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   1. tfbg9 Posted: October 07, 2009 at 12:14 AM (#3342327)
and a solid contributor in Gonzalez.


Send some of that good weed.

I'd venture that Boston's winning % in games started by their first 3--Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, is higher
than any other playoff teams's such winning %. IIRC, its around .680, in a smaller number of games due to Clay's
only getting called up in July or whatever. And Dice is now looking like Dice--the excruciating 5.1 of 110 man we love!
   2. OCD SS Posted: October 07, 2009 at 12:28 AM (#3342419)
AGon is hitting .284/.316/.453 (.769) for the Sox.
   3. tfbg9 Posted: October 07, 2009 at 12:33 AM (#3342446)
2-but do you think that has anything to do with our playoff chances, going forward? And why if you do?

I mean, I know he's been OK with the bat, and he has 13-14 HR type pop, but he's never been much of a hitter.

He's not a .770 hitter. He's just not.
   4. OCD SS Posted: October 07, 2009 at 01:17 AM (#3342796)
I'm only defending the idea that he's been a solid contributor while on the Sox (although after re-reading it, the intention of the sentence might not be as clear cut as I though it was when I replied); if you're willing to accept that he's been OK with the bat, why are you checking for dope?

In the playoffs we're going to be looking at small samples anyway, so I'm just going to hope he (and everyone else) gets hot, rather than worrying about their true talent levels.
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 07, 2009 at 03:07 AM (#3343220)
From a very different perspective, here's the log5 for the Sox-Angels playoff series, using three different metrics of team quality. (These metrics make no attempt to account for either roster changes or the playoff schedule.)

Actual Wins: Angels 54-46
Pythag Wins: Red Sox 50.5-49.5
3rd order Wins: Red Sox 53-47

Gonzalez, yeah, Gonzalez - hey, Mike Lowell is the eighth best offensive player in the lineup. That's very good.
   6. Textbook Editor Posted: October 07, 2009 at 04:10 AM (#3343299)
AGon is a huge, huge upgrade over Green at the bat, in that he's not the almost-automatic out that Green was toward the end of his starting days (and before he got hurt). He doesn't need to be Hercules at the plate--if he batted .250/.300/.350 in the playoffs, I'd be very happy and be thankful it wasn't Nick Green.

Side Note: the assumption of the strong lineup assumes Varitek never plays, and until Francona flat-out states on the record "Martinez is catching all 5 games," I'm going to worry about that. I must confess that during this year, I've shown a mostly-rational (though sometimes not) hatred of Vartitek in the chatters, and, in retrospect, I think I may have allowed my anger at many things unrelated to baseball bleed out into a vociferous running diatribe against the very existence of Varitek on the 25-man roster...

The bullpen (aside from Papelbon) really worries me, in that Wagner has never (I think) been in a playoff game, and I watching him spit the bit a lot in big games with the Phillies (there was a big HR to Biggio in a game in 2005, I think, when they were neck-and-neck with the Astros for the Wild Card in early September that took the life right out of them--THIS GAME--and I feel like I saw a lot of others in his time with the Phillies)... In short, I'm not convinced he's going to do well, and may well #### the bed one of these games... And I know I'm being irrational about this, considering the 3 ER given up in September.

Bard has been shakey. Ramirez, whenever he's been asked to finish an inning, sit down, and start another one, seems incapable of getting the leadoff guy out, and usually departs with 2 men on (in my memory). I could go on, but I'm not rational about this--the bullpen just scares me.

Conversely, though, no one on the Angels really worries me, SP-wise, at least against out lineup. Sure we could run into a buzzsaw and be run out 3 straight, but whereas I'm not convinced we could beat Sabbathia even once in a 7-game series, I'm pretty sure we could find 3 wins in 5 against the Angels' SPs.

MCOA (and Darren) I do hope the Red Sox are the team to beat. My son's in full playoff mode now, having watched the whole of the Twins win tonight and jumping up and down when the they won (he loves to watch guys act like little kids jumping up and down and running around screaming when they win big games). We're headed to Vermont for the weekend, so I'll most likely miss the Game 2 & 3 chatters, but we're looking forward to listening to the Game 2 radio feed driving up Friday night.

I'm also still figuring out how much of Lester pitching in Game 1 my son will be able to watch without him being totally spent the next day for preschool... If tonight is any indication, he can probably make it to about 10:15pm before collapsing--does that get us at least 2 innings if the game actually starts at 9:37 (which I don't hold out hope for)? Ah well, will have to tape it... Damn these 9:37pm start times!
   7. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: October 07, 2009 at 04:47 AM (#3343327)
AGon is a huge, huge upgrade over Green at the bat, in that he's not the almost-automatic out that Green was

The man has a career on base percentage of .294. Thirteen points lower than Nick Green's, by the way.

I'm probably one of the most optimistic Sox fans on this board, and even I think this post is laying it on a little thick. Matsuzaka had three pretty good starts and one non-quite disastrous one at the end of a smouldering pit of a season. I'm not sure I'm ready to proclaim him "fixed"; he's still liable to walk more than he K's. That's a dangerous pitcher, especially against a team like the Stinkees.
   8. ekogan Posted: October 07, 2009 at 05:00 AM (#3343330)
WhatIfSports.com 2009 MLB Playoff Predictions

WhatIfSports.com have some sort of a proprietary simulator and run it to determine who will win. I remember reading the predictions that these guys made about last year's playoffs and thinking that they turned out to be pretty accurate.
They basically see all the LDSs as pick'em series, except for the Yankees, who they see as an unstoppable juggernaut.
They give the MFY around 3/4 chance to beat the Twins and 2/3 chance to win a 7 game series against whoever they will face.
The Angels-Red Sox series comes out as 51%-49% in favor of the Angels - essentially even.
These predictions seem correct to me.

I'd like to join in the chorus, and add my best wishes to your son, TBE. Here's wishing for a full remission.
   9. Joel W Posted: October 07, 2009 at 05:02 AM (#3343331)
Red Sox have an .833 OPS since they acquired Martinez....
   10. Textbook Editor Posted: October 07, 2009 at 05:35 AM (#3343350)
Thanks, ekogan.

Voxter, it is indeed true that the Career AGon is a bit worse OBP than Green. But watching Green's ABs almost every game leading up to the trade for AGon... it was just obvious Green had simply fallen off a cliff, and looked totally lost/overmatched on every at bat.

Again, I'm not saying AGon is a better player that Green over their careers, but I know I'd rather have the next 60 or so ABs that we give to a SS be given to AGon and not Green.

Of course, a more pressing concern is the fact AGon will need to not ever, ever get hurt this postseason, since Lowrie clearly could not play every day yet, Green isn't able to go, and Woodward might not be able to either. (I hope things are OK with his wife/new baby--the vagueness of the reports as to why he's still down there (HIPPA aside) and the fact that Gil Velazquez (!?!) is in the clubhouse in Anaheim seems to indicate something is amiss; I really hope I'm wrong.)

As a further side note, the story about AGon's son that was posted somewhere earlier this week was just incredibly sad to read. I know reading about situations like that affects me more now than it used to (and also has made me simply reject any arguments that Drew's 2007 is some sort of indication of what a normal season is for him), but jeez... I'd be a wreck if that was me, and it's astounding to me the man can function at all, let alone play baseball at the highest level.
   11. Dr Stankus and the Semicolons Posted: October 07, 2009 at 06:15 AM (#3343361)
Shouldn't this be "wicked awesome"?
   12. The Marksist Posted: October 07, 2009 at 01:58 PM (#3343508)
TBE, not sure if you've already got this, but here are all the RS radio affiliates for your drive: http://www.bostonspastime.com/audio.html

I grew up in southern NH, and reception can be spotty at best once you hit VT. Here's hoping you get it crystal clear the whole way.
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 07, 2009 at 02:05 PM (#3343525)
The bullpen (aside from Papelbon) really worries me, in that Wagner has never (I think) been in a playoff game, and I watching him spit the bit a lot in big games with the Phillies (there was a big HR to Biggio in a game in 2005, I think, when they were neck-and-neck with the Astros for the Wild Card in early September that took the life right out of them--THIS GAME--and I feel like I saw a lot of others in his time with the Phillies)... In short, I'm not convinced he's going to do well, and may well #### the bed one of these games... And I know I'm being irrational about this, considering the 3 ER given up in September.
Well, yes and no. Wagner has pitched quite a lot in the playoffs - those Astros teams of the 90s went all the time - but he's been consistently awful, a small but real part of their extended run of playoff suckitude. Then, with the Mets, he blew the NLCS to the Cardinals in in aught-six. Wagner has allowed 11 runs in 10.1 playoff inning pitched in his career.

But, you see, this year he doesn't have to be the man. If he gets in trouble and there's a righty coming up, we'll go to Bard or Papelbon. And, hell, who believes in chokers anyway? We're going to kick ass.
   14. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 07, 2009 at 02:12 PM (#3343537)
What bothers me about the bullpen is they seem to feed off each other. There have been a number of games this year (more than I would expect given how good they are) where a comfortable game has gotten tight or just been outright blown. It seems like if one guy doesn't have it, everyone doesn't have it.

Okajima for me is still the 8th inning guy and I want Bard/Wagner used almost in platoon fashion. Bard has struggled with lefties but I think against a Guerrero/Hunter inning he's the right guy.
   15. Textbook Editor Posted: October 07, 2009 at 04:58 PM (#3343780)
Marxist--thank you, this will help a lot.

MCOA--I had totally forgotten about Wagner being a part of those Astro teams (though I should not have). And I forgot about '06... Yikes!

What I remember most about that '05 HR to Biggio was Harry Kalas's call of it--it went something like:

"...and the pitch. [crack of bat] Oh, no... [silence]"

It was as if someone had stabbed him in the heart. Probably the saddest HR call I ever heard him do (though, in fairness, I did not hear the Joe Carter HR call in Game 6 of the '93 WS; if Harry did that it probably was more gut-wrenching).
   16. Nasty Nate Posted: October 07, 2009 at 05:17 PM (#3343799)
yeah, does anyone know if 9;37 is the first pitch time, or the start of the broadcast?
   17. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 07, 2009 at 05:25 PM (#3343811)
First pitch.
   18. Darren Posted: October 08, 2009 at 01:55 AM (#3344636)
Could there possibly be a better argument for the importance of winning the division than the disparity in matchups faced by the Red Sox and Yanks in this postseason? Brian Duensing and the depleted Twins at home or the fully rested Angels and John Lackey on the road. Hmmm.....
   19. Textbook Editor Posted: October 08, 2009 at 05:17 AM (#3344738)
Darren--could not agree more, but the fact the Red Sox could not agree less makes me suspect/hope the elves there have a super-duper top-secret study/memo that "proves" it doesn't matter in the post-WC era.

It would be a real shame for all of James' Red Sox work to remain a mystery/secret/unpublished, but I suspect that's what will wind up happening.
   20. Joel W Posted: October 08, 2009 at 05:55 AM (#3344751)
That the Red Sox played the tougher team this year doesn't mean it's worth it generally. Looking through the past 8 or 9 years, there aren't many times when I would have cared all that much, though this is obviously one of them. The Angels consistent ability to outperform their pythag has to be a skill right?
   21. Joel W Posted: October 08, 2009 at 05:58 AM (#3344752)
That the Red Sox played the tougher team this year doesn't mean it's worth it generally. Looking through the past 8 or 9 years, there aren't many times when I would have cared all that much, though this is obviously one of them. As a part of this analysis, the Angels consistent ability to outperform their pythag has to be a skill right?
   22. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: October 08, 2009 at 06:12 AM (#3344755)
And it's not as though the options were (1) Play hard, win the division and wave our gonads at the Yankees while we sweep the Twins or (2) Take it easy and take on the Angels on full rest. Because by far the most likely scenario is (3) Play hard, not quite make it and face the Angels with a depleted bullpen and a tired squad. I'll take (2) over (3) anyway, because I think it leaves us with better odds of waving our gonads at the Yankees in the long run. If you see what I'm saying.
   23. Halofan Posted: October 08, 2009 at 08:25 AM (#3344765)
Dodger first pitch tonight was 6:37 PM on the nose. Pacific time.
   24. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 08, 2009 at 10:31 AM (#3344777)
Could there possibly be a better argument for the importance of winning the division than the disparity in matchups faced by the Red Sox and Yanks in this postseason? Brian Duensing and the depleted Twins at home or the fully rested Angels and John Lackey on the road. Hmmm.....
I'm pretty skeptical of arguments about the actual utility, in terms of value added toward a likely world series win, of "going for the pennant". In this case, I basically follow what Voxter says - the Red Sox finished eight games behind the Yankees, that wasn't going to be made up for by tryin' harder.

The issue isn't that winning the division doesn't have some amount of value, the issue is that "trying harder" only adds a few percentage points toward the chance of winning the division, which in turn only adds a few percentage points of likelihood of winning the world series.

The Red Sox would be, say, 65-35 against the Twins as opposed to 50-50 against the Angels. If we take the ALCS as a 50-50 shot and the WS as a 60-40 shot, the difference is about 20% vs. about 15%. And "trying harder" would only add a couple percentage points to the chance of having a slightly greater chance at the WS. That, weighed against resting players and preparing for the playoffs, doesn't at all obviously come down on the side of going for the division.

The reason I want the Sox to go for the division is that I want to win the division for its own sake, because going at it for 162 games and having the best record is one of the great accomplishments in baseball.
   25. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 08, 2009 at 12:03 PM (#3344790)
To clarify, I'm not saying "trying harder" to belittle the notion - the Red Sox would, in theory, be trying harder at a managerial level, using their best players more aggressively, which would have real effects on projected wins in the month of September. I do think it's very hard to imagine that these changes could be projected to add more than one, at most two, wins, and so the effects on WS probability wouldn't be that large.
   26. Nasty Nate Posted: October 08, 2009 at 01:40 PM (#3344833)
PLAY-OFF BASEBALL!!!! yAHHeahaaahhh!
   27. Nasty Nate Posted: October 08, 2009 at 01:50 PM (#3344849)
lineup tonight?
maybe
Ellsbury
Pedroia
Martinez
Youkilis
Ortiz
Bay
Drew
Lowell
AGon
   28. Marc Sully's not booin'. He's Youkin'. Posted: October 08, 2009 at 01:53 PM (#3344854)
Great, great times. Put my wool Red Sox gamer on this morning as I dashed off to work.
   29. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 08, 2009 at 02:16 PM (#3344866)
That's gotta be it. See? That's a championship-quality lineup.

I like that adding Martinez has shifted Youkilis' 400+ OBP into the #4 slot, where it has slightly more value.
   30. Joel W Posted: October 08, 2009 at 02:28 PM (#3344881)
It's amazing what Martinez did for the lineup. Well that and a solid Ortiz. That lineup is quite solid 1-8 now.
   31. Nasty Nate Posted: October 08, 2009 at 02:29 PM (#3344882)
Ive said it before, but that Martinez trade was the exact perfect acquisition for this team at that time.
   32. Textbook Editor Posted: October 08, 2009 at 03:09 PM (#3344933)
MDC left off the playoff roster for Byrd as a long man. [sigh of relief]
   33. Marc Sully's not booin'. He's Youkin'. Posted: October 08, 2009 at 06:29 PM (#3345159)
Not that Lowell has been teh awesome of late but you know who isn't playing first base for the Red Sox this post-season? Mark Kotsay. That's who.
   34. Darren Posted: October 08, 2009 at 09:32 PM (#3345340)
A little late, but:

I was trying to get across that this year is perfect storm in which winning the division has meaning. IOW, winning the division is not crucial to playoff success, but it sometimes is somewhat important--this is one of those times. I also wasn't implying that the Red Sox had a good chance of winning the division, only that it was a worthwhile goal (my personal feelings about its importance aside).

With that said, there are some very compelling arguments in favor of at least trying to win the division. First, the Sox had a very similar pythag to the Yanks (2 games worse). Could a team that was trying to win down the stretch (which had a 3-game lead at the break) have kept pace with the Yankees?

Second, the difference in quality of the 1st-round opponents has been large, both this year and last year. Both times, the AL East winner got to face an 80-something-win team that had to win a 1-game playoff.

Third, it is impossible to overstate how much better the Epstein-era Red Sox have been at home:

Reg. Season
Home: 373-194, .658
Road: 287-280, .506


Postseason
Home:18-8, .692
Road: 16-12, .571

Is it any wonder that this team has twice been eliminated in game 7s on the road (while winning 1 at home and 1 other on the road)?

Again, I'm not saying that one (or even two) favorable matchups make the case that everything else should be sacrificed to win the division. Nor am I saying that the Sox were a good bet to win it this year. I am arguing, though, that winning the division has enough value that it should not be entirely ignored.
   35. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: October 08, 2009 at 09:46 PM (#3345354)
The only thing that might concern me as a Sox fan is the Buchholz fatigue factor.
   36. Mike Webber Posted: October 09, 2009 at 06:44 PM (#3346558)
Drop into the live chat guys - we could use a Red Sox presence. I have a HS football game to cover tonight so it will likely be midnight before I get to tune in tonight.
   37. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 10, 2009 at 06:27 PM (#3347872)
I also wasn't implying that the Red Sox had a good chance of winning the division, only that it was a worthwhile goal (my personal feelings about its importance aside).
The question, though, is to what degree managing to win the division would have increased the Red Sox chances of winning the division.

Until September, I don't see anything in the way the Red Sox were run that hurt their chances at winning the division. They got outplayed by the Yankees (everyone got outplayed by the Yankees), but Tito was not running tryouts for the postseason roster and they were using the best guys they had. Unless you want to make the psychological case that the players didn't do their best because management didn't think it was as important, I don't see any evidence that the Red Sox management hurt the team's chances of taking the division until the September tryouts. And it's very hard for me to measure the effects of those tryouts as more than two games, and the Red Sox lost the division by a lot more than that.
   38. Srul Itza Posted: October 10, 2009 at 07:30 PM (#3347926)
In addition, after the Yankees clinched, they were also running AAA line-ups out there for all or part of the games.
   39. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: October 12, 2009 at 02:31 AM (#3349232)
So awesome!

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