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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 12, 2011 at 04:11 PM (#4013938)
As a note, this post was inspired by the (unecessarily pissy) argument that I got into over in the Bard thread. I wanted to think out why I was mildly optimistic about Bard, and reasonably confident in Cherington's ability to fill the roster. I tried to think out what would make me more fearful about the Bard conversion, and while I don't think this is the time for offseason pants-pissery, I do see how the case for such could be articulated.
   2. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 12, 2011 at 04:35 PM (#4013974)
Just a few thoughts;

1. I don't agree that Bard has a starter's repertoire. Admittedly I have seen far too little of the change up to have an opinion on it but beyond that he is too inconsistent with his other pitches. He can get away with that in a one inning relief appearance by throwing a 98 MPH fastball with a "hit this, #######\" approach but as a starter that may not be an option. I don't know that he can succeed throwing 93-95 over 6-7 innings.

2. I 100% agree that there is information none of us has access to that are crucial in this decision. Hopefully that will turn for the best.

3. I think Aceves is more likely to be in the rotation in April than Bard. I think he is eager to do it and I think the Sox want to see him there. His track record is not great in that role but it is also small enough in sample size to really take too much out of it. Aceves is the kind of guy who seems like he could become a reliable inning-eater type. He's pretty efficient and is the kind of guy who could roll out 8 IP on 90 pitches on a good night.
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 12, 2011 at 04:50 PM (#4013987)
Admittedly I have seen far too little of the change up to have an opinion on it but beyond that he is too inconsistent with his other pitches. He can get away with that in a one inning relief appearance by throwing a 98 MPH fastball with a "hit this, #######\" approach but as a starter that may not be an option.
Bard throws like 30% sliders. In the vast majority of his appearances he uses his slider as a consistent out pitch. If you're worried about Bard's changeup or his two-seamer, both of which he uses much less regularly, I get that. But I strongly disagree with your characterization of Bard as a one-pitch reliever. It is simply not borne out by either experience or data. There's an argument that Bard is a two-pitch reliever, and that he needs a third pitch, but his approach is not, "hit this, #######\".
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: December 12, 2011 at 04:55 PM (#4013997)
I think it's helpful to remember that even though Bard throws 99, he isn't Billy Wagner out there - so the loss in the bullpen shouldn't be exaggerated too much.
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 12, 2011 at 04:58 PM (#4014007)
The Aceves conversion question is interesting. To lay out the data - and I agree with Jose the sample is small and BABIP is a big factor - these are Aceves' career splits.

as starter - 47 IP, 44 H, 25 R, 4 HR, 22 BB, 24 K, 4.18 ERA, .265 BABIP
as relief - 193 IP, 144 H, 61 R, 19 HR, 50 BB, 143 K, 2.62 ERA, .229 BABIP

The K/BB gap is the big thing that tilts me over to the Aceves / reliever side. I think a leveraged reliever who can get five or six outs when you need it will be more valuable to this club than an averageish starter, and Aceves' terrible K/BB numbers suggest he may be a good step worse than averageish in the rotation.
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:10 PM (#4014023)
I think it's helpful to remember that even though Bard throws 99, he isn't Billy Wagner out there - so the loss in the bullpen shouldn't be exaggerated too much.
Well, Billy Wagner had a HoF peak in the bullpen. Bard projects among the 10-15 best relief pitchers in the world. That's a major asset to risk.

So far, Dan has run ZiPS projections for 12 of 30 clubs, and these are all the relievers who project to a 130 ERA+ or better:

177 ERA+, 49 IP - Romo
165 ERA+, 63 IP - Jansen
152 ERA+, 62 IP - Papelbon
149 ERA+, 73 IP - Marshall
145 ERA+, 65 IP - Robertson
145 ERA+, 71 IP - Bard
143 ERA+, 49 IP - Rivera
142 ERA+, 63 IP - Soriano
132 ERA+, 60 IP - Madson

Among 12 of the highest-payroll clubs in baseball, Bard projects as about the 5th best reliever. He's an elite relief pitcher.

Obviously a near-elite or even good starter is notably more valuable than an elite reliever, and that's the reason you take the risk. But it's risking something of real value.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:23 PM (#4014033)
Bard throws like 30% sliders. In the vast majority of his appearances he uses his slider as a consistent out pitch. If you're worried about Bard's changeup or his two-seamer, both of which he uses much less regularly, I get that. But I strongly disagree with your characterization of Bard as a one-pitch reliever. It is simply not borne out by either experience or data. There's an argument that Bard is a two-pitch reliever, and that he needs a third pitch, but his approach is not, "hit this, #######\".


I'm not expressing myself well. I don't think his approach is generally "hit this, #######\" but that it's a fallback position that may not exist as a starter. I agree that he uses his slider effectively and often but I think he lacks consistency with both his fastball and slider and that while he can get away with that as a reliever due to the velocity and short nature of relief appearances he will not be able to as a starter.

I think it's helpful to remember that even though Bard throws 99, he isn't Billy Wagner out there - so the loss in the bullpen shouldn't be exaggerated too much.


No he's not but he has been very very good. He was the Sox' best reliever in 2010 and even if they make a signing/trade between now and the start of the season would project as the same for 2012.

EDIT: Coke to MCoA
   8. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:24 PM (#4014034)
...and the Yankees apparently have three guys on Dan's list (unless that's Alfonso Soriano next-to-last).
   9. Nasty Nate Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:25 PM (#4014036)
He's an elite relief pitcher.


Well Zips projects he will be an elite relief pitcher in '12 - he certainly wasn't in 2011.
   10. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:32 PM (#4014048)
...and the Yankees apparently have three guys on Dan's list (unless that's Alfonso Soriano next-to-last).
Indeed. Robertson and Rivera make an elite pair, and with a healthy Soriano that's about as good a setup-closing corps as you'll ever see projected.
Well Zips projects he will be an elite relief pitcher in '12 - he certainly wasn't in 2011.
True enough. Bard struggled significantly pitching in the clutch last year - he gave up many more runs than you'd expect based on hits, walks, and homers allowed. Are you arguing that this is likely to continue next year, and projections which don't account for Bard's loss of clutch ability are flawed?
   11. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:33 PM (#4014049)
I know Bard had "disaster bookends" in 2011 - he started and ended slowly. But absent those, wasn't he great?
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:34 PM (#4014052)
What about Junichi Tazawa as a dark-horse closer candidate? Is that crazy?
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:39 PM (#4014057)
I'm still hopeful about Tazawa as a future mid-rotation starter. In 2009, before he blew out his elbow, Tazawa had a great season in the high minors - 110 IP, 2.55 ERA, 94/27 K/BB. That's significantly better than anything Weiland, Wilson, or Doubront has ever done.

Given that recovery rates from TJS are very high, there's a not insignificant chance that he could return in 2012 as a top prospect or even a major league ready starter. My preference is to start Tazawa at AAA and hope we get a starting pitcher out of the deal. It's certainly possible he's best used as a reliever, and if he recovers well from surgery, he could indeed also be an asset out of the pen.

Of course, recovery rates from TJS aren't 100%, and bad pitchers have fluked into 110 good innings in the minor leagues. So Tazawa might be useless, too. I'm mostly optimistic.
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:45 PM (#4014063)
I know Bard had "disaster bookends" in 2011 - he started and ended slowly. But absent those, wasn't he great?


... coincidentally, this describes the team as a whole.

Are you arguing that this is likely to continue next year, and projections which don't account for Bard's loss of clutch ability are flawed?


I don't think the projection systems are flawed, I just don't think we should consider Bard a money in the bank elite reliever, or think that it would take a miracle to improve on his production from last year.
   15. Dan Posted: December 12, 2011 at 06:11 PM (#4014091)
True enough. Bard struggled significantly pitching in the clutch last year - he gave up many more runs than you'd expect based on hits, walks, and homers allowed. Are you arguing that this is likely to continue next year, and projections which don't account for Bard's loss of clutch ability are flawed?


I think there may be something to this. I don't think Bard is a choker per se, but I don't think he has a short reliever mentality. In interviews and from what coaches say about him, he seems too cerebral and analytic to get into the closer mentality. I don't think he has the "short memory" you need to be a closer; I think he carries what happened in his last games out to the mound with him. And while this is a liability as a reliever, this type of thinking and approach is a strength when you're a starter and need to go through the order multiple times. Perhaps his arm or his repertoire won't end up being up to the task of starting every 5th day, but I think his mentality is better suited for it. Or maybe I'm completely full of ####; it's not like I know Dan Bard personally. This is just the impression I have from seeing him interviewed and from watching him pitch.
   16. Textbook Editor Posted: December 12, 2011 at 06:37 PM (#4014130)
Madson is a guy who intrigues me in that he's another guy who I think could be more of a Foulke-type 1+ IP closer, and who you might even entertain starting in 2013 depending on how the whole bullpen plays out in 2012. I suspect he'll be the guy left without a chair when the music stops and so you might be able to get him on just a 3-year deal for Bell money ($9 million or so a year), which would be perfectly fine to me.

Would 150 IP of Bard at league-average ERA+, etc. be worth more than ~60 IP, 35 saves, 140 ERA+, etc.?

[EDIT: for sense; editor, heal thyself...]
   17. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 12, 2011 at 06:45 PM (#4014145)
Fans from the Bronx have been through the:

Would 150 IP of Bard at league-average ERA+, etc. be worth more than ~60 IP, 35 saves, 140 ERA+, etc.?


question about Joba since 2007 or so. The answer? I don't think a consensus was ever reached.
   18. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: December 12, 2011 at 06:45 PM (#4014148)
I don't think Bard is a choker per se, but I don't think he has a short reliever mentality.


It could be even simpler than that. Maybe he's just not great at pitching out of the stretch, or has become that way. When you're just blowing everybody away and few batters are getting on, then you can get away with it. It concerns me a little, because I recall Bard's pitching motion as pretty shoulder-y, ie, he seems to throw across his body a bit. I'd thought part of his problems in Lancaster (in addition to that place being a crazy ballpark) was that the Sox tried to get him to change his motion to put a little less stress on his shoulder. When that clearly didn't work, he went back to his old style and did very well, but at higher risk of injury. It's the injury and mechanics-tinkering that would worry me most about Bard. I think he's probably got the stuff for it. Pitchers get certainly by throwing mostly fastballs and sliders, mixing a change in there every so often, as long as your FB kicks ass (Dempster, Pineda, Ogando, and E. Santana manage to do it).
   19. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 12, 2011 at 06:55 PM (#4014170)
Would 150 IP of Bard at league-average ERA+, etc. be worth more than ~60 IP, 35 saves, 140 ERA+, etc.?


I would say yes. My reasoning is that I'm more confident that the Sox (or any team) can find a league average reliever more than they can find a league average starter. Relievers often come out of the blue to have perfectly serviceable seasons. A league average starting pitcher seems more difficult to find.
   20. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 12, 2011 at 07:25 PM (#4014217)
The problem (again, from my experience) is that in the chasing of the averagish-starting, in the end you may lose both the dominant reliever and the average starter.

It's too simple to say "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" when it comes to baseball roster construction. But if you're going to fix it, you think long and hard. And hopefully you employ a trusted advisor or two who concurs with the strategy going forward.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 12, 2011 at 07:30 PM (#4014223)
The problem (again, from my experience) is that in the chasing of the averagish-starting, in the end you may lose both the dominant reliever and the average starter.

Of course the counter to this is that most dominant relievers tend to break on their own. Boston has probably already exceeded the half-life of dominance to be expected from Bard in the pen.

We should never forget that Papelbon level longevity is the exception to the rule. Rivera is off the charts.
   22. tfbg9 Posted: December 12, 2011 at 07:32 PM (#4014225)
Well, yeah I don't like the idea either. A non-yippy Bard is a helluva reliever but not one whose stuff looked starter-esque to me as well, Aceves ought to be passable as either the 4-5, and you got Tazawa et al. They do certainly need some non-Wakefield level depth. We'll see what the non-tender list offers. If the top 3 starters hit their projections in terms of rate stats and make a decent ammount of starts, a couple of 95 ERA+ guys will do just fine at the back end.

This all may be much ado about nothing, as BV has really only said it is an idea (Bard in the rotation) he'll take a real good look at. Nothing is set in stone.
   23. Nasty Nate Posted: December 12, 2011 at 07:35 PM (#4014226)
The problem (again, from my experience) is that in the chasing of the averagish-starting, in the end you may lose both the dominant reliever and the average starter.


What are the examples you are thinking of? just Joba?
   24. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 12, 2011 at 08:17 PM (#4014274)
Just Joba.
   25. Darren Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:50 AM (#4014585)
Thought provoking as usual, MC.


Now that the season's over and the big collapse has been completed, Theo is gone, Tito is gone, and a number of other things: can we please retire the term "pants pissing"? Pretty please? It's just soooo gross.
   26. tfbg9 Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:01 AM (#4014601)
Well, are we gonna admit the pants pissers were "right"?
Was it painful enough, "September '11", to warrant the worrying? The fact we saw someone other than the NYY's take the WS removed much of the sting, to me anyway. If the Yankees had won like they did in 1978, oh boy!
   27. Darren Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:06 AM (#4014612)
See, the people who call people pants pissers are not going to want to do that.
   28. booond Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:27 AM (#4014633)
I don't want to be negative but this team smells like 85 wins.
   29. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:32 AM (#4014637)
I think "pants pissers" is funny.

I think that "85 wins" is close to crazy talk. The Red Sox, based on component hitting and pitching numbers (hits and walks and homers and hits and walks and homers allowed) were a 99-win team last year. They're bringing back most of the contributors to that club, and the guys who aren't coming back all sucked. The talent on this club was judged the best in baseball in the spring, and their component numbers reflected that over the season. They choked in September, but I don't think that really shows them to have been lacking in talent, and now they'll have a new manager and a few new guys in the clubhouse and no John Lackey anywhere near the clubhouse.

Even if Cherington has a poor offseason, I expect they'll project around 90-94 wins. If he does his job, they should project as the best club in the AL.
   30. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:34 AM (#4014638)
I don't want to be negative but this team smells like 85 wins.


I don't want to do this, but this post smells like urine.
   31. Something Other Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:39 AM (#4014646)
If the Sox acquired a more reliable, if less upside-y 4th starter – say Edwin Jackson – they would have more room to open up the 5th stater job to Felix Doubront or, hell, Dan Bard. And if the Sox place Bard in the rotation, they would be left with Aceves, some averagish arms, and the lottery ticket that is Bobby Jenks in the pen. I think they would need to acquire an ace reliever along the lines of Andrew Bailey or Ryan Madson, and they’d need another arm or two beyond that.
So... for the Bard experiment to make sense, the Sox need to pick up someone like Edwin Jackson and, say, Ryan Madson? For likely less than that they could have gotten CJ Wilson, who probably gives them more certainty, as well.
   32. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:46 AM (#4014648)
There's a pretty large gap in certainty between Felix Doubront and Edwin Jackson. I'm saying that if they went for Jackson, they could take more risks with the 5th stater slot, whereas with Bard they'll want someone less risky than Doubront.

That's really a relatively minor point. If the Sox are confident that Doubront could pitch to his ZiPS projection (a 92 ERA+), they could go Bard/Doubront in the 4-5 slots. I could be wrong about needing to get a more certain 5th starter option than Doubront - I'm not terribly optimistic about him right now, but maybe the Sox like him better. The larger issue is that the Sox would have a big hole in the bullpen that they'd need to fill somehow. Shifting Bard doesn't solve the "only five good pitchers" problem.
   33. jmp Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:47 AM (#4014649)
K-rod may be available. I have no idea what Melvin would ask for him, and there appears to be a variance of opinion on what is going to happen in arbitration.
   34. karlmagnus Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:48 AM (#4014650)
Given the way they're wasting money on Fatso and not spending anywhere else, this lot are not winning anything in 2012. So the best strategy is to bring Wake back as a full-time starter and give him the season to go for the Young/Clemens record.

(Counting for reaction from tfbg9 -- 3..2..1..)
   35. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 01:51 AM (#4014651)
Given the way they're wasting money on Fatso and not spending anywhere else, this lot are not winning anything in 2012.
Are you laying odds? Cause with odds that's a bet I'd be happy to take. (50-50 to make the playoffs is also a bet I'd take right now. If "winning anything" means more than a Wild Card, I'd like odds.) This is one hell of a talented roster. all they need is some help around the edges.

EDIT: Also, whatever happened to the "Cherington is a Duquette hire" happy talk from a month ago? I thought we were gonna see a new km, optimistic about Duquette's protege taking the reins...
   36. karlmagnus Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:05 AM (#4014667)
Resigning Ortiz instead of making an effort to get Manny was depressing as was blowing off Wake. Also, how much power does Cherington have -- he appears to have the boss from hell in Lucchino. So I'm less optimistic than I was. If Duquette has any sense, he will get both Manny and Wake for the Orioles -- they won't cost much, and if he rolls sixes on both, Baltimore is right in the hunt.
   37. Nasty Nate Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:07 AM (#4014671)
Also, whatever happened to the "Cherington is a Duquette hire" happy talk from a month ago? I thought we were gonna see a new km, optimistic about Duquette's protege taking the reins...


that was before Duquette was hired. With the genuine article back in the mix, there's no need to fete his former chaffeur
   38. tfbg9 Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:17 AM (#4014681)
I think I saw on MLBTV that the Sox are 3rd or 4th choice to take the 2012 WS at 9-1.
   39. tfbg9 Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:18 AM (#4014683)
Wake is gone. Deal with it km.
   40. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:29 AM (#4014695)
I'd take 50/50 odds that they'll make the playoffs in 2012 also. They'll find a way.

I think that "85 wins" is close to crazy talk. The Red Sox, based on component hitting and pitching numbers (hits and walks and homers and hits and walks and homers allowed) were a 99-win team last year. They're bringing back most of the contributors to that club, and the guys who aren't coming back all sucked.


And this thing is crazy talk. They got a great season from Papelbon, and he's gone. They got great seasons from Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Pedroia. Will all of them repeat it? Is Ortiz going to do that again?

I do think the starting pitching has a real chance to be better - mostly from the subtractions of Matsuzaka and Lackey. We'll see how it goes, and we'll see if they're serious and whether Bard sticks in the rotation.
   41. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:37 AM (#4014702)
And this thing is crazy talk. They got a great season from Papelbon, and he's gone. They got great seasons from Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Pedroia. Will all of them repeat it? Is Ortiz going to do that again?
You're right about Papelbon. All the other guys, though, they had great seasons and will be back, just as I said. Nothing crazy about that. I didn't say they'd perform at that level again, and I didn't say the Sox project to win 99 games.

The Sox also got a terrible season from Carl Crawford and unimaginably poor performances from the back of their rotation. That should balance out most of the expected regression from Ellsbury, Beckett, and Pedroia. (Gonzalez will surely project for some regression to the mean, but his 2011 was close to identical to his 2009-2010 production, adjusted for park.)

I'm reading your post over, and I honestly can't figure out exactly what you think I said that qualifies as crazy talk. could you tell me?
   42. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:03 PM (#4014900)
Non-tender relief target: Clay Hensley

I do not understand why the Marlins would non-tender him, so maybe there's something wrong with him. But in 2010 he was dominant in relief (193 ERA+ in 75 innings), and he threw two very good months in relief to start 2010 (3.07 ERA in 15 innings), then got converted to the rotation, where he was terrible. He finished the year back in the pen. Hensley has thrown about 100 innings in relief in the last two years with a combined ERA around 2.50 or so. The non-tender seems inexplicable to me, so there could be some other cause, but he looks like a really good pitcher to take a shot at, who should in theory be pretty cheap.
   43. villageidiom Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:14 PM (#4014911)
If Duquette has any sense, he will get both Manny and Wake for the Orioles -- they won't cost much, and if he rolls sixes on both, Baltimore is right in the hunt.
Yeah, but he's rolling with d20 for Manny, and d100 for Wake. Rolling a 6 on both is a pretty big "if".
   44. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:16 PM (#4014913)
I think 85 wins is a low end prediction but I don't think it's at all outrageous. I think Erik raises some valid points but I would argue that Gonzalez and Pedroia are pretty good bets to repeat their season (especially Gonzalez) and that while I expect Ellsbury to regress I think there is reason to believe that the production from the corner outfielders should make up for it.

My concern today is the same as it was in September. I am fearful that there are going to be a LOT of ugly starts and while acknowledging they will not be as they are today the truth is the bullpen is likely to be appreciably worse than it was last year.

On that note any thoughts on Joe Saunders? I know there are reasons to be wary (HR galore, hardly overpowering) but he looks like a guy who would be a nice fit.
   45. Textbook Editor Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:21 PM (#4014919)
What about Sonnanstine? What was the deal with him last year? Just general suckitude? I think I might prefer a flyer on him over Saunders.
   46. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:43 PM (#4014939)
I think 85 wins is a low end prediction but I don't think it's at all outrageous.
I do. That's a 14-win downgrade from the component stats of last year's Sox. I looked at the club's value stats from last year, and getting them down to 85 wins based on last year's WAR and projected regression doesn't work.

I'm defining the "core" of the team somewhat inconsistently - it's based on the players that I can easily project using their major league stats. So, it's Gonzalez, Pedroia, Youkilis, Scutaro, Crawford, Ellsbury, and Ortiz on the hitting side, and Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz on the pitching side.

In 2011, the core hitters combined for 322 runs above replacement. The core pitchers combined for 136 runs above replacement. The non-core hitters combined for 26 runs above replacement, the non-core pitchers for 43 runs prevented.

By the dumber-than-Marcel projection, I have the core projected to 362 runs above replacement (95 pitching, 267 hitting). That's a loss of about 10 wins. In order to lose another four wins, you need the rest of the team to play at replacement level. That's pretty much a worst-case scenario.
   47. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:48 PM (#4014945)
Is it realistic - I don't know this and I don't know how to find out - for the bottom 15 players on a MLB roster to average replacement-level production?

I would assume that a rich team has a much better chance of this from the lower part of the roster. But does that happen?
   48. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:50 PM (#4014947)
By the dumber-than-Marcel projection, I have the core projected to 362 runs above replacement (95 pitching, 267 hitting). That's a loss of about 10 wins. In order to lose another four wins, you need the rest of the team to play at replacement level. That's pretty much a worst-case scenario.


So what are you projecting? Looks to me like you are saying +/- 90 wins. The difference between that and 85 is margin of error stuff. A bit of bad leverage, some dumb luck, an off year or injury here and there. I wasn't saying that 85 is likely, but neither is it "crazy talk."
   49. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:52 PM (#4014951)
I would argue that Gonzalez and Pedroia are pretty good bets to repeat their season (especially Gonzalez)


.338/.410/.548 in 2011

I think he's great, but I'd all sorts of take the under for 2012.
   50. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:56 PM (#4014958)
Is it realistic - I don't know this and I don't know how to find out - for the bottom 15 players on a MLB roster to average replacement-level production?

I would assume that a rich team has a much better chance of this from the lower part of the roster. But does that happen?


Just using BBRef WAR the Sox had 7 position players and 6 pitchers with a WAR of 1.0 or better. Call those 13 players the "core" and the rest of the roster "contributed" -2.4 WAR. That was literally the entirety of Lackey (-1.2) and Wakefield (also -1.2) meaning that the rest of the roster outside of those two guys was exactly replacement level (honestly I just ran the numbers and got there).

I realize cutting off at 1.0 WAR or better is arbitrary but it seems to me that if you trying to identify a "core" that players should contribute more than replacement level.
   51. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:57 PM (#4014960)
Looks to me like you are saying +/- 90 wins.
I think the Red Sox got very, very poor production from their non-core players last year. They got about 2.5 WAR from 2100 PA from non-core hitters and 4.8 WAR in nearly 1000 innings from non-core pitchers. I think it's highly unlikely that the Red Sox will get such poor production from outside their core next year. The over/under is 90 wins if the non-core is terrible again.
Is it realistic - I don't know this and I don't know how to find out - for the bottom 15 players on a MLB roster to average replacement-level production?
It can't be. Replacement level is defined as freely available talent, guys available in the high minors for a box of baseballs. It's not reasonable to think that 60% of major league rosters are filled by players who average out to replacement level.
   52. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:58 PM (#4014961)
I think he's great, but I'd all sorts of take the under for 2012.


2009 - 6.9 WAR
2010 - 6.0
2011 - 6.8

He's been pretty consistent and is still in a prime age (30). I wouldn't project much more than half a win decline there. I suspect we'll see a lower average and more power (his shoulder was allegedly a problem last year).
   53. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:01 PM (#4014966)
I have Gonzalez projected to about 5.5 WAR. (I say "I" as if I created a real system - it's just the dumber-than-Marcel spreadsheet.) Regression to the mean.
   54. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:08 PM (#4014975)
I have Gonzalez projected to about 5.5 WAR. (I say "I" as if I created a real system - it's just the dumber-than-Marcel spreadsheet.) Regression to the mean.

ZiPs has his at 297/384/526 138 OPS+. How does that compare to your 5.5 WAR projection?
   55. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:20 PM (#4014988)
Eyeballing it, that looks more like a 5 WAR season than 5.5. Depends on defense and baserunning components.
   56. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:24 PM (#4014991)
It can't be. Replacement level is defined as freely available talent


I think you're misunderstanding me. Your assumption was that the "top ten" on the Red Sox are predictable, and the "bottom fifteen" need only average replacement-level production. I wonder if that's realistic in the real world - given disaster starts, young players not producing the way they eventually will, and the occasional "try-out", I would actually assume that the bottom part of your average MLB roster struggles to average replacement-level production.
   57. Nasty Nate Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:33 PM (#4015005)
I think karlmagnus has predicted the Sox to win 80-85 games in each of the past 9 years.
   58. Mattbert Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:34 PM (#4015007)
What about Sonnanstine? What was the deal with him last year? Just general suckitude? I think I might prefer a flyer on him over Saunders.

Sonnanstine depends on razor sharp to control to survive in the bigs. That deserted him after his "amazing" season in 2008 and he's been cuffed around pretty regularly since then, including his stints down at AAA. If you're lucky, he's the second coming of Frank Castillo.

Joe Saunders would get battered in the AL East.
   59. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:40 PM (#4015018)
MLBTR is saying the Sox have signed Kelly Shoppach.
   60. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:48 PM (#4015032)
Huh. Lavarnway returns to AAA to work on his glove, I guess.

EDIT: Or not. Shoppach was a lot worse for TB than I remembered. He's not a Lavarnway replacement, he's Lavarnway's competition. The Sox now have two possible RHB caddies for Salty.

EDIT2: This would all work rather better if I looked up all the information before posting, or before editing. Shoppach's getting a $1.4M guaranteed contract, so he definitely takes Lavarnway's job as platoon/backup catcher.
   61. Famous Original Joe C Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:55 PM (#4015043)
This would all work rather better if I looked up all the information before posting, or before editing. Shoppach's getting a $1.4M guaranteed contract, so he definitely takes Lavarnway's job as platoon/backup catcher.

Or, maybe Lavarnway is moved elsewhere in a deal for pitching? Thinking out loud here.
   62. Textbook Editor Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:57 PM (#4015048)
#60 basically means Varitek is gone for good. While in the here and now I agree with that decision, I confess Varitek leaving feels a bit like the end of an era.
   63. Textbook Editor Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:59 PM (#4015051)
Dontrelle Willis signs with the Phillies for 1 year/~$1 million. Apparently the Red Sox were in on him, which is interesting; hadn't heard that.

I suspect they don't want to throw Lavarnway into the deep end without a bit more seasoning at AAA.
   64. Dan Posted: December 13, 2011 at 04:23 PM (#4015086)
I'm glad to see Shoppach signed. He's a good fit to platoon with Salty. He was part of my listed offseason plan wherever I posted it. His overall numbers look bad, but he's always hit left-handed pitching, and he throws well. Like Salty, he's kind of weak at blocking pitches in the dirt, but otherwise he's pretty solid defensively.

I think Lavarnway can use some time at AAA, and he can come up if he busts out big time while showing decent defense, or if Ortiz gets hurt, etc. I'd hate to see Lavarnway in MLB but only playing twice a week against LHP. He needs more reps against RH breaking balls.
   65. karlmagnus Posted: December 13, 2011 at 05:37 PM (#4015242)
This is very disappointing and makes the team more boring to watch. What the hell is the point of blocking your best young prospect? Lavarnway is the only 2012 prospect with real upside (I'll believe it with Kalish when I see it, and I haven't seen it yet). Shoppach is an infinitesimal upgrade at best, when defense and offense are taken into account. The only good reason for taking him would be to use him as a personal catcher for Wake, since from memory he was better at that than Salty, but I somehow doubt that's the rationale.
   66. Dan Posted: December 13, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#4015386)
I really doubt they're worried about personal catchers for pitchers who aren't even on the team anymore.
   67. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 13, 2011 at 07:03 PM (#4015400)
I hope they're not doing personal catchers at all. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is demonstrably incompetent from the right side of the plate. If they aren't platooning Salty with Shoppach, they're leaving runs on the table. The decision by Francona to ditch the catcher platoon and instead provide personal catchers regardless of opposing pitcher handedness was a poor one, and one I hope they don't repeat.

To put some numbers on it, Saltalamacchia started 68 games against RHP and 28 against LHP. Varitek started 38 against RHP and 26 against LHP. That's better than a perfectly even distribution, but it should have been a lot more extreme - that's 28 games where the Sox started a 600 OPS hitter when they did not need to.
   68. villageidiom Posted: December 13, 2011 at 07:57 PM (#4015460)
This is very disappointing and makes the team more boring to watch. What the hell is the point of blocking your best young prospect?
Making sure he's positioned for long-term success, and not sacrificing that for short-term needs.

That said... Shoppach is on a short-term deal that's low-priced enough that simply releasing him later is a viable option. If Lavarnway makes a big leap forward this year in AAA, and Shoppach is doing much worse, I'm sure Lavarnway will suddenly not be blocked.
   69. Textbook Editor Posted: December 13, 2011 at 09:16 PM (#4015582)
It also occurs to me that Shoppach is the kind of guys some teams might want to pick up for a stretch run if they have woeful backup C production. So if Lavarnway rakes and becomes Bench with the glove at AAA, I think we'd be able to trade him for cannon fodder at least.
   70. tfbg9 Posted: December 14, 2011 at 02:33 AM (#4015897)
The only good reason for taking him would be to use him as a personal catcher for Wake, since from memory he was better at that than Salty, but I somehow doubt that's the rationale.


Baby steps?
   71. Darren Posted: December 14, 2011 at 02:44 AM (#4015904)
I'm hoping that getting the platoon advantage for your catcher is one of those ways Valentine is aggressive, particularly in-game.
   72. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 14, 2011 at 04:51 PM (#4016262)
The Red Sox just acquired Mark Melanson from the Astros for Weiland and Lowrie. Melanson had a good year last year, and isn't even arb-eligible for two more seasons, so he's dirt cheap.

This may say more about how far Lowrie had fallen in the Sox eyes than anything. If you don't think Lowrie can stay healthy, then he's not much use to a team, because you'll always have to pick up decent help at the places where you'd otherwise use him...
   73. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2011 at 05:00 PM (#4016268)
Huh. Melancon's last season was good, but 66/26 isn't exactly a K/BB to set the world on fire. His pre-2011 numbers are not impressive at all - he spent most of 2010 in the minors, and had a 3.67 ERA with a 58 K and 31 BB in 57 IP.

Obviously there are big risks with Lowrie and Weiland - Lowrie may never be healthy, and Weiland may never be any good - but my initial take is that I don't like the trade. Melancon looks like he could easily be league average or worse in the bullpen.

I guess the optimistic take is that Melancon's dirt cheap and has potential just like the guys the Sox are giving up, but Melancon fits a position of need while Lowrie is pretty much redundant with Mike Aviles in the fold. Still, I'm betting Melancon's projection is going to be very unimpressive - he's someone to add to the mix with Aceves/Morales/Albers, not a likely relief ace.

EDIT: Well, Melancon was pretty good in the high minors in 08-09. So 2010 is in some ways the outlier on his resume. I could be talked into this, but I feel like a lot more upside left the organization than came back in return.
   74. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 14, 2011 at 05:19 PM (#4016296)
I like it. I think Melancon is a strong bet to be better than Weiland over the next couple of years and frankly I don't think much of Lowrie.
   75. villageidiom Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:02 PM (#4017646)
EDIT: Well, Melancon was pretty good in the high minors in 08-09. So 2010 is in some ways the outlier on his resume. I could be talked into this, but I feel like a lot more upside left the organization than came back in return.
And 2010 consists of two bad garbage-time outings for the Yankees, followed by work in Houston that fits in with the other years.

Melancon was effectively a two-pitch pitcher before 2011 (FB and 12/6 curve). He developed a third - cutter - in the offseason prior to 2011, and he used it effectively throughout the year. At least that's what he claims. But the PitchF/X stuff at Fangraphs backs it up. And supposedly he's working this offseason to improve his changeup.

Everything I'm reading on Melancon, including the stuff written about him before the trade, seems to suggest he is to pitching what Dustin Pedroia is to playing second base: all-out effort, great results, smart player. Can you imagine Dustin Pedroia as a reliever? He'd close. And you'd love it.

I admit, that last paragraph is straight out of the Sportswriter's Handbook Of Analogies For The Simple-Minded. But my point is that when we look at this trade and don't see upside we're not looking very hard.
   76. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:38 PM (#4017671)
The more I think about this trade, the more I like it for Boston. Melancon is getting better, I think, and I don't think Lowrie and Weiland are going to do anything irreplacable.

One key that is not getting enough attention about this trade is that Melancon is extremely inexpensive for the next few years. He has two years before being arb-eligible, and will make less than a million - total - over the next two years. So you've got a fairly young pitcher, who is extremely cheap, seems to be improving, with new, effective pitches, and when he became a close part way through last season, he saved 20 out of 24 games and seemed comfortable in the role. His affordability makes him more valuable than a similar pitcher, with two more years of MLB experience.
   77. Something Other Posted: January 22, 2012 at 02:42 AM (#4042246)
It can't be. Replacement level is defined as freely available talent

I think you're misunderstanding me. Your assumption was that the "top ten" on the Red Sox are predictable, and the "bottom fifteen" need only average replacement-level production. I wonder if that's realistic in the real world - given disaster starts, young players not producing the way they eventually will, and the occasional "try-out", I would actually assume that the bottom part of your average MLB roster struggles to average replacement-level production.


It's an interesting question, and a day of digging would probably yield a valid opinion, but for the sake of quick opinion let's say the bottom part of an average team does indeed struggle, and as of the end of the season has contributed no wins. Your top ten would have to have put up roughly 81 - 48.6 = 32.4 wins. The distribution of that would look something like 6,5,4,3,3,3,2,2,1,1,1,1 = 32

I don't have a dog in this fight, I'm just looking for something that passes the smell test. How does that look to you? It looks fairly reasonable to me. Of course, your bottom 15 probably contribute several wins, and the dregs, the guys not on the 25 man to start the season, probably have an overall negative value.

As a Met fan one of my hopes for the team had been that the Wilpons leave and Alderson does one of the things he does well, which is find players for roster spots 11 through 40 that have some chance to contribute half a win or a win. A GM skilled at that can be the difference between 85 wins and making the postseason. So far I'm not seeing those nice little pickups by Cherington.

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