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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox
Tag: Sox Therapy
Monday, February 27, 2012
Manager’s Decision: Shortstop
New manager Bobby Valentine made a headline or two this week by banning alcohol from the clubhouse. I don’t have a particular comment on this – if it helps the team play better, it’s good, if it hurts the team, it’s bad. Which it is depends on lots of things I don’t know. Hopefully it’s the former.
In the spring, I like to look at a different set of decisions facing the manager, ones we can more usefully analyze. On a club like the Red Sox, many of the manager’s decisions ...Read More...
Friday, February 17, 2012
The Best Shape of His Life
Those spring puff pieces about the right fielder who added ten pounds of muscle and the fourth starter who trained harder than ever and is experimenting with a new grip on his slider, they’re a running joke in baseball. But I love ‘em. There are two reasons – first is that spring training is when fans are supposed to start imagining what could happen if Ryan Sweeney finally developed the power scouts projected or if Dan Bard made a seamless transition to starting. Puff pieces and ...Read More...
Friday, February 10, 2012
Offseason Minor League Thread
Because the Red Sox system is so thin in the high minors, and because their low-minors strength doesn’t feature any single obvious superstar, the prospect ratings have been a bit all over the place. John Sickels’ top five only shared two names with Jim Callis’ top five, and Keith Law didn’t rank Callis’ #1 in his top 100, but he did put Sickels’ #7 in his 100th spot (only the second Red Sox to make the list). Since I don’t actually watch minor league games, I tend to count on ...Read More...
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
You’re telling me there’s a salary cap in the new CBA?
I’ve complained in a few places about the Red Sox ownership not being willing to spend a little over the luxury tax threshold to complete this roster. I could rehearse here how offering David Ortiz arbitration is a very questionable decision if you’re treating the luxury tax threshold as a hard cap, but I’d rather talk about that hard cap in the first place. Why are the Sox, who have previously treated the luxury tax threshold as a guideline, now acting as if their payroll is ...Read More...
Saturday, January 21, 2012
A Crap Trade
Tonight, in a move I really didn’t think would happen, the Red Sox gave away Marco Scutaro for nothing. Marco Scutaro is under contract for $6M for next season. This is his dumber-than-Marcel projection:
+3 Bat +1 Run +19 Rep +6 Pos -1 Def = +28 RAR
That’s a $14M player. So, the Sox gave away an $8M bargain for Clayton Mortensen. In conclusion: ugh.
Clearly, what’s going on is that the Sox have a hard payroll limit, and they decided that they need to save money at shortstop in ...Read More...
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The Plan and the Payroll
The Red Sox luxury tax payroll currently stands at about $130M. When you add in projected arbitration awards for Ortiz, Ellsbury, Saltalamacchia, Bard, Bailey, and the bench players, that leaves the Red Sox with little to no room remaining under the luxury tax threshold. As I’ve argued, the Red Sox offseason should be understood as a specifically structured and cleverly executed plan. They bolstered the rotation by emptying the bullpen, and then they filled the bullpen by trading MLB-ready ...Read More...
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Reddick / Bailey Trade: Rapid Reaction
This looks like a trade where both players involved may be significantly worse than they’re perceived. Josh Reddick was a useful regular last year, but his overall track record remains terrible, and ZiPS projects him as basically a replacement level RF with an 85 OPS+. Andrew Bailey is a fabulous pitcher when healthy (career 2.07 ERA and 2.74 FIP), but he’s pitched a full season of major league ball only once in three tries. Any projection that incorporates past playing time is going to ...Read More...
Thursday, December 22, 2011
I have no idea what the Sox are going to do next
The first round of the offseason is nearly over. For the Red Sox it is over – the one first tier FA left is Prince Fielder, and he’s obviously not headed our way. I had hoped the Red Sox would find the money to go after Darvish or Wilson, and Wilson’s below-market deal has left every team in need of pitching (read: every team) wishing they’d been involved. Darvish is looking at 6/110 or more, though, so I don’t have a problem with the Red Sox passing on him.
The second-tier FA ...Read More...
Monday, December 12, 2011
The Closing Window
The Red Sox entered the offseason with just three acceptable starting pitchers and two good relievers under contract. The primary goal of the offseason for Ben Cherington was to acquire pitching. It is now mid-December, and the most significant pitching acquisition by the Boston Red Sox has been the signing of Jesse Carlson to a non-guaranteed contract. Good free agent targets – starters like CJ Wilson and Mark Buehrle, relievers like Heath Bell, Latroy Hawkins, and Frank Francisco – ...Read More...
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
New Manager Likes to Do Stuff
Bobby Valentine is going to be the new Red Sox manager, pending agreement on a contract. I’m generally happy about this. It’s not just that Valentine has a good record as a manager, but more that he’s got upside. A manager like Valentine could win you a handful of games – and he’s going to try to win those games. Most statistically-inclined clubs have opted for managers who will carry out competently the directives of the front office. This option limits outcomes on both the ...Read More...
Friday, November 18, 2011
What going on down Jersey St?
In the past two days, things seem to have gotten a bit weird. The managerial search had been progressing in its normal, boring way. Cherington had interviewed normal, boring candidates like Dale Sveum and Pete Mackanin and Torey Lovullo. They were looking for a Francona clone, a good company man who will carry out the directives of management, handle the media well, and keep the players happy.
Now it’s reported that Bobby Valentine is a leading candidate. There are conflicting reports ...Read More...
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The Dumber-than-Marcels: Free Agent Starters
My first run-through of the dumber-than-Marcel projections for position players left me quite skeptical of the top-line free agents. Now I’ve done the pitchers, my sense is that once again it’s the middle-class free agents who will offer better value.
These projections are based on a 3/2/1/2 regressed weighted average of pitcher value stats, a 50-50 split of Fangraphs and CHONE numbers. It’s a half-FIP, half-RA projection. In the position player projections, I included a $ value ...Read More...
Sunday, October 30, 2011
The Dumber-than-Marcels: Free Agent Hitters
Last offseason I ran a short analysis of the available FA hitters and I concluded that the Red Sox should go after exactly none of them. Adrian Beltre looked like the one positional FA who would be a good gamble. I ended up getting talked into Carl Crawford over the remainder of the offseason, and that turned out less than well. I did, at the time, make a case against Jayson Werth that I still feel pretty good about. Given that we have three data points, sufficient to demonstrate that this ...Read More...
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
In which analysis is outsourced
I had been playing around with some different back-of-the-envelope projection methods for Yu Darvish, and then I found out that SG over at the Replacement Level Yankee Weblog had actually done all of that work already, and better. The key point to be made, with regard to Darvish, is just how much better he was in NPB than Matsuzaka. These were Matsuzaka’s ERA numbers in his last four seasons in NPB:
2.83, 2.90, 2.30, 2.13
Pretty damn good, right? And those were his age 22-25 seasons. ...Read More...
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Theo’s Legacy: 2003 and 2004
As it seems highly likely that Theo Epstein will be leaving the Boston Red Sox in the next few days, I wanted to go back over two of the greatest offseasons a general manager has ever had.
Theo Epstein inherited a club in 2003 with a great core of superstars (Pedro, Nomar, and Manny), some good complementary pieces (Damon, Nixon, Varitek, Lowe, Wakefield), and pretty much crap-all else. Most of the club’s payroll was already tied up in their stars, so he needed to fill out a championship ...Read More...
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Hot Stove I: Payroll and Roster
Whether you want the Sox to blow it up, bring the boys back for their redemption, or drop big money on top free agents to fix the club, you need to start with an understanding of the club’s current payroll situation. Before 2010, the Red Sox jacked up spending like crazy, and last season they maintained that payroll – if you discount some of the funny business with Gonzalez, they added to it by several million. I think it’s reasonable to expect another payroll in the range of $170M, and ...Read More...
Friday, September 30, 2011
In which rumors are mongered
Let’s collect all the rumors about the Red Sox clubhouse. After yesterday’s press conference, it is now clear that interpersonal breakdowns, conflicts over authority, and general chaos in the clubhouse were important causes of the recent unpleasantness. At the very least, both Epstein and Francona espoused the view that clubhouse tensions lead to games lost.
I accept that not everyone finds this stuff fascinating, but I really do. And I know that we’ll never achieve certain ...Read More...
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Trader Theo and the Redemption Plan
I see two basic directions that this offseason could take for the Red Sox. You can basically bring back everyone, trusting in the team’s third-order winning percentage and boosting them with better depth and perhaps new coaching and training staffs. If you don’t want this same basic club back, but you do want to compete for the AL East next year, that will require major, blockbuster trades.
The Redemption Plan is pretty simple. You give these players a chance to redeem themselves. The ...Read More...
Point / Counterpoint
We must respond with blind, wild rage. Now is not the time for a careful accounting or a half-hearted defense of the men who created this broken team. It is time for rage, and not just any rage, but the pure and blinding rage where you forget your name and what your hands look like. Tear this club the #### down. Terry Francona, gone. Jonathan Papelbon, enjoy your big contract elsewhere, see if they can get you to throw a split-finger to the guy who’s sitting fastball. If any of the big ...Read More...
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
There isn’t a lot you can say about an individual, upcoming baseball game. What will determine tonight’s contest is how well the players play. I hope the Sox play well and the Orioles don’t.
The outcome of this game rests somewhat more on the shoulder of the starting pitcher than usual. Not only is Lester pitching on short rest in the biggest game of the season, but he’s pitching in front of a bullpen that is utterly gassed. In September, the Red Sox bullpen has had to cover an ...Read More...
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Managers have expiration dates
The monthlong unpleasantness has unified fans against a common enemy – Tito Francona. At this point, with a playoff spot still technically possible for the Red Sox, one can imagine scenarios in which Tito keeps his job, or perhaps even in which he deserves to keep his job. But it’s getting really hard for me to see. He’s lost the clubhouse so entirely, so evidently has no standing to lead this team out of their funk, that I have trouble imagining how he could get it back. Even a team ...Read More...
Friday, September 23, 2011
I learned how to write a Monte Carlo sim in Excel
Who says nothing good came out of the epic Sox collapse of aught-eleven?
Here’s your data. To make things a little cleaner, I’m not using as many different team quality scenarios. I have the pessimistic scenario, wherein the Sox are a terrible club (.48 ExpWP), and the Rays and Angels are very good (.6 and .57 ExpWP), I have the BPro W3% scenario, where the Sox at .61 lead the Rays and Angels at .57 and .53, and a parity scenario where the Sox at .55 are a bit behind the Rays and Angels at ...Read More...
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I’m of the opinion that the Red Sox have actually gotten tight and have actually been affected by the pressure. As per the post a week ago, I don’t think that this means the team is screwed - slumps and choking events can end, human beings can get themselves together, and events can turn out ok. I’m still confident that these are professional baseball players who are likely to play professional baseball well when they take the field.
But I think that out on the field, the Red Sox have been ...Read More...
Monday, September 19, 2011
The Red Sox may lose the Wild Card
I don’t foresee myself having a lot of time to talk baseball in the next week, so y’all ought to have a thread. The chance of the Red Sox losing the Wild Card to the Rays is now somewhere 15 and 25%, and a lot of it depends on how well the Yankees play in their seven games with the Rays and three with the Sox. Today we are all Yankee fans. So even if the Sox do hang on, this has happened, and it is horrible.
Here are the numbers from the old log5 for the remaining schedule spreadsheet. I’m ...Read More...
Monday, September 12, 2011
In which I listen to Theo Epstein’s public statements
Theo gave an interview to WEEI this morning, helpfully transcribed at the Globe Extra Bases blog. I like what he had to say about the losing streak.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
So you say you want to piss your pants, well, you know (pt 2)
I’ve recently been posting some aggressively optimistic things about the Red Sox, even as they stumble awkwardly down the stretch like some sort of drunken Kevin Youkilis. I’d like to explain myself in a bit more detail, after yet another ugly loss.
There have been numbers tossed around in the other threads which were clearly based on a poorly calibrated PNOOMA system. 75% chance the Sox make the playoffs. No, it’s 85%. All while the BPro numbers still hold around 99%. One of the ...Read More...
Sunday, September 04, 2011
Call me Dr. Cliff Jinxtable
Today the Red Sox playoff odds on the BP postseason report broke over 99.95% and are listed at 100%. I think it’s time to start talking about the playoffs.
There are a lot of different topics worth covering, and this isn’t meant to cover all of them. We can do playoff roster and bench player stuff later, it’ll be fun, but the outcomes probably won’t matter much. What will probably matter is who pitches in a Game 4 and who pitches in the 7th inning. The big problem with the Red ...Read More...
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
A Series of Imaginable Significance
Unlike Terry Francona and Joe Girardi, I care who wins the American League East pennant. The three-game series between their clubs, which begins tonight in Boston, will shape that pennant race in important ways. This would be a bigger deal if either the Red Sox or Yankees, as organizations, appeared to care about the outcome of the race. With both teams secure in their playoff berths, barring historic meltdowns, we are unlikely to see three games managed with any particular intensity. But I ...Read More...
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The Full LaRussa, or, One Month to Solve the Bullpen
The Red Sox have a relief problem. It’s not the worst relief problem a team has ever had, but it’s a peculiarly difficult one. (If by some chance the Sox make the playoffs), with Bard setting up Papelbon, we should have as good a 1-2 punch for the playoffs as any other team in the majors. However, the Red Sox are highly likely to have two starters in their rotation who can’t be expected to get through the 6th inning, let alone the 7th. And I have absolutely no idea who should be ...Read More...
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Tim Wakefield in comparative perspective
Tim Wakefield has been on the Red Sox for seventeen years now, an integral part of the club during the golden age of Red Sox baseball. Other than his first season with Boston in 1995, when Wakefield pitched a Moneyball avant la lettre side into the playoffs, Wakefield has been an innings eater rather than a star. There were several years, while I was living in Boston, when every time I got Sox tickets it seemed like Wakefield was starting. The first time I got tickets for a Wakefield start, ...Read More...
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