Sunday, January 14, 2007

Progress

How's the top 100 Red Sox list coming along? Pretty good so far. We have the top 18 ranked and there are plenty of people involved in the project. It's going to be a few weeks before we're ready to start posting things, however. There's bound to be plenty of "There's no way Joe Wood should be that low!" or "How did Ellis Burks get snubbed?!". I don't want to give too much away here.....but I'll give you a little teaser. Ted Williams is ranked pretty high.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Out of retirement

I'm a guy who can't sit still. I don't dwell on one project for long and I'm the type who often doesn't finish what he starts. So it was no surprise to me that this blog didn't even last a year. At work I've gone from 30 hours a week to 50 hours a week so my free time has dwindled down to nearly nothing. So a full blown comeback is very likely out of the question. But, for the moment, I'm coming out of retirement to work on a project.

THE 100 GREATEST RED SOX OF ALL TIME

That's right.

There are many ambitious bloggers out there who take a look at their favorite team and undertake the process of putting up their 100 greatest players of all time on their blog, but I'm aiming higher. I don't want the 100 greatest Red Sox on my blog. I want the same list of the 100 greatest Red Sox on every single Red Sox blog on the internet from one as small as this one to the biggest one out there. I've already contacted many of my fellow bloggers and there are several who are willing to contribute. Who's on board?

Over the Monster
The Phoenix
Sox Prospects
Sox1Fan
Starting Aces
Firebrand of the AL
Joy of Sox
Peter's Red Sox Forever
LJ's official Red Sox community

If anyone at all in the vast world of the internet also wants on board with this then drop me a line at 100greatestsox @ gmail.com. There will be more details in upcoming days.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The four stories of the off-season

The off-season is rarely a good time. I mean, unless Theo Epstein is having Thanksgiving dinner with Curt Schilling or Josh Beckett is searching the classifieds for a place to stay in Boston, there's not a whole lot to like about it. There's no baseball on TV, the weather outside sucks, and the littlest issue becomes a front page story. This October-March the headlines were littered with stories about Theo Epstein, Manny Ramirez, David Wells, and Johnny Damon. I avoided most of those stories because I, quite honestly, don't care. For the most part they were, and still are, non-issues. But they were a part of the offseason and I did say that I was going to give a little review of the offseason, so here we go. I'll give you four paragraphs about the offseason's four big stories.

Nobody actually thought that Theo Epstein was going to leave the team. We all figured that it was a sure thing that he'd be back. The deadline was approaching and the papers were reporting that a deal was close. So we were all pretty surprised when Theo said that he wouldn't be back. Why? We never did get any clear reasons. We all blamed Larry Luchino and the curly-haired boyfriend, but we were never given any actual reasons as to why Theo and the Sox parted ways. Theo Epstein was the only GM in the last 86 years to bring our team a World Series win so it was only natural that most Sox fans were getting a little nervous. Personally I saw no real reason to worry. Epstein has done a great job with the Sox, sure, but he's not the only guy in the front office. He has the final say, but he has surrounded himself by so many intelligent baseball people that his departure was not the end of the world. The only time I was even a little nervous about our situation was when the Jim Bowden rumors were floating around. When the Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington were promoted I was pretty happy. They were part of the team that advised Theo. They're both smart guys who know what they're doing. They know the system, they know the Red Sox philosophy, and they weren't about to turn the bus around and go in the opposite direction. They would've done just fine. Then Theo came back. Whatever. As far as I'm concerned, everything is back to normal and all the stories and all the whining done on WEEI was for nothing. The two GMs made several moves while Theo was away and they were all good ones. The question came up, "How would things have been if Theo had never left? Would he have made those moves?". The answer to those questions is easy and obvious. Things would've went the same as they did go. And Theo would've acted just as the dual headed GM monster did.

What about Manny? Personally I don't like the guy. The whole "Manny being Manny" thing makes me sick. His lack of hustle, constant mood changes, kid-like tantrums, and even his hair are a disgrace. He does have one saving grace, however. His swing. I'm glad he wasn't traded. I never actually thought that he was going to be traded. He only has a few more years left on his contract and the money he's still owed isn't a huge deal to the team like the Red Sox. But there are few teams out there who would be willing to take it on. Any deal that involved moving Manny would've left the Red Sox getting less than face value in return and I really don't think that the Sox were willing to do something like that. He's one of the game's best hitters and he can single handedly turn an average line up into a good one. When the line up is already good as the Red Sox line up is he makes it a great one. Boston took a few hits to their offense during the offseason, but they're still one of the top run scoring teams in the game and a large part of that is thanks to the return of Manny Ramirez. As for him not showing up to spring training with the rest of the team...well, you have to be a real jackass to actually care that he showed up on time, a few days after the rest of the team.

Johnny Damon sold out. Anyone surprised? I'm not. Have you ever read the guy's book? I do not recommend it. I received it as a birthday gift so I figured I might as well put it to use. I read it and I was amazed at how absolutely dumb this guy is. The team was going around saying "we're just a bunch of idiots" and in Johnny Damon's case it really was true. The guy is D-U-M, dumb. Not to mention he is so incredibly full of himself. If you asked him to list the top ten players in the major leagues he'd name himself ten times. He believes that he is one of the elite players in baseball and he believes that there is nothing he can't do. For a man with his lack of intelligence and belief that he's the greatest thing alive it wasn't much of a surprise when he just took the offer that gave him the most money. Sure he told us many times that he'd never play for the Yankees, but morals and decency don't mean much to a guy like him. Obviously baseball is a business. The players don't owe the team or the fans anything. And the Sox/Yankees rivalry means a lot more to the fans than it does to the players. But Damon really is a despicable human being. I can't wait to be there for a Sox/Yankees game. I will be one of 35,000 people to boo him until we are all blue in the face. And he will deserve every boo.

So, David Wells doesn't like Boston. He doesn't like all the attention he gets and he'd rather be on the west coast. So why, exactly, did he love playing for the Yankees so much? And why did he sign with the Red Son in the first place? He finally takes back his trade offer after realizing that no one will give Boston anything in return for a 300 pound 43 year old, and what does he do? He starts calling everyone from Terry Francona to Bud Selig idiots. He also has a big issue with starting the year on the DL, something he'll tell anyone within earshot. He's becoming a distraction and, despite a solid track record it's only a matter of time before his weight and age make him a liability on the field. The one bad thing about the Arroyo trade is the fact that David Wells wasn't dealt instead. With all that said, I don't mind Wells so much. He's actually a little entertaining. While Damon's stupidity and attitude was a bit annoying, Wells' stupidity and attitude is pretty amusing in a "Carl Everett doesn't believe in dinosaurs" kind of way.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Off-season overview

We all knew going into this winter that it was going to be a big one. There hasn't been a quiet off-season since Theo came into town and we were prepared for a lot of stuff to go down. Even being ready for it, there were a lot of moves that caught us off guard and there was even more turnover than we thought there was going to be. The team lost Kevin Millar, Mike Myers, Bill Mueller, and Johnny Damon to free agency. They also made four pretty bid trades to shake things up a bit and fill in the holes. I'd like to make up for lost time and get into those moves before the season starts, but first here's a quick recap of how the off-season went down.

10/15/05 - Released Adam Hyzdu. Sent Chad Harville, Mike Stanton, and Jeremi Gonzalez outright to Pawtucket. All three refused the assignments and became free agents.

11/02/05 - resigned Mike Timlin to a one year deal

11/18/05 - released Gabe Kapler

11/24/05 - Traded Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado, and Harvey Garcia to the Florida Marlins for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota in return

12/01/05 - Traded a player to be named later to the Chicago Cubs for Jermaine Van Buren

12/07/05 - Traded Doug Mirabelli to the San Diego Padres for Mark Loretta

12/08/05 - Selected Jamie Vermilyea in the Rule 5 Draft. Traded Edgar Renteria and cash to the Atlanta Braves for Andy Marte

12/14/05 - The Los Angelos Dodgers signed Bill Mueller to a two year deal

12/15/05 - The New York Yankees signed Mike Myers to a two year deal

12/20/05 - Signed Rudy Seanez to a one year deal. Tony Graffanino accepted arbitration. Non tendered Wade Miller and Chad Bradford making them free agents

12/23/05 - Signed John Flaherty to a one year deal

12/23/05 - The New York Yankees signed Johnny Damon to a four year deal

01/06/06 - signed JT Snow to a one year deal

01/12/06 - The Baltimore Orioles signed Kevin Millar to a one year deal

01/12/06 - signed Julian Tavarez to a two year deal

01/19/06 - signed Bronson Arroyo to a three year deal. Signed Willie Harris to a minor league contract t

01/27/06 - Traded Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach, Guillermo Mota, and a player to be named to the Cleveland Indians for Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard

02/06/06 - Designated Roberto Petagine for assignment and lost him to the Seattle Mariners

03/20/06 - Traded Bronson Arroyo and cash to the Cincinati Reds for Wily Mo Pena

03/24/06 - claimed Hee-Seop Choi off waivers

And who could forget the big stories of the '05-'06 off-season....

- The Theo Epstein/front office dance.

- The Manny Ramirez trade demand/I hate Boston tantrum/permission to arrive on time to spring training.

- David Wells being a big, fat ass.

- Johnny Damon taking a shot at the Red Sox every time someone puts a mic in front of him...But really, he's moved on. He swears.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Arroyo for Pena

Sometimes I wish I had the drive to update this every day and keep up with it. But I do get bored easily and I'm the type to move from project to project, never having finished the last project that I was working on. After a little while posting here I felt I had to post every day. It became to feel more like a job than a fun hobby. So I gave it up. Times like these, however, make me want to come out of retirement.

It has been one hell of an offseason for the Sox. We've all heard how it's been a very turbulent one and that there is too much turnover. Some of you have probably even thought that yourselves. There's even that laughable little theory going around out there where people are saying that the Blue Jays are better than the Sox. To me this has been one of the best offseasons for the Sox in a very long time. They have made trade after trade, improving the team and getting the better end of the deal every single time. They've signed some low risk players who have the potential to help the team while allowing Damon to walk. They've improved their defense, added depth to their pitching, and became a younger team. Their offense may not be a record setting machine anymore, but they are still top five in the league. They are going to score some runs. They're a better team than last year. There's no logical way that anyone can dispute that.

Today the Sox made another step to improve the team. From out of nowhere it was announced that the Red Sox dealt Bronson Arroyo to the Reds for Wily Mo Pena. Pena isn't my first choice in Reds outfielders (the thought of Adam Dunn in a Sox uniform makes me giddy), but for Bronson Arroyo? I will certainly take that deal. Is Pena a star? No. He's a one dimensional player who doesn't take a walk, isn't very good on the bases, and doesn't play very good defense. But he sure can hit the ball hard. His best asset? His ability to crush lefties. He's the perfect platoon partner for Trot Nixon. All the Sox had to give up in return was Bronson Arroyo, Boston's most overrated "star".

Today is a good day for Sox fans. So long, Bronson! Take a few pink hat wearing fan girls with you on your way out, please. And hello, Wily! You'll love it here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Josh Beckett's 4.08 ERA

What can we expect from Josh Beckett? Some say he's an injury prone youngster who is never going to reach his potential. Some say there are a lot of factors working against him in the move to Boston. Some say he's an ace and that he's going to lead the team to a damn good season in 2006. What do I think? As a Sox fan I'm a bit biased and more inclined to think that he's going to have a hell of a year (and possibly a hell of a career) for the Sox, but there really are some things working against the guy. The way I see it, there are two big things that are working against Beckett next year. One, he's moving to the AL and two, he's leaving a pitcher's park. You'd think that going from Florida's defense to Boston's defense would also negatively affect him, but based on the number of balls in play turned into outs last year, Boston's defense was only very slightly worse than Florida's. The change shouldn't be significant enough to affect Beckett all that much.

Let's take a look at a few numbers to see how Josh Beckett would've done if he had pitched for the Red Sox in 2005. First, let's see some real numbers. In 2005 he had a 3.38 ERA, a 3.08 ERC, a 3.42 dERA, and a 3.45 RCERA. ERA is the normal measure of earned runs given up over 9 innings pitched that we all know and love. ERC is a statistic that measures what a pitcher's ERA is expected to be based on the hits and walks he gives up. dERA is based on the work done by Voros McCracken and measures a pitcher's ERA based entirely on the statistics that a pitcher controls and the defense does not (K's, BB's, HR's, and HBP's). RCERA is a pitcher's ERA based on the Runs Created by the batters facing the pitcher. All four are relatively close to each other and it should be possible to tailor the last three stats to see how he would've performed in the AL in a hitter's park.

I started off by park adjusting the number of doubles, triples, home runs, and hits that Beckett allowed at home. I used the park indices in the Bill James Handbook to calculate the number of those four stats that he would've allowed had he pitched half his games in Fenway instead of in Dolphins Stadium. Then I plugged those new numbers into the formulas for ERC, dERA, and RCERA. His numbers for those three went up to an ERC of 3.25, a dERA of 3.46, and a RCERA of 3.68; an increase of 0.17, 0.04, and 0.23 respectively. Judging by those three numbers we could probably expect Beckett's ERA to increase anywhere between 0.04 and 0.23 points giving him an ERA anywhere between 3.42 and 3.61 had he pitched in Fenway park. But what about the effects of the DH?

In 2005 Beckett held number 9 hitters to a .121/.188/.172, very similar to the line NL pitchers combined for in 2005, .150/.180/.190. My methods are far from perfect, but just for fun let's replace the 63 pitcher plate appearances against Josh Beckett with 80 DH appearances, assuming that the DH would be batting higher in the order, therefore getting more plate appearances. The average DH in the AL put up a .260/.335/.444 line in 2005. As a little side note, Baltimore DH's, lead mostly by Jay Gibbons, Sammy Sosa, Javy Lopez, and Raphael Palmeiro, had a .210/.277/.362 line. That was, by far, the worst in the AL despite the fact that they outslugged Oakland DH's by .010. But anyways, let's figure out ERC, dERA, and RCERA while keeping his stats park adjusted for Fenway, but adding in the effects of a DH. Doing that changes his numbers more than I expected. His ERC jumped to 3.87, his dERA to 3.82, and his RCERA to 4.36; a change over his original numbers by 0.79, 0.40, and 0.91 respectively.

The average change in the three stats I looked at and adjusted was 0.70 after adjusting for Fenway and replacing 63 pitcher plate appearances with 80 DH ones. What do all these numbers mean? Well, going by my math (which, I'll admit is a little bit shaky, but it might be a good estimation), Josh Beckett would've had a 4.08 ERA had he been with the Red Sox last year. Also, the Red Sox scored 5.62 runs per game last year which is actually lower than the 5.89 run support over nine innings that Beckett got. With the jump in ERA, support of one of the worst bullpens in baseball, and not much of a difference in run support it's probably a safe bet to say that had Beckett been in Boston last year his record would've been worse than the 15-8 he had in Florida.

This was by no means a way to try and prove that the Beckett trade was a bad one. I still love that trade. Beckett is going to get better as he matures and the rest of the deal still works out in Boston's favor. Beckett will be a great number 2 starter for the Red Sox over the next few years.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Is Fenway really a hitter's park?

One of the concerns that some Sox fans have about Josh Beckett is the fact that he's going from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park. Sure enough, in 2005 Beckett posted a 2.47 ERA in Florida while putting up a 4.31 ERA on the road. Over the course of the last 3 years he's had a 2.87 ERA at home with a 4.10 ERA on the road. So we can probably expect an increase in his ERA because he is going from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park.

I figured I'd check to see how much of a pitcher's park they have down there in Miami compared to Fenway. According to the Bill James Handbook, over the last three years the park index for runs scored in Dolphins Stadium is 90. A 90 means that 10% fewer runs are scored in Marlins games at home compared to Marlins games on the road. A 100 would mean that the park is neutral in terms of offense. Fenway has a 10% swing the other way with a 110 park index for runs over the last 3 years. Something is a little off when you look at Fenway splits, however. Red Sox opponents scored 1059 runs against them in 216 Fenway games. In 216 Red Sox away games their opponents scored 1060 runs. In Fenway, Sox opponents combined for a .264/.317/.422 line compared to a .267/.324/.424 line against the Sox away from Fenway. So Sox opponents were actually very slightly better on the road then they were in Fenway. So why is Fenway considered to be such a hitter's park? Well, over the last 3 years the Red Sox have scored 1343 runs in Fenway while scoring only 1122 on the road. They have a very impressive .297/.372/.492 line in Fenway over the last 3 years compared to a .265/.335/.440 line. In other words, the 10% increase in run production at Fenway park is entirely because of the Red Sox and Fenway is actually a neutral park for opposing line ups.

The fact that Fenway isn't a hitter's park for the away team's line up will make things a bit easier for Josh Beckett, but it does raise a few questions as to why Fenway only seems to help Boston. Does the crowd pump them up that much? Are they so used to everyone expecting them to do better at home that they step up their game that much? There are a lot of people who say that a hitter is built for Fenway or has the perfect swing for Fenway. Guys like Bill Mueller and Nomar Garciaparra are said to be Fenway type hitters. Are the Sox able to spot the type of hitter that will do well at Fenway and do they stack their line up with these guys? I know Kevin Millar loves to put the ball in foul ground. Maybe the fact that there is no foul ground at Fenway helps the guy out. I really don't know if there's any one factor that boosts Boston's offense so much when they're in Fenway.

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