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   1. Xander Posted: April 01, 2006 at 03:51 AM (#1928672)
Thanks Toby.

I was actually very impressed by each of these articles. When I read about prospects, I find the stories that talk about their technical adjustments or development, much more interesting than the human interest side. The quotes from Al Nipper on how he tinkered with Lester are fascinating. Getting an inside look at how the Sox prepare their players is also something that isn't given much attention. In short, these articles seem more off of Rob Bradford's computer than Chris Snow or Gordon Edes.

Nevertheless, there are some worrying trends mentioned. I have brought up the Sox prospects' conditioning for a while. I don't think you can depend on teenagers and 20-year olds to handle their own workout regimen. If I am coordinating this system, I am asking each prospect to come in once a month in the off-season for a weigh-in and body fat check-up. There is too much money invested in many of these kids to worry about hassling them or interrupting their down time. Can a Braves' fan please chime in on how many times your prospects have come to camp out of shape? Its an honest question, because I don't know the answer. But I would hazard a guess that it's less than the number of Sox.

The second gripe is something that was mentioned in the first article regarding the evaluation of prospects. Here is the quote:
The player personnel chief for an American League contender, responding to a request for how his team ranks Boston's top 10 prospects, sent along his list, then added this kicker: ''The Red Sox hit the Latin market strong three years ago and have since backed off -- big mistake. They are overpaying guys in the draft and should have overpaid guys in Latin America. We are happy they are doing it this way."

If it was up to me, Shipley wouldn't even have a job right now. Miguel Garcia was 10X the asset Shipley is. Garcia brought us Carlos Fernandez, Felix Doubront, and Leo Sumoza; our three biggest international assets. What is Shipley's big credential? That he is in-tight with Jon Deeble? Our Venezuelan program is in tatters right now, which is a damn shame. The only investment more lucrative than oil in Venezuela over the next 10 years is baseball players (not literally of course). Why you wouldn't be doing everything you can to corner the market on Venezuelan talent baffles me. Instead, they are actually going in the opposite direction. By "re-structuring" their Venezuelan scouting department, they are losing valuable time in that country. If Sox fans honestly think that we have shots at IFA's like Jesus Montero, Danilo Alvarez, Luis Castillo, or Jean Morel; they need to stop kidding themselves. The Mets and Yankees have a much stronger commitment to their international programs and it shows. The Red Sox are really lucky that Felix Hernandez and Miguel Cabrera didn't base their decisions solely on money. Because they would both be Yankees if they had. That's not the norm however, and it will end up catching up with the Sox in the long run.

I apologize for the rant; but these articles touched on two of my Sox hot-button issues. Out-of-shape players and International Scouting incompetence.
   2. Xander Posted: April 01, 2006 at 04:14 AM (#1928710)
One other thing. I don't understand this big mystery swirling around the Sox FO regarding the lack of power in the system. If you want power, go out and draft draft signability picks. The only bat that projected to hit any power that you drafted recently was Jon Egan, and now he is a cokehead who isn't even on the team the year after they drafted him. If you aren't going to make a major investment in the Joel Guzman's and Fernando Martinez's of the world, don't be surprised when you don't have a power bat in your system. Polished college power goes early in the draft, and you basically need a premium pick to assure yourself of it. Of course, the Sox had a legitimate shot to sign Pedro Alvarez last year who was considered a tough sign and blew it. If they weren't so self-congratulatory about the $400,000 they saved with their little Jose Cruz machinations and actually put it back into player development system, we would have the next Todd Helton in our system right now.
   3. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: April 01, 2006 at 04:58 AM (#1928772)
Pedro Alvarez is hitting .286/.466/.481 as a true freshman at Vandy, leading his team in HR, BB, OBP, and IsoP. I don't know what kind of environment they play in, but it looks very pitcher-friendly (vandy has hit 12 HR and allowed 5 through 25 games). Alvarez has shaky defense at this point (.870 fielding percentage) but other than that it looks like the Sox really missed out.
   4. Xander Posted: April 01, 2006 at 05:11 AM (#1928790)
Vanderbilt's 3-year PF according to Boyd Nation is an 84. It's Boyd Nation, so take it FWIW.

Keep in mind he got off to a very slow start. In his last 16 games he is hitting .370/.534/.611 with 19 BB's in 73 PA's.
   5. Xander Posted: April 01, 2006 at 05:24 AM (#1928801)
I think he would have been penciled in for high A regardless of how he performed this spring. The fact that he played so well just opened more eyes and scored him a Blog on minorleaguebaseball.com. He was a very polished college bat, who only slipped in the draft due to unfounded concerns about his transition to wood. I was very impressed when I saw him in Ft. Myers. He looked decent with the leather and very good at the plate. I would be pretty surprised if he doesn't end the season in Portland. His college career wasn't that far from Pedroia's, and Lowrie's peak season was better. I see him as a .280/.360/.440 middle infielder at his peak. If he can stick at SS, that's very valuable. I always though it was funny that he was considered the least "sexy" draft pick last year. Yet he could end up being the best pick when it's all said and done.
   6. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: April 01, 2006 at 05:32 AM (#1928810)
Vanderbilt's 3-year PF according to Boyd Nation is an 84. It's Boyd Nation, so take it FWIW.


17 HR in 1751 AB's with aluminum bats...

18 of their 25 games have been at home (Nashville)
3 of thier 25 games were at some Tournament in LA
3 of their 25 games were at Mississippi St. (Oxford, MS)
1 of their 25 games was a Western KY (Bowling Green, KY)

Regardless of their road games that looks like a an extremely pitcher-friendly schedule if their home park is an 84.

This weekend they'll be in Gainsville.
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 01, 2006 at 04:03 PM (#1929132)
Temple -

I realize you've been following this much more closely than I have. And I certainly agree that an article that begins with a criticism of the Sox' Latin American programs points to a legitimate problem.

But I'm skeptical of the personalization of the critique. I mean, none of the three guys you mention (Carlos Fernandez, Felix Doubront, and Leo Sumoza) made the Sox top 30 list. The only Garcia signing in BA is Christian Lara (#18). It seems to me like the DSL/VSL system has been problematic from top to bottom for a few years now.

Cherington said the Red Sox are "re-structuring" their Venezeulan program, which, if it isn't management double-speak, means that they plan on having a real presence there in the future. I don't really know. The reporting here, though, doesn't seem to really square with incompetence at the top being rewarded and skill below being ignored. It sounds more like no one has been doing a great job, and they're trying to change the way things are done.
   8. philly Posted: April 01, 2006 at 05:30 PM (#1929182)
It's really difficult to get a handle on what good productivity really is from LA because the data just isn't out there and I suspect the success rate is really, really low.

It does seem that the Sox LA operations have been chaotic the last few years and that that has effected their productivity. A few times Cherington has been quoted talking about the LA program graduating one hitting and pitching prospect per year. Obviously, they haven't met that modest goal and no I don't think someone like Felix Doubront counts yet.

I think the Sox are a little under-represented in foreign born minor leaguers though.

The Sox were guilty for years of severely neglecting Latin America; now, between 33 and 35 percent of the approximately 155 players in the Sox' minor league system (not including the players in the team's Dominican academy) are foreign-born, Cherington said.


I can't seem to find the reference, but I think the MLB average is just over 40%. So that 33-35% is probably a bit below average and I doubt much different from the end of the Duke days. The Duke era Sox were generally ranked pretty high in foreign born players, just not enough really panned out.

I don't think the Theo Sox have done a very good job in LA, but it's hard to put into context.
   9. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: April 01, 2006 at 07:03 PM (#1929242)
The Sox signed 2 more Taiwanese Prospects the other day.
   10. Xander Posted: April 01, 2006 at 07:11 PM (#1929251)
Here is a link about Chih-Hsien Chiang, one of the Taiwanese players who signed for $350,000. He was relatively highly sought after.

His high school teammate, Chih-Hsiang Huang, signed for $100,000.

Both of them will come over at the end of May or early June.

TJ Yeh, another Taiwanese player, is in the minor league camp right now.

Wang-Yi Lin will be over at the end of June.
   11. philly Posted: April 01, 2006 at 08:15 PM (#1929295)
Here is a link about Chih-Hsien Chiang, one of the Taiwanese players who signed for $350,000. He was relatively highly sought after.

One of the things I'm interested in doing is translating international bonuses to the draft scale. A 350k would slot around pick #110 which would be at the beginning of the 4th rd. The other kid who signed for 100k would have an equivalent bonus to a 6th or 7th rd pick.

Is it reasonable to make a draft dollar to inernational dollar translation and say that 350k in the draft buys the same probability of success as 350k in international free agency? Probably not. The scale of international bonuses (excluding Japanese professionals or a veteran Cuban defector like COntreras) is much lower than the scale of draft bonuses. But how do you make the translation between open auction bidding on extremely risky 16/17 yr olds and the restricted one team bidding on less risky 18-21 yr olds?
   12. RobertMachemer Posted: April 01, 2006 at 09:13 PM (#1929358)
There are a TON of good Globe pieces besides the ones already mentioned. One of my favorites was this one.

According to the article (or to the anonymous source), the Red Sox rank their top prospects this way:

Hansen, Papelbon, Lester, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Stern, Delcarmen, Bowden, Buchholz, Moss.

Only one other team (of the ones questioned) put Stern in their top 10. Only one team did not put Pedroia in their top ten (but they did have Soto, Lara, and Mota in their top ten). Interesting.

Anyway, LOTS of good pieces to check out.
   13. Xander Posted: April 01, 2006 at 09:20 PM (#1929368)
(but they did have Soto, Lara, and Mota in their top ten). Interesting.

I guess we know Jim Bowden took part in this piece.
   14. Xander Posted: April 02, 2006 at 12:58 AM (#1929639)
Ironically, Scaffolds from sp.com reports today that Robinson Garcia, who he calls "the Sox best Dominican scout," resigned from the Sox to sign with the Phillies.

Shipley is a laughing stock right now.
   15. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: April 02, 2006 at 01:05 AM (#1929650)
Shipley is a laughing stock right now.


Any idea why?
   16. Xander Posted: April 02, 2006 at 01:18 AM (#1929659)
He doesn't get along with his LA scouting department. He focuses way too much energy in the wrong part of the Globe. I mean, read this anonymous scout's quote from the Globe article:

The player personnel chief for an American League contender, responding to a request for how his team ranks Boston's top 10 prospects, sent along his list, then added this kicker:

''The Red Sox hit the Latin market strong three years ago and have since backed off -- big mistake. They are overpaying guys in the draft and should have overpaid guys in Latin America. We are happy they are doing it this way."

There seems to be an abnormally high amount of turnover in the scouting department. VZ scouting is going through a "restructuring period." This might cause us to miss out on a large number of prospects from one of the most vital Latin countriest to pin down. The Sox have not shown an ability to overpay for the "big International FA" since Soto. I can go on and on...
   17. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: April 02, 2006 at 01:31 AM (#1929677)
Is Shipley just not bidding high enough on the premium Latin American talents? I wouldn't think those guys would be hard to identify and that everyone would be bidding.

Spending ~$500k on a couple of Taiwanese players seems misguided, though. The cost of living is higher there and the kids have better non-baseball opportunities.
   18. Xander Posted: April 02, 2006 at 02:00 AM (#1929707)
Is Shipley just not bidding high enough on the premium Latin American talents? I wouldn't think those guys would be hard to identify and that everyone would be bidding.

I don't know whose responsibility it is to bid on the players. But the Red Sox brought Fernando Martinez into Fenway last year to try him out. According to several reports he put on a show. Peter Gammons, in true hyperbolic fashion, went so far as to call it legendary. Yet, the Sox failed to match the Mets 1.4 million dollar offer. I don't know whose decision it was to not give him the money; so I won't put that directly on Shipley. Although i'm sure he is partially culpable. My main problem with him is the disorder and dissention in LA. It seems like every day the Sox lose another member of the scouting staff. If his presence is what is causing us to lose key assets like M. Garcia and R. Garcia, then I don't want him around anymore.
   19. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: April 02, 2006 at 02:55 AM (#1929754)
Spending ~$500k on a couple of Taiwanese players seems misguided, though. The cost of living is higher there and the kids have better non-baseball opportunities.

Actually a lot of young baseball players only play baseball NOT wanting to become a professional, but wanting to escape the examination hell that is the college entrance exams, get some physical education degree, and get a cushy job coaching some high school team.
   20. chris p Posted: April 02, 2006 at 03:06 AM (#1929837)
temple, just curious, but are you going on anything other than scaffold's word and the fact that scouts are leaving? i just lurk at soxprospects, but my perception is that although scaffolds is a very good source of information, he does have sorta an axe to grind.
   21. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: April 02, 2006 at 03:16 AM (#1929782)
Actually a lot of young baseball players only play baseball NOT wanting to become a professional, but wanting to escape the examination hell that is the college entrance exams, get some physical education degree, and get a cushy job coaching some high school team.


I hope they're in much better shape than the PE teachers of my youth...
   22. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 02, 2006 at 03:34 AM (#1929808)
One American League club divvies up major league teams among its scouts by division. But the scout who has the AL East, say, is responsible not only for the Yankees, but the Yankees' Triple A and Double A clubs.


I'm 99.9% sure this is Baltimore; I had a conversation with a Baltimore scout at a Marlins' game a few years ago who mentioned that he was assigned to the NL East. A couple of NL teams do it this way, too. I think it's a good idea, and I'm surprised more teams don't do it. You can follow a prospect through several levels and see how he adjusts at each level.

a greater emphasis on such measures as on-base percentage


There's a risk here; there have been several studies suggesting that OBPs that are heavily walk-based do not necessarily translate to the major league level. For me, it's much more important to see what the prospect does when he swings the bat - does he make consistent contact and does he sting the ball when he does make contact? If the guy does little more than slap singles here and there when he's not walking, chances are that he won't do as well in the majors, because major league pitchers won't hesitate to throw him strikes.

-- MWE
   23. Xander Posted: April 02, 2006 at 03:54 AM (#1929830)
There's a risk here; there have been several studies suggesting that OBPs that are heavily walk-based do not necessarily translate to the major league level. For me, it's much more important to see what the prospect does when he swings the bat - does he make consistent contact and does he sting the ball when he does make contact? If the guy does little more than slap singles here and there when he's not walking, chances are that he won't do as well in the majors, because major league pitchers won't hesitate to throw him strikes.

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. Just because you pay attention to OBP, doesn't mean you can't use IsoP or XBH% as indicators as well.
   24. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 02, 2006 at 03:59 AM (#1929836)
I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. Just because you pay attention to OBP, doesn't mean you can't use IsoP or XBH% as indicators as well.


I don't think they are mutually exclusive, either. But I think that OBP has gotten to the point where it's overvalued by many statistical analysts, and that's why I point out that there's a risk in giving it increased emphasis. There's some truth to the idea that "you can't walk off the island".

-- MWE
   25. Darren Posted: April 03, 2006 at 12:29 AM (#1931229)
This spring has been pretty depressing WRT Pedroia. Early reports were all about how he was a conditioning freak this offseason, and now I'm seeing things that say he put on bad weight. That and the injury that wiped away his entire spring training has totally put a damper on things. Here's hoping he's ready (really ready) to play in Pawtucket at some point in April.

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