Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Back From the Brink

Like other Sox fans, I've recently suffered from a major dose of discouragement. But the way David Wells has performed this month (one of the few Sox players to play well, if at all) has brightened things up a bit for the Sox. He is now in line to be traded and the buyer appears to be the Padres, for a AAA catcher named George Kottaras. I'm sure Bosox West will be writing plenty about this soon, but I wanted to get my thoughts out there.

Look, 2006 is done. The Sox are making the right move here. Wells is not going to be playing for the Sox next year, so why not get something in return for him. His price is as high now as it's ever been due to the pitching market (Ramon Ortiz, anyone?), how he's performed this month, and the fact that he's a veteran with a ton of postseason experience.

Kottaras, a Greek-Canadian catcher, has progressed nicely at every minor league stop. His OPS has been over .800 at each level (his lowest is currently at AAA, where it's a very respectable .788 in just 18 games) and his OBP hovers right around .400, which is gold. The big knock on him is that he strikes out a lot, but the frequency with which he reaches base negates that and then some. He had 36 doubles last year at AA and 19 in just about a half season this year before being called up to AAA 6 weeks ago.

So why would the Sox want a catcher if they have Jason Varitek for 2 more years? Well, they'll need a backup for Varitek at some point and then someone to replace their Captain after 2008. They likely won't resign Varitek at that age when his contract is up. Kottaras is only 23 years old and could be the catcher of their future. He hit a double and a homer in the Futures Game this summer and is considered the second-best prospect in the Padres organization by Baseball America.

This sounds like a great deal right now, helping the Sox get younger while still maintaining their core. So, while this season's walls are crashing down around you, keep in mind that there is a bright future. I just hope they don't need to include any of their future in this trade.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Follow-up to Yesterday's Column

So yesterday's column about the reacquisition of Dougie M was listed on in the Blogdome section and I got a lot of heat from other Sox fans. These Sox fans don't regularly read my blog/website, so they weren't aware that I am a staunch believer that the AL is a far superior league to the NL. I was talking about this before it was fashionable to do so. I said back in March that Arroyo being traded wouldn't be a bad thing and continued to stand by that assertion when he was an early Cy Young candidate. The NL sucks. Bill Simmons said it best in today's column: the NL should legalize steroids so they can compete with the AL.

My point is that I should have qualified my remarks by saying that Bard and Meredith wouldn't have such great stats in the AL, but they would still be good. Say, a 3.00 ERA for Meredith with a 1.10 WHIP, and a .260-.280 batting average and .350 OBP for Bard. Both of these would have been major improvements.

Onto other things, I thought the Sox/Angels game 3 was a sure loss for the Sox since they were facing the immortal Jered Weaver. That guy is good. I wonder if he'll ever play for the Yankees and go through what his brother did. Tons of potential, then went to the Yankees and completely destroyed his career. I just wish the Yankees had to face the younger Weaver this week, but they get to miss him. Luckily, the Sox managed to squeak out the game. And don't think Mike Timlin didn't try to blow it. He did. He was only able to allow one inheritied runner to score, though, as Doug Mirabelli had a brilliant deke on a throw home by Wily Mo Pain-ya on the second inherited runner. I think Timlin goes into a game and says, "Shit, there are guys on base. I hate working with guys on base." And thinks of the quickest way to get them off the basepaths. Most of the time, this involves allowing them to score. At least he's efficient about it.

So I'm absolutely obsessed with baseball and have limited myself to just two fantasy baseball leagues per year since my son was born 2.5 years ago. I'm not a big football fan and don't know a great deal about it, yet I somehow ended up in 3 leagues this year. How does this happen? And worse, I haven't paid for fantasy baseball for 3 years and I paid $20 to get into a football league. I don't understand it, either. Maybe this is the year I become obsessed with football and start appreciating Madded. Nahhhh..... I'll always hate Madden.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Looking Back on the Reacquisition of Mirabelli

Buster Olney reminded me today that Cla Meredith was included in the Josh Bard/Doug Mirabelli trade. I guess I had repressed as much about that trade as possible. Not only has Bard torn up NL pitching since leaving the Sox, but Meredith has turned into a younger Jonathan Papelbon in middle relief. I couldn’t believe the stats when I saw them: 26.2 IP, 1.01 ERA, 0.61 WHIP, 18 K, 3 BB. He’s averaging just 13.3 P/IP and 6.0 K/BB! His OPSA is .395. Amazing. The only runs he’s given up were against Philadelphia. So he has held the opposition scoreless in 25 out of 27 appearances.

Imagine if we’d had him as a middle reliever all this time and Bard as a catcher. I know I championed the move when it happened and I hate it when people change their minds, but man, it would have been nice to have those two guys. We haven’t even really needed Mirabelli because Wakefield has been out for so long and we’ve desperately needed some middle relief help. Mirabelli has been awful and so has Lopez. Meanwhile, Josh Bard is sporting a robust .944 OPS in the NL.

Factoring in the NL to AL shift, these two guys would both probably be enjoying very successful seasons for the Red Sox. Now I’m going to shoot myself.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sox vs. Lidle

Watching the Gamecast on today, I was interested to see how well each player has fared in their career against Cory Lidle. Here are the career results of those guys who played:

Lowell: 7-19, HR, 2 RBI, 1.084 OPS

Cora: 0-2, .333 OPS

Crisp: 4-17, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .706 OPS

Hinske: 3-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2.667 OPS

Kapler: 5-12, 2 RBI, .917 OPS

Loretta: 1-6, .619 OPS

Lopez: 1-5, .400 OPS

Ortiz: 5-19, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .826 OPS

Pena: 3-6, 2 RBI, 1.000 OPS

Manny: 8-19, 4 RBI, 1.173 OPS

Youk: 1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1.500 OPS

Those are pretty overwhelming stats. This Sox team knocks Lidle around. But today, Lidle became Cory “The Rocket” Lidle, going 6 scoreless innings. This team is not only suffering through a tough time with their pitching, but they’re in a deep offensive funk right now. Now, that being said, Alex Gonzalez was inexplicably left off the starting roster after sporting a .333 batting average and .945 OPS in 15 at-bats against Lidle. I know you want to get Cora in there sometimes and Gonzalez the day off, but why not another day?

On a bright note, David Wells pitched extremely well but was pulled after just 104 pitches and replaced by that bullpen that keeps blowing games. Sure enough, Foulke comes in and gives up the deciding run.

No Stats, Just Emotion

Friday morning, I told a coworker that I wouldn't at all be shocked to see the Yankees sweep this 5 game series. Did I expect it to happen? No, but I wouldn't be shocked. Now we're 80% of the way to fruition. Look, the Sox aren't out of the running and are far from being mathematically eliminated, but they're done. Their pitching cannot keep them in games as currently constituted. Mercifully, Craig Hansen was sent down to AAA after his ERA ballooned to a level that even Jose Canseco could improve upon with his knuckleball. Mike Timlin needs to be taken behind the Wall and shot like a horse with a broken leg.

Meanwhile, if you need a Red Sox pick-me-up, and I'm sure you do, check out this video. I know you've seen a dozen of these, but this is one of the best.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I have one thing to say to Tim McCarver: Shut up!

The Morning After

Several instant messages peppered my computer screen when I woke up this morning:
"Their bullpen is despicable."
"I love Hinske!"
"Where are you?"

Okay, so that last one wasn't relevant, but the other three certainly were. Hinske was impressive in the first game. He's done very well against Wang and that's why the Sox started him.

As for the bullpen.... yes, it's been awful. That seems too nice. But in actuality, the reason the bullpen is so bad is because they've been way overused. The starting pitching is just not in there enough. They rank 7th in innings pitched by a starter (the Yankees are 10th!), at 711.1. Starters ERA ranks 11th, at 5.00, while the Yankees are at 5th at 4.61. Same story with the bullpen ERAs/ranks.

Mike Timlin is aging quickly. Take a look at his ERA and WHIP by month:
April: 1.93/1.71 (a little luck helped him keep his ERA that low while allowing that many baserunners.)
May: 0.90/0.80
June: 2.35/1.17
July: 5.56/1.41
August: 12.00/2.00
Not a good trend there. He has 2 losses and 2 blown saves in his last 10 appearances. A lot of people are blaming the fact that he pitched in the WBC this spring and he's 40 years old. I can't say I disagree. Here's another alarming statistic: Mike Timlin's highest appearance total happened last year, at the age of 39. His second highest total? The year before. The next highest? The year before that, which was tied with the year prior. So his 4 highest appearance totals for a season happened at ages 36, 37, 38, and 39, in reverse order. As his age increases, his workload does, too. Do you think this guy is tired? This year also marks his highest pitches/plate appearance in his career, at 3.82 compared with 3.42 last year. His K/BB are at 1.69 compared to 2.95 over each of the past two seasons. K/9 are at 4.24 compared to 6.60 each of the past two seasons. His BAA is actually down and OBP has stayed the same, but opposing batters are hitting for more power against him, with a .423 SLG vs. .386 last year and 3.74 in his career. His groundball to flyball ratio is below 1 for the first time in his career and his career average is over 2.

Craig Hansen is another problem. A 5.90 ERA isn't going to cut it. His ERA this month is 8.64 with a WHIP of nearly 2.00. To quote Shea Hillenbrand, the ship is sinking and it's sinking quickly.

On the bright side of things, Dustin Pedroia appears ready for the big leagues. Pedroia came into last night's game for Triple A Pawtucket batting .310 in 108 games, the sixth-highest average in the International League, and with an on-base percentage of .389 that ranks third in the IL. Pedroia, who has been batting in the No. 3 hole, also had 30 doubles for Pawtucket, which ranks third in the IL, and had struck out just 27 times in 413 at-bats. The Sox actually offered Mark Loretta to the Tigers for pitching help, which the Tigers declined. But Pedroia is your 2B of the future and I can't wait to see how that plays out.

I've added more Elias notes to my regular website.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I love Picking On ARod

ARod committed his 22nd error today in a miserable loss to the Orioles. This is by far his worst season ever in the field. His zone rating is .729, preceded by .786 and .735 in 2004 and 2005, respectively, his first two years at third base. He’s getting worse at his new position. His fielding percentage has gone from .965 to .971 to .930 this year, and that was before today’s error!

The next closest AL 3B in fielding percentage is Aaron Bleeping Boone, at .939. As for zone rating, Mark Teahen’s is close to last at .735. So ARod ranks dead last in the two key defensive categories for his position. But wait, it gets worse. He also ranks dead last in ALL OF BASEBALL in both of these categories!

And by the way, in close and late situations, he’s batting under .200 with a .610 OPS and 18 K’s. Meanwhile, there’s this guy playing for Boston named Ortiz with a 1.263 OPS in close and late situations. Hey Sportszilla, still care to dispute that this means anything? (For those of you not “in the know,” a writer for Sportszilla tried to say that ARod was a lot more clutch than people said he was, so I wrote a solumn disputing it. So another Sportszilla writer wrote me an e-mail defending his colleague and said I couldn’t use just a half season to judge how clutch someone is.)

Hinske Joining the Sox

So it appears that the Sox have acquired Eric Hinske from the BJs. I’m not sure what the plan is for Hinske, but he should be a pretty decent pickup. He’s still relatively young at 29 and has become a respectable player. His OBP this year is .353 and his SLG is .513, which is quite good. I actually had him on my fantasy team for a short while during a recent hot stretch, but he hasn’t played much lately and when he has, it hasn’t been especially good. His average has dropped 13 points in his past 10 games to .264, closer to his career average of .259. His home and away splits are nearly identical, which is good. He had a great June and July, with an OPS of over 1.000, but August has dropped to half of that. His OPS at Fenway from 2003-2005 was .888 and this year it’s 1.167 in 12 at-bats. The troubling thing is that Hinske is another platoon player. His OPS against lefties this year is a frightening .499 in 37 at-bats. Yikes.

How about his fielding? We’ve discussed Trot’s last-place zone rating in right field of .853. Hinske’s is way worse, at .816. The only person in the AL with as many games played in RF with a worse ZR is 64-year old Bernie Williams. And as we know, 3B is Lowell’s position. So I have to hope that Hinske will only be a part-time player to give guys a rest down the stretch. I hope. If that’s the case, I like the pickup.

Late addition: a friend points out that he thinks Hinske has hit well against the Yankees this year. It's true: Hinske has a 1.166 OPS against the Yanks in 2006… But .684 over the past 3 years. Let's hope this year he figured something out.

Monday, August 14, 2006

No Need For a Defensive Replacement

The Red Sox won yesterday and all the talk on WEEI was about the lack of a “defensive replacement” for Alex Cora late in the game. There are several issues here. First, Cora is a serviceable shortstop statistically. Alex Gonzalez is obviously one of the greatest in the game. That’s not in dispute here. But Cora has a very respectable .826 zone rating, compared to AGon’s .856. Cora, if he had enough innings at SS to qualify, would have a better zone rating than some big name guys like Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera, Derek Jeter, and Angel Berroa. Cora’s fielding percentage at SS leaves a little to be desired, at .958 compared to .987. The only SS who’s worse is Carlos Guillen and his 22 errors, but that’s not the issue, either. You don’t bring in your normal starter to be a defensive replacement for your bench guy in this type of situation. When you give your starter the day off, you only take him off the bench in a time of desperation, like a late-inning pinch-running situation. Or if you go to extra innings and you need a bat off the bench. But up 4 runs late in the game, you leave the guy in there who has played the whole game. You don’t give a guy the day off only to put him back in there as a defensive replacement with a 4 run lead. That’s just stupid. Defensive replacements are typically bench players who come in to relieve your starter, who starts because of his bat but sucks in the field. Like a Kevin Millar/Doug Man-cave-itch situation. (No, I didn’t want to look up how to spell it. When I spell it out like that, it sounds like something Neanderthals might have gotten from sleeping on the cave floor too much.) Anyway, the Sox won. Stop griping about Francona when they win the game. You just sound stupid.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Random Team Stats

I was wrong - I'm back for more statistical analysis today. Here are some random stats from the season for the Sox through Friday night's game. All rankings are among AL teams.

Runs: 627 (2nd)
HR: 149 (3rd)
BA: .282 (6th)
OBP: .363 (1st)
SLG: .458 (4th)
OPS: .821 (T-2nd)
OPS in the last 7 days: .803 (8th)
OPS vs. left-handers: .799 (5th)
OPS vs. right-handers: .830 (2nd)
OPS at home: .847 (2nd)
OPS on the road: .798 (3rd)
OPS during day games: .775 (5th)
OPS during night games: .838 (2nd)
OPS pre-all-star break: .823 (3rd)
OPS post ASB: .811 (4th)
OPS in August: .817 (5th)
OPS with bases empty: .825 (1st - by far)
OPS with runners on: .815 (6th)
OPS with RISP: .764 (9th) - yikes - not good!
OPS with RISP and 2 outs: .784 (6th)
OPS with the bases loaded: .660 (12th) - and they lead the league in based loaded at-bats. Kansas City is at .739 in these situations, by the way.
OPS Close and Late: .784 (3rd) - carried by Ortiz.
OPS vs. potential playoff teams:
OPS vs. the Yankees: .840 (1st)
OPS vs. the Tigers: .697 (8th)
OPS vs. the White Sox: .813 (6th)
OPS vs. the A's: .782 (4th)
OPS vs. the Twins: .599 (12th)

ERA: .459 (8th)
Strikeouts: 778 (3rd)
BAA: .271 (8th)
BAA last 7 days: .309: (13th)
ERA last 7 days: .459 (8th)
ERA at home: .422 (8th)
BAA at home: .264 (8th)
ERA on the road: .492 (8th)
BAA on the road: .277 (6th)
ERA during day games: .413 (5th)
BAA during day games: .267 (9th)
ERA during night games: .477 (10th)
BAA during night games: .273 (7th)
ERA pre-all-star break: .454 (8th)
BAA pre-all-star break: .263 (4th)
ERA post ASB: .475 (9th)
BAA post ASB: .296 (12th)
ERA during August: .466 (11th)
BAA during August: .313 (14th - last)
ERA for starters: .484 (9th)
BAA for starters: .275 (6th)
ERA for relievers: .411 (7th)
BAA for relievers: .264 (10th)
ERA with bases empty: .234 (10th)
BAA with bases empty: .273 (10th)
ERA with RISP: 9.38 (7th)
BAA with RISP: .271 (7th)
ERA with bases loaded: 7.71 (2nd)
ERA close and late: 4.05 (12th)
ERA against potential playoff teams:
Yankees: 5.38 (8th)
White Sox: 3.47 (1st)
Twins: 5.60 (11th)
A's: 4.50 (9th)
Tigers: 3.81 (6th)

You tell me where their problem lies. No wait, that's what I'm here for. They need some serious changes on the pitching staff. Hopefully Boomer can help them. And if they have a sudden turnaround starting this week, don't discount the return of pitching coach Dave Wallace being the reason.
Chokeback Mountain

This came out earlier this year, but it's still great.

Sox Season Savior

Yes, folks, David Wells suddenly became David Wells, Season Savior last night. An amazing transformation for a fat dude whose ERA was over 8 entering the game. Of course it helped that the Sox put up 8 early runs, but he still looked better than anyone else they've put out there. And he saved the bullpen quite a bit of work, only requiring a 2 inning stint out of Kyle Snyder. Speaking of the bullpen, Keith Foulke felt stiffness and was not reactivated. But he's close. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

Anyway, got a lot of cleaning work to do today, so I don't have much time to update. In the meantime, check out my regular website for a pile of Elias Sports Bureau notes. And this is a couple of weeks old, but did a nice image gallery of David Ortiz's walkoff hits.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Time For Panic Button?

Here you go, Sox fans. I know you're looking for it, so I'm providing it. I still don't think it's panic time, but I certainly understand how others would feel this way and don't blame anyone for wanting to push it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Oswalt Was Not the Answer

As I sit here and watch the Royals take yet another late lead, I am again forced to defend the decision the Sox made to not trade for Roy Oswalt or someone else. I have heard countless times over the past 10 days, "Why didn't they get Oswalt (most of the time pronounced Oz-walt by these morons)? He would have put us over the top!" Wrong.

As we all know by know and I have demonstrated seemingly billions of times in the past 5 months, (say it with me now), "the NL is far inferior to the AL." Guys like Beckett can dominate in the NL but struggle in the AL and vice versa for guys like Arroyo, who sucked yet again today. Oswalt's career trajectory is already heading downward as he gets closer to his 29th birthday later this month. Yes, he's won 20 games in consecutive seasons and his ERA has remained pretty stable for the past 6 seasons, but other stats indicate a decline. Check out his K/9, for example:
2001: 9.15
2002: 8.03
2003: 7.63
2004: 7.82
2005: 6.85
2006: 6.25

That's not good, folks. His K/BB has stayed pretty steady, but his OPSA has climbed steadily over those 6 years from .633 in 2001 to .741 this year. His WHIP has gone from 1.06 to 1.25. Now, 1.25 is still pretty good, but it indicates a downward spiral.

We'll get back to Oswalt in just a moment. You may recall hearing about Beckett's problem of relying on his fastball too often. 71% of the time, in fact. And opponents bat .264 off his fastball vs. .124 against the curve, which he throws 17% of the time, and .218 against the changeup, thrown 11% of the time. You can get away with that in the NL, but he's obviously overthrowing it.

Oswalt has the same problem. He throws the heater 67% of the time and opponents bat .286 off it. He throws the curve 18% of the time to a .214 average and sliders 10% to a .248 average. Why? I don't know.

(Wily Mo just hammered another ball to retake the lead. This guy is a stud. Yeah, we need Arroyo back. I'm so glad I've documented all of my Sox opinions over the past 5 months so no one can question my allegiances or my assertions that I've felt this way all along.)

Also, if the Sox had gotten Oswalt, it would have partially been for the second half of this year. Yes, I know he's signed beyond this year, but hear me out. His second half stats over the past 3 years also have a bad trend. His ERA goes up by 0.31, which isn't huge, but the BAA goes from .252 to .266 and his WHIP goes from 1.18 to 1.25. Again, not major, but a minor concern for a guy you're going to get for the second half.

And your starting pitching is not the only problem. The Sox are not hitting right now. And their relievers can't hold a lead. Their catching is a trainwreck and Javy Lopez has an amazing ability to make anyone look like Rick Ankiel. The 2 studs, Beckett and Schilling, are struggling. And their biggest strength from the first half, their defense, has even seen patches of trouble lately. Roy Oswalt can't solve all of these problems.

So there you have it. Do I need to explain now why the Buehrle trade was a bad idea?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Shut up, Sox fans!

Check out this article by Eric Wilbur. I wanted to share this article because it really hits the nail on the head. I've received e-mails and posts in my forum all year about bad trades and the sky is falling and woe is us. It's ridiculous. Shut up, pathetic Sox fans. I don't want to hear it anymore. The Sox will be fine. You forget that they were 10.5 games behind the Yankees in August of 2004, only to come storming back to win the World Series. They've had a lot of injuries that Theo can't control. They're still extremely close to a playoff spot. I'm not going to rehash what Wilbur said, but read it and you'll know how I feel. I've been preaching all year to be patient. You don't want to sacrifice your future for this one year. Don't forget Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen.

A guy called WEEI's D&C fill-in show this morning and was talking about what an excellent pitcher Arroyo has become and he might win the Cy Young and will probably go into the Hall of Fame. Dennis and Callahan would have been all over this moron and certainly would have blown him up when he wasn't able to come up with Arroyo's crappy July and August stats, but the awful fill-ins just agreed and really didn't have anything to offer. Maybe this is why a lot of Red Sox fans are dumb - the major radio hosts go on long vacations during the summer and are replaced by schlubs who don't know Bronson Arroyo from Rolando Arrojo.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wily Mo's Improving Plate Discipline

Been busy this week with work and family, but I wanted to post a quick analysis of Wily Mo's plate discipline. He only had 149 at-bats before tonight's game, which is about half of his totals from the previous two years, but there is definite improvement. It's obvious that he has made the transition from NL to AL better than most guys. You can look at several different stats to judge plate discipline. Let's start with the most common, which is on base percentage (OBP):
2003: .283
2004: .316
2005: .304
2006: .367

That's a nice little trend there. He's getting better and he's still very young at 24 years old. David Ortiz didn't find his game until he was 27, when most guys reach their prime. Another good gauge of improvement is BB/PA and he's improved from .060 each of the past two years to .083 this year. It's a small jump, but it's something. Coco Crisp, as comparison, is at .063 BB/PA. His BB/K have gone from .17 to .30 this year. He's still pacing for approximately 150 strikeouts, but we can live with that if he sports a .500+ OPS at the age of 24 and 25 while he learns. The guy is making 1.25 million dollars this year and has been great. He has hit two absolute monster jacks and he's fun to watch. He looks like he's enjoying playing.

Meanwhile, Arroyo continues to slide back to expected levels.

If the Sox put Wily Mo Pain-ya in the 5th spot in the batting order, he'd get a lot of RBI and would see better pitches. I think that's the best spot for him.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Follow-up to my Javy Post

I was surprised to wake up this morning and find 12 comments on my post about how Javy Lopez is overrated. I discovered that the post was linked on and several hundred people unexpectedly read it. I did get some heat about the Catcher's ERA stat, which is understandable. I'd never used the stat before that I can recall and regrettably used it because it helped illustrate my point that he is in quick decline. Unfortunately, I did the post and research on my lunch break, which is limited to a half hour, and never considered the different pitching staffs with which Lopez had to work in the different years. The commenters all had good points that in 2003, with Atlanta, his CERA was far better because he had a much better pitching staff than he did in Baltimore. The next time I use that stat, I'll make sure I do my research.

Also, at the time of the post, I did not know that the Orioles were sending quite a large sum of cash with Lopez to the Sox. While I still don't like it or Lopez, it seems a little better now. If Adam Stern does in fact end up going as part of the trade, I'll miss the little guy. A breakout during the World Series of Baseball thingy, or whatever it was called, Stern was a good player that fans liked. I hope they stop playing that awfully awkward commercial on NESN where he puts his hand on Hazel Mae's shoulder then quickly removes it, like he's a virgin touching a hot girl for the first time. But we all know about how NESN likes to continue playing commercials way after their shelf life has ended (see: "Did you see that catch Coco made?").

That being said, I really liked one of the comments someone put on Deadspin, something to the effect of, "The only guy Javy can throw out is Bengie Molina. Good luck, Sox fans!"

Just turned the game on and it looks like Wells was pitching reasonably well, but a Big Papi error caused 4 unearned runs? Well, he's won so many for us, we really can't hold it against him. But we need to blame someone, so how about Francona for putting him in at first base? Nahh... everyone needs a night off once in a while, so Papi will play first base a few AL games per year.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Javy Lopez: Overrated

So the Sox are about to finalize the deal with Javy Lopez to be their regular catcher until Varitek can come back. Does it matter that Lopez hasn't caught on consecutive days yet this year? Does it matter that he's almost 36 years old? How about his quickly-declining OPS? Check it out:
2003: 1.065
2004: .873
2005: .780
2006: .726

You're telling me Ken Huckaby isn't a better value at his price?

Another thing is that Lopez really likes to watch guys steal bases. Here are his caught stealing percentages over the past 5 years:
2002: 37.9%
2003: 30.7%
2004: 27.7%
2005: 23.5%
2006: 18.2%

Nice little trend there, eh? Thus far this year in 18 games started at catcher, 22 runners have attempted a steal and 18 of them were successful. That's not good, folks.

How about another metric used to judge how a catcher handles his pitching staff, called Catcher's ERA, which shows the ERA allowed while the catcher is in the game:
2002: 3.33
2003: 3.96
2004: 4.67
2005: 4.71
2006: 5.28

I don't think I need to tell you that this is also a bad trend.

Who knows? Maybe he'll be fresh because he's only appeared in 20 games as the catcher thus far. But this is a guy who averaged roughly 19 homers a year for a decade, then in a contract year he put up a Barry Bondsian 43 dingers at the age of 33. He got his big contract then slipped back down to earth. You do the math. We already had enough Javier Lopezes on this team. This deal sucks.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Red Sox Lucky to be in First

Let's talk about the Red Sox' record. They are 22 games over .500, just .002 behind the Yankees (or the Wankees, as my 2 year old son calls them). They are 5 games better than their pythagorean record, which indicates that they've been very lucky this year. Milwaukee is the only other team that has won as many as 5 more games than their pythag record indicates they should have won by now.

They are 25-19 against the AL East, which is 3rd best in their division. They are 10-8 against the Central and 13-13 against the West. So overall, they are a pedestrian 48-40 against the AL. The Yankees are 54-33, the Jays are 48-41. Even the White Sox are 49-39 against the AL. Oakland and the Angels are both 49-41. The Sox padded their record against the Senior Circuit, going 16-2. So this bodes well for them if they make it to the World Series, but they need to get through the AL first.

Scarier still is that the Sox have faced the AL's 10th hardest schedule. 9 AL teams have had more difficult schedules thus far. This is how the Sox have fared against other playoff contenders:
White Sox: 2-1
Detroit: 2-1
Angels: 1-2
Twins: 0-3
Yankees: 5-5
Oakland: 3-4
For a record of 13-16.

But there's good news. Oakland is 21-21, LA is 18-16, and Minnesota is 19-22. The closest team to dominance is Chicago, at 19-14. Tom Caron writes this about the rest of the season:

Adding to the importance of this run is what lies ahead. That noise you hear is the approaching rapids, the white water the Sox must navigate beginning Aug. 14.

That's when they open a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers, the best team (record-wise) in baseball. After that they face the Yankees, Angels, Mariners, A's, Blue Jays, and White Sox.

Those seven teams have a combined record of 420-326, a .563 winning percentage. Six of the seven teams are within 3.5 games of a playoff spot. The seventh, Toronto, has won seven of 11 games against Boston this season.

We've been talking about this stretch -- 22 games in 21 days beginning with a Fenway Park doubleheader against the Yankees -- for months. We've still got two weeks before it starts, making this prelude vital to Boston's postseason hopes.

Arroyo's Value is Declining

One of the very first articles I ever wrote on was about the Arroyo/Pena trade and how everyone should calm down; that Arroyo was overrated and Pena was a steal. Check it out here from 3/28/06. Then, when Arroyo was pitching well and cracking homers left and right, I wrote this on 4/12/06:
"No, the Sox are not bringing back Bronson Arroyo to be their DH. Did you see the picture of him during spring training wearing shorts and a t-shirt? My two year-old son nearly outweighs this guy. His home runs are flukes. Don't get caught up in the hype. And yes, he's pitching well, but he always does to start the season. His ERA in 2005 (in the more powerful AL), at the end of April was just 3.69. In fact, after his May 25th start, it was 3.19. It went way downhill from there, as I detailed in (my 3/28 article linked above). In 2004, his ERA as of May 15th was 3.53. Maybe he'll come through better in 2006. I've been wrong before (like when I picked the Sox to win it all every spring training from 1987-2003)."

My point is that I have been one of the few level-headed Sox fans who liked the trade and felt that Arroyo would come back to earth, even in the weaker NL. Well here's to being right. Arroyo in July: 0-3, 5.45 ERA. He's now tried 8 times unsuccessfully for his 10th win. His first start in August wasn't any better, going 6 innings and giving up 4 in a 10-4 loss.

How about Wily Mo? Before Wednesday's game (in which he homered) he was sporting a .328 average and a .919 OPS. Not too shabby. He's now playing every day since Nixon's on the DL. I do have to stand by my point that he's better suited for center in Fenway. His zone rating in right (.828) is even worse than Trot's (.853), which is atrocious. I wonder if he can catch?

By the way, gives this pronunciation of his name:
"Willie Moe, PAIN-ya." I love it! What's he gonna do? PAIN-ya!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ortiz/Bird Comparison

Not much time today, but I wanted to make sure everyone saw Bill Simmons' comparison of Big Papi and Larry Legend. Fantastic read and you find yourself reminiscing and nodding your head many times. And some great Ortiz stats near the end, some of which I hadn't seen yet.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More Ortiz from Buster Olney

Olney says:
David Ortiz
is unbelievable, and Dan Shaughnessy is not alone in being amazed. If Michael Jordan got the ball with five seconds remaining, you knew he was going to make the game-winning shot, and that's the way you feel with Ortiz right now when the game's on the line. But there's a slight difference -- the greatest basketball players make shots more than 50 percent of the time, but the greatest baseball players hit homers only 10 to 12 percent of the time. It's not supposed to look that easy. And yet Ortiz comes through again and again and again. Amazing. He's the Most Valuable Player in the American League right now, and over his last 161 games, he's got 60 homers and 166 RBI.

Papi for President

I usually like to put the Elias Sports Bureau notes on my regular website, but today's just couldn't wait for the weekend. After last night's showing Elias had several notes that had to be shared today:

• David Ortiz hit a walkoff home run -- the eighth of his career and his third in 51 days -- to give the Red Sox a 9-8 win over the Indians. Over the last 10 seasons, the only other players to hit three walkoff homers in that short a span of time were Barry Bonds (over 29 days in 2003) and Rafael Palmeiro (51 days in 1998).

• Ortiz has hit 21 home runs in 138 at-bats in Late-Inning Pressure Situations since Aug. 1, 2004. Over that two-year period, no other player has hit more than 13 homers in LIPS. Ryan Howard ranks second with 13; Andruw Jones , Albert Pujols, and Aramis Ramirez share third place with 12.

• Ortiz drove in four runs Monday, raising his total for the season to 105 RBI. That's not only the most in the majors, it's the highest total in Red Sox history through the end of July. The previous record was 104, set by Ted Williams and Vern Stephens in 1949.

I think his run at the MVP is even more difficult this year, but he's certainly helping himself out. This year he has to compete with Giambi, Thome, etc, but his late inning heroics are setting him apart. In fact, I went to sleep last night during the 8th inning with the Sox down 8-6. When I woke up this morning, I ran to the computer to see if he had won it with a 3-run shot. This is what we've come to expect.

If you look at that stat that he's hit 21 HR in 138 LIPS and project it out over a 600 at-bat season, he would hit 91 home runs. Need I say anymore about his clutch hitting?

Was Clemens Close to Coming to Boston?

I found this article to be interesting this morning, suggesting that Roger Clemens was close to joining the Red Sox at the trading deadline, but Drayton McClane didn't want to give up on his team yet. I'd also be interested to know who the Sox were willing to give up for him.