Links 11-4-2010: Sox hire Young, re-up Ortiz and Atchison, acquire Dlugach, BA prospect rankings

The Sox announced the hiring of Curt Young as their new pitching coach. He’s had a lot of experience working with young pitchers in the Oakland system, and helped them to some good success, even at young ages. Let’s hope that he can work some magic with the veterans here as well. He’s a quality hire by all accounts, and the timing was perfect for us, having just lost John Farrell.

Well, it’s official. As expected, the Red Sox chose to exercise their one-year options on David Ortiz and Scott Atchison, but let utilityman Bill Hall and MI Felipe Lopez go to free agency. While it might be shrewd to save a few million by letting Big Papi go out on the market, it’s not worth saving those millions if he signs with a potential contender like Tampa Bay, who has been looking for a true DH for years. The Sox still have the option of extending him if they so choose later on in the offseason. Atchison is a solid back of the bullpen guy with minor league options, so he was a no-brainer. As for Hall and Lopez, the presence of a healthy Jed Lowrie (knock on wood) makes it unnecessary to pay them big money to back up Dustin Pedroia and Marco Scutaro.

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2010: The Year in Review

I’ll spare you the same comments again about the team’s overall performance here, but let’s go and examine each phase of the game and each player in detail.

Offense

We predicted the offense to be capable of scoring upwards of 832 runs this season, and the 2010 team scored 818 runs (still good for second in the AL), which is understandable given the injury situation. So offensively, things went more or less as planned, or even better. There were a number of big surprises from individual players.

Projected Actual
Name AB BA OBP SLG AB BA OBP SLG
Jed Lowrie 275 0.260 0.334 0.391 171 0.287 0.381 0.526
Adrian Beltre 581 0.277 0.326 0.444 589 0.321 0.365 0.553
Bill Hall 337 0.230 0.293 0.396 344 0.247 0.316 0.456
Kevin Youkilis 517 0.292 0.393 0.514 362 0.307 0.411 0.564
Jason Varitek 196 0.222 0.328 0.380 112 0.232 0.293 0.473
David Ortiz 514 0.258 0.358 0.483 518 0.270 0.370 0.529
Dustin Pedroia 630 0.300 0.369 0.451 302 0.288 0.367 0.493
Victor Martinez 499 0.298 0.374 0.480 493 0.302 0.351 0.493
Marco Scutaro 540 0.285 0.369 0.404 632 0.275 0.333 0.388
Mike Cameron 477 0.254 0.337 0.458 162 0.259 0.328 0.401
J.D. Drew 437 0.273 0.386 0.487 478 0.255 0.341 0.452
Mike Lowell 463 0.285 0.343 0.461 218 0.239 0.307 0.367
Jeremy Hermida 226 0.255 0.338 0.402 158 0.203 0.257 0.348
Josh Reddick 92 0.252 0.312 0.429 62 0.194 0.206 0.323
Jacoby Ellsbury 541 0.290 0.347 0.410 78 0.192 0.241 0.244

At the top of the table, you see those players who outperformed their predicted OPS by the greatest margin, and at the bottom are the laggards. Although he wasn’t the biggest plus on a pure OPS scale, playing time meant that Adrian Beltre was this season’s offensive MVP. Jed Lowrie was a big boost at the end of the season, and performed surprisingly well at the dish after finally recovering from mononucleosis.

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Links 8-13-2010: Playoff hopes fading, Salty and Hall, draft deadline coming, Sickels reviews our farm

The Red Sox took two of three from the Blue Jays, which is okay, but we should have had game 3. If we let games like that slip away, I don’t see us getting back to the playoffs this year. The math is starting to get pretty tough for us, points out Rob Neyer.

It certainly won’t be any easier with Jonathan Papelbon lacking his previous dominance as a closer. It’s not just one game, but Pap is showing a gradual decline which started last year. He’s still a very good closer, but he’s rapidly losing elite status, and that’s bad with just one year of arbitration left.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was called up this week, and did just fine in his first start yesterday. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we let Victor Martinez walk this offseason, but there’s some hope yet for Salty to become something.

Seems like people only remember a couple of botched plays when they think of Bill Hall, but he’s had a pretty good season at the plate. Jeremy Greenhouse points out that, in at least one situation, you’d rather bat him than Prince Fielder.

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6-27-2010: Victor Martinez breaks thumb, the season in perspective

Oh man, when it rains, it pours. Victor Martinez has broken his left thumb in today’s game, after taking a couple of foul tips off of his glove in today’s game. He may or may not go on the DL, but this is certainly not good news for the injury-riddled Sox.

At least Clay Buchholz won’t have to go on the DL. In fact, he may even make his next start, though the schedule would allow for the Sox to get him some extra time off without having to call anyone up.

Dan Barabisi notes that 2B/OF Eric Patterson will be activated Tuesday, and that the left-handed hitter could make a decent platoon partner with Bill Hall. It’s a nice thought, but Hall is actually hitting much better against righties this year, and in his career, his platoon split is not so bad; he’s hit righties at a .243/.298/.428 clip. Patterson has hit .226/.309/.365 against RHP. All indications are that Patterson is a depth backup.

This season, full of injuries and disappointments as well as pleasant surprises, is pretty frustrating, but it makes for some fascinating baseball, says Patrick Sullivan. I have to agree.

One thing about Josh Beckett’s poor performance this season – it’s come against some pretty tough competition. In fact, by at least one measure, it’s come against the toughest competition there is in baseball. So there’s still some small hope that if he can get back healthy, we might see the old Beckett.

The Red Sox took some measures to shut down their opponents on the basepaths back in May, and it really worked. However, now that the problem has become less of a concern, it seems that opponents are gearing it up again.

Links 6-16-2010: Scutaro’s condition, Doubront debut, looking ahead, Lowell makes sense for Twins

Marco Scutaro was given a nerve root injection in his neck the other day to dull pain in his left arm. Turns out he’s been playing through a pinched nerve and herniated disc in his back all year. His numbers aren’t all that bad, in that light.

With two main starters out of the rotation, the Red Sox have chosen to give prospect Felix Doubront the ball Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Fenway. The 22-year old lefty, currently 2-1 with a 1.08 ERA at Pawtucket, will make his Major League debut against Manny Ramirez and friends. Best of luck, Doubie.

After all of the reasons for optimism I gave yesterday, Patrick Sullivan balances that out with some things that could turn sour for the Red Sox this year. David Golebiewski also throws some water on the idea that Clay Buchholz is having his breakout season.

Aaron Gleeman takes a detailed look at Mike Lowell and cautiously approves of him as a trade target. He suggests a prospect in their top 30 or so in return for Lowell.

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Links 4-23-2010: How to fix the outfield and catcher, improved defense?

So many good links out there, I had to post a part 2. Given the multiple injuries to our outfield, more and more are asking how to fix it. We know that throwing out runners is a problem; but the question is what are we planning to do about it? At the rate opponents are succeeding now, we could lose perhaps 10 marginal wins to steals alone! We’ve got two catchers on the roster, and neither of them can do a thing about all the thefts. There is a rumor out today that Boston might look at acquiring Chris Snyder from Arizona once he is available. I actually advocated getting him a while back, before we traded for Martinez.

The first set of Ultimate Zone Ratings for 2010 have been released, and the Red Sox are not doing too badly. Marco Scutaro has been mildly disappointing so far, but as a squad, we’ve been the fourth best team by UZR. In an extremely small sample, Bill Hall as been atrocious in center field, which is probably why Darnell McDonald is starting there for now.

Things look dire in Red Sox Nation, I know, but BP reminds us that it’s still really early, and we shouldn’t be counting anyone out yet, especially a team as talented as ours.

Want to know which hitters really pull the ball? Jeremy Greenhouse has a great way to profile hitters that could aid in OF positioning. Part 1 and part 2 are available at Baseball Analysts, a great site. Among the interesting findings, he notes that Jacoby Ellsbury can not go the opposite way with an inside pitch; to me that’s okay, as long as he can turn on it and pull it down the line.

Links 4-16-2010: OF shortage, Scutaro’s value, Dice-K getting ready, Embree staying

The Sox are back home for a tough series against the Rays, and they will be short at least one outfielder in Mike Cameron. Cameron was a late scratch for yesterday’s game after experiencing abdominal pain. It was severe enough that he had to stay behind as the team traveled home yesterday. So far, the Sox have ruled out appendicitis, and a DL trip may be in the works. With Jacoby Ellsbury nursing bruised ribs, we could run a barebones outfield of Jeremy Hermida, Bill Hall and J.D. Drew out there tonight (unless the Sox call up someone). The only other OF on the 40-man roster is Josh Reddick (.138/.167/.172), or the Sox could call up a middle infielder if they choose to play Hall in center; both Tug Hulett and Kevin Frandsen have one minor league option each and could be recalled without having to designate them. But if another regular goes down, we’re in trouble.

Speaking of the Rays, anyone else worried about stolen bases in this series? The Sox will have to get their defensive groove back if they want to win this series. I’ll the put over/under on Tampa steals at 12.

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Links 4-12-2010: Ellsbury ok, Dice-K rolls, Lowell to retire?

After a pretty hard collision with big Adrian Beltre, Jacoby Ellsbury’s ribs are merely bruised and not broken, and he seems to be doing ok. One of the results of this is that we might see more Jeremy Hermida this series against Minnesota. And if J.D. Drew’s neck doesn’t get better, we may even see Bill Hall in an outfield corner as well. Nice to have these kind of options at times like this.

Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 5 scoreless in his start for Pawtucket on Saturday. It’s been a long time since I’ve written those words. He’s said that he still has some things to work on, so I’m glad he’s not satisfied with holding minor league hitters scoreless. If he can come back by early May, the Red Sox should be in very good shape rotation-wise.

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4-12-2010: The Good, the Bad and the Ortiz

After two series in the books, we sit at 3-3, tied for 3rd in the AL East with Tampa Bay. Let’s dig into the numbers a bit to try and gauge the team’s performance so far.

The Good

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Links 2-22-2010: Beckett, Pedey, some non Spring Training stuff

Josh Beckett is not going to talk about his contract extension with the press. He’s saying all the right stuff, but I’m sure he expects to get paid to stay here this offseason. He’s definitely a better pitcher than he sometimes gets credit for, and he is the perfect fit for the team as a competitor and a leader. We’ll have an analysis article to try and peg the contract soon. Along with plenty of other players, Jon Lester is on record with wanting Beckett back.

Dustin Pedroia is loose and already entertaining teammates with his schtick. It’s beginning to look like Bill Hall may see time at shortstop, with Jed Lowrie going to Pawtucket early, where he can play every day. That certainly makes sense from a roster perspective, with Hall able to fill in at so many positions.

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