up, but his walks and 2Bs/HRs have not appeared.

He should be adequate, though, if not a big plus. Lowell will regress, perhaps severely (especially if he really is a first-half hitter). But Tek should improve. Wily Mo may be slightly over his head, but he's likely to lose playing time soon anyway, and Crisp should contribute. I think Youkilis can keep doing more or less what he's doing, same goes for Ortiz and Nixon. Manny should hit for more power eventually.

In sum, I don't think the Sox have over-performed offensively. In fact, the best thing about the Sox start is that it looks right now like they can probably keep it up-- maybe not for 100 wins, but with a little luck, well over 90. You never know what's going to happen, obviously, but I don't think there are any major warning signs right now. Now if only the prospects would start performing.
   18. John DiFool2 Posted: May 24, 2006 at 12:30 AM (#2033880)
Their advantage in OPS is heavily weighted towards OBP (a whopping 45 point edge last I checked), which is very substantial, all other things being equal. It is likely
that the Sox will also get a better HR rate from here on out. Frankly I'm not worried about the Yankees so much anymore as I am about teams like the Tigers (which
apparently are baseball's best-kept secret so far-I've seen virtually no press for them from any major media outlets, such as Sports Illustrated).
   19. JB H Posted: May 24, 2006 at 03:34 AM (#2034694)
Hanley's hot start is a total illusion. Regress his BABIP to the low 300's and his OPS is in the 690-710 range. That would still make him a nice little 22 yo shortstop, just not the phenom he may look like right now
   20. Joel W Posted: May 24, 2006 at 03:49 AM (#2034764)
For what it's worth, I think the Yankee game tonight showed the exact reason why the Yankees of outperform their pythag year after year, and why I think the Red Sox are better than their pythag this year. When the top of your bulpen is so good, and the bottom so bad, you will win a lot of games 7-5 instead of 7-1, but you never were in danger of losing because Rivera or now, Papelbon, can come in if it gets dangerous.

So, that is, I'm pretty happy w/ the sox season so far.
   21. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: May 24, 2006 at 11:37 AM (#2035133)
WHERE IS CHOI??????

Plase get rid of Snowjob.
   22. Mister High Standards Posted: May 24, 2006 at 01:12 PM (#2035158)

Hanley's hot start is a total illusion.


Yes - those 3 walks and 2 stolen bags last night were a complete illusion. Take your head out of spreadsheet - the kid is possibly the most exciting player in baseball to watch right now, and has been the second best player in the NL thus far. Do I think he will be the second best player in the NL for the year? No way - second best player on the team would be good enough for me. What a brilliant season he is having - enjoy it.

I just wish their were some marlins fans left to enjoy it. I get the same excitment I used to get watching a rookie Nomar.
   23. Mattbert Posted: May 24, 2006 at 02:35 PM (#2035216)
I think most of the analysis here is on target. The Sox look like a good team so far. They have some flaws, but they can reasonably expect that more players will improve than will decline over the rest of the year. That's encouraging. A few scattered thoughts...

1. This bullpen has a chance to be outstanding. Papelbon and Timlin should come back to earth, but they're both still very good. Foulke is the wild card. He's looked terrific in the bulk of his outings, but he's getting hurt badly by the longball. I think he's capable of bringing his HR rate back in line with his career average and being a good to excellent pitcher again. All his HR allowed have been at home, one of those being the Wily Mo assist. Tavarez and Seanez have also been burned by home runs, but they haven't looked as good as Foulke in doing so. The re-addition of Riske should help; if the Sox can get one or perhaps two of the Riske/Seanez/Tavarez troika to be average or better, the pen will be a tremendous asset. If the veterans cannot perform, the Sox' strongest and deepest position in their minor league system is relief pitcher.

2. Clement is better than he's getting credit for. Of his 8 starts this year, there's really only one or maybe two that I would point to and say he flat out stunk and was mostly responsible for the Red Sox losing the game. He was bad against the Jays in his second start of the year, yielding the grannie to Vernon Wells being the biggest mistake. He did not pitch well in his start at the Trop, either. Though he didn't completely piss the game away, handing out 6 walks to a free-swinging team like TB was a real low. Clement's six other starts have been somewhere between decent and good.

His biggest problem is commanding his great slider. He's very effective when he keeps the free passes to a minimum and induces more swings by being around the plate, and his last few starts have been better in terms of walks allowed. The other Clement theme this season is that he's had several starts where he's been superb for 5 or 6 innings only to cough up some runs later in the game as he approaches the magic 100 pitch mark. Maybe his stamina is still improving, or maybe he's just a 6-inning pitcher who needs to be on a short leash by his third or fourth time through the batting order. Either way, it's something the coaching staff should be aware of.

3. If it becomes apparent that David Wells has nothing left, the Sox should consider a trial with a 4-man rotation unless Lester is beating down the door. I don't think they will, but the personnel they have could make sense if deployed that way. With four reasonably durable starters and a potentially deep bullpen with several guys capable of going multiple innings (Papelbon, Foulke, Tavarez, DiNardo), it's an interesting thought, though I figure there's too much risk associated with it for the Sox to try it.

4. Youks and Lowell have been the real surprise studs, and they've been getting the praise accordingly. Wily Mo Pena isn't getting enough credit. He's helped make Crisp's absense less acute, and he's done nothing but hit the crap out of the ball and play the outfield no worse than anyone really expected. Cora is another guy who's contributed without much fanfare, having good PAs and taking his walks while playing steady defense.

5. Crisp's return (within the next week or ten days?) will be a watershed period for this team. If he comes back strong, the offense gets a lot deeper and starts to resemble the contemporary Sox model of a powerful pitch-grinding machine with very few easy outs.
   24. JB H Posted: May 24, 2006 at 03:49 PM (#2035266)
Yes - those 3 walks and 2 stolen bags last night were a complete illusion. Take your head out of spreadsheet - the kid is possibly the most exciting player in baseball to watch right now, and has been the second best player in the NL thus far. Do I think he will be the second best player in the NL for the year? No way - second best player on the team would be good enough for me. What a brilliant season he is having - enjoy it.<i>

I don't disagree with anything you said here.

Unfortunately for the Marlins, a shortstop who will struggle to keep his post-May OPS out of the 600's will probably be good enough for second best player on that team
   25. Dave Cyprian Posted: May 24, 2006 at 04:02 PM (#2035279)
My take is that if the Sox take around 30 games total from the Orioles and Yankees, and play .500 ball the rest of the way against everyone else, they will make the playoffs with room to spare. That's how I'd like to draw it up anyway.
   26. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: May 24, 2006 at 04:06 PM (#2035282)
I was high on Hanley. He was a tools guy for sure, but our system LACKED tools guys. The guy can throw, the can run, the guy can catch, and guy is strong as a horse not on steroids. I was sad when we traded him because we needed somebody like that.
   27. villageidiom Posted: May 24, 2006 at 04:27 PM (#2035304)
Petunia started a hot streak last night

Now THAT'S rational. One data point makes a trend?
   28. veer bender Posted: May 24, 2006 at 05:27 PM (#2035363)
vi - How could anyone who has been around this board for any length of time not realize that MCoA was making a joke there? There's like, at least 3 independent reasons that was obvious.
   29. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: May 24, 2006 at 05:46 PM (#2035397)
I'm going to the PawSox game tonight, where I'll be able to witness the beginning of both Pedroia's and Ginter's Hall of Fame runs in person.
   30. Norcan Posted: May 24, 2006 at 07:33 PM (#2035539)
Hanley is hitting the ball hard this year. He looks athletic and smooth at the plate and his bat looks very quick. He certainly doesn't look overmatched. He's also as quick as anybody going from first to third and he's been a fine basestealer this year too. His defensive consistency has only been so-so but he's made some dazzling plays in the field so far; he's just a really interesting all-around player to watch. It's looking like a fair trade so far.
   31. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: May 24, 2006 at 09:35 PM (#2035690)
Hanley's hot start is a total illusion. Regress his BABIP to the low 300's and his OPS is in the 690-710 range. That would still make him a nice little 22 yo shortstop, just not the phenom he may look like right now


What makes you think it's correct to regress his BABIP down to the low .300's? His great speed enables a greatest BABIP than could be normally expected.
   32. Mattbert Posted: May 25, 2006 at 02:48 AM (#2036201)
Okay, so make that three starts where Clement has flat out stunk. Yuck.

At least Foulke had another nice clean outing.
   33. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 25, 2006 at 02:53 AM (#2036206)
How can the Yankees be only a half game out with that pitching? The AL East is officially a mess, almost as bad as the NL West. And the AL West, for that matter. And the NL East. There are very few good teams in baseball these days.
   34. Darren Posted: May 25, 2006 at 03:24 AM (#2036233)
Tonight sucked.

Yankees are still in it because, despite the cliches you here, hitting counts too. They have hit a bunch. They have also slotted Melky into their "bring up a guy who's projected to kind of suck so that he can play really well" role. It's a nice thing to have. The Red Sox have something similar, into which they've put a couple players: "acquire apparently good depth only to have it completely suck when you need it." It's not as good as the Yankee plan.
   35. Darren Posted: May 25, 2006 at 03:25 AM (#2036234)
What makes you think it's correct to regress his BABIP down to the low .300's? His great speed enables a greatest BABIP than could be normally expected.

Where was his great speed in AA last year? Wasn't his BABIP 300ish or lower there?
   36. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: May 25, 2006 at 03:50 AM (#2036246)
Where was his great speed in AA last year? Wasn't his BABIP 300ish or lower there?


Perhaps the back problems he had impacted his speed? I'm also not sure whether it makes any sense to use H/BIP at one level to project H/BIP at another level. Scoring could also be an issue -- HRam reached on an error today that was scored a hit (Walker, playing first, dropped the throw).
   37. Darren Posted: May 25, 2006 at 04:17 AM (#2036263)
I'm also not sure whether it makes any sense to use H/BIP at one level to project H/BIP at another level.

Why not? It's generally considered a skill, right (ie, hitting the ball hard enough to get a lot of hits is a skill)?
   38. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: May 25, 2006 at 04:22 AM (#2036267)
My take is that if the Sox take around 30 games total from the Orioles and Yankees, and play .500 ball the rest of the way against everyone else, they will make the playoffs with room to spare. That's how I'd like to draw it up anyway.
Respectfully, that's laughable. They only play the Orioles and Yankees 38 times, and they've already lost four games. Now I'm the first to say, the Sox have flat-out owned Balto this season (8-1 so far) but to expect more than 25 wins from those two teams is pure fantasy land
   39. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: May 25, 2006 at 04:26 AM (#2036274)
Okay, so make that three starts where Clement has flat out stunk. Yuck.

At least Foulke had another nice clean outing.


Seanez was OK as well...

We could have won tonight - never said that before...

At least Manny is being a little more than Manny right now...
   40. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: May 25, 2006 at 04:39 AM (#2036280)
Why not? It's generally considered a skill, right (ie, hitting the ball hard enough to get a lot of hits is a skill)?


It's the part of the game where hitters have a statistically demonstrable skill that is least controlled by the hitter, as I understand it. It's a "weak" hitter skill, so I'd expect deviation from the mean to be regressed so heavily in projections across levels as to be negligible. HRam doesn't have a .450 "true talent" H/BIP or anything ridiculous like that, but I'm not sure his ~400 BIPs in the Eastern League last year tell us anything about whether he has a .350 or a .300 "true talent" H/BIP at the major league level. I haven't seen anything describing the predictive power of minor league H/BIP, though I think any such study would have problems with the relatively generous scoring at the major league level. A player like HRam would be more likely to "benefit" from such generosity than, say, David Ortiz.
   41. Miko Supports Shane's Spam Habit Posted: May 25, 2006 at 04:45 AM (#2036283)
The Red Sox have something similar, into which they've put a couple players: "acquire apparently good depth only to have it completely suck when you need it." It's not as good as the Yankee plan.

I think it's guys like Jeter welcoming the new guys, making them feel like part of the team. The Sox got no one like that. Papi? He doesn't even remember Tim Casey.
   42. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: May 25, 2006 at 05:31 AM (#2036309)
BTW, that Petunia hot streak was pretty brief.
   43. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: May 25, 2006 at 08:34 AM (#2036349)
BTW, that Petunia hot streak was pretty brief.


It was good while it lasted, let us enjoy the moment!
   44. Darren Posted: May 25, 2006 at 10:25 AM (#2036355)
It's still spring training.
   45. PJ Martinez Posted: May 25, 2006 at 01:59 PM (#2036423)
Hanley Ramirez: Great BABIP? Or greatest BABIP?

I only have great or greatest.

"Crisp's return (within the next week or ten days?) will be a watershed period for this team. If he comes back strong, the offense gets a lot deeper and starts to resemble the contemporary Sox model of a powerful pitch-grinding machine with very few easy outs."

I'm excited about Crisp coming back, and think he'll improve the OF defense, but I'm not sure how much of an impact offensively he'll have. He'll mostly get ABs from Pena, who's been decent. He certainly improves the depth, and maybe Francona will start pinch-hitting more aggressively with Pena on the bench along with Snow (it was great to see Snow step in in the 6th inning recently, even if it didn't work out; I would make the obligatory call for Choi here, but Snow's actually been fine as a pinch-hitter, if I'm not mistaken).

Anyway, the Sox will not resemble the old "powerful pitch-grinding machine" so long as Gonzalez is in the lineup.

By the way, Globe says today that Youks is moving down on Monday when Crisp comes back.
   46. tfbg9 Posted: May 25, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2036469)
Clement is cleary gonna be a problem. Wow-what a putrid game he pitched, he was bad in so many ways.

"Anyway, the Sox will not resemble the old "powerful pitch-grinding machine" so long as Gonzalez is in the lineup."

I think they kind of will, except that one batter will be Seabass, not Walker. NixMo should put up superior numbers to NixLer, so that brings this year's model up a bit.
   47. Mattbert Posted: May 25, 2006 at 03:13 PM (#2036479)
the Sox will not resemble the old "powerful pitch-grinding machine" so long as Gonzalez is in the lineup.


I disagree. The Sox really haven't gotten squat out of that #9 spot since they had Varitek getting most of the ABs there in 2003. In 2004, Pokey and Kapler got most of the PAs and stunk. In 2005, Bellhorn got most of the PAs and stunk. Getting poor production out the last spot in the order hasn't stopped the Sox from being a terrific offensive team; in fact, it's almost a defining feature. #1-8 have been so good that they pencil in a struggling hitter at #9 for charity or something.

Anyway, when Crisp comes back, I would roll with a very simple lineup scheme. The only big change would be ending this farce of breaking up RH hitters with Varitek. The whole L-R-L thing is a nice luxury, but Tek's simply not hitting nearly well enough to be up at #5-6. Until he turns it around, I'd much rather see Youks or Lowell coming up to the plate instead of hoping Tek can just manage to prolong the inning so the guy behind him can hit.

Crisp
Loretta
Ortiz
Ramirez
Nixon/Pena
Youkilis
Lowell
Varitek
Gonzalez/Cora
   48. PJ Martinez Posted: May 25, 2006 at 04:37 PM (#2036567)
Todd Walker put up 333/428 in 2003, which is not only well over Gonzalez's current 283/306, it's well beyond his career numbers as well. Even Bellhorn last year put up 328/360 for the Sox-- not unreachable numbers for Gonzalez, but well beyond what he's doing now (and that OBP is 30 points higher than Gonzalez's career figure).

Pokey Reese is the only real comparison: he put up 271/303 in 96 games for the 2004 Red Sox. However, Alex Gonzalez is currently on pace to play 150 Gs.
   49. Bob Loblaw Posted: May 25, 2006 at 04:58 PM (#2036598)
I think one of the best things about Crisp coming back will be that we'll finally have a pinch-hitter who can hit (either Trot or Wily Mo) every day. I can't tell you how many times Gonzalez or Cora or Harris has come up late and a close game and I've asked for a pinch-hitter only to realize that there's nobody on the bench who can actually hit (this probably won't actually have a huge impact, but it'll make me feel better, which is really what matters).
   50. villageidiom Posted: May 25, 2006 at 06:11 PM (#2036766)
Todd Walker put up 333/428 in 2003, which is not only well over Gonzalez's current 283/306, it's well beyond his career numbers as well. Even Bellhorn last year put up 328/360 for the Sox

This is the point I was planning to make before I went out the door. Gonzalez is so bad that opposing pitchers can willingly pitch around the #8 hitter to face the #9. Not true with the usual Sox #9 of the past few years. OTOH, the team is 4th (in MLB) in OPS; reducing the crapticity of the #9 spot is a minor issue.

They're T-13th (T-5th in the AL) in OPS against. There are some significant gains to be made on the staff. They've recalled the Van Buren boy and put Dinardo on the DL with a neck strain - Lenny, the good pitchers don't whip their heads around to watch the HR, they just hang their head for a few seconds and ask for another ball - but that's no solution, either. Among the starters Schilling has been the closest to "consistently good", and given he hasn't been consistently good that's a bad, bad thing. Our middle relief has given us glimpses of mediocrity, and is both literally and figuratively ugly.

If indeed the first two months are for identifying needs, we're SO ready for June.

vi - How could anyone who has been around this board for any length of time not realize that MCoA was making a joke there? There's like, at least 3 independent reasons that was obvious.

*Sigh* Your post is what you thought my post was.
   51. veer bender Posted: May 25, 2006 at 07:08 PM (#2036956)
*Sigh* Your post is what you thought my post was.


Pointlessly snarky with no apparent humor? Yeah, looking back on it, I wish I hadn't made that post. Inadvertently, Bob Loblaw made me realize in another thread how obnoxious it is to just dump on someone because you think they said something dumb. Sincerely sorry.
   52. villageidiom Posted: May 25, 2006 at 08:14 PM (#2037127)
Pointlessly snarky with no apparent humor? Yeah, looking back on it, I wish I hadn't made that post.

Same here. But thanks for pointing it out. ;-)
   53. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 25, 2006 at 08:22 PM (#2037132)
Crisp's return (within the next week or ten days?) will be a watershed period for this team.


Crisp will be playing for the PawSox this weekend, and is expected to return to Boston on Monday.

-- MWE
   54. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 26, 2006 at 01:27 PM (#2037984)
Clement is cleary gonna be a problem. Wow-what a putrid game he pitched, he was bad in so many ways.
In that Gammons 'EEI interview, which someone on SoSH helpfully transcribed, he basically said it was all mental. Said the Sox didn't know what to do about him.

I still think Gonzalez will improve. He'll never be a pitch-grinding machine, but that's overrated. He should be able to hit 15 HRs and a bunch of doubles, and have enough pop to make pitchers have to worry about him. But I am getting worried that the power is gone, and if the power is gone, Gonzalez is done.
   55. Mattbert Posted: May 26, 2006 at 02:30 PM (#2038037)
PJ,

Those are all fair points, but Walker (a) didn't hit ninth and (b) was on the 2003 team that I acknowledged as being the exception (they were stacked from #1-9). Gonzalez has been truly dreadful, but I am hopeful he will improve somewhat. My point was that the Sox have managed to have an excellent offense the last two years while getting significantly less production from the #9 spot compared to #1-8. It's not ideal, but the rest of the lineup is good enough that one out machine doesn't cripple the whole offense.

vi,

I haven't seen any evidence of teams pitching around the #8 guy so far this year. Some of that may be due to the fact that it's difficult to pitch around Wily Mo without intentionally walking him, but Wily Mo's performance doesn't seem to be suffering for it. The guy who's gotten the second most PAs in the #8 spot is Willie Harris, and I don't recall too many pitchers nibbling with him at the dish.
   56. chris p Posted: May 26, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#2038216)
But I am getting worried that the power is gone, and if the power is gone, Gonzalez is done.

guys without power don't hit 400' home runs to dead center.
   57. villageidiom Posted: May 26, 2006 at 05:42 PM (#2038321)
I haven't seen any evidence of teams pitching around the #8 guy so far this year.

If he's a bad hitter, like Harris, there's no need to pitch around. For Pena - who in prior years hadn't established himself as an excellent hitter at the MLB level - it takes a while for teams to react to the notion that he is now indeed excellent. That's a lot of words to explain that we shouldn't have seen much of an effect yet, but it should be a bigger issue as the season wears on.

And again, relative to the pitching problems, it's not much of an issue anyway.
   58. Mattbert Posted: May 26, 2006 at 07:41 PM (#2038489)
we shouldn't have seen much of an effect yet, but it should be a bigger issue as the season wears on.
I doubt it will be much more significant than it is now, for a few reasons.

1. Gonzalez has shown signs of improvement. After his woeful start, he's "picked it up" enough to manage around a .680 OPS in May. It's slugging-heavy, so he's certainly still a liability offensively, but it's quite a bit better than his April line. If he can maintain something like that, I doubt the #8 hitter will be pitched around to get to Gonzalez. I think an OPS that sniffs .700 is reasonable since that's pretty much his career average, and he's now playing his home games in a much better hitting environment.

2. For the sake of argument, let's say Gonzalez really is toast. Are the Sox going to keep running him out there almost every day for the rest of the season? I doubt it. Not with Cora available as a stopgap, and not with Pedroia as a potential mid- to late-season call up.

3. Is it really the end of the world if the #8 hitter is getting unintentionally intentionally walked, as the saying goes, because the pitchers are so eager to face Gonzalez instead? Assuming the #8 hitter is patient enough to take those walks, that leads to more baserunners and more pitches thrown by the other team's hurlers, neither of which are bad things. Granted, there will certainly be situations where the bat will effectively be taken out of the hands of a superior hitter, but if those situations are high leverage, that's why the team has pinch hitters and Alex Cora.
   59. Joel W Posted: May 26, 2006 at 08:16 PM (#2038568)
WRT Clement, I think I've been too hard on Varitek. Maybe Clement just can't throw strikes, no matter where Varitek sets up. It's so depressing though, his movement is just so good. I don't know if it's mental, but is it possible he needs a 4-seam fastball?

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