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   1. Dave Cyprian Posted: April 14, 2007 at 12:02 PM (#2334732)
A fantastic job. Not many other managers in baseball would bring their "closer" in the 8th. But it sounds like Sox brass is drinking the "relief ace" Kool-Aid and the results speak for themselves.

That last fastball to Vladdy, just in under the bat head, man that was the best fastball I've seen since some kid struck out Michael Young last week. And I just have to say, it seems to me that Captain Straightball is getting more and more confident, and his fastball is getting straighter and straighter.... Those were like white laser beams to Vladdy... And yet again, the results... wow.
   2. Dave Cyprian Posted: April 14, 2007 at 12:38 PM (#2334737)
Rob Bradford apparently picked up this perspective on the Papelball from the new pitching coach:

As pitching coach John Farrell points out when he lets go of the ball it is directly out in front of his body, which often can blend in with the uniform.
   3. Darren Posted: April 14, 2007 at 12:46 PM (#2334739)
Papelbon seems to thrive mostly on stuff, rather than location. He seems to miss the target fairly often, but it doesn't seem to matter with a high-90s fastball with movement and a high-80s splitter.

Remy seems obsessed with Papelbon economizing on # of pitches. Not sure if that's just him or something he's hearing from the Red Sox brain trust. I don't think Pap needs to worry about pitch counts so much as being used too often or sitting for long innings.

His usage may kill my fantasy team, however. But I'll deal with it for the good of the Red Sox!
   4. Darren Posted: April 14, 2007 at 12:50 PM (#2334741)
The other really nice thing about this usage was the flexibility. Try to get through the low-leverage 8th with Donnelly, then go to Papelbon only when things get hairy. If Donnelly shuts them down and the Red Sox don't score, you probably see Papelbon get some work in in a low-lev save in the 9th. Really good stuff.
   5. philly Posted: April 14, 2007 at 02:04 PM (#2334761)
Just to be the turd in the punchbowl...

3.3 IP in 9 G prorates out to 59.4 IP. He pitched 68.3 IP despite missing a month.

By BP's LEV:

2006 - 2.05
2007 - 1.39

All meaningless at this point, of course, but was curious enough to check his LEV so far and was surprised to see it so low.

Although to up the contrarian ante and really bring it full circle - most 1970s era closers had LEV scores round 1.4 so maybe the Sox are going for Jamesian LEV only with half the innings pitched.
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 14, 2007 at 02:17 PM (#2334767)
I don't know how BP does their calculations (let me guess, black box!), but Fangraphs has Papelbon's LI at 2.41. (That's quite high, that is.)

Fangraphs calculates by every PA, which means that Papelbon's true-LI may actually be somewhat higher, becuase, having not allowed a baserunner, he's never created leverage to work himself out of. I have no earthly idea how Papelbon could have an LI under 2 after his usage so far. The BP number doesn't pass the smell test for me.
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 14, 2007 at 02:24 PM (#2334771)
Also, how is Papelbon 5th in the majors in "WXRL" when he has both the fewest innings and the second-lowest "LEV" among the top ten pitchers? The numbers on that page confuse me. I actually think they might make more sense if there's a typo in there, and Papelbon's LI should be 2.39. The 2006 numbers - LI and LEV - agree almost exactly, and it is striking that if you just add 1 to his LEV, you get his LI.

Contra my black box snark, apparently the work is published in BP 2005, and here's the definition:
Mathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring (or allowing) one run at the start of the game.
Is it possible that the "one additional run" thing changes the calculations? But it seems to me like that would make Papelbon's entry in the Rangers game just that much more valuable if there is a methodological difference there. So I dunno.
   8. Xander Posted: April 14, 2007 at 02:30 PM (#2334772)
BP's numbers aren't updated through today. They only include the two Papelbon outings: one 3-run, 1 inning save and the Texas save. I would still think it would be higher, but just FYI.
   9. Xander Posted: April 14, 2007 at 02:32 PM (#2334773)
That's actually a lie. They are updated. My B.
   10. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 14, 2007 at 02:35 PM (#2334776)
No, they've got 3.1 IP for Papelbon. They're fully updated - they're just weird.

By the way, I was at the game last night, and I don't think I'd seen Papelbon live since early last year. The roar when he came to the mound was the loudest cheer of the night, rivaled only by Big Papi's two clutch at-bats. I hadn't quite realized it, but I think Papelbon is now pretty solidly the #2 fan favorite. That's pretty cool.
   11. Darren Posted: April 14, 2007 at 02:35 PM (#2334777)
Just to be the turd in the punchbowl...


This should be your handle. Or mine.

According to the book, Texas situation was far lower leverage (1.2) than the LA game (2.3). That's completely counterintuitive to me, because a) the Texas game was closer, b) the Sox had two turns at plate left in the LA game. Am I reading that chart wrong?

Anywho, these were as high-leverage situations as the Red Sox faced and they were also against the heart of the opposing order.

As far as Pap's usage, he could have been brought out to pitch the 9th, as most managers would have, and he'd be on pace for 70+ IP. But that would have done nothing to help the team win. After his last appearance, he was on pace for 54 g., 72 IP. That's about equal to what other closers do in terms of IP.
   12. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: April 14, 2007 at 03:00 PM (#2334785)
Btw, do you guys still think Okajima should be LOOGYed or no? Lopez should be LOOGYed for sure.
   13. philly Posted: April 14, 2007 at 04:19 PM (#2334816)
Ha, I was just goofing around before running errands, but yeah the LEV score doesn't make much sense once I started thinking about it. But I did find it humorous that beneath the effusive praise for Francona's Jamesian usage of Paps there seems to be a very strong desire to limit his actual IP.

He can still have a big WPA-type impact, but I project a 100% chance that at some point Darren is going to notice the number of IP that Paps has and it ain't gonna be "kudos to Tito!"
   14. Xander Posted: April 14, 2007 at 04:28 PM (#2334820)
I don't see another situation this year where it would have been logical to put him in the game. IOW, I have never once said this year, "Papelbon should be in there right now." I'm sure, at least I would hope, that there will be 5 or 6 game stretches where he is used 3 or 4 times.
   15. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 14, 2007 at 04:48 PM (#2334830)
According to the book, Texas situation was far lower leverage (1.2) than the LA game (2.3). That's completely counterintuitive to me, because a) the Texas game was closer, b) the Sox had two turns at plate left in the LA game. Am I reading that chart wrong?
The score differential in the chart isn't calibrated to the pitching team, but to the home team. The situation in terms of Tango's chart is 1st+3rd, -1. That's a 3.3 LI situation.
   16. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 14, 2007 at 04:54 PM (#2334835)
Sorry, now I'm misreading the chart. It was 4.9 LI. Jesus.

The Fangraphs site, awesomely, now has play logs for each game with the LI of each PA listed.

4/8: Sox 3, Rangers 2
4/13: Sox 10, Angels 1
   17. bibigon Posted: April 14, 2007 at 05:49 PM (#2334890)
Why does a team's win expectancy start off at 50%? Shouldn't there be some home field advantage in there? Do home teams historically actually have zero advantage?
   18. tfbg9 Posted: April 14, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2334895)
actually have zero advantage?


They have an advantage.
   19. bibigon Posted: April 14, 2007 at 06:02 PM (#2334899)
So then does WPA not take into account home field?
   20. PJ Martinez Posted: April 14, 2007 at 06:14 PM (#2334912)
Tito's usage of Papelbon last night-- and, really, so far this season-- was terrific. But it wasn't terribly radical; it looks like he brought him in for 1+ inning save, then took him out after the Sox pulled comfortably ahead. It would have been more interesting if the Sox hadn't scored. Would Papelbon still have come out?

And it certainly seems premature to suggest that Francona will be going with the "relief ace" strategy. If Papelbon comes into a tie-game in the 7th with the bases loaded-- or some such situation-- then we'll know something different's going on.

Anyway, like I said, his use of Papelbon has been great so far.
   21. philly Posted: April 14, 2007 at 06:38 PM (#2334931)
So then does WPA not take into account home field?


I don't beleive it does.
   22. SalSolomon Posted: April 14, 2007 at 07:09 PM (#2334960)
I'm a huge fan of Tito's decisions last night and earlier, but the true test has yet to come:

1. Will he bring in Papelbon in high leverage situations where leaving him in to the end of the game is not a realistic option, i.e. 7th inning.

2. After Papelbon gets the 3,4,5 hitters out in the 8th, will Tito feel obliged to leave him in to face the 6,7,8 hitters in the 9th with a 3 run lead?

I hope the answers are yes, no.
   23. SalSolomon Posted: April 14, 2007 at 07:10 PM (#2334962)
I'm a huge fan of Tito's decisions last night and earlier, but the true test has yet to come:

1. Will he bring in Papelbon in high leverage situations where leaving him in to the end of the game is not a realistic option, i.e. 7th inning.

2. After Papelbon gets the 3,4,5 hitters out in the 8th, will Tito feel obliged to leave him in to face the 6,7,8 hitters in the 9th with a 3 run lead?

I hope the answers are yes, no.
   24. Darren Posted: April 14, 2007 at 08:17 PM (#2335016)
Tito's usage of Papelbon last night-- and, really, so far this season-- was terrific. But it wasn't terribly radical; it looks like he brought him in for 1+ inning save, then took him out after the Sox pulled comfortably ahead.

Yes, that's what he did, but it looked to me like he was going to yank Pap if the inning went long in any way. Timlin was warming very early in the inning, and listening to Francona after the game it sounded like they want to be very careful with Pap. Of course, this is all conjecture, so maybe I'm dead wrong. But even if I am, I haven't seen a lot of managers willing to yank their closer in that situation. Credit goes to Papelbon too for not being hung up on the save.

1. Will he bring in Papelbon in high leverage situations where leaving him in to the end of the game is not a realistic option, i.e. 7th inning.

2. After Papelbon gets the 3,4,5 hitters out in the 8th, will Tito feel obliged to leave him in to face the 6,7,8 hitters in the 9th with a 3 run lead?

I'd applaud both these moves, of course. But it is really asking a lot of Francona. You're asking him not to just buck convention, but go completely against it. It's also messing quite a bit with your other relievers' roles and really taking guys out of their comfort zone. I'll be perfecty happy if he continues to use Pap in the 8th when needed and pull him if appropriate. That would put him ahead of about 27-29 other managers.
   25. Darren Posted: April 14, 2007 at 08:28 PM (#2335022)
He can still have a big WPA-type impact, but I project a 100% chance that at some point Darren is going to notice the number of IP that Paps has and it ain't gonna be "kudos to Tito!"


I can't win for losing around here. If I'm critical of Tito, I'm too critical. If I compliment him, it doesn't matter because I'll be critical of him again soon anyways!

If we get through two months and Pap is under 20 IP, I'm not going to be too happy. But this early part of the season has allowed Tito the luxury of taking it easy on Pap, and he's been wise to do so.
   26. Darren Posted: April 15, 2007 at 02:40 AM (#2335230)
Brendan Donnelly's new role: relief ass. .47 LI coming into today's game, then pitches with an 8-0 lead. Looks damn good doing it too.

This is starting to get weird.
   27. prezzpac Posted: April 16, 2007 at 03:31 PM (#2336145)
According to Bradford, it looks like Tito will be using Paps in a nontraditional way: "warning for you fantasy baseball players, Papelbon could be getting a few more holds than you would like." http://www.bradfordonbaseball.com/ It also sounds like Bradford's is going to have more info on it soon.
   28. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: April 16, 2007 at 04:04 PM (#2336176)
Darren et al, I think that Fangraphs may be understating how leveraged Papelbon's appearances have been. Not only has he come in with men on base, but he's also faced heart of the order guys.
   29. PJ Martinez Posted: April 18, 2007 at 03:08 PM (#2338023)
I know it's still early, but but the depth chart looks sort of like this to me:

Papelbon
Piniero
Okajima
Donnelly
Romero
Lopez
Snyder

Anyone see it differently? And what should it be? I'm not sure why Piniero still seems to be ahead of Donnelly, but I haven't seen many games, so I'm going mostly by the numbers and what people say around here.
   30. chris p Posted: April 18, 2007 at 03:20 PM (#2338029)
I'm not sure why Piniero still seems to be ahead of Donnelly,

they have alot of money tied up in piniero. he's going to get a shot to screw it up before they give it to donnelly. i think piniero will be fine--he looked good yesterday ... 2 groundballs on nice sharp curveballs and decent location of a low-mid 90s fastball. okajima seems to have forced his way up the depth chart with some very good games. right now i'd say piniero and okajima are the #1 and #1a (or #1R and #1L) setup options. donnelly is the 2nd right handed setup guy and 3rd overall. the only thing i'd change is to try to work hansack into the setup rotation.
   31. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: April 18, 2007 at 08:20 PM (#2338269)
Papelbon
Piniero
Okajima
Donnelly
Romero
Lopez
Snyder


Lopez was sent down went Timlin came in. There is too little to go on to evaluate Timlin. He was used only to pitch the 9ths of two blowouts.
   32. PJ Martinez Posted: April 18, 2007 at 09:00 PM (#2338315)
Good points, Mitch. Forgot about Lopez's demotion. That probably consigns Romero to a LOOGY/mop-up role. I think they see Snyder as a long reliever.

Timlin scares me.
   33. karlmagnus Posted: April 18, 2007 at 09:10 PM (#2338334)
Timlin will be used to blow Wakefield's next 4-1 lead in the 8th. That's his usual role.
   34. jim in providence Posted: April 18, 2007 at 09:26 PM (#2338353)
Timlin will be used to blow Wakefield's next 4-1 lead in the 8th. That's his usual role.

Sooo ... not too optimistic about Wake's start tonight?
   35. PJ Martinez Posted: April 19, 2007 at 04:45 AM (#2339008)
Wow, good call on the score, karl. If only you'd had more faith in Tito and his lack of faith in Timlin.
   36. karlmagnus Posted: April 19, 2007 at 11:37 AM (#2339110)
It's very odd; as soon as I saw Donnelley and not Timlin had been brought in I breathed a sigh of relief. I wonder if when Tito asked Wake whether he was done at the end of the 7th Wake said "Just about, but if you're going to bring Timlin in I'll carry on till my arm drops off -- I'd rather lose on my own."

I think Timlin was pretty clearly done by the end of last year; can't understand why they brought him back.
   37. villageidiom Posted: April 19, 2007 at 02:42 PM (#2339209)
After last night's game, the bullpen staff has had this many appearances:

4 Papelbon

6 Donnelly
6 Okajima
6 Romero
6 Lopez + Timlin
6 Pineiro

4 Snyder

Despite seeming to favor this guy or that guy at any given point in time in the first few weeks, it appears as though Tito is trying to get regular work for all the middle relief slots. We've seen that part of the problem in getting Papelbon innings is that they've had a surprisingly low number of relief ace opportunities. Getting innings for Snyder - ostensibly the long man - has been difficult because the starters have been going so deep. Courtesy of espn.com and a little elbow grease, here are the reliever IP/G so far this season for each AL team:

2.5 BOSTON
2.7 Minnesota
2.9 Anaheim, Tampa Bay
3.0 Detroit, Oakland
3.1 Kansas City
3.2 Texas, Toronto
3.3 Cleveland
3.5 Chicago, Baltimore
3.8 Seattle
4.2 New York

All that says is that we really have a small sample from which to judge the depth chart. But enough of that... How about usage? Well, here's what we have of the 38 relief appearances this season, using Tango's LI by inning/outs/runners/lead grid:

Very High Leverage (LI >= 3.0) - 2 pitching changes

Lopez 4/8
Papelbon 4/8

High Leverage (3 > LI >= 1.5) - 3 pitching changes

Papelbon 4/13
Donnelly 4/13
Pineiro 4/8

Medium Leverage (1.5 > LI >= 0.8) - 9 pitching changes

Papelbon 4/5, 4/18
Romero 4/5, 4/7
Snyder 4/4, 4/7
Okajima 4/17
Donnelly 4/18
Lopez 4/4

Yes, 63% (24 of 38) relief appearances have been low leverage.

As I said at the time, I think Lopez was called on in the very-high LI situation to induce a double play grounder. That very-high-LI situation - bottom 8, 0 outs, bases loaded, up by 2 - was created by Pineiro in his only leveraged appearance of the year.

Francona seems to have given everyone a shot at some leverage, but there have been only so many high-lev opportunities. Pineiro was given a prime opportunity, blew it, and hasn't had any leverage since. Romero took a medium leverage situation, turned it into a 5-run deficit, and hasn't had any leverage since. Snyder preceded Romero in that game and didn't shine; he hasn't had leverage since. To me those three would seem to be at the bottom of the pile right now - plus Timlin, who is being eased back. I'd put it as:

Papelbon
---------
Donnelly
Okajima
---------
Timlin - being eased back
---------
Pineiro
Romero
Snyder

Again, I'd emphasize it's a small sample. I'm interested to see who Francona calls upon for the games this weekend.
   38. PJ Martinez Posted: April 19, 2007 at 03:41 PM (#2339276)
Great stuff, vi. My sense of Piniero's usage doesn't totally gibe with that, but, as you said, it's a small sample. So we'll see.

Some great stuff from Rob Bradford today re the pitching so far. Here's my favorite detail:

"The last time that Red Sox starters had a decision in more than the 1st 12 games of a season was 1918... In that year, the starters earned the win or loss in the season’s 1st 39 games from April 15-May 30 before Carl Mays lost in relief in a 13-inning defeat at Detroit on June 1."

http://bradfordonbaseball.com/2007/04/busy-week.html
   39. Darren Posted: April 20, 2007 at 01:48 AM (#2340065)
26 pitches for Paps today. His control really does seem pretty shaky. He is often missing the glove by quite a bit, but his stuff is so good that it works anyways. After today, he's on pace to throw 62 IP this year (with 127 Ks!). That's not so low, especially considering the lack of hi-lev opportunities.
   40. Xander Posted: April 20, 2007 at 01:58 AM (#2340075)
You guys are ruthless.
   41. villageidiom Posted: April 20, 2007 at 03:04 PM (#2340317)
...and have been since 1920.
   42. villageidiom Posted: April 21, 2007 at 03:07 AM (#2341208)
OK, two questions:

1. Does anyone think Friday night's game against the Yankees tipped Tito's hand on the depth chart? I still say it's early, but seeing Romero and Snyder in low leverage, and Okajima in high leverage (with Papelbon apparently off limits), still makes me think the depth chart is in line with what I posted in #38. Tough to say, though... Pineiro looked like he might get a chance; Donnelly did not.

2. Never mind the depth chart; did anyone have a problem with who Francona brought in, and when? It's hard to factor out the end result, but I'm pretty pleased with the way things were handled. Schilling going 7 was good; I was fine with Romero starting the 8th - the matchup wasn't best but the way A-Rod is hitting I'm not sure any matchup was ideal - and Snyder following. Had they not scored in the bottom of the 8th I would've left Snyder in for the 9th, but given they had the lead I was definitely fine with Okajima pitching the 9th. I was a bit uneasy with the possibility of Pineiro coming in the game, but apparently so was Francona.

I guess a third question would be about the offense from Tek and Coco, but that's for another thread.
   43. chris p Posted: April 21, 2007 at 03:27 AM (#2341225)
still makes me think the depth chart is in line with what I posted in #38. Tough to say, though... Pineiro looked like he might get a chance; Donnelly did not.

well i still think the depth chart is in line with what i have in 31. well almost. okajima is clearly #2 behind papelbon, and piniero in the pen leads me to believe he's 3rd.

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