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Sox Therapy
— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

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   1. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 31, 2007 at 01:28 PM (#2321273)
Go Red Sox! Meet expectations! Break even! You can do it!
While I totally understand why Darren is saying that, and when you have a team of the quality of the Red Sox (or Yankees, or Mets, etc.) meeting expectations is all a team needs to go, somehow I don't think "Break Even!" is ever going to replace "Cowboy Up!" in the hearts of Sox fans.
   2. Darren Posted: March 31, 2007 at 01:33 PM (#2321277)
How about "don't suck!" or "kiss your sister!"
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2007 at 01:39 PM (#2321278)
I'd like to make a somewhat tangential comment here. Bill Simmons' three paragraph baseball preview on his "basketball" blog made me think about it a bit (Simmons' baseball talk is always better in small amounts), and Darren's joke about "meeting expectations" seems to fit within a similar frame.

The Red Sox have already exceeded expectations, and by quite a bit. The only player on the DL is Mike Timlin, and he's due back in a week. Forty-year-olds Schilling and Wakefield are in game shape. Papelbon is healthy. Crisp is healthy. Drew is healthy. None of the 30-somethings on whom the Red Sox so heavily rely are injured. Usually, when you have a team constructed like this one, you lose a few players in spring. I have to assume the Red Sox were practically banking on that. As of now, they're actually all healthy except for one non-essential set-up man. That's crazy good.

I realize I'm currently bucking the gods of karma way harder than any fan ever should, but I feel like making the comment anyway. May the luck hold.
   4. tfbg9 Posted: March 31, 2007 at 02:08 PM (#2321288)
"The Red Sox have already exceeded expectations, and by quite a bit. The only player on the DL is Mike Timlin, and he's due back in a week. Forty-year-olds Schilling and Wakefield are in game shape. Papelbon is healthy. Crisp is healthy. Drew is healthy. None of the 30-somethings on whom the Red Sox so heavily rely are injured. Usually, when you have a team constructed like this one, you lose a few players in spring. I have to assume the Red Sox were practically banking on that. As of now, they're actually all healthy except for one non-essential set-up man. That's crazy good."

I was thinking along these lines yesterday, but had the common sense not to post anything about it. Hell, Timlin might hurt the team bad if healthy, until they realize he's toast. I saw more swings and misses watching the PGA last year than when he was on the mound.
   5. tfbg9 Posted: March 31, 2007 at 02:12 PM (#2321290)
As far as Matsusaka...Cy, ROY, MVP, and 175 ERA+ here we come!
   6. Toby Posted: March 31, 2007 at 03:05 PM (#2321297)
Steady as she goes!!

I am going to be away for the next two weeks, it will be interesting to see where we are at that point. Catch you later.
   7. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2007 at 03:50 PM (#2321305)
"So I’ve decided that I will be very happy with this season if he can simply duplicate what Nomo did in his first year. ~200 IP with a 150 ERA+, which would be about 3.10."

Oh, that's all it would take to make you happy?

Not that he can't do it, I'm just entertained by some of the language you use.
   8. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 31, 2007 at 04:02 PM (#2321307)
CP-- If you're still around, sorry I missed your call yesterday, I never even saw it until this morning
   9. Darren Posted: March 31, 2007 at 04:13 PM (#2321313)
It's nice to see that ST is now the Yankee fans' answering service! :)

CP, I'm half-joking, half-serious on that line for Matsuzaka. Sure, those are lofty expectations for anyone. But Matsuzaka IS better than Nomo was, and he's likely to benefit from the same unfamiliarity factor that seemed to help Nomo.

The larger point, I think, is that I feel like a lot has gone wrong over the past year for the Sox (of their doing and otherwise), and I'd just like to ask for this to go right. Not super-duper crazy right, just as right as expected.
   10. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 31, 2007 at 04:20 PM (#2321316)
It's nice to see that ST is now the Yankee fans' answering service! :)
I knew this place was good for something. Just took me a while to figure out what.
   11. The Original SJ Posted: March 31, 2007 at 05:02 PM (#2321324)
Darren, what are your reasonable expectations for the bullpen?

Do you expect a 500 ERA+ out of Papelbon? A full season.

Count the Rings is sort of overkill. We all read Larry, SG and Fabian's blog, and we all comment over there. CTR should basically just be a link to their blog.

We all did that well before CTR. It never really had a chance.
   12. Garth found his way to daylight Posted: March 31, 2007 at 05:12 PM (#2321328)
Heck, Royal Ingenuity is more active.

I've been kinda paranoid about that -- do you guys find it annoying that I'm hitting the blogpen hot and heavy with my posts? It's nothing insane, but I always feel bad about leaving Therapy and HoMerit posts below.
   13. The Original SJ Posted: March 31, 2007 at 05:16 PM (#2321329)
Nah, post away.
   14. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2007 at 05:37 PM (#2321335)
No problem RB, I was a ####### mess last night anyway, we'll do it some other time.

"I've been kinda paranoid about that -- do you guys find it annoying that I'm hitting the blogpen hot and heavy with my posts?"

I love stopping by Royal Ingenuity, I wish there were more team blogs like it (and like Sox Therapy, which is also awesome). Keep up the good work.
   15. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 31, 2007 at 06:02 PM (#2321342)
I've been kinda paranoid about that -- do you guys find it annoying that I'm hitting the blogpen hot and heavy with my posts? It's nothing insane, but I always feel bad about leaving Therapy and HoMerit posts below.


Seriously, you never have to apologize for providing content. I like what you've been doing.
   16. Stately, Plump Buck Mulligan Posted: March 31, 2007 at 08:21 PM (#2321379)
"Darren, what are your reasonable expectations for the bullpen?"

I'm obviously not Darren, but I'd make two observations:

1. If you do a Five-Part preview of the coming season and DON'T mention the bullpen, that's not a sign of confidence. I assume the Red Sox faithful is pessimistic on the subject.

2. Red Sox relievers have pitched 1878-1/3 innings since this front office took over. Their ERA over those innings is 4.59. I can't think of any reason why the team's bullpen ERA in '07 should be substantially better than that.
   17. Darren Posted: March 31, 2007 at 08:27 PM (#2321382)
I've been kinda paranoid about that -- do you guys find it annoying that I'm hitting the blogpen hot and heavy with my posts?


No. Party on Garth.

Darren, what are your reasonable expectations for the bullpen?


Somewhere around their projections. 4.25-4.75 ERA for Timlin, Donnelly, Romero, Okajima (although he's anyone's guess). High 2s, low 3s for Pap. I think Pineiro being somewhere in the 4s sounds right, but I'm not sure if it's low, middle, or high.
   18. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 31, 2007 at 11:16 PM (#2321417)
2. Red Sox relievers have pitched 1878-1/3 innings since this front office took over. Their ERA over those innings is 4.59. I can't think of any reason why the team's bullpen ERA in '07 should be substantially better than that.


yeah, i don't buy this line of reasoning. you have total turnover since 2004, in which the bullpen was tied for 3rd in the AL, and it wasn't a bullpen full of all-stars. i think the single biggest impact has been the decline in quality of starting pitching.
YEAR    GP    W    L    ERA    Sv    CG    SHO    IP    QS    ER    R    BB    SO    BAA
2004    158    25    17    3.87    36    0    0    443.2    0    191    214    161    336    .249
2005    156    27    22    5.15    38    0    0    426.1    0    244    258    152    296    .285
2006    159    25    20    4.51    46    0    0    503.1    0    252    275    186    388    .273 


obviously, BA increased over 2004, but the big difference is in innings and the decline in rate stats. i don't have time to do a month by month comparison, but the starting pitching has got to be killing this bullpen later in the season. in 2004, the starters gave over 1000 IP of 4.31 ERA ball. in 2006, 938 IP of 5.00 era. i'd love to see what kind of difference they had in inherited runners, but i don't know how to get that info from espn's stats.

bottom line, i think the biggest upgrade that the sox have made to the pen this year is matsuzaka and letting beckett throw the curve.
   19. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 31, 2007 at 11:23 PM (#2321421)
right, one other thing. it would be useful if we could differentiate who's getting what innings before we say that the entire bullpen's past performance is a good measure of what they'll do this year. last year, a lot of innings went to people with ERAs over 5, whereas in 2006, foulke (83 IP, 2.17 era), timlin (76 IP, 4.13 era) and embree (52 IP, 4.13 era) carried most of the workload. that alone makes a huge difference, and having just one or two guys are the difference between a "bad" bullpen and a "good" one. if paps turns in a year like foulke's 2004, and timlin and donnelly do what timlin and embree did in 2004, then all of a sudden people will be talking about how good our bullpen is.
   20. Stately, Plump Buck Mulligan Posted: March 31, 2007 at 11:40 PM (#2321428)
"i think the single biggest impact has been the decline in quality of starting pitching. "

Except that...

1. The ERAs of Red Sox starters were essentially the same in '03 and '04 (4.30 in '03, 4.31 in '04), and yet the bullpen ERAs were quite different (4.83 in '03, 3.87 in '04).

2. You could say that Red Sox starters throwing a lot of innings in '04 (1007-2/3) helped the pen, but Red Sox starters threw 1002-2/3 innings in '05, and the pen REALLY sucked (5.15 ERA in 426-1/3 innings).

"last year, a lot of innings went to people with ERAs over 5"

Yep, because Boston's front office doesn't know how to find good relief pitching. Which is why I don't believe the response of "if relievers A, B, C and D pitch lights out in '07, the Boston pen will be great!"

As for the statement that "having just one or two guys are the difference between a 'bad' bullpen and a 'good' one" -- last year Boston had a reliever post a 0.92 ERA in 68-1/3 innings, and the bullpen as a whole STILL had a combined ERA of 4.51 (because the relievers not named Papelbon combined for a 4.86 ERA).
   21. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 01, 2007 at 12:03 AM (#2321442)
the pen sucked in '05 because foulke sucked. the difference between pap's 06 and foulke's 04 is 15 innings. but what i meant was that having a guy like the 2004 versions of timlin and embree all of a sudden makes the bullpen "good." and, i'd still like to see some numbers on inherited runners. the '04 pen may not have had to deal with a lot of inherited runners, or maybe they did and were lucky, or maybe they were very good at not allowing them to score because of some skill they had. i'd like to know what the difference is b/w 04 and 05 and 06.

in any case, i think my point stands: we're both oversimplifying. i was just trying to show that more goes into it than "the front office doesn't know how to assemble a bullpen." they knew how to do it in 2004, and i'm sure they didn't forget.
   22. Stately, Plump Buck Mulligan Posted: April 01, 2007 at 12:36 AM (#2321457)
"they knew how to do it in 2004, and i'm sure they didn't forget."

I think this is the main point with which I disagree. We have four years of relief pitcher data for Theo & The Gang, and you are treating three of those years as anomalous, and one of the years (the one year where the bullpen was successful) as evidence of the front office's "true" ability. I see no reason to do that.

I tend to think that the anomalous ERA on this list is fairly clear:

2003: 4.83
2004: 3.87
2005: 5.15
2006: 4.51

If you were looking at pitchers to draft for your fantasy league team, and saw a pitcher with these ERAs over the past four years, would you be optimistic about this pitcher's chance for success this year?
   23. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 01, 2007 at 02:38 AM (#2321495)
you are treating three of those years as anomalous, and one of the years (the one year where the bullpen was successful) as evidence of the front office's "true" ability. I see no reason to do that.


i said no such thing. what we've got is a lot of variance which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with ability. what i was really saying was sarcastic, and it was probably impossible to tell from the posting. i was saying there is no "true ability" to assemble bullpens, and 2004 was as much of a shot in the dark as 2005, and 2006. in 2003, people were excited about the bullpen because of kim and williamson, fox, embree, etc. but they sucked. so, 2007 might be great, might not be.

we might take minnesota as an example of putting together a great bullpen, but most of the great arms in their bullpen in the last few years have come out of their minor league system. same thing with the white sox, and angels.

if you want to pass judgment on this front office, then i think we have to wait until the sox start consistently graduating some of the promising pitchers from the minors to the majors.

this actually raises an important question: who had the last great bullpen assembled from spare parts and free agent signings? or even better, what are the top 10 all time bullpens assembled from free agents (with minimal roles played by pitchers from the team's minor league system).
   24. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: April 01, 2007 at 02:52 AM (#2321499)
Garth, thanks to 1985, the Royal's are one of my favorite AL teams (after the Red Sox and maybe the Blue Jays). Pme of these years, they have to retake the central. Mybe Silva IS the straw that breaks the Twin's back. I see the Yanks with an oh so slightly better chance of winning the division, but I see the Sox with a really good chance. Yeah, I'm really going out on a limb here.
   25. Stately, Plump Buck Mulligan Posted: April 01, 2007 at 02:42 PM (#2321607)
"i was saying there is no 'true ability' to assemble bullpens"

Does this hold true for other things a GM is expected to do? Is there a true ability to: assemble a starting rotation? assemble a starting lineup? assemble a team that can play good defense?

It seems to me that, for the purpose of consistency, either all of these things can indicate a "true ability," or none of them can. Put another way, if you want to give credit for signing David Ortiz, then you need to be able to assign blame for signing Rudy Seanez. I'm happy to give credit AND assign blame.

Any other approach would seem like the typical stathead rhetorical device, intended to defend a so-called "Moneyball" or "Good" GM: if his team wins it's because he's good; if his team loses it's because of being unlucky.

"but most of the great arms in [Minnesota's] bullpen in the last few years have come out of their minor league system. same thing with the white sox, and angels."

Really? I'm a White Sox fan, and when I look at the bullpen for the 2005 World Champion White Sox, I see...

Dustin Hermanson: signed as free agent
Neal Cotts: acquired in trade (for Keith Foulke!)
Cliff Politte: signed as free agent
Damaso Marte: acquired in trade
Luis Vizcaino: acquired in trade
Bobby Jenks: claimed off waivers
Shingo Takatsu: signed as free agent
Jon Adkins: acquired in trade
Kevin Walker: signed as free agent
Jeff Bajenaru: home grown!
David Sanders: home grown!

I don't think the 6-1/3 innings pitched by Bajenaru and Sanders make the '05 World Champion White Sox bullpen the product of Chicago's minor league system.

You also might want to take a look at the bullpen of the '06 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals:

Isringhausen (free agent)
Looper (signed by the Cards, later traded to the Marins, then signed as a free agent)
Hancock (free agent)
Wainwright (trade)

They weren't as good as in '05 (when they had guys like Tavarez and Ray King), but they got the job done. Which is all you really need from your pen if you have a strong team in other respects -- just something close to competence.

"if you want to pass judgment on this front office, then i think we have to wait until the sox start consistently graduating some of the promising pitchers from the minors to the majors."

So the new meme is "Theo CAN'T be expected to assemble a competent bullpen because the true test of a GM's skill in this area (for which there is no 'true ability,' of course) is in assembling a bullpen of the GM's minor leaguers"?

Would "Cla Meredith" count as one of those promising pitchers?
   26. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: April 01, 2007 at 03:04 PM (#2321609)
1986 fun baseball

This is awesome.
   27. Xander Posted: April 10, 2007 at 03:43 AM (#2330819)
Matsuzaka vs. King Felix on national TV, Wednesday night. That should be a good one.
   28. Nasty Nate Posted: April 10, 2007 at 04:02 AM (#2330832)
yikes i have a 10+-page paper due on thursday

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