Links 11-2-2010: Free agent news, AFL, Farrell farewell, Fenway changes, Fielding Bible, the pitching market

Thing are moving more quickly this offseason, with new rules in play. Three Sox are free agents already, and those with options will find out by Thursday if they are still Red Sox. With Adrian Beltre sure to become a free agent, Kevin Youkilis is doing the prudent thing and preparing to play third, just in case. Peter Gammons doesn’t see the Red Sox being able to keep Victor Martinez anymore. They squandered their chance when they offered only two years and didn’t see him catching for them beyond that timeframe. If he walks, the Sox will have to acquire a veteran catcher as well as make a big splash somewhere else in order to make up for his lost bat. Gammons believes that Boston will sign Carl Crawford, who doesn’t like being the stolen base guy atop the order. With Jacoby Ellsbury already filling that role, he won’t have to be that here. Of course, don’t forget that there are several teams with big money to spend.

The official Elias free agent rankings have been released, and Victor Martinez and Beltre are Type A free agents, as expected. David Ortiz, Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell are Type B free agents.

The other move that is percolating (probably at the next trade deadline) is the potential acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez. The Padres have all but admitted they can’t re-sign him beyond 2011, so they’ll be looking for a big return before he walks. With most of the big budget teams set at first base already and not much other competition, we could finally land the big bat we’ve coveted for so long.

Don’t look for Daisuke Matsuzaka to be dealt this offseason (barring a REALLY good offer from some team). While he hasn’t lived up to the hype, he has been more than serviceable as a middle/back-end starter.

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4-14-2010: What’s ailing Big Papi?

David Ortiz is on a streak of epic proportions. Unfortunately, it’s not a good streak. Since Sunday, Big Papi has struck out six times in at-bats. Let’s break down his 2010 performance so far, and look at each at-bat in his four-strikeout game to see what we can learn.

Good trends

Perhaps the most encouraging thing I can say is that at least he’s not flailing at bad pitches. His 16.4% O-swing rate tells us that he’s remaining disciplined up there so far. He’s also continuing to hit line drives at a normal 18% clip, and given his .273 BABIP, we might expect things to look up some for him. But I’m afraid Papi’s problems extend far beyond an unlucky BABIP.

Bad trends

Ortiz has been laying off of more pitches in general, swinging at a career low 34.5% (career 44.5%). In the games I’ve watched, it seems that he is tentative and checking a lot of swings up there, not a good sign. Despite swinging less overall, he’s missing more than ever, with a 13.3% swinging strike rate (career 9.6%). StatCorner tells us that when he does swing, he’s missing 33% of pitches in the zone and 48% outside the zone. Add to all that a career-worst 8.3% walk rate (his career low is 9.2% with the Twins back in 2002), and an unbelievable 50% K-rate (career 21.5%). There’s little to no power, and he’s hitting 46% ground balls to boot. Add to that 25% infield flies, and you are beginning to see why I’m so concerned.

Now let’s take a look at his 4 strikeout games against the Royals from Sunday. It wasn’t Zack Grienke on the mound, but Gil Meche.

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Links 4-13-2010: Lester’s ok, slow games, running opponents, Ellsbury, Kelly debuts

Is Jon Lester a “slow starter”? Many are saying so, but I don’t buy it. Yes, the walks and the hits, but take a look at Minnesota’s spray chart from yesterday. I don’t think they hit him as hard as people are saying they did.

Minnesota's hits from 4-12-2010

To me, it looks like a lot of short liners and bloops to left field and a couple of singles off of Lester. Those farthest two balls to right belong to Scott Atchison, not Lester. There was that grounder to Scutaro that took a bad hop, and a grounder deflected by Kevin Youkilis. I think Lester is doing just fine. Don’t believe the current ERA; his FIP is 3.54 this year.

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