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   1. Darren Posted: April 23, 2012 at 09:19 PM (#4114163)
The goal of the Epstein Sox was explicit – 95 wins.


Not to take this too much off track, but the the team missed the playoffs the last 2 years of his tenure. His whole goal, it seemed, was to build in as much depth as possible, and yet each of those teams fell apart in part because they were undone by injuries.

This year's team is not as deep or as good as some of the better ones in the past, but a big reason for that they had very little left to spend after Theo committed them to so many large contracts of dubious value. I don't think it's fair to compare what Cherington is doing this year to what Theo did without acknowledging that Cherington's resources have been severely limited by what Theo did.
   2. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 23, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4114164)
Et tu, Brute?
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 23, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4114321)
I don't think it's fair to compare what Cherington is doing this year to what Theo did without acknowledging that Cherington's resources have been severely limited by what Theo did.
Oh, that wasn't my point at all, but I can see how it reads that way. I consider the shift in the goal of the organization this year to be the responsibility of the whole organization, both ownership and baseball ops. It's not clear to me that it was possible in the first place for Cherington to build a 95-win club with the resources he was given, but the organization as a whole clearly decided that was ok, and Cherington didn't make magic with what money he had.
   4. Pingu Posted: April 23, 2012 at 10:49 PM (#4114327)
but I’ve come around to thinking that a moderate level of gloom and or doom is appropriate.


A moderate level? Are you watching the same games I am?

An offense that regularly runs out with Saltalamacchia, Aviles, Sweeney, Ross, McDonald, over half the team....thats not a good offense. The starting rotation defines the word underachieve. As I watch another botched play in the field, the D doesnt seem to have hope of being average. Dont get me started on the bullpen. This team is full of miserable self-serving pricks who as recently as last season gave the collective finger to anyone who cared. The manager is a weasely pile of steaming incompetence. And to top it all off, Dice-K is on the way back. Seriously, whats to like about this team?
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 23, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4114335)
An offense that regularly runs out with Saltalamacchia, Aviles, Sweeney, Ross, McDonald, over half the team....thats not a good offense.
McDonald isn't playing any more. Aviles is an average hitter for a shortstop, Salty/Shoppach average at catcher. The offense is very good - they're fifth in the AL in runs scored per game right now, and I think we all agree that the club is underperforming.

This bugs me. The club is in trouble, and I'm not saying they aren't. But we can still evaluate things objectively.
   6. JE (Jason) Posted: April 23, 2012 at 11:06 PM (#4114370)
Hey, I noticed a few minutes ago that Bard entered the game in the bottom of the eigthh to pitch to two batters and IBB a third, but then heard that he is not being moved to the bullpen. Does this mean we might have a Lefty Grove situation unfolding?
   7. Darren Posted: April 23, 2012 at 11:14 PM (#4114395)
He's being skipped to keep his innings down. They're using him in the pen because their pen sucks.
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 23, 2012 at 11:15 PM (#4114398)
Bard's start was skipped after the rainout, and he's helping out in the bullpen in place of taking his normal turn. He's supposed to be scheduled to return to the rotation for his next turn on Friday.
   9. JE (Jason) Posted: April 23, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4114420)
He's supposed to be scheduled to return to the rotation for his next turn on Friday.

That's only because Mitch Williams isn't the manager.
   10. Pingu Posted: April 23, 2012 at 11:24 PM (#4114436)
McDonald isn't playing any more. Aviles is an average hitter for a shortstop, Salty/Shoppach average at catcher. The offense is very good - they're fifth in the AL in runs scored per game right now, and I think we all agree that the club is underperforming.


Allow me to continue to be pessimistic about Marlon Byrd as a savior from McDonald. Allow me to continue to be pessimistic about having half a roster that would be hard pressed to make most of this year's playoff rosters.

Since when was the offense underperforming? The offense hasnt been the problem up until this point, but man, how can anyone be optimistic about their potential going forward?
   11. Darren Posted: April 23, 2012 at 11:25 PM (#4114441)
wrong thread.
   12. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 23, 2012 at 11:29 PM (#4114448)
The offense hasnt been the problem up until this point, but man, how can anyone be optimistic about their potential going forward?
Because they projected as one of the best offenses in the world coming into the year.

A league average offense in Fenway should score about 4.7 runs per game. Do you want to take the under on that? Or are you using "not good" to mean "not as world-beating as we'd hoped"?
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 23, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4114453)
The Red Sox clearly need another bullpen arm. Cherington got one trade done without giving up any talent, but that was for a mediocre stopgap. Prying, say, Huston Street from the Padres is going to take some sacrifice, but they need to add talent to the pen. It would have been easier if they'd acquired better pitchers in the offseason, but that's done now.
   14. Pingu Posted: April 23, 2012 at 11:38 PM (#4114459)
Because they projected as one of the best offenses in the world coming into the year.

A league average offense in Fenway should score about 4.7 runs per game. Do you want to take the under on that? Or are you using "not good" to mean "not as world-beating as we'd hoped"?


Probablly the latter. But projections are irrelevant at this point. I doubt those included 1500+ ABs from Ross/Sweeney/Byrd.

But in all fairness to the wellspring of optimism after the most recent winning streak, I rescind all my comments.
   15. Dan Posted: April 24, 2012 at 12:53 AM (#4114495)
Shoulda traded Scutaro earlier. PRobably could've gotten Street straight up if they were willing to pay his salary.
   16. Dan Posted: April 24, 2012 at 12:56 AM (#4114496)
Would it be nuts to shore up the pen somewhat by having the starters regularly relieve on their throw days? Perhaps do something like making the guy on his throw day the 7th or 8th inning guy for each game?
   17. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: April 24, 2012 at 07:25 AM (#4114532)
Would it be nuts to shore up the pen somewhat by having the starters regularly relieve on their throw days?
I think that's so radical an idea--to my knowledge no one has done it in recent memory*--that is probably won't happen on principle. As for effectiveness, I have no idea. Presumably the starters couldn't be any worse than the relievers have been thus far, but whether it would affect their starts is pretty much unknowable. My instinct is that someone like Beckett would just hate it, though.

*Done it regularly, I mean. I know Torre used both Pettitte and Clemens in relief on their throw days in 2007.
   18. bunyon Posted: April 24, 2012 at 07:42 AM (#4114534)
Would it be nuts to shore up the pen somewhat by having the starters regularly relieve on their throw days? Perhaps do something like making the guy on his throw day the 7th or 8th inning guy for each game?

On the one hand, this is such an obvious thing to do that it's baffling no one does it.

On the other hand, it's hard to pitch while digesting a bucket of chicken and a six-pack.
   19. jmurph Posted: April 24, 2012 at 08:49 AM (#4114546)
A league average offense in Fenway should score about 4.7 runs per game. Do you want to take the under on that? Or are you using "not good" to mean "not as world-beating as we'd hoped"?


Who cares about this? Runs are runs, whether they're preventing them on defense or putting them on the board on offense. This is a team with an extremely high payroll, you don't settle for average in the corners (and allow me to be skeptical that Aviles will end up as an average bat at SS this year, though I hope I'm wrong).
   20. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 24, 2012 at 08:53 AM (#4114548)
One person that has not come up at all in identifying potential solutions for the Sox is Felix Doubront. One thing lost in the historic Saturday bullpen collapse is that Doubront was very good. Indeed, for a young guy in the back of the rotation, a lefty, he's been a pleasant surprise so far. Nobody wants to take him out of the rotation, and put him in the bullpen - I don't want to, either, but let's look at the 2012 season this way:

- If they'll put Bard in the rotation for good, the team will have a very young, promising rotation for the next several years. Only one of their top five is over 28 years old, two of them are lefties, and the team is trying to solve their starting pitching problems with two young starters who have come through the system - and, so far, they both have looked pretty good. This is a big deal, is it not?

- The team has an oft-injured, aging third baseman who is in his final year of his deal. They have a promising 3B prospect who is hitting as well as anybody in the minors right now. They have a young catcher who is hitting very well, and did not embarrass himself in the majors last September. They have a SS in AAA who is as good with the glove as you'll find, remains very young, and will have the season to see if he can become a better hitter. In the meantime, Aviles has been more than adequate at SS, and could probably be traded later this season if Iglesias were to be ready with the bat.

- Ortiz, Pedroia, and Gonzalez are fine. Sweeney and Ross are playing reasonably well as fill-ins.

- The bullpen sucks, yes, but Morales and Aceves will be fine. Melanson will get his #### together, and Tazawa will be a useful piece. It's not a team strength, but it probably looks as bad tight now as it will all season.

I'm not an apologist - I remain very angry about the way last season ended, and I don't think Valentine was a great match for this club. However, this will be an entertaining team, they will be in the playoff conversation (especially with the extra wild card), and as long as guys like Doubront, Bard, Tazawa, Lavarnway, Middlebrooks, and Iglesias are making progress this year, I'm cool with that combination in 2012...
   21. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 08:58 AM (#4114550)
I'm surprised you guys aren't more excited about Doubront. 3GS/70BF/20K is a legititmate MLB starter, even if it requires some polishing of the rough edges, and the velocity/command of the breaking ball is consistent with the stats. If one of the Yankees prospects was showing promise like this in his first run as an MLB starter, I'd be giddy.
   22. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 24, 2012 at 09:08 AM (#4114557)
I'm surprised you guys aren't more excited about Doubront. 3GS/70BF/20K is a legititmate MLB starter, even if it requires some polishing of the rough edges, and the velocity/command of the breaking ball is consistent with the stats. If one of the Yankees prospects was showing promise like this in his first run as an MLB starter, I'd be giddy.


I'm crazy excited about Doubront. I've been singing his praises for awhile now but when the team starts like this after a finish like last year pure joy and optimism is tough to come by. As great as he was the other day he obviously wasn't "the" story.

Who cares about this? Runs are runs, whether they're preventing them on defense or putting them on the board on offense. This is a team with an extremely high payroll, you don't settle for average in the corners (and allow me to be skeptical that Aviles will end up as an average bat at SS this year, though I hope I'm wrong).


I don't think it's fair to say the Sox are "settling" for average in the corners. Sweeney is but the nominal left fielder is on the DL and should be better than average (last year notwithstanding). My issue with the offense, and it dates back to last year, is they seem terribly inconsistent. Not only game to game but within games. I'm not saying that they should be expected to have scored more than nine runs the other day but they had those nine runs after the fifth inning. MCoA will correctly note here that the Sox didn't underperform their expected W/L record for the majority of last season so it's hard to say the offensive inconsistency (if it even exists) was a problem but it felt like a problem.

   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 24, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4114563)
I don't get why you guys are down on Sweeney and Aviles? They're both cromulent, average major leaguers, and are hitting well right now.

Your offensive issues (if you have any) are 1) Ellsbury is hurt, 2) Crawford is hurt, and may be in decline, 3) Youkilis looks like he's toast.

If you had those guys contributing near their projections, it wouldn't matter that Sweeeny and Aviles are likely to be merely average.
   24. JE (Jason) Posted: April 24, 2012 at 09:44 AM (#4114569)
On the one hand, this is such an obvious thing to do that it's baffling no one does it.

On the other hand, it's hard to pitch while digesting a bucket of chicken and a six-pack.

I read this almost five minutes ago but only stopped laughing after I started typing.
   25. jmurph Posted: April 24, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4114572)
I don't get why you guys are down on Sweeney and Aviles? They're both cromulent, average major leaguers, and are hitting well right now.


Everyone keeps saying this, but I'm not seeing it. Aviles is... 31(?) and has never been a regular starter. Sweeney looks the part, certainly (I'm actually relatively optimistic about him), and he's started well, but he's also never done it regularly.

   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 24, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4114585)
Everyone keeps saying this, but I'm not seeing it. Aviles is... 31(?) and has never been a regular starter. Sweeney looks the part, certainly (I'm actually relatively optimistic about him), and he's started well, but he's also never done it regularly.

Aviles: career 96 wRC+, even with below avg. D, that's an avg. SS. Sweeney: career 98 wRC+ with very good defense, is at least close to average.

If those are your worst position players, you're in great shape.

   27. Dale Sams Posted: April 24, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4114586)
I'd be giddy.


I dunno. Why arn't they ECSTATIC about Bard who would be one of the best fifth starters in MLB history?

What makes me mad about the Bard thing is so many peoples attitudes of "Yes yes, it's so cute that you want to be a starter and sit at the adults table...but you know and I know that you're not really a starter. So be a good little boy and go pitch 2/3 of an inning."
   28. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4114592)
I dunno. Why arn't they ECSTATIC about Bard who would be one of the best fifth starters in MLB history?

Because Bard isn't a starter and kind of sucks at it? I'll never forget an interview I heard Bard give on WEEI when he first came up - the hosts were asking him about Paplebon and Bard digressed and said something like "Paps has movement; my fastball is straight and fast. The only weapon I have is to throw fast, but I can throw really fast. If I had movement like he did, I'd be better, but I don't."

It was one of the oddest things I've hard an athlete say in public - I'm not sure you WANT an athlete to have that kind of self-awareness when it goes with a lack of irrational self-confidence. And when you watch Bard pitch, it looks like a guy who's terrified of not having an overpoweringly fast fastball, and i think that's borne out in the results. What makes Doubront really exciting is that he "gets" it, has command of offspeed stuff and that inate sense of game theory to sprinkle in offspeed pitches and doesn't recoil from throwing a pitch if the last guy hammered it, and there's really no telling which pitchers will have that at the MLB level and who wont, especially since nearly all guys who go on to be excellent MLB starters were effortlessly missing bats in the minors to a degree that the game theory doesn't matter as much. E.g. on the Yankees, Nova has "that" and Hughes doesn't, and all the stuff in the world won't make Phil Hughes a good MLB starter over a long season. Bard is uncannily like Hughes, I think. Doubront looks like Nova with better stuff, and that is one hell of an exciting pitcher.

I think Bard is wasted as a starter - his stuff and psychology is so much better suited to the pen. It may not be sabermetric vogue to stick a guy in the pen when he kinda/maybe could cut it as an SP, but the translation from the pen to the rotation isn't always linear and Bard is such an odd duck that I think he might be the textbook example of a guy who shouldn't be starting.
   29. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 10:21 AM (#4114593)
What makes me mad about the Bard thing is so many peoples attitudes of "Yes yes, it's so cute that you want to be a starter and sit at the adults table...but you know and I know that you're not really a starter. So be a good little boy and go pitch 2/3 of an inning."


...and they assume he will automatically be a shutdown reliever and ignore all the games he lost last year.
....
Watching the game last night, I think it was Cafardo in the booth saying that Aceves had excelled as a swingman/long reliever and so maybe it was not a good use of his skills to just pitch one inning. He was saying this as if it was some rule that a closer can only pitch one inning. Relief pitching somehow begats some of the weirdest sports thinking out there.
   30. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 10:27 AM (#4114596)
I think Bard is wasted as a starter - his stuff and psychology is so much better suited to the pen. It may not be sabermetric vogue to stick a guy in the pen when he kinda/maybe could cut it as an SP, but the translation from the pen to the rotation isn't always linear and Bard is such an odd duck that I think he might be the textbook example of a guy who shouldn't be starting.


I'm very skeptical of your armchair psychology in the preceding paragraphs, but even if I accept it, it would make me think that he was NOT suited to pitching with the game on the line, and would be better as a starter. He does not seem to have that fiery killer instinct of a Papelbon or Valverde; If I had to guess I would think of him more like Derek Lowe minus the booze, and he seems to be better suited to starting.
   31. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 24, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4114599)
I agree with zop that Bard is miscast as a starter but I completely disagree on the mental portion of it. He's a cerebral type who I think is better suited mentally as a starter but physically as a reliever. That's my perception anyway, I've never met the guy of course.

Cafardo was jaw droppingly bad last night. Nine innings of him and Roy Smalley were the best negotiating tactic Jerry Remy's agent could have come up with.
   32. The TVerik of Lordly Might Posted: April 24, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4114608)
Cafardo was jaw droppingly bad last night. Nine innings of him and Roy Smalley were the best negotiating tactic Jerry Remy's agent could have come up with.


Agree. I only watched the late innings once the Yankee game finished, but Cafardo's monotone was a glaring issue with the coverage.

By the way, how different are the feelings of the team and of the fans today than if Plouffe had hit that ball off Aceves a little bit better? Off the bat, I thought it was a no-doubter.
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4114618)
By the way, how different are the feelings of the team and of the fans today than if Plouffe had hit that ball off Aceves a little bit better? Off the bat, I thought it was a no-doubter.


Oh man. I stood up and was ready to throw something and storm out of my living room.
   34. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4114622)
By the way, how different are the feelings of the team and of the fans today than if Plouffe had hit that ball off Aceves a little bit better? Off the bat, I thought it was a no-doubter.


Speaking for myself not much different. What I saw last night is an "Ace" spit the bit, a bullpen that underwhelmed and an offense that, presented with a batting practice pitcher, did not really do much. On top of that the manager, who is supposed to be this tactical wizard, made a bizarre decision to lift Bard after just 2/3 of an inning. That he got away with it shouldn't preclude Valentine from a fair amount of criticism this morning.
   35. villageidiom Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4114630)
When Theo Epstein started as GM, the team had vacancies at 1B, 2B, DH, the bullpen, and the back end of the rotation. They had little to no bench depth. They had a 3B malcontent who was essentially at his talent ceiling. They had an oft-injured RF. The high-salary players were in LF, CF, SS, and a couple of starting pitchers; those players were performing well and generally healthy.

That offseason he found, for little to no cost, Bill Mueller, Todd Walker, Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, Damian Jackson, Mike Timlin, and Bronson Arroyo. Within the first two months of the season he'd traded away the 3B for Byung-Hyun Kim.

When Ben Cherington started as GM, he had a vacancies at RF, C, DH, the back end of the rotation, and bullpen. He had young, promising alternatives for all positions in-house. He had some roster depth in middle infield and OF. The high-salary players were in LF, 1B, and a couple of starting pitchers; one of them (Lackey) was injured.

During that offseason injuries were sustained or revealed for Carl Crawford. Cherington traded some MI depth essentially for more OF depth and a bullpen arm. He acquired some quality arms for the bullpen to augment the good arms he already had; he shifted players from the bullpen to the rotation. Within the last two weeks of spring training and first two weeks of the season injuries have been sustained or alleged at CF, closer, set-up, and 3B. The largest question marks coming into the season - Doubront and Bard as starters, Aviles as SS - have worked out fine. Nearly everyone else has been worse than expected.

I don't want to sound revisionist; Epstein did a remarkable job dealing with the roster situation he had. But when you look where the big salary sat when he arrived - CF, SS, frontline starters, and with Manny - it was in the right place. Furthermore, some of the holes he had to fill (1B, DH) were among the easiest at the Moneyball-era time to fill somewhat inexpensively. When Epstein left, the big salary sat with Lackey, Gonzalez, Crawford, and Beckett, which might be OK in the long run but in 2012 looks awful on the whole (Gonzalez being the obvious bright spot).

karlmagnus is a broken clock, but you can certainly give Duquette (and Mike Port) credit for setting up the 2002-03 offseason with a strong foundation at premium positions (CF, SS, C, ace) plus LF. I don't think you can give him "credit" for having easily replaceable dreck elsewhere, but that's what Epstein inherited. With that, a goal of perennial 95-win seasons is the right one to have. Cherington inherited a fair amount of currently-dead weight; for him, a goal of keeping the team's head above water in the short term - until injuries heal, until prospects develop - is probably the right one. (And by "above water" I mean keep them in the 90-win range in 2012, not 81-81, not imploding the team.)

That sucks for 2012, and the bad start makes it suck more.
   36. Dale Sams Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4114633)
That he got away with it shouldn't preclude Valentine from a fair amount of criticism this morning.


If the understanding all around was that Bard was pulled because he's starting Friday (I dont quite understand why another inning hurts that more than 2/3..but..ok) then allright.

If he pulled Bard to build up his 'closers' confidence? Fire him immediatly. Fire him now.

When there was wiggle room in the wins for Tito's locker room bullshit, it was allright, though maddening. But even Tito wouldn't have wasted a bullet like Bard only to pick up a gun like Russell Crowe had to use in "The Quick and the Dead", and march off to war with it.
   37. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4114635)

I'm very skeptical of your armchair psychology in the preceding paragraphs, but even if I accept it, it would make me think that he was NOT suited to pitching with the game on the line, and would be better as a starter. He does not seem to have that fiery killer instinct of a Papelbon or Valverde; If I had to guess I would think of him more like Derek Lowe minus the booze, and he seems to be better suited to starting.


Agreed - and I think I was unclear on what I meant. I don't think he has the \"####-it" psychology of a Papelbon or Valverde; but I also don't think he's the kind of guy who can really handle being miscast - that is, failing repeatedly until he learns how to succeed. He's too aware of his limitations to just go out there and say \"#### it, I'm going to get hit around a bit, I'm going to have a 4.70 ERA, but this is perfectly OK." I see him as a guy best protected in a set-up role. But a guy who gets you ~230 high leverage outs is still really valuable.

Also - I'm leery of armchair psychology in general, but I think MLB pitching, particularly as a starter, has such an obvious psychological/intellectual component that you can't evaluate a guy without evaluating what's going on upstairs. Having what we think of as "starter stuff" is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for succeeding as an MLB starter - it's all tied in to what the pitcher can do with his brain (consciously or subconsciously).
   38. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4114657)
I think MLB pitching, particularly as a starter, has such an obvious psychological/intellectual component that you can't evaluate a guy without evaluating what's going on upstairs. Having what we think of as "starter stuff" is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for succeeding as an MLB starter - it's all tied in to what the pitcher can do with his brain


I agree, but I guess I don't really know what you mean by: "but I also don't think he's the kind of guy who can really handle...failing repeatedly until he learns how to succeed. He's too aware of his limitations...." or where you are getting that impression. Do you think he will be majorly de-moralized from bad starts?
   39. Swedish Chef Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4114673)
I dunno. Why arn't they ECSTATIC about Bard who would be one of the best fifth starters in MLB history?

Aren't you comparing fifth starter by rotation position vs by result? Because if Bard is all that, he wont be Boston's fifth best pitcher.

EDIT: I assume there has been a number of great breakout seasons by pitchers starting fifth in the rotation throughout MLB history.
   40. Dale Sams Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4114674)
I'm failing to see where Bard has come close to 'failing as a starter'..not to mention 'failing as a fifth starter'. ERA is a ridiculous barometer at this point in the season. More enouraging is, 7ks-1BB-0HR.

Now...7Ks-7BBs-OHR..isnt so hot, but two of those walks has to be on Valentine. If I leave Cy Young out there until he fails, you can't blame Cy Young.

Bard has looked GREAT as a starter and as I've said before, if his name was CJ Wilson and he got those results for 16mill a year, everyone would be drooling and complaining about the new guy not getting any support. Instead he's a "Failed starter" or "Doesn't have starter mentality". Ridiculous.

   41. Dale Sams Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4114682)
I assume there has been a number of great breakout seasons by pitchers starting fifth in the rotation throughout MLB history.


I'm sure. I bet Bard would still be in the top 8th percentile though. That's how bad the traditional fifth starter usually is.

Edit: I LOVE how some writers have pigeonholed the narrative to fit their story of "See! See! He should be in the bullpen!!!"

One guy wrote: "Bard got the first batter he faced to line-out"...well, that's some trick, "Getting" a guy to hit a screaming line drive right at someones glove.

   42. The TVerik of Lordly Might Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4114687)
Ivan Nova just last year was probably the Yankees' fifth starter, and spent a good amount of time in the minors to prove it.

If Bard throws up 16 wins and a 120 ERA+, I think most Sox fans would take it.
   43. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4114690)
I'm sure. I bet Bard would still be in the top 8th percintile though. That's how bad the traditional fifth starter usually is.

I don't understand this "more valuable than other 5th starters" analysis. Isn't that essentially saying, "more valuable than replacement level"? Why would we compare him against other "fifth starters" as a baromter for success, whatever that means? Shouldn't the question be whether he is more valuable as a starter compared to starters than as a reliever compared to relievers? (obviously, it should, but I think this "fifth starter" thing is a bizarre rhetorical meme).

Bard has looked GREAT as a starter

No, he hasn't - or rather, I have no idea what you're seeing. And you're cherry picking information to fit your pre-formed hypothesis. The difference between Bard and Doubront is striking and illustrative.
   44. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4114697)
No, he hasn't - or rather, I have no idea what you're seeing. And you're cherry picking information to fit your pre-formed hypothesis. The difference between Bard and Doubront is striking and illustrative.


Details please. I think Bard has looked great.
   45. Dale Sams Posted: April 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4114707)
No, he hasn't - or rather, I have no idea what you're seeing. And you're cherry picking information to fit your pre-formed hypothesis. The difference between Bard and Doubront is striking and illustrative.


I need to see one more of Doubronts starts cause I was at work for the last one and couldn't pay close attention.

My impression of Doubront is: A good mix of B pitchs that attacks the zone and keeps batters off balance. Very good command. What's funny about Doubront is that his WHIP is ridiculously high, his BABIP is .366...but I see the same things you do. He looks good and I'm surprised that his WHIP is so high and that the BABIP is so high. He's also given up two HRs. A HR a game is a little high...but again I didn't really notice. That means he's scattering his mistakes and that's awesome. I like what I've seen from Doubront a lot.

Bard has: an A-A+ slider, a B fastball and a work in progress change-up. He's shown good ability to attack the zone and has kept batters off balance. There's absolutlely nothing to complain about his results other than too many walks in the last game.
   46. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4114708)

Details please. I think Bard has looked great.


Terrible pitch selection. Too few fastballs, too many sliders. You basically can't succeed as a RH starter, long term, throwing 1/3rd sliders - you'll either blow an arm, or throw too many pitches to go deep into games or both. And you shouldn't be doing that if you throw 94, except he has no confidence in his fastball. And the command of the slider isn't that great. But other than that, he looks great. COUNTDAK'S#1FIFTHSTARTER
   47. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 12:20 PM (#4114709)
Bard has: an A-A+ slider, a B fastball and a work in progress change-up.

Let me posit this - if the above is true, that's not a scouting report that's consistent with an MLB starter.
   48. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 24, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4114725)
I think saying Bard has looked "great" is an overestimation. I think he has looked like someone who can become very good but he's had ups and downs in his two starts. I think he has evolved nicely from the first few innings of start #1 where he was just out there throwing, the later part of that game, then in the Tampa game he seemed to start mixing his pitches better. So far I'd describe his performances as "optimistic" rather than "great."
   49. Dale Sams Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4114738)
General question: what would be the best overall stat for looking at a starters effectiveness? SO:BB rate? Some mixture I'm not aware of that includes slugging or just home-runs?

Cause Bard was one lucky Justin Thomas pitch/Valentine FUBAR from having his ERA really explode and make his 1 ER effort look useless. And on such a defensively volatile/bad bullpen team like the Sox, it's not really fair to use ERA or ERA+ for any of the starters. SO/BB rate X HR rate?

Bahaha...in trying to find slider rates for great slider pitchers I ran across

this gem.
   50. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4114740)
Terrible pitch selection. Too few fastballs, too many sliders. You basically can't succeed as a RH starter, long term, throwing 1/3rd sliders - you'll either blow an arm, or throw too many pitches to go deep into games or both. And you shouldn't be doing that if you throw 94, except he has no confidence in his fastball. And the command of the slider isn't that great. But other than that, he looks great. COUNTDAK'S#1FIFTHSTARTER


Now I know you're just full of ####. On top of the arm-chair psychology above, you're saying he'll blow out his arm? He has no confidence in his fastball? Where in the #### are you getting this evidence from?

Bard has thrown 214 pitches so far. 81 FB. 37% of his pitches are fastballs.

Beckett as a counter-example has thrown 287 pitches and 82 fastballs. So, Bard is ahead on that score.

Beckett doesn't have a slider, so let's look at someone with a similar pitch selection to Bard: Randy Johnson. Johnson threw 35% sliders to Bard's 38%. And RJ throw 45% FB. Randy Johnson also threw just 5% changeups, which is strikingly similar to Bard's 7%. Bard throws slightly more sinkers than Johnson did.

Johnson didn't blow out his arm throwing as many sliders as Bard has done so far.
   51. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4114742)
I think saying Bard has looked "great" is an overestimation. I think he has looked like someone who can become very good but he's had ups and downs in his two starts. I think he has evolved nicely from the first few innings of start #1 where he was just out there throwing, the later part of that game, then in the Tampa game he seemed to start mixing his pitches better. So far I'd describe his performances as "optimistic" rather than "great."


I'm talking about when I watch him pitch, he has looked great. His first start he was obviously pumped and throwing the ball very hard early and tired out. The next start he was locating pitches and getting squeezed especially on high and low strikes. I'm not talking about looking at his stat line. When we have just a couple of starts to look at, the numbers are deceptive. This is not controversial. He has looked great.
   52. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4114744)
<i>Beckett doesn't have a slider, so let's look at someone with a similar pitch selection to Bard: Randy Johnson. Johnson threw 35% sliders to Bard's 38%. And RJ throw 45% FB. Randy Johnson also threw just 5% changeups, which is strikingly similar to Bard's 7%. Bard throws slightly more sinkers than Johnson did.<i>

Yes, lets compare Bard to Randy Johnson, perhaps the most unique non-knuckleballing starter of the last 30 years.
   53. Dale Sams Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4114745)
David, I disagree with his overall assesment, but I am worried a lot about Bard's physique. Which is part of the reason I was flipping out over him being left in so long against TB. God help us all if he gets hurt tonight pitching relief and the "HE GOT JOBAED!!" crowd gets more ammo.

And I agree the idea of "Is he more valuable as a starter compared to other starters compared to as a reliver vs other relievers" has merit. But "Fifth starter" also has traction, I'm just having a difficult time expressing it.

I'll tell you this, give him a whole year and he won't be the worst starter on the Sox with comparable innings and he probably will be ERA+ > 115.

Part of the reason I don't agree with sticking him in the pen is because he WONT be maximized due to dunderhead managers. As seen last night.

IMHO he will succeed in the first five innings of 28 starts(and said innings are more valuable and high-leverage) than what he will see as a reliever.

I wonder if Cook can be paid to hang around longer or take a pen role. Or even if his contract can be restructured like that.
   54. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4114748)
Bard has an A fastball and B+ control with it. He was better with it in the second start, but he's only getting called strikes on it at about 14% clip. We'll see how long that trend continues.
   55. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4114752)
I think Bard has confidence in his fastball. I think he used it last night to try to put a few guys away.
   56. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4114756)
Yes, lets compare Bard to Randy Johnson, perhaps the most unique non-knuckleballing starter of the last 30 years.


You said he would blow out his arm because of the high % of sliders. You can rest your case on the "uniqueness" of Johnson, but why didn't Johnson blow out his elbow? I thought you were saying it was a given.

Edit: I know you know that you're on shaky ground here. You might not like the high % of sliders, but there's no evidence at all that throwing sliders breaks elbows.
   57. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4114759)
I think Bard has confidence in his fastball. I think he used it last night to try to put a few guys away.


This is patently obvious to everyone except zop I think. The two pitches Bard uses most are fastball and slider. Why would he use a pitch that he has no confidence in? It's retarded to suggest otherwise.
   58. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4114768)
General question: what would be the best overall stat for looking at a starters effectiveness? SO:BB rate? Some mixture I'm not aware of that includes slugging or just home-runs?


That's a really good question. Just thinking it through K:BB rate and swing and miss percentage are two things I like to look at. I think the S&M% (whee!) is a good barometer of pure stuff and Bard has been very good there. The K:BB rate I think is one of those areas where vastly dissimilar pitchers can be compared well. For example, Mark Buehrle and Derek Holland had identical K:BB rates last year despite being very different in terms of style.


When we have just a couple of starts to look at, the numbers are deceptive. This is not controversial. He has looked great.


Agreed on the numbers but I think we have a different definition of "great." I'll admit he has been better than I anticipated but I wouldn't say he's looked "great."
   59. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4114769)
Let me posit this - if the above is true, that's not a scouting report that's consistent with an MLB starter.


I don't know, doesn't that basically describe Ervin Santana or Michael Pineda? Of course, Pineda's hurt and Santana isn't amazing, but they're both MLB starters with some success.
   60. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4114772)
If Buccholz' next two starts are bad maybe they will give him the Fenway Flu or a turn in the pen and let Cook have a few starts.
   61. Dale Sams Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4114781)
Bard himself said his fastball command against TB was 'terrible', a fangraphs guy thought that was an overstatement. I agree its a reach to call it terrible, but I love Bard's self-awareness, even to the point where he sits down with Valentine and Cherington to say "WTF is this reliever-#### all about?"

I also love (no sarcasm) how the guy has had two starts and we're breaking it down like the Da Vinci code.
   62. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4114786)
I know you know that you're on shaky ground here. You might not like the high % of sliders, but there's no evidence at all that throwing sliders breaks elbows.


To the contrary, there is. Sliders get disproportionately good results on a perpitch basis, are thrown a theoretically inefficient amount by starters and are thrown more frequently by relievers. That's all consistent with sliders, in quantity, either reducing stamina or increasing injury risk.

why didn't Johnson blow out his elbow

Johnson's mechanics, anatomy, and pitch selection were unique. I don't think he's an example of anything.



I don't know, doesn't that basically describe Ervin Santana or Michael Pineda? Of course, Pineda's hurt and Santana isn't amazing, but they're both MLB starters with some success.


Santana and Pineda both threw harder than Bard-as-starter. Though I'd agree, Bard's upside is something like 90% of Ervin Santana both on the good side (effectiveness) and bad side (durability/injury).

   63. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: April 24, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4114830)
Santana and Pineda both threw harder than Bard-as-starter. Though I'd agree, Bard's upside is something like 90% of Ervin Santana both on the good side (effectiveness) and bad side (durability/injury).


Bard's velocity this year (94.0) is about the same as Pineda's last year (94.2), and higher than Santana every year but 2008 (94.8, and granted, Santana's best year). Santana's no iron man, but he's been a fairly durable SP. Bard-as-starter is also still early enough in execution that we may not have seen his best fastball yet.

I'm not saying he'll be great, but there are models for this sort of pitcher being good. If the change ever gets better, he could be quite good.
   64. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4114847)
I'm not saying he'll be great, but there are models for this sort of pitcher being good. If the change ever gets better, he could be quite good.


Sure - but that's true for probably 30% of the relief pitchers in MLB. Bard's upside is a bit higher because of his velocity, but, good RP + changeup = good SP. Simple in theory, difficult in execution.
   65. Dan Posted: April 24, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4114853)
Bard's upside is being 90% of Ervin Santana?

Yeah, okay. Might as well end this discussion here because you're not dealing with someone arguing in good faith. We may all disagree about Bard's ultimate fortunes as a starter or likelihood of reaching them, but it's pretty clear one thing he does have in spades is potential upside.
   66. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:02 PM (#4114863)
Bard's upside is being 90% of Ervin Santana?

How do you define upside? 1 SD over his median expectation? 2 SD? I mean, Jamie Moyer circa 1992s upside was clearly Jamie Moyer, except that it wasn't, in another sense.

Dan Bard could turn into something great if he learns a change and gets better with the two-seamer, because he throws hard and has a good slider, but that doesn't define his upside, except insofar as any pitcher who throws hard has more "upside" than one who doesnt.
   67. Bug Selig Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4114867)
Sliders get disproportionately good results on a perpitch basis, are thrown a theoretically inefficient amount by starters and are thrown more frequently by relievers. That's all consistent with sliders, in quantity, either reducing stamina or increasing injury risk.


Either that or most RP's don't ever throw changeups, thereby driving up their percentage of everything except changeups.
   68. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:16 PM (#4114878)
Sure - but that's true for probably 30% of the relief pitchers in MLB. Bard's upside is a bit higher because of his velocity, but, good RP + changeup = good SP. Simple in theory, difficult in execution.


If 30% of RP had Bard's FB and slider, they might indeed be good starters if they could work in a semi-acceptable change >10% of the time. There are lots of reasons why pitchers get turned into relievers, sometimes just for roster construction reasons, who might be good starters save for the inertia of their relief role.

I agree that there's less room for error when you don't have a good 3rd pitch as a starter. Bard can probably rely on his stuff while he's got it and do fine, but any long term success probably depends on him having a good 3rd pitch. However, there's a big difference between "not likely to have long-term success" and "not a MLB starter". He clearly looks like a viable starter at this moment to me. He may not stay healthy or be good long-term, but that's a different matter.
   69. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4114909)
There are lots of reasons why pitchers get turned into relievers, sometimes just for roster construction reasons, who might be good starters save for the inertia of their relief role.

I guess this is the crux of the disagreement - I think that's not true, that teams do an excellent job of identifying who can be an MLB SP, and it's not as simple as velocity or having a plus-plus pitch.

Which is why I find the Bard thing so puzzling, because other than velocity fetishing I can't see why everyone oos and aahs over him (I mean, it's not like he was an otherworldly reliever - just a very good one), and you guys actually HAVE a guy who's showing all the pieces - like, not upside, NOW.
   70. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4114920)
...and you guys actually HAVE a guy who's showing all the pieces - like, not upside, NOW.


Are you talking about Doubront? It's been 3 starts w/ a 3.94 ERA and your'e ready to dub him Mr. Dependable?
   71. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:50 PM (#4114924)
There is no point in discussing this with you zop because you're talking out your ass. If you have mlb.tv you can easily re-watch the games. There is no velocity fetishizing; Bard is sitting pretty comfortably at 94 and hitting 97 when he needs to. His slider has looked excellent at times and mediocre at times.

Doubront's success so far is a real treat. But this guy has been fringe or organizational filler until this spring. His UPSIDE has been #5 starter. He was considered to be in the running for the mop-up reliever spot. You can look that up. No one expected this. Actually, there was one jackass over on SOSH who proclaimed that Doubront had some new arm motion or something that would mean he'd develop into Lester or Pettitte. I would love it if Doubront matured into a 1st or 2nd or even 3rd starter. But I'm skeptical. Watching him pitch, he's been up in the zone a lot more than I'd like.

Teams have all kinds of biases for and against certain types of pitchers. There is no reason to rehearse here what I know you know is true. What I can't understand is why you're being so pig-headed about this.
   72. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:51 PM (#4114925)
you guys actually HAVE a guy who's showing all the pieces - like, not upside, NOW.


I'm willing to bet I'm the biggest Doubront fan on the site but let's not overvalue him. The biggest difference right now between him and Bard is that Doubront made his third start and it was a gem. That's not insignificant but let's not make him more than he is. I think his upside is Bruce Hurst type (which is pretty damned good) but I think generic crafty lefty is probably the best bet for him.

If pressed I'd say I think he is more likely to succeed as a starter than Bard and less likely to be a star in the role than Bard. Doubront is a deception based pitcher, I wouldn't be shocked by a strong first half and then a "oops, the league figured a few things out" second half.
   73. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:51 PM (#4114926)
Are you talking about Doubront? It's been 3 starts w/ a 3.94 ERA and your'e ready to dub him Mr. Dependable?

Yes, because in 3 game samples I use ERA as a metric.

I'm in love with Doubront's stuff and per-batter results. I'd rather have him than Bard and its not even close. 20K in ~70BF is really hard to do as a starter unless you have some serious talent. K rate regresses pretty quickly.
   74. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4114927)
I really have to say that I'm surprised by this entire discussion. I have not known zop to be so bizarrely dogmatic and unthinking in the many years I've been coming to this site. This is just weird.
   75. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4114929)
I'm in love with Doubront's stuff and per-batter results. I'd rather have him than Bard and its not even close. 20K in ~70BF is really hard to do as a starter unless you have some serious talent. K rate regresses pretty quickly.


Are you watching the games? Have you seen him pitch? He's living a bit on the edge. Looks great at times, lucky at others.
   76. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4114932)
I'm in love with Doubront's stuff and per-batter results. I'd rather have him than Bard and its not even close. 20K in ~70BF is really hard to do as a starter unless you have some serious talent. K rate regresses pretty quickly.


Or unless you're really new. This is a pointless discussion.
   77. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:58 PM (#4114945)
Yes, because in 3 game samples I use ERA as a metric.


you shouldn't use any metric in 3 game samples, but if you are dubbing a guy as proven after that short of time he had better have performed better than Doubront has. I hope you are right about Doubront but acting as if he is established and Bard is all upside is bizarre.
   78. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4114946)
Doubront's success so far is a real treat. But this guy has been fringe or organizational filler until this spring. His UPSIDE has been #5 starter. He was considered to be in the running for the mop-up reliever spot. You can look that up. No one expected this.

I think his upside is Bruce Hurst type (which is pretty damned good) but I think generic crafty lefty is probably the best bet for him.

His FB velocity this year is 92.5 - which is HIGHER than it was as a reliver in past seasons. That may be an unexpected surprise - reliever throwing 91.5 usually translates to SP throwing 90, and yeah, that's crafty lefty territory - but for whatever reasons, Doubront has showed up with typical mid-rotation velocity (for a LHP) that's showing up in results (both per-pitch and per-batter).
   79. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:03 PM (#4114951)
His FB velocity this year is 92.5 - which is HIGHER than it was as a reliver in past seasons. That may be an unexpected surprise - reliever throwing 91.5 usually translates to SP throwing 90, and yeah, that's crafty lefty territory - but for whatever reasons, Doubront has showed up with typical mid-rotation velocity (for a LHP) that's showing up in results (both per-pitch and per-batter).


You are not watching the games. Stat lines can't tell you anything this early unless you're Eric Van. And the kinds of things stat lines tell Eric Van are the kinds of things you need to wear tinfoil hats to hear.
   80. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:12 PM (#4114962)
I think you're wrong about Doubront's velocity. Looking at the charts on Fangraphs, the velocity range for the generic FA is all over the place. The two-seamer is more consistent, which suggests classification errors are dragging down the 2011 range. Either that or, Occam's razor, we don't have enough of a sample size to know. The more conservative bet here makes more sense. Bard has been a better pitcher than Doubront for longer, and he's the better bet to be the better pitcher in the long run. End of story.

Edit: Also, the graphs at Brooks Baseball show that there are some small bits in 2010 and 2009 dragging his overall velocity stats down. Don't know why that is, but his velocity now is consistent with where it was in the past.
   81. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4114967)
Bard [is] the better bet to be the better pitcher in the long run.


I think its reasonable to have the opposite opinion - but the 2012 season certainly hasn't proven it either way.
   82. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:17 PM (#4114972)
I think its reasonable to have the opposite opinion - but the 2012 season certainly hasn't proven it either way.


If we're going just on stuff here and on reputation and on what the scouts and the org has been saying, then it's not reasonable. For Christ's sake, the entire argument that Doubront is the better pitcher or is a better bet to be so is based on spring training 2012 and 3 starts this year. It's not reasonable.
   83. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:18 PM (#4114975)
You are not watching the games. Stat lines can't tell you anything this early unless you're Eric Van. And the kinds of things stat lines tell Eric Van are the kinds of things you need to wear tinfoil hats to hear.

I've watched Doubront pitch twice - once in person - which is where I am coming from. I was uberimpressed with the way he pitched against the Rays. I was jealous. YMMV. I'm not a Sox fan, but my fiance is from Mass, so I see plenty of Red Sox.
   84. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:18 PM (#4114976)
I guess this is the crux of the disagreement - I think that's not true, that teams do an excellent job of identifying who can be an MLB SP, and it's not as simple as velocity or having a plus-plus pitch.


Oh, I also think they generally do a good job. With most guys, it's probably not hard to tell. However, there is a long tradition of guys breaking in to starting through the bullpen, and it seems like there a few successful transitions every year.

Ultimately, I tend to look more at results than pitches and whatnot. If Bard maintains his over 9 k/9 and can keep the walks down, I think he'll be fine no matter what his pitch mix. If he stops fooling guys, then they'll have a problem. I haven't seen any indication that he's striking guys out any less - his stuff still seems pretty dominant, which to me is a recipe for a good pitcher. How do you see the shape of Bard's failure - do you think the league will figure him out and his K rate will go way down (or maybe you think K rate doesn't matter?), or that he'll start giving up a lot of HR, or his walk rate will stay really high, or what?
   85. Dale Sams Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:38 PM (#4115021)
once in person


Unless you're in the perfect seat you can't tell anything other than from results. (Amirite guys?) I mean if I'm not right tell me. I know I haven't been able to tell bumpkiss in games I've attended in person except from results. But from TV, I'm...I think I do a good job.

*I guess there is the replay screen. I've only attended away games so watching the other teams highlights wasn't a priority.
   86. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:44 PM (#4115032)
How do you see the shape of Bard's failure - do you think the league will figure him out and his K rate will go way down (or maybe you think K rate doesn't matter?), or that he'll start giving up a lot of HR, or his walk rate will stay really high, or what?


Here we depart fully into the land of the speculative:

Different pitches, IMO, lead to different results. Generally, breaking balls lead to more swings and misses, more Ks, lower BABIP, but also more FB, more HR/FB and more P/BF (and often, more BB/BF, but I'm not as sure about that). I also believe - with minimal evidence, I grant - that throwing lots of sliders as a SP leads to injury.

Guys like Bard, who overrely on the slider IMO, tend to "underperform" their xFIP because they have a "real" high HR/FB rate. They also tend to have more BB/IP than ideal and more P/BF than ideal. because of that, they get dung a bit on rate (though can be quite good on rate, because of the high K rate), get dung a bit on in-game durability, and tend to get hurt.

I guess the argument against the above is Ervin Santana, as discussed above, but I remember Ervin Santana coming into the league with absolutely ELECTRIC stuff, way, way better than Bard, and it took him a pretty long time, i.e., more than a season or two, to learn how to harness it and pitch. I guess Santana's stuff nowdays is no better than Bard's, but it took a long time for Santana to convert that skill set into MLB results.

I guess the shape I see is a bit like early-career Santana - high HR, high K, high BB - but a bit worse across the board. That's what I mean as 90% of Santana. But I view Santana as a real success story - the man has had a long career and had one excellent season. 90% of that, to me, is a heck of an outcome. I could definitely see Bard having a good year or two down the road - but you're basically asking him to learn on the job at the MLB level in a park that isn't particularly friendly to his skillset against lineups in the AL East that aren't particularly friendly to his skillset.
   87. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:53 PM (#4115047)
Unless you're in the perfect seat you can't tell anything other than from results. (Amirite guys?) I mean if I'm not right tell me. I know I haven't been able to tell bumpkiss in games I've attended in person except from results. But from TV, I'm...I think I do a good job.


When I'm at Fenway I'm pretty comfortable making judgments on how a guy is throwing. I've had the same seats for twelve years so you start to get some points of reference on things. You definitely can see better on TV assuming you aren't sitting next to Jeremy Kapstein.
   88. Dan Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4115055)
I guess the shape I see is a bit like early-career Santana - high HR, high K, high BB - but a bit worse across the board. That's what I mean as 90% of Santana. But I view Santana as a real success story - the man has had a long career and had one excellent season. 90% of that, to me, is a heck of an outcome. I could definitely see Bard having a good year or two down the road - but you're basically asking him to learn on the job at the MLB level in a park that isn't particularly friendly to his skillset against lineups in the AL East that aren't particularly friendly to his skillset.



Where does the idea that Bard will have issues with home runs come from? He's never allowed many home runs and so far almost 56% of balls hit against him are on the ground after ~53% GB last season in relief. In 209 career IP in MLB, he's allowed 0.69 HR/9.

Ervin Santana's career groundball % is 38. It's just not a meaningful comparison at all.
   89. Nasty Nate Posted: April 24, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4115057)
but I remember Ervin Santana coming into the league with absolutely ELECTRIC stuff, way, way better than Bard, and it took him a pretty long time, i.e., more than a season or two, to learn how to harness it and pitch. I guess Santana's stuff nowdays is no better than Bard's, but it took a long time for Santana to convert that skill set into MLB results......... you're basically asking him to learn on the job at the MLB level in a park that isn't particularly friendly to his skillset against lineups in the AL East that aren't particularly friendly to his skillset.


But you are ignoring that Bard has already spent nearly 3 years in the majors doing some of the harnessing, converting, learning etc. That experience isn't nulled by him being a reliever over that time. The dude is 27 years old.
   90. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: April 24, 2012 at 05:07 PM (#4115072)
Ervin Santana's career groundball % is 38. It's just not a meaningful comparison at all.


I think it's meaningful in that they throw similar pitches, however Bard has just generally been better. I do think it's interesting, though, that there aren't many SP that only throw FB/Slider, with only a few changeups. Maybe it means nothing, but it does seem unusual that there are so few.
   91. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 24, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4115087)
That experience isn't nulled by him being a reliever over that time.

It is, if you believe that there's fundamentally different skills involved in SP v. RP (and I think there is, especially in the "brain" side of pitching).
   92. Dan Posted: April 24, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4115096)
I think it's meaningful in that they throw similar pitches, however Bard has just generally been better. I do think it's interesting, though, that there aren't many SP that only throw FB/Slider, with only a few changeups. Maybe it means nothing, but it does seem unusual that there are so few.


There are plenty who throw only fastball/curveball though. Josh Beckett comes to mind earlier in his career. Justin Verlander at times, though he has a slider and changeup that he sometimes uses, depending on how his various pitches are working that day. But when he dominated the Red Sox in his first start he was basically throwing entirely fastball/curveball. If you have a top notch breaking ball, it can be the only weapon you need besides your fastball.

An additional wrinkle for Bard is that his slider, while appearing to be one pitch on paper, is actually a pitch that he throws in several different ways to get different movement on it. Despite the fact that he's always using a "slider grip", at times it's really closer to a curveball, with big looping movement and lower velocity. Plus his "fastball" is very divided between 2 and 4 seam variants, both of which have very different movement yet similar velocity.
   93. Dan Posted: April 24, 2012 at 05:39 PM (#4115100)
It is, if you believe that there's fundamentally different skills involved in SP v. RP (and I think there is, especially in the "brain" side of pitching).


The thing is that the Red Sox fans who believe in this, and I tend to be one, would tell you that Bard has a starter's mentality and that his lack of a reliever mentality is why he would A. not make a good closer and B. he has things happen to him like pitching terribly for all of last September and ending up with 9 losses in relief in 2011. Bard is a really cerebral guy, which tends to help guys get through the order multiple times, rather than guys who are just throwers. If Bard has an issue here, it's more likely either a lack of confidence in all of his pitches or possibly just not having enough weapons to get through the order 3 or 4 times. I dont' think this has been an issue for him yet, but both of those are things that could potentially bite him in the ass. But as a reliever, he simply lacks the mentality needed for success as a high leverage guy: he is too cerebral and is not able to compartmentalize bad results. He doesn't have the "short memory" that good relievers have. If he sucks on Monday, he takes that to the mound with him on Tuesday, which works against him, and makes him incredibly streaky.
   94. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 24, 2012 at 07:18 PM (#4115162)
Doubront had a very good start against the Yankees. He's also got a very fringy prospect profile and a 90 ERA+ projection. I hope he can be an above average starter, but I don't think a good game or two is enough to get me that excited.

The big thing with Bard, that 'zop didn't see, is that it's really hard to drive his pitches. He's limited flyballs and homers his entire career. That skill, combined with his ability to maintain his velocity and command through 100 pitches, makes me think he can be an excellent major league starter.

And some injury updates from Pete Abraham:
• Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his next minor league rehabilitation start on Saturday at Hadlock Field for Portland. He will face Reading.

• Rich Hill is set to pitch for Pawtuket tonight and Wednesday. If he gets through the back-to-back games, that could be his last hurdle before returning to the big leagues.

• Carl Crawford was in Boston today to get his strained left elbow checked. Valentine said they were still waiting on a report. "Until a guy is 100 percent, you always have concern," he said.
Hill in particular is a guy we're now counting on. (More than you should be counting on a post-surgery Rich Hill, as a general rule.)
   95. Dan Posted: April 24, 2012 at 07:29 PM (#4115168)
Will Crawford be back before June 1? I'm beginning to doubt it. So far he is 7 months into a 7 year, $140M contract and has literally provided 0 value (0.0 rWAR last year, hasn't played this year). If he also misses all of May, he'll be basically 1/5 of the way through his contract while providing absolutely no value for the Red Sox. Considering that his contract was largely considered a situation where his value on the front end would have to make up for him underperforming on the back end, losing the front 19% of the contract really makes this contract a contender for worst FA signing of all time.
   96. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 24, 2012 at 08:01 PM (#4115184)
Crawford's contract could be one of the worst ever, but it isn't the case that his value was expected to be especially front-loaded. That's what you expect with an older player like Pujols or a 2b like Kinsler or an unathletic guy like Fielder. Crawford doesn't fit any of those categories.
   97. Pingu Posted: April 24, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4115186)
Even if Crawford never plays another game in a Red Sox uniform he still wont even have the worst contract on his own team. I'd rather pay big money for zero value than pay big money for negative value.

But your point is quite valid. And scary. And depressing. And somewhat laughable considering its the least of the Red Sox problems right now.
   98. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: April 24, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4115445)
I think we'll all forget the first 20% of Crawford's contract if he plays like he played in Tampa. I don't really care that the Sox maximize the dollars on the contract so much as I don't want them running him out there if he can't play.
   99. Dale Sams Posted: April 25, 2012 at 01:06 AM (#4115498)
Even if Crawford never plays another game in a Red Sox uniform he still wont even have the worst contract on his own team


I SO want our five man rotation to succeed and be stable so that when Lackey comes back, there's no room in the rotation for him.
   100. Dan Posted: April 25, 2012 at 02:47 AM (#4115508)
Crawford is now apparently seeking a second opinion on his elbow. Not that there is evidence for this yet, but I fully expect TJ surgery, which would write him off for this entire season, keeping him at literally 0 production 2/7 through his contract, having drawn $40M in salary.

Maybe it's nothing, but it seems awfully concerning.
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