Links 6-29-2010: Historical hurt? Bonser becomes a FA, Beltre for HoF?

Although it might feel like it lately, BBTF Sox Therapy reminds us that while it’s been bad, this team has not been much more injured than other recent Sox teams. It’s good to keep some perspective, as we face a July full of fill-ins and temporary call-ups.

Boof Bonser cleared waivers today, and elected free agency. Looks like he didn’t show enough this season for any teams to want to give up anything to get him. Looks like the Sox will be on the prowl for more bullpen help. Do you think the Sox would want to revisit one of the free agent relievers available, like Chad Bradford or Hunter Jones? Hard-throwing Juan Cruz is an intriguing arm, but teams are staying away from him for some reason.

Satchel Price at Beyond the Box Score thinks that there are some reasons to think that Adrian Beltre could be headed for the Hall of Fame. I agree that Beltre’s been one of the best third basemen over the past 10-20 years, but I’m skeptical. Last time I checked, HoF voters don’t look at UZR or WAR in their deliberations. They look at things like batting average, HR, and RBI. OPS+ is about as fancy as they get, typically.

6-21-2010: Sweep of LA, roster changes, 2010 draftees play, Sox sign Broughton

The Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Dodgers this weekend, and it was a lot of fun to watch. Turns out Manny Ramirez’s return was nothing at all. I told you Inter-League play is a good time for Red Sox Nation. Now tied with Tampa Bay for 2nd place, we are in a very strong position going forward. Game-by-game notes:

Game 1: Felix Doubront was not half bad in his Major League debut, and it was good enough for the victory. Guided by Jason Varitek, he showcased a strong 92-93 mph fastball and mixed in a couple of decent curves and changeups. He got 80% first pitch strikes, didn’t make too many mistakes, and he didn’t pitch scared. He was promptly sent back to Pawtucket, and the Sox called up Robert Manuel.

Game 2: Tim Wakefield continues to do what he does, torn 43-year old labrum and all. A lot of errors in this one, but hey, it’s the Ws that count, not the Es. It’s not like the overall defense is bad; rather, the opposite is true.¬†Give some credit to Daniel Nava on Dustin Pedroia’s game-winning, walk-off single.

Game 3: That changeup Clay Buchholz throws is simply unfair. The “hand of God”, as it has been dubbed, made the Dodgers just look bad at the dish. That heads-up play by Pedroia in the 2nd inning proves why he is just so valuable to this team; aware that no one was covering 3rd base because of the shift on David Ortiz, he immediately got up and took the extra bag. That, children, is the way baseball is meant to be played. Adrian Beltre just makes it look so easy over at the hot corner. He calmly picked that rocket by Jamey Carroll on a mid-hop and threw him out. Another thing he makes look easy: smacking the ball to the triangle. How in the world does he generate all that power with one knee on the ground? Watching Darnell McDonald stumble around in right really makes me appreciate J.D. Drew’s defense (hopefully he’s back Tuesday). Speaking of outfield defense, Mike Cameron didn’t look his best in center, but that’s probably because he’s not anywhere near 100% yet.

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6-15-2010: What moves could be made?

As we are now fully into the month of June, we know that the two-month “evaluation period” is over, and the Red Sox are looking for ways to improve their team. After a horrid start by Boston and a torrid one by both New York and Tampa Bay, it would be easy to discount the Sox, but the truth is that Boston has the best record of all three teams since May 1 and has climbed to within 4 games of the division leaders.

Team W L Pct RS RA Diff
Boston 26 16 0.619 250 186 64
New York 25 16 0.610 237 173 64
Tampa 23 17 0.575 189 160 29

And that’s been done with Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron missing a huge chunk of that time. So it’s not like anything is irreparably broken, but there’s always room for improvement, right?

Evaluating areas of need

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6-14-2010: Nava!, roster shuffling, draft signings, the Ellsbury fiasco

Daniel Nava stands a stocky 5-10, 200 lbs. He is 27 years old, and has never played above Double-A ball until this season. After not making his college team initially, he was an undrafted player out of Santa Clara, and went to play independent league ball. The Sox signed Nava in 2007 for $1. Seriously. He’s not supposed to be in the big leagues. Yet here he is, slugging a grand slam in his first Major League game; no, check that, first at-bat; no, check that- on the first pitch he ever saw in the Majors off of Phillies starter Joe Blanton, a legitimate big league starter. Nava is actually a very well-rounded player; it’s just that none of his tools predict any level of success at the highest level. His journey is a great story, and I hope that he does stick somewhere, if not with us. Sabermatricians have said that Nava’s excellent minor league numbers bode well for him at this level.

With Josh Reddick already sent back to Pawtucket, Nava was called up to replace the injured Jeremy Hermida, who went on the DL with a severe case of Adrian Beltre. Reliever Joe Nelson was designated as well, making room for Jonathan Papelbon to return to active duty. Unfortunately, Nelson proved ineffective in his stint here, and his future with the team is uncertain. Also called up was left-handed reliever Dustin Richardson, as Daisuke Matsuzaka was suddenly¬†placed on the 15-day DL for forearm problems. He immediately came out and said that it wasn’t a big problem at all, which is a good thing, but I think he should keep his mouth shut more on issues like this.

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6-8-2010: Bonser recalled, Papelbon on leave, Sox and the draft

Closer Jonathan Papelbon was placed on the three-game bereavement list due to a family emergency, and RHP Boof Bonser was called up to take his slot in the bullpen. Bonser is looking sharp and has allowed just one run over his last 14 innings of work. For those looking for a sneak preview, Daniel Bard is expected to handle any save opportunities that come along in Cleveland in this series.

Speaking of Papelbon, his fastball has become increasingly ineffective over the past three years, according to at least one sabermetric measure. The velocity and movement appear to be consistent, but it is getting batted around quite a bit more. Is Papelbon’s true talent declining, or is this just a figment of small sample size for relievers? My guess is that the heater hasn’t declined to below a replacement level fastball quite yet, but it doesn’t surprise hitters like it used to. Clearly, his strikeout ratios are WAY below even last year’s, so it is not fooling people on either side of the plate. This will make it a tough call this offseason.

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6-7-2010: Baltimore wrapup, wounded OFs, looking ahead

It was a disappointing loss to end the series, fer sure (as John Lackey might say), but it was still a good series for the Red Sox. Boston made the Orioles look pitiful (as they should), outscoring them 22-6 over three games. That’s what run prevention looks like when it works. Clay Buchholz turned in another great outing, showing more maturity and poise on the mound, Jon Lester pitched great yet again (with a big help from Daniel Bard), and Lackey wasn’t too terrible. Oh, and in that last game, despite the velocity being there, Manny Delcarmen’s poor finish has been attributed to lower back issues. David Ortiz is also fine after being hit by a pitch on the left hand, near the wrist. Mike Cameron finally came back and looked very good out in center field in his first start- more good news.

Perhaps the most negative thing to come out of this series was the collision between Adrian Beltre and Jeremy Hermida. That’s the second OF Beltre has taken out this season, for those who are keeping score; Jacoby Ellsbury is still on the sidelines after crashing into the big third baseman a month ago. Hermida doesn’t have any broken bones, or at least that’s what the Sox medical team claims. Beltre is a hulking six feet of muscle- Hermida and Ellsbury, not so much. Left field is becoming a hazardous place to play in Boston. The next victim? Josh Reddick, fresh from Pawtucket.

Incidentally guys, please don’t touch Beltre’s head. That nearly cost Victor Martinez a trip to the DL, according to this article.

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Links 6-4-2010: Bogar’s fault?, draft outlook, Sox sweep AL awards for May

Tim Bogar has apologized for getting both Victor Martinez and Darnell McDonald thrown out at home with no outs. We ended up losing by one run, despite getting 18 hits; and that hindsight has a lot of people upset at Bogar. Saberist Tom Tango points out that sending the runners may not have been wrong, and that teams are generally too conservative on the basepaths. So it’s not always so clear cut- but I’d say that he should have held up because Martinez, who is a slow runner to begin with, has been struggling with a bruised big toe. McDonald also banged his right knee on a pickoff play at first earlier, and was sort of loping home, and was thrown out easily. I think the injury concerns should have forced him to be a little less aggressive with these guys. But let’s not pin the loss on just these two outs. If we pitch and play defense better in a game where Brett Anderson leaves after two innings, we win, plain and simple.

This year’s amateur draft is quickly approaching, and the Red Sox, with 4 of the first 57 picks, are salivating over the talent that’s available. The last time we had this many picks that high (in 2005), we ended up with Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Michael Bowden. Apart from Bryce Harper and a couple of other guys, there isn’t a lot of separation between the players in the rest of the first round, and Theo Epstein thinks that could help us out this year.

Congratulations go out to David Ortiz and Jon Lester, the AL Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively. Not surprisingly, Ortiz says confidently that the wrist is no longer an issue. Well, duh.

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Links 4-15-2010: Lackey rolls, Ortiz vs Hermida, Sox claim Luis, Bonser hurt?

After another solid outing in Minnesota, John Lackey has gotten off to a great start in 2010. Expected to be a solid 3rd starter, the 6-6 righty has been the strongest arm in the rotation thus far, posting two quality starts with a sparkling 1.42 ERA. The peripherals are nothing too special (3.91 FIP, 5.53 xFIP) but he’s using all his pitches effectively and induced almost 50% ground balls and let the defense work for him. Don’t expect this kind of pitching all season from Lackey, but it’s certainly nice while it lasts. This is the strength of a team with a quality front three – it will be VERY hard to get us to lose more than a few games in a row.

Manager Terry Francona is predictably still standing behind Papi, but the Sox are smart and they won’t stick with him for too much longer if he doesn’t show signs of improvement. The thing about it is, we have another productive left-handed hitter on the roster right now in Jeremy Hermida. With the opportunity afforded him by Jacoby Ellsbury’s injury, Hermida has shown that he can play in this league; if Ortiz continues to struggle, he could easily step in as a lefty DH. Again, there’s that great team depth I’ve been praising.

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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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4-4-2010: Opening Day, Sox down Yankees 9-7

Opening Day on Easter Sunday was quite the spectacle. I’m glad they brought in Pedro Martinez to throw the first pitch, and it was entertaining to have Steve Tyler and Neil Diamond sing (even if they weren’t so good). 5-year old Joshua Sacco’s reciting the speech from “Miracle” was entertaining, though I wouldn’t want my own 5-year old boy saying, “Screw ‘em!”.

Some notes from game 1 yesterday: Read more of this post

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