9-20-2011: Don’t panic

Just a friendly reminder from Dave Cameron that a two-game lead is still pretty significant in this stage of the season.

Link 5-23-2011: Picks for the June MLB 2011 draft

River Ave Blues has compiled the complete draft order here, and the always informative¬†MLB Trade Rumors has the rundown on the number of early picks by team. Our Red Sox have 5 of the first 90 picks (#19, #26, #36, #40 and #81), which is not bad for an offseason in which we added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the roster. That’s the fourth highest total in the early going, which should really help to replenish our farm system.

We’ve noted before that the Tampa Bay Rays are in a great position to reload, with an unbelievable 12 of the first 90 picks. That’s the reason they let their whole bullpen walk this past offseason right there. The second-most number of picks with 7 is another division rival, Toronto, and third-most is the Padres with 6. Seems like everyone in the AL East knows that in order to compete, you’ve got to stockpile those compensation picks wherever possible. Everyone except the Yankees and Orioles, that is, who have just two selections each in the top 90. The Yankees have some ability to make up for that, given that they will go overslot a lot in the later rounds, but the pickings are getting slimmer every year as teams spend more on the draft.

5-9-2011: The rebuilt bullpen, a work in progress

After one month, it seems that everything about the sub-.500 Red Sox is unsatisfactory. I read this article the other day impugning our new bullpen, and I’ll admit there have been some really bad moments, but has it really been that bad?

As a group, the bullpen has an ERA of 4.89 thus far, which ranks as the 4th-worst bullpen in the AL and 6th-worst figure in all of baseball. But if you take a closer look at the figures, they have not pitched that badly. Rather, their 7.37 K/9 and 0.86 HR/9 rank solidly in the middle, and they’ve walked very few batters at 3.17 BB/9. This translates into a much better 3.74 FIP and 3.78 xFIP (corrected for HR luck), which puts them right in the middle of the pack. Considering that they pitch in the uber-talented AL East, I’d say that’s not a bad performance at all. I’d be happy to get that kind of performance from them for the year.

One glaring weakness has been their inability to prevent runners from scoring, as shown by their 64.6 LOB%, fourth-worst in MLB behind the White Sox, Astros, and Mariners. You could chalk a lot of that up to bad luck, but whatever the reason, once guys get on base, they tend to score more often against the Sox than other teams.

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4-4-2011: Separating the real worries from the imaginary

Try not to get swept away (pun intended) in the collective madness that is Boston fandom and sports media. I think the Sox got taken in by the sky-high expectations and all the preseason love. When everyone except Hank Steinbrenner picks you to win your division, and people start talking about 100 wins in a division like the AL East before a single pitch is thrown, it doesn’t matter how focused you say you are, it will affect you. In an ironic twist, they experienced a bit of what the Yankees went through every year for so long, and they flunked the test with flying colors.

Baseball has this way of making things look better or worse than they really are. The Sox are very much still contenders, but they are starting from an 0-3 deficit now (so is Tampa Bay, BTW). Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to some real baseball, what do you say, guys?

Things that shouldn’t worry you yet

Jon Lester didn’t strike out a single Ranger in his start.

It’s hard to explain what happened, but it just wasn’t Jon’s day. The fastball velocity was a little lacking, but that’s not unusual at the start of the season. Lester has always been a slow starter, for whatever reason. He’ll get into his usual streak of 5-6 shutdown starts by the beginning of May.

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Link 3-24-2011: BA’s ranking of farm systems

Baseball America lists the Red Sox system at 17th, even after the loss of Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo this offseason, plus the uncertain situation of Ryan Westmoreland (that’s not too bad, considering). The Padres are notably 8th on the list.

One slightly worrying thing: three of the the top 5 farm systems are in the AL East, and Tampa Bay has stockpiled draft picks like no one else. I expect them to be back in force in a few years. The one that’s missing? Baltimore at number 22.

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