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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bad Pitchers Hurt, New Pitchers Needed

The Red Sox had a dilemma a few days ago.  Their #4 and #5 starters were both under contract for many millions of dollars, and they were pitching extremely poorly.  They’ve solved that problem, in the last two days, by sending both pitchers to the disabled list.  This creates a new dilemma.  While it’s bad when your 4th and 5th starters aren’t pitching well, it’s also bad when 40% of your games are in the hands of your 6th and 7th starters.

Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield have been ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 18, 2011 at 11:00 AM | 47 comment(s)
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Monday, May 16, 2011

A Bunch of Stuff about Carl Crawford

Typically, when you pay someone more than $20M to do a thing, you expect them to not suck at that thing.  Carl Crawford has taken the unexpected route.  Despite a few runs of games where he knocked a single or two, Crawford’s overall batting line is best described as pretty good, for a pitcher. 

ZiPS projected him to 360/490 coming into the season.  Crawford’s been so bad that his projection is down to 345/460.  Seriously.  50 points of OPS projection lost in less than two months.  If he ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 16, 2011 at 08:55 PM | 146 comment(s)
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Great Stagnation

By the last week of April, I figured the season had turned around.  The horrific 2-10 start had been washed out by a streak of eight wins in nine games.  All the Sox had to do was start playing like the team we all knew they were, and they would be running with the league leaders all the way in.  Since April 25th, the Red Sox, instead of playing .600 ball, have put up a maddeningly inconsistent 8-9 record against generally unimpressive competition, in the midst of a long home stand.

Like most ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 14, 2011 at 12:19 PM | 51 comment(s)
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Monday, May 09, 2011

Platoon Update

The Red Sox platoon% keeps rising.  Through Sunday, it is 67.6%, up from 65.7% a month ago, and up from the ~60% range the Red Sox have settled into in recent years.  This really isn’t, mostly, an effect on platooning.  The Red Sox have faced 12 left-handed starters in 34 games.  The Red Sox only start two RHB against left-handed starters, now that Lowrie is the everyday SS, which gives them a platoon% of 78% in games against lefties.  The Red Sox’ amazing platoon percentage comes about ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 09, 2011 at 12:16 PM | 13 comment(s)
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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

One Month of Bullpen

The bullpen hasn’t taken a lot of blame for the Red Sox’ poor start, but they haven’t been particularly good.  The team’s 2-5 record in one-run games is partly about bad luck, but they’ve received quite poor high-leverage pitching from everyone but Papelbon.  Thanks to Papelbon, the Red Sox bullpen has been about average.  With an untouchable closer, and a pretty good set-up guy in Bard, the Red Sox should be above average.  The problem, then, has been everyone else.

The two big ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 03, 2011 at 01:51 PM | 119 comment(s)
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

That’s when I developed my catching problem

I was planning a post on the catching problem.  I wasn’t expecting we were going to see, literally, a catching problem in which our 800-year-old catcher lost a game because he couldn’t catch the ball when it was thrown to him.  While Varitek’s embarrassment was a one time thing - though one that reflects his current defensive shortcomings - the larger issue on this club is that the catchers have been cumulatively below replacement level.  Varitek and Saltalamacchia are sitting at a combined 400 ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 28, 2011 at 02:01 AM | 70 comment(s)
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Winning: Still Fun

Sometimes the universe does even itself out a bit.  Following an execrable 2-10 start to the season, the Red Sox went on an 8-1 tear, capped by the four-game sweep in Anaheim they completed over the weekend.  Winning is always fun, and the immense hatred of BTF Angels fans for the Red Sox and their fans has instilled in me a real feeling of rivalry with the Angels, so taking four in their house was particularly sweet.

In March, I would not have expected to be this happy about standing at 10-11 ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 25, 2011 at 01:12 PM | 35 comment(s)
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Minor League Thread: Contact is the Answer

For minor leaguers, a strikeout is not just another out.  Prospects who strike out a lot project notably worse as major leaguers than kids with similar overall numbers and lower strikeout rates.  I’m not sure what exactly the mechanism is – I’ve heard both that batter strikeouts increase at a higher rate relative to other numbers as players move up the ladder, and that prospects with good numbers and high K-rates are much more likely to have the prospect-status based on unsustainable ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 22, 2011 at 09:32 PM | 31 comment(s)
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Monday, April 18, 2011

The .500-hitting shortstop semi-dilemma

Jed Lowrie has hits in more than half of his at-bats.  He’s started four of the last five Red Sox games.  So far the noises from the Red Sox are along the lines of “you can’t sit Lowrie” – they’re saying they’re riding the hot hand rather than replacing their perfectly acceptable veteran shortstop.  I have gotten the sense, reading between the lines of some comments in Sox Therapy, that there is a small, not particularly vocal minority of Red Sox fans who would like to see Jed ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 18, 2011 at 06:13 PM | 115 comment(s)
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

So you say you want to piss your pants, well, you know

After last night’s rain out, the Red Sox announced that John Lackey will miss his turn in the rotation entirely, with Clay Buchholz taking Friday’s start.  This is very much a short term focused move by the Sox, who are choosing a somewhat better rotation for the Jays series over giving Lackey his scheduled chance to get himself back on track.

The choice to skip Lackey in the rotation does seem to fit with the most (and only) reasonable pants pissing narrative, that the Red Sox were counting ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 14, 2011 at 11:47 AM | 112 comment(s)
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Platoon

This offseason, one of the few issues that people identified on the Red Sox roster was that the lineup was mostly left-handed.  This was, then, one of the key areas where Terry Francona would have to manage the club, by establishing job-sharing arrangements to balance the lineup.  We’re now 11 games into the season, and the platoon patterns are starting to emerge.

The definite everyday players are Pedroia, Crawford, Youkilis, and Gonzalez, who have not missed a game.  JD Drew looks to be ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 13, 2011 at 11:57 AM | 66 comment(s)
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Friday, April 08, 2011

Hey, a Yankees series.  I’m looking forward to that.

For several years, with or without blog, I’ve usually run some quick and dirty log5 and binomial projections to coincide with the first Yankees series.  The idea has been that, rather than blathering about “we gotta get momentum” or “the games in September are the ones that count,” we can use math to roughly estimate how much this series matters to the future of the Red Sox season.  This year, the task is quite easy, due to a little-understood feature of the “log5” equation.

This ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 08, 2011 at 01:52 AM | 66 comment(s)
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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

.186/.271/.295

I’m finding it more difficult to come up with things to say on the blog during the season than before the season.  It’s probably partly because I need to get my nose out of the spreadsheet and into some baseball games, or whatever one does with one’s nose when it isn’t engaged in paradigmatically nerdy activities.  Cause the thing is, I listen to the Red Sox losing another game, I go check their season stats to date, and there’s the team hitting line – a 565 OPS.  What do you say ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 06, 2011 at 11:14 AM | 88 comment(s)
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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Losing: Still Not Fun

The one positive thing I can say about today’s loss is that this was a particularly difficult Opening Day loss to overreact to.  In the end, they got beat by a team that, if healthy, is one of the four or five best clubs in the world.  The Sox lost because their best pitcher showed up with not one of his pitches working, and then their best reliever had poor command and a couple of balls found gaps at the wrong time.  Is anyone really coming away from this game thinking, “Jon Lester used to ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 02, 2011 at 01:16 AM | 113 comment(s)
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Over/Unders

Back in February, I did a little data-entry blog post with the projected stats for all the Red Sox regulars from CAIRO, PECOTA, and ZiPS.  With opening day just a scant hundred hours away, I thought it would be fun to look over those numbers again, and see what we, the fans, think we can add to those numbers. 

For overs, I think that while we shouldn’t expect Jacoby Ellsbury to return to peak form immediately, it’s reasonable to say that the projection systems are expecting lingering ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 28, 2011 at 07:12 PM | 21 comment(s)
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Boston Meetbert

A bunch of Therapudlians and assorted folks have been discussing a meetup when overseas Sox fan Mattbert comes into town this week.  They were discussing that in the forums, but the forums are a strange and distant land populated by men most of us thought lost long ago, like Dan Werr.  So, here’s a thread for y’alls to make plans.

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 27, 2011 at 09:17 PM | 25 comment(s)
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Minor League Thread: Placing the Prospects

In the next couple weeks, the Red Sox will announce their minor league rosters.  These announcements, I believe, contain a good bit of useful information for evaluating prospects.  We don’t usually get information about Red Sox prospects from the Red Sox that isn’t stage-managed, for obvious reasons.  When the Sox decide where to place a prospect, whether to challenge him or keep him at a lower level for more instruction, they have to make an objective evaluation, and we see the direct ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 21, 2011 at 05:19 PM | 29 comment(s)
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Friday, March 18, 2011

I Think This Is The Lineup

In every full squad game this spring, Francona has batted Ellsbury-Pedroia-Crawford 1-2-3.  The catcher and shortstop have consistently been slotted 8-9.  That leaves basically only one workable lineup against RHP.

Ellsbury
Pedroia
Crawford
Gonzalez
Youkilis
Ortiz
Drew
Saltalamacchia
Scutaro

Batting one of the three worst hitters on the team first is extremely hard to justify.  I guess one could say that the Sox believe in Ellsbury’s batting potential, and that lineups don’t matter all ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 18, 2011 at 01:47 PM | 48 comment(s)
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

ST at ST: Whose Career Will Jose Ruin This Year?

(Spring Training Observations from our own Jose Can You Seabiscuit)

Greetings from Ft. Myers where I have been attending some Spring Training baseball. The Sox’ facility is actually two facilities with the Major League park (City of Palms) about 3 miles down the road from the minor league complex. I have been able to attend both locations and there is always much to see.  As Darren will gleefully point out after my pimping of Ramon Ramirez last year, my scouting skills are a bit questionable ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 12, 2011 at 01:54 PM | 37 comment(s)
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Manager’s Decision: The Bullpen

Most of the internet discussion of the Red Sox bullpen, so far this spring, has concerned the 5th through 7th slots.  Should Aceves be the long man over Wakefield, or should the Sox maintain their depth and use Aceves’ option?  The same question applies, mutatis mutandis, to Reyes and Okajima (and Hill), as well as to Atchison and Albers.  I generally take the position that it makes no sense to give away competent arms in March, so I’d tend toward Wakefield, Reyes, and Albers making the ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 10, 2011 at 01:55 PM | 13 comment(s)
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Monday, March 07, 2011

Manager’s Decision: Starting Rotation

Four of the five slots in Terry Francona’s starting rotation are locked in.  Only the fifth starter position will require careful season-long management.  It’s of course possible that any or all of Lester, Buchholz, Lackey, or Beckett could be injured or ineffective, but the only places any of those four will be this year are the starting rotation and the disabled list.  If they can pitch, they’ll be taking the mound every fifth day.  They’re not really subject to the manager’s ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 07, 2011 at 04:26 PM | 32 comment(s)
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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Manager’s Decision: Position Players

Because the Red Sox are a really good team with lots of really good players, a large chunk of the manager’s job has been done for him before he arrives in Florida.  Sure, there’s managing the personalities and teaching the young guys and constructing a lineup, but the former two are hidden from view for this sort of analysis, and the latter continues to sort of bore me.  What I find interesting are the decisions that a manager has to made in March and April, when he has to determine which ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 02, 2011 at 01:31 PM | 38 comment(s)
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Red Sox and the Other, Lesser Projection Systems

Dan posted the Red Sox ZiPS numbers the same day my Baseball Prospectus arrived in the mail, so I thought it might be interesting to compare three other, lesser projection systems for what they think of the 2011 Red Sox.  I’ve listed the projections in three columns, in alphabetical order - that is, first CAIRO, then PECOTA, then ZiPS.  For hitters I’ve listed the three slash lines, for pitchers IP and ERA.

247/320/403, 237/309/396, 230/308/382 – Saltalamacchia
305/399/555, 283/379/513, ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 23, 2011 at 01:07 PM | 9 comment(s)
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

CFBPS 2011

Just in time for the first days of full-on spring training, I have finished the yearly renoobulation of the world’s most advanced projection system that is deadly accurate and has other marketable characteristics as well, the Crazy FanBoy Projection System.  This year the CFBPS is better than ever – along with all the usual polishing of grommets and tuning of dials, it has a new steam-powered ooga-chooga, the ability to see through both space and time, and I fitted lasers to the motherboard ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 20, 2011 at 10:13 PM | 33 comment(s)
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Pitchers and Catchers and Programming Notes

Here’s a spring training video to get everyone excited:

NESN: Cool Ted Williams clips, spring training 1984.

So, I have a couple of goals for Sox Therapy in 2011.  I don’t have any delusions about updating this every day – that would get tremendously boring for all of us.  But I think that it will be possible to upgrade the blog from occasionally and sporadically updated to occasionally and regularly updated.  Something like once a week, sometimes twice a week, seems like a reasonable ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 14, 2011 at 12:52 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Related News: red sox, sox therapy


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Watching Spring Training… News

Most of the fun of spring training is just that there’s finally baseball on my teevee again.  Beyond that, though, it becomes very easy to watch a few innings of a game, decide that the backup first baseman is pretty so hard it hurts to watch, and perhaps overreact a little.  We should be humble about what we can determine from watching spring, and we shouldn’t publish first drafts, is what I’m saying.

While it’s difficult to develop intelligent baseball analyses from watching a spring ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 12, 2011 at 03:33 PM | 45 comment(s)
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Win the Offseason

I was working on a post about the Red Sox recent minor league signings – they added Alfredo Aceves as the 7th starter and Dennys Reyes as the backup loogy – but I realized pretty quickly it was a boring post.  Three paragraphs all to make the point, “Theo sure is smart for signing good players and also pitching depth is good.”  Really, most of our offseason talk has converged on that point.  The Red Sox did just about everything right.  Even better, the Red Sox did just about everything ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 10, 2011 at 03:00 PM | 29 comment(s)
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sox 2011 payroll = Sox 2010 payroll.  Fact.

Theo has again successfully avoided going to arbitration, and all the projected 2011 Red Sox players who will make significantly more than the MLB minimum have now been signed.  The Sox went big this offseason, going after the top free agent position player and the top position player on the trade market while injecting over $10M into the bullpen.  What I think is interesting, given this set of events, is that the Red Sox have barely increased payroll at all from their 2010 level.

The Red Sox ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 19, 2011 at 02:22 PM | 17 comment(s)
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Epstein Interview Contains Actual Baseball Content

Once every presidential administration or so, Theo Epstein gets liquored up before a press conference and proceeds to actually answer the questions he’s asked.  At the Hot Stove Cool Music benefit on Friday, reporters cajoled Epstein into telling them what the team plans to do at both shortstop and catcher.  I like the answers quite a lot.  These quotes are from Evan Dreilich’s article at redsox.com

On shortstop:

“The players will ... dictate how they’re best utilized,” Epstein said. ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 17, 2011 at 01:36 PM | 20 comment(s)
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Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Tale of Two Suckings

John Lackey and Josh Beckett seemed to have two things in common last year – the Red Sox paid them lots and lots of money, and they sucked.  I’m going to argue that these were the only things they had in common, and in fact John Lackey didn’t really suck all that much.

First, Lackey gave the Sox 215 innings of league average pitching, which has value.  (Not nineteen million dollars of value, but value.)  Second, while Lackey’s strikeout and walk rates both got worse, neither was ...

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Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 13, 2011 at 02:52 PM | 10 comment(s)
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