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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: August 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4215684)
I agree with your entire final paragraph including the unfortunate result of Bobby V getting a second chance, this time with "his" guys.

One thing about 2012 is the way it is the opposite of 2007. In 2007 it seemed like the Sox caught a fair amount of luck in terms of timing. Alex Cora had the best month of his life when Dustin Pedroia was struggling, the key pitchers struggled a bit and Kason Gabbard pitched them out of a slump, JD Drew got crazy hot just as the Sox played NL teams to make up for the loss of the DH...stuff like that.

This year, the opposite. Youk gets traded and Gonzalez and Middlebrooks both get hurt in short time. Crawford's injury lingers then Ellsbury gets hurt a week into the season, it just feels like stuff piled up on itself this year. The bad performances hurt but they also seemed to come at inopportune times.
   2. Toby Posted: August 23, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4216044)
I'm a bit surprised -- perhaps pleasantly surprised, I'm not sure -- at the idea that clubhouse issues are a big part of the underperformance. From a sabermetric point of view, at least, isn't the conventional wisdom that managers and chemistry and the like pretty much don't matter?

My gut disagrees with that conventional wisdom, to some degree, and here's my thinking. I think athletic performance depends a great deal on preparation. Athletes need to train, they need to practice, they need to get in shape and stay in shape. Distractions and disharmony don't matter much in the short run -- if a scandal breaks today it isn't going to affect your performance much tonight. But distractions and disharmony can matter in the long run -- if your teammates in the training room are twits you don't like, maybe you don't do your workout when and where and how you usually do, and over time that may erode your physical readiness to play. And stress does matter -- it may cause a player to eat less, practice less, train less. In short, the distractions and disharmony can cause real underperformance -- not because they cause a mental/morale problem right now, but because they can lead to physical readiness problems in the days and weeks ahead.

Some players are able to tune it out better than others, I'm sure. But I'd guess that we have some clubhouse dissension and it's causing guys to not put in as much prep time and conditioning time as they should be.
   3. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: August 23, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4216091)
Youk gets traded and Gonzalez and Middlebrooks both get hurt in short time. Crawford's injury lingers then Ellsbury gets hurt a week into the season, it just feels like stuff piled up on itself this year. The bad performances hurt but they also seemed to come at inopportune times.

Middlebrooks was hurt when Youk got traded. Crawford could have come back at any time. Bringing him back and then shutting him down when they did were both conscious choices.

On another note, I'm looking to bet someone here that BV is still the manager of the Red Sox at the conclusion of the 2013 season. I want 2 to 1; I'll put up a $20 bbref sponsorship to your $40. I was going to wait for the opportunity to come up organically but now I haven't done that.
   4. Dale Sams Posted: August 23, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4216114)
How about just a gentlemen's handshake bet that he won't last *this* regular season?
   5. Ron J2 Posted: August 23, 2012 at 03:31 PM (#4216132)
#2 I wouldn't have said that it doesn't matter, merely that it's impossible to know how things will play out. No two players will react to external influences in the same way.

Hard to think of a player more unhappy than Rickey Henderson was before the 1990 season. Demanded a renegotiation, and when he didn't get it first threatened to hold out and then when he did report said something fairly close to if they're going to pay me like Mike Gallego maybe I should play like Mike Gallego.

He won the MVP. (Gallego reacted with good humor. Said something like I didn't know Rickey thought I was that good)

Or Frank Thomas 1998. Thomas' first poorish season happened while he was going through a divorce. I'm perfectly prepared to believe that this could affect a player's results. Thing is that I'm damned if I can figure out why it would effact his play vs LHP so much more than against RHP.

He hit .277/.396/.516 vs RHP. About 90 points of OPS lower than what you'd expect but how many players would consider
this unacceptable? That's normal performance variation.

He just flat stunk against lefties. .226/.327/.365. I have no idea how almost all of his decline can come against LHP. According to ESPN, he'd hit .385/.507/.815 in the previous 3 years against lefties.

Some players take fielding problems with them to the plate. Some don't.

Teams have won with players feuding. Teams have won with stars who dog it on the field. Teams have won with stars who are enormous ########.

I wouldn't advocate selecting for any of these things, but talent matters and so I'll take a Rogers Hornsby in his prime and hope that nobody shoots him. (and only trade him if I get my price)

   6. Ron J2 Posted: August 23, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4216134)
Dupe.
   7. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: August 23, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4216140)
From a sabermetric point of view, at least, isn't the conventional wisdom that managers and chemistry and the like pretty much don't matter?


I think a lot of it is the scope. If you think about players from the concept of Wins Above Average that BBRef is using (not perfect but it makes my point). Other than Trout no player is more than 5 games above average and no player is more than 5 games below average in the American League. The idea that a truly terrible manager or a truly wonderful esprit de corps could have an impact along that same length is legit.

However, historically I think there has been a lot of thought that a great manager would win his team 20 games or that a terrible clubhouse would turn a 95 win team into a 75 win team. I think a lot of the sabermetric conventional wisdom is backlash against that perceived scope but got perverted to the idea that those issues don't matter at all by some.

Middlebrooks was hurt when Youk got traded.


Not to spend too much time picking nits but Middlebrooks played the first seven games after Youkilis got traded before getting hurt.


On another note, I'm looking to bet someone here that BV is still the manager of the Red Sox at the conclusion of the 2013 season. I want 2 to 1; I'll put up a $20 bbref sponsorship to your $40. I was going to wait for the opportunity to come up organically but now I haven't done that.


Are you betting that he WILL or that he WON'T be the manager. I'm coming around to the idea that he will be as much as I want him not to be.
   8. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: August 23, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4216205)
Super nitpicky on both ends, let's agree that the truth is somewhere in the middle. He had been dealing with hamstring issues variously described as 'tightness,' 'cramps' and 'tweaked' since May. It was then reported that he actually injured the hammy on 7/01.

Are you betting that he WILL or that he WON'T be the manager. I'm coming around to the idea that he will be as much as I want him not to be.

That he will be. I feel somewhat the same as you describe and I am looking for a way to come away with a 'win' even if he's still here in 14 months as I expect.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 23, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4216213)
I'm a bit surprised -- perhaps pleasantly surprised, I'm not sure -- at the idea that clubhouse issues are a big part of the underperformance. From a sabermetric point of view, at least, isn't the conventional wisdom that managers and chemistry and the like pretty much don't matter?
Well, there isn't one sabermetric point of view, but for me at least, I always approach "chemistry / coaching" explanations with significant skepticism. As Ron points out, over and over in baseball history these factors haven't been important in predictable ways to baseball outcomes.

What I think, though, is that the problems of the 2010-2012 Red Sox, and especially of the 2012 Red Sox, don't appear to be easily explicable with our more basic sabermetric tools. There are two primary explanations for team underperformance - they were unlucky, or they weren't as good as we thought. I'm having trouble accepting that these two explanations are sufficient for the 2012 Red Sox, so I'm looking for a third factor.
   10. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: August 23, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4216223)
I'm having trouble accepting that these two explanations are sufficient for the 2012 Red Sox, so I'm looking for a third factor.


The Curse of Takashi Saito.
   11. Dale Sams Posted: August 23, 2012 at 06:07 PM (#4216279)
I always approach "chemistry / coaching" explanations with significant skepticism


How about the tried and not-so-true "If you think you're going to lose, you will?" I know, it's little league ########...still...
   12. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: August 23, 2012 at 07:44 PM (#4216329)
I'm having trouble accepting that these two explanations are sufficient for the 2012 Red Sox, so I'm looking for a third factor.

More and more, 'probably Lucchino's fault' seems to be satisfactory in just about every context.
   13. Dan Posted: August 23, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4216380)
I don't see how they can keep Valentine if the team keeps playing like it has over the past few weeks. They've regressed in every facet of the game from the mediocrity that they already were.
   14. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:32 AM (#4216485)
Dan, see the last para in [3] above. I'm as frustrated as you are, but Valentine is here to stay.
   15. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 24, 2012 at 07:35 AM (#4216517)
I think that the front office wants to keep Valentine, but there's a certain shittiness level at which I don't think they can afford to retain him. The Red Sox currently appear to be playing well below that level. The best shot at getting Bobby V gone and a whole new coaching staff in place, then, is for the Red Sox to be truly bad from here on out. If they end up at Dale's 72 wins, I think Valentine is more likely than not gone.

On the upside, the Sox are currently looking at the 13th pick in the draft, and something like the 7th pick is a not unreasonable possibility if they can just keep losing.
   16. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 07:42 AM (#4216519)
MCoA - good analysis overall, but I've got to disagree with including Bard and Aceves in the 'core' of the team for 2012. Bard certainly should be in there as the set-up man in 2011 but any time someone is converted to starting they can't be counted on to be a core member of the staff in their first year. No one would expect a rookie to be a top 3 pitcher, Bard shouldn't be either. And Aceves, prior to Bailey getting hurt was projected to be the long man out of the pen or even a starter, again, not someone who would considered an irreplaceable part of the staff.
   17. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 20, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4240914)
Man watching Bard last night was depressing. He's got absolutely nothing right now. At this point I'm actually hoping he needs Tommy John surgery because at least then there would be a useful and repairable explanation for his season. The absolute worst part about this season is not that they are going to lose 90+ games but that virtually nothing positive has come out of it. Middlebrooks looks good and Doubront showed signs but there isn't a lot here that makes me think this is going to be easily or quickly repaired.
   18. booond Posted: September 20, 2012 at 10:42 AM (#4240971)
I'm amazed that the conventional wisdom points to Valentine staying. It's looked like he was setting a match to his office the last month.
   19. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4240977)
I'm amazed that the conventional wisdom points to Valentine staying. It's looked like he was setting a match to his office the last month.


I don't think it does anymore. This is a slightly dated thread, my post was the first since August 24th and as you say the last month has been the Bobby Valentine Farewell Tour. I think one of the expectations (at least I had it) post-trade/post-McClure firing was that the Sox were greasing the skids to keep Valentine. "We've shown you CAN fire all the players and with his team Bobby is going to drive this team forward." Instead, the last month has been a disaster and Valentine's own performance and conduct have been a mess. At this point I think it's a near certainty that he's toast.
   20. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 20, 2012 at 11:01 AM (#4240985)
Yeah, I'd be shocked if Valentine stays, at this point. I don't think you could get even get odds on that. He's done.

It really did seem in the weeks before the trade that the front office was making a commitment to Bobby V as the manager at least for the next year or two. I don't know if this was a misreading of the evidence, or if things changed when the club just gave up entirely after the trade. But I don't see any way Valentine can return now.

I've only seen a few games in the last couple weeks, but the Red Sox look like a team that has quit on the season. One of the things I want to look at, when I start blogging again in October, is how the Red Sox 2013 projections will be affected by their entirely awful performance in the final six weeks of the season. How much can we discount this terrible play given that it seems to be more a function of a team that hates their manager and doesn't care about the games? Or is that just my projection - seeing as I hate their manager and don't care about the games?
   21. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 20, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4240993)
At this point I'm actually hoping he needs Tommy John surgery because at least then there would be a useful and repairable explanation for his season.
Nah, it's his shoulder. Dan Bard turned into a different pitcher after April this season (I totally called it, sadly). He was awful in the majors and awful in the minors, with a huge drop in velocity, post April. It'd be great if it were Tommy John, but that all looks like Casey Fossum to me. I think it's his shoulder, and there's a really good chance he's done. Baseball sucks sometimes.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: September 20, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4240998)
How much can we discount this terrible play given that it seems to be more a function of a team that hates their manager and doesn't care about the games? Or is that just my projection - seeing as I hate their manager and don't care about the games?


It sounds like we're looking at CFPS 2.0. I'm excited.
   23. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM (#4241020)
One of the things I want to look at, when I start blogging again in October, is how the Red Sox 2013 projections will be affected by their entirely awful performance in the final six weeks of the season.


I don't think the projections will be heavily impacted because the guys likely to be contributing to the 2013 club have, for the most part, been pretty good in the last several weeks;

Since August 18;
Pedroia - .318/.372/.536
Ellsbury - .301/.333/.407 (and improving it seems)
Ross - .271/.333/.430
Saltalamacchia - .242/.338/.485

Lester - 3.84 ERA (since August 1)
Buchholz - 3.16 ERA (since ASB)

Yeah, some selective endpoints but I think the point remains the same. The guys I give a damn about are generally doing alright. Doubront has struggled but I think that's fatigue, not manager hatred. That guys like Cook, Aceves, Loney, Matsuzaka, Podsednik and Nava have been miserable is neither shocking nor meaningful. Other than Aceves and Nava I don't think any of those guys had any reasonable likelihood of being a member of the 2013 club.

If the Sox put together a team with those guys playing important roles for next year then we're in for a miserable season but we would have forecasted that on August 1st. The manager hatred doesn't matter.
   24. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4241023)
One possible reason for hope. The last time something like this happened was 2001. The Sox hired Kerrigan mid-season who everyone hated and went in the tank. They made some changes but also brought in a well liked manager and came out cooking with gas. They played .500 the last 2/3rds of that season but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see guys like Lester, Buchholz and Pedroia absolutely hit the ground running next April.
   25. Nasty Nate Posted: September 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4241039)
One possible reason for hope. The last time something like this happened was 2001 .... but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see guys like Lester, Buchholz and Pedroia absolutely hit the ground running next April.
.... but have a great team de-railed by an absolute black hole of ####### #### at 1B a la Tony Clark.

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