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   1. dave h Posted: January 14, 2007 at 05:00 AM (#2280270)
Are any of these deals more than one year? They have the money, and there aren't really many attractive free agents they could have signed instead (other than the ones they did sign). The only downside I see is reducing their chances of picking up someone's salary dump during the year, which can be an efficient way of acquiring mid-range talent. That might not even be the case this year, since most contracts look pretty good compared with the current market.
   2. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 14, 2007 at 05:27 AM (#2280275)
Every day the Drew deal doesn't get finalized, I think more and more that there's a reason why.
   3. Josh Posted: January 14, 2007 at 07:45 PM (#2280428)
Cora is 2 yrs, 4mm, with some playing time incentives. But he is just about good enough to start - though not good enough to be particularly above average - so you'd have to pay a premium to have him not start, all things being equal.

Hinski has one year remaining.

The #5 OF is possibly Murphy, on the shuttle with whoever is the #12 pitcher going the opposite direction (and, there will likely be a lot of DL use with this bullpen, too; it ain't young).

After having seem Machado play a bit in AAA and the few times in the majors, I'm now convinced I was 100% wrong about him: he can't really play good defense. He seems to just be in the wrong place most of the time. His BIP data for this year seem to indicate that this is correct, but I'd not call that conclusive proof. Link.
   4. tfbg9 Posted: January 14, 2007 at 08:06 PM (#2280441)
I wonder if they are worth the cost.

If they more or less play up to the level they always have, then yes they are worth it.
   5. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 14, 2007 at 08:18 PM (#2280446)
Would the Red Sox have been better off with A. Machado as their utility infielder, some AAAA guy as their 1b/3b guy, and Nixon in the OF mix, thus saving them enough money to overpay Gagne and/or Dotel and/or Speier?

1) No. Drew is younger and not more fragile than Nixon, and comes with better D and no horrible platoon split -- and has the advantage of never having slugged under .400, which Nixon did just last year. Dotel & Gagne were signed for $5 million and $6 million respectively; Gagne's has performance incentives. Combined, those guys have thrown a total of 40 innings over the last two seasons. To pay more than they're already making strikes me as lunacy, and the off chance that either of them is both healthy and good does not offset the fact that you need a better-than-average backup if you're going to be starting a rookie who slugged .428 in AAA last year at 2B. Speier is 32, has exactly three truly worthwhile seasons on his resume in what has now been a nine year career, walks too many guys, and was signed to a 4-year contract. No thanks.

2) They have the money; what's the problem? I doubt that if the Red Sox took any of these guys seriously -- which, at these prices, I certainly don't -- they wouldn't have just got them.
   6. Margo Adams FC Posted: January 15, 2007 at 05:22 AM (#2280547)
Cora is only good enough to start on the Pirates; I can't think of a single other MLB franchise where he'd be an upgrade as a starter, and that includes Colorado with Barmes and Carroll for competition. I think his primary role is to be Francona's security blanky. I think Hinske and what he can do is a good value for a one-year commitment. I think the front office sees Closer Search as a cost-efficient option for right now, nothing more. I think they may even reasonably hope to transform some of that 3B/OF depth into a closer if nothing works out in-house. So in a way they're buying themselves time and options even if the pen looks mediocre at the moment.
   7. Darren Posted: January 15, 2007 at 05:26 PM (#2280665)
Depth charge! You get it?


Maybe I shouldn't have included Drew in this discussion because he's really in a different category from the other two. The point is really that they have 2 bench players taking up $5 mil in payroll while they've gone very cheap in the pen. They could have used that money + Romero's and brought in Dotel or Gagne. Both are pretty risky but they also fill a very big need. Or they could have done the same with Speier, who although he is not perfect, has a much better track record than anyone they've got right now.

I don't mean this to be an indictment. They obviously have a lot more information about the health and availability of all these guys. I'm actually pretty excited to see how Pineiro works out, even though he's a big risk. I'm just throwing an alternate angle on the roster construction out there.
   8. Margo Adams FC Posted: January 15, 2007 at 05:54 PM (#2280677)
There's no question that I'd rather have Speier than Cora + Romero + Pineiro right now, though I'm not as sure that I'd want Speier in 2010. I too am intrigued by Pineiro, much the way I was intrigued by Seanez a year ago...
   9. villageidiom Posted: January 17, 2007 at 04:29 AM (#2281566)
They could have used that money + Romero's and brought in Dotel or Gagne. Both are pretty risky but they also fill a very big need.

If they're risky, they simply can't be trusted to fill a very big need.

It seems that what people are looking for is the prototype closer/stopper/relief ace. Rivera, Hoffman, Isringhausen, Nathan... guys who are very successful and generally very healthy. They're low risk / high reward. THAT'S the big need. You can't count on Gagne, Dotel, Speier, Cordero, or countless others to fill that need, much as you couldn't count on Foulke to come back in 2006. (Or 2007.)
   10. Darren Posted: January 17, 2007 at 05:05 AM (#2281585)
If they're risky, they simply can't be trusted to fill a very big need.

Okay, but then what's the solution? Do you instead spend your money to overstock depth, rather than sign a risky guy who at least MIGHT solve your closer problem? I'd like to take a risk on an elite arms with big injury risks rather than spending on a couple of known mediocrities.
   11. villageidiom Posted: January 17, 2007 at 03:09 PM (#2281702)
Okay, but then what's the solution? Do you instead spend your money to overstock depth, rather than sign a risky guy who at least MIGHT solve your closer problem?

I don't see them as having a closer problem. The team is going to rack up 40-45 saves, even with the people they have out there. It likely won't be from one guy, and it won't make you (or me) feel any better with a close lead in the 9th, and they will lose some close games. But they'll still largely get the job done.

What you're implying by emphasizing the closer so strongly is that the team cannot succeed without one. If that's true, then it also follows that the whole season is shot if the closer goes down. And if that's true, it's not worth spending the big bucks on a closer unless you either (a) get someone who is not likely to get hurt, or (b) get two or more of them. (a) is not available, and (b) is cost-prohibitive.

If money is no object and length of contract is not a concern, then you sign Gagne AND two or three other "elite arms with big injury risks". If not, you need to find other relievers, and you need to start with a great amount of depth because you have to guard against the risk of everyone sucking.
   12. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 17, 2007 at 03:52 PM (#2281728)
I don't see them as having a closer problem. The team is going to rack up 40-45 saves, even with the people they have out there. It likely won't be from one guy, and it won't make you (or me) feel any better with a close lead in the 9th, and they will lose some close games. But they'll still largely get the job done.
Well, sure. And Jose Offerman "largely got the job done" at second base. The absolutes don't matter - we all know that without a catcher, the ball rolls to the backstop - what matters is all in comparison. And there's a very good chance that the Red Sox will have really terrible high-leverage pitching, compared to their competition. That's a big competitive disadvantage, something that could cost us several games easily. That fact that the team will get 40 saves is as immaterial as the fact that Offerman recorded over 300 assists.

Put differently: if the Red Sox have a worse closer than the Yankees, Twins, A's, Angels, White Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Rangers, and Indians, don't they have a closer problem?

The question, the thing I don't and probably can't know, is what they could have done about it. The Sox' reasons for not paying for Dotel/Gagne/Speier aren't particularly knowable to us - the issues are not statistical, they're about observation and medical reports. If the Sox had signed one of those guys, I'd feel the same way, that I hope the Sox know what they're doing, and I'm sadly not in a position to really judge. Further, I'm not in a position to judge what happened to Papelbon's shoulder last September, and not in a position to judge whether starting or closing is the best way to keep that thing from happening again.

I think that's all Darren is saying here. He's not saying that he knows that Octavio Dotel was the guy to get, and they shoulda let someone go from the bench to sign him. He's saying that it may well turn out to be a better idea to buy relief pitching than bench depth.

I still think there's a pretty good chance that Tavarez is in the rotation and Li'l Papi back in the bullpen by April. I think there's a non-zero chance that Joel Pineiro really does have closer stuff. But there's also a pretty good chance that the Sox will be stuck with a couple of 105 ERA+ guys trying to close games - mixed in with some bad pitchers - and that's a scary thought.
   13. villageidiom Posted: January 19, 2007 at 12:41 AM (#2282796)
Put differently: if the Red Sox have a worse closer than the Yankees, Twins, A's, Angels, White Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Rangers, and Indians, don't they have a closer problem?

The A's and Twins have had lower revenues than many teams, but do they have a revenue "problem"? No, because the lower revenue does not prevent them from competing. They certainly have a revenue deficiency, but that's only a revenue "problem" if their only way to compete is to have more revenue.

Likewise, just because other teams have better closers (and if I understand correctly you're including Todd Jones as one of them!) doesn't make it a problem, unless it inhibits their ability to compete. I don't think that's what will potentially hold the Red Sox back, because I don't think it matters as much as others clearly do. I think a lot of who succeeds in relief is a crapshoot from year to year - except for a select few, and they're not available.
   14. Darren Posted: January 19, 2007 at 12:51 AM (#2282801)
Vi,

It sounds like you're going through a bunch of gymnastic semantics there. My point is that I think there's a good chance a lack of closer (ace reliever, whatever) will the Sox more than a lack of an excellent 3rd option at 3b/5th OF like Hinske and other such depth.
   15. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 19, 2007 at 01:00 AM (#2282809)
Likewise, just because other teams have better closers (and if I understand correctly you're including Todd Jones as one of them!) doesn't make it a problem, unless it inhibits their ability to compete.
Would it "inhibit their ability to compete" if the Red Sox signed Ted Lilly instead of Daisuke? Probably not. They'd still compete. Would it be something worth worrying about? Unquestionably. Would it make the Red Sox worse? Yup.

How bad does a player have to be, or how much worse than other options, before he "inhibits their ability to compete"? That seems like an incredibly low bar. Could you define it with more specificity?

And, as I was pointing out, we don't really know how bad the Sox pen will be. We know that Donnelly and Timlin are about Jones-level, but with more question marks - I'd rather have Jones, homophobia aside. It's possible that Pineiro or Delcarmen or one of the young kids could give the Red Sox a good closer, but we have really no idea. The point here is that (a) I don't believe that it was impossible to build a good bullpen over the offseaosn, and (b) the Sox may well not have built a good bullpen, and so, I worry they didn't do a very good job.

You seem to be preparing to argue that, if/when the bullpen is bad, it was random chance. I reject the explanatory power of random chance in regard to a system where those making the choices have far, far more and better information than we do. It's possible they made great choices and got unlucky, but how the hell are we to know - the citation of random chance in baseball analysis seems to me to usually work to reinforce previous assumptions when the evidence doesn't fit. I think that as an analytic concept, it is deeply problematic, even though random chance is very real.
   16. Darren Posted: January 19, 2007 at 01:05 AM (#2282812)
the citation of random chance in baseball analysis seems to me to usually work to reinforce previous assumptions when the evidence doesn't fit.

I think people on this site are generally pretty honest when citing chance. For every fanboy using it as an excuse, there are a couple of people who use to explain things that are really likely chance.
   17. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 19, 2007 at 01:08 AM (#2282816)
I think people on this site are generally pretty honest when citing chance. For every fanboy using it as an excuse, there are a couple of people who use to explain things that are really likely chance.
Maybe. I don't want to get into a really big thing about it - and as such, shouldn't have put that in there...

But are you going to argue, if the Sox bullpen sucks, that they just got unlucky and couldn't really have done better? That, to me, would be an example of random chance as excuse.
   18. Darren Posted: January 19, 2007 at 03:23 AM (#2282877)
I would not argue that, I'd argue that they did a pretty lousy job of constructing a pen. But I'd say some of it is probably random chance, and I would do the same if they had a great bullpen.
   19. Darren Posted: January 19, 2007 at 03:35 AM (#2282889)
Craig Hansen, kevin. Craig Hansen. :)
   20. villageidiom Posted: January 19, 2007 at 01:55 PM (#2282966)
You seem to be preparing to argue that, if/when the bullpen is bad, it was random chance.

Ah, trying to reach beyond what I'm saying to a strawman on what I might say in the future. Well played!

What I'm saying is that everyone seems damn sure they should have gotten a closer. But the track record for this team, and many others, is to commit to one guy with "closer material" only to find out that what their closer really had was an unsustainable track record, either due to wear and tear, or due to the pitcher's track record simply having been flukey. If that happens, a team will have commmitted closer money (& potentially a long-term contract if a free agent, or prospects if via a trade) to someone who just isn't worth it.

There are very few guys out there who have a closing record of 3+ years running that cannot be described as above. Very few have sustained success. And, understandably, those players are not available. What I'm arguing against is that the next tier of players fills our needs, or that simply doing away with $8-9 million on the bench will take care of it. B.J. Ryan had one good year of closing in Baltimore, but he had good stuff; his price in a less crazy market than this was $47 million over 5 years. Let's assume the proper cost for someone like him in today's market is $44m/4 or $51m/5. Who, among available players, would you have spent that on?
   21. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 19, 2007 at 02:30 PM (#2282971)
Who, among available players, would you have spent that on?
I don't know. I think I've said that several times - I don't know what a better solution would have been because, from our vantage point so far back on the sidelines, we can't really tell. Reliever stats are such a small sample that everything sub-Ryan looks like a big fluke to us. I think baseball teams can tell, though, with some level of confidence, whether Gagne or Dotel or Speier or Pineiro or Cox is the best option. If it turns out that several guys were better choices than what we ended up with, whether by their success or our guys' failure, I think that will be meaningful. That's what Darren's pointing out here - there were other ways of arranging our money this offseason, and most involved more spending at the front of the bullpen, which appears to be a notable weakness for the Sox.
Ah, trying to reach beyond what I'm saying to a strawman on what I might say in the future. Well played!
So, if the Red Sox bullpen sucks, you probably will say they did a bad job constructing a bullpen? You still seem to be arguing that the Red Sox bullpen is the best of all possible worlds, as far as anyone can know, and so you still seem to be preparing to argue that if it goes to crap, they won't have made any mistakes.
   22. Darren Posted: January 19, 2007 at 08:41 PM (#2283211)
Ah, trying to reach beyond what I'm saying to a strawman on what I might say in the future. Well played!

I thought this too at first glance. But look back at your post #13--you essentially say that any success or failure this year will be largely based on good or bad luck. It follows from that that after the season, if the Sox pen is bad, you'll attribute it to bad luck.
   23. karlmagnus Posted: January 19, 2007 at 09:08 PM (#2283230)
It's surely possible to tell. If they suck owing to a blizzard of injuries, like last year's rotation, it's bad luck. If they all blow every lead they're given without obvious signs of injury, it's bad construction. Sample sizes over a season aren't THAT small.

Personally I'm fairly optimistic. I wouldn't have bothered with Timlin, but Delcarmen and Hansen are still improving, and one or other of Donnelley or Pineiro ought to be well above average. A bullpen with a 100 ERA+ isn't a disaster. Given the offense and starting pitching, the bullpen should be holding 5 run leads in the 8th and 9th rather than 1 run leads as last year.
   24. villageidiom Posted: January 20, 2007 at 03:31 PM (#2283535)
I think baseball teams can tell, though, with some level of confidence, whether Gagne or Dotel or Speier or Pineiro or Cox is the best option.

On what evidence? Baseball teams in general have been pretty sucky at this. I agree that we should expect them to know better than us - after all, this is what their job is. MLB hitters should hit better than us, but that doesn't mean they'll hit .800. They still fail most of the time, even though they're doing better than the rest of us could.

I fully expect teams to fail at this part of roster construction, because I've seen few teams succeed at it consistently. And, given that, to me it doesn't seem like a wise use of resources.

So, if the Red Sox bullpen sucks, you probably will say they did a bad job constructing a bullpen?

Yes. Results are results, and I can't call them good if they're not.

You still seem to be arguing that the Red Sox bullpen is the best of all possible worlds, as far as anyone can know, and so you still seem to be preparing to argue that if it goes to crap, they won't have made any mistakes.

I'm arguing that I'm satisfied with the roster construction, in terms of decent bench depth at seven positions vs. a risky closer option. Because of the nature of the beast, we won't know if the Red Sox bullpen is "the best of all possible worlds" until well into the season. We also won't know until then if taking a risk on Gagne, etc., was worth it, either. Likewise, we won't know if we needed that bench depth.

Preparing for contingencies is part of the job. But most bullpens are contingencies, because relievers have some of the more flukey track records among MLB players. If they're spending guaranteed dollars, I'd want them to get guaranteed performance. And the best relief options don't accept incentive-laden, low-guaranteed-$ contracts.

Also... People seem to be talking a lot with Future Villageidiom. Tell him I said hi. Ask him for some stock tips while you're at it.
   25. villageidiom Posted: January 20, 2007 at 03:46 PM (#2283540)
As a followup to my last snarky sentence there... It seems to me like y'all think my motives are simply a set-up for excusing the team down the road should things go badly. I'm trying to discuss present-day decision-making, as that was really the genesis of the thread. It's clear that I have a different opinion, and one that may prove to be wrong. But I'd expect the thinking fan to spend more time discussing the merits of the argument itself than flailing at possible hidden agendas.

I'm sorry if I've mischaracterized or misconstrued your responses; that's simply how they appeared to me after rereading. I was wondering how I ended up in the position of having to defend Future Villageidiom when he wasn't even part of the discussion in the first place.
   26. Darren Posted: January 20, 2007 at 11:05 PM (#2283697)
I think the reason your future opinions came up is because they would seem to be the logical next step from saying that bullpen construction is pretty much a crapshoot. For instance, I would say right now that the playoffs are pretty much a crapshoot, so if the Red Sox lose in the first round next year, my explanation will mostly be that things didn't bounce their way.

I don't think that either MCoA or myself ascribed to you any sort of sinister excuse-making, but I could see how you'd read it that way. I think it was just a difference of opinion about how possible it is for team's to build a bullpen without a stud like Mariano/Nathan/etc.
   27. villageidiom Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:02 PM (#2284300)
think the reason your future opinions came up is because they would seem to be the logical next step from saying that bullpen construction is pretty much a crapshoot.

Why is it the "logical next step" from that opinion, and not others?
   28. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:11 PM (#2284310)
Just to be clear, I don't think you're being insincere or something. I just think you're wrong - that's the point of this place, right?
Why is it the "logical next step" from that opinion, and not others?
Please explain. It's the logical next step because you said that bullpen construction (sans Rivera) is a crapshoot. That means that the results of bullpen construction are the effect of luck - that seems like a pretty straightforward connection. That means that if the Sox have a bad bullpen (or if they have a real good one!), the cause will likely have been random chance rather than the work of the front office or coaching staff. That seemed to me to be quite clearly what you were saying. Am I wrong? If so, could you explain what you mean by "crapshoot"?
   29. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:18 PM (#2284317)
I'm arguing that I'm satisfied with the roster construction, in terms of decent bench depth at seven positions vs. a risky closer option. Because of the nature of the beast, we won't know if the Red Sox bullpen is "the best of all possible worlds" until well into the season. We also won't know until then if taking a risk on Gagne, etc., was worth it, either. Likewise, we won't know if we needed that bench depth.
I guess I want to know what "satisfied" means. Me, I'm "concerned." I don't know what the Sox should have done better, but I'm skeptical that what they've done is very good, and it could turn out very bad. You seem to be suggesting the same - that maybe it was worth it to take a risk on Gagne, etc. I'm not going to be shouting ahead of time that the Sox should have done X, but I think that hidsight will inform us on that score, and if there are a sufficient number of superior moves that the Sox did not make, and if the bullpen struggles, I'll be confident in saying that the Red Sox did a bad job of constructing a bullpen.

It seems to me that if you consider bullpen construction (sans Rivera) pretty much a crapshoot, you will not be able to argue they did a bad job - I'm bringing up future villageidiom because your present arguments seem to be quite constraining on the poor man. I'd like to let future vi and future MCoA roam free, ready to form new opinions based on new information.
   30. dave h Posted: January 22, 2007 at 06:19 PM (#2284521)
I would say that variance in the bullpen is quite a bit larger than variance in other parts of the roster. There are pitchers for whom this is not true, and that alone is worth paying a premium. None of those pitchers, as far as a I could tell, were on the market this year. The Sox could have paid more for an increase in the mean performance, certainly, but there is a good chance, because the variances are so large, that they wouldn't see much or any actual improvement. Therefore, even though the bench is a less important part of the roster, they could get more for the investment by spending there. That's how I see it.
   31. villageidiom Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:50 PM (#2286859)
Why is it the "logical next step" from that opinion, and not others?

Please explain.


Let me use an example.

Darren: I'd like to take a risk on an elite arms with big injury risks rather than spending on a couple of known mediocrities.

Matt Clement of Alexandria: You seem to be preparing to argue that, if/when the bullpen is bad, they should have done better. We don't know what a better solution would have been because, from our vantage point so far back on the sidelines, we can't really tell.


Of course, that's an example of something that didn't happen. Now, I'm certain that Darren was not trying to set himself up for future arguments any more than I was. But I was being called out for it.

Look, I don't have as much time in my day as I used to. I've returned to work, but mrsidiom still needs a lot of help at home. I have the sense that every team's fans think their team could do better with their bullpen every year, and I've seen little evidence that teams can consistently find quality talent for the front of their pen. But I just don't have the time to dig into something like this any more. That makes it all the more frustrating when the opinion is (seemingly) dismissed as an attempt to set up for a future cop-out.

If you want to hold the front office accountable for their inability to cobble together a decent bullpen, if you want to say that "knowing a lot better than us" means "doing a lot better than us", that's fine. But I'm sure if you look at the successes and failures of each team' bullpen choices for the last, say, 4-5 years, you'll see a mixed bag. That would help demonstrate whether identification of front-line bullpen talent, or bullpen talent in general, is a front-office skill on par with hitting .200 (all MLB talent should), or hitting .360 (few should), or hitting .800 (not happening anytime soon). It seems easy enough to do, but I just don't have that kind of time, and it really bugs me that I don't.
   32. pkb33 Posted: January 29, 2007 at 12:46 AM (#2287776)
Pretty sure Hinske's cap charge is less than some AAAA guy's would be...his AAV is just under $3 mil, but the Sox are getting $2.8 mil from Toronto for him and that comes off the AAV. So his AAV for lux tax is only $200 k I believe.

The reason his cap charge isn't salary ($5.6 mil) - subsidy is that this would double-tax his salary, since he's counted against the cap for $3 mil a year since signing, all that's left to 'tax'is $3 mil in the final year of the deal, 2007.

I also think there's no chance that the Sox let Gagne or Dotel go over a million bucks or two. They didn't want them at anything close ot the price, I have to figure. Nothing they have done suggests to me that they will make a decision based on 1-2 mil.

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