Links 2-26-2010: Epstein interview, Pedey 5th?, draft picks, Papi’s pop

Theo Epstein did a pretty lengthy interview on WEEI recently, and it’s worth a read. He addresses the 2009 Red Sox defense and how the direction of this offseason came about. He touches on Mike Lowell, Mike Cameron, and Adrian Beltre. Interestingly, he notes that the Bill James Handbook doesn’t contain James’ “actual” projections. “They just slap his name on it” is the way he puts it. Epstein mentions some of the detail work that James’ team does for Boston, including regression to the mean, etc.

John Tomase writes that the Red Sox have considered moving Dustin Pedroia down to 5th in the order, though Pedey himself has not heard anything. I don’t know about “20-homer power” (Pedroia’s high was 17 in his MVP season), but the addition of Marco Scutaro does give the Sox another tough out and OBP guy who could fit well in the #2 slot. My guess is that if Jacoby Ellsbury falters out of the gate, you will see Scutaro-Pedroia atop this order, and they’ll work well together. Otherwise, Scutaro will hit near the tail of the order.

Now that free agent signings are pretty much settled, we have our list of draft picks for this June. Despite signing a lot of good free agents, we have four picks in the first two rounds, including numbers 20, 36, 38 and 57 overall. Not bad at all. Peter Abraham notes that as well as we did, we can’t match the Blue Jays, who amassed 10 of the first 126 picks by going into rebuilding mode this offseason.

How did David Ortiz lose his groove? Dave Allen over at FanGraphs thinks he might have part of the answer. In two separate articles, he looks at Big Papi’s loss of plate discipline and his loss of pull power. He attributes the extra strikeouts (a Red Sox career-high 24.8% in 2009) to Papi chasing pitches up and in more than in the past. He also finds that Ortiz is not hitting a lot of deep fly balls to right, as he did in 2006-2007, despite swinging at more inside pitches. Thankfully, Ortiz hit relatively well from June onwards, posting a line of .264/.356/.548 with 27 HRs the rest of the way. I think that’s the Ortiz we can look forward to in 2010, for the most part.

For those of you who are forward-looking and are experiencing Hot Stove withdrawal, there were a couple of interesting developments this week with potential 2011 free agents. Adrian Gonzalez has stated that “the next contract is going to be the one where I look for what I deserve“. It has been almost a foregone conclusion that the Padres will not keep him once his current deal is up, so this just the writing on the wall. Also, Carl Crawford and the Rays have decided to table negotiations until after the season is over. The Red Sox have positioned themselves well to free up a lot of money after this season, when a lot of attractive players will become available. It’ll be an exciting offseason for sure.

Terry Francona shared that the pitchers are working on their pickoff moves in an attempt to slow down baserunners, who seemed to run at will on the Sox at times last season (remember Crawford and Julio Borbon?). After taking live BP with the relievers, players were talking about how explosive Daniel Bard was. They are encouraging him to work on his changeup as something to show left-handed hitters this season.

The Red Sox released an artist’s rendition of their new Spring Training facility, to be built in time for Spring Training 2012. It’s going to be modeled after Fenway, with a Green Monster and everything. Looks like it’ll be worth visiting.

Dr. Bill Morgan, the guy who made The Bloody Sock (TM) possible, has voluntarily suspended his medical license and is under investigation for some undisclosed thing. Mysterious. Steroids?

Manny Delcarmen has learned his lesson from last season. When his velocity drops and his arm doesn’t feel quite right, he’s not going to just try and pitch through it again. That’s what the medical staff is there for, guys.

The Red Sox released LHP Jose Capellan and RHP Edwin Moreno this week, both of whom were on minor league deals. Moreno is going to play in Mexico this year.


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