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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 03, 2006 at 10:58 PM (#2196461)
They fired Papa Jack? That's really weird. The team hit pretty fine, I don't see a performance problem here.
   2. JB H Posted: October 03, 2006 at 11:43 PM (#2196484)
The biggest piece of evidence by far that we have regarding both these guys abilities is that a reasonably smart team fired them without any apparent off-the-field issues.
   3. villageidiom Posted: October 03, 2006 at 11:57 PM (#2196497)
As outsiders, it’s very hard for us to determine if these are good moves.

I don't have the time, but if someone could compare the people who came to the Sox in 2006 vs. what they did prior, that might make more sense of it. Heck, compare actual 2006 vs. ZiPS 2006. At least that would adjust for park and regress much of Lowell's 2005.

My gut feel is that no hitters significantly outdid their projections, except Ortiz regarding HR. And if it's one guy, it's hard to make the case that the hitting coach had anything to do with it.

To the extent Wallace should be responsible for maintaining the health of the pitchers, he must be canned. That said, for much of the season I think he was in absentia - which puts the onus on Nipper.
   4. Darren Posted: October 04, 2006 at 01:03 AM (#2196638)
But Ortiz improved greatly on joining the Sox and Papa Jack. So he improved greatly and sustained it. Lowell made it back from hell, even though that was probably what should have been expected. Mueller blossomed as did Bellhorn. Agonz probably improved some, and Mirabelli too. Ummm, Damon seemed to get better in 03-05, was that Jackson's tenure?

I might consider absolving Wallace for health reasons, but I wouldn't put the onus on Nipper then. He was thrown into the job at the last minute, his first year, etc.
   5. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: October 04, 2006 at 02:54 AM (#2196901)
i wish there was some way to quantify the impact of coaching, if only so it would give us something concrete to discuss. managers too. maybe we should create a system for quantifying manager decisions during a game. i thought about this the other day when i remembered a game a few years back when jimy(?) took out manny ramirez and put in darren lewis to pinch run, and the game went to extra innings, during which the sox desperately needed manny's bat. i think platoons and lefty/righty pinch-hitter/reliever substitutions would be the easiest to systemtatize, since most managers rely on numbers to some extent to give themselves an edge in those situations.

the problem with coaching as i see it is that there doesn't seem to be an intuitive way to disentangle random fluctuations in hitting/pitching performance from good or bad coaching. some things you can point to as obviously have some (however small) impact on the game, like not having the pitchers hold runners on. obviously stolen bases go way up. but does that turn into more runs, or fewer runs since the pitcher isn't worried about the runner?
   6. toc1918 Posted: October 04, 2006 at 11:33 AM (#2197039)
Jackson was let go because it was stated he had difficulty helping players out of slumps.Considering Cora, AGone and Nixon all hit below .200 after the all-star break maybe there is a kernal of truth(did I mention Kapler slugged .273 ATB, when he was desparately needed). Sox pitching has been a mess for more than one year. None of the kids improved but seemed to regress. That has to fall on the pitching coach.
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 04, 2006 at 12:17 PM (#2197046)
The biggest piece of evidence by far that we have regarding both these guys abilities is that a reasonably smart team fired them without any apparent off-the-field issues.
Well, maybe. But if you're going to regress all our other evidence back to the mean, I don't see how you get any utility out of "reasonably smart" and "without any apparent off-field issues". Those are both really big fudges - are the Red Sox smart at evaluating coaches? How likely would we be to know about what off-field issues?

Basically, I think that if you dismiss the quasi-anecdotal evidence about Jackson and Wallace based on such statistical concerns, your methodology calls for you to say nothing about it at all. Which is a reasonable position, but I think you're trying to get to an optimistic, "Sox know what they're doing" position, and I don't see how that works.

I'm very happy they fired Wallace. They need something new, and they need to shake something up. Hiring the interim pitching coach, though, that's a lot less appealing to me. (Unless he's Clemens bait, in which case he better catch the big fish.)
   8. villageidiom Posted: October 04, 2006 at 12:40 PM (#2197055)
But Ortiz improved greatly on joining the Sox and Papa Jack.

Ortiz himself, while always praising Jackson, has said that he improved upon reaching Boston because he was no longer hitting the way the Twins wanted him to. Apparently the Twins were preaching that the hitters should move the runners along. Ortiz says was chastised for line drive outs to right and congratulated when he grounded out slowly to the right side with a runner on second. He said the Twins celebrated productive outs, like they were as good as getting a hit. When he came to the Sox, someone (maybe Jackson?) saw him trying to pull outside pitches with runners on, and pointed out to him that he should just use his instincts rather than whatever garbage the Twins had instilled.

If that's all Jackson did, this would be evidence that he's merely a replacement level coach. While he would deserve the credit for making the observation if he did, I can't say that any hitting coach wouldn't have told a potential lefty slugger playing in Fenway not to pull outside pitches. Heck, the whiner line on WEEI collectively would be qualified as a hitting coach.

Regarding the Twins... Well, at least Ortiz learned how to bunt.

Lowell made it back from hell, even though that was probably what should have been expected.

I agree; it seems like regression to the mean.

Agonz probably improved some, and Mirabelli too.

For 2006 these, too, seem to me like regression to the mean. For Mirabelli prior to 2006, maybe, but with Mirabelli we always have sample size issues. Damon improved, though how much of that was park?

Having said all that, I was surprised they let Jackson go. On the surface he seems to have had a share of both successes and failures, and it could be argued either way that he should stay or go. I suppose if that's the case they can afford to move on.
   9. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 04, 2006 at 12:47 PM (#2197060)
Hitting coaches help bad hitters more than they help good hitters. Good hitters figure there way out of slumps on their own. Therefore, all the Red Sox have to do is follow the Yankees lead and field a team where everyone hits, and they can hire Johnny Pesky as hitting coach, for all it would matter.
   10. villageidiom Posted: October 04, 2006 at 12:50 PM (#2197061)
I might consider absolving Wallace for health reasons, but I wouldn't put the onus on Nipper then. He was thrown into the job at the last minute, his first year, etc.

Well, I suppose we could absolve Trot for health reasons, too. OK, that's probably a more harsh comparison than is warranted for Wallace. But IIRC his medical condition kept him from serving as pitching coach day-to-day but didn't preclude him from other pitching related activities (scouting, player evaluation - whether on the MLB team or in the minors - and medical evaluations of injured players) here and there. And there were almost no successes under his "watch" that we can credit to him.

I agree on Nipper that he has valid excuses for a poor 2006. I'd like to think, though, that as the year went on we would see improving results as he got to know the pitchers better. And we didn't. I'm not saying he should be canned; I'm just saying we have little in his 2006 track record to suggest he's any better than the man he's replacing.
   11. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 04, 2006 at 01:33 PM (#2197094)
vi -

I think the thing that most fans are pointing to, in regard to Papa Jack, is that the Red Sox have been a run scoring machine over his tenure. You've got all the guys like Mueller and Bellhorn and Ortiz, you've got the improvements from Varitek and Nixon (best season in '03) and all that. It's certianly within the realm of possibility that Papa Jack is no better than average, and JBH would surely caution that we have to assume that, lacking any non-anecdotal evidence, but I think the anecdotal evidence for Papa Jack is much wider than you make it out to be.

On the pitching coach front, this Courant article from yesterday says that it won't be Nip as pitching coach:
It shouldn't take long for the Red Sox to name their successors. According to a source, former Dodgers hitting coach Tim Wallach is a leading candidate to replace Jackson, and Kirk Champion, the White Sox minor league pitching coordinator, will take over for Wallace.
Heuschkel goes on to note that both Wallach and Champion are trusted former colleagues / teammates of Tito's. Basically, Tito's bringing in his guys. This isn't the dynamic I expected, but it seems like these moves serve to give Tito greater control over the clubhouse and the direction of the team.
   12. chris p Posted: October 04, 2006 at 01:43 PM (#2197105)
the white sox seem like a good organization to find a new pitching coach in.
   13. villageidiom Posted: October 04, 2006 at 03:09 PM (#2197201)
You've got all the guys like Mueller and Bellhorn and Ortiz, you've got the improvements from Varitek and Nixon (best season in '03) and all that.

Again, I'll grant you Ortiz - even though his "tutelage" under Jackson happened to coincide with Ortiz entering his prime years. The others you mention were either already in prime or arguably past it when they first met up with Jackson.

Bellhorn OPS+:

2002 133
2003 069
2004 107 <-- came to the Sox
2005 081
2006 066 <-- first full season away from Sox

Mueller:

2002 098
2003 140 <-- came to the Sox
2004 106
2005 112
2006 093 <-- first full season away from Sox

Varitek:

2002 094
2003 120 <-- Jackson's first year with Sox
2004 121
2005 125
2006 085

Nixon:

2002 114
2003 149 <-- Jackson's first year with Sox
2004 123 (in 167 PA)
2005 112
2006 098

If you want to give credit to Jackson for those improvements, fine. But other than Varitek none of those improvements were sustained beyond year 1. In many cases the players soon regressed to something more in line with a natural career progression.

If it were the hitting coach I'd suspect <u>sustained</u> improvements with <u>many</u> players. Jackson might have had an initial impact but has arguably gone past his shelf life.
   14. RobertMachemer Posted: October 04, 2006 at 06:11 PM (#2197483)
I've started doing a study of the Sox pitching in the last 5 years (to explore the impression I have that pitchers have done worse for the Sox than before or after joining the team). Can anyone tell me how I go about finding an average ERA+? For instance, if one pitcher has 100 innings of a 120 ERA+ and another pitcher has 60 innings of a 90 ERA+, that would work out to be 160 innings of... what exactly? Many thanks for any and all help.
   15. chris p Posted: October 04, 2006 at 06:22 PM (#2197498)
from BR: '# ERA+ - the ratio of the league's ERA (adjusted to the pitcher's ballpark) to that of the pitcher. > 100 is above average and < 100 is below average. lgERA / ERA'
   16. Darren Posted: October 04, 2006 at 06:43 PM (#2197549)
vi,

Regarding your points in #10, I was only trying to agree with you (or at least concede) that Wallace's health may have made his gread "incomplete." Wasn't trying to excuse him or anything.

Again, I'll grant you Ortiz - even though his "tutelage" under Jackson happened to coincide with Ortiz entering his prime years. The others you mention were either already in prime or arguably past it when they first met up with Jackson.

You keep saying you're going to grant us Ortiz, but then following that with caveats. There's no way Ortiz's prime years should have been expected to show that big of an improvement. However, you're right to consider age in this equation, but your Varitek/Mueller/Nixon charts do not include such considerations. In each of those cases, the players should have been steadily declining and instead were actually improving or at least staying the same. You can add Manny to that category too.

Again, as outsiders, we don't know if these guys are doing it because of or in spite of Jackson. But I'm going to stick to the conclusion that, from our perspective, the results look favorable for Jackson.
   17. villageidiom Posted: October 04, 2006 at 06:49 PM (#2197560)
ERA+ for Pitcher X
= lgERA / (ERA for Pitcher X)
= lgERA / (ER for Pitcher X / IP for Pitcher X * 9)
= (lgERA * IP for Pitcher X / 9) / (ER for Pitcher X )

Instead of filling in Pitcher X's totals in the boldface places, use the combined stats.

ERA+ for Pitchers A+B
= (lgERA * (A IP + B IP) / 9) / (A ER + B ER)
= (lgERA * (A IP + B IP) / 9) / ( (A IP / 9)*(A ERA) + (B IP / 9)*(B ERA) )
= (lgERA * (A IP + B IP) ) / ( (A IP )*(A ERA) + (B IP )*(B ERA) )
= (lgERA * (A IP) ) / ( (A IP )*(A ERA) + (B IP )*(B ERA) ) + (lgERA * (B IP) ) / ( (A IP )*(A ERA) + (B IP )*(B ERA) )

= 1 / [ ( (A IP )*(A ERA) + (B IP )*(B ERA) ) / ( lgERA * (A IP) ) ]
+ 1 / [ ( (A IP )*(A ERA) + (B IP )*(B ERA) ) / ( lgERA * (B IP) ) ]

= 1 / [ ( (A ERA) + (B IP )/(A IP)*(B ERA) ) / ( lgERA ) ]
+ 1 / [ ( (A IP )/(B IP)*(A ERA) + (B ERA) ) / ( lgERA ) ]

= 1 / [ (A ERA)/(lgERA) + (B IP)/(A IP)*(B ERA)/(lgERA) ]
+ 1 / [ (B ERA)/(lgERA) + (A IP)/(B IP)*(A ERA)/(lgERA) ]

= 1 / [ 1 / (A ERA+) + (B IP)/(A IP) / (B ERA+) ] + 1 / [ 1 / (B ERA+) + (A IP)/(B IP) / (A ERA+) ]

So, in your example, it would be:

= 1 / [ 1/120 + (60/100)/90 ] + 1 / [ 1/90 + (100/60)/120 ]
= 1 / [ 3/360 + 2.4/360 ] + 1 / [ 4/360 + 5/360 ]
= 360/5.4 + 360/9
= 66.7 + 40
= 106.7

There might be a better way to simplify what I'd left bolded above, but it should do.
   18. RobertMachemer Posted: October 04, 2006 at 06:59 PM (#2197588)
Thanks chris p, but I think I didn't explain myself well enough. I understand what ERA+ is and how it works essentially. And for any one pitcher in any one season, I can figure out his ERA+ (given his ERA and a lgERA). But I want to know how to figure out a pitcher's ERA+ for two seasons (or how to average the seasons of two pitchers) with differing amounts of innings pitched.

Fortunately, I remembered it being discussed here -- a google search revealed this thread. Now I just have to figure out what I was talking about in it and I'll be good! :)
   19. RobertMachemer Posted: October 04, 2006 at 07:22 PM (#2197638)
Thank goodness for spreadsheets. That's all I'm gonna say -- life's a lot easier when Microsoft Works does all the heavy lifting...
   20. RobertMachemer Posted: October 04, 2006 at 07:54 PM (#2197724)
Ok, to give you all a sense of what I'm thinking of doing...

I'm looking at all the Red Sox pitchers who pitched for another team from 2000-2006 and 40 (or more) innings in a single season for the Red Sox from 2002-2006. I'm looking at their Red Sox season(s) and their last two seasons (if any) before joining the Sox and their first two seasons (if any) since leaving. If a pitcher came in midseason, I divvy up the performance between with-Sox and pre- or post-Sox (which does mean he ends up getting another 'half-season' of pre- or post-Sox pitching).

Having gotten all this information down, I'm then grouping all the pre-Sox seasons together, organized by age. (So, for instance, Arroyo, Beckett, and Kim all pitched for other teams at the age of 24 -- I'm grouping those seasons together). I'll do the same for with-Sox and post-Sox seasons.

I'll then see what there is to be seen. I don't expect to be able to draw any strong conclusions from the study, but at least I'll have the information organized. And it's possible that it may provide a jumping-off point for analysis of the pitching coaches and/or the Varitek effect over the last 5 years.

Thoughts?
   21. JB H Posted: October 04, 2006 at 10:03 PM (#2198139)
Mikael,

I don't think the fact that the Sox fired them is strong evidence that they suck, but I think it's stronger evidence than volume of puff pieces written or team ERA. I do think that this is something that's mostly unknowable for us, so maybe I misrepresented my belief by saying anything at all.
   22. Rough Carrigan Posted: October 05, 2006 at 03:09 AM (#2198595)
I certainly hope the new pitching coach, whoever it is, can teach a changeup.
   23. Rough Carrigan Posted: October 05, 2006 at 03:20 AM (#2198597)
Regarding Tito making the choices, I share Darren's skepticism. His grasp of the big picture interests of the organization seemed a little sketchy the last month as he continued to kiss veterans' asses like Mark Loretta and Gabe Kapler. From playing Millar and sitting Youkilis last year to playing Mark freaking Loretta at first base instead of Pena and Kapler instead of Murphy, Tito never fails to fellate the worthless and/or futureless vet. At some point doesn't rewarding favorites and keeping clubhouse harmony have to give way to the long term interest of the team? Maybe that's overstating it a bit but he did go a bit overboard.
   24. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 05, 2006 at 03:36 AM (#2198602)
From playing Millar and sitting Youkilis last year to playing Mark freaking Loretta at first base instead of Pena and Kapler instead of Murphy, Tito never fails to fellate the worthless and/or futureless vet.
When was Millar playing instead of Youkilis? For the most part, Youkilis was in AAA, and by September, Olerud was playing 1B regularly. As I see it, the Millar/Youkilis '05 thing is on Theo, not Tito. I don't really see the point of playing Pena in place of Loretta - neither is going to start on a good Sox team. Murphy/Kapler I guess you can make the case, but we're talking about maybe 5-7 games.

As far as I'm concerned, Tito put Youkilis in the lineup, made Papelbon the closer, put Lester in the rotation, and integrated the young guys into the bullpen. In terms of playing time, he seems to be just fine. The questions about him are whether he can develop these young players, not whether he's prejudiced against them.
   25. RobertMachemer Posted: October 05, 2006 at 02:47 PM (#2198808)
Tito never fails to fellate the worthless and/or futureless vet.
I'm not sure this is true, though I think he does have the tendency (as many managers do) to lean towards the veterans who have been there, rather than younger unknown players. I was very surprised when he played Youkilis over Snow. He also moved Papelbon into the closer's slot immediately instead of using Timlin there first. I can't remember how quickly he did it, but I think he gave the relatively untested (at that point) Delcarmen a fairly large role in the pen over Tavarez and Seanez a little sooner than I would have expected. If nothing else, I think Francona is a far cry from Jimy "Frye in the outfield over Alcantara and Pride" Williams, even if he does play some veterans more than you or I would prefer.
   26. AROM Posted: October 05, 2006 at 02:54 PM (#2198814)
If that's all Jackson did, this would be evidence that he's merely a replacement level coach.

You severly overestimate replacement level for hitting coaches. Case in point: Mickey Hacker.

I'd love to see the Angels welcome back Ron Jackson.
   27. villageidiom Posted: October 05, 2006 at 08:56 PM (#2199652)
But I want to know how to figure out a pitcher's ERA+ for two seasons (or how to average the seasons of two pitchers) with differing amounts of innings pitched.

Then all that algebra I gave above is worthless, because I was assuming (based on your original request) that you were combining two different pitchers' stats for one season. If that were the case, lgERA would be the same in both cases and the algebra works. If you're combining different seasons, you have two different values for lgERA and the whole thing falls apart.

You severly overestimate replacement level for hitting coaches. Case in point: Mickey Hacker.

That the Angels employ a coach who is below replacement level does not materially affect the general definition of replacement level. Heck, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have a below-replacement-level team name.
   28. RobertMachemer Posted: October 05, 2006 at 09:00 PM (#2199656)
all that algebra I gave above is worthless, because I was assuming (based on your original request) that you were combining two different pitchers' stats for one season. If that were the case, lgERA would be the same in both cases and the algebra works. If you're combining different seasons, you have two different values for lgERA and the whole thing falls apart.
No worries, and thanks very much for the help. Fortunately, I don't need to just use innings and ERA+ -- using "earned runs allowed" makes it a fairly trivial matter (at least on the spreadsheet).
   29. Exploring Leftist Conservatism since 2008 (ark..) Posted: October 08, 2006 at 05:40 AM (#2203618)
Sox pitching has been a mess for more than one year. None of the kids improved but seemed to regress. That has to fall on the pitching coach.


Zero credit for Papelbon going from an ERA+ of 166 to that astounding 500??

Sox fans make for a rough crowd...
   30. Dave Cyprian Posted: October 08, 2006 at 01:02 PM (#2203705)
Hijack: Tell me I'm not the only one who has followed the MFY for the last couple years and been so thankful we didn't end up with A-Rod. What a headcase.
   31. RobertMachemer Posted: October 08, 2006 at 05:16 PM (#2203834)
Hijack: Tell me I'm not the only one who has followed the MFY for the last couple years and been so thankful we didn't end up with A-Rod. What a headcase.
I'm a pretty big fan of who the Sox kept instead of getting ARod, but given that that player was Manny Ramirez, are you sure "what a headcase" is appropriate?

Anyway, I'd be happy to have ARod playing shortstop for the Sox right now, even if it meant not having Manny Ramirez. At worst, the media-and-jealousy-fueled crusade to bring Alex Rodriguez low could not be any worse in Boston than it is in New York. (It might well be just as bad, but it's hard to imagine its being worse). He's been playing out-of-position for three years under that crush of impossible expectation and still has been one of the most valuable players in baseball. Perhaps he hasn't been as good as he can be -- he's still been plenty good (and would have been even more valuable playing shortstop instead of being forced elsewhere by Captain Pasta Diving).
   32. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: October 09, 2006 at 12:57 PM (#2204531)
Francona needs to be fired. The Red Sox should go get Bobby Valentine from the Marines, and have him bring Watanabe, Yabuta, and Nishioka with him. I'm sure 20 million dollars in posting dollars should do it, and the individual contracts should be relatively reasonable.

Hey, Real Madrid got Capello and had him bring Cannavaro and Emerson with him, why can't the Sox do the same thing? (Juventus was a sunk ship, but you know what I mean)
   33. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: October 09, 2006 at 01:00 PM (#2204535)
I meant Fujita, that's my bad. Yes, I want them to bring a LOOGY from Japan.
   34. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: October 11, 2006 at 08:43 AM (#2206660)
If they sign Zito, I'll ####### kill myself.

The Yankees can have him and his poofy guitar playing ways.
   35. Darren Posted: October 12, 2006 at 02:51 AM (#2207909)
Sounding a little homophobic there, Phil.
   36. Fat Al Posted: October 12, 2006 at 08:43 PM (#2208627)
The Yankees can have him and his poofy guitar playing ways.

Coming from a Red Sox fan, you have to assume that was sarcastic, given that the Sox have institutionalized guitar playing, poofy or otherwise.
   37. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 12, 2006 at 09:51 PM (#2208703)
None of the guitarists mentioned or alluded to above come close to making the Rolling Stones' Top 100 List.
   38. Babe Ruths Chris Steak Posted: November 17, 2006 at 10:33 PM (#2240709)

If they sign Zito, I'll ####### kill myself.

The Yankees can have him and his poofy guitar playing ways.


Righ wit ya there Bruce...
Rule #1: No Poofters
   39. base ball chick Posted: November 17, 2006 at 10:57 PM (#2240735)
so dave wallace is a lousy pitching coach?

wonderful

because he's now with my astros.

maybe he will be fine with a change of players. youneverknow

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