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   1. Xander Posted: June 02, 2006 at 03:20 AM (#2047954)
In fairness, Trinity is a D-III powerhouse. Good for Jeff, he deserved it. We'll see if GadzYouki sticks.

Another nice night for Bowden, though against a lowly Kannapolis team: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7/0 K/BB, 7/1 GB/FB
   2. villageidiom Posted: June 02, 2006 at 03:40 AM (#2047991)
Gadzooks.
   3. Bob Loblaw Posted: June 02, 2006 at 05:39 AM (#2048089)
Darren, that's quite a stretch for a nickname. Even if we went along with you're reasoning, if Godzilla yields Gadzuki, then Youkilis should yield Yakuki as the name for his lesser self.

If you're really desperate to spin Gadzuki into GadzYouki as a nickname, then it should be the nickname for Youkilis himself, as he's kind of a smaller, less-menacing, comic-relief partner for Ortiz and Manny.
   4. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: June 02, 2006 at 10:21 AM (#2048137)
Darren...

That nickname is terrible!!!
   5. Hungry Hungry Hipolito Pichardo Posted: June 02, 2006 at 02:01 PM (#2048195)
Natale was promoted to hi-A Wilmington today after crushing Greenville for 300ish PAs. He promptly homered in his first AB. Hopefully, this move means his glove has improved a bit.

Perhaps the order of these last two sentences should be reversed?
   6. Hungry Hungry Hipolito Pichardo Posted: June 02, 2006 at 02:06 PM (#2048198)
Oops, should have read the post more carefully. I missed the "this move" part -- thought it just said "this means"...

Never mind, carry on.
   7. tfbg9 Posted: June 02, 2006 at 02:51 PM (#2048244)
Quite possibly the most stupid nickname ever...therefore, lets make sure it sticks, I mean, what the hell? Why not?
   8. chris p Posted: June 02, 2006 at 03:10 PM (#2048265)
portland knocked around future hall of famer phil hughes (6 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings) yesterday.
   9. AROM Posted: June 02, 2006 at 03:30 PM (#2048280)
Natale was promoted to hi-A Wilmington today after crushing Greenville for 300ish PAs. He promptly homered in his first AB. Hopefully, this move means his glove has improved a bit.

He only had 3 errors. Unless he was a DH most of the time and they came in 1 game, doesn't seem like his glove is a problem. I can't speak for his range though.

He's 23 and turns 24 before the season ends. What was he doing in low A in the first place? Numbers are nice but its hard to make anything out of them. If he's a prospect he should already be in AAA by now.
   10. chris p Posted: June 02, 2006 at 03:38 PM (#2048286)
What was he doing in low A in the first place?

word on the street is that he was there to work on his 2b defense with luis alicea.
   11. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 02, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2048297)
Natale was a 32nd round pick out of a div III school as a five-year senior. This is his first full season in the minor leagues.

In lo-A, he started the year as a nearly full-time DH, and slowly took on the 2B job until he was playing there about 3/4 of the time. The Sox are apparently trying to ease him in because of concerns about his glove. The chances of him working out in MLB are... remote, but apparently the Sox think that letting him crush less advanced competition with the bat and focus on his glovework for now is hte answer.

I think just Gadzuki works, but it doesn't have the enjoyable overwroughtness of GadzYouki.
   12. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: June 02, 2006 at 05:06 PM (#2048369)
In today's Globe, Francona was quoted as saying that the replacement minor league umpires had generous strike zones and hitting was down as well. Has anyone else heard this theory?
   13. Xander Posted: June 02, 2006 at 05:13 PM (#2048376)
I don't know about the theory, but I'm pretty sure I saw numbers showing minor league numbers were down everywhere except the Texas League. This is not good news for Jon Lester, who was having a hard time throwing strikes as it was. I mean, Delmon did have a good argument.
   14. MM1f Posted: June 02, 2006 at 05:18 PM (#2048382)
"In today's Globe, Francona was quoted as saying that the replacement minor league umpires had generous strike zones and hitting was down as well. Has anyone else heard this theory?"

Yes. MWE's suggested that the severe inconsistancy of the zone (both from ump to ump and umps inconsisntacny with their own zones) has kept hitters very off balance and let pitchers nibble at will....which sounds like a pretty accurate educated guess
   15. Mike Emeigh Posted: June 02, 2006 at 05:30 PM (#2048393)
Francona was quoted as saying that the replacement minor league umpires had generous strike zones and hitting was down as well.


MM1f quoted me accurately; it isn't so much that the zones are generous (I'd argue that they really are not, from what I've seen) as that they are inconsistent, and hitters don't know *what's* going to be called a strike from PA to PA.

-- MWE
   16. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 02, 2006 at 05:59 PM (#2048421)
He only had 3 errors. Unless he was a DH most of the time and they came in 1 game, doesn't seem like his glove is a problem. I can't speak for his range though.


His defense was (supposedly) laughably bad. A lot of the things a bad 2B screws up also wouldn't show up as errors (I'm thinking specifically of double play issues, though range would be a factor as well). A few pitchers at Greenville have had H/BIP issues that may partially be attributable to Natale's defense.

I'd be more concerned with his age if he were less dominant at Low-A. 20 XBH, 41 BB, 20K in 216 PA doesn't mean what it would if he were 18, but it's an indication that he's probably better than roster filler (if he can learn to play something other than DH).
   17. Mattbert Posted: June 02, 2006 at 09:45 PM (#2048602)
Natale was an absolute butcher on defense the couple times I saw him play in college. He had an above-average arm but clumsy hands, and he made some "throwing" errors as a result of trying to make up for a bobble by gunning the throw over to first. His range was decent; he had enough footspeed to play the oufield occasionally, which helped him get more playing time as an underclassman because Trinity already had another very good hitter at 2B when Natale showed up (Kurt Piantek, who I think ended up bouncing around the Tigers' system for a couple years). Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if Natale had a tendancy to make some errors by being off balance after fielding a ball he can just get to but still trying to force a play on it instead of doing the smart thing and putting it in his pocket.

I think Natale could be a slightly below average defender at 2B if he accepts his limitations and makes better decisions with the ball. Maybe he's improved in this regard already, and his hands are simply so bad that he'll never be able to be respectable defensively at 2B. If that's the case, the Sox should think about moving him to LF or something. He's much smaller than your typical corner OFer, but the guy can hit, period. Natale was an excellent hitter in a perenially excellent D-III program (Temple is right on the mark about Trinity).
   18. Fridas Boss Posted: June 02, 2006 at 10:22 PM (#2048626)
I just heard Sean McAdam on the radio saying how Pedroia showed up these season drastically overweight and the Sox are not pleased...
   19. Darren Posted: June 03, 2006 at 02:48 AM (#2048974)
Frida, I've heard that before, and I think Cherington actually commented on the weight thing, a lot more subtely. The weird thing is that he was said to be working out heavily this offseason. In an interview on Red Sox Nation, Pedroia says he feels like he's hitting the ball well this year, but hasn't gotten good results. Also a big Bonds fan!
   20. Darren Posted: June 03, 2006 at 02:51 AM (#2048978)
Also, I was wondering if anyone (Emeigh, I'm looking your way), would want to attempt to translate Natale's numbers to AA. I think that would be more informative than a 23-year-old's raw numbers in low A.
   21. Darren Posted: June 03, 2006 at 02:52 AM (#2048979)
And yes, overwrought is exactly what I was going for.
   22. Darren Posted: June 03, 2006 at 02:53 AM (#2048981)
Okay, one more: What the hell's wrong with Hansen?
   23. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: June 03, 2006 at 02:55 AM (#2048986)
Is this the Trinity in Hartford? The name Natale does sound familiar. I'm sure the Hartford Courant would eat it up if this guy makes it to the bigs with one of the teams they cover.
   24. Darren Posted: June 03, 2006 at 03:02 AM (#2048992)
Yes, that's the one Gary. The real Trinity.
   25. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 03, 2006 at 03:12 AM (#2049003)
Okay, one more: What the hell's wrong with Hansen?
He's got a pitch count of about 60-70 per start, and thus he has to work as a three-pitch pitcher. As a college closer, he was dominant with two pitches, and he hardly ever faced the same batter twice in one outing. Hansen is currently doing a totally different type of pitching from what he did in college or from what the Sox will probably expect him to do in the majors.

I'm not really clear on the point of it. I mean, it'd be wicked awesome if Hansen could turn into a starter with two plus pitches. It seems very unlikely that'll happen. I get hte point of having Hansen throw regularly and work more than an inning when he does, but at a 70 pitch limit, he's basically a starter.
   26. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 03, 2006 at 03:17 AM (#2049007)
I'd be more concerned with his age if he were less dominant at Low-A. 20 XBH, 41 BB, 20K in 216 PA doesn't mean what it would if he were 18, but it's an indication that he's probably better than roster filler (if he can learn to play something other than DH).
I'd lay at least 5-1 odds against GadzYouki ever being more than roster filler. I'm watching him anyway, but 24-year-olds without positions who haven't made the high minors yet basically never work out.
   27. Darren Posted: June 03, 2006 at 03:20 AM (#2049013)
He's still 23 dammit!

(Also, I thought Hansen did pitch well in the CWS as a starter?)
   28. Xander Posted: June 03, 2006 at 03:24 AM (#2049023)
I get hte point of having Hansen throw regularly and work more than an inning when he does, but at a 70 pitch limit, he's basically a starter.

It's because the Red Sox are trying to see if he can be a starter without actually admitting they are doing it. You are absolutely right, 70 pitches is an unnecessary amount of pitches for a reliever to try and develop a new pitch. I could see what they were doing earlier in the year; 3 IP or 45 pitches, whatever comes first. But 70 pitches is moving into starter territory, and his PC has been steadily increasing to boot. It's a noble attempt, but I don't think it's going to work out. I will say that the one thing he has in his favor as a starter is a good hard sinking fastball that allows him to get a lot of groundballs.
   29. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 03, 2006 at 04:17 AM (#2049070)
I'd lay at least 5-1 odds against GadzYouki ever being more than roster filler. I'm watching him anyway, but 24-year-olds without positions who haven't made the high minors yet basically never work out.


I meant roster filler at Low-A. If he turns out to be roster filler at AAA at his peak, that's probably still a good return for a 32nd rounder.
   30. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 03, 2006 at 04:20 AM (#2049072)
BTW, sox product Josh Hancock is looking pretty good right now for the cards. (Then again, he's facing the Cubs). He was the price of picking up Jeremy Giambi before he was nontendered by Philly.
   31. PJ Martinez Posted: June 03, 2006 at 04:31 PM (#2049202)
What are the differences between the Hansen and Papelbon situations? Does Papelbon's smoother delivery make him a more likely starter, thus justifying the conversion? Did his conversion help him become this effective as a reliever (by encouraging him, for example, to work on that splitter)? Superficially, at least, it seems like the Sox are following the same pattern here, and the last time worked out pretty well-- so far, anyway.
   32. Darren Posted: June 03, 2006 at 04:53 PM (#2049215)
Natale outhit Pujols at low A. Sure, he was three years older, but all that means is that Natale won't quite reach the same peak as Pujols. He'll probably end up only as good as Pujols was in 01 and 02. Sure, that's a huge letdown for us Sox fans, but that's still useful player.
   33. Mattbert Posted: June 03, 2006 at 07:20 PM (#2049343)
He might be another Morgan Burkhart.
Burkhart was awesome in 2000, I'd take that. I'd say Natale's upside is somewhere in the neighborhood of a poor man's Mark Bellhorn or Frank Catalanotto, depending on whether he can eventually play a passable 2B or if he has to try to hit enough to hold down a 4th or 5th OF/PH type role. I never pitched against him myself, but Natale looked to be an incredibly patient hitter even as an 18-year-old. It would not shock me at all if he could manage an OBP-heavy OPS around league average or slightly better. He had excellent bat control and seemed to have terrific pitch recognition skills in college.
   34. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 03, 2006 at 08:34 PM (#2049471)
Natale outhit Pujols at low A. Sure, he was three years older, but all that means is that Natale won't quite reach the same peak as Pujols. He'll probably end up only as good as Pujols was in 01 and 02. Sure, that's a huge letdown for us Sox fans, but that's still useful player.


Isn't Natale like 12 years younger than Pujols was in low-A?
   35. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:29 PM (#2050516)
Can someone buy Peter Gammons a throat lozenge? He is on WEEI and clears his throat in the middle of every sentence. Great radio!
   36. 1k5v3L Posted: June 05, 2006 at 09:10 AM (#2051615)
Ah, another Red Sox minor leaguers thread. What a joy.

So, the only thing that stands in between Pedroia and the Hall of Fame is a few too many Krispy Kremes. Nothing that a stapled stomach cannot fix.
   37. 1k5v3L Posted: June 05, 2006 at 09:14 AM (#2051616)
http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/news/261589.html
   38. Dave Cyprian Posted: June 05, 2006 at 03:35 PM (#2051762)
Hello, can we start up a new tradition of having a thread at least weekly about the Boston Red Sox? They are a major league affiliate of Pawtucket with several exciting, young future stars, plus they all play in meaningful games. Thank you have a nice day.
   39. Darren Posted: June 05, 2006 at 11:09 PM (#2052338)
Dave--

That's a fair criticism. I have to admit, I'd gotten used to writing a short intro to articles and then posting those on ST every day or two. It's a bit more daunting to write something that is actually blogworthy in its own right. I'll try to be a bit more prolific.

Additionally, we can all make this a more dynamic site by submitting articles through the tool Jim created. Whatever articles you used to send to me, just submit through that with a witty little intro.
   40. Schilling's Sprained Ankiel Posted: June 07, 2006 at 11:41 AM (#2055040)
I heard Hansen was called up. Is this true?
   41. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 07, 2006 at 12:19 PM (#2055052)
<a href="http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060606&c>It's true! It's true!</a>

Apparently he was in the bullpen last night.
   42. Josh Posted: June 07, 2006 at 01:46 PM (#2055090)
I imagine he'll go back down when Timlin is activated, fwiw. But they couldn't expect almost 7 innings out of Pauly last night, JVB looked pretty gassed at the end of his last outing, and Foulke is DOA with back problems.
   43. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 12:21 AM (#2055634)
Mark Wagner is really heating up in Greenville. He's hitting .321/.373/.506. He's 21 and will be 22 in a few days (so a bit old) but he's a catcher. If he keeps hitting after a promotion to Wilmington he could show up on some top-10 lists. His H/BIP is high but not ridiculous (.354), assuming all his doubles were true BIP's.
   44. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 12:49 AM (#2055680)
BTW, last year's sox draft class has the potential to be epic, especially considering their failure to sign the best player they drafted (Alvarez). Hansen, Ellsbury, Lowrie, Bowden, Buccholz, the Joneses (though Hunter was undrafted), Wagner, and Natale, along with some high upside/project youngsters at GCL/SSA like Blue, Engel, and Egan and a solid DFE class including Exposito and Tapia would probably rank higher alone than some teams' entire systems at the end of this year. If this team ever got its head out of its rear regarding international FA's it'd have a very good farm system.

This year's draft looks like it has the potential to be similarly productive in both the early and late rounds (though admittedly a lot of the late-round successes from last year are probably luck and/or lucky starts and/or being a little old for league).
   45. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 08, 2006 at 01:27 AM (#2055738)
I guess it all depends on how you define "potential", but, jeez, I think that the Sox 2005 draft class looks pretty average.

If Hansen pitches enough in the big leagues next year, I expect that not one of those draftees will make the BA Top 100. Ellsbury currently looks like a nice but unspectacular prospect. The success of the draft class hinges on Lowrie, Bowden and Bucholz, and all three have shown flashes of real prospect-hood, but none of them have actually been particularly successful. If scouting reports come out raving about these guys, I'll change my opinion, but for now none of them appear all that special. They each have a chance to be special, but that's true of an incredible number of guys in other systems whose names I don't even know.

Blue, Engel and Egan have done #######, collectively. They're all still young enough to eventually be good, but that's true of every single high school player drafted last year.

I'll be very happy if the Sox get two regulars out of the 2005 draft. (And I think it was a good draft.)
   46. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: June 08, 2006 at 01:55 AM (#2055778)
Is there anybody in the system we can trade now that has good value but won't come and bite us in the ass?

So anybody not Lester/Hansen/Pedoria that we can trade for some immediate help?
   47. Xander Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:09 AM (#2055806)
I guess it all depends on how you define "potential", but, jeez, I think that the Sox 2005 draft class looks pretty average.

Hmm...
If Hansen pitches enough in the big leagues next year, I expect that not one of those draftees will make the BA Top 100. Ellsbury currently looks like a nice but unspectacular prospect. The success of the draft class hinges on Lowrie, Bowden and Bucholz, and all three have shown flashes of real prospect-hood, but none of them have actually been particularly successful.

First, just because Hansen can't make a prospect list for eligibility reasons, doesn't take away from his participation in the 2005 Draft. Second, Ellsbury will probably be a top 40 prospect. Especially when you consider the rave reviews his defense has been receiving. Many people have conjectured that he would have been a top 10 pick this year. And, Bowden and Buchholz are doing very well, which is why I am a little dumbfounded by the "average" comment.

I see 3 regulars coming from the 2005 draft class, at the very least. And I do think it will be one of the better Sox drafts in the last two decades, if not the best.
   48. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:17 AM (#2055813)
Ellsbury a top 40 prospect? Wow. That would be awesome. What are your sources? Ellbury's production certainly doesn't merit that kind of ranking, but production is only a small part of evaluating a sub-AA prospect, so if you have scouting information on the players, that would change things a bunch.

The same is true of Bowden and Bucholz. They are not "doing very well", they both have ERAs, hit rates and HR rates worse than league average in lo-A. They are doing a heckuva job at striking people out and not walking them, but the rest of pitching counts, too. Of course, the sample is tiny and the competition is crap, so what really matters are scouting reports - if you're rating them highly because of that, I'd change my mind in an instant, and that would be great.
   49. MM1f Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:21 AM (#2055825)
"BTW, last year's sox draft class has the potential to be epic, especially considering their failure to sign the best player they drafted (Alvarez)."

They also drafted and didn't sign Alan Dykstra (no relation i dont think) who let the ACC up as much as Pedro Alvarez lit the SEC up as a frosh
   50. MM1f Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:24 AM (#2055835)
"Ellbury's production certainly doesn't merit that kind of ranking,"

.339 in a pitchers park...that bum
   51. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:25 AM (#2055836)
Huh - Ellsbury's got himself a nice little hot streak going doesn't he? I take back the statement about his production. 400/490 in Wilmington is very impressive.

Top 40 in baseball seems like a stretch unless he keeps this up in Portland later in the summer, but I can see where the optimism comes from with Ellsbury.

I still think that Red Sox fans are massively overrating Bowden and Bucholz, based on a misapplication of an already problematic analytic tool (DIPS). And, again, if there are expert observational reports on B/B that support the high ratings, that changes things completely. I'm only arguing off the performance record to date and the nice but unspectacular scouting reports pre-2006.
   52. 1k5v3L Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:26 AM (#2055841)
Is there anybody in the system we can trade now that has good value but won't come and bite us in the ass?

There's that Hanley Ramirez guy who'd never hit major league pitching, and is behind Petunia in the depth chart at SS anyhow. You gotta figure he'd be able to fetch an injury prone starter with an ERA of 5 or so.

Btw, doesn't every team's draft every year have the potential to be epic? I did hear though that the Sox have hired Homer as a special consultant whose goal is to write to write a 1,200 page ode on the 2005 draft. The Sox figure they can sell it for 50 bucks a pop at the Gates of Fenway.
   53. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:32 AM (#2055854)
Btw, doesn't every team's draft every year have the potential to be epic? I did hear though that the Sox have hired Homer as a special consultant whose goal is to write to write a 1,200 page ode on the 2005 draft. The Sox figure they can sell it for 50 bucks a pop at the Gates of Fenway.
Jacoby Ellbury is groin-grabbingly great. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders.

And it goes on like that.
   54. 1k5v3L Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:38 AM (#2055879)
Damn sexy Flanders...
   55. MM1f Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:46 AM (#2055894)
"Btw, doesn't every team's draft every year have the potential to be epic?"

No. The Pirates exist to give us an exception this rule.
   56. 1k5v3L Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:51 AM (#2055904)
Epic could mean good or bad, you know.
   57. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 02:58 AM (#2055917)
Ellsbury currently looks like a nice but unspectacular prospect.


.339/.404/.488 from an elite defensive CF in the Carolina league is pretty close to spectacular. If Ellsbury (22) had the PAs to qualify he'd be 6th behind Nolan Reimold (22), Wyatt Torreagas (23), Bryan Barton (24), Brian Bixler (23), and Michael Carlin (24).

The success of the draft class hinges on Lowrie, Bowden and Bucholz, and all three have shown flashes of real prospect-hood, but none of them have actually been particularly successful.


Lowrie's certainly had problems, but Bowden and Buchholz have been about as good as you could expect them to be.
Bowden: 11 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9
Buchholz: 10.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9

In the SAL, there are 6 starting pitchers putting up similar numbers. 3 (Erbe (93rd overall), Thompson (22nd overall), and Inman (85th overall) are 2005 draftees. I may have missed one, but it's pretty clear that Bowden and Buccholz ve done about as well as anyone of similar experience.

Blue, Engel and Egan have done #######, collectively. They're all still young enough to eventually be good, but that's true of every single high school player drafted last year.


Well, they've avoided surgery and Blue and Engel have stayed out of trouble. Engel supposedly had a strong 2-sport commitment to Baylor and there was some concern about his slight (6'2" 160lb) frame. He reportedly put on 30 lbs of muscle this offseason, though, so that concern should be gone.

Really, last year's draft class is good because they had a lot of high picks and all but one (Egan) has done well while a lot of their later round picks have shown signs of being more than filler. Unfortunately, a few clubs don't have 4 or 5 successful 1st round picks' worth of talent in their systems.
   58. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 03:04 AM (#2055921)
Oops, took me a while to type that response.

Lowrie just got back from the DL, hopefully he hits well again.
   59. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 03:07 AM (#2055924)
I still think that Red Sox fans are massively overrating Bowden and Bucholz, based on a misapplication of an already problematic analytic tool (DIPS). And, again, if there are expert observational reports on B/B that support the high ratings, that changes things completely. I'm only arguing off the performance record to date and the nice but unspectacular scouting reports pre-2006.


If you think they're pitching poorly you should look around the SAL a bit more. They're both top-10 pitchers in that league.
   60. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 03:14 AM (#2055929)
Is there anybody in the system we can trade now that has good value but won't come and bite us in the ass?


If there's anyone that we, based on stats and 2nd or 3rd hand scouting reports, think is expendable then it's unlikely that the sox would be able to get much for them in trade. That being said, if Pauley has a few more starts like his last one the sox may be able to trade him for a soon-to-be FA SP from a team that has fallen out of contation. Pauley has always been a solid performer and the Sox probably only got him because the Cal league is ridiculous. Pauley could likely start a lucrative career spending his pre-FA years in a large NL park in front of a good defense.
   61. Joel W Posted: June 08, 2006 at 03:20 AM (#2055935)
Isn't 2 regulars+ from a draft a pretty good draft according to Philly?

Also, MCA, I think accepting Ellisbury as a great defender has a lot to do with whether or not you accept him as an elite prospect. If you project him as a +15 defender during his years in the big leagues, then his potential .280/.345/.390 line is a very good player. If you think he's an average defender, he's an average player.

That defense matters a lot, no?
   62. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 08, 2006 at 03:32 AM (#2055947)
Isn't 2 regulars+ from a draft a pretty good draft according to Philly?
Right, I'm hardly taking the conservative line here, IMO. I'm saying it was a good - ie, above average - draft.
Also, MCA, I think accepting Ellisbury as a great defender has a lot to do with whether or not you accept him as an elite prospect. If you project him as a +15 defender during his years in the big leagues, then his potential .280/.345/.390 line is a very good player. If you think he's an average defender, he's an average player.
Based on what information we have now, I think it would be quite premature to call Ellsbury a gold glover. There's one secondhand Gammons rip to that effect, and some other good scouting reports that tons of non-GG defenders can match. I like Ellsbury, but I cannot see him as Top 40 material unless there's observational data we don't know about that's uniformly good.
If you think [Bowden and Bucholz] pitching poorly you should look around the SAL a bit more. They're both top-10 pitchers in that league.
In terms of overall performance, Bowden and Bucholz are about average in lo-A. That's performing poorly.

If you ignore all stats but K and BB, they're in the top 10. If you don't ignore most of the stat line - and there are no studies that argue that you should - Bowden and Bucholz have been pretty unimpressive.
   63. Xander Posted: June 08, 2006 at 03:47 AM (#2055955)
Based on what information we have now, I think it would be quite premature to call Ellsbury a gold glover. There's one secondhand Gammons rip to that effect, and some other good scouting reports that tons of non-GG defenders can match. I like Ellsbury, but I cannot see him as Top 40 material unless there's observational data we don't know about that's uniformly good.
You seem to discount all the pieces of observational data we have available. I'll just reprint this excerpt from BA's Crowe v. Ellsbury comp:
"I think Ellsbury is every bit of an everyday center fielder with all-star potential. Just his natural instincts; his natural foot speed to the ball is above-average. I also think that he's a legitimate leadoff guy, where Crowe is more of a No. 3 or 4 guy down the line.

"I think Ellsbury demonstrates much better tools to play the position. They're both going to be quality big leaguers. I just think that when you're talking about a premium position, when you can say a guy's going to be a plus defender in center field, be a table-setter/high on-base guy and bat in the .300 range, hit 10 or 15 home runs, that's a pretty special player.

Link
   64. Darren Posted: June 08, 2006 at 03:50 AM (#2055958)
MCOA, you're getting me confused here. Does the 05 draft "look average" (post #50), or is it "good, ie above average" (post 68)? I think Joel is right here that if you get 2 average regulars out of a draft, even one where you have extra picks, you're doing well.

I have a bunch of other random comments, so here goes:

--#59 was hilaripus.

--People here and at SOSH seem to have concluded that the 03 draft strategy for pitchers sucked and was rightly scrapped. I don't think the results were that bad. As a 2nd rounder, Alvarez has certainly performed just as well as you'd expect, if not better. He was a good pitcher last year in AAA at age 22. The rest of the draft has also done about what you'd expect, except Papelbon, who's done very well. It was a good draft, and maybe they learned some lessons from mistakes that they made, but I hope they didn't completely scrap their methods.

--MCoA, I'm curious why, when confronted with a small sample size for a player's stats, you defer to scouting reports so much. Scouting is going to be based on just as small a sample. In fact, I'd guess that in a case where a player has only played pro ball briefly, scouting would be more problematic, as players are not scouted in every game.

--I also think you're too quick to judge people for using "DIPS" on minor leaguers. It's true that the stat has not been shown to be predictive at that level. But it does measure several of the most important skills: striking batters out, walking batters, and preventing HR. The only other major skills would be preventing hits/XBH.

--WRT to B&B, I'd say they're both doing fine, essentially meeting expectations based on where they were drafted/age/etc. They aren't 'making the leap' or anything like that, though.
   65. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 04:04 AM (#2055962)
If you ignore all stats but K and BB, they're in the top 10. If you don't ignore most of the stat line - and there are no studies that argue that you should - Bowden and Bucholz have been pretty unimpressive.


You realize Yahmed Yema's been playing CF in Greenville? And Natale's been playing 2B. The only defensive player on the roster who has ever been considered average or better (at least in a scouting report I've seen) is Lara. (Wagner supposedly has good catch and throw skills, but that's not relevant). Further, their HR numbers aren't out of line with the other top prospects in the SAL (actually about middle of the road -- Buccholz a bit on the high side). You should really look around the SAL, MCoA -- both of these guys are top 10 pitchers.

You seem to have some chip on your shoulder about these two guys and appear to be ignoring everything they're doing in order to look at a couple indicators that may or may not be the result of their performance. I'm not sure why, as you're normally pretty reasonable. I don't think anyone but you is ignoring anything in looking at these pitchers.
   66. philly Posted: June 08, 2006 at 04:17 AM (#2055984)
Further, their HR numbers aren't out of line with the other top prospects in the SAL (actually about middle of the road -- Buccholz a bit on the high side). You should really look around the SAL, MCoA -- both of these guys are top 10 pitchers.

Last year the SAL HR rate was 0.78/9 IP. I don't know about other top pitching prospects, but they both should be above league average - and Buchholz well above league average - in a league filled with pitchers who won't sniff the majors.

You and MCoA seem to be talking past each other a bit though. You keep coming back to the idea that they are top 10 pitchers in the SAL, which they very well may be, but if only two pitchers currently in the SAL are likely to amount to much of anything, then that may not be all that meaningful.

I've now seen Ellsbury 3 or 4 times. I have not gotten the sense that he's an elite defender, but he should be a good one and his overall game is pretty impressive. I don't think he's a Top 40 type prospect - not enough power potential to get that high. Last year Adam Jones and Marcus Sanders were #64 and 65. I think he has a chance to be that level of a prospect.
   67. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: June 08, 2006 at 04:37 AM (#2056004)
A Will Inman sighting!
   68. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 09:45 AM (#2056059)
Some facts...

I went through and compiled ground outs, fly outs, HBP, and total batters faced for the pitchers who had a nontrivial number of starts for Greenville (I left out Seibel as he's rehabbing and Cox never made a start, though he has 40+ IP and appears to have a starter-like work schedule, so I may add him the next time I do this). This should yield better indicators for pitcher performance than (for example) HR/9. There are some problems with the information, most notably that the G/F numbers available are for outs rather than all BIP's and there's no distinction between infield fly and outfield fly. I should be able to get more info going through logs but I didn't feel like doing that tonight. For H/BIP I took the sum of batters faced from the box scores and subtracted K, BB, HR, and HBP to find the number of BIPs. It appears as though errors are counted as outs for the pitcher when computer ground outs and fly outs.
K% = 100*K/TBF
BB% = 100*BB/TBF
HR% = 100*HR/TBF
HR%F = 100*HR/(HR+1.1*FO) (assumption -- fly balls in play = FO*1.1. This should be HR's by % of FB)

Clay Buchholz
42.1 IP, 3.83 ERA, 42 H, 5 HR, 1 HBP, 9 BB, 48 K, 38 GO, 40 FO, 178 TBF, 115 BIP
H/BIP = .322
K% = 27% K/9 = 10.2
BB% = 5.1% BB/9 = 1.9
HR% = 2.8% HR/9 = 1.1, HR%F = 10.2%
G/F = .95

Buchholz is FO-heavy, which at least at the major league level would mean that he should have a better than average H/BIP. He's a bit north of average right now at .322, but at this sample size that's one or two BIP's. There's some reason to be concerned about the FO-heaviness, but he's had starts both ways (FO and GO heavy) and he missed a little time. About 11% of outfield fly balls become HR's, so he's either right where he should be given his FO's or a bit unlucky, depending on how many of those FOs are outfield flies. At this point, though his FO-heavy BIP habits are his only apparent flaw. Any concerns about his .322 H/BIP are premature given the 115 BIPs he has.

Buchholz was also on strict pitch counts early in the season that led to his being removed from

Michael Bowden

52 IP, 3.98 ERA, 52 H, 5 HR, 1 HBP, 9 BB, 64 K, 55 GO, 36 FO, 217 TBF, 138 BIP
H/BIP = .341
K% = 29.5%, K/9 = 11
BB% = 4.1%, BB/9 = 1.6
HR% = 2.3%, HR/9 = 0.9, HR%F = 11.2%
G/F = 1.53

Bowden has 5 "extra" hits on balls in play. Part of that could be his slight GB-nature combined with a bad defensive infield. Part of that could also be the couple of funky starts he had (April 15 looks like a replacement umpire problem -- lots of interesting pitching lines. April 21 got rained out two batters into the 2nd inning, but (b/c it was a minor league game) was suspended and the pitcher who started the next day allowed two of Bowden's runners to score. Bowden allowed 4 "hits" that day but it's unclear whether they were rain-assisted. Over a season such quirks would even out, but he has 52 innings). His HR number doesn't look like a problem -- 11% of fly balls is normal if those are outfield flies. If not, he's been slightly unfortunate, but with a ~1.5 G/F he's in good shape going forward.

Ismael Casillas
Background: Casillas is a 23 year-old RHP with a high-80's FB and (supposedly) has good command. He was drafted in the 11th round last year.
39 IP, 5.77 ERA, 39 H, 4 HR, 0 HBP, 18 BB, 35 K, 32 GO, 46 FO, 169 TBF, 112 BIP
H/BIP = .313
K% = 21%, K/9 = 8.1
BB% = 11%, BB/9 = 4.2
HR% = 2.4%, HR/9 = 0.9, HR%F = 7.3%
G/F = .70

Casillas has been extremely lucky on flyballs relative to Buchholz and Bowden. His H/BIP is still heavy but only by about a hit. His flyball-heavy BIPs should depress his H/BIP, though, so the baseline H/BIP for this team may just be higher.

Hunter Jones
Background -- LH undrafted FA who was injured for much of college. Signed last year.
49 IP, 3.67 ERA, 51 H, 5 HR, 2 HBP, 7 BB, 50 K, 36 GO, 54 FO, 200 TBF, 136 BIP
H/BIP = .338
K% = 25%, K/9 = 9.2
BB% = 3.5%, BB/9 = 1.3
HR% = 2.5%, HR/9 = 0.9, HR%F = 7.8%
G/F = .67

H. Jones' HR rate appears to low for all the fly balls he's giving up. His H/BIP also seems high for his G/F. Going forward, his HR numbers should get worse and his H/BIP should get better.

Mike Rozier
Background: Rozier was drafted out of HS in 2004 and signed late for a large bonus. He flopped a bit in 2005 at Greenville and came into camp this year out of shape. After some early struggles this year he started to improve, filling in for Pauley after his callup and pitching well. His return to Greenville in his next start did not go as well.
47 IP, 3.64 ERA, 45 H, 4 HR, 3 HBP, 22 BB, 34 K, 74 GO, 25 FO, 206 TBF, 143 BIP
H/BIP = .287
K% = 16.5%, K/9 = 6.5
BB% = 10.7%, BB/9 = 4.21
HR% = 1.9%, HR/9 = 0.8, HR%F = 12.7%
G/F = 2.96

Some of Rozier's Jekyll and Hyde season may be explained by his poor offseason conditioning/preparation, but he's been all over the map both overall and from start to start. He's got a good G/F and a great H/BIP considering his G/F and his teammates' H/BIP and fielding abilities. At the same time, it appears he was unlucky on fly balls leaving the yard. His K and BB numbers remain worse than average.

Chris Jones
Background: Chosen in the 29th round of the 2005 draft, Jones missed significant time in college to injury. He throws in the low 90's with a curve and circle change as off-speed offerings.
41.2 IP, 1.94 ERA, 30 H, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 13 BB, 38 K, 38 GO, 43 FO, 164 TBF, 111 BIP
H/BIP = .261
K% = 23%, K/9 = 8.2
BB% = 8%, BB/9 = 2.8
HR% = 0.6%, HR/9 = 0.2, HR%F = 2.1%
G/F = .88

Chris Jones has allowed far fewer HR's than his flyball totals would suggest. Going forward, he should have a HR rate similar to Buchholz's. His H/BIP number is closer to what makes sense for a flyball pitcher, but he only deviates from expectation by ~4 hits. His K's are slightly better than average and his BB's are pretty close. At his age he needs to pitch better to turn into a prospect, but his numbers thusfar aren't bad for a 29th rounder.

Kevin Guyette
Background: Kevin Guyette appears to be a standard mid round bargain/filler pick -- senior from a 4 year school with 80's stuff from the right side. He was chosen in the 10th round in 2005 after improving dramatically his senior year at Arizona.
51 IP, 3.53 ERA, 49 H, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 17 BB, 51 K, 64 GO, 36 FO, 218 TBF, 147 BIP
H/BIP = .326
K% = 23.4%, K/9 = 9
BB% = 7.8%, BB/9 = 3
HR% = 0.5%, HR/9 = 0.2, HR%F = 2.5%
G/F = 1.78

Guyette has allowed fewer HR's than one would expect from his fly balls, but he doesn't allow many fly balls. He and Bowden should have similar HR rates going forward if they retain similar G/F ratios. Guyette has also had trouble with balls in play, deviating from expectation by ~3 hits. His rate stats are only slightly better than Chris Jones' by % but Jones' ~7 out swing in outs on balls in play makes his per 9 inning rate stats look a little worse. At 23, Guyette will also have to improve to make something of himself.

=============================

Takeaways:

There are a couple interesting pairings to look at Greenville. Bowden and Buchholz have similar K, BB, and HR numbers but opposing BIP profiles. The same can be said of Chris Jones and Kevin Guyette. At the same time, Guyette and Bowden share BIP profiles as do Chris Jones and Clay Buchholz. No one appears to deviate from expected H/BIP by more than a handful of hits at this point, so declaring any of these pitchers "good" or "bad" at such a volatile skill appears to be ill founded. Each of these four have better than average numbers for their league. Buchholz and Bowden have exceptional K and BB numbers which, in the context of their team and league, should place them among the top handful of pitching prospects.

With the exception of Rozier, the starting staff's numbers point to a defense that is poor across the board, but particularly poor at fielding ground balls. This is consistent with the scouting reports available on Greenville's defense.
   69. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 09:55 AM (#2056060)
Last year the SAL HR rate was 0.78/9 IP. I don't know about other top pitching prospects, but they both should be above league average - and Buchholz well above league average - in a league filled with pitchers who won't sniff the majors.


I don't consider being within ~1 HR of where average should end up being to be a "problem" ~30% into the season. Bowden's April 15 start swings him from ~.3 under .78 to ~.1 over. After going over the G/F numbers, Bowden should be expected to improve his HR numbers considerably while Buchholz may just be a high-HR pitcher, provided their positions on either side of the G/F dividing line remain fixed going forward. (30% of a season of low-A G/F is pretty week in itself, though, of course).
   70. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 08, 2006 at 09:57 AM (#2056061)
(That's not to say Bowden's April 15 start should be discounted, it shouldn't. The effect it has on his HR rate stat just illustrates how small the present sample is and how sensitive a measure that stat can be to single outings within the sample.)
   71. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 08, 2006 at 11:54 AM (#2056069)
--People here and at SOSH seem to have concluded that the 03 draft strategy for pitchers sucked and was rightly scrapped. I don't think the results were that bad. As a 2nd rounder, Alvarez has certainly performed just as well as you'd expect, if not better. He was a good pitcher last year in AAA at age 22. The rest of the draft has also done about what you'd expect, except Papelbon, who's done very well. It was a good draft, and maybe they learned some lessons from mistakes that they made, but I hope they didn't completely scrap their methods.
I disagree about Alvarez. As Philly points out in the studies above, the average/median draft pick is worthless. So, a player who does "as well as you'd expect, if not better" based on slot hasn't provided the team with anything. What you;re looking for in a draft pick is a better than expected chance at being a major league regular. With Alvarez, traditional scouting evaluation suggested he was unlikely to be more than a 4/5 starter, and so far they seem to be right. Given that, I suggest that Alvarez did not have a better than expected chance, for his draft position, of being a useful regular. I admit the above is quite speculative - you could argue that for reasons x, y and z, Alvarez did at the time of his drafting stand such a chance, and we'd be at an impasse. So, that's ok.
MCoA, I'm curious why, when confronted with a small sample size for a player's stats, you defer to scouting reports so much. Scouting is going to be based on just as small a sample. In fact, I'd guess that in a case where a player has only played pro ball briefly, scouting would be more problematic, as players are not scouted in every game.
There's a couple reasons. The first is that I think - tentatively - that a good sampling of scouting reports might be quite a small sample. We know that 150 AB is a nearly worthless sampling of statistics. My guess is that a couple of scouted games is a significantly better sample than 150 AB - I base this on the general success of the draft, historically, in identifying top players based on a relative handful of scouts' observations.

Second, and this is related to the first, compared to MLB, it matters significantly more in the low minors how a player produces as compared to what he produces. The competition is so bad in lo-A that a lot of guys who do not have major league skills can put up numbers that look as good as what the couple of future MLBers in the league will do. Scouting helps sort that out.

Basically, scouting has a long history of doing a very good job of identifying prospects based on a small sample of observations. I'm putting faith in that history. When the only alternative is 50 IP or 150 AB of data, I'll defer to expert observation every time. Certainly, it's imperfect, and I don't mean that I ignore production (or that scouts do), but I'm acknowledging that the information we have is significantly lacking.
I also think you're too quick to judge people for using "DIPS" on minor leaguers. It's true that the stat has not been shown to be predictive at that level. But it does measure several of the most important skills: striking batters out, walking batters, and preventing HR. The only other major skills would be preventing hits/XBH.
DIPS doesn't count the following things:

1) preventing good contact
2) pitching well with men on / in the clutch
and thus
3) preventing runs

Given Clay Davenport's work that showed a big difference in BABIP allowed between future major leaguers and career minor leaguers, it appears likely that preventing good contact is a skill that shows up in minor leaguers' stat lines. Further, the work of Erik Allen and Tango, combined with Mike Emeigh's research, suggests that though it can be difficult to pick out of the statistical record in MLB, preventing good contact that leads to hits is very much a skill that varies by a meaningful amount between pitchers.

I haven't seen anyone show that strand rate doesn't vary usefully among minor leaguers, either. So I wouldn't throw that information out, either.

Given that the stats we have are already such a small sample, and such a problematic sample given the level of competition, I am quite wary of throwing data away. When throwing data away is massively to the benefit of a Red Sox prospect, I'm even more wary.
WRT to B&B, I'd say they're both doing fine, essentially meeting expectations based on where they were drafted/age/etc. They aren't 'making the leap' or anything like that, though.
That's a pretty fair statement. "Meeting expectations" seems to be more in the range of average. I'm not disappointed with B/B.

My little skip between average / above average was a change in my position, and yeah you caught me. In my first post, I didn't properly consider that the Sox have one nearly guaranteed MLB regular in Hansen. Given that they didn't do a disastrous job with the rest of hte draft - and they didn't - the Sox then already have an above average draft.
Last year the SAL HR rate was 0.78/9 IP. I don't know about other top pitching prospects, but they both should be above league average - and Buchholz well above league average - in a league filled with pitchers who won't sniff the majors.
I would add that if the above is true of HR rate - and I agree that it is - then it's even more true of ERA. And Bucholz and Bowden are both average or somewhat below average in preventing runs against hitters who will never sniff hte majors, compared to pitchers who will never sniff the majors.

I should say that I'm not judging B/B only on runs allowed. If I were, I would be disappointed in their performances, and I'm not. The shape of the performance - the high K rate - suggests to me some amount of upside, some greater chance that they'll pitch better as the year goes on. I definitely agree that we should look at K rate in evaluating a prospect's stat line, and I am considering it in my evaluation of B/B. I am arguing, though, that I believe others are weighting K/BB far too heavily and effectively ignoring other parts of the stat line, and I believe that weighting is unjustified.
   72. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 08, 2006 at 12:03 PM (#2056071)
At the same time, Guyette and Bowden share BIP profiles as do Chris Jones and Clay Buchholz. No one appears to deviate from expected H/BIP by more than a handful of hits at this point, so declaring any of these pitchers "good" or "bad" at such a volatile skill appears to be ill founded.
When I look at a pitching prosect in lo-A, I expect him to be better than average in preventing hits and HRs. I'm not concerned with deviation from the league mean, because the league mean is a dude who might someday play in AA. I'm concerned about deviation away from what really good players do in the same league. If Bowden and Bucholz are no better than the average Sally Leaguer at preventing good contact, that's a major strike against them as prospects.
   73. JB H Posted: June 09, 2006 at 09:30 AM (#2057433)
No offense guys, but arguing over the statistical minutia of a Low-A pitcher's half-season record is kind of silly. Even if you could perfectly measure their current skill level, that's only of mild relevance to their chances of being a worthwhile major leaguer.

All these guys are pretty awful right now in the grand scheme of things, and need to make massive improvements (improvements that they don't statistically project to make) to be worth anything. Wondering whether or not they need to take 7 or 8 steps forward is kind of missing the point when PECOTA will tell you they're only good for another 5. What matters is how likely they are to take those extra steps.
   74. dave h Posted: June 09, 2006 at 03:54 PM (#2057670)
I definitely think scouting is more valuable over very small sample sizes. The reason that we rely on statistics with very large samples is that they are reliable, whereas human perception is less so. Over very small samples, however, the opposite is true. People are perfectly capable of keeping straight how well a player has performed over a few games, and in addition they have the additional visual data which conventional statistics lack. More data + less observational bias (compared to large scouting samples) = better predictions.
   75. PJ Martinez Posted: June 09, 2006 at 04:05 PM (#2057688)
Is anyone else interested in a thread devoted to Lester's upcoming debut? Some posters on SoSH are second-guessing the decision, saying that the rainout negated the need for a call-up and that a game against the lefty-crushing Rangers in Fenway with questionable weather is not the most nurturing environment.
   76. chris p Posted: June 09, 2006 at 04:29 PM (#2057717)
is there any special reason for lester's increased walk rate this year?
   77. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 09, 2006 at 07:53 PM (#2057977)
All these guys are pretty awful right now in the grand scheme of things, and need to make massive improvements (improvements that they don't statistically project to make) to be worth anything. Wondering whether or not they need to take 7 or 8 steps forward is kind of missing the point when PECOTA will tell you they're only good for another 5. What matters is how likely they are to take those extra steps.
I agree with your overall analysis, but I don't quite follow your prescription for further debate.

You seem to be suggesting that we should focus on projection, and certainly that's true. The issue we're debating, as I see it, is the differing predictive utility of parts of Bowden and Buchholz' statlines. I disagree that these can be broken into "steps" such that "hittability" is one of seven steps they need to take. What they need, to get to the majors, are things like secondary stuff and command and durability.

To me, great K/BB numbers paired to bad H and HR numbers suggests they're throwing good but not great fastballs with good command, and not having much success with other stuff. Obviously that's speculative, but my point is that the "steps" they need to take are hidden behind the numbers. (This is yet another reason why I find statistical analysis to be a relatively minor part of the overall projection of A-ballers.) I'm less optimistic about Bowden and Buchholz because their stats, insofar as their stats do much of anything, seem to point to significant problems.
   78. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 09, 2006 at 08:01 PM (#2057990)
Is anyone else interested in a thread devoted to Lester's upcoming debut? Some posters on SoSH are second-guessing the decision, saying that the rainout negated the need for a call-up and that a game against the lefty-crushing Rangers in Fenway with questionable weather is not the most nurturing environment.
I agree that this question is worthy of its own thread.

Until that comes, this is my thinking on the issue.

-If he's only up for one game, the question becomes the balance of the possible psychological harm of a bad start compared to the possible psychological harm of telling him he will make his major league debut on June 10th, and then telling him we changed our minds. I tend to think that the Sox are committed to the start now because they planned it this way from a couple weeks ago.

-I saw Gordon Edes on the pregame yesterday, and he thought that Lester is up for hte long haul. He seemed to think that Wells' recovery would be slow if it happens at all, and that the Sox are expecting that Lester will get a few starts, and hoping that he will win a rotation slot. If the move is not simply a spot start, then the suboptimal conditions are less of an issue - Lester will be able to pitch a few times in the majors after this.

The Edes interview made me pretty excited. It suggested strongly that the Red Sox organization believes that Lester is ready for hte major leagues. Obviously his AAA numbers contain a good few red flags, but if the organization believes in Lester now, that constitutes some evidence that some of those red flags may be flukes.
   79. Darren Posted: June 10, 2006 at 04:52 AM (#2058902)
It's got it's own thread now, but I'd like to steer this thread back to the discussion of Alvarez/2003 draft:

I disagree about Alvarez. As Philly points out in the studies above, the average/median draft pick is worthless. So, a player who does "as well as you'd expect, if not better" based on slot hasn't provided the team with anything. What you;re looking for in a draft pick is a better than expected chance at being a major league regular.

I just don't understand how this makes sense, particularly in the case of a single player/slot. You may WANT a late 2nd round pick to have a significant Major League career, but on average they just don't. So when judging one player who was selected there, the only fair benchmark to judge them against is 5 career WARP (or whatever Philly said the average was). In the case of Alvarez, he looks to me like he will surpass that and actually have a Major League career, although the jury's still out, obviously. That pick, in isolation, should not be called a failure, and held up as part of the case against that year's draft strategy.

I can understand Philly's argument on an aggregate level, that you'd much rather get two 40 WARP guys than eight 10 WARP guys. But even using that reasoning, the 03 draft still looks pretty good. Papelbon and Murton look like ML regulars, while Alvarez and Murphy seem like reasonable bets to be bit players. You have enough WARP to go around, and you've got most of it crammed into two players.

Even if you were to somehow separate out the "wimpy, pitchability doofuses," what would there total expected WARP be? SOSH is messed up right now, so I can only guess the total is around 10 WARP. Doesn't that group look fairly likely to meet/surpass that? Doesn't it seem likely that they will cram most of that 10 WARP into 1-2 players (Alvarez + ???)?
   80. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 10, 2006 at 01:19 PM (#2059041)
I just don't understand how this makes sense, particularly in the case of a single player/slot. You may WANT a late 2nd round pick to have a significant Major League career, but on average they just don't. So when judging one player who was selected there, the only fair benchmark to judge them against is 5 career WARP (or whatever Philly said the average was). In the case of Alvarez, he looks to me like he will surpass that and actually have a Major League career, although the jury's still out, obviously. That pick, in isolation, should not be called a failure, and held up as part of the case against that year's draft strategy.
Philly's argument, which I buy, is that 5 career WARP ~= 0 wins. That's basically a replacement level ballplayer.

It's not that an individual draft pick is a failure deserving of criticism if the guy doesn't pan out to a regular. That would make every draft ever basically a collection of failures, and leaves us with a rather silly baseline. It's that a draft pick should have a better-than-average chance of turning into a regular. I don't judge draft picks on total WARP, but on a rough estimate of chance of becoming a regular. My argument in re: Alvarez is that he had a lower than average chance of turning into a regular for hte Boston Red Sox. With his stuff, he's unlikely to ever be an average ballplayer, even if he can make it up to AA/AAA more quickly than the average pick at his spot. He lacks upside.

I acknowledge that A;varez was a 2nd rounder, which basically means that he had very little chance of panning out regardless. So I don't mean to lodge a serious critique of the individual pick. But I do think that, in general, I'd rather see second-round pitcher picks go after guys with plus stuff and real upside, and it looks like the Red Sox have shifted in that direction.

I definitely agree that Theo's initial draft looks pretty ok. Murton helped bring in the 2004 trade, and Papelbon appears to be a ballplayer. (Papelbon had plus stuff and a pitcher's body and upside, I might note.)
   81. philly Posted: June 10, 2006 at 01:40 PM (#2059047)
Just for some examples of what an average-ish 2nd rd pick migh tlook like by the baselie method I pulled up the 1994 draft and found a few guys around 3-5 career WARP.

Here are there yearly WARP totals.

Jacob Cruz - 0.4, 0.0, -0.1, 1.1, 0.4, 0.0, 0.7, 0.2, 0.4 - 3.1
Travis Miller - -0.3, -0.6, 0.9, 2.1, 2.1, 0.9, 0.1 - 5.2
Brad Rigby - 1.9, 2.1, -0.4 - 3.6
Mik Darr - 0.2, 1.9, 2.5 - 4.6 (although was he the SD player who died in a car crash?)
Brian Rose - -0.1, 0.0, 2.8, 1.0, 1.3 0.1 - 5.1

Rose was a 3rd rd pick, but he was our 3rd rd pick damnit.

Also note that some of those players had missing seasons within their careers when they were premumably in the minors all year. These players are really right on that AAA/MLB edge.

It's not unusual for these players to have a random 2+ WARP season and certainly Alvarez might as a loogy or a low leverage long releiver, but given the general low replacement level for WARP these aren't terribly valuable seasons.

And if you believe there's a decent size pool of replacement level or better players floating around as NRIs or whatnot, then there's not much of a gain producing these players from your farm.

It's better to have a farm that produces these players than not, but if you zeroed out every player below 10 WARP I don't think it would materially change the way that you looked at a draft.
   82. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: June 10, 2006 at 04:46 PM (#2059125)
If Bowden and Bucholz are no better than the average Sally Leaguer at preventing good contact, that's a major strike against them as prospects.


The problem is there's no evidence to suggest they're bad at preventing good contact. You're drawing conclusions unsupportable from the available data. If you want to argue they're getting hit hard I suggest you go through their game logs and chart their BIP types. (For whatever reason the game log describes BIPs as fly balls, liners, and ground balls while the box score gives only ground outs and fly outs (which include lineouts), so the only way to get a BIP breakdown is to go pbp.)
   83. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 10, 2006 at 04:57 PM (#2059128)
The problem is there's no evidence to suggest they're bad at preventing good contact. You're drawing conclusions unsupportable from the available data.
And so are you, if you're judging them based on K and BB numbers. 50 IP is nothing. There are no statistically supportable conclusions.

The point is that if that's all we have, we recognize that none of it is statistically meaningful and work from there. It's true that there's more variability in the measurement of hittability compared to command of the strike zone, but it's not true that we can draw fully supportable conclusions about one and not the other.

If someone argues that the Sox prospects in lo-A are among the ten best in their leagues, and this person does not cite scouting reports, I assume that the argument is based on a relatively speculative reading of the statistics. Not that there's anything wrong with being relatively speculative - statistical significance is a really high bar, and only making statements supportable by stats would be a horribly boring way of talking about minor leaguers - I don't follow it, I don't expect anyone else to. I disagree that you can turn around and make an argument about evidence and supportability based on rules derived from statistical regressions.
   84. Darren Posted: June 10, 2006 at 05:22 PM (#2059147)
Philly's argument, which I buy, is that 5 career WARP ~= 0 wins. That's basically a replacement level ballplayer.

I thought it equaled 5 wins.

It's not that an individual draft pick is a failure deserving of criticism if the guy doesn't pan out to a regular. That would make every draft ever basically a collection of failures, and leaves us with a rather silly baseline.

I agree with this.

It's that a draft pick should have a better-than-average chance of turning into a regular. I don't judge draft picks on total WARP, but on a rough estimate of chance of becoming a regular. My argument in re: Alvarez is that he had a lower than average chance of turning into a regular for hte Boston Red Sox. With his stuff, he's unlikely to ever be an average ballplayer, even if he can make it up to AA/AAA more quickly than the average pick at his spot. He lacks upside.

He's the problem with this line of thinking. The draft strategy that we're talking about here picks guys based on results, with the thought that those are more important than stuff or projectability. In a way, it's unfair to now judge players selected this way by their stuff/projectability. Alvarez was picked because he got excellent results in college. He has continued to get good results in the minors. He is far ahead of where you would expect a 2nd round pick to be at this point as well.

As for Alvarez ever being an average ballplayer/regular for the Sox, that, again is a very high standard for a 2nd round player. If he could be a Ryan Franklin (15 career WARP) or Darrell May (13 career WARP), he could be very useful as a #5 starter or, more likely, as trade bait. His chances of being that, I think, is pretty good.
   85. Darren Posted: June 10, 2006 at 05:30 PM (#2059155)
On the subject of trade bait, do people think that the Sox could deal Alvarez or Pauley (assuming good performance over the next month for each) for Lugo? He's probably not going back to the Rays and other contenders seem pretty set at SS. That would be a huge offensive upgrade for Boston and probably not much drop-off defensively.
   86. philly Posted: June 10, 2006 at 06:10 PM (#2059199)
On the subject of trade bait, do people think that the Sox could deal Alvarez or Pauley (assuming good performance over the next month for each) for Lugo?

Nope. Those guys at best are second prospects in trades, not the lead prospect. Over the next month Alvarez will be in AAA doing what he's always done which has never lead to much respect due to his lack of projectibility. What's Pauley going to be doing over the next month - pitching long relieve for the Sox or back in AAA. I don't see good performances in either of those spots changing his external value much at all.
   87. Darren Posted: June 10, 2006 at 06:17 PM (#2059214)
What would it take to get two months of Lugo then?

I agree that those guys are, at best, the #2 guy in a trade for a star, but I think the price for Lugo will be lower than that.
   88. philly Posted: June 10, 2006 at 06:22 PM (#2059218)
Philly's argument, which I buy, is that 5 career WARP ~= 0 wins. That's basically a replacement level ballplayer.

I thought it equaled 5 wins.


But the distribution is everthing. You wouldn't trade six 1 WARP seasons or three 2 WARP seasons for one 5 WARP season even though you technically come out ahead.

And I guess that's the way to reconcile the idea that players like Alvarez may have a high likelihood of some kind of a career with their lack of projectability and probbable value. These players can meet or exceed their expected baseline production, but they are not likely to distribute that production in the concentrated manner that really pushes a team forward. It's that push that has value. If a player is not perceived to have that push then he's just not going to have much value. That's why no matter what Alvarez does in Pawtucket he's not likely to be a good trade chit.
   89. philly Posted: June 10, 2006 at 06:42 PM (#2059243)
I think it really comes down to how much more willing the new TB admin is to pull the trigger on deals that don't return Scott Kazmir. Last winter they were rumored to have turned down Marte for Lugo although they denied that.

The problem is the Sox don't have a lot of B prospects so there isn't a lot of obvious depth. I think a lot of baseball people would feel that Pedroia for a couple months of Lugo AND the opportunity to sign him or potentially get a couple picks would be a win-win for both teams, but I doubt many Sox fans would think trading the 6th best 2B in the world this year for a couple months of Lugo is much of deal.

Unless it's a for a key medium term player I assmume nobody wants to trade Hansen, Lester, Pedrioa, Ellsbury, Bowden and Buchholz, right?

So that leaves the Sox making lots of offers involving combinations of:

Delcarmen
Murphy
Pauley
Alvarez
Edgar Martinez
Luis Soto
Jed Lowrie (that'd really be selling low)
Brandon Moss, etc

Are two of those guys going to get somebody like Lugo? Seems iffy to me. The trading team would have to *really* like one of those guys and have no better offers and be willing to accept the beast deal on the table instead of just holding onto the player.

The two highest ceiling players are probably Delcarmen and Soto. I get the impression the Sox don't think Delcarmen is going to be able to command his pitches any time soon and if Paps and Hansen are both releivers for good, they've got a lot of depth in that area. And SOto is a million miles away with some definite red flags. A team that wants to gamble on tools might like that package a little.

Would you do Delcarmen and Soto for Lugo? Would Tampa? I guess I'd answer yes and no.
   90. Darren Posted: June 10, 2006 at 06:49 PM (#2059249)
I agree that if Alvarez puts up something like 1 WARP/year, that's not a very happy result. I do think that 1.5-3 WARP/year for a couple of years prior to FA would have value though (examples from 05--Fossum, Meche, Cabrera. For example, the Sox could certainly use someone like that right now.

I also agree that Alvarez is not the kind of guy who's going to be very attractive in a trade. More of a flyer type.
   91. Darren Posted: June 10, 2006 at 06:58 PM (#2059269)
As Tampa, I would do that deal in a minute. Soto's tools are well-thought-of, and his performance has been decent so far. Delcarmen is a decent relief prospect. Sickels rated both a B- before the season. That seems like a good haul for a guy who has a .292 OBP right now, isn't coming back, and is blocking one of your better prospects.

Of course, I am assuming that no other contenders will be desperate for a SS, which may well change.
   92. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 11, 2006 at 11:55 AM (#2059771)
-Murphy homered last night, he's now up to 440/625 in Pawtucket
-Gabe Kapler started his second game in Portland last night as the DH, he'd be a useful piece until Wily Mo returns

I hadn't really thought of upgrading SS. Gonzalez and Cora have thusfar combined to be 6-7 runs below average offensively, and my guess is they make that up with the glove. (Gonzalez has been awesome, leading the league in ZR by a wide margin.) Unless a Murphy-centric package were enough, I don't think the Sox should trade away very much to get a probably above-average SS - the added value over hte remainder of the year would be pretty minor.

I tend to see two types of good midseason trades. Either you replace a really bad player with a competent one, or you acquire a true star. I don't see Gonzalez/Cora as really bad players, though I may be in a minority there. Gonzalez in particular I think is a perfectly fine SS. I'm also concerned about Lugo. He had a shoulder injury that put him on the DL for a month, and he's been a shell of his former self at the plate since coming back - it seems like a lingering injury would be a pretty good guess.

The Sox have been getting well below average production from the 4-5 slots in the rotation - that's where I think energy should be spent in acquiring midseason help. Of course, that decision requires giving up on at least two of Clement/Wells/Lester, so it's complicated.
   93. Xander Posted: June 12, 2006 at 12:59 AM (#2060544)
HOF-bound David Murphy hit another HR today.
   94. Darren Posted: June 12, 2006 at 03:02 AM (#2060702)
Just wanted to add a comment about Alvarez. He pitched well again today, putting his line at 64.2 IP, 57 H, 6 HR, 18 BB, 33 K. That's pretty good in everything except Ks, which he has increased recently. It must be terribly difficult for him to be pitching as well or better than Hansen/Lester/Pauley, and not being called up. I think that's why I tend to root for Alvarez and his kind.

TempleU,

I'm glad you've picked up the Gadzyouki name and run with it.
   95. Kyle S Posted: June 12, 2006 at 03:15 AM (#2060726)
That seems like a good haul for a guy who has a .292 OBP right now, isn't coming back, and is blocking one of your better prospects.

I never understood why (and this happens all the time to me in fantasy) a guy who wants a player of mine will try to tell me why he sucks. Oh, the guy sucks? Really? So you must be doing me a favor by taking him off my hands huh? How altruistic of you!

Sheesh.
   96. Darren Posted: June 12, 2006 at 03:31 AM (#2060758)
I'm not saying he sucks. I'm saying that while he's a good player that I'd like the Red Sox to get, he's a) his performance this year is off from previous years, which makes him a little riskier, and b) there are some things about him that make him less desirable to the DRays.

I don't think it's a particularly nuanced position that I'm taking. It's simply stating that Lugo's good enough to trade some value for but not good enough to give away the farm for.
   97. Kyle S Posted: June 12, 2006 at 07:11 PM (#2061292)
By the way, i'm officially rooting for this kid natale. My coworker Michelle comes into my cube and says she's taking some time off tomorrow night to go to a minor league baseball game to watch her high school buddy play. I badger her to tell me who it is on the off chance i've heard of them. Of course she's like "Jeff Natale", I recognize the name immediately, etc. I hope he succeeds!

According to Michelle, jeff is a very nice guy. She raised her eyebrows at his listed height of 5'9" though; she thinks 5'8" or even a little shorter is his true height.
   98. philly Posted: June 13, 2006 at 01:17 AM (#2061668)
So she knocked an inch off the little guy's estimate.

Can't these broads just keep thier mouths shut about that kind of personal business.
   99. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 19, 2006 at 05:07 AM (#2068247)
GadzYouki homered on Saturday and is up to 440/440 in a crazy pitcher's park.

Petunia homered today and has the SLG up to nearly 400. I think the hot streak begins today.
   100. villageidiom Posted: June 19, 2006 at 08:25 PM (#2068686)
I think the hot streak begins today.

The streak will start up tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There'll be hits
Just thinking about tomorrow
Drives away the groundouts and the sorrow -
They're the pits

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya! Tomorrow!
The hot streak's a day away!
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