10-6-2011: The year that was

Alright, now that the initial sting has worn off a bit, I can go back and actually try to analyze this past season with some objectivity. We’ll cover our predictions, what went right and what went wrong.

First up, we predicted that the Sox would take the division with 92 wins. While the win figure was not off by much, the Yankees took it with 97 wins (not 90), and of course the Rays edged us out in the final game of the season with 91 wins (not 83). We also had Baltimore with 79 wins and Toronto at 76. Oops.

OFFENSE

We projected Boston to be 2nd best in the AL East at 820 runs behind New York’s 830 runs. In actuality, we led all of baseball by scoring 875 runs compared to 867 for the pinstripes.

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9-29-2011: RIP to the Red Sox

Last night was such a fitting end to the Red Sox’ 2011 season. With the Sox up 3-2 and the Rays trailing New York 7-0, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that, at worst, we’d be playing that one-game playoff today. But one rain delay, a Dan Johnson pinch-hit home run and a Jonathan Papelbon collapse later, it was suddenly gone. I just have no words. How do you explain a season where we were roundly picked as the best team in baseball, and we collapse like this? How do you explain THIS (image taken from FanGraphs.com):

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5-21-2011: Sox acquire Morales, sign Millwood

Sox trade a PTBNL for Franklin Morales

The pitching injuries are piling up again. With Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks out, the bullpen is a little thin. I was a little surprised to hear that Hideki Okajima was DFA’d, but you have to know that the Sox were dissatisfied with their lefty reliever situation this year, quickly discarding Denys Reyes. This move comes down to upgrading the bullpen. Morales was considered a pretty good prospect just two years ago, and is a lefty who throws a 94 mph heater and a good curve. His presence makes the deteriorating Okajima expendable (his three-year numbers are all trending in the wrong direction). Theo Epstein is hoping that we can retain him if he can slip through waivers, but if not, we’ll trade him.

It’s true, Morales’ numbers are not good, but that’s why he was available. He strikes out more hitters than Oki, but has struggled with walking batters and giving up the long ball (though I hear that happens from time to time in Colorado). Perhaps Curt Young can work some magic with the young flamethrower. I’ll have to see what we send back in return for him, but this seems like a good upside deal to me.

Kevin Millwood signed to a minor-league deal

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1-2-2011: Okajima signs, bullpen and roster complete

With the signing of Hideki Okajima over the weekend, the Red Sox bullpen makeover is complete and we are looking at a full 40-man and a filled-out active roster.

Here’s what our projections see for this bullpen going forward:

Name IP K/9 BB/9 ERA
Papelbon 68.2 9.9 2.9 2.95
Doubront 38.2 8.5 3.8 3.57
Jenks 55.1 8.3 3.1 3.59
Bard 60.2 9.1 3.9 3.61
Miller 38.0 7.8 3.9 3.77
Okajima 57.0 7.9 3.5 3.85
Wheeler 57.1 7.9 3.0 4.09
Albers 34.0 6.6 4.4 4.50
Hill 23.1 8.0 5.4 5.21

Not bad, Mr. Epstein, not bad at all. The projections see Jonathan Papelbon returning to form this season. His ERA was high, but his peripherals were still solid last season, as shown by his 3.51 FIP and 3.72 xFIP last season. As long as he can avoid the DL, I think this is a distinct possibility.

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11-15-2010: The Andrew Miller trade

On Friday, the Red Sox swapped young lefties with the Florida Marlins, obtaining former first-rounder Andrew Miller for 26-year old Dustin Richardson. They are both big lefties who don’t look like they will pan out as big league starters, but might have some promise in a bullpen role.

The two significant differences between them that led to this trade? Miller made $1.8M last year and is out of minor league options, while Richardson is making the league minimum and can be sent to the minors. That’s always a consideration for the Marlins. So what do we get out of this? We get a guy who was once truly dominant in the low minors and with the Tar Heels in college – he was the Anthony Ranaudo of his day. Sure, he hasn’t impressed in a while now, but once a guy’s demonstrated a high level of talent, there’s always some chance he can replicate it later on; Richardson lacks that distinction. At age 25, Miller is actually a year younger than Richardson.

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11-10-2010: Why Justin Duchscherer?

The Red Sox have also expressed interest in free agent pitcher Justin Duchscherer, who is coming off of hip surgery last June which cut short his season. 2011 will be Duchscherer’s age 33 season, and he’s only been able to pitch 28 innings over the past two seasons. Why would the Red Sox, who already feature a “full house” in the rotation, want someone like him?

All the data suggests that if “the Duke” is healthy, he could be a quality starter. That’s a big if for someone who’s suffered as many injuries as he has. My projection says something like a mid-3s ERA with good control is possible, but you just don’t know what you’ll get with someone who hasn’t pitched competitively in two years.

And let’s not forget that Curt Young, our new pitching coach, has a history with Duchscherer from his Oakland days and could lure him here for a Brad Penny/John Smoltz-type of gig (hopefully with better results). I’m all for this gamble, as it seems like it’ll be relatively cheap.

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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