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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox
Tag: Sox Therapy
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Almost There (Again)
Two weeks ago, it looked like the Red Sox were back to normal. They came home after a tough road trip and won three straight against Tampa. A win in the Patriots’ Day game would bring the Sox back to .500. Given the difficulty of the early season schedule, a .500 record would have been just about the expected record for a projected 90ish win Sox club. They were almost there.
Instead of picking up that last win to get back to .500, they dropped a game in which the bats went silent and ...Read More...
Monday, April 23, 2012
The Wages of Losing
Some days, I don’t want to talk about baseball on the internet. Sunday was one of those days. I still don’t feel like recapping why.
I have been annoyed at some of the more histrionic proclamations of doom and gloom for the Sox, but I’ve come around to thinking that a moderate level of gloom and or doom is appropriate. The Red Sox are 4-10, and a 90-95 win Sox team should have gone 7-7 or 8-6 over this period. That’s a 3-4 game drop.
Those three or four games matter particularly ...Read More...
Monday, April 09, 2012
Bullpen Hijinx 2: I don’t want to talk about it
I don’t really want to re-live that loss. The Sox lost two games in four days on the last pitch, and sandwiched a sleepwalking blowout loss in between. It’s bringing up memories of September ’11 I’d rather avoid. The rational response to these games takes up what Dan has been repeating in the other thread – three games are not a predictive sample, and a whole bunch of competing clubs have started very slow this weekend. I was not feeling terribly rational last night. This morning I ...Read More...
Friday, April 06, 2012
Minor League Thread: Jose on the Roster Assignments
When clubs announce their roster assignments for the minor leagues, they provide un-spun, objective information about their own evaluations of their minor league players. You only get that level bump up to AA if the club really believes that you have the skills and talent to succeed at the higher level. Along with the release of the prospect rankings, it’s one of the best collections of information we’re going to pick up.
Jose very helpfully ran through the roster assignments as listed ...Read More...
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Game 1: Bullpen Hijinx
For the most part, it was a good game. When a merely human pitcher entered the game, the Sox offense showed what they can do. Jon Lester battled impressively against an excellent lineup and allowed only one run despite fighting his command all afternoon. The club looked ready for the season.
The bullpen lost the game. For the most part, it’s just one game. No one looked terrible - well, Melancon’s command was way off, but he’s the one guy back there whom I’m willing to give some leash if ...Read More...
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
What do we watch when we watch Opening Day?
Baseball’s about to start. That’s so great. I had some ideas about running numbers to project the Sox or compare them to the Yankees, but other people have already done a better job of that. (One small note – Jacoby Ellsbury projects as something like a 2-3 win player in most of the statistical systems. If he’s healthy and a star, the Sox run even with the Yankees.) And anyway, I’m excited that baseball is back more than I’m excited about the particular projections of this Red ...Read More...
Thursday, March 29, 2012
The Crazy Fanboy Projection System had a tough offseason. The first time I tried to run the engine back in January, it just broke down crying. While the Bayesian engines that power PECOTA and ZiPS are incapable of true feeling or thought, the CFBPS engine is the world’s only Freudian projection engine, and it was still in mourning. The lost beloved of the 2011 season had entirely overwhelmed the engine’s ego, and its reality principle was unmoored. The second run of the CFBPS produced ...Read More...
Monday, March 26, 2012
(General?) Manager’s Decision: Roster Controversy!
The Soxblog firestorm of the weekend arose from a couple reports that Bobby V and Ben Cherington disagree about roster composition. I have some thoughts on the final spots on the Sox roster, which I’ll get to. I’m also interested in the underlying question of the authority of the manager, GM, and team president in Boston.
During the Theo years, even though Theo and Tito always said that Tito had input in every major decision, it was clear that the Moneyball model** was in place. ...Read More...
Monday, March 19, 2012
Jose’s Spring Training Reports #1 and #2
ST’s own Jose Can You Seabiscuit has made his annual spring training jaunt to Florida, and he has decided to tempt fate, the gods, and the horrific certainty that attends to an observation over an n of 2. He sends spring training reports. This is the first report:
I am back for another year of destroying dreams and ruining careers. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to see the minor leaguers work out but I have seen quite a bit of the big boys.
Bobby Valentine - The issue of the ...Read More...
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Shortstop by the Numbers
The Red Sox shortstop position is apparently still open. Before spring training, I ran some quick numbers and found that Nick Punto projected as the best shortstop on the roster, and Mike Aviles would make a reasonable platoon partner. In spring, all the talk has been about Jose Iglesias and his wonderglove. Those Iglesias stories usually have a little caveat that while Iglesias has stolen the hearts of all who have caught a glimpse of him, Mike Aviles is “almost certainly” going to be ...Read More...
Sunday, March 04, 2012
Bobs’ Decision: Back of the Rotation
The Red Sox took a big risk this offseason with their pitching staff. Instead of signing or trading for established starting pitchers to cover the innings behind Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz, they decided to fill the positions internally and backstop the young guys with some scrap-heap arms. The remaining rotation slots project to be taken by two of Bard, Aceves, Doubront, Miller, and Padilla. The Sox are hosting a real spring competition for at least one rotation slot, which means that ...Read More...
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...
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