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   1. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: August 10, 2006 at 02:52 PM (#2135201)
Jim, I'm all for holding onto the prospects if trading them does not lead to a significant upgrade in key areas.

The cost of that may well be making the playoffs this year in spite of $130 million payroll. Rationally, that's an OK tradeoff (assuming that the kids allow the club to make the playoffs in the immediate future) but emotionally that's a bitter pill to swallow. After the ########### of this recent road trip it sure appears that the current club isn't good enough to make the playoffs.
   2. 1k5v3L Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2135215)
Having a deep farm system with top talent makes the "compete for a championship today and build for future championship contests" plan much easier. The Red Sox under Theo have come a long way in the amateur draft, but they still have very few impact players in the minors, especially now that the top arms (Papelbon, Lester, Hansen, Delcarmen) are in the majors. But they really have no hitters to speak of (ok, there is Pedroia, sort of).
   3. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:04 PM (#2135218)
This is foolish. Papelbon was due for some let downs. They're banged up right now. It's possible that they'll get back on track against the good teams. Just because they're playing poorly now doesn't mean it will carry over the rest of the year. When they were in a 12 game win streak, no one was predicting this rough patch would occur. Just as no one can predict it will continue. It's baseball. Long season. Plenty of time left for all the pieces to fall back in place.
   4. Daryn Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:12 PM (#2135225)
Can you fix the title of this thread. It's ruining hot topics.
   5. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:12 PM (#2135226)
They've been playing poorly since the ASB (12-14). They've lost 6 1/2 games in the standings over the last 3 weeks. This isn't a bump in the road, it's a ditch. They're in serious trouble.
   6. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:20 PM (#2135237)
From one Joe to another, I don't like the way they've been playing any more than you do, but things can fall back into place just as quickly as they have fallen apart. You've seen it before. In '78, they were playing like crap until the last 2 weeks of September, and they came back. I would guess there are other instances of turnarounds. It's not like they're 10 games back.
   7. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:29 PM (#2135245)
No, you're right of course. It just feels like 10 games back instead of 3 because they appear incapable of beating the Royals. Crap.
   8. The Original SJ Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:36 PM (#2135253)
Can we change the title of this thread, it is really messing up hot topics.
   9. Mister High Standards Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:41 PM (#2135259)
I think having a 130 million dollar payroll and being on the outside looking in in regard to the playoffs is damning failure of the management staff and players.
   10. Hungry Hungry Hipolito Pichardo Posted: August 10, 2006 at 04:24 PM (#2135333)
Recent struggles aside, it's still a team that is on pace for between 92 (bpro's post-season odds report) and 94 (winning pct) games. That we're on the outside looking in is as much a function of having several other (unexpectedly) high-quality teams.

We can moan about injuries and argue about whether we've lost more wins to them than other contenders. We certainly should fault the FO for poor talent evaluation on the construction of the relief corps, forcing Paps into the pen and ruining the starting depth. But to call the current state a damning failure of the FO is excessive.

(Personally, despite the current circumstances I still don't fault the WMP/Arroyo trade, given that I don't think he would have had this run in the AL, with teams familiar with him.)
   11. karlmagnus Posted: August 10, 2006 at 05:47 PM (#2135514)
Arroyo hasn't won in 7 weeks -- he'd have tanked just when we needed him. I think forcing Papelbon into the bullpen was a major cause if we don't make the postseason -- as the last few days have shown, he's not some celestial miracle worker, but he is a damn good pitcher who could have given us 200 innings of 3.25 ERA in the rotation. We'd have lost a few games earlier on without him as closer, but would be making up for it now.
   12. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 10, 2006 at 08:17 PM (#2135790)
The Red Sox have probably been hurt more by injury than the yankees, but they're injuries that should have been expected.

Really this is a very good team that's been playing GREAT all season, esp. when you consider their lack of decent starting pitching.

Their only problem is that the Yankees are extreamly lucky, both on he field, and in getting All-Stars for free.
   13. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 10, 2006 at 08:21 PM (#2135796)
Oh and don't beat yourselfs up over Royals losses.

KC's a better team than their record shows, and depending on who's pitching, can be a formitable opponant.

Remember this is a team that you won three games 0-1, 0-1, and 4-5 last month.
   14. Dizzypaco Posted: August 10, 2006 at 08:47 PM (#2135814)
The Red Sox have probably been hurt more by injury than the yankees, but they're injuries that should have been expected.

Not completely. Two of the biggest problems have been Wakefield and Varitek, neither of who should have been expected to be injured. I think its also a bit much to say that we should have known Clement would be worthless this year.

as the last few days have shown, he's not some celestial miracle worker, but he is a damn good pitcher who could have given us 200 innings of 3.25 ERA in the rotation.

Maybe. Or he could have given us 175 innings of 4.30 ERA in the rotation, in which case he's more valuable in the bullpen.

I think having a 130 million dollar payroll and being on the outside looking in in regard to the playoffs is damning failure of the management staff and players.

Having a team make it to the post season, at minimum, three times in four years, including a world championship, is not what I would call a damning failure for a management staff, no matter what the payroll is.
   15. Fat Al Posted: August 10, 2006 at 08:48 PM (#2135815)
Their only problem is that the Yankees are extreamly lucky, both on he field, and in getting All-Stars for free.

The Yankees are underperforming their Pythagorean record (for a change) and have you heard of WS MVP Curt Schilling? When Abreu single-handedly wins the Yankees a World Series, then someone can complain about that gift.
   16. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 10, 2006 at 08:53 PM (#2135823)
Wakefield is old, even if he's a knuckleballer, writing him in for 200 innings isn't the safest bet.

I look at Wong and Wright and see guys who are overachiving, even Mussiana's doing it.
   17. Dizzypaco Posted: August 10, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2135848)
Wakefield is old, even if he's a knuckleballer, writing him in for 200 innings isn't the safest bet.

I disagree - a 39 year old knuckleball pitcher, who has pitched three consecutive injury free years, and has shown no signs of decline whatsoever, is as good a bet as anyone to give you 200 innings. 39 isn't particularly old for knuckleballers, especially if they keep themselves in reasonable shape.
   18. Chip Posted: August 10, 2006 at 09:17 PM (#2135851)
Was Coco's extended absence only a few games into the season foreseeable? How about Wily Mo's?
   19. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 10, 2006 at 09:26 PM (#2135857)
no, but expecting Coco to put up johnny Damon numbers and play spectacular CF defense might have been a bit much.

and any team employing Trot Nixon should have a couple solid OF backups.

I'm not saying that they should have expected everything, but I think they were reaching a bit when expecting what they did from their rotation.
   20. RobertMachemer Posted: August 10, 2006 at 11:09 PM (#2135962)
no, but expecting Coco to put up johnny Damon numbers and play spectacular CF defense might have been a bit much.

I dunno about that. I think expecting Crisp to be as good as Damon was made about as much sense as expecting Damon to be as good as Damon was -- they seemed to be putting up pretty much the same numbers.

Quick quiz: Which of the following was a Johnny Damon season for the Red Sox?

A) .297 AVG, .344 OBP, .446 SLG
B) .300 AVG, .345 OBP, .465 SLG
C) .316 AVG, .366 OBP, .439 SLG
D) .333 AVG, .385 OBP, .458 SLG

Answer will appear in a later post.
   21. Famous Original Joe C Posted: August 10, 2006 at 11:16 PM (#2135972)
C is Damon'so, I didn't look it up.

A and B are Coco Crisp seasons...'04 and '05 respectively.

I believe D is what Coco hit before he got hurt in '06?
   22. RobertMachemer Posted: August 10, 2006 at 11:32 PM (#2135998)
Give that man a cigar. "Joe C isn't" <u>is</u> right on all four.
   23. Dr. Vaux Posted: August 10, 2006 at 11:39 PM (#2136004)
175 innings of 4.35 would be more valuable to the Red Sox than what Papelbon's done as a reliever.
   24. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 10, 2006 at 11:56 PM (#2136024)
I think having a 130 million dollar payroll and being on the outside looking in in regard to the playoffs is damning failure of the management staff and players.
Exactly.

I don't see why this has to be about the trade deadline. There's not a lot that can be done at hte deadline. The Red Sox should have been in on Cory Lidle, for example, but that's not a season-breaking failure. They certainly shouldn't have traded Lester for a starter - Lester's already a good major league starter. The way for hte Red Sox to upgrade hte rotation was to get someone who doesn't suck into Johnson's spot.

The problem was that they were overconfident in their rotation depth coming into the season, and they traded Arroyo and made Papelbon the closer. I love Wily Mo, and Papelbon's been one of the most valuable players in baseball, but it left the Sox with sub-replacement production at the back of the rotation. They thought that Dinardo/Alvarez could shore up the back of the rotation, they thought that Wells/Wakefield/Schilling could be counted on for heavy use, they were wrong.

And they may have been wrong about Beckett - I'm still holding out hope for his upside, but I'm growing increasingly skeptical that he has what it takes to be a star pitcher.

I'm not too troubled about Crisp - he's a slap hitter, and I don't think he's fully recovered from that freak injury. I think he'll come around, at least next year. Coco's a ballplayer.
   25. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 10, 2006 at 11:57 PM (#2136025)
175 innings of 4.35 would be more valuable to the Red Sox than what Papelbon's done as a reliever.
That's wrong. Easily, demonstrably wrong.
   26. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 10, 2006 at 11:59 PM (#2136030)
he's not some celestial miracle worker, but he is a damn good pitcher who could have given us 200 innings of 3.25 ERA in the rotation.
That's a Cy Young season. I think you may have been spending too much time with the dead ball numbers recently. I think an ERA in the low 4s is more reasonable, especially given that Papelbon still only has one really consistent pitch - high 4s might well have been the case if he had struggled with his splitter, for instance.
   27. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:05 AM (#2136038)
They certainly shouldn't have traded Lester for a starter - Lester's already a good major league starter.


Has his command improved as the season's worn on? When I've seen him he's had pretty good stuff but the 2nd worst command I've seen in a pitcher not giving up a lot of runs -- the worst I've ever seen was Chacon last year with the Yankees. I know Lester's a very good young prospect, but I'm far from convinced he's a good major league pitcher right now.
   28. RobertMachemer Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:15 AM (#2136051)
My point being that Crisp's 2004 and 2005 (and the start of his 2006, in fact) were right in line with what Damon gave the Sox in 2005. Given their respective ages, I think it was very reasonable to think Crisp could hit at least as well as Damon in 2006, if not better. I tend to blame the injury for Crisp's lousy year, though I'll readily admit that it could be a regression to a significantly worse mean.

As for Papelbon, 175 innings with a 4.35 ERA is worth more than 83 innings (Papelbon's current pace) with a 0.94 ERA? I suppose it's possible but I'm doubtful.

If Papelbon were to give up 84 earned runs in 175 innings, he'd have a 4.32 ERA. At his current pace, Papelbon's set to give up about 9 runs in 83 innings (which would give him a 0.98 ERA). That's a difference of 75 runs in 92 innings (a 7.34 ERA).

Shoot, I'm confusing myself here. Let's throw some hypothetical numbers around...

(1) Papelbon-as-starter: 4.32 ERA --> 84 ER in 175 IP
average Sox reliever: 4.12 ERA --> 38 ER in 83 IP
together: 122 ER in 258 IP, or a 4.26 ERA

(2) average Sox starter: ~4.89 ERA --> 95 ER in 175 IP
Papelbon reliever: 0.98 ERA --> 9 ER in 83 IP
together: 104 ER in 258 IP, or a 3.63 ERA

On the one hand, it's not fair to use the "average Sox reliever" since the average Sox reliever includes Papelbon. On the other hand, it's not fair to use the "average Sox starter" either, since Papelbon's not gonna be replacing the innings of the average starter (which includes Schilling). On the other (third) hand, he isn't going to be replacing Beckett's innings either, and Beckett hurts the average ERA.

Still, let's use "replacement level starter" instead of "average Sox starter" in the second situation. How crappy would he have to be in order for the second situation to give up the same number of runs as the first situation? Well, that's easy:

(3) crappy Sox starter: 5.81 ERA --> 113 ER in 175 IP
Papelbon: 0.98 ERA --> 9 ER in 83 IP
together: 122 ER in 258 IP, or a 4.26 ERA

Here's what the Sox have gotten from the starters other than Wells, Clement, Wakefield, Schilling, and Beckett:

Gabbard: 5.1 IP, 2 ER (3.38 ERA)
Lester: 67.2 IP, 29 ER (3.86 ERA)
Snyder: 20.2 IP, 13 ER (5.66 ERA)
Johnson: 19.2 IP, 13 ER (5.95 ERA)
Pauley: 16 IP, 14 ER (7.88 ERA)
DiNardo: 20 IP, 18 ER (8.10 ERA)
together: 149.1 IP, 89 ER --> 5.36 ERA

It's a lot closer than I woulda thought (even with the assumptions I've made -- replacing Papelbon's relief innings with the "average Sox starter" -- I still figured it wouldn't be as close as it is). But I do think it's clear that a Papelbon who pitches 175 innings of 4.32 ERA would not have been as valuable as the Papelbon who pitches 83 innings of 0.98 ERA.
   29. RobertMachemer Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:23 AM (#2136058)
Has his command improved as the season's worn on? When I've seen him he's had pretty good stuff but the 2nd worst command I've seen in a pitcher not giving up a lot of runs -- the worst I've ever seen was Chacon last year with the Yankees. I know Lester's a very good young prospect, but I'm far from convinced he's a good major league pitcher right now.

2006 Lester: 4.54 dERA, 3.86 ERA
2005 Chacon: 4.91 dERA, 2.85 ERA

I'd say Chacon was a heckuva lot luckier than Lester. I'd also say that Lester has pitched better than Chacon did for the Yankees in 2005. Though I think you are correct in suggesting Lester has been lucky to have an ERA as low as Lester's ERA currently is, I think Chacon was both appreciably worse and significantly luckier in 2005, for whatever that's worth.
   30. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:24 AM (#2136060)
When I've seen him he's had pretty good stuff but the 2nd worst command I've seen in a pitcher not giving up a lot of runs -- the worst I've ever seen was Chacon last year with the Yankees.

Worse than Jaret Wright this year?
   31. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:42 AM (#2136101)
I'd say Chacon was a heckuva lot luckier than Lester.


Oh yeah, it may not have been clear but I wasn't trying to suggest otherwise. Lester at least has good stuff while Chacon's was at his very best average, even last year.
   32. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:46 AM (#2136111)
Worse than Jaret Wright this year?


I said pitcher. Wright doesn't qualify.
   33. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 11, 2006 at 01:06 AM (#2136151)
I know Lester's a very good young prospect, but I'm far from convinced he's a good major league pitcher right now.
He's a lot better than Jason Johnson and Kyle Snyder, which is all that matters for my point. Lester looks pretty averageish, given command and stuff. That makes him easily the second best pitcher in the Sox rotation.

RM - you need to account for leverage. Whoever takes over Papelbon's innings is taking over an LI of ~1.8. Those 83 innings are equivalent to maybe 130 starter innings.
   34. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 11, 2006 at 04:09 AM (#2136704)
the thing is that Theo wouldn't have had to give up anyone who's going to make a difference in the Red Sox's future @ the deadline.

i.e. wouldn't have to give up Pedoria, any young players on the big league roster. or anyone from last years draft

Redman would have been cheap.

Craig Wilson was free.

Lidle and Abreu were free, the price was steep, but the red sox have a lot of $ coming off the books, and should have a number of good cheap young players for the next few years.

I like Theo, but since 2004, he just seems to love throwing big money at mediocre players.


Is Beckett ever getting better? Before this season I'd have said he was a easy Hall of Fame player, but he's looked BAD on the mound.
   35. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: August 11, 2006 at 04:25 AM (#2136761)
Is Beckett ever getting better? Before this season I'd have said he was a easy Hall of Fame player, but he's looked BAD on the mound.

What?
   36. Xander Posted: August 11, 2006 at 04:25 AM (#2136762)
Not fun. Not fun at all.

I've been on a big "DFA Loretta for the hell of it" kick recently. He's a goner after the season. And I wonder if they can parlay Mike Lowell's into something this offseason. I wouldn't mind moving Youkilis back to 3rd and exploring the 1B available on the trade market. This team is just filled with too many old, clunky players like Loretta, Lowell, Nixon, Timlin, etc. Obviously Pedroia is the more than capable replacement for Loretta. WMP is an upgrade to Nixon. I believe we have enough relief prospects on the horizon to fill in for Timlin. The only issue is filling in one of the corners. Youkilis can shift to either one, so that makes it somewhat easier. We'll see. This is why you have to develop your own talent now. The days of the "Premier Free Agent" are all but extinct. That's a good thing though...
   37. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: August 11, 2006 at 04:31 AM (#2136778)
I wouldn't mind moving Youkilis back to 3rd and exploring the 1B available on the trade market.


Matt Stairs is a FA, right? He wouldn't be bad for a cheap solution there. I'd also see if M's would move Ben Broussard for a reasonable price.
   38. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: August 11, 2006 at 04:55 AM (#2136857)
Before this season I'd have said he was a easy Hall of Fame player, but he's looked BAD on the mound.

What? He's 26 years old and has yet to post a 200 inning, 100 ERA+ season. Even Jose Lima had 2 of those by the time he was 26. Josh Beckett has great stuff without a doubt but it takes a lot more than that to get in the HOF.
   39. 1k5v3L Posted: August 11, 2006 at 05:11 AM (#2136887)
nd I wonder if they can parlay Mike Lowell's into something this offseason.


My guess is the Padres can offer Josh Bard back...

And I'm sure AZ's own Chris Carter will be available in a trade for pitching...
   40. J. Cross Posted: August 11, 2006 at 05:22 AM (#2136893)
I think having a 130 million dollar payroll and being on the outside looking in in regard to the playoffs is damning failure of the management staff and players.

What if you compare it to another team that's spending $100 million more and has only 3 more wins. Even the Pirates management could dig up 3 extra wins for $100 million.

As much as I'd like to pile on, the Red Sox are among the 6 best teams in baseball and 2-6 are all probably fairly close. If they miss the playoffs, they've underperformed but I think I'd stop short of "daming failure of the management staff and players." Not that Sox management hasn't made mistakes.

Now, the Cubs at $95M. That's a damning failure.
   41. J. Cross Posted: August 11, 2006 at 05:46 AM (#2136906)
And I'm sure AZ's own Chris Carter will be available in a trade for pitching...

I think Chris Carter for Lenny Dinardo would fit well into the DBacks desire for GB pitchers but I don't know what the Sox would do with Chris Carter.
   42. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 11, 2006 at 05:51 AM (#2136908)
Matt Stairs is an OK bench player, but he'd be badly exposed playing everyday, esp if he had to play the field.
He has some pretty big holes in his swing. Though, again he'd be a solid 1st guy ff the bench for an NL team.
Oh, and I think he might retire after this year too.

After the red sox traded for him, and with his blisters behind him, Beckett could have had a nice Schilling-like career. Plus he already had one ring and a WS MVP.
   43. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 11, 2006 at 05:57 AM (#2136911)
Just eyeing the 2006-2007 free agent 1B and 3B, I can;t see anyone who comes out looking liek a better option than Youkilis/Lowell.

They can only really upgrade at SS and 2B, and not by much (I think A-Gone and Pedoria will start there next year).


I can see OF defense continuing to be a problem next year, this team has 3 DH's.
   44. Walt Davis Posted: August 11, 2006 at 06:09 AM (#2136915)
Trade a bunch of prospects for a major league potential ace, smart decision. Trade a bunch of cheap rookie pitchers with tremendous upsides to possibly incrementally improve the team’s chances in 2006, dumb decision.

So, ummm, trading a bunch of prospects for Roy Oswalt would be dumb or smart? I'm assuming the first line refers to Beckett. (Pedro? Schilling? certainly the latter was already an ace) If you can sign Beckett, why couldn't you sign Oswalt?
   45. 1k5v3L Posted: August 11, 2006 at 06:14 AM (#2136919)
Who is Lenny Denardo? The guy from American Idol?

The Sox could use Carter at 1b so they can move Youks to 3b. Eventually they can slide him at DH once Papi signed with the Yankees...
   46. J. Cross Posted: August 11, 2006 at 06:22 AM (#2136921)
They might rather try Wily Mo at first base and between Wily Mo and Manny they already have a 2nd and 3rd DH on the team.

Lenny Dinardo's pecota and Dinardo's Baseball Cube page.

He'd be the DBacks #2 starter. Of course, you or I might be the DBacks #2 starter.
   47. Raskolnikov Posted: August 11, 2006 at 06:36 AM (#2136927)
Actually, it struck me tonight that Soriano would be a good fit for the Sox. Youk/Petunia/Papi/Manny/Soriano should score a lot of runs. They'd also have to get a CF with greater range than Coco to cover all the acres of ground between Manny and Sori.

Now that Abreu is showing that he still has some left in that tank, he would have made a great fit with Youk at the top of the lineup. Don't know why Theo didn't beat the Yanks' offer.
   48. J. Cross Posted: August 11, 2006 at 06:49 AM (#2136936)
Please, let's not forget Wily Mo. The guy could be a beast he just needs to play.
   49. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 11, 2006 at 07:03 AM (#2136943)
Yeah, as much as I love Arroyo, the sox are woefully void of pwer-hitting prospects, Wily helps.

Can Soriano play right? He's a god.
   50. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: August 11, 2006 at 07:51 AM (#2136948)
I want seombody to stick a shotgun in my mouth and pull the trigger

NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW
   51. OlePerfesser Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:18 PM (#2136983)
1) I sympathize with those who are out on a window ledge. Easy to get depressed when you're swept in KC (which hasn't happened since the Lou Gorman era, BTW). But the post-All Star swoon is still in the small-sample-size and therefore-dismissible category.

Remember, the Twinkies stared off 17-24. Such streaks inevitably produce disappointment, but they should not produce lasting judgments about the quality of a team (or FO).

2) It might, however, be time for a little energy injection. E.g., Tito clearly doesn't have much confidence in Wily Mo as his #5 hitter--he puts Euclis there against righties (which is defensible--Wily seems to lose what little ability he has to work counts when he's got Papi and Manny on base in front of him).

So maybe we call up Pedroia and plug him in at 2B and leadoff for a while, hit Coco in the 2 slot, and leave Euclis #5 so Wily Mo can relax in #6 or #7? Loretta can take his rather punchless .733 OPS to the bench, getting time occasionally at 3B and SS.

The quantitative significance of such moves might appear trivial, but sometimes the FO has to shake things up a bit just to change some of the psychology in the clubhouse/dugout. I like the chances that a little waterbug like Pedroia can come in and do that (sabermetric heresy!).
   52. Darren Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:23 PM (#2136985)
OleP--

I think the problem with your Pedroia plan (which I like) is that if there is anyone in the Sox lineup that Tito is certain is doing his job, it's Loretta (besides Manny and Papi). Other players are shifted up, down, in, and out of the lineup, but the one constant is that "bat-handling magician" Loretta will start at 2B and bat 2nd.

Plus, even if Tito goes for, he has to get permission from Schilling to change the lineup.
   53. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:26 PM (#2136987)
1) I sympathize with those who are out on a window ledge. Easy to get depressed when you're swept in KC (which hasn't happened since the Lou Gorman era, BTW). But the post-All Star swoon is still in the small-sample-size and therefore-dismissible category.
At least for me, I think this bit of sunshine misses the point. It's not that the Sox project as a sub-500 team going forward. It's that they need to project as a 650 team going forward in order to be a favorite for the playoffs. Two weeks ago, they just needed to keep doing what they were doing, they even had a nice little cushion. Now they're on the outside looking in. It's not about changing our projections, it's about the actual changing situation on the ground.
   54. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 11, 2006 at 12:29 PM (#2136988)
Also, when Schilling goes to 3-0 on consecutive fastballs, in a 1-run game, with the tying run on second, he needs to leave the game. Right away. I can see the case for leaving him in for hte 8th - the pitch count was low - but it became evident pretty quickly that the pitch count wasn't a good measure of his effectiveness. Tito's slow hook really hurt last night.
   55. Mister High Standards Posted: August 11, 2006 at 01:55 PM (#2137030)
MCOA - you are on a heck of a hot streak. Last 2-3 weeks you've been hitting the ball out of the park with your posts. Thank you - heck of a job.
   56. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: August 11, 2006 at 02:01 PM (#2137034)
12-15 since the ASB.

1-5 against the 2 worst teams in the league on this road trip.

Our so-called "ace" blew the game in the 8th inning.

49-46 against the AL this season.

This is a bad baseball team right now. A terrible stretch they're in and I see no obvious way out of it. This is the worst I've seen the team look in 5 years.
   57. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 11, 2006 at 02:14 PM (#2137044)
This is a bad baseball team right now. A terrible stretch they're in and I see no obvious way out of it. This is the worst I've seen the team look in 5 years.
I'm gonna have to disagree.

This team has an excellent offense, an excellent closer, and possibly the odds-on Cy Young at the front of the rotation. They've been struggling in the clutch recently, and they don't have any depth in the rotation. But they're a good team. They have Big Papi.

The stretch coming into the Mueller walk-off game in 2004 was pretty similar, though obviously not as starkly bad. The mid-August '03 run against Seattle, Oakland and Baltimore was nasty, too.

My concern is that, after those bad stretches, the '03 and '04 Sox put on great runs to claim spots in the playoffs. Just as much as I think bad stretches like these don't significantly define a team's projection going forward, I also think you can't count on a huge winning streak to make up for these sorts of struggles.

We do have Big Papi, though.
   58. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: August 11, 2006 at 02:22 PM (#2137047)
I can't really see this team getting hot against the good clubs in the AL. If they can't beat KC, what's going to happen when the White Sox and Yankees come to town? They could have gotten hot by beating these shitty teams and carrying that confidence over to the harder games next week. The couldn't do it.

They got shut down last night by a pitcher with an ERA over 8. They had so many horrible at bats it looked like they had a plane to catch immenently.

They've got exactly 2 players producing right now: Papi and Manny. That's nowhere near enough. I see too many players upset about the non-moves at the trading deadline and not enough guys taking care of the business at hand. That tells me this team isn't confident enough to make any type of run. They certainly pissed away the momentum of the Fausto Carmona show before this roadtrip.

This is a really dark time for the club.
   59. Jim Furtado Posted: August 11, 2006 at 03:18 PM (#2137097)
So, ummm, trading a bunch of prospects for Roy Oswalt would be dumb or smart? I'm assuming the first line refers to Beckett. (Pedro? Schilling? certainly the latter was already an ace) If you can sign Beckett, why couldn't you sign Oswalt?

It all depends. Who are the players the Sox would be giving up? Can the Sox get Oswalt to sign an extension before the deal is made (he's a free agent after the 2007 season)? It's the specifics of any trade proposal that determines whether a deal is dumb or smart.
   60. Daryn Posted: August 11, 2006 at 03:33 PM (#2137111)
This team has an excellent offense, an excellent closer, and possibly the odds-on Cy Young at the front of the rotation.

I'm not sure what you mean by "odds-on", but if you mean "6th most likely to win", I agree.
   61. Darren Posted: August 11, 2006 at 03:48 PM (#2137132)
I think you deal prospects for Oswalt, extension or no. He's just that good and you're probably going to get picks if you can't resign him.

I don't think you can really deal away Lester, though, because you're creating another hole in your current rotation.
   62. Darren Posted: August 11, 2006 at 03:49 PM (#2137133)
I also like post 53 as a good explanation of how this team, though it's still good, is in some trouble.
   63. OlePerfesser Posted: August 11, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2137137)
...this bit of sunshine misses the point

Maybe. But it's also possible that you're missing my point (and I'm not trying to be snarky, so apologies if the printed word makes it look that way). My basic point is that people are getting excessively depressed about the quality of the team based on a small sample.

Let's talk about the Twinkies a moment: They went 17-24 (.415) out of the gate, and have gone 50-23 (.685) since. Are the Twins a .415 team or a .685 team? Neither, of course. Nor are they, necessarily, a .588 team (though that might be the best guess--we'll see when the dust settles and/or Liriano's MRI comes back).

More to your point, in mid-May did Minnesotans see the .685 stretch coming? Hell no--not those Scandinavian types (did you see Prairie Home Companion BTW? Keillor's got a great line about how Minnesotans have been brought up never to be happy). They wrote their team off--and we're doing the same damn thing based on a 12-15 stretch and a short but demoralizing losing streak. But it's just not wise to make projections based on small samples.

And you're projecting all over the place: asserting, e.g., we need to play .650 ball and go 32-17 to make the playoffs (or be the "favorite" to do so--though I dunno what levels of probability you'd need to satisfy that criterion) pre-supposes the Chisox will go 29-20. That's certainly a defensible projection, but it's a projection.

My argument is that we really shouldn't over-weight the last few games in making such projections. I think the two teams are damned close in quality (e.g., our 3rd-order WPCT is .565, theirs is .562); I think making up 2 games over 49 is sufficiently do-able that I'm not losing any sleep over the recent past.

The danger of over-weighting a few observations in making forecasts is you might miss some pretty dramatic and enjoyable reversals of fortune. E.g., after getting blitzed in 3 stratight games of a best-of-7 in October '04, those who put the shotguns in their mouths missed a nice little run. You might remember it.

--Mr. Sunshine
   64. OlePerfesser Posted: August 11, 2006 at 04:01 PM (#2137147)
And, of course, since I had a meeting between the time I started writing post 63 and finished it, I missed the following:

Just as much as I think bad stretches like these don't significantly define a team's projection going forward...

If that's the way you really feel, then we have a lot more in common than I thought. It is, in fact, my "small sample size" point.

As to the "changed situation," I'm arguing this team is better than it has recently played (not hard to do), and good enough to make up 2 games on Ozzie & Co. (harder, but very do-able).
   65. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: August 11, 2006 at 05:03 PM (#2137210)
Arroyo hasn't won in 7 weeks -- he'd have tanked just when we needed him.

Excellent logic there, km. Truly and verily.
   66. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 11, 2006 at 05:09 PM (#2137216)
As to the "changed situation," I'm arguing this team is better than it has recently played (not hard to do), and good enough to make up 2 games on Ozzie & Co. (harder, but very do-able).
Yeah, but a lot harder. I'm not giving up - I'm a fan, I watch the games. I'm saying that we're much less likely to make the playoffs now than a week ago. I'm criticizing hte construction of this team because they are defined by their success or lack thereof up to this date, and I find it pretty unimpressive.
   67. villageidiom Posted: August 12, 2006 at 04:48 AM (#2137862)
If they can't beat KC, what's going to happen when the White Sox and Yankees come to town?

To predict the future, if we could glean all we need to know from one three-game series I could answer you. But that's not the way it works, because one three-game series for the purpose of extrapolation is meaningless.

In my opinion what's going to happen when the White Sox and Yankees come to town is that the Red Sox will win more than they lose, because Boston's home-field advantage will outweigh any slight mismatch between the teams. And the mismatch is slight: given their current records, with 8 vs. teams of the caliber of NY or CHI at a neutral site, the average outcome is 3.9 wins for Boston - in other words, likely a split. Take the neutral site out of the equation and the average outcome is 5.04 wins for Boston.

Despite the events of the past two weeks, I still see this team ending the regular season in the range of 95-98 wins. It will not be easy, and yes they will need to play better than they have the last few weeks; but I think they will.
   68. Mattbert Posted: August 12, 2006 at 08:40 AM (#2137936)
The problem was that they were overconfident in their rotation depth coming into the season, and they traded Arroyo and made Papelbon the closer. I love Wily Mo, and Papelbon's been one of the most valuable players in baseball, but it left the Sox with sub-replacement production at the back of the rotation. They thought that Dinardo/Alvarez could shore up the back of the rotation, they thought that Wells/Wakefield/Schilling could be counted on for heavy use, they were wrong.
I disagree with your diagnosis, Mikael. Even after the Arroyo trade, the Sox were left with the following nominal rotation candidates (with age as of Opening Day and average season from 2003-2005, per ESPN, in parentheses):

Josh Beckett, 25 (159.1 IP, 3.41 ERA, 157 K, 56 BB)
Matt Clement, 31 (191.6 IP, 4.13 ERA, 169 K, 75 BB) - Happy Birthday, Matt! (8/12/74)
Lenny DiNardo, 26 (42.3 IP, 3.40 ERA, 36 K, 17 BB) - pre-2006 career MLB totals, not an average
Curt Schilling, 39 (162.7 IP, 3.62 ERA, 161 K, 30 BB)
Tim Wakefield, 39 (205.3 IP, 4.35 ERA, 145 K, 67 BB)
David Wells, 42 (197.9 IP, 4.10 ERA, 103 K, 61 BB)

That's a high risk group, certainly. There are young guys who either are inexperienced or have health concerns, old guys who either have health concerns or are just plain old, and Clement who is neither particularly young nor old but was coming off a so-so year in which he'd been hit in the head. However, despite the risk, I don't think it was especially foolhardy to consider this a deep group, especially with Alvarez, Lester, and (depending on what one expected from Foulke) Papelbon as additional backup. Again, we all knew this wasn't a staff full of safe bets, but that's why it was good thing the Sox had a lot of bets. There was no shortage of things that could go wrong, but did even the more pessimistic among us expect all of these things to befall the starting staff?

- Beckett struggles (mightily) with the NL-to-AL transition (or maybe just pitches like crap)
- Clement is ghastly and/or injured, limping through 1/3rd of the season before being DLed
- DiNardo doesn't deliver on his previous record of reasonable success
- Wakefield misses at least a month or more due to injury
- Wells makes 2 starts before the trading deadline

It's not extraordinarily surprising that these guys have had some injury and/or performance issues, of course; all that can be filed under the Risk Chicken coming home to roost. The notable thing is that the "failures" have been about as bad as one could have anticipated. As was mentioned, the length of time Wakefield's missed is somewhat surprising, despite his age. For another example, nobody was picking Clement as a Cy Young candidate, but an expectation of 200 league average innings wasn't reaching for the moon. I think even his detractors would grant that getting just 60-odd dreadful innings out of him this year was not a likely outcome. What's unusual about all these issues with the starting pitchers is not simply that problems have occurred, but rather the severity or magnitude of those problems.

Now, lest I be considered a hopeless apologist for the FO, I do think they could've done better than Johnson and Snyder as rotation filler. Once they lost Wells and Clement, they could have been more aggressive in pursuing another starter farther in advance of the deadline. The rotation was not an issue that arose suddenly; plenty of time had passed during the See What You've Got third of the season to know the depth was going to be thinner than expected, and plenty of time remained during the Address Your Needs third to acquire a quality arm. And in the bullpen, the Riske deal has kind of fallen through the cracks, but that one was pretty poor.
   69. OlePerfesser Posted: August 12, 2006 at 12:22 PM (#2137950)
Home sweet home.

Especially gratifying about last night's performance was that the Sox got in to Logan about 6 a.m. (thanks to some terror-search-related delays, apparently), while the O's had an off day. I was prepared for a sleep-walking performance, and didn't get it.

How 'bout Lowell? Stealing 3rd, with those feet, after taking one in the squash and launching himself into the stands? Gotta love that guy.

Anyway, I'm cautiously optimistic that this signals Pantload is going to serve up quality innings the last 7 weeks. Doing so will expose the weaker elements of the 'pen considerably less.

Also optimistic that Snyder is finding his niche (i.e., "failed starter who can give you 2-3 quality innings in relief every 3rd day), either for the remainder of this year or going forward. DiNardo is apparently on his way back and might be another reason we'll see less of Tavarez and Seanez (otherwise known as "Theo's Twin Brain Cramps").

Finally, I agree with Mattbert's post (though what the hell is he doing up at 4:40 a.m.?), especially the last para. To be optimistic is not to be Pollyannish. It is definitely the case that, "Once they lost Wells and Clement, they could have been more aggressive in pursuing another starter..." But rather than do a low-degree-of-difficulty move (Livan, anyone? He's good enough for Josh Byrnes), Theo apparently tried the equivalent of a quad jump, and landed on his keester. No way to deny it.

So now we're left to hope that Jason Johnson can step up and give a few quality starts until, perhaps, another "acquisition from the DL" might arrive to reinforce us. It's possible; Johnson's streaky, and he could get on a good roll.
   70. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 12, 2006 at 01:27 PM (#2137963)
Mattbert -

To clarify something, I don't think there's a good case to be made that people like us on the internets should have foreseen the rotation debacle, and should have been opposed to trading Arroyo. I think, however, that when things go bad like this, in particular when players get injured or when minor leaguers don't pan out, it's reasonable to blame the front office. They know a lot more than we do. They have scouting reports, coaches' opinion, medical reports, all this stuff we don't have. I think it's reasonable to say that the people watching Lenny Dinardo every day should have been able to say he very well might not be able to get major leaguers out, that the medical and training staff could have recognized Wake's back problems, stuff like that. I'm very wary of using random variation to excuse a front office when they do this for a living and we do it when we're bored at work.
   71. villageidiom Posted: August 12, 2006 at 03:52 PM (#2138030)
I think another way of spinning Mattbert's post is that we all saw the depth of pitching at the start - seven possible quality starters (Mattbert's list, plus Arroyo and Papelbon, minus Dinardo) - and complained through most of the late offseason that we didn't have any outfield depth (a LF, no CF, and an oft-injured RF, backed by Stern and eventually maybe Kapler). Well, they filled CF, got a quality OF bat in Pena, and gave up some of their rotational depth to do it. They also assigned some of their rotational depth (Papelbon) to the bullpen, where it has been an unqualified success.

Regarding Tavarez and Seanez, those are bullpen positions that don't require more than filler. Really, you only need one of them to work out OK. Think of them as two coin flips, and all you need is for at least one of them to come out as heads. There's a 75% chance of that, and that's a decent bet. Unfortunately, both came out tails, and the rotation fell apart, and the offense stopped hitting, and all that was going on at the same time. Certainly the FO took risks, as all FO's must do; and they certainly made some moves I wouldn't have made. But to put quality arms at the back of the bullpen when the rotation is filled with innings-eaters, just in case all the innings-eaters get hurt, is nonsense.

Having said that, I do have to side with Mikael in one aspect: the FO should take the blame. That's not to say that they made bad decisions a priori that should have been avoided; I really can't say, because I don't know if the info they had was good enough to help in this respect. Rather, I'm merely saying that they're in the position of responsibility here, and should take the blame for choosing this set of risks.
   72. OlePerfesser Posted: August 12, 2006 at 05:00 PM (#2138056)
Think of them as two coin flips

Two fairly expensive coin flips.

One thing we were hoping for with Theo was that he'd be creative enough to engineer relatively inexpensive fixes at the margins, thereby freeing up cash to spend on truly elite foundational players. Tavarez, Seanez, and Snow were just big wastes of money this winter, and of playing time this summer. These were identifiably bad moves at the time; in that sense, they're part of what MCoA is getting at about the disappointing roster construction (about which there was lively debate here this off-season).

But some off-season risks have turned out nicely--e.g., Lowell, and to a lesser extent The Venezuelan Vacuum Cleaner.

The bottom line is they're in contention, and while we all wish we could get a do-over on the last 10 games, we can make up a couple of measly games on the MFY and/or Ozzie & Co. Be a helluva lot easier if Johnson starts a hot streak today, though.
   73. Mattbert Posted: August 12, 2006 at 05:30 PM (#2138090)
what the hell is he doing up at 4:40 a.m.?
Celebrating my man Matt Clement's birthday, of course. It was only 1:40AM, though. I'm a west coast pimp.
   74. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: August 12, 2006 at 09:49 PM (#2138409)
Heck, if they started Cora this year, he would have given them everything Loretta has, and they wouldn't have had to make 2 trades with SD.


Or kept Tony G
   75. PJ Martinez Posted: August 13, 2006 at 02:03 AM (#2138686)
kevin,

that could all be described as stockpiling depth. I don't really see how Snow hurt the team. Pedroia might be better defensively than Loretta, but I bet at this point his offensive numbers would be more or less equal-- maybe, at best, slightly better (and, of course, maybe worse). Supposedly they've traded Stern now, right? I'm not sure he would have fetched anything significant earlier on. Murphy might have an upside, but he's not going to reach it this year. They haven't traded him, so I don't think they've lost anything in that trade-off either.

I suppose if they hadn't been interested in Loretta, they'd still have Cla Meredith, and maybe he'd help, but I'm not sure about that, either.
   76. RobertMachemer Posted: August 13, 2006 at 03:18 AM (#2138736)
another reason we'll see less of Tavarez and Seanez (otherwise known as "Theo's Twin Brain Cramps").
I think that's a bit harsher towards Seanez than he deserves. He had a lousy April, but since then he's been (basically) fine -- certainly in comparison to his teammates in the pen -- and is having an okay year overall.

(ERA numbers are from ESPN's team page -- may not include today's game. dERA numbers includetoday's game).

player    dERA   ERA
Papelbon  2.24  0.94
Delcarmen 2.61  4.29
Hansen    3.73  5.26
Seanez    4.27  3.89
Timlin    4.33  3.14
Snyder    4.64  4.61
Tavarez   5.13  5.03 
   77. tfbg9 Posted: August 13, 2006 at 04:04 AM (#2138773)
"I think that's a bit harsher towards Seanez than he deserves. He had a lousy April, but since then he's been (basically) fine -- certainly in comparison to his teammates in the pen -- and is having an okay year overall."

No offense, and with all due respect, but have you been watching the games? Seanez has been that maddening pitcher that has, with few exceptions to his pattern, stunk whenever his inning had any bearing on the outcome of the game, but put up zeroes garbage time. Its kind of funny, in a dark, bitter way, actually. Plus, once a man reaches base, he throws a pitch every 5 minutes or so.
   78. RobertMachemer Posted: August 13, 2006 at 07:40 AM (#2138833)
Nope, I don't get to watch the games. I'm not sure it's a drawback -- when I used to watch the games, my likes and dislikes were often irrationally stronger than the players merited. I think Seanez has reached that point for a lot of people. Yes, he's not pitched well in the innings that count -- but he's not gotten a lot of them since April. Has he pitched better because he's pitching meaningless innings? Or has he pitched better and it's just happened to be at the same time as he's pitched meaningless innings? Impossible to know...
   79. RobertMachemer Posted: August 13, 2006 at 07:53 AM (#2138834)
Pick out Seanez from what opposing batters have done against 4 Sox pitchers:

A: .259 AVG, .305 OBP, .416 SLG, .721 OPS
B: .263 AVG, .340 OBP, .417 SLG, .757 OPS
C: .299 AVG, .346 OBP, .368 SLG, .714 OPS
D: .300 AVG, .357 OBP, .430 SLG, .787 OPS

In order of AVG, best to worst: A, B, C, D
In order of OBP, best to worst: A, B, C, D
In order of SLG, best to worst: C, A, B, D
In order of OPS, best to worst: A, C, B, D

And, for those of you who want to guess...

In order of age, oldest to youngest: A, B, C, D

All four are relievers on the 2006 Sox.

I'm not saying Seanez is great, but I think he hasn't been significantly worse than, say, Craig Hansen, and no one is talking about his being a disaster (although people aren't talking about his being great either).

Tavarez, meanwhile: .300 AVG, .377 OBP, .480 SLG

Tavarez IS a disaster. Seanez, less obviously so, if one at all.
   80. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 13, 2006 at 01:22 PM (#2138859)
Seanez has been a disaster, and I think teddy's basically right - it's something that's very easy to miss if you haven't been watching the games, and impossible to miss if you have.

Seanez has the lowest WPA of any reliever on the Red Sox, at -1.4 (that's in wins below average.) Despite Tavarez' superficially weaker stats, he's only at -1.2.

This is because Seanez's good outings have consistently come in the lowest-leverage situations possible, and he as consistently failed when it matters. Tito has, wholly understandably, decided not to risk Seanez out there when the game is on the line, if at all possible.

Seanez has an overall LI on 0.56, but in his outings where he hasn't allowed a run or for an inherited runner to score, the LI is 0.29. I counted only one game in which his LI was >1, and in which he managed to have a successful outing. (6/19 vs. Washington)
   81. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: August 13, 2006 at 01:30 PM (#2138864)
I said it when they picked him up and I say it now....WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY? Seanez stunk the last time they had him on the roster, and he is stinking again. Waive him and trade him to the Padres. Take anything they offer in return, as long as it doesn't include taking on a big salary. Please. End the nightmare.
   82. OlePerfesser Posted: August 13, 2006 at 01:56 PM (#2138872)
In addition to the "garbage time" issues tfbg and MCoA have raised about Seanez, Robert (and a week or two ago it was me they were persuading on that score, as I was naively suggesting Seanez was "coming around") there's the cost effectiveness issue.

Seanez and Tavarez just look like Ed Wade-type moves, both this winter and now. And the basic point was, we hope for more creativity from Theo (or whoever was calling the shots on these deals).
   83. villageidiom Posted: August 13, 2006 at 04:27 PM (#2138972)
The whole issue of Seanez pitching in garbage time is kind of my point back in the "coin flips" post. The last two spots in the pen, but especially the last one, are for garbage time. Low leverage is probably a more appropriate description, but whatever the case there will be times where you need a reliever to pitch low leverage situations.

I suppose you could have called up someone from the minors for the job, but you don't want a good AAA pitcher in that spot; rather, you want a good AAA pitcher to pitch regularly, and to get enough high-LI experience that he won't be shellshocked once he gets in one (and so you can learn whether he can handle them). And you don't want a bad AAA pitcher to do it, because (a) there's likely no upside to it, and (b) it doesn't instill confidence in the good AAA pitchers when someone worse gets promoted ahead of them, fails miserably, and yet keeps the job.

That leaves the Proven Veteran Zombies who roam the earth looking to eat the brains of the manager: people just like Tavarez and Seanez. Unfortunately, to get them it still costs money, because many of them would rather retire than accept something lower than $X. And also unfortunately, neither one has demonstrated any upside. And also unfortunately, the rotation hasn't gone deep enough into games to shield the team, and us, from overexposure to Tavarez and The Strawman.
   84. Mattbert Posted: August 13, 2006 at 04:47 PM (#2138983)
Joe, you missed the obvious chance to summarize your feelings thusly: NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, WAIVE SEANEZ NOOOOOW!

Moreover, the decisions to do without Riske, Bradford, and to a lesser extent Meredith, have made for a salty wound, given he crummy performance of the EZ boys.
   85. RobertMachemer Posted: August 13, 2006 at 05:03 PM (#2138994)
Well, see, here's the thing: I'm unconvinced that Seanez cannot be good in higher leverage outings and can only be good in lower leverage ones. Why should I believe there is such a thing as a clutch pitcher (absent proof) if the number of clutch hitters we can identify amid random chance is incredibly low? How was he last year and the year before in those situations? Is there any reason to think that his poor performance in higher-leveraged innings this year is anything more than random luck, and if it has been random luck to this point, is there any reason not to expect the luck to be even from here on?

Like I say, I'm not saying he's especially good. Papelbon and Delcarmen and Timlin have clearly been better. I'd say Seanez has been better than Tavarez and roughly been as good as Hansen. (Snyder needs to pitch more for me to get a feel for how he is, though he did have one sterling relief effort in the come-back game). That's not great, but it's not bad, relative to the other people in the pen. A healthy Foulke and/or a decent lefty should mean Tavarez is gone and the Sox make a choice between releasing Seanez and demoting Hansen -- but I don't think that means that Seanez is bad, I just think that's a statement on the slightly-better pitching of the other guys around him (except Tavarez and possibly Hansen).
   86. OlePerfesser Posted: August 13, 2006 at 05:14 PM (#2139005)
Well, I hope you're right, Robert; maybe Seanez got squared away a couple months agao and just hasn't had much chance to prove it. Unfortunately, he's now got an uphill battle convincing Tito he deserves that chance. But there's still 7 weeks to go--maybe something will break right for him.

On the Proven Veteran Zombies front, vi, it's pretty clear Theo was willing to pay real money for these guys because he was hoping for more than Zombiehood or acceptable garbage IP from them (esp. Tavarez, who is on a 2-year deal). There's just no way to deny that those investments are out of the money right now, and unlikely ever to be regarded as wise buys.
   87. RobertMachemer Posted: August 13, 2006 at 05:30 PM (#2139033)
Well, as I say, I'm in no hurry to give Seanez higher leverage innings to prove any sort of point. There are at least three guys currently in the pen who I think are clearly better (Papelbon, Timlin, Delcarmen), one guy in the pen who's gonna be used for long-man/spot starting (Snyder), and then Hansen and Seanez and Tavarez. Theoretically, the Sox have a situational lefty and Foulke, as well. That pretty much makes Tavarez the only guy up there who should be lower than Seanez on the pecking order -- if Seanez starts getting more opportunities in higher-leverage opportunities, it's because someone better than him has failed or gotten injured, and I definitely don't want those to happen. I just don't think there should be a huge rush to release Seanez (not while Tavarez is still around and while Hansen still has options), nor do I think there should be so much gnashing and wailing of teeth when Seanez comes into a game.
   88. OlePerfesser Posted: August 13, 2006 at 06:13 PM (#2139083)
There are two doubleheaders vs. the MFY in which everybody, right down to the #12 or #13 pitcher, had better contribute! But I see your point.
   89. villageidiom Posted: August 14, 2006 at 03:12 PM (#2140094)
On the Proven Veteran Zombies front, vi, it's pretty clear Theo was willing to pay real money for these guys because he was hoping for more than Zombiehood or acceptable garbage IP from them (esp. Tavarez, who is on a 2-year deal). There's just no way to deny that those investments are out of the money right now, and unlikely ever to be regarded as wise buys.

The options are not as simplistic as I'm going to lay out below, but let's go down this path anyway. What if your options are:

(A) Spend "real money" on a couple of PVZ for the back of the bullpen. Upside: one of them actually pitches well, and can handle more than garbage time. Downside: spending a lot of money for a steaming pile.

(B) Promote a couple of AAA scrubs for the back of the pen. Upside: cost is low. Downside: the guaranteed steaming pile.

(C) Promote some quality AAA arms for the back of the pen. Upside: cost is low, performance could be high. Downside: he's not used to irregular work, gets injured, and potentially eliminates future contributions from that player.

(D) Spend "real money" on quality PV's for the back of the pen. Upside: high performance, and can be used interchangeably with the rest of the pen parts. Downside: very high cost.

To me, (D) is not a real option for the Red Sox, at least not while Manny Ramirez is between 15% and 20% of their salary outlay. Also I think (C) is not a viable option, simply because player development is very important, and it's best left to the "controlled" environment of AAA, relatively strict pitch counts, and regular work. If someone is truly ready to contribute meaningfully to the MLB roster, then put them in a meaningful position. That leaves (A) and (B). (A) carries higher cost, but also (likely) higher upside. If I'm running the Red Sox, and we're trying to compete, I'd choose (A).

Now, there's certainly an argument that $5.2 million is too much to spend on those last two spots in the pen. And, certainly, compared to the results they've been getting, it is too much. (Tavarez is underperforming every projection, no?) But compared to the free agent market - who was available, and what it typically takes to land free agents of that caliber - I don't know.
   90. chris p Posted: August 14, 2006 at 03:22 PM (#2140101)
(E) Get better at identifying potential quality relief pitchers. Upside: cost is low, high performance. Downside: it's hard, and teams keep the scouts that can do this effectively.

This is obviously the best option and I believe we are making excellent progress on this front. Papelbon was a 4th round draft pick, Bryce Cox appears to be a top relief prospect. Cla Meredith is putting up great numbers for San Diego (oops). If we can start stacking the bullpen with young guys with good stuff from the draft, then the bullpen will be a major asset.

What needs improvement is better evaluation of professional pitchers (in other people's minor leagues and the major leagues).
   91. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 14, 2006 at 03:29 PM (#2140106)
I'm glad I refreshed - I was trying to make hte point that chris p made in #91, but I wasn't saying it nearly as well.

Not all Proven Veteran Zombies are alike - some are good, some are bad. The Sox need to sign the good ones, and under Theo, they usually haven't. (They got Mike Timlin, though.) As a high-payroll team without a freakish minor league pitching pipeline, the Sox are pretty much always going to follow plan (a) in villageidiom's outline, the question is how to sign good, mid-level relievers, rather than bad ones.

Also, the ez boys weren't planned as the back end of hte bullpen. They were supposed to set up for Foulke - they looked like #2 and #3 before hte Sox moved Papelbon to the pen.
   92. chris p Posted: August 14, 2006 at 03:42 PM (#2140117)
i just want to reiterate how awesome the cla has been this year: 22 innings, 3 runs allowed, 13 hits, 0 home runs, 16 k's, 3 bb's. he'd be #2 behind papelbon right now.

As a high-payroll team without a freakish minor league pitching pipeline

i do think this is the long term plan. papelbon, cla, hansen, delcarmen, anibal, ... bowden, buchholz, kris johnson, bryce cox, edgar martinez, masterson, felix doubront ... looks like a pretty decent pipeline to me.
   93. chris p Posted: August 14, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#2140122)
i forgot about lester but that's becuase i was thinking about the bullpen and pitchers that got away.
   94. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: August 14, 2006 at 05:37 PM (#2140236)
The Sox need to sign the good ones, and under Theo, they usually haven't.The Sox need to sign the good ones, and under Theo, they usually haven't.

Embree, Foulke, Leskanic, Williamson, BK Kim (v 2003), Myers, and Lyon say hi. Yeah, most of them weren't effective for long periods of time, but isn't that part of the deal with relievers? If they were more consistent they'd be closers or starters.

Generally, I agree that the Red Sox haven't done a great job with bullpen construction, but they did put together a pretty decent bullpen in 2004 - 4th in the league in ERA (not adjusted for park, couldn't find ERA+).
   95. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 14, 2006 at 06:18 PM (#2140288)
Embree, Foulke, Leskanic, Williamson, BK Kim (v 2003), Myers, and Lyon say hi
...
Generally, I agree that the Red Sox haven't done a great job with bullpen construction
I didn't say the Red Sox have never found good bullpen pitchers. Though I do think it's telling that even on that list, you have Foulke, who required a 4/24 contract, and Kim, who cost a major league starter and then a 2/10 contract. And Brandon Lyon had a -1.25 WPA for the Sox.

When the Sox have done well in the bullpen, it's been because they have an ace closer. Thus, Papelbon in '06 and Foulke in '04. They have struggled to identify second-line talent.
   96. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 14, 2006 at 06:45 PM (#2140321)
You know what's annoying about the Red Sox? They don't show any faith in their own talent evaluation.


Most teams do something like what the Red Sox do - it's called "risk reduction". It's a rare team that will put all of its eggs in one basket when it comes to solving a problem.

-- MWE
   97. PJ Martinez Posted: August 14, 2006 at 07:36 PM (#2140372)
"he'd be #2 behind papelbon right now."

Cla looks like one who got away, but how would he look in the AL East? What kind of hitters as he faced in those 22 innings? 16 K in 22 IP is good, but not amazing. 16/3 K/BB is great, obviously. But in one of the two best divisions in MLB, versus one of the very worst, those numbers might look different.
   98. baudib Posted: August 14, 2006 at 07:55 PM (#2140387)
I think the premise of the article is correct. The core of this team is very old. The good young players (Youkilis, Crisp, Wily Mo) aren't really that young or that good.

The best asset that they have is a group of young pitchers, which means they are a couple of operations away from not having much. You can't really look at this team and say, wow, in three years, this is going to be Lester/Youkilis/Pena carrying the load and feel too good about it.
   99. RobertMachemer Posted: August 14, 2006 at 07:56 PM (#2140389)
the ez boys weren't planned as the back end of hte bullpen. They were supposed to set up for Foulke - they looked like #2 and #3 before hte Sox moved Papelbon to the pen.
Am I counting differently than you? Foulke and Timlin would have been ahead of them in the pecking order -- that makes them the third and fourth relievers in the pen before Papelbon gets moved there -- but either Papelbon or Arroyo (before the trade) was sure to be moving to the pen (assuming all of Beckett, Schilling, Wells, Clement, and Wakefield were healthy) and since Francona clearly thought more of Papelbon as early as the opening game, they couldn't have been any higher than #4 and #5 in a six-man pen. I could well be misremembering all this, however.
   100. villageidiom Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:06 PM (#2140525)
I agree with chris p in #91, though it should also be mentioned that that option is a longer-term one, and one that needs constant care. In the meantime, it brings you back to the other options, which again option A is the way to go for now.

Fun with numbers. I wanted to see what pitcher-seasons were similar to Tavarez' 2004 and 2005, and what those pitchers got for a following year salary. So, using the Lahman database (which has salary info in it), I did the following:

- I limited the study to 2002-2004 seasons. I wanted the salary info to be closer to present-day, and the Lahman database doesn't have the following-year (2006) salaries for the 2005 season.

- I limited the study to pitcher-seasons in which more than half of the pitcher's appearances were in relief. No sense taking the starters and swingmen.

- Using the remaining 450ish pitcher-seasons, I took a ratio of pitcher stats and Tavarez stats in the following three categories: age, ERA, and number of relief appearances. Each ratio always had the larger number in the numerator. For example, if a pitcher-season was age 35, and Tavarez was 32, the ratio was 35/32; if the pitcher-season was age 28, the ratio was 32/28. This meant that the ratio was 1 if a perfect match, and >1 otherwise.

- The above gave me three ratios. I added them together to get a combined "difference score" (DS). A perfect match would be a DS of 3. A slight difference in one category produces a DS close to three; significant differences in one or more categories would move the DS further from 3. Once I had DS calculated for Tavarez 2004 and Tavarez 2005, I sorted them, and took the averages for the top 10 and top 20.

Let's look at Tavarez 2005 as an example. Here's what I have for the top 10:
DS    Year  Pitcher         Age  ERA RelApp

      2005  Julian Tavarez   32 3.43   74

3.07  2003  Scott Eyre       31 3.32   74   
3.07  2004  Felix Rodriguez  32 3.29   76
3.09  2003  Jamie Walker     32 3.32   78
3.10  2002  Brian Boehringer 33 3.39   70
3.11  2004  Damaso Marte     29 3.42   74
3.12  2003  Kerry Ligtenberg 32 3.34   68
3.14  2002  Paul Shuey       32 3.31   67
3.14  2002  Jose Jimenez     29 3.56   74
3.15  2004  Octavio Dotel    31 3.69   77
3.16  2004  Jamie Walker     33 3.20   70

It looks to me like the DS is doing the job. Player-seasons being selected are in the ballpark of Tavarez, and seem a worthy sample for selecting salaries.

Speaking of which, these are the average salaries in the season following those player-seasons:

Tavarez 2005 Top 10 DS: $2.3 million
Tavarez 2005 Top 20 DS: $2.8 million
Tavarez 2004 Top 10 DS: $3.3 million
Tavarez 2004 Top 20 DS: $3.0 million

There are a couple things worth noting in here. First, Tavarez was a free agent after 2005. From a quick review it appears that very few of these performances were in players' walk years, and thus their following-year salaries aren't as reflective of the FA market. I think we should expect free agent salaries to be higher because of the winner's curse, but not by much.

Second, inflation isn't considered. The ratio of (following year's salary) to (current year's salary) league-wide for the 450ish relievers was around 1.08, meaning that salaries in the market rose about 8% a year. None of the salaries above are adjusted for this general inflationary trend; doing so would add around $750k to the above numbers.

If you do all that, then it looks like the market value of Tavarez should have been around $3 million to $4 million per year.

I can repeat the analysis for Seanez if I get the chance.
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