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   1. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: June 10, 2006 at 05:42 AM (#2058932)
--NL to AL is particularly hard on power pitchers with horrible facial hair?
That might be a winner, as it also helps explain Johnson's struggles, albeit retroactive to his really bad facial hair days
   2. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 10, 2006 at 05:46 AM (#2058934)
It's not so much the AL as the AL East. Facing New York, Toronto, and even Baltimore so many times takes its toll. Then the fact that it's the AL makes it even worse. But by and large, AL parks are larger, which makes things a little more equal.
   3. AROM Posted: June 10, 2006 at 03:33 PM (#2059079)
1. NL to AL - AL likely has more talent, even if that's overblown the DH rule makes it tougher for any pitcher making the switch.

2. Beckett was coming from an extreme pitchers park and going to a good hitters park.

3. Poor OF defense. Coco has missed much of the year and Wily Mo is not a true CF. Plus Manny being Manny. IF defense is equivalent to what he had last year. Especially the left side, where it is exactly equal.

Since Beckett's ERAs were in the 3.50 range, moving to Fenway probably should put him around 4.50. I don't think he'll finish with a 5.27 ERA, thats just where it stands after a really bad start. He'll have some good starts and bring it down.

The Rallymonkey projection system had Beckett at 3.99 coming into the year. His K-W projection, prorated to his current 70 innings, is 60-24. Actual is 55-23. Hits allowed is projected 69, actual 67. That's damn good projectin if I do say so myself.

The HR rate is way off though. He's given up 16, I had him projected for 17 in 168 innings. He better allow just one more the rest of the year or he'll make me look like a monkey.

I don't think there's anything seriously wrong with Beckett. He's only off in one part of his game, odds are he'll pitch better as the year goes on (especially when he gets to face the NL in interleague). He'll give the Sox what they should have realistically expected. If they were expecting another Pedro, well he just ain't.
   4. John DiFool2 Posted: June 10, 2006 at 03:37 PM (#2059081)
Minus the HRs, I'd say his BABIP has been pretty good. "AL parks are larger"-really? I'm not sure what's the deal with all the gopher balls tho.
   5. AROM Posted: June 10, 2006 at 03:47 PM (#2059088)
Fenway hasn't hurt him - Beckett is 2.16 at home, 7.00 on the road. All the homers have been hit on the road too. He had a huge home-road split last year too.
   6. AROM Posted: June 10, 2006 at 03:50 PM (#2059089)
Nothing really wrong with Beckett. Matt Clement, though - what gives?

He's the Jeff Weaver of the Red Sox. Does he have a brother? Maybe if they call his bro up that will inspire him. May not be worth it though if you have to pitch a brother without an MLB arm.
   7. PJ Martinez Posted: June 10, 2006 at 03:50 PM (#2059090)
Beckett strikes me as a stubborn guy who has gotten by on pure stuff for a long time. I tend to agree with Ortiz that he needs to make some adjustments, mix up his pitch selection. Batters may know what's coming, more or less, even if he's not tipping his pitches. Also, his control has not been great. Don't know how to fix that, though.
   8. Darren Posted: June 10, 2006 at 04:33 PM (#2059120)
RallyMonkey--

I don't understand some of the stuff above. You say the move to Fenway should push his ERA from 3.50 to 4.50, but your projection system says 3.50 to 3.99. Am I missing a PF or something in there?

I also disagree with your point #3--the defense is not going to affect HR much, Wily Mo notwithstanding.
   9. greenback calls it soccer Posted: June 10, 2006 at 04:39 PM (#2059122)
--NL to AL is particularly hard on power pitchers with horrible facial hair?

Haren made the conversion well enough.

Based on the title alone, Furtado should close this thread.
   10. Robert S. Posted: June 10, 2006 at 05:50 PM (#2059180)
He doesn't know how to pitch in Boston on the road?
   11. Joel W Posted: June 10, 2006 at 06:00 PM (#2059183)
I blame Varitek to some degree.
   12. AROM Posted: June 10, 2006 at 07:16 PM (#2059290)
I don't understand some of the stuff above. You say the move to Fenway should push his ERA from 3.50 to 4.50, but your projection system says 3.50 to 3.99. Am I missing a PF or something in there?

The 1.00 ERA rise was off the top of my head, is just a guess as to how the typical pitcher moving from Florida to Fenway would do. Lookin more closely that guess is probably a bit high.

The projection for Beckett is more precise, I think the system sees him as better than a 3.50 pitcher because of his peripherals. To be exact, if I had him staying in FLA his ERA projection would have been 3.38
   13. AROM Posted: June 10, 2006 at 07:21 PM (#2059295)
This is the first year of using the Rallymonkey projection system.

Earlier this year I was tempted to demagnetize the flash drive it sits on. My fantasy team has since pulled into third place, and some credit is due.

I didn't need any system to tell me Johan Santana would be great (though not $47 great, what I paid for him) but David Bush hwas a useful find, and the projection for Chris Young has worked out pretty well.
   14. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: June 10, 2006 at 07:42 PM (#2059316)
NL to AL is particularly hard on <strike>power pitchers</strike> baseball players.

exhibit #1001 on why the NL is the weaker league.
   15. Flynn Posted: June 11, 2006 at 03:49 AM (#2059689)
I find it highly amusing that the Sox let Pedro go for the clown duo of Clement and Beckett.

Beckett's stuff isn't really what it's been advertised. He seems to rarely throw his curveball for strikes nor does he have a good changeup to my eye.
   16. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 11, 2006 at 05:18 AM (#2059737)
I'm thinking about the newer parks, particularly. But let's think about it:

AL

Baltimore-- pitchers' park
Boston-- hitters' park
Chicago-- hitters' park
Cleveland-- pretty neutral, I think.
Detroit-- pitchers' park
Kansas City-- hitters' park
Los Angeles-- neutral to hitter's park
Minnesota-- hitters' park
New York-- neutral to hitters' park
Oakland-- pitchers' park to neutral
Seattle-- pitchers' park
Tampa-- hitters' park
Texas-- hitters' park
Toronto-- hitters' park

That's 7 hitters' parks and 7 that are more or less fair.

NL:

Atlanta-- neutral
Arizona-- hitters'
Chicago-- hitters'
Cincinnati- hitters'
Colorado-- hitters'
Florida-- pitchers'
Houston-- hitters'
Los Angeles-- pitchers'
Milwaukee-- neutral
New York-- pitchers'
Philadelphia-- hitters'
Pittsburgh-- neutral
St Louis-- neutral
San Diego-- pitchers'
San Francisco-- pitchers'
Washington-- pitchers'

In the NL it's 6 out-and-out hitters' parks, 4 neutral, and 6 pitchers'parks. So the parks aren't bigger in the AL after all.

Moral? If I was a free-agent pitcher who expected to ever be a free-agent again, I would never sign in the AL if the money was remotely similar; I'd sign with the highest NL bidder, period.
   17. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 11, 2006 at 05:21 AM (#2059739)
Except that I wouldn't want to go to Colorado or Philadelphia, and I might consider signing in the AL Central.
   18. Jim Wisinski Posted: June 11, 2006 at 02:56 PM (#2059797)
Tampa-- hitters' park

Pitchers' park
   19. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 11, 2006 at 03:41 PM (#2059810)
I find it highly amusing that the Sox let Pedro go for the clown duo of Clement and Beckett.
Not that he's an analyst, and I know some people wouldn't take his agreement as a good sign for one's argument, but nonetheless I thought this was a fascinating paragraph from Bill Simmons:
Pedro should have finished his career in Boston. I hate them for letting him go, I hate myself for rationalizing it when it happened -- if you remember, I was firmly entrenched in the "this is a guy who appears to have a mental block pitching against the Yankees, so maybe we don't need him" camp, which was so silly in retrospect -- and I hate the fact that Mets fans get to watch him every five days, that he belongs to them, that Pedro Martinez is going to retire a New York Met. No, I'm not going Champ Kind on you -- I'm not a mess without him, I don't miss his scent and I don't miss his musk. But Pedro should have finished his career in Boston. For what they eventually paid Clement and David Wells, the Red Sox could have locked up Pedro to an extension before the 2004 season. Instead, they took care of Schilling and inadvertently ended up pushing the greatest pitcher in franchise history out the door. These are the facts.
He's still saying hte Mets contract was too much, but he's also talking about Clement + Wells money, which is the money the Mets paid. Regardless, I think the point here, for me, is that this is the difference between greatness and goodness. Great players fall off and become less great, while good players just turn not good.

I'm still hopeful for Beckett because he can still show ace-quality stuff, but at some point in your twenties you have to start commanding your plus pitches consistently. I'm still at a loss as to how that fastball can get hit so hard unless they know it's coming, and so I'm still hopeful that his problems can be fixed through a mix of better preparation, better in-game adjustments, and keeping track of any movements that tip off the batter as to the pitch coming.
   20. OlePerfesser Posted: June 11, 2006 at 05:07 PM (#2059846)
...at some point in your twenties you have to start commanding your plus pitches consistently...

Very true. Leave us remember, however, that this is the lad's age-26 season.

Going into HIS age-26 season, Mr. Schilling had a career total of 18 wins and an ERA+ of 117 (if I did the math correctly).

Young Mr. Beckett started the year with 23 more career wins, almost 240 more career IP... and an ERA+ of 117.

So it is quite reasonable for us all to join MCoA and be hopeful for Beckett.

--Mr. Sunshine
   21. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: June 11, 2006 at 05:45 PM (#2059894)
You can't expect Beckett to be as good in his thirties as Schilling has been in his thirties. Very few pitchers have been good as Schilling in the latter part of their careers.
   22. sasquatch83 Posted: June 11, 2006 at 06:01 PM (#2059915)
I'm surprised I am the first to say - great headline.
   23. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 11, 2006 at 08:02 PM (#2060115)
Beckett's problems looked pretty simple today- though I didn't catch the whole game. From what I saw, he wasn't able to command either the curve or change. The guy shoulda learned how to do that by now.
   24. Flynn Posted: June 11, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2060233)
He's still saying hte Mets contract was too much, but he's also talking about Clement + Wells money, which is the money the Mets paid. Regardless, I think the point here, for me, is that this is the difference between greatness and goodness. Great players fall off and become less great, while good players just turn not good.

It's pretty apt. The Sox paid big money for Clement, Renteria and Wells, and the ROI has been horrible. Only Wells has been even remotely near advertised, and Renteria isn't even on the team anymore.

For that money, they could have resigned Pedro and had plenty left over for other players. But this wasn't really about money, probably more some facile want to win without "difficult" players. You know, being a manager without actually managing. And probably some inside politicking by Fatty McBushlover too.
   25. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: June 12, 2006 at 01:17 AM (#2060559)
If we keep harping on about losing Pedro we are going to make oursleves sick.
   26. Darren Posted: June 12, 2006 at 02:56 AM (#2060691)
Just a reminder on Pedro: we only know that he signed with the Mets for 4/54, we don't know what it would have taken for the Sox to get him. Maybe if Boston's first offer was 3/40, he would have signed immediately. And then, maybe if the Sox had matched 4/54, the Mets would have bid higher, or Pedro would have just chosen the Mets anyways. It's also fair to point out that Pedro is pitching in a very different environment right now than he would be in Boston.

If you want to have some regrets about the Pedro negotiations, I think you have to go back to early 03, when the Sox had a $17 mil option on Pedro, which they picked up almost 1 year early and got exactly nothing in return. That was the last time they had any leverage and they squandered it.

Plus, Pedro's hair sucks now.
   27. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 12, 2006 at 03:09 AM (#2060716)
New York-- neutral to hitters' park

Uh...

2005 103/102
2004 96/97
2003 96/97
2002 100/100
2000 104/103
1999 91/92
1998 98/96
1997 99/97
1996 102/101

Seems more of a slight pitcher's park, with occasional seasons of being a hitters' park.
   28. Norcan Posted: June 12, 2006 at 06:47 AM (#2060835)
I thought Beckett would struggle some and have an ERA around the high 3s or low 4s mainly because there was such a hugh disparity in his hits allowed per 9 innings home and away. For the past three seasons, home it's been 6.5ish, which is ace-like but away, it's been around 9. I thought without Pro Player Stadium, his overall numbers would approach his road performance, which was still good but more along the lines of a no.2 rather than ace starter. Tim Hudson was much the same way and he's struggled to duplicate his Oakland success now that he's no longer taking regular turns in Oakland. However, up until today's outing against Texas, Beckett had pitched at Fenway like it was Pro Player Stadium and he's been shelled in games beyond my wildest dreams.
   29. villageidiom Posted: June 12, 2006 at 03:28 PM (#2061057)
Beckett's problems looked pretty simple today- though I didn't catch the whole game. From what I saw, he wasn't able to command either the curve or change. The guy shoulda learned how to do that by now.

This is consistent with prior outings, most notably his recent outing in NY. And that's why I don't think he's tipping his pitches. If he can't command the curve or the change, his only option for strikes is the fastball. Hitters don't have to know the next pitch is a fastball; they just need to wait for the inevitable fastball to come, and crush it.

Didn't Derek Lowe have the same home/road issues in his final years in Boston? Given what we've hears about Lowe's, er, nightlife - which I'm guessing was much more prevalent on the road than it was when he was near his family - I'm guessing that the young Mr. Beckett is having a bit too much fun on the road.
   30. Dave Cyprian Posted: June 12, 2006 at 09:03 PM (#2061404)
Beckett will come around. Mikael, are you trying to suggest you've had enough with Beckett, that he hasn't had control of his breaking pitches for a couple starts and he needs to be thrown in the dog house if not run out of town? I say take a step back! Beckett is young, but also an established big league pitcher with excellent results in high pressure situations. This guy is going to be adding major value to the Red Sox for a long, long time. I personally believe he is in an adjustment period with the brutal American league and the new environment. Look what happened to both Pedro and Schilling when they had off years-- they drove themselves a little crazy trying to figure out what happened (Martinez "My Daddies", Schilling trying to save a lost season when he couldn't pitch a lick). Beckett deserves and is getting the longest imaginable leash. Once he can learn to win games that wind up 10-6, 13-8 and be OK about it, once he learns to appreciate the obsence run support that practially guarrantees him 15+ wins per healthy year, I'm confident he will be our rock.
   31. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 13, 2006 at 12:01 AM (#2061593)
Beckett will come around. Mikael, are you trying to suggest you've had enough with Beckett, that he hasn't had control of his breaking pitches for a couple starts and he needs to be thrown in the dog house if not run out of town?
I have no desire to run any ballplayers out of Boston. (except for Bellhorn, of course.)

I do find Beckett to be incredibly frustrating. I have trouble, when I watch a guy with a million dollar arm like that, accepting such crappy results. I'm not really sure what it means for me to not "accept" his results - mainly, it means I find excuses to dislike Beckett and say mean things about him online sometimes. I don't think those actions have any effect on Beckett, nor do I wish them to. I don't advocate for the Red Sox to do anything differently with Beckett - clearly, the chance of him harnessing that million dollar arm is very real, and the Sox should keep him pitching in the hopes that he gets his five-cent head around it. (sorry, that's me not "accepting" him.)
Once he can learn to win games that wind up 10-6, 13-8 and be OK about it, once he learns to appreciate the obsence run support that practially guarrantees him 15+ wins per healthy year, I'm confident he will be our rock.
I disagree. Beckett's done a perfectly good job of "pitching to the score" - he's 7-3 despite an ERA well below league average.

He needs to figure out a way to only allow 3-4 runs when he doesn't have his good command, and he needs to have his good command a hell of a lot more often. I don't think either of those problems are related to run support.
   32. tfbg9 Posted: June 13, 2006 at 01:36 AM (#2061685)
Oh yeah Darren, there's a mighty good chance that Josh Beckett's disappointing one-third of a first season with the Red Sox is somehow Curt Schilling's doing.

*groans, rolls eyes*
   33. Dave Cyprian Posted: June 13, 2006 at 03:33 PM (#2062039)
He needs to figure out a way to only allow 3-4 runs when he doesn't have his good command,


Yeah I agree. Thats a better way of saying what I meant. Also, I think he will.
   34. Norcan Posted: June 14, 2006 at 02:50 AM (#2063120)
Beckett's delivery looked so much more balanced on Sunday. I don't know if that's better or not but it was different. He always had a slightly, very slightly funky delivery where he would dip his body a little to third base after unwinding his arm. As someone who for no discernible reason likes to imitate pitchers, I had trouble mimicking him. On Sunday, he was tossing with a classic and to me, a beautiful delivery.
   35. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 15, 2006 at 10:07 AM (#2064607)
You know, he'd have to have a 3.30 ERA the rest of the way to wind up at 4.50 (or something like that; I figured it out yesterday). That's mind-boggling, and it's not bloody likely, either.
   36. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: June 15, 2006 at 10:13 AM (#2064610)
I have no desire to run any ballplayers out of Boston. (except for Bellhorn, of course.)

Kevin Millar?

I hate Rudy Seanez right now. Julian tavarez too.
   37. Dave Cyprian Posted: June 15, 2006 at 01:31 PM (#2064663)
Seanez and Tavarez have been firestarters without parallel this year.
   38. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 15, 2006 at 01:31 PM (#2064664)
Millar? That loudmouth jackhole will always have a place in my heart. He drew the walks.

The bullpen is ######' killing me, though. Tavarez, Seanez, Delcarmen, and Van Buren all look like big league pitchers in about 1 of every 2 innings. That, as evidenced by the last couple games, isn't nearly enough to help the team win. It gives me some hope htat Delcarmen might eventually learn another tick of command and be a good reliever, but that's not much to go on for the team right now.

David Riske has been relatively good since coming off the DL, and I think he's earned the #3 spot in the bullpen at this point. By default, but as Homer said, that's the two sweetest words in the English language. He was the guy I wanted to at least be warming while Tavarez was blowing the game on Tuesday.

The let's turn Craig Hansen into a starter but not tell anyone about it experiment has kinda backfired at this point - if he'd just been pitching every 2nd or 3rd day in Pawtucket, going an inning or two and refining his fastball and slider, he'd be ready for high-lev work in the majors now, I think. He needs to get ready fast.
   39. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 15, 2006 at 01:37 PM (#2064668)
Oh, and last night I will cite as evidence for my theory that Matt Clement's problem is not a lack of balls, but a lack of not being a bad pitcher.

He worked out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the third and a 2nd and 3rd, one out situation in hte fourth. He was able to get the big outs and keep the team close. The problem was that he didn't pitch good and created situations like htat to pitch out of.

He also left hte game with "an undisclosed injury." I think I've been getting so caught up in the mild optimism of liking so much of the roster that I didn't pick out the obvious Red Sox explanation for bad pitching - he's an injured veteran and they're not putting him on the DL! So, perhaps Clement neither ontologically sucks nor lacks testicular fortitude, but rather has improperly diagnosed or improperly treated physical problems.
   40. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 15, 2006 at 01:48 PM (#2064678)
I also note, on the bullpen front, that Timlin looked damn good on Tuesday. He had the nasty bite and velocity 90-92 on the sinker, good command, and even broke off a useful enough show-me curve. When I read about the dead arm, I was worried he was done for good, but it seems possible that Timlin will just never die.
   41. AROM Posted: June 15, 2006 at 01:48 PM (#2064679)
You know, he'd have to have a 3.30 ERA the rest of the way to wind up at 4.50 (or something like that; I figured it out yesterday). That's mind-boggling, and it's not bloody likely, either.

Not by my math. Red Sox have played 63 g, Josh has 75 IP, so he's on pace for 193 on the year.

He's given up 44 earned runs, so to finish at 4.50, he needs to allow 52 runs in his last 118 innings, an ERA of 3.97.

Since that's almost exactly what my pre-season projection for him was, I'd say its likely. But I won't say its bloody likely. I don't have that much confidence in my projections.
   42. AROM Posted: June 15, 2006 at 01:50 PM (#2064681)
When I read about the dead arm, I was worried he was done for good, but it seems possible that Timlin will just never die.

I didn't think the old guy would make it through 2003 the way they used him. Timlin's like an old Chevy truck with a 350 motor.
   43. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 15, 2006 at 01:54 PM (#2064684)
Also, if Beckett actually manages to pitch at a 4.00 rate, he'll throw more innings than a straight on-pace projection because he'll have fewer 1.1 IP outings. Of course, on-pace assumes Beckett won't get injured - and that he isn't injured right now! - so I don't mean this comment to be arguing for a more positive Beckett projection.

I'll take July 23 in the Beckett gets DL'ed pool. The evidence:

1) He can't command his breaking and offspeed stuff for shite
2) He's a pitcher on the Red Sox
3) He's exactly the sort of dumbass who'd cover up an injury that makes him a bad pitcher
4) He's hardly got a clean medical history
   44. tfbg9 Posted: June 15, 2006 at 03:00 PM (#2064755)
I guess Clement has some sort of mysterious injury that makes him repeatedly unable to execute 0-2 pitches after repeatedly executing both the 0-0 and 0-1 pitches in multiple starts now going back a year, or throw any kind of non-meatball strike with runners on, eh MCoA? Or lead the universe in 2 out rallies surrendered? He's a scaredy-cat head case.
   45. tfbg9 Posted: June 15, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2064760)
Oh wait I think I have it: he's been spending too much time with Schilling!
   46. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 15, 2006 at 03:09 PM (#2064767)
or throw any kind of non-meatball strike with runners on, eh MCoA? Or lead the universe in 2 out rallies surrendered? He's a scaredy-cat head case.
Huh? My point was that in his last two starts, Clement has kept the Sox in the game exactly by getting clutch outs after pitching himself into bad situations. Are you denying that?

Clement has shown no tendency before this year to suck with runners on, and he has pitched well in the clutch in his last two starts.

I think he's hurt and thus not a good pitcher. I don't think we need anything more complicated than that.
   47. tfbg9 Posted: June 15, 2006 at 04:21 PM (#2064836)
"Huh? My point was that in his last two starts, Clement has kept the Sox in the game exactly by getting clutch outs after pitching himself into bad situations. Are you denying that?"

Yes. Last night he had thrown about 12 balls in 14 pitches or something, too lazy to look, and Hunter stupidly hacked at his first offering after he had walked the bases loaded and hit a hard ground ball for a DP to end the inning. I think the same kind of thing happened last start also, to get him out of one big jam. He didn't hunker down and make the tough pitches. He lucked out of the inning. He has not pitched well this year excepting a couple games maybe, he's had some results that were OK, more or less by luck. I don't like his make-up. He can't make big pitches when he has to on any kind of reliable basis for a year now; he misses the glove by 3 feet, after hitting it the first two pitches to that batter. A good pitcher smells blood and gets those outs. Watch the games. He's a mess.
   48. tfbg9 Posted: June 15, 2006 at 04:30 PM (#2064846)
I guess what I'm saying is in essense this:

I watched a million games in my life, and it's really clear to me that a big part of Clement's problems are make-up.
   49. Dave Cyprian Posted: June 15, 2006 at 11:19 PM (#2065471)
http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/2006/06/riske_traded_to.html
The Red Sox made a move to shake up their beleaguered bullpen today, trading righthander David Riske to the Chicago White Sox for minor league pitcher Javier Lopez.

The 28-year-old Lopez, a lefthanded closer for Triple-A Charlotte, had a 0.55 ERA with 12 saves this season before the deal. The Red Sox announced he would be in uniform (and wear No. 48) for tonight’s game in Minnesota.

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/2006/06/theo_talks_trad.html
Epstein said Lopez features a mid-to-high 80s fastball with plus sink, an above average slider and a changeup and cutter he uses on righties... Epstein hinted that the trade could also eventually clear room for the return of Craig Hansen.
   50. Mattbert Posted: June 16, 2006 at 12:45 AM (#2065535)
a big part of Clement's problems are make-up.
I agree. Whoever does his blush and eyeshadow (Nipper?) obviously needs to be reassigned. Poor Matty looks downright ghoulish. How can you walk off the mound with your head held high like a proper pitcher when you're horribly ashamed of your looks?

I'd be willing to buy the makeup explanation if Clement hadn't put up some very good seasons in the not-so-distant past. He's not some jittery rookie getting rattled out there. He's pitched seven full seasons in the majors. Some of those seasons were pretty good. If Clement's problems are to be attributed to makeup, it's incumbent upon the person making that argument to explain a few things.

1. What happened in Chicago? You can't chalk up Clement's performance to Wrigley being a pitchers' park. Did he just get lucky for three years? Did he learn to be nails from Don Baylor or Dusty Baker or somebody?

2. How do you lose makeup? If there's no alternative explanation for #1, then Clement's good years as a Cub indicate that he had good makeup at that time. Was taking that liner off the head down at the Trop his undoing? Did it make him forget how to sack up and make big pitches? My default assumption is that you're supposed to get tougher and more wiley with age, not less. So something unusual must be going on here.

3. What are the characteristics of good or bad makeup that we as fans can identify from the vantage point of the stands or our couches? It can't just be pitching poorly. Is it body language? How do we accurately evaluate makeup if it's not an easily observable trait?

4. What's the chain of causation? Does a pitcher throw like crap because he has no confidence or does he have no confidence because he's throwing like crap?

David Riske has been relatively good since coming off the DL, and I think he's earned the #3 spot in the bullpen at this point.
Looks like it'll be the #3 spot in those other Sox' bullpen now.
   51. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 16, 2006 at 01:27 AM (#2065605)
My projection for Beckett factored in a DL-stint... I forgot to mention that. I just figured out his average innings per start and gave him 29 starts. Anyway, it's not the final stats that matter, it's whether he ever actually figures out how to pitch again. Schilling undoubtedly isn't helping with that...
   52. villageidiom Posted: June 16, 2006 at 12:56 PM (#2065843)
4. What's the chain of causation? Does a pitcher throw like crap because he has no confidence or does he have no confidence because he's throwing like crap?

At least in his tenure in Boston, I think it started as the latter. The trouble is I think he's been throwing like crap for so long that it's starting to become the former. His lack of confidence is a hole that is now so deep he cannot climb out of it.

Somebody throw him a rope.
   53. AROM Posted: June 16, 2006 at 01:15 PM (#2065853)
1. What happened in Chicago? You can't chalk up Clement's performance to Wrigley being a pitchers' park.

Its a better pitchers league. Instead of getting to strike out a pitcher, he's now facing people like Travis Hafner and Jason Giambi.

I don't think he's got the same stuff he used to. Haven't seen enough of him, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but he throws 89-91 on the fastball with a good slider. Either he doesn't have another good pitch or he can't control it. That's the profile of a guy who will struggle vs lefties, and is best used in middle relief (like David Riske).

I thought he threw harder in Chicago. Checking his splits, he's so-so vs righties this year (.272 BA, 31-17 K_W in 31 IP) but vs lefties he's allowed a .307 BA, 21 BB and only 12 K in 34 IP.
   54. veer bender Posted: June 16, 2006 at 01:52 PM (#2065874)
That's the profile of a guy who will struggle vs lefties, and is best used in middle relief (like David Riske).


I don't know about the middle relief part (that's that makeup business again), but Riske doesn't have a problem with lefties, at least based on 3 year splits.
   55. AROM Posted: June 16, 2006 at 03:27 PM (#2065957)
I didn't look at Riske's splits. I just used him as a comparison because he has similar stuff (avg fastball, big slider, not much else). Kiko Calero would be another. As a group these guys are not very effective vs lefties, but can strike righties out by the ton.

For a RHP to pitch effectively against lefties, usually you need either a good changeup or an overhand curve, or overpowering stuff.

I don't think Clement has any of that. Maybe he was more overpowering with the Cubs, I don't know.
   56. tfbg9 Posted: June 16, 2006 at 03:39 PM (#2065972)
Steve Blass, Rick Ankiel, Chuck Knoblauch, are a few examples that spring to mind of guys who just "lost it" all of a sudden. Matt Clement may be another. He'll often throw two nice sharp strikes on a batter, then 8 out the next 10 pitches will be balls that miss by 3 feet. He'll stare at his shoes and slump his shoulders, then have to aim an 85 mph fastball to avoid another walk on a 2-0 pitch for a extra base hit. Its been a year now, I watch every game, that's his tendency. Sometimes he'll weasel out of a jam like that, of course, but he can't finish off batters regularly even though he CAN throw strike TWO swinging with a very nasty slider, that dissapears when its out pitch time. He might have had a run of nagging injuries that are part of the mess, but it sure seems to me that if you can get strike one and two on a batter, despite a nagging injury, you should be able to get strike 3. Clement's pattern is that he's sailing along doing OK, and then he'll just walk a guy on four pitches that miss by 3 feet, he'll slow WAY down, walk another guy on five pitches, etc. That does not seem like an injury-it's focus/concentration, too much focus, something like that. Its a rep that followed him around baseball since he hit the Majors, and it's well-deserved IMHO. But what the hell do I know, I only watch every pitch of every game?
   57. Mattbert Posted: June 16, 2006 at 08:15 PM (#2066221)
Its a better pitchers league. Instead of getting to strike out a pitcher, he's now facing people like Travis Hafner and Jason Giambi.
Right, but that's a fairly hyperbolic example of the difference. Hafner and Giambi would be faking it at first base for somebody if they played in the NL. Just look at what happens in interleague play. Of course the AL is tougher on pitchers, but not every team can plug in a Hafner-caliber hitter at DH. Carl Everett is a designated something, but he sure can't hit anymore. Rondell White might be better off as a pitcher at this point, and Baltimore's three-headed monster of Lopez/Millar/Conine isn't exactly mythic, either. Anyway, I don't dispute the difference between leagues, but let's be realistic about who's replacing those pitchers in the batting order.

The larger problem I have with attributing Clement's success as a Cub to the weaker offensive NL is that it ignores the concept behind ERA+. A guy who's capable of pitching significantly better than his league average should be able to reproduce something like that success in a different league, even though his raw numbers might suffer. Is it more difficult to post a 100 ERA+ in the AL than the NL? It shouldn't be. You just look better doing it in the NL.

The other problem with the league change explanation is that Clement didn't appear to take advantage of those weak NL lineups until he got to Chicago. He pitched three full seasons (2 for San Diego, 1 for Florida) before becoming a Cub. And those first three seasons were pretty uninspiring, especially considering Qualcomm and Pro Player were better places to pitch than Wrigley. Clement is not a pitcher who dominated the NL for years and then hit the skids when he switched leagues. He's shown he's capable of pitching pretty badly in the NL, too.

I suppose one way to get a better sense of how much Clement has suffered from moving to the AL would be to track his performance versus pitchers hitting against him in the NL. As a rough guide, you could tabulate pitchers' OPS against him and what percentage of his total Ks were pitchers. If those two numbers differed wildly from the league norm, that'd be interesting to think about.

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