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   1. Erik, Pinch-Commenter Posted: October 10, 2009 at 04:59 AM (#3347569)
This Angels team is better than this Red Sox team. Not by a lot, but by a lot more than Red Sox fans give credit for.
   2. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:03 AM (#3347573)
As usual, the Sox' offense can't hit on the road. It's been a problem all season. Terrible ABs put together by Sox hitters tonight. Pedroia was especially egregious, swinging wildly at anything with a yard of the strike zone.

The Angels are good, but not "allow 1 run in 18 innings" good. The offensive approach by Sox hitters in this series has been woeful.
   3. Shredder Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:07 AM (#3347575)
This Angels team is better than this Red Sox team. Not by a lot, but by a lot more than Red Sox fans give credit for.
I think they're pretty even. Start the series over and we could easily see the exact reverse of what has happened in the first two games. That's just playoff baseball. Lots of baseball left.
   4. tfbg9 Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:36 AM (#3347598)
Beckett should have never been in the game to allow the triple. Dumb.
3 curves in a row to go 3-0 to the eventually BB'd Vladdie. Dumb.
Sigh.
   5. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:42 AM (#3347603)
The two teams, though constrcuted differently, are probably about equal in strength. However:

1) One of the Red Sox strongest advantages over LAA, mst would agree, is their bullpen - both its depth and quality. This advantage, because of the strength of the starting pitching of LAA in these two games, have been rendered meaningless. If you take the bullpen advantage off the "pro/con" tally board, the Angels are a better team.

2) These two games also go back to the Epstein/Beane philosophy that the team's job is to make the playoffs - wildcard or division champ - and acknowledge that luck in three successive short series plays a meaningful role in which playoff team wins the whole shabang. Lester and Beckett have been pretty good in this series, especially given that they have never had any margin for error...but Lackey and Weaver have been better. Would anybody be that surprised if Buchholz and Matsuzaka win their games this week? How about if Buchholz gets lit up in 3 or 4 innings on Sunday?

Besides the bullpen depth and quality, the other main advantage the Red Sox have over the Angels is the depth of their startiing pitching - the team had four guys pitching very well towards the end of the year. This is where we'll find out if the Angels have negated that advantage for a few days, too....
   6. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:43 AM (#3347604)
Beckett should have never been in the game to allow the triple. Dumb.
3 curves in a row to go 3-0 to the eventually BB'd Vladdie. Dumb.


And he was mighty lucky to get the 3-0 to Morales called a strike before he made out or it could have been even uglier. Beckett ran out of steam in that inning and Francona was AWOL.
   7. Shredder Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:04 AM (#3347611)
Besides the bullpen depth and quality, the other main advantage the Red Sox have over the Angels is the depth of their startiing pitching - the team had four guys pitching very well towards the end of the year.
I think you underestimate the depth of the Angels pitching over the last couple months of the season. They have a guy in the bullpen (Santana) who pitched very well down the stretch. He pitched a shutout in the division clincher, yet couldn't make the post-season rotation. I don't think this is an advantage for the Sox. Kazmir and Saunders were MUCH better over the last couple months than their season-long numbers would indicate. Kazmir's been a total stud in an Angels uniform.

I think the Sox' advantage, BIG advantage, is the pen, and like you said, the deep outings from the Angels' starters have rendered that moot. But these teams are close enough that Buchholz and Dice-K don't have to outpitch Kazmir and Saunders by much to win those games, and in a game five, it's anyone's guess.
   8. God Posted: October 10, 2009 at 08:51 AM (#3347623)
I agree with rLr -- the Sox could have chosen to use their greatest strength in tonight's game and simply decided not to do so. Francona waited at least two batters too long to take Beckett out. It was obvious to everyone in America that Beckett was toast. (And equally obvious that he was distracted -- I mean, whining that Napoli didn't move out of the way? Really, pussyboy?) The Sox could have kept it a close and winnable game had their skipper not been asleep at the wheel.

This was far, far more egregious a mistake than Grady-Pedro, because Francona had multiple outstanding options at his disposal while Grady had a bullpen that consisted of my kid brother and the crippled guy down the street.
   9. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: October 10, 2009 at 09:35 AM (#3347624)
I'm not as upset as I should be - I just had a pretty bad feeling about this series from the start. This teams refusal to hit on the road (unless Cambden Yards it seems) is bordering on legendary.

The next game is 2 am Aussie time, I'll wake up and if they win - then I might get excited but this is 2005 all over again, if you ask me...

That was like a slow death watching Beckett fall apart - nice walk to the unwalkable was the kiss of death.
   10. Halofan Posted: October 10, 2009 at 09:52 AM (#3347625)
The Red Sox offense seems designed for Fenway Park.
   11. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: October 10, 2009 at 11:34 AM (#3347632)
This was far, far more egregious a mistake than Grady-Pedro

Disagree.

The Sox can definitely take two at Fenway, but game 5 is in Anaheim again and they've showed no sign of being able to hit there.
   12. Chip Posted: October 10, 2009 at 11:47 AM (#3347634)
The Red Sox offense seems designed for Fenway Park.


Most lineups are designed for their home park.

Last year a weaker version of this same lineup (no Victor Martinez; Varitek, Kotsay, and Alex Cora all getting starts in at least one game) scored 11 runs in the first two games in Anaheim.
   13. Darren Posted: October 10, 2009 at 12:19 PM (#3347636)
Yeah, this team can't seem to hit on the road. If only there were some way that they could have found a way to play more playoff games at home... perhaps against an inferior opponent. Hmmm... I guess it's just one of those unsolvable mysteries.

On Francona, is there any doubt in anyone's mind that Francona would have done exactly the same thing with Pedro that Grady did? Time after time, he leaves starters (and relievers) in way too long. And he bats JD Drew 8th--anyone have an explanation for that? Really, I haven't seen it discussed anywhere.

As for this series, is it my biased eyes, or are Weaver and Lackey (and Oliver) not pitching all that impressively. To their credit, they're throwing strikes. And Weaver mixed speeds nicely. But they also seemed to get a lot of outs with 91-mph fastballs down the middle. The Red Sox looked ridiculous.
   14. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: October 10, 2009 at 01:06 PM (#3347647)
I like Darren's comment about the home field/weaker opponent advantages to winning the division, because it sure would look good right about now. Clearly, Epstein and the Boys have calculated that the advantage of winning the AL East are outweighed by the advantages of being able to coast for the last few weeks, get healthy, develop roles for bench guys, etc. And they have won 2 WS, and gotten to two other ALCS Game 7s in the last six seasons, which is better than anybody else is doing right now...

...However, let's face it: the reason the Red Sox didn't win the division was not because they didn't try or something - it's because the Yankees, over 162 games, were better. Given that the Red Sox made a big play for Texeira, what else could the Red Sox have done this year that would've given them a substantially better chance of winning the division?

More pitching? Certainly, they could've taken the one year, $14 million or so they spent on Penny/Smoltz and spent it elsewhere. However, to get anything worth a damn for that money, they would've had to offer at least 3-4 years of good money, and they were a) not going to do that, and b) the free-agent market wasn't plentiful in such pitchers. They also could've tried to trade for more pitching (maybe a giant package for VMart & Cliff Lee, maybe Halladay), but the time they needed the help was not in August...it was in April through July.

More offense? They needed help all year at two positions - catcher and SS. At catcher, Varitek was pretty good for the first third of the season, but by the time the team realized he was toast...well, they traded for the best available catcher on the market, and got VMart at a pretty good price. At SS, I think the Red Sox kept thinking Lowrie was going to come back. In hindsight, they probably could've picked up an Omar Vizquel or Jack Wilson for a low price early in the season. That said, Alex Gonzalez was a more effective pickup than anyone could've thought. They stuck with Ortiz, and from June on, he went .264/.356/.548 with 27 HRs in 98 starts. It's hard to say the Red Sox didn't do the right thing there, too.

Bottom line: Once Tex went to NY instead of BOS, the balance of power shifted to the Yankees, and I don't think there's a whole lot the Red Sox were going to do that was going to get them to 102-105 wins in 2009...and that's what it takes to overtake the Yankees during the regular season right now.

My
   15. Darren Posted: October 10, 2009 at 01:22 PM (#3347648)
Yes, my my my. :)

Steve, I summarized my thoughts on this on the other thread:


I was trying to get across that this year is perfect storm in which winning the division has meaning. IOW, winning the division is not crucial to playoff success, but it sometimes is somewhat important--this is one of those times. I also wasn't implying that the Red Sox had a good chance of winning the division, only that it was a worthwhile goal (my personal feelings about its importance aside).

With that said, there are some very compelling arguments in favor of at least trying to win the division. First, the Sox had a very similar pythag to the Yanks (2 games worse). Could a team that was trying to win down the stretch (which had a 3-game lead at the break) have kept pace with the Yankees?

Second, the difference in quality of the 1st-round opponents has been large, both this year and last year. Both times, the AL East winner got to face an 80-something-win team that had to win a 1-game playoff.

Third, it is impossible to overstate how much better the Epstein-era Red Sox have been at home:

Reg. Season
Home: 373-194, .658
Road: 287-280, .506


Postseason
Home:18-8, .692
Road: 16-12, .571

Is it any wonder that this team has twice been eliminated in game 7s on the road (while winning 1 at home and 1 other on the road)?

Again, I'm not saying that one (or even two) favorable matchups make the case that everything else should be sacrificed to win the division. Nor am I saying that the Sox were a good bet to win it this year. I am arguing, though, that winning the division has enough value that it should not be entirely ignored.
   16. dangnewt Posted: October 10, 2009 at 01:49 PM (#3347659)
The Angels are playing well. They are pitching well and getting timely hits. Vlad taking a walk is, if not a sign of the Apocalypse, is a sign that this is a new and improved Angels team. If the Sox start to hit, they get back in the series. There are too many good hitters in that lineup for them not to get it going. Both Buchholz and Dice-K are capable of shutting down an offense (how many teams have #3 and #4 guys like that), they are also capable of getting lit up.

It was not Grady-Pedro. Pedro was on fumes, while Beckett had gas in the tank, he just didn't have a curve ball (but he didn't have all night and still held the Angels to 1 run in 6 innings.) Grady-Pedro was as much Grady in a passive-aggressive way sticking it to Pedro (who wore Grady out with his diva-like pouting every time he came out of a game) and the Sox front office (which pretty much had decided to fire Grady unless he won the World Series). Francona loves Beckett and the Sox front office is not firing Francona if they don't make it out of the ALDS this year. As it was, Izturis' hit was smoked, but 6" either way and it ends up in Beckett's or Pedroia's glove. When you are going good, it ends up in someone's glove, when the other team is going good, it threads the needle. Likewise, even Aybar's triple, again smoked, but how close was Ellsbury? That is the randomness or luck factor of the short series. And that is not to meant to diminish what the Angels are doing whatsoever - lady luck generally seems to spend more time with the team whose pitcher is throwing 3 or 4 pitches for strikes on the corners and whose hitters are knocking line drives all over the place.
   17. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 10, 2009 at 02:45 PM (#3347688)
Is it any wonder that this team has twice been eliminated in game 7s on the road (while winning 1 at home and 1 other on the road)?

Darren, I think you're pretty much spot on in that post, but you should note that they also won that 5th game in Oakland in 2003, which means that in the Epstein era they've been a rather random 2-2 in deciding games played on the road. There's no real difference in whether the deciding game is the 5th or the 7th.
   18. John DiFool2 Posted: October 10, 2009 at 04:00 PM (#3347747)
I'm not sure what they can do about their offensive road woes; it may just be, as Bill James said long ago (paraphrasing) that they have superstars* which are really just stars, stars who are not much better than average, and average players who are actually closer to replacement level (and replacement level guys who are completely in the crapper). E.g. Pedroia's career average at Fenway is almost 50 points higher than on the road-yes .332 will win you lots of games, even in Fenway, but overall he's simply not as good as his raw OPS numbers would suggest. The Sox aren't in the same ballpark as the mid 80's Cubs (about whom the original quote was written), in that most of their hitters, even with the air taken out, are still valuable and could help you win championships, but across the board just about every hitter does much worse on the road. Lowell slugged more than 200 points higher in Boston, Ortiz 150 points, Tek 160. This team will almost certainly need to get a big thumper or two in their lineup by 2011 (as they did with Manny and then Papi earlier this decade, the former premeditated, the latter serendipitous), but I'm not sure who that will be. Manny during his Boston time wasn't all that worse on the road, and in some years ('01 and '02) was better-he was still an elite hitter no matter where he played. Or it may be that they've been building the team to fit Fenway too much, but that's overrated IMHO.

[*Since the decline of Papi and his bat, only perhaps Youks could be put into the superstar category. Reigning MVPs are usually considered as such as well, but not when they see everything go down the next year except their walk rate.]
   19. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 10, 2009 at 04:05 PM (#3347750)
The Red Sox are watching too many strikes. They have to get more aggressive at the plate. Patience is great when they're not pounding the strike zone, but when they are, you have to tee off. This team is too good of a hitting team to watch good pitches to hit without swinging. Martinez. God. Swing the bat. Youkilis. Swing. Please.
   20. tfbg9 Posted: October 10, 2009 at 04:33 PM (#3347773)
Darren's reflexive anti-Tito comments are positively karlmagnusesque. Just silly. I do agree, and
strongly, with those who wanted Billy Wags in the game after the "HBP".

CB Bucknor should have returned Napoli to the plate--I know its a rare call, but
that doesn't mean you can't expect the propoer ruling in a big playof game. I'm a Red Sox fan,
yes, but it was fairly obvious to me.

Anybody else notice that the TBS strike zone thingee that was present for virtually every pitch in
Game 1 was rarely displayed last night, with Bucknor working the plate? Coincidence?
   21. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: October 10, 2009 at 04:56 PM (#3347783)
This was far, far more egregious a mistake than Grady-Pedro, because Francona had multiple outstanding options at his disposal while Grady had a bullpen that consisted of my kid brother and the crippled guy down the street.

Holy hyperbole. I got so excited to respond to this that I didn't check if it had been addressed already, but Timlin, Embree, and Williamson were all GREAT options, especially the first two.
   22. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:06 PM (#3347787)
The digital strike zone was up plenty for everyone to see that Bucknor had no idea where the rule book strike zone is. Credit Weaver with making that adjustment; Bucknor was giving the low-and-away off the plate strike more often than not, and Weaver kept going back to it over and over again.

I think Bivens has a point about swinging the bat. Umpires with funky strike zones would seem to affect a team like the Sox much more than a team like the Angels. Figgins and Abreu aside, the rest of the Angels are going to swing at pitches close whether the umpire's calling it or not, and that's not the case with a much more patient team.
   23. tfbg9 Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:19 PM (#3347803)
21-plus, IIRC, the Sox bullpen was in the midst of a hot streak at the time, in 2003.
   24. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:34 PM (#3347816)
It's not like they're facing unfamiliar pitching. They've seen all these guys before. What's the point in seeing what kind of stuff they have? That will become evident as the game progresses. They have to swing the bat to score. So obvious. 1 run in two games is...wait for it....DISGRACEFUL.
   25. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:44 PM (#3347827)
And just to piggyback wj and Teddy's points, a key difference between 03 and last night was that it was clear Pedro was laboring to get through the previous inning (when he had reached the number of pitches where he typically began to lose effectiveness that season). In contrast, Beckett had retired the Angels in order in the bottom of the sixth.

They really aren't in the same ballpark as far as egregious mistakes, let alone the idea that Tito's decision was "far, far more."
   26. Nasty Nate Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:45 PM (#3347830)

Holy hyperbole. I got so excited to respond to this that I didn't check if it had been addressed already, but Timlin, Embree, and Williamson were all GREAT options, especially the first two.


thank you.

2003 Postseason:
Mike Timlin -> 9-2/3 innings, 1 hit, 2 walks, 11 K's, no earned runs
Alan Embree -> 6-2/3 innings, 4 hits, 0 walks, 0 ER
Scott Williamson -> 8 innings, 3 hits, 14 K's, 1 ER.
   27. tfbg9 Posted: October 10, 2009 at 05:50 PM (#3347838)
So that blows Darren's dopey Grady comparason out of the water.
   28. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:07 PM (#3347856)
Weaver's curveball last night was utterly nasty - tight break, and ridiculous command where it seemed like he could place it on any corner of the strike zone he wanted. The reason he could throw "fastballs down the middle" - which really overstates things - is that the Red Sox couldn't expect a fastball on any count, with Weaver throwing at least 40% curves and changes, and commanding both in the zone. I strongly disagree that Weaver and Lackey didn't pitch great games against the Red Sox, and I don't think anyone would have hit well in these last two games.

The Red Sox were 3rd in the AL in runs scored, 1st at home and 5th on the road. They play in a good hitter's park and their offense is well-tailored to the park. However, they have a solid offense on the road, and they had these sorts of splits in 2004 and 2007. In 2004 the Red Sox were 1st in runs scored at home and 6th in runs scored on the road. In 2007 they were 2nd at home and 6th on the road. This isn't some crippling weakness that prevents you from winning in the postseason.

I thought that Tito should have gone to Wagner a batter earlier, and that batter was obviously a big deal. I don't see any reason to make the comparison to Grady - Pedro pointed to the sky as he left the mound in the 7th. He thought he was done. Everyone knew he was done, that he'd gutted through the 7th with his command growing shakier so the Red Sox could piece together the 8th and 9th with their three-man bullpen. Pedro was left in for at least five batters too long. It was a completely different kind of error
   29. Erik, Pinch-Commenter Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:09 PM (#3347858)
Besides the bullpen depth and quality, the other main advantage the Red Sox have over the Angels is the depth of their startiing pitching - the team had four guys pitching very well towards the end of the year. This is where we'll find out if the Angels have negated that advantage for a few days, too....


Down the stretch the Angels had all 5 starters pitching very well. Now they weren't pitching as well as they have in these first two games, but I expected more than just quality starts all through this series.
   30. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:12 PM (#3347861)
With Beckett, he'd given up a walk, then got the next two outs. Are we pulling him there? He seemed to me to be settling down, he was locating his fastball better down in the zone. He made a bunch of clutch pitches to Morales. Then he gives up the single to Izturis. The next batter up is a righty - I guess you could say the Sox should have had Bard up for one batter, but I'd choose Beckett over Wagner here.

I thought Aybar should have been facing Wagner, but it's really hard for me to see how this is an error of more than one batter.
   31. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:18 PM (#3347864)
My quickie log5 spreadsheet says the Red Sox have, as a baseline, about a 12-15% chance of taking the series.
   32. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:28 PM (#3347873)
My quickie log5 spreadsheet says the Red Sox have, as a baseline, about a 12-15% chance of taking the series.
Interestingly, Prospectus--which just love the Sox for some reason--has their chance at 30%. That seems high for a team down 0-2 to me (for comparison's sake, St. Louis is at 18% and Minnesota 7%) speaking purely in statistics but given pitching match-ups and Fenway, that's probably where I'd put it. So perhaps BPro is right.

And SG puts it at 16% for the Sox, 17% for St. Louis and 6% for Minnesota.
   33. karlmagnus Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:33 PM (#3347879)
Would you believe 0.5*0.5*0.5 = 12.5%? Science is wonderful!

The current Sox team has lots of good players but no superstars. Keeping Manny would not have changed that because Manny these days is also a good player but no superstar. I think they need a Pedro and a '99Nomar/'02 Manny, but don't see them on the horizon, though Lester or Buchholz could grow that extra bit and become them.

Given the existence of Lester/Buchholz, who may improve, they need to spend some really serious money on a superstar bat. Having said that I don't see where the A-Rod/Manny is that could become available.

I think 2010-2014 is the period for which keeping Hanley and Anibal Sanchez might have given more value. But that's not to say the answers are at all obvious.
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3347882)
30% sounds crazy high. BPro's 3rd order wins give the Red Sox an advantage (it has them as the better team by a 4-game margin), but that only gets the Sox up to a slightly better than 15% shot in log5. If I said the Red Sox have a home field advantage double the normal home field advantage, that would only get the team's chance up to 16%.

BPro says that they account for the starting pitcher. I don't think the Red Sox have a significant advantage in the next two games - I'd give the Angels a clear edge in Game 3 - but it's possible that PECOTA likes Buccholz and Matsuzaka a lot more than it likes Kazmir and Saunders. BPro doesn't say that they account for changes in the team roster, but it's possible that they're accounting for the addition of Martinez and the subtraction of Varitek and Green, which could give the Sox an extra game or two.

It's also possible that something's going on with the Monte Carlo simulations - generally, that's a better way to do this than log5, but I didn't feel like writing a program - that isn't accounted for in log5. I have no idea what that would be.

Either way, 30% looks way too high. I could see a case for 20%, maybe, but any more than that, no way.
   35. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:44 PM (#3347886)
Prospectus--which just love the Sox for some reason--has their chance at 30%.

I can't imagine they have even a 30% chance to win the ALDS at ths point, let alone make it to the WS.

BPro says that they account for the starting pitcher. I don't think the Red Sox have a significant advantage in the next two games

I agree. The game they truly had an advantage was game 1, and Lester just wasn't as amazing as he's been since May. Bad night from the ace = SP advantages mostly erased, at least against the Angels.
   36. Erik, Pinch-Commenter Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:54 PM (#3347901)
Perhaps BPro is making the incorrect assumption that Kazmir and Saunders are horrible?
   37. John DiFool2 Posted: October 10, 2009 at 07:00 PM (#3347905)
The Red Sox were 3rd in the AL in runs scored, 1st at home and 5th on the road. They play in a good hitter's park and their offense is well-tailored to the park. However, they have a solid offense on the road, and they had these sorts of splits in 2004 and 2007. In 2004 the Red Sox were 1st in runs scored at home and 6th in runs scored on the road. In 2007 they were 2nd at home and 6th on the road. This isn't some crippling weakness that prevents you from winning in the postseason.


You're inferring an extreme position that I did not mean to imply. But I am saying that, while it isn't a "crippling" weakness, the road offense is hardly a strength, particularly in the power dept. (OBP is still above average, but that of course just means lots of stranded runners). And, when you don't have the HFA, playing against quality teams, for the Sox that's can be a problem, as we just saw the last two days. The pitching staff (minus effects of D of course) was clearly much better this year than the offense. A good team (say true quality in the 90 but not 100+ win range) in a big hitter's park typically has exactly the profile you outlined-will usually lead the league in runs scored, but aren't actually the best offense in the league. And 5th best, in a perfect world, would equate to best non-playoff team if the pitching/D followed suit.
   38. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 10, 2009 at 07:08 PM (#3347913)
JDF - I honestly don't understand your point. I was responding to a discussion that seemed to be about the question of why having a larger-than-average H/R split would hurt a team in the postseason.

It does seem like one could make the case that a club with a large H/R split and a tendency toward the wild card is going to have a slightly lower chance of winning the world series. It seems like it would be a quite small factor - the team would win the division sometimes (2007), and then they'd have an equally large advantage due to their large splits. But it would be something worth quantifying.

You have brought up Bill James' old argument about park factors, the fact that having a large H/R split will cause some people to misrecognize the quality of the team's hitting and pitching. Do you think the Red Sox are unaware of park factors and have made mistakes in team construction because of this? I mean, I don't think you think that, but I'm trying to figure out what you're arguing.
   39. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: October 10, 2009 at 07:10 PM (#3347915)
For the record, BPro's Odds are as Follows:

Yankees: 92%
Angels: 70%
Dodgers: 81%
Phillies: 58%

SG also runs Monte Carlo sims, he has:

Yankees: 94%
Angels: 84%
Dodgers: 83%
Phillies: 60%

So there's something up with the Prospectus numbers and the Sox, I just don't see how you get as high as 30%
   40. nick swisher hygiene Posted: October 10, 2009 at 07:16 PM (#3347917)
if the Sox understand their home field advantage-roster relationship, though, shouldn't they be taking precisely the opposite approach to winning the division? A larger than average H/R split hurts you if you're the road team more often [edit: in the playoffs].

if Theo believes that his H/R split is an artifact of his roster construction, he's pursuing precisely the wrong regular-season strategy; if he believes that he has no choice but to pursue the current regular-season strategy, he's pursuing precisely the wrong roster-construction strategy.....
   41. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 10, 2009 at 07:17 PM (#3347918)
If the Red Sox have a H/R split double the normal H/R split, then their chances of winning a 5-game series, as the Wild Card, against an equally matched opponent, drop by about .015, or fifteen percentage points, or about 2-3%. That's a very small effect, and the effect in a seven-game series would be even smaller.

I mean, it's a real effect, and something the Red Sox should perhaps consider in regard to whether they're right to stop caring about the division once the wild card is locked up, but it's hard for me to see how an effect that small should affect much of anything the Sox do.

EDIT: and to repeat myself, that small decrease in expectation would be an increase in expectation in the years when the Sox did win the division, which also have to be accounted for.
   42. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 10, 2009 at 07:21 PM (#3347922)
if Theo believes that his H/R split is an artifact of his roster construction, he's pursuing precisely the wrong regular-season strategy;
Only if the effect on WS chances of not shooting for the division is larger than the effect of resting his players and testing out his roster. It seems pretty clear that the Red Sox think that they would gain only a small chance in expectation of winning the pennant by going hard for the division, and that winning the division would only have a small effect on their chances of postseason success (as shown in part in #41).

Since we have no real way of quantifying the effects of "trying for the division", it's a mostly unanswerable question. The added H/R effect should be added in to the other, more quantifiable side of the equation, but I don't think it makes that much difference.
   43. nick swisher hygiene Posted: October 10, 2009 at 07:32 PM (#3347930)
yeah, I was assuming that Yanks/Sox dominance of the top two AL East spots is a foregone conclusion, when really it's no such thing.....
   44. John DiFool2 Posted: October 10, 2009 at 10:54 PM (#3348032)
Do you think the Red Sox are unaware of park factors and have made mistakes in team construction because of this? I mean, I don't think you think that, but I'm trying to figure out what you're arguing.


I guess I'm making an observation more than anything. Little things can add up tho, and can jump up and bite you at the worst possible times. Lowell had an away line, in '07 (his FA year) of .276 .339 .428, marginal for a player of his age. Tek was at .256/.348/.436 in '04, .242/.318/.472 in '03: not horrible, but should give pause when giving a multiyear deal to a 33 y/o C. So to name just two, I think they've held onto both Tek and Lowell too long, and yes I think it's partly because of the park effects.

Of course getting someone better assumes there's players out there (available at the times in question) for equivalent prices ($ and/or prospects), which in these cases is questionable, so re-signing them probably was better than getting some el cheapo AAA scrubs. Like I said they'll need a real thumper next year, giving them the kind of bat Manny and Papi did (in their primes). It's hard to stay at the top and get your pick of those rare and precious elite players, esp. when your division rival kind of tends to snap them up first.

But I did/do like the Drew signing and the Bay trade, as they were clearly the best most available options at the time. Part of this home-road thing in a hitter's park I've always suspected to be something of a preordained process and not really the fault of the management or the players they sign-they learn to take advantage of the Fenway's (or Wrigley's) quirks, but this hampers them a bit on the road. In a more neutral, "bland" park they wouldn't learn these habits and their away lines wouldn't be as mediocre.
   45. tfbg9 Posted: October 11, 2009 at 02:32 AM (#3348162)
I don't get the Bpro 30% figure at all. Maybe its a typo?

Sox figure to be ~ 8-5 favorites in each home game, then I'd guess 6/5 favorites in a Game 5 if that happened--the were 6/5
in Game 1, and I'd expect the same starters again.

So it's .615 x .615 x.545 = 20%--about a one in five shot to advance. Maybe a little more, if you figure they'd be better than
6/5 in game 5, due to more pressure being put on the Angles not to "blow" a 2-0 lead in games.

Edit: Looks like they have the Sox at 7-5 tomorrow...that'd make it 18%...
   46. tfbg9 Posted: October 11, 2009 at 02:36 AM (#3348166)
I thought Beckett looked maybe a little balky health wise last night as well--after sitting 95 early, he seemed
to lose a couple mph's on the fastball, I saw a lot of 92-93's, and he sort of shied away from it a lot.
I dunno...but that's not his normal approach on hitters.
   47. tfbg9 Posted: October 11, 2009 at 02:58 AM (#3348176)
Seems they plan to use Lester on short rest for Game 4 if it goes that far.

Anyway, its maybe 35% there's a Game 5.
   48. Textbook Editor Posted: October 11, 2009 at 03:13 AM (#3348181)
Well, the silver lining I'm trying to focus on is that after two late night starts, the boy gets to watch a whole game tomorrow, and I'm hoping the forces at work here won't let the season end while he's watching.

Lester on short rest means Beckett on normal rest for a Game 5, right? Much like in 1999, 2003, and 2004, I figure we just need to win the one game and then perhaps it becomes a different series.
   49. Famous Original Joe C Posted: October 11, 2009 at 03:54 AM (#3348194)
I guess I'm making an observation more than anything. Little things can add up tho, and can jump up and bite you at the worst possible times. Lowell had an away line, in '07 (his FA year) of .276 .339 .428, marginal for a player of his age. Tek was at .256/.348/.436 in '04, .242/.318/.472 in '03: not horrible, but should give pause when giving a multiyear deal to a 33 y/o C. So to name just two, I think they've held onto both Tek and Lowell too long, and yes I think it's partly because of the park effects.

I don't know...using single season road numbers for a player is a bad ideas because it's a smaller sample subject to more variability than a full season and besides that I'm fairly certain the Red Sox consider park effects and do so in a very careful way before offering a big contract.
   50. RobertMachemer Posted: October 11, 2009 at 05:11 AM (#3348215)
Prospectus--which just love the Sox for some reason--has their chance at 30%.
Of course that's high. Or they're high. Either way. I'm as big a fan of the Sox as anyone and as optimistic about their chances as possible, but that's a ridiculous number.

Let's pretend the Sox have a 60% chance of winning any one of the next three games. Their chances of winning the series would then be 21.6% (.6 cubed). 30% is higher than that.

Let's say the Sox have a likelihood of winning a home game against the Angels of 70%(!) and a 60% chance of winning an away game. That would put their chances at winning the series at 29.4%. 30% is still (marginally) higher... though we're close enough to use those numbers.

70% chance of winning a home game... That's (slightly) higher than their .691 winning percentage against their average opponent. The Angels are NOT an average opponent. Not only were the Angels the second best team (by record) in the American League and the best team in the best division (by head to head record) in the American League, but they're even the best road team in the American League!

If the Red Sox had the projected Matt Weiters, maybe, but otherwise, um, no. 30% is ridiculous. I hope the Sox win it all, and stranger things have happened... but not 30% of the time.
   51. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: October 11, 2009 at 05:13 AM (#3348217)
Keeping Manny would not have changed that because Manny these days is also a good player but no superstar.

Wow, is this really karlmagnus?
   52. SG Posted: October 11, 2009 at 06:36 AM (#3348241)
B Pro's numbers make no sense. In order to get the Red Sox to a 30% probability of advancing to the ALCS I had to make them a .685 (111 win) team, and also make the Angels a .520 (84 win) team.

My guess is they are using their 3rd order standings primarily, which severely underrate the Angels as presently constructed, and is pretty lazy IMO. Why should stats put up by people who aren't even part of the team anymore have any bearing on our assessment of a team's actual strength right now?

It could also be an issue with how they're projecting people, if they are even re-projecting them. They may just be using 2009 data, which would obviously make someone like Kazmir look a lot worse.
   53. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: October 11, 2009 at 11:26 AM (#3348280)
But if they're using 2009 data, most projection systems will take Matsuzaka's partial system into heavy account.
   54. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 11, 2009 at 12:10 PM (#3348287)
Speaking only by observation and not checking I doubt Clay will hold the Angels at bay. His stuff looks tailor made for their approach. I suspect he will be out of the game by inning four.

I am sure many will remind me if I am wrong.
   55. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 11, 2009 at 12:20 PM (#3348292)
Game 5 should be a good one.
   56. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: October 11, 2009 at 12:54 PM (#3348304)
Kevin Millar, before Game 4, "They better beat us tonight, because if they don't, we've got Pedro in game 5, Schilling on Game 6, and then anything can happen in Game 7." (paraphrase)

Jason Varitek, before Game 3 today, "I guess I'm never playing in another ####### game again, huh?"
Jed Lowrie, before Game 3 today, "Every time I swing a bat, I feel like my ####### forearm is about to fall off."
Mike Lowell, before Game 3 today, "Holy ####, my hip hurts. Where's my Medic Alert necklace?"
Clay Buchholz, before Game 3 today, "There's about an 80% chance I totally #### the bed today!"
Kevin Youkilis, before Game 3 today, "[throws helmet, hits inanimate object violently, tells stranger to #### themself...and this is in the first five minutes after waking up this morning...]"
JD Drew, before Game 3 today, "why is everybody acting like today's game is a big deal?"
   57. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 11, 2009 at 01:01 PM (#3348306)
Dustin Pedoria, before Game 3 today, [into phone] "Has the food gotten any better, Brett?"
   58. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 11, 2009 at 02:14 PM (#3348322)
Speaking only by observation and not checking I doubt Clay will hold the Angels at bay. His stuff looks tailor made for their approach. I suspect he will be out of the game by inning four.
My observation of Buchholz is that when he has all three pitches working and good command, he's at least a solid playoff #2 starter. When, as is more common, he's struggling to get one of his pitches to work and missing occasionally with the other two, he's a below average, but not bad starter. And occasionally he doesn't have his good fastball, and then he sucks.

I think that how the Angels do against Buchholz will be much more a function of what sort of Clay Buchholz shows up than of whether the Angels have a good approach to him.

I don't really know to what degree this year's Angels have a single approach - they have high average free swingers and guys who work the count and slap the ball and three true outcome hitters - it's an impressively balanced lineup, in that way.
   59. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 11, 2009 at 02:43 PM (#3348329)
Speaking only by observation and not checking I doubt Clay will hold the Angels at bay. His stuff looks tailor made for their approach. I suspect he will be out of the game by inning four.

Very small sample size, but in 3 starts against the Angels in his career, he's 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA and a 1.785 WHIP in 17 innings. But the last time he faced them was on July 10, 2008, at a point in his career when he couldn't have beaten the 1916 A's, let alone the Angels, so I don't think you can read too much into those numbers.
   60. Nasty Nate Posted: October 11, 2009 at 03:10 PM (#3348336)
#57 made me laugh...

today is the triumphant return of JOHNNY WHOLESTAFF!

for some reason I always seem to have game 4 LDS tickets. I had to sweat it out in aught-three, and didnt get to go in aught-five. Have to sweat it out again this year.
   61. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 11, 2009 at 03:33 PM (#3348345)
The starting time might help Clay. Unlike during the season where a West Coast finishes a series with an early start this noon Eastern is the Angels first crack in this time zone. Knowing the regimens the players follow to try and peak at game time this is a legit advantage for the Sox
   62. calhounite Posted: October 11, 2009 at 03:44 PM (#3348347)
Pedro Martinez got 2 strikes off the bat on Matsui. Then unfortunenately and uncharacteristicly leaves a fat one for Matsui to bale out on. Next batter, Posada pops up. Unfortunelately finds a hole. That's the sum total of Little's "mistake." Time to bury this myth.
   63. Nasty Nate Posted: October 11, 2009 at 03:47 PM (#3348350)
uhh, there were already 2 hits in the inning before Matsui got up.
   64. tfbg9 Posted: October 11, 2009 at 03:55 PM (#3348351)
And if Pedro was just fine, why did Grady then remove him right after the Chinless Wonder's lucky hit?

unfortunenately and uncharacteristicly leaves a fat one for Matsui


First thing to "go" for a tiring starter is command, not velocity. Pedro was tiring. No myth there.
   65. John DiFool2 Posted: October 11, 2009 at 04:32 PM (#3348389)
I don't know...using single season road numbers for a player is a bad ideas because it's a smaller sample subject to more variability than a full season and besides that I'm fairly certain the Red Sox consider park effects and do so in a very careful way before offering a big contract.


Relatively SSS true-and yet, the Sox had 3 regulars this year whose slugging percentages dropped like rocks on the road-all of them veterans. IIRC Bill James once did a study where veterans had higher HFA's than younger players (FWIW).

[Devil's Advocate mode]I am a bit more skeptical of their so-called sabermetric approach, as in frankly I don't see much evidence of it. Smoltz, he of the 5 K's yesterday, is Exhibit A-weird how all those hits which were dropping in against him stopped doing so when he went to St. Louis. The Sox brass, allegedly fully aware of DIPS theory, gave him his walking papers anyway, putting Paul Byrd's 1-1 K-W ratio in their Sept. rotation instead. Meanwhile Smoltz immediately went on a 28-1 K-W tear the instant he's in the NL.

In the end, the Sox are having to choose from the exact same small pool of available players that any other big market club is, so that their ability to take advantage of those so-called market inefficiencies in an enlightened way is more constrained than you might think. Getting Drew and Bay and Martinez may be evidence of this approach-or they may be 3 obvious moves where the alternatives to fill undeniable needs were all clearly inferior; any organization may have gotten them.[/DA Mode]

Okay, they're pretty clearly ahead of the curve than most teams I'll grant, but they're still human.
   66. calhounite Posted: October 11, 2009 at 04:33 PM (#3348390)
Well, if was such a bag of tired mush, how'd he get those first 2 strikes against a professional hitter..and future hof chinless to pop up..the decision to leave Martinez in once the decision point was REACHED (bad stuff had happened)..went against the sabermetric odds and no way was Little going to allowed to manage the next year since he was so anti-sabermetric, but to say the results bore out Little being wrong..don't see it.
   67. toratoratora Posted: October 11, 2009 at 06:44 PM (#3348616)
Its my understanding that Theo and Co. in management had figures which clearly indicated Pedro fell off the cliff at a certain number of pitches (IIRC 100), they had gone over the figures with Grady and stressed the pitch count before the game. Grady had proven to be less than statistically inclined (placing his operating method at odds with the FO, never a wise move for a manager in any business)to the point where Theo etc..made a special point to emphasize how drastically the number differentiated from the break point.
Pedro had hit the count and Theo was up in his box screaming for Grady to pull him, to the point that they wanted to fire him mid game.
There was no accident involved, no fluke bloops that fall. The Sox had evidence that Pedro would fall apart and Grady ignored it, cutting his own throat.
   68. ekogan Posted: October 11, 2009 at 08:04 PM (#3348862)
Well, this sucked a big fat one.
Time to start a post-season thread.
   69. RobertMachemer Posted: October 11, 2009 at 08:24 PM (#3348886)
Baseball Prospectus has updated their probabilities. Sox are now only 20% to win the ALDS.
   70. Flynn Posted: October 11, 2009 at 08:31 PM (#3348895)
Pedro in 2003 lost an awful lot of effectiveness after 100 pitches - his BAA was .298. This is not secret management kung-fu, you can find it on BB-Ref with two minutes of searching. They made this very clear to Grady. Grady, who was infamous in Sox circles for completely ignoring detailed scouting and statistical reports provided to him from management, ignored this and paid the price.

I watched the game. I was screaming at the television. Almost every other Red Sox fan I have ever discussed this to was doing the same. For ####'s sake, Tim McCarver was wondering why Pedro wasn't being pulled.
   71. Chris Dial Posted: October 11, 2009 at 09:42 PM (#3348946)
Baseball Prospectus has updated their probabilities. Sox are now only 20% to win the ALDS.
ARR DEE EFF.
   72. RobertMachemer Posted: October 11, 2009 at 10:22 PM (#3348958)
Thanks, Chris. :)
   73. Darren Posted: October 11, 2009 at 10:38 PM (#3348965)
Agreed with 71.

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