Hot Stove 2010: Options for a SP

I started doing these summaries as one post, and it just got too darn long. I just ad to throw away my shortstop post today. Anyway, on we go to starting pitching.

The Sox rotation is young (apart from Tim Wakefield) and strong, but lacks veteran depth. Behind a budding ace in Jon Lester and a very solid Josh Beckett, we’ve got (at worst) a middle-of-the-rotation filler in Daisuke Matsuzaka and some young talent. The Sox could easily go their typically conservative route, or they can trade away some of those juicy prospects for an upper-tier pitcher:

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Links: Analysis of Bard, Harden

Found a couple of great pitching articles, and just had to link them here:

Harry Pavlidis breaks down Daniel Bard’s slider. Very in-depth and insightful analysis using PITCHf/x data. He argues that Bard should give up the slurvy version of his slider and stick to the slutter, as the Red Sox are suggesting.

Remember my analysis of Rich Harden? Despite dropping to the use of just two pitches, I explained his success by referencing his excellent changeup. There’s a great piece on Driveline Mechanics that suggests that lost in the PITCHf/x classification is another fastball variant that is pretty unique and looks suspiciously like a cutter. Whatever it is, Harden’s using to very good effect.

Hot Stove 2010: Sign Matt Holliday

You’re going about this all wrong. Would it be nice to get an elite slugger or a young ace this offseason? Of course! But at what price? Despite how it looked at times, the lineup is strong, and finished 3rd in runs scored, despite playing Nick Green and Jason Varitek as much as we did. And the rotation already has four strong pitchers if Daisuke Matsuzaka can come back. Trading Clay Buchholz now is the wrong move; he will give you 80-90% of what Hernandez will over the next four years at a bargain price. The Red Sox have talent and should continue to build from within. We certainly need to address that left field vacancy, as well as the lack of pop in the lineup; signing Matt Holliday should be enough on both counts, and we can fill in as needed around these guys. Here’s how to approach the off-season with measured restraint:

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Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Adrian Gonzalez

It seems that an Adrian Gonzalez trade is drumming up the most excitement in Red Sox Nation so far, so let’s formulate an off-season plan revolving around acquiring him from Jed Hoyer’s Padres. Hoyer has noted that a contract extension with Gonzalez is “definitely on the docket”, and he would like to keep him playing for his native San Diego; however with A-Gonz in line for a major free agent deal after 2011, it makes you wonder if the Padres and their $40M payroll will be able to hang on to him much longer (former Padres GM Kevin Towers agrees). Okay, so here’s fantasy off-season plan A (for Adrian):

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2010 Free agent profile: Rich Harden

All right Red Sox fans, start your engines. There was a lot of excitement this week when Rich Harden came up as a free agent the Red Sox may be looking at. The 6-1 righty broke into the Majors at age 21 with Oakland, featuring a then mid-90s fastball and some of the nastiest pitches even to come out of Texas. He was known for his slider and split-finger fastball at that time, which were just phenomenal. Plagued by injuries his whole career, Harden has topped 30 games started just once in 7 seasons. His 26 starts in 2009 was actually his second-most ever. Given that background, how much should we offer the hard-throwing righty?

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Links: Early speculation on the Red Sox offseason plan

It’s never too early to start speculating about next year. It may seem like Spring Training is an eternity away, but the Sox have to start game-planning now. Should they tangle with Scott Boras again and risk Matt Holliday going to the Yankees or some other team at the last minute? Thinking they had and then not landing Mark Teixeira really left them in the lurch last year.

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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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31-22: Sox swept out of Oakland

Oakland came into this series struggling of late, and Boston came in on a six-game win streak. But it didn’t matter, as the A’s silenced the Boston bats and got enough offense to win all three games. The Sox are really feast or famine this year; in addition to the extreme home/road splits, they have had winning streaks of 4, 5, 6 and 7 games already. They have lost three in a row twice, and had 4 and 5 game losing streaks as well in this still young season. They have been a part of 9 series sweeps in 2008, winning 5 of them and losing 4. Let’s hope the losing doesn’t continue for long this time.

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3-1: Lester, bullpen shutout A’s, 5-0

It’s only April 3rd, but already 2008 has been full of ups and downs for Jon Lester (1-1). Luckily for the Sox, yesterday was a pretty big up for him. Facing the Oakland Athletics for the second time in two starts, Lester tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings en route to his first win. He threw 53 of 94 pitches for strikes, allowing three hits and three walks. That’s great for Lester, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he was economical, as the Sox turned three key double plays in consecutive innings, which helped Lester a lot.

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1-1: Sox split Japan series

The Red Sox came away with a split of their two-game series with Oakland at the Tokyo Dome. It sure was good to watch some baseball again, wasn’t it? Don’t worry too much, I still consider these games like Spring Training, even if they do count.

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