4-8-2011: Yankees series predictions, Aceves called up

If there was any inkling of overconfidence by these Red Sox coming into the 2011 season, it’s gone now. The defensive and baserunning miscues we saw this week showed a general lack of focus and preparedness, and those need to be dealt with, NOW. Our boys limp into Boston 0-6 on the year, having been swept in embarrassing fashion by the Rangers, and now even the rebuilding Indians at the Jake. I don’t think any less of this team talent-wise, but I do think that there’s a comfort level which has to be reached, and it will only happen after we win our first game.

Game 1: Phil Hughes vs. John Lackey

Normally, I’d say that Hughes is a better pitcher, but you have to take into account the beating that he took in his first start against Detroit. Don’t discount the fact that his fastball was clocking in at only 89 mph, whereas it’s normally about 3-4 mph faster. I think Lackey surprises us with a pretty solid outing (say 2-3 runs over 6 innings) and we finally win our first game here.

Read more of this post

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.

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.

Read more of this post

On the Horizon: LHP Drake Britton

Image courtesy of Bleacher Report

Drake Britton is a 21-year old pitching prospect, currently ranked as the Red Sox’ fourth best prospect and number 97 overall in Baseball America’s annual ranking. As one of the youngest prospects in Boston’s system, he is considered to be a very high-ceiling player. At 6-2, 200 he already has a good frame and is still growing.

Background

Hailing from Magnolia, TX, Britton was drafted in 2007 as the Sox’ 23rd round pick out of Tomball HS. He was committed to Texas A&M, and slipped way down due to signability concerns (Boston eventually got him with a $700k bonus). It looks like he turned out to be a real steal after all.

Read more of this post

12-28-2010: The AL East arms race

The Red Sox entered into this offseason with six proven Major League starters, and so were never really in the running for Cliff Lee. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz had stellar seasons in 2010, while new signing John Lackey failed miserably and Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka spent significant time on the DL. How does this rotation stack up against the rest of the teams in the division?

I am nearing completion on my first draft of projections of 2011, and here’s what I see in 2011 based on both Major and minor league performances:

Slot BOS TB NYY TOR BAL
1 3.49 3.83 3.48 4.25 4.32
2 4.08 4.09 4.33 4.26 4.56
3 4.15 4.15 4.40 4.28 4.58
4 4.23 4.20 4.57 4.50 4.92
5 4.28 4.44 4.87 4.54 5.12
6 4.70 4.45 5.00 4.65
Wt Avg 4.13 4.18 4.40 4.40 4.73

Read more of this post

11-19-2010: Crazy offseason scenario number 1

All of this Justin Upton talk has me thinking. The Red Sox need two bats to replace Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, and it’s generally thought that we will likely sign a free agent corner outfielder (Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford) and a corner infielder. What if, instead of blowing $100M on two good but aging players, we fill those spots via trade for good young players, utilizing our top prospects? Stay with me here.

Step 1. Send Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Josh Reddick to Arizona for Justin Upton

I know, you’re saying WHAT? But hear me out.

Read more of this post

11-11-2010: Why you won’t see a Matsuzaka-Fukudome trade

Yesterday, people were astir with a rumor started by Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. He said that a deal was in the works to send Kosuke Fukudome to Boston (plus others) in exchange for Daisuke Matsuzaka in a swap of underwhelming Japanese players. Both players have disappointed in their Major League stints, and alienated the home crowds to some extent; maybe a change of scenery is what they need? The logic appears sound. But a closer look shows there is no way this deal would go down.

Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.