Thursday, November 29, 2007

Consider Me Sold... For Now

After posting my anti-Santana diatribe just hours ago, consider me sold now after reading this. That's not much to give up for one of the best pitchers in baseball.

I obviously like Jed Lowrie, but he's never even appeared in a major league game, as far as I can remember. Plus, the Red Sox infield is set for at least the next three years; he's expendable. Justin Masterson is great, but not MLB ready.

Go for it! You have my blessing.

Santana? No, Thank You

Rumors are flying that the Sox are "actively/aggressively pursuing Johan Santana."

I, for one, am not interested.

I mentioned it once before in this space that I don't think Santana is worth the cost, and that was before the cost went up to its now-astronomical price. You're talking two members of your projected starting rotation (Buchholz, Lester), one of your center fielders (probably Ellsbury, who is also your projected leadoff guy and early-odds frontrunner for 2008 Rookie of the Year), and another top prospect. Then you have to negotiate a huge contract with Santana.

Now, before I rail against this deal, I want to say that I find the comparisons to Barry Zito to be absolutely ridiculous. Barry Zito is the Soft Cell of Major League Baseball: a one-hit wonder. After his Cy Young season (when he stole it from a more-deserving Pedro Martinez), his performance declined precipitously.

I wrote about it here several times, begging the Sox not to sign him. Zito got stupid money from the stupid Giants. Anyone signing Santana to that amount or even a little more wouldn't be stupid, per se, but if they also gave up 3 or 4 top prospects, then they'd be stupid.

But even with Santana being the best free agent, why not stick with the young, inexpensive talent you've groomed? Why would you give up so much for one guy? Especially a guy who has thrown as many innings as Santana has over the past five seasons. I don't understand this concept.

This team won the World Series in 2007 without Buchholz and mostly without Lester and Ellsbury. They have the chance to win even more games in 2007 with their current roster. I say go out and trade Coco for relief help and plug some of the smaller holes, like backup catcher, and leave the team as is.

I know that sounds complacent, but it's not like 2004, when the team was getting older; this team is getting younger and better. By trading away the future, you're only getting older again. And before you know it, you're the 2005 Red Sox again.

And no one wants that.

EDIT: May I also add that I don't believe the Sox are serious contenders for Johan. I think they want the Yankees to believe they are, so they release little tidbits to get the writers up in a tizzy. It's smart business for them to increase the price for the Yankees.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That Guy Whose Contract is Outrageous

Posts have dried up a little here as I prepare to move into my new house. I've also been working on a fiction novel for a couple of weeks. But I have not neglected all the baseball news.

I almost enjoy the Hot Stove League more than the actual baseball season. If there was a fantasy Hot Stove season (cha-ching - money making idea!), I'd be all over it.


I look at these guys like Torii Hunter and Gary Matthews, Jr (both of whom have signed with the same team, incidentally) and I wonder why they'd want to be That Guy Whose Contract is Outrageous and universally hated because of it.

Sure, they're financially stable for the rest of their lives, but at what cost? Would you rather be Mike Lowell-stable, where you're making more money than you could imagine plus you're happy every year and contending for a title with people you like and respect? Or would you rather be Johnny Damon and get an extra $5-10 million - money for which you have no purpose - and be miserable because you've left behind your teammates and friends for an environment in which you don't belong? I mean, Johnny's clearly not happy, right?

I'd take the Mike Lowell deal. Or the Curt Schilling deal. Who wants to be Barry Zito? Or Darren Dreifort? Or - God forbid - Mike Hampton? Not I. Those guys will be punch lines for years, as well as marquee players in the Worst Contracts of All-Time articles and books.

I just wonder why a guy like Torii Hunter - who seems like a great guy, by all accounts - would want to do that to himself when he could be making really unbelievable money that wouldn't have blown anyone away. Say, 4 years and $60 million.

Maybe it's just my personality; I prefer staying out of the limelight for any reason other than my talent, knowledge, work ethic, and morals.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Signings

Teams must be flush with cash. They have to be. There's no other explanation for this. Or this.

And, since it's Thanksgiving, you can't get any sane analytical viewpoints about these signings anywhere. That's what I'm here for. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe these signings were announced today because these teams didn't want to be eaten alive by the local and national media. Ahhh, who am I kidding - the White Sox have dealt with having a moron, racist*, homophobic manager for several years - they don't care.

Onto the deals: Toriiiiiiiiii Hunter gets 5 years, $9 million from the Angels. Wait, sorry - that's what he's worth. He actually got $90 million. Ninety million.

This is a 32-year old guy whose OBP has hovered around .330 the last four seasons and actually sits at .324 for his entire career. Much like Gary Matthews Jr, who signed with the Angels last winter, Hunter peaked during a contract year right before he hits the downside of his career projections. Good work, Angels.

"They play the game the right way," Hunter said. "They play hard-nosed baseball." And they pay assloads more than anyone else.

Said Reagins (the Angels' rookie GM): "In the past, we said we're going to pursue every opportunity to make our club better. This was an opportunity. I had the support of some people around me, then I got aggressive." He had the support of the janitors. The execs are furious.

And then we move onto the White Sox, who just traded a decent pitcher for an aging, mediocre shortstop. Now they've signed a 31-year old middle reliever to a 4-year, $19 million contract. Read that again, kids.

Linebrink is coming off his worst season, which followed his previous worst season. In case you don't know trends, that's a bad one. He's averaged 79 innings per season over the past 5 seasons, which means he has basically pitched an inning in every other game. Not many can sustain that, and Linebrink is definitely showing signs that he is not one of those who can.

His ERA progression during those 5 seasons: 3.31, 2.14, 1.83, 3.57, 3.71.
And his WHIP: 1.40, 1.04, 1.06, 1.22, 1.32.
How about K/9: 6.63, 8.89, 8.55, 8.09, 6.40

I could go on an on. Every meaningful statistic follows this trend.

After (the Orlando Cabrera) trade Chicago general manager Ken Williams said, "We're not done yet. We're still out there trying to land some big fish.'' And by "big fish" he meant a 6'2", 200 pound aging middle reliever.

Next thing we know, David Eckstein will be signed to a 4-year, $36 million deal. Nah, no one's that stupid, are they?

*I may have made that part up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mike Lowell... I Don't Know What to Say

Just go read this article. There are too many quotes to post in here.

Mike Lowell impresses me more and more. It's not often that you a) see a guy turn down an extra $12.5 million, and b) say he never really considered it because he doesn't need the money. Lowell turned down the extra money and year of baseball to stay in a city that he and his family love and for the better chance of winning more World Series.

How can you not cheer for a guy like that? He's a rare player in these days.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Lowell Resigning Saga Might Be Over

It looks like the Red Sox didn't flinch and it's going to pay off.

After all the reports of 4-year offers from other clubs, including the Yankees, Mike Lowell has reportedly agreed on a 3-year deal to return to the champs for under $13 million per season. This is a very smart and savvy play by the Sox, who could have easily caved to the pressure put on by Lowell and the Yanks. Four years would have been too much, but I thought they would have gone to 3 and $45 million. I'm impressed and happy.

Boston is Filled With Homers, Part II

The Boston Globe actually makes a good case for David Ortiz as MVP, actually, but I'm not sure I agree. I'd put him second behind ARod. The Yankees had no pitching and ARod was by far the best hitter, especially when the rest of the team was struggling out of the gate.

I hate him, but he's the AL MVP, like it or not.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More Cy Young Stuff

Boy, for a guy who's sick of all the Cy Young talk, I sure am posting about it a lot. You might recall a post 5 weeks ago where I changed my mind on Beckett for Cy Young, citing a Joe Posnanski blog post where he made a compelling case for Mr. Beckett. Now Posnanski has made another argument for adding the playoff totals to the regular season totals to factor into the Cy Young voting:
So let me clarify: I’m not saying or suggesting that three postseason starts are MORE important than the 34 in the regular season. I’m saying that I do not understand why we don’t count them at all. I’m saying it was a virtual toss-up between Sabathia and Beckett going into the postseason — it’s not like Beckett stunk during the season — but after the postseason there was absolutely no doubt which of them was better.

Sabathia in 2007 (total): 20-9, 3.44 ERA, 256.3 innings, 255 hits, 218 K, 44 walks.
Beckett in 2007 (total): 24-7, 3.00 ERA, 230.67 innings, 208 hits, 221 K, 42 walks.

That makes it a pretty clear-cut choice, doesn't it? The whole post, as always, is fascinating.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Phil Rogers Should Be Punched

I received an e-mail today from my friend Matt with the subject line "I wish I could punch this guy." After reading the article to which he linked, I couldn't agree more. In fact, I'd hold him down as Matt kicked him, then I'd call others over, have them read the article, and hold him down while they kicked him, too.

To sum it up, Phil Rogers attempts to make a case for John Lackey to be in the top 3 in the Cy Young voting. The merits of being top 3 and not the Cy Young aside, I can't really argue with Lackey being #3. But Rogers attempts to knock Beckett out of the top 3, and his reasoning is about as flimsy as they come (italics mine for emphasis):

For the sake of argument, I put together a simple formula to compare the top four Cy Young vote-getters. It ranks them among each other in victories, losses, ERA, innings and strikeouts. Because I think ERA is the most important, I've given it twice the weight. That formula gives Sabathia a slight edge over Lackey and a significant edge over Beckett and Carmona, who would be tied for third.

Rogers then goes on to suggest that he could make a case for weighing ERA three times as much as everything else, which would knock Beckett to fourth in the rankings. As Matt said in his e-mail to me, "Evidently K/9 or WHIP don't matter. I laughed when he suggested weighing ERA three times as much as the other stats. Why don't we weigh starts at Jacobs Field or players over 300 pounds?"

Kids, if you're just learning the game of baseball, you need to know that victories and losses are the most overrated statistics for pitchers. ERA is also overrated, to a point. K/9 is the one statistic that is attributable almost solely to the pitcher, so it seems to be the most obviously important statistic that Rogers forgets, setting aside all the sabrmetric stats that I won't even get into, like WARP3, VORP, etc.

Like a lot of writers, Phil Rogers - who writes for the Chicago Tribune, by the way - is probably jealous of all the success our teams have had and he feels the need to attack our successful players. I'd never read a Phil Rogers article before because, as I recall, he tends to write about obscure minor leaguers who never pan out, and that bores me.

And speaking of stupid baseball fans and writers, I found some David Eckstein gems today and e-mailed them to FJM because they hate Eckstein much more than I do and are much funnier than I. Naturally, they jumped right on the opportunity and spewed their typical bile-filled hatred at Buster Olney, who is actually one of my favorite baseball writers, and ESPN.com readers.

Boston is Filled With Homers

Looking around the Internet at Red Sox blogs and articles, you'd think Josh Beckett had just turned in a 1999 Pedro Martinez-type season and then was robbed of the Cy Young by Victor (please call me Carlos) Zambrano. You can see examples of Homerism here and here, where Red Sox Monster compares the snub with Coco's for Gold Glove. You get the same thing on WEEI and WJAB.

Have people forgotten that WE WON THE WORLD SERIES? And Beckett was ALCS MVP, while Sabathia was atrocious. Beckett was very gracious when he finished in second, saying "the right guy won it." He knows it's not about regular season awards; it's about winning the World Series. Sabathia would gladly trade.

I don't understand the negativity right now. Who cares if Beckett didn't win the Cy? Stop bitching and enjoy all the success New England is having right now.

For the record, I flip-flopped on my Cy opinion. I originally said Beckett wasn't Cy, then said he was. Sue me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

David Ortiz Runs Like the Wind

Joe Posnanski always has some interesting nuggets in his blog, but today's blew me away when discussing the baserunners who lead MLB in bases taken (italics mine):
Bases taken (bases advanced on passed balls, wild pitches, balk, sac fly, defensive indifference steal).
DeJesus: 29.
Teahen: 22
– Well, here’s one advantage for DeJesus — he was helped by the fact that he was on base probably 30 more times than Teahen. Still, DeJesus was opportunistic — he ranked fourth in bases taken behind some pretty good runners: Grady Sizemore, Jose Reyes and Ichiro Suzuki. Fifth on the list, oddly, was David Ortiz. I should do a whole post on that. Teahen’s bases taken, by the way, are way above average too.
Wow. What do you say to that?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sox Pictures You Don't See Everyday

These just showed up in my e-mail and I felt compelled to share them here. If these have been publicized elsewhere, please let me know and I'll link it. They're dated back in July, so it's very possible. I apologize if I'm not giving credit where it's due. I thought these were pretty cool. Check out the cushy plane!

UPDATE: As Dan from Red Sox Monster points out, these photos appeared on Barstool Sports back around the All-Star break. I found the original post, but they only had 2 of the photos there. Anyone know where the others are from?




Fascinating ARod Breakdown

I just got done reading this article about giving ARod a massive contract and I'm floored. It's a great read and the comparisons to other players - particularly David Ortiz - are fascinating. I mean, you know Ortiz has been more clutch than ARod, but putting the numbers next to each other make it staggering.

I've spent a lot of the past 10 days wondering what I'd do if the Sox signed ARod and I just don't know. Do you stop being a fan after a lifetime of watching every game possible? After 2 years of blogging regularly about the team? After dozens of games sitting in the bleachers? After not missing a postseason game for 15 years and staying up incredibly late for most of them, even when you had to be up at 6am? After teaching your 3-year old son to say "Go Red Sox" and "Yankees suck!"?

I can't do that. But I don't know how I'll feel about the team. It will be extremely disappointing and it won't feel like the Red Sox that I love. I had similar feelings about Roger Clemens resigning with the team, except that would have only been for part of one season. ARod is a similar mercenary, but he wants a 10 year deal and will most certainly get 8 at a minimum.

Honestly, it makes me sick to think of the 2008 defending World Series champions bringing ARod on board. They don't need him and he will ruin their image.

How would Sox fans change their behavior towards him? What's our natural instinct now when we see him? We boo him. He doesn't something, whether good or bad, and we boo him. In his first game as a Red Sox, if he commits an error, we'd probably boo. Would we do that with any other new player? No.

I still think the only team stupid enough to sign him to a major contract is the Giants. See: Barry Zito.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fenway Ticket Prices Have Increased Slightly

Via Deadspin.com, ticket prices for upper box seats in 1984 were $7.50. In case you hadn't heard, they're slightly higher than that now.

I seem to recall - and don't quote me on this - paying $14 per ticket for the right field boxes back in 1998-2000, when I went to 2 games each summer. Those now go for $45. I sat in the loge boxes for $20-something and those now go for $85 each. Yowsa.

Add in $30 for parking and another $45 in concessions (a conservative $15 each), you're talking about $210 for 3 bleacher seats. Plus souvenirs.

I say good for the Red Sox. Supply and demand, baby! Charge what you can get.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Are You Sick of Reading About Mike Lowell Yet?

Another Pro-Mike Lowell/Anti-ARod site has come your way in the form of LowellYesARodNo.com. It is the best source of everything Mike Lowell right now.

You know how I feel about Lowell and ARod and who I think should replace Lowell if he decides to sign elsewhere. LowellYesARodNo.com links you to other bloggers who have written about the issue as well as "real" columnists.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

If Mike Lowell Signs Elsewhere...

I am well aware of how stupid it is to not want the best player in the world on my team, but that's the case. I hate Alex Rodriguez so much that I would not enjoy Sox games like I do now. That's just the way it is. I'm not going to change my position any time soon.

And you know how much I want Mike Lowell to be resigned. But what if he's not resigned? Who's going to man the hot corner in Boston? Someone's got to.

How about Jed Lowrie? Aside from his last name beginning with the same three letters as Lowell's, he's a very good minor leaguer in the Red Sox organization. From what I can find, Lowrie has never played third base but everything I've read says he's a solid to very good defender with very good arm strength.

How about his offense? In 93 AA games in Portland he hit .297/.410/.501 - the ideal Red Sox combination of power and get-on-base-ability. In 40 AAA games he hit .300/.356/.506, dropping only in OBP, but not significantly. For his entire minor league career he has walked almost as many times as he has struck out.

If the Sox fail to resign Lowell and can't get a suitable replacement on the free agent market, Jed Lowrie would be my choice for 2008 and beyond.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Since I Loathe ARod....

Tyler Kepner has written what I'm sure is a fantastic article. Unfortunately, being an ARod hater, I couldn't get past the second paragraph:
Since Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS — the night Boston began its epic comeback from three games down against the Yankees — (Alex) Rodriguez has come to the plate with 38 runners on base, over the span of 59 at-bats. He left every single one on base, going 0-for-27, right through the Yanks’ Division Series loss to Cleveland this month.
Wow. That's alarming. And quite fun to read.

Another Reason to Love Varitek

We took our son trick-or-treating the other night and had a great time, but it was nothing like the treat these kids got.

Of course, I'd imagine that if these kids are living in Varitek's neighborhood, they must be pretty well-off anyway. But even rich little kids are excited to see Jason Varitek, I'm sure.

Stand-up guy, that Jason Varitek.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Schilling's Postseason Alone Worthy of Hall of Fame?

Yesterday on WEEI Rob Bradford said that SI.com's Jon Heyman, who has a Hall of Fame vote, said that Curt Schilling's career postseason record of 11-2 by itself gets Schilling into the Hall of Fame.

Bradford understood Heyman to mean that Schilling's regular season record doesn't matter; he's a HOFer no matter what. Schilling could be 112-144 and be a HOFer because he's been dominant in the postseason. This is ridiculous.

Andy Pettitte is not a HOFer, but has a 14-9 career postseason record. Does that put him in the Hall? I don't think so.

I am not saying Schilling isn't a HOFer; I think he's got one foot in the door. One more 15 win season and he's in. But to say that someone's postseason record puts them in is stupid. Bernie Williams would be in the HOF if that were the case.