Team Preview: Boston Red Sox

The acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez highlighted an offseason that has most pundits now calling the Boston Red Sox the best team in baseball. But are we being too optimistic about a team that was projected by many experts to win the AL East last year, only to finish third and out of the playoffs? Let’s take a look.

Projected Starting Lineup
1 CF Jacoby Ellsbury*
2 2B Dustin Pedroia
3 LF Carl Crawford*
4 1B Adrian Gonzalez*
5 3B Kevin Youkilis
6 DH David Ortiz*
7 RF J.D. Drew*
8 C Jarrod Saltalamacchia**
9 SS Marco Scutaro

Prettay, prettay, prettaaaay good. It’s not easy to lose Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre and actually get better, but that’s what the Red Sox figure to do. With all due respect to Crawford and his improving offensive game, Gonzalez is the prize here. His power plays to all fields, such that a season with a Green Monster-assisted 80 extra-base hits is well within reach.

The bigger source of upside, though, would be better health for lineup linchpins Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia. Mr. Laser Show put up a strong .377 wOBA last season, but played in just 75 games. Injuries also hurt the Jewish God of Walks, as Youkilis played in just 102 games while posting a stellar .411 wOBA. If both players replicate those rates of production over a full season, the Red Sox would get a huge boost.

There are question marks at the bottom of the order. J.D. Drew took a step back last season, and even his most ardent defenders (I’m one of them) have to wonder if injuries might finally get the best of him. Marco Scutaro‘s numbers were way down from 2009 levels, and the Red Sox have little reason to expect anything special from their shortstop either. On the other hand, Boston’s minor league depth produced two potentially worthy replacements in Ryan Kalish and Jed Lowrie, should the incumbent starters get hurt or fail to produce. Boston’s stuck at catcher if Jarrod Saltalamacchia doesn’t meet the expectations set forth a few years ago. But Theo Epstein has shown a willingness to aggressively make moves if needed. As is, an absolutely stacked two-through-six should hide many of the ills that might befall the lineup’s lesser hitters. The defense should also be strong, with Crawford and Gonzalez adding two Gold Glove-caliber defenders to the lineup; well, one glove anyway, with those two signing on and Beltre leaving.

Projected Rotation
LHP Jon Lester
RHP Josh Beckett
RHP John Lackey
RHP Clay Buchholz
RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka

Projected Bullpen
RHP Jonathan Papelbon
RHP Daniel Bard
RHP Bobby Jenks
RHP Dan Wheeler
LHP Hideki Okajima
RHP Matt Albers ##
RHP Tim Wakefield

Let’s start with the bullpen, where you might not see a right-handed hitter get a hit off these guys in the late innings of a close game all season. Righty-eraser Dan Wheeler and portly but effective former closer Bobby Jenks join a late-inning combo that was already well-armed with Daniel Bard setting up and Jonathan Papelbon at closer. Papelbon is almost certainly gone after this season given his rising salary and Bard’s emergence. Until then, though, he could save 40-plus games as the third-best arm in the bullpen. The Sox could use a power lefty to complement that group of four with Hideki Okajima on the downside of his career, but that’s mostly small beer. This should be one of the strongest pens in the game.

The starting rotation is a bigger question mark. The Yankees get all the criticism this year for having one Cy Young candidate lefty at the top of the rotation, one good arm at number two, and a big mess thereafter. That’s not a bad description of Boston’s plight too, though, after Josh Beckett struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness last season (his 4.54 FIP was a lot more respectable than his 5.78 ERA at least) and John Lackey saw his strikeout rate continue its gradual fall, with a corresponding rise in his walk rate. It’ll be a battle of long-term track record vs. recent performance. If the latter prevails, the Sox could be in a bit of trouble.

Key Player
Beckett. The Sox need the rotation to go at least three deep in quality pitchers. Failure to do so could bring the shaky-bullpened Rays and shaky-rotationed Yankees back into the mix as AL East title contenders.

Summary
The Red Sox deserve their spot as AL East and even World Series favorites, especially with the Phillies’ lineup looking severely diminished with Jayson Werth gone and Chase Utley a big question mark. Whatever holes do spring up in Boston, count on the front office to patch the rotation, upgrade at catcher, or whatever else it takes. The Sox will be an extremely tough out this season.



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Jonah Keri is the author of The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First -- now a National Bestseller! Follow Jonah on Twitter @JonahKeri, and check out his awesome podcast.


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Stan
Guest
Stan
5 years 2 months ago

I whole-heartedly agree with you about the rotation. Being a Sox fan, it does bother me that this weak link in the team is about as weak as the Yankees. I think it’s exacerbated by the fact that there is almost no minor-league depth as far as starters are concerned. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a mid-season trade for a league-average starter for some of the minor-league redundancies (Lars Anderson, Josh Reddick, etc).

walkoffblast
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walkoffblast
5 years 2 months ago

How much depth do you want? Doubront and Wakefield is fine for depth. I doubt overpaying for league average will be necessary or desirable from the position.

Dave
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Dave
5 years 2 months ago

Doubront, Wakefield, Aceves, Miller, and possibly Bowden. That’s a whole lot of depth.

NBarnes
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NBarnes
5 years 2 months ago

A league-average starter is a very valuable commodity. I don’t think they’re usually available for spare parts.

TylerTheCreator
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TylerTheCreator
5 years 2 months ago

I’d make the argument that the Red Sox #6-8 starters (Doubront, Wakefield, Aceves) are comparable to the Yankees #4-5 starters (Nova, Colon, Garcia, ?). I can’t think of any teams with much better options for 6-8 starters, most clubs are trying to figure out their 3-5 guys.

pft
Guest
pft
5 years 2 months ago

Doubront has yet to pitch with forearm/elbow tightness, Wakefield is 44, Aceves had trouble staying helathy working out of the bullpen.

I would take Nova and Garcia over them as they were healthy in 2010. Colon is probably the # 6 guy and uncertain, but unlike the Red Sox, the Yankees seem to have more young arms close to MLB ready who could help if needed.

The Red Sox are also up against the salary tax threshold, so unlike the Yankees, may have fewer options if a salary dump opportunity comes up, since JWH does not like to pay that tax.

Aceves, Miller and Bowden have health or perfmormance issues. The latter 2 have not shown the ability to get MLB hitters out with any regularity. Aceves was effective as a releiver, but unable to stay healthy.

Theo himself has said starting pitching depth is a weak point.

RC
Guest
RC
5 years 2 months ago

“I would take Nova and Garcia over them as they were healthy in 2010”

So, you’d take the yankees 4th and 6th starter over the Redsox 6th/7th?

Would you take Nova over Beckett? Because those two are in the same slot?

ronny9
Guest
ronny9
5 years 2 months ago

ya i agree, these people that are saying the sox 6-8 options aren’t good enough are crazy. I would much rather be worried about having a couple guys IN CASE they’re needed than be in the position that the Yankees are in:

They are going to either (A) have to bank on Burnett coming back to 2009 form (and even then they will have to have to have TWO OF Mitre, Nova, Colon and Garcia in their rotation) or (B) force as many as TWO young kids who aren’t close to being ready into the big league rotation… i would be worried about the yanks mishandling the progress of the promising young pitching prospects.. i.e. Joba Chamberlain??

All this being said; If Burnett pitches like last year all the players that these Yankee fans are saying would be questionable fill in starters for the Sox would be THE NUMBER 3 STARTER FOR THE YANKEES ALL YEAR.

Give me Lester over CC (mostly because of the price) and the rest of the Sox rotation is far and away better than anything the Yankees will be able to put out there day in and day out this season…

For years i have been telling the Yankee fans that i am friends with that these old and large contract veterans are going to catch up with the yankees sooner or later and no matter how big their payroll can be, they will be in some serious trouble to put a competitive team together. 2011 may not be that year, but 2012, 2013, 2014 paying Rivera, Jeter, Texiera, Arod, Granderson & CC WELL OVER 100MM a season?? ouch

MC
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MC
5 years 2 months ago

Yes I agree that starting pitching is a “weak” point for them because the rest of the team is really, really good.

I think however that the only teams with a better rotation than the Red Sox are the Phillies, Giants, and Rays, and IMO in that order. Also a lot of this rotation has to do with injuries. If no one gets injured, and everyone pitches to their potential, this could be a great rotation. However if Beckett, Diasuke, etc. drop off as they have in recent years, it could be a really weak staff.

Rory
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Rory
5 years 2 months ago

Erroneous on so many levels. First of all, Burnett has been on par with or even better than Beckett statistically the past two seasons. Aceves has never been a starter and is so prone to injury that he isn’t even a long reliever. Wakefield? Lol. Maybe five years ago. Doubront? What he has proven at the major league level? Nova has had better results. Plus, the Sox have no other pitching prospects waiting in the wings. Yanks have Banuelos, Betances, Brackman, Noesi, Warren, etc.

BobZ
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BobZ
5 years 2 months ago

Odd that the “weak link” somehow managed to post the 5th best pitching WAR last season despite a crappy bullpen. You factor in rebounds by Beckett and Lackey and I’m not that worried.

hurr
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hurr
5 years 2 months ago

this is the way i’m looking at things too – the rotation should perform better than last year, and last year it was a strength. the bullpen’s much stronger as well.

wilburwood
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wilburwood
5 years 2 months ago

To me,the biggest question mark rides with the most questionable move made by Theo Epstein in his extending Beckett long term/big bucks early last season which absolutely baffled me! Now, it will be a MUST that Beckett regain his old form to help the team win somewhere in the vicinity of 16-18 of his expected 30 starts .Also, Lackey needs to step up his role as a dominant veteran starter so the 2 kids in Lester & Buchholz aren’t expected to shoulder the load AGAIN. God help us if Papelbon continues his slide since I fear the expectation by many that Bobby Jenks or the inexperienced Bard could seemlessly step into the closer role might be an unreasonable pipe dream!

anon
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anon
5 years 2 months ago

Interesting that there is no mention of the defensive downgrade at 3rd and the uncertainty of production from Ellsbury. Youk was a decent 3b when he was playing full time, but it he was younger then.

sgolder06
Member
sgolder06
5 years 2 months ago

Youkilis turned into a gold glove defender at first, despite having never played the position. He’s also maintained that he likes playing third better. Will be as strong as Beltre was? Probably not, but I think he’ll still be above average, if not good.

Keith_Allen
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Keith_Allen
5 years 2 months ago

That’s being optimistic. Youk couldn’t even stay healthy last year.

Ian
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

@Keith
He does tend to miss 15-20 or so games each year with some problem or another, but his thumb injury was kind of a freak thing.

Telo
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Telo
5 years 2 months ago

Jarrod Saltalamacchia**

Two stars. He’s just that good.

DonChrysler
Member
DonChrysler
5 years 2 months ago

Meant to show that he’s a switch hitter, I believe.

Telo
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Telo
5 years 2 months ago

Ohhhhhh that’s what it means!!! *********

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********* = sarcasm

adohaj
Member
adohaj
5 years 2 months ago

I wonder why they don’t just use “S” like the rest of the world. For being an online community of educated people common sense seems hard to find sometimes.

Ian
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

Good and fair preview, Jonah. A couple small notes:
-The back of the bullpen is still a little questionable, though I guess it always is. Competition is between Okajima and Reyes for the LHP spot. Wakefield could lose his spot as 6th starter / long man to Aceves, though he’ll be given every opportunity.
-Lowrie’s going to get lots of PT even though Scutaro is the nominal starter. Lowrie will back up every infield spot, and since Francona likes to rest guys, Youk usually misses 20-30 games even if he doesn’t have a major injury, and all members of the infield are coming off some kind of injury Lowrie should get a lot of time. Also I’m very bullish on him and I see his and Scutaro’s roles switching midseason.
-Lackey improved his K and BB rates greatly in August and September. His xFIP from June on by month was 4.49, 4.28, 3.39, 3.71. There’s reason to expect better things from him moving forward. Beckett is another question, certainly.

Great to meet you this weekend.

Boourns76
Guest
Boourns76
5 years 2 months ago

Completely agree on Lowrie. SS with positional flexibility across the IF capable of putting up a 900 OPS. Only question with him is health.

Lackey and Beckett should at least see better luck. They may never be dominant pitchers again, but they certainly are at the very least outstanding #3/#4 starters.

I know everyone’s hung up about how lucky Buchholz was, but there’s still considerable room for growth (on his expected ERA at least, I don’t think anyone’s expecting a sub-2.50 ERA this year). His K rate should tick upwards and his BB rate should trend down. If he can get up to his historical translated K rate and K/BB rate while maintaining this really really sick GB rate, he looks like an ace for many years to come.

The bullpen is just sick, even if Papelboner sucks this year.

MFG
Guest
MFG
5 years 2 months ago

Is Bard next-in-line for closing if Papelbon is injured/ineffective this season? Or is Jenks gonna get the nod first?

Kirkwood
Member
Kirkwood
5 years 2 months ago

Lowrie is a much better choice for starting SS, in my opinion.

Kirkwood
Member
Kirkwood
5 years 2 months ago

I should add that he looked like a completely different player last season than in years previous. He had a very confident approach at the plate and a big, powerful swing with a bit of an uppercut. While I expect his power to regress a bit, I think he could have a monster year, especially if he maintains the same patient approach.

RC
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RC
5 years 2 months ago

“I should add that he looked like a completely different player last season than in years previous. He had a very confident approach at the plate and a big, powerful swing with a bit of an uppercut.”

No, he really didn’t. Thats pretty much the way he’s always looked, other than the 2 month stint with a broken wrist.

This kid was a better prospect, and player in the minors, than Pedroia was. People forget that.

Kirkwood
Member
Kirkwood
5 years 2 months ago

@RC He never had the same power or strikeout rate in the minors as he did last year. Also, years previous = both 08 and 09, as well as his AAA stints dating back to 07. He was a very good minor league player, yes, but not as good as he was in 2010.

Telo
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Telo
5 years 2 months ago

I think it’s a combination of motivating Lowrie and saving Scutaro’s ego. They want Lowrie to win the spot, and will happily put him at the top of the depth chart if he deserves it, but at the moment Scutaro is a pretty useful veteran at SS, and Lowrie is somewhat of a question mark. I just hope they find Lowrie enough ABs to get into a routine where he can show what he’s got.

Cliff
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Cliff
5 years 2 months ago

Boston has a Lackey vs. Garcia advantage. Additionally I think Lester is better than CC (not by much), Beckett-Bucholz vs Burnett-Hughes could go either way but a current advantage to Boston for how bad AJ was last year. The 5 spot is known nightmare for Boston while a Colon/Nova mix has it’s share of questions too. Should be fun to watch since I don’t think either team is run away and hide better and you know whomever is trailing will make a move to get better by the end of July. Lets just hope injuries don’t become a factor.

Carl W
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Carl W
5 years 2 months ago

Whoah, what do you mean because of how bad AJ was last year? Beckett was worse. I’d give it to Boston mostly because Buchholz was better than Hughes was last year.

pft
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pft
5 years 2 months ago

At least Beckett had the good sense to go on the DL for 2 months and save himself 10 awful starts, Burnett went out there every game and got hammered.

AJ actually looking pretty good this year. Have not seen enough of Beckett yet due to his concussion.

hurr
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hurr
5 years 2 months ago

Beckett was worse… because of injury. Beckett is definitely projected to be more valuable going forward

CampBrice
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CampBrice
5 years 2 months ago

Lackey gets left out of talks about the Sox quite often and he is arguably the 3rd best pitcher in the rotation given Beckett’s plight. All Lackey did in his “down year” was put up a 4.0 WAR (31st in the majors). If you double his second half from 2010 he would be a tremendous #3. Yet he gets no waiver for a team-switch + coming of of injury

jfcincotta
Member
jfcincotta
5 years 2 months ago

Also consider that he had the lowest LOB% and second highest BABIP of his career.

Carl W
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Carl W
5 years 2 months ago

Arguably? He is the 3rd best pitcher. He was much better last year. His career stats are better. He’s healthier. There’s no argument.

Carl W
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Carl W
5 years 2 months ago

*better, that is, than beckett

hurr
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hurr
5 years 2 months ago

4 WAR is fine with me… I’m happy with Lackey as the 3rd starter, and if Beckett makes any kind of comeback this year, that’s an excellent top 4.

CampBrice
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CampBrice
5 years 2 months ago

Also no mention of a well-constructed bench with lefty mashers Lowrie & Cameron ready to step in and spell Drew/Ortiz. Positiob flexibility is key as well with Youk being able to move over to 1B and Scutaro/Lowrie able to play multiple infield spots. Cameron/McDonald round out the outfield without much drop-off

mettle
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mettle
5 years 2 months ago

The rise and fall of Mike Cameron is certainly an interesting component to this story.
You have to think Keri is right, that Kalish is slotted in front of him, which means that Cameron will probably see 200PAs max, healthy or not.

After averaging 3+ WAR 2006-2010, you’d have to thing he’d be worth something more, but I can’t see him netting more than an average 5th starter in a trade.
He’d certainly merit a start on a lot of other teams. I wonder if he’ll get that chance.

Al Skorupa
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Disagree. Kalish is likely ticketed for AAA Pawtucket to begin the year. Cameron is the 4th OF and McDonald the 5th from what I understand. They don’t want to hamper Kalish’s development by sitting him on the bench and the one thing McDonald does well is hit LHPs, which is useful to have off the bench here. Its extremely doubtful that this lefty heavy lineup will keep Kalish on the bench or give him PT over Cameron (a RHH).

SKob
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

Agree that Kalish will start in the minors. The point in the article was that there is a Drew replacement ready and waiting. He will be kept where he can get regular at-bats until Drew is done… Be that after the season or during.

mettle
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mettle
5 years 2 months ago

So if (rather, “when”) an OF goes down is Cameron or Kalish getting the ABs?
Maybe it will be Cameron after all, but he is certainly one of the most players of the first 25. I don’t see him with much trade value, though, fanboys aside.

nate
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nate
5 years 2 months ago

Thanks Jonah. That could be the batting order, but I’d assume the Red Sox would optimize their run scoring. Ellsbury (.333/.383 marcel projection) seems like an odd choice for lead off.

Al Skorupa
Member
5 years 2 months ago

All indications from the team so far are that this will be the batting order. Ellsbury isn’t an ideal leadoff guy, but he’s better than many teams have. He does have a few things that recommend him over his MARCELs. He’s shown little or no platoon split in his career and is a natural .300 hitter. There’s cause for optimism on his offensive abilities given how quickly he reached the majors.

TLD
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TLD
5 years 2 months ago

As I’ve said before. If Lowrie ends up taking the starting job from Scutaro and is putting up that .370-.380 OBP numbers from last year with doubles power, he should be leading off with Ellsbury at #9 and Crawford at #5. I don’t like Youkilis hitting that low, and having Lowrie and Pedroia in front of Gonzalez and Youkilis can bring nothing but good.

ltdm206
Member
ltdm206
5 years 2 months ago

Wouldn’t Francona break up the lefties, as he’s known to do? This lineup seems to leave the Sox susceptible to LOOGYs.

Also, I heard somewhere that putting Crawford in front of Papi would prevent teams from shifting defensively on Papi.

Preston
Guest
Preston
5 years 2 months ago

I think it’s especially important to break up the lefties when they are guys without terrible platoon splits. Because if you have Crawford or Gonzalez between two righties there is only a marginal reward for making the change (as opposed to someone with a more exaggerated split like Ortiz). But if you put them together than you’re making it easier for opposing managers to make that move.

Carl W
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Carl W
5 years 2 months ago

Yep. Also, Theo understands the value of good public relations, which means appeasing the traditional masses (and media) which view speed/AVG. at the top of the lineup as imperative. And he understands that he’s managing egos. Bottom line is, it doesn’t make so much of a difference, run-wise, that it’s worth it to go with a completely non-traditional lineup. The media/reporters/fans wouldn’t know what to do if they dropped crawford or Pedey, or even Ellsbury.

RC
Guest
RC
5 years 2 months ago

Ellsbury had a .355/.415 OBP/SlG his last season (2009).
He had a .363/.433 in the second half.

I’d guess that the Red Sox think that the Marcel projection just isn’t very realistic.

Dave
Guest
Dave
5 years 2 months ago

Call me a homer, but why is everyone hating on Daisuke? Not saying he is a stud and obviously not saying he will pitch more than 150 innings but come on. The guy almost had the same WAR as Burnett and Garcia combined last season. Hell, he had a better WAR than Hughes, the Yanks #2. Granted the xFIP paints a slightly different story but the guy has shown he CAN be a 3+ win pitcher, just look at his stretch in the middle of the season last year. When you can say you have a 5th/6th combo of Daisuke/Wake, should we be excited?

Frank
Guest
Frank
5 years 2 months ago

You answered your own question. Even with a good K/9 and a fluctuating ability to keep the ball in the park, his FIP and xFIP are not flattering. His strikeouts are declining, he walks a good amount of batters and has trouble staying healthy. I’ve always thought using WAR for pitchers is a tricky business.

Telo
Guest
Telo
5 years 2 months ago

I think the Fans have him pegged exactly right at 4.44 FIP. He’s never NOT going to walk 4 guys a game, and for a heavy FB pitcher assuming he gives up a normal amount of taters, that just doesn’t cut it. He’s a probably a 1-2 win pitcher.

BobZ
Guest
BobZ
5 years 2 months ago

Which is not bad for your 5 guy…..and on any day he can be lights out. Most 5th starters can’t do that

hurr
Guest
hurr
5 years 2 months ago

you’re right, Dicek is being sold way short. almost any other team would love him as their 5th starter

MustBunique
Member
Member
5 years 2 months ago

“The Sox could use a power lefty…” – A possible Andew Miller resurrection could solve this issue. He is throwing hard so far this spring, and although he only has 4 IP, hasn’t walked anyone.

Paul
Guest
Paul
5 years 2 months ago

The regression-based skepticism of Bucholz this offseason reminds me of the groupthink that circulated last year about Price. Anybody remember that? Some were going so far as to call him a bust… Kershaw was clearly soooooo much better, etc., etc. Clay is far and away better than whoever steps up at the No. 2 option for the Yankees – until Banuelos arrives at least.

jfcincotta
Member
jfcincotta
5 years 2 months ago

Buchholz is extremely unhittable in-zone, and throws a lot of stuff outside the zone that gets contact. FIP won’t love him. He’s definitely not a <3.00 ERA guy, but he's certainly a very good pitcher.

CampBrice
Guest
CampBrice
5 years 2 months ago

I think his ERA will definitely go up, but I also believe that his K’s and K/9 will as well. He could arguably be a better pitcher this year and have a worse ERA

Frank
Guest
Frank
5 years 2 months ago

Clay Buchholz age 24 season: 92 IP, 6.6 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.27 HR/9, 4.69 FIP

Phil Hughes age 24 season: 176 IP, 7.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.28 HR/9, 4.25 FIP

Phil Hughes is the Yankees #2… more or less. Somewhat comparable numbers right there. Careful with the “far and away” proclamations.

Paul
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Paul
5 years 2 months ago

We just don’t have any choice but to talk past one another here. See jfcincotta above.

Eric M. Van
Guest
Eric M. Van
5 years 2 months ago

The analysis I’ve done on elite pitching prospects indicates that the proper comparison is years of pitching experience post-high school, not age. Which actually makes a great deal of sense. If that’s correct, the proper comparison is Hughes 2010 vs. Buchholz 2010.

pft
Guest
pft
5 years 2 months ago

Buchholz was age 20 in his first year of pitching post high school, one year older than Hughes. But Hughes had some set backs in 2007-2008 due to injury, and he pitched much of 2009 out of the pen which may have hindered his development as a starter. I think comparing Hughes in 2011 to Buchholz 2010/2011 will be the real test, but while we are waiting to see the results, I think comparing their age 24 seasons make the most sense .

Rory
Guest
Rory
5 years 2 months ago

Bucholz is several years older than Hughes. Let’s not forget that Bucholz struggled so much early on in his career that he was sent down to the minors. Finally, do you really believe that Hughes or Banuelos is going to be the Yankees No. 2 option after the trade deadline? Lol. I think it’s fair to say that the Yankees will find some way to trade for a No. 2 or even an ace. Unlike the Yankees, the Sox no longer have the depth to make such a mid-season trade.

Nick Smith
Guest
Nick Smith
5 years 2 months ago

I think you’ll see Drew bumped down to the 8 spot in favor of Salty, Scutaro or hopefully Lowrie. Francona has said he wants to avoid having four out of five lefties in a row.

drumzalicious
Guest
drumzalicious
5 years 2 months ago

Their lineup could definitely use another strong RH bat.

Carl W
Guest
Carl W
5 years 2 months ago

lefties are better overall. Didn’t you know? And easy to platoon. You just give them their normal days of rest when they’re facing a lefty starter (75% of the time), and let a good right handed hitter take their spot.

Eric
Guest
Eric
5 years 2 months ago

When Lowrie takes over SS for Scutoro by June 1 the Lefty/Righty thing will be solved. As noted elsewhere, Lowrie is a lefty masher. Stick him between Ortiz and Drew and you have a beast of a lineup

Carl W
Guest
Carl W
5 years 2 months ago

But Lowrie is terrible against righties. It would be sick to have two righty mashers in a row, considering 80% of pitchers are righties.

Eric M. Van
Guest
Eric M. Van
5 years 2 months ago

Lowrie’s not terrible vs. RHP; his career numbers against them are warped because when he played with a broken wrist it really only bothered him from the left side. He hit .250 / .353 / .470 against them last year; every SS in MLB would love to have numbers that “terrible.”

Eric M. Van
Guest
Eric M. Van
5 years 2 months ago

Oh, and of course much more significantly, he had no platoon split in a substantial ml career.

Eric
Guest
Eric
5 years 2 months ago

Not really. His numbers are deceiving because as a switch hitter his wrist injury of ’08-’09 hurt him a ton batting as a LHB. He never had this issue in the minors and last year his splits were far less dramatic. He was in the .820 range in OPS V RHP. That’s more than good enough. And, frankly, if he bats between Ortiz and Drew and opposing managers want to put a RHP in there because of Lowrie, that’s good for Boston. Ortiz and Drew mash the RHP

Ian
Guest
Ian
5 years 2 months ago

Also, Varitek has hit lefties well. If you put him in for Salty with a lefty on the mound, that helps, too. Drew seems to do well with adequate rest, so putting in Cameron for him will help as well.

Carl W
Guest
Carl W
5 years 2 months ago

Ellsbury’s splits being better against lefties?

Eric
Guest
Eric
5 years 2 months ago

Ellsbury’s splits are essentially neutral. He loses a bit of power V LHP but his BA and OPB remain the same.

Joe R
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

I take it you assume the Boston media infatuation w/ Ellsbury means Drew is on the perpetual hot seat?

Cidron
Member
Cidron
5 years 2 months ago

Key item in the season of Boston is Salty’s play at C. Has he overcome his inability to throw the ball back to the pitcher properly and in a timely fashion. If not, it could be a long season for the infielders, pitchers, and coaches hair (color and amount).

Eric M. Van
Guest
Eric M. Van
5 years 2 months ago

Re Beckett: last October at SOSH I made what I thought was a reasonably strong argument that his odd-year-good, even-year-bad pattern was the product of conditioning. Here are his OPS allowed by 25-pitch groups:

2007, ’09: 700, 621, 724, 644
2008, ’10: 696, 661, 775, 937

Last year he was 707, 784, 846, 1039, which suggests a possible time-around-the-order factor as well as conditioning.

He is reportedly in much better shape this year than last, and the data suggests that this may be one of the times when that actually matters.

(The whole thread is now on page 7 of the board.)

mattymatty2000
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

Putting your faith in “he’s in the best shape of his life” reports is grasping at straws a bit, don’t you think?

pft
Guest
pft
5 years 2 months ago

Beckett had a rough finish to 2009. I believe his last 9 starts he sported a 6+ ERA. He continued to pitch poorly in 2010, which was a potential contract year, even before he got injured (supposedly by swinging the bat in May). Of course, 2010 could also be explained by conditioning, but how many players show up in poor shape during a contract year..

I have speculated that his labrum may be acting up again (old injury that almost caused Red Sox to back out of the deal with the Marlins after loking at his MRI), which could explain why he signed a below market extension, and why Theo felt he needed to mention the contract was insured without being asked.

Jim
Guest
Jim
5 years 2 months ago

“Call me a homer, but why is everyone hating on Daisuke? Not saying he is a stud and obviously not saying he will pitch more than 150 innings but come on. The guy almost had the same WAR as Burnett and Garcia combined last season. Hell, he had a better WAR than Hughes, the Yanks #2. Granted the xFIP paints a slightly different story but the guy has shown he CAN be a 3+ win pitcher, just look at his stretch in the middle of the season last year. When you can say you have a 5th/6th combo of Daisuke/Wake, should we be excited?”

I have heard this so many times and it really bugs me. We’re supposed to be pleased that he’s a competent 5th starter? They paid a 50 million dollar posting fee for him. Seriously, people have such short memories. If you could back to late 2007 and turn on the TV as they tracked his airplane in the air, and then tell yourself that he’d end up being a 5th starter.

Do you think Nationals fans would be allowed to be the tiniest bit negative if 5 years from now Strasburg is a “solid 5th starter”?

hurr
Guest
hurr
5 years 2 months ago

“We’re supposed to be pleased that he’s a competent 5th starter?”

Yes, exactly. Not pleased that he didn’t end up better, but pleased that we have a 5th starter of his quality. The point made is not that he is not a disappointment, but that he is not a weak link for the team.

mattymatty2000
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

Are you out $50 mill, Jim? If not I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Its not like the Sox have declined to bring in good players because they’re hamstrung by Matsuzaka’s contract.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 2 months ago

just because they can afford to have dicek not be worth the money doesnt mean you WANT him to not be worth the money, though

BobZ
Guest
BobZ
5 years 2 months ago

They likely got the 50 million back in merchandise from the Japanese fan base

BobZ
Guest
BobZ
5 years 2 months ago

as in this from an article

“Boston now enjoys the second-highest profile of any MLB team in global exposure behind the New York Yankees, making it a top draw for Asian talent, not to mention advertising revenue and new business opportunities. And the spillover effect of the frenetic coverage has made the Red Sox the darlings of Major League Baseball.”

The 50 million was a business decision – first and foremost

pft
Guest
pft
5 years 2 months ago

Could have used some good players last year when injury struck, but the team was up against the salary tax threshold and Theo had no choice but to wave the white flag.

If Daisuke can manage to make 30 starts and keep his ERA under 5 I will be satisfied.

Also, the myth that the Red Sox make 50 million from mercahndise sold in Japan keeps going. MLB gets all of that revenue which is shared by 30 teams.

Pretty sure Theo does not sign him if he could do it all over again. Worked out better than Igawa did though.

WillR
Guest
WillR
5 years 2 months ago

No one talks about how the brittle that Yankee lineup, with all of it’s age, actually is. The injuries to Youkilis and Pedroia were freak and not anything that would be serious long term issues, but the Sox are younger in all phases. I would say the one big advantage NY has is the Rivera/Soriano combo, which is dangerous.

pft
Guest
pft
5 years 2 months ago

How do you know there will be no long term issues. Pedroia still has a screw and this injury can cause chronic tendonitis. Youks injury is very rare and there is little data on the risk of it recurring.

As for the Yankees age,

Red Sox-Yankees
LF 29-27
CF 27-30
RF 35-30
1B 29-31
2B 27-28
3B 32-35
SS 35-37
DH 35-39
C 24-28

BU C 39-22
BU OF 38-34
BU IF 27-24

SP1 27-30
SP2 26-25
SP3 32-34
SP4 31-24
SP5 30-36

RP1 30-41
RP2 26-31
RP3 30-25
RP4 33-26
RP5 35-34
RP6 44-30

So funny, I have the Red Sox 1 year older at the top 23 most probables for the 25 man. Left open the last itility IF spot and 7th reliever. Red Sox have 1, 40 & up and 6 , 35-39 yo. Yankees have, 1, 40 & up, and 4, 35-39 yo. One can argue the Red Sox are younger in the more critical spots, but over a long season, the bench can play a key role.

Rory
Guest
Rory
5 years 2 months ago

The Yankee lineup is brittle according to whom? Red Sox nation? I’ll stick to the facts and the below link says that your beloved Red Sox have the third oldest roster while the Yankees have the ninth.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/rosters/_/sort/average_age/order/true

CampBrice
Guest
CampBrice
5 years 2 months ago

Due primarily to Tim Wakefield – who in a data set of 25 players is a serious outlier

pft
Guest
pft
5 years 2 months ago

So if wake was 35 the red Sox would only be 1/2 years older.

CampBrice
Guest
CampBrice
5 years 2 months ago

I think most of the comments are due to the fact that the Yankees having aging veterans at some key spots on the roster, namely SS, 3B and Closer. Most of the Sox age resides on the bench/long relief (Tek, Wake, Cameron)

pft
Guest
pft
5 years 2 months ago

But Jeter, A-Rod and Mariano have also been amongst the most durable players, and except for Jeter, all had decent years. Jeters terrible year was matched by the 35 yo Scutaros 2010. Yankees have Soriano in case something happens to Rivera, and Banuels could setp into Sorianos stop if needed. A-Rods back up seems to be Chavez which could be a problem given Chavez injury history.

The Red Sox are 35 in RF. JD has hardly been a durable player in his career, and had a poor year last year, and Cameron at 38 is his backup. Kalish does not look ready if something should happen to both.

Papi is also 35, but probably is not any more of a concern as the 39 yo Posada.

Salty has never played a full season as regular catcher at the MLB level, and was also missed the last 6 weeks of last year due to injury. Our backup is a 39 yo. Martin is also questionable in terms of durability, but his back up is a 22 yo, until Cervelli comes back in 6 weeks.

Nobody can predict who gets injured or collapses due to age, but I think the odds are pretty even between the Red Sox and yankees in this regard. Neither of them is all that young.

AndrewMitch
Guest
AndrewMitch
5 years 2 months ago

The pitching has concerns for both the rotation and pen but…….one thing is for sure….Buck and Lester is the best 1-2 punch in the AL and that should go a long way. In other words, sometimes having a dep rotation is not as important as having 2 true aces – for example think of the 2001 DBacks (Schil and RJ and no one else – not even a pen) vs the 2004 Cards (5 guys w/ 15 W’s and getting swept in the WS)…….

The pen needs a real left handed reliever

And Youk is key to the offense, being the only true RH Power Hitter

Oh yeah, and Jake has to bat lead off, Craw does not hit lefties well – bat him 3rd vs RH’s and perhaps as low as 6th vs lefties………

camfrommaine
Guest
camfrommaine
5 years 2 months ago

the red sox want to trade daisuke (for obvious reasons) and tim wakefield isnt apart of their future plans. Now they have a ton of bull pen guys, i believe bard is the future, hes electrifying. papelbon cost a lot to not even be the best closer on the team let alone the league and be the highest paid closer? or even close to it. i like chris perez of cleveland more then pap. anyways with bard, jenks, wheeler, okajima, wakefield technically*, so they have wakefield, matsuzaka, and papelbon, up for trades i bet they could turn that into a great starter at the trade deadline. the red sox love having depth, so nothing ever surprises me. what if they got a catcher prospect and a quality starter whos ready for the bigs or a few propect pitchers and a decent league ready pitcher to slot in the 5 spot (being apart of the red sox) i could see like a fausto carmona type beeing there 5th starter. so look at teams and figure out who has a starter for trade and prospect catchers available. i know for instance the cleveland system has a lot of depth at middle infield, a plethora for that matter.

Kirk
Guest
Kirk
5 years 2 months ago

Uh, the Red Sox starters had the second lowest FIP in the league last year, and the xFIP wasn’t too shabby, either. The majority of their pitching problems were a result of a terrible bullpen that has been drastically improved. Saying the Sox’ rotation is as questionable as the Yankees is flat out laughable.

Kirk
Guest
Kirk
5 years 2 months ago

Whoops, they were 2nd in WAR, 6th in FIP. Point stands.

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4 years 6 months ago

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