4-5-2011: Matsuzaka and first innings

Via ESPN, there’s a list of pitchers who are known to have terrible first innings. Our own Daisuke Matsuzaka is right there (7.56 ERA), fourth on the list behind others like Kevin Millwood (11.03), Chris Narveson (9.32) and Johan Santana(7.76). Hmm. I was all prepared to say something nasty about these guys, but then Santana’s name is in there. Of course, this is just 2010 data, so we’re not talking about a whole lot of starts here.

I’ve noticed before that Daisuke seems to be slow in getting into a groove, so I wanted to expand this to his MLB career to see if it was more generally true. Here’s the data:

Year Starts ER ERA Clean 1st %Clean
2007 32 16 4.50 22 69%
2007p 4 0 0.00 4 100%
2008 29 12 3.72 17 59%
2008p 3 3 9.00 1 33%
2009 12 9 6.75 8 67%
2010 25 21 7.56 16 64%
Totals 105 61 5.23 68 65%

Clearly 2010 was a particularly bad year for Matsuzaka. But we can take his career 5.23 ERA in first innings and compare it to his overall ERA, which is 4.18 and say that he does seem to have trouble first innings. The 65% clean inning rate doesn’t seem terribly out of line with what is expected statistically for an average pitcher. Combine those two things, and we can conclude that Dice-K struggles with big first innings (moreso recently).

Playing catchup is no fun for anyone, and that’s probably why people have such a bad impression of Matsuzaka as a pitcher, even though his ERA is actually better than Josh Beckett’s career ERA of 4.28 as a Red Sox. In addition to staying healthy, Matsuzaka needs to prepare for games better, and then he just might be a good pitcher again.

Links 9-20-2010: Offer to V-Mart, Ortiz’ option, Youk, Ethier, Drew, Darvish

The Sox apparently made a two-year offer to Victor Martinez, which he understandably turned down. I know they don’t want to sign him long-term to be their catcher, but this is an obvious low-ball offer to one of the upper-tier free agent prizes this offseason. I’d love to see them grab him for 3-4 years, with the understanding that he will transition mostly to 1B/DH towards the end of the deal.

There was an earlier report that the Sox are prepared to pick up David Ortiz’s $12.5M option for 2011. I’d be very surprised if they went this route rather than explore a multi-year deal at a lower annual salary.

Here is a rundown on what the Red Sox rotation could look like next year (hint: it’s very similar to this year’s model). Look for the Sox to try and ink Clay Buchholz to an extension, thought they might want to wait until his stock drops some. His numbers this year are kind of crazy good, and probably a bit better than we can expect from him going forward.

Here are the players going who are eligible to go to arbitration this offseason.

Always the good soldier, Kevin Youkilis has gone on record saying that he’ll play wherever the Sox ask him to next year. Normally you don’t worry about moving a Gold Glove first baseman, but moving Youk to third base could give the Sox flexibility in case they can’t re-sign Adrian Beltre this offseason.

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Why the Sox didn’t mess with the Johan

Sorry, bad title, I know. Interesting article out from Buster Olney. He claims that the reason the Sox were happy to let Santana to go to the Mets last season was concern over his elbow and decreased velocity. It’s easy to say that now, but if it’s true, it makes the Red Sox look like double geniuses, considering the contributions of Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie the past two years.

Speaking of the devil, congratulations to Ellsbury on his Red Sox record. And don’t look now, but Lowie is acting healthy again.

Six Sox named to 2009 AL All-Star team

The Red Sox are popular indeed, not just with fans, but players too. 2B Dustin Pedroia and LF Jason Bay have been named as starters for this year’s All-Star Game, to be held in St. Louis. Other Boston players who made the team include Tim Wakefield (his first selection in his illustrious career), Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon and Kevin Youkilis. Congratulations to all these deserving guys.

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The State of the Sox 2009

It’s time again for our yearly look at the Red Sox organization, to assess the overall health of the franchise and gauge its future prospects. Right now, things look pretty rosy.

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2008 Offseason: What a Peavy would cost

So all the buzz is about San Diego Padres starter Jake Peavy. The Padres are going nowhere fast, and might deal their ace Ever since Paul DePodesta posted this on his blog, speculation has run rampant on the Internet about where he could wind up. Sean McAdam really stirred the waters with this article. Would the Sox really go after Peavy? Let’s take a looksee.

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Link: Examining Jon Lester’s season

Just how good has Jon Lester been for the Red Sox this year? Peter Bendix over at Beyond the Box Score has a nice analysis article. I think the title is a little bit exaggerated at this point, but Lester has been darn good. That Johan Santana non-trade just keeps looking better and better, don’t you think?

Santana: Damaged goods?

If you haven’t noticed, Johan Santana hasn’t exactly gone over and decimated the National League this season. Here’s a nice article by Chadd Finn that discusses what might be going on here.

In the meantime, the names that were being bandied about as trade bait have played key roles on this year’s Sox.

24-17: Sox drop three in Minnesota

The Red Sox offense continues to lead the American League in team hitting by a huge margin (.294/.365/.454, compared to second-place Texas at .268/.346/.432), but has struggled to score a lot more runs as a result of stranding runners on base. They stranded 79 baserunners over four games, compared to the Twins’ 47. This is a regular thing with the Sox. While this is frustrating to no end, Boston did score 22 runs in the series, so you can’t really blame the offense. They were all pretty close games, and we could have easily split or taken the series.

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Lester/Santana showdown ends in a tie

It was a matchup we were all waiting for; the ace the Sox almost acquired versus the youngster he was almost traded for and a possible 2008 World Series preview that ended in a 1-1 draw. And with the recent worries with members of Boston’s rotation, Jon Lester turned in a very encouraging performance. Pitted against Johan Santana, thus far the best pitcher of this century, he bore down and very nearly matched him for four innings. He struck out five hitters and allowed just two singles and a walk. I don’t know if I’d qualify the outing as dominant, but he was certainly efficient and effective.

Santana wasn’t too shabby, either. Over four he two-hit the Sox, fanning four. Mets Nation is reveling in having a true ace for the playoffs. I understand the optimism, but it’s still Spring Training, dudes.

Hideki Okajima looked very sharp in two innings of work, and he looks capable of pitching just as well in 2008 as he did in his breakout rookie year. Craig Hansen allowed a run in his frame, but at least he didn’t walk anybody this time out. Craig Breslow continues to make a case for a bullpen spot this Spring, throwing another inning scoreless.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Chris Carter logged two hits apiece, but the lineup was pretty impotent, drawing no walks. Brandon Moss drove in the tying run in the top of the 9th, forcing the extra frame.

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