Monday, April 30, 2007

Okajima is "the real deal," says Olney

In today’s Buster Olney chat on ESPN.com, this question and answer came through:

Brendan (Boston): Buster, do you think Hideki Okajima's success is just hitters seeing him so few times, or is he the real thing?
Buster Olney: Brendan: He's the real deal, with that disappearing splitter/changeup/diveball, or whatever the heck he throws. We ought to start calling that pitch the Gyroball, considering how good it looks. My colleague Peter Gammons says that in the bullpen early in the season, Okajima was throwing, tinkering a little -- and John Farrell, the pitching coach -- saw him throw something he hadn't seen before. Okajima said it was his changeup. "Keep throwing that," Farrell apparently told him, and it has incredible downward movement... So far, his emergence may be the biggest development in the AL East this year.

 

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Manny Reaches the Mendoza Line

After Manny's 2-4 performance, he's finally over .200. Everyone's worried about Manny. Is he over the hill? Has he stopped caring? What's wrong? Is he hiding an injury?

Don't be stupid, people. This is Manny Ramirez, one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time. He's not even 35 yet. He has a lot of good baseball left in him. I got to wondering if Manny has ever had another month like this April. Here are his worst months of the last 5 years, other than April 2007 (min 60 at-bats):
May 2005: .234 BA, .725 OPS
May 2003: .265/.825
...

Okay, so that little experiment didn't go as well as I thought it would. Manny hasn't struggled this badly in any given month in the past 5 seasons. He was batting just .205 last April through the 15th, until he turned it on and raised his average to .276 before the month closed. It's clear he struggles at the beginning of the season. It's easy to raise your batting average at the beginning of the season. I'm not worried about Manny. You shouldn't be, either.

Okajima is Man-Crush Material

I received the following e-mail from a male friend a minute ago: "Still developing the man-crush on Oki." I have to say that I can't blame him.

On the season, Hideki Okajima has thrown 12.2 innings and struck out 17 batters. That's a remarkable 75 inning/106 K pace for the season. Most Yankee relievers are on pace for 100+ innings and 1 torn rotator cuff.

Looking deeper at Oki's stats show how dominant he's been: a 0.63 WHIP, .116 BAA, 0.71 ERA and a stunning 17:3 K:B ratio. He also doesn't discriminate - righties and lefties are equally inept against him. Righties sport a .358 OPS and lefties a .393. Solid. He's only throwing 14.7 pitches per inning. 11 straight appearances without a run allowed since Opening Day, when he allowed his only run of the year.

I hope we're talking about Oki at the All-Star break like we were about Papelbon last year. This bullpen has the potential to be one of the greatest of all-time.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tim McCarver Makes My Ears Bleed

Yes, I rail on Tim "A Walk is as Good as a Home Run" McCarver and Joe "That Was a Changeup" Morgan a lot here. Deal with it. Today's game was no exception.

I can't go over everything that annoyed me, but one thing stands out. During the 9th inning Mariano Rivera is pitching to Jason Varitek and McCarver saying something like, "Rivera's success has always been measured by how many bats he breaks." Funny, I always thought Rivera's success was measured by ERA, WHIP, and saves. Dumbass. The best part was on the next pitch when Varitek breaks his bat.... on a single. Joe Buck yells, "A broken bat!" and you know he's thinking the same thing as all the viewers.

Kei Igawa is Napoleon Dynamite


Watching the game tonight, I was alarmed at how much Kei Igawa looked like Napoleon Dynamite. After scouring Google Images for pictures, I couldn't really find any that made him look like him, but you get the idea. All I could think every time they showed Igawa was, "Damn, is that guy ugly."

Yankees Better Than Nats, Royals

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the only teams worse than the Yankees (8-13) right now are the Nationals (8-15) and the Royals (7-16).

Lugo Living Up To Expectations

Here's where I toot my own horn. I said it back in February and Lugo is proving me right. Thus far he's been a very solid leadoff guy. He's walking more than he strikes out (13:11), his OBP is right on pace with where Johnny Damon's was with the Sox (.362), and he's even stealing a ton of bases, 2nd only to 57 year old Kenny Lofton while not being caught. You have to feel good about him getting on base 5 out of 6 times in Yankee Stadium and scoring 3 runs.

His groundball to flyball ratio is 2.41:1, which is great for a guy with his speed. He should get a lot of infield singles. He also sees almost 4 pitches per plate appearance.

I actually fell asleep fully clothed watching last night's game. It was a busy week and I missed the offensive explosion against Rivera late in the game. I did enjoy seeing Matsuzaka pick himself off the Mat and get through 6 innings after The Mess That Was The 4th Inning. I was worried when I saw JC Romero warming up in the 4th, but he wasn't needed, thankfully.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More Crap From Joe Morgan

I really loathe Joe Morgan. Most people do. This is why blogs like Awful Announcing are so popular. People are so passionate about their color guys. Anyway, they just interviewed Joe Torre and asked him why he pulled Chase Wright. He responded that Wright had just given up 4 consecutive homers and that's tough for any pitcher. They cut back to the game and Morgan observes (paraphrased), "See, that's why Joe Torre is such a good manager. That point he made about 4 home runs being tough for a pitcher."

Wow. Bleeping genius, that Joe Torre.

I could go on and on with these Joe Morgan observations, but I'm tired. He wears me out.

New drinking game: every time Joe Morgan or Jonny Miller says "Gyroball."

Joke from my friend: Chase Wright, Jaret Wright... so they have 2 Wrights and a Wang?

Har har..

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Great Blowhards Blog Alike?

I blogged it here and Schilling blogged it here.

Me: Cora's inside out hit was awfully reminiscent of Luis Gonzalez's World Series winner against Mo in game 7 of 2001.

Curt: For the second night in a row Alex gets a huge hit in a huge spot. That hit was a carbon copy of Gonzo’s floater in the 9th inning of game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

Scary.

Promising Trends

Jason Varitek’s OPS over his last 5 games and 18 at-bats is .760.

Coco Crisp’s OPS over his last 5 games and 19 at-bats is .807.

Mike Lowell’s OPS over his last 5 games and 20 at-bats is .931.

Of course, on the reverse side you have a group of guys not hitting at all. But I think these are the three guys most Sox fans worried the most about.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Thoughts on Big Sox Comeback

Love Okajima's necklace. I need me one of them.

Cora's inside out hit was awfully reminiscent of Luis Gonzalez's World Series winner against Mo in game 7 of 2001. Another great memory.

Rivera looked like he was going to cry immediately after that.

Coco!

Giambi is a sweaty pig.

ARod had his chance to be clutch against the Sox and he blew it.

Kevin Thompson? Who?

I'm going out to buy my Okajima bobblehead now.

Hazel Mae is hot.

Fun Things About Tonight's Game

All day I dreaded watching the Sox/Yanks game on ESPN tonight and Sunday with Tim McCarver in between. A McCarver sandwich with Joe Morgan bread. Ugh. Pass the Pepto Bismol. So I was pleasantly surprised to come home and turn to ESPN and find some racing crap. I quickly flipped to NESN to find the sweet sounds of Jerry and Don.

I will never get sick of seeing Mariano Rivera laughing at the standing ovation he received at the beginning of 2005. Great stuff.

Look, ARod is on fire. 2 home runs tonight, giving him 12 in 15 or 16 games. Sick. But from my seat it looked like Crisp should have caught that. Maybe we'll get lucky and it turns out he hurt his back falling into the bullpen. Pass the Pepto again.

Hazel Mae is hot. Enough said.

ARod is Clutch(?)

I’ve never seen a run like this in 20 years of closely following baseball. ARod is on an absolutely unbelievable tear. I’ve seen guys hit a lot of home runs in bunches, but he’s hitting game-winning home runs in bunches. I thought about linking to all the times I’ve criticized him for being “unclutch,” but it would have taken far too long. I’ve long been staunchly anti-ARod, but no one can deny how well he’s performed so far. In April. Damn, I couldn’t keep the snide comments out. He’s Mr. April. Let’s wait to crown him Mr. Studly until he’s done it in a pennant race. Some of you might say all season is the pennant race in the AL East, and I agree. I’m talking about August and September, though, and ultimately October.

Great article by Gerry Callahan today about ARod coming to play for the Sox next year.

The Calm Before The Storm

I’m posting this entry now because I want to highlight how good the Sox pitching has been before they face the Yankees.

They’re first in the AL and second in MLB with a 2.60 ERA. This is Johan Santana-good, all season long. It will be difficult to maintain this all year, obviously, but it shows how dominant they’ve been. They’re tied for first in MLB with 10 quality starts and have the best quality start percentage, at 71.4. They lead the AL and are second in MLB with a .203 BAA.

Their starters are tied for the most wins in the AL, with 8. Their starters are second in the AL with a 2.44 ERA. Sox starters lead the AL in strikeouts, with 75, in fewer games than all the other teams (14 instead of 15 or 16). Sox starters lead the majors in OPSA, at .592 and are second in WHIP, at 1.08. They lead the majors in K/9, at 7.82, and the AL in K/BB at 2.88..

The Yankee bullpen actually leads the league in BAA, at .147. The Sox bullpen is second in the AL at .186. But Boston is dead last in bullpen innings pitched, with 35.2. The Yankees, however, lead all AL teams in bullpen innings, with 60.1, and are just 2.1 innings behind MLB leaders Washington. Boston also ranks first in AL bullpen ERA, at 2.52, and are just one of 4 MLB teams without a loss and one of 4 teams without a blown save. The Yankees and Boston rank 1 and 2 in the AL in OPSA by bullpen. Their bullpen WHIP is the best in the AL, at 1.01.

Some amazing stats and fun to look at, but they’re not likely to sustain these levels all year. However, they can continue to dominate the league with their pitching staff as currently constituted. I think they will.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Deadspin Post About The Pizza Incident

Check out this Deadspin post about yesterday’s pizza incident. It also links a Boston Herald story with interviews with the offending parties. Great stuff. I love the fact that one of the guys got a standing ovation at a bar after the game.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Funniest Play in Red Sox History

The wife had knee surgery this morning so I got to stay home and watch the Sox game. The funniest play ever just happened. I'll give you the play-by-play.

Someone hits a pop fly down the third base line. Garrett Anderson runs over and camps under it, but someone reaches up and knocks it away. 2 guys in the front row get their beers spilled all over them by Anderson. Meanwhile, a man 3 seats away from these guys inexplicably throws a gigantic piece of pizza and hits one of the beer-soaked guys on the shoulder. It was a bang-bang play: beer, then pizza. And he didn't even get the ball. Poor bastard.

NESN kept replaying it in slow motion and Remy and Orsillo were laughing hysterically, making it even funnier. And I've got to say, that piece of pizza was HUGE! And he hadn't even taken a bite out of it! Knowing Fenway prices, that must have cost about $179. What a waste.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Red Sox Best in League at Counting Beanes

ESPN.com's Rob Neyer came up with a nifty he calls the Beane Count. The Beane Count is derived by summing a team's ranks in home runs hit, walks drawn, home runs allowed, and walks allowed. The Sox currently rank first in MLB in the Beane Count. They're first in the AL in walks on offense and 2nd in walks allowed. They're also first in home runs allowed.

Fox Baseball Still Painful to Watch

I received some good feedback over the weekend about my "negative attitude" towards the Red Sox. I'm not negative; I'm just a realist and I use statistics to make my point. I am not going to regurgitate the basic stats that you hear everywhere. I basically listen to sports talk radio and read articles and get pissed about misconceptions and work to prove them wrong. Whether that paints the Sox team or players in a good or bad light doesn't matter.

Watched the Sox on Fox yesterday. Tim McCarver gets worse and worse, doesn't he? It actually makes the game painful to watch. Some people would say it's like nails on a chalkboard, but the worst sound to me is someone clipping their nails. Listening to Tim McCarver is like sitting next to someone who is clipping their nails for 3 hours straight. This isn't the last you'll hear about this.

Schilling looks great again (look at me being positive!). Since his poor first outing, he's 2-0 with a 0.67 WHIP, .154 BAA and 0.60 ERA. His K/9 and K/BB keep slipping, but his BAA is the lowest it's been since 1995 and OPSA is lowest since 1992. It's early so we can't say this is a trend yet, but it's still nice to see. I wouldn't be surprised if the Sox extended his contract if he continued to pitch well after 10 starts. The only other top free agent after this season was Carlos Zambrano and he appears to be resigning with the Cubs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Beckett Still Overusing His Fastball

I’ve heard several times this morning that Beckett is relying less on his fastball this year. I’m here to provide statistical proof that they’re wrong. I can’t find final 2006 stats for Beckett’s pitch selection, but I posted about it on August 10th, showing he was throwing the fastball 71% of the time and batters were hitting .264 off it. In 2007, Beckett is actually throwing the fastball more, at 72% of the time. Batters are hitting .259 off it. In fact, the fastball and curve make up 91% of his repertoire this season, compared to just 88% in 2006.

Look, I’m just as excited as the next guy about Beckett’s first 2 starts. But we need to be realize how early the season is. Here’s a sobering fact: Beckett was 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA after his first 3 starts in 2006. He went 7 innings in each start, giving up just 1 earned run in each. He imploded in his next 4 starts.

I hate to rain on everyone’s parade and I hope Beckett continues this hot streak, but look at the facts. Don’t be clouded by 2 good starts. He’s done it before. Wait until he’s done it for an entire month. His best ERA for a month in 2006 was 4.42.

 

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jeter's Defense Sucks

There’s been much ado about Jeter’s defense lately and I figured I’d jump in with some stats. You know how much I love to pile it on the Yankees. I will start by telling you that no defensive metric is perfect. There’s no OPS on the defensive side of things. I disregard range factor altogether. It’s too early to look at fielding percentage because 3 early errors can really skew things. Do you really think Mike Lowell (or Jeter, for that matter) is really going to commit 60 errors? No. That being said….

It’s very early, but the stats are alarming. Over 51 innings at SS, Jeter’s zone rating is an abysmal .700, 2nd to last among players with 40+ innings played at SS. Lugo’s, over 51 innings, is .846, 4th in the AL. Jeter was third worst in 2006, so this is nothing new, but he seems to have regressed even further this year and he’s getting a lot more noticed since he won another(!) Gold Glove.

 

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's Too Early to Panic

I’m so sick of hearing Sox fans panicking about the season already. It’s one game! Radio “personalities” are saying Schilling’s done and Lugo should be dropped to the bottom of the lineup. This is ridiculous. Typically I would say they’re just trying to fuel a firestorm of callers, but this is Portland, ME radio station The Big Jab with Shoe and Joe, and they’re not smart enough to think of that. I think they truly believe what they’re saying. And they had another moron come on and co-host this morning, Chris Sadaka(?), who said it’s looking like Lugo could strike out 8 times in this series. Shoe replies, “Are you serious?” Where does this number come from? How do these guys have jobs in sports talk radio? Why doesn’t WEEI come in sometimes? These are the things that frustrate me on my morning commute.

No stats this morning, just rants. I’m not worried about the Sox, just like I’m not worried about my fantasy baseball team(s).

Another rant: why the hell is there a day off the day after Opening Day? They get us excited about baseball only to take it away from us. What a letdown.