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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Links 10-15-2010: This year, next year, and prospect news

About This Season

Pitching and defense didn’t work because we didn’t pitch well and we didn’t play defense. At least not well enough. But we did still finish 6th overall according to this sabermetric ranking of teams. The Giants? Eleventh.

What exactly did the injuries cost us this season? Could we still be playing, had things gone differently? It’s a question many people are asking, including Brian MacPherson. On the other hand, putting our injuries into the context of MLB shows that while we did lose a lot of position players this year, our pitching staff actually fared quite well.

He didn’t miss much time because of it, but Marco Scutaro was playing hurt a lot this year. I was quite pleased with his performance for the most part, but the OBP was slightly disappointing.

Exactly how good was Jon Lester this year? If you look at the total of no-hit innings pitched this year by each pitcher, Lester finished second, behind Felix Hernandez. That’s pretty good company. On the other hand, we should expect a bit of regression next year from the lowest ERA on our staff.

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On the Horizon: OF Ryan Kalish

I guess I must be getting behind on these, since Ryan Kalish has already made his Major League debut and completed his official rookie season. Here we take a closer look at this promising young outfielder, and what his role with the team could be in 2011 and beyond.

Background

Just 22 years old, Kalish was drafted in 2006 as an over-slot 9th rounder out of Red Bank Catholic HS in New Jersey and is already a veteran of Boston’s farm system. Already committed to play baseball and football (quarterback) at University of Virginia, he hesitantly decided to sign with the Sox, his childhood favorite team. In addition to his $600k signing bonus, the Red Sox have agreed to pay his future college expenses. Highly competitive, he has drawn a lot of comparisons with Trot Nixon because of his all-out, “dirt-dog” style of play. Fans will love his aggressive play on the field. He is a charismatic player who draws the admiration of coaches and teammates, and he is said to be very mature (read this interview to verify it for yourself – part 1 and part 2). Kalish suffered a broken hamate bone in 2007 which required surgery and affected him in 2008 as well, but it appears to be fully healed now.

2010 was Kalish’s official rookie season, and he exploded upon the scene, going seven for his first 13 with a .538/.533/.615 line and hitting this memorable shot at Yankee Stadium. As with all rookies, Kalish went through his struggles and made adjustments, and he showed the tenacity and competitiveness that has made him successful.

Tools

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2010: The Year in Review

I’ll spare you the same comments again about the team’s overall performance here, but let’s go and examine each phase of the game and each player in detail.

Offense

We predicted the offense to be capable of scoring upwards of 832 runs this season, and the 2010 team scored 818 runs (still good for second in the AL), which is understandable given the injury situation. So offensively, things went more or less as planned, or even better. There were a number of big surprises from individual players.

Projected Actual
Name AB BA OBP SLG AB BA OBP SLG
Jed Lowrie 275 0.260 0.334 0.391 171 0.287 0.381 0.526
Adrian Beltre 581 0.277 0.326 0.444 589 0.321 0.365 0.553
Bill Hall 337 0.230 0.293 0.396 344 0.247 0.316 0.456
Kevin Youkilis 517 0.292 0.393 0.514 362 0.307 0.411 0.564
Jason Varitek 196 0.222 0.328 0.380 112 0.232 0.293 0.473
David Ortiz 514 0.258 0.358 0.483 518 0.270 0.370 0.529
Dustin Pedroia 630 0.300 0.369 0.451 302 0.288 0.367 0.493
Victor Martinez 499 0.298 0.374 0.480 493 0.302 0.351 0.493
Marco Scutaro 540 0.285 0.369 0.404 632 0.275 0.333 0.388
Mike Cameron 477 0.254 0.337 0.458 162 0.259 0.328 0.401
J.D. Drew 437 0.273 0.386 0.487 478 0.255 0.341 0.452
Mike Lowell 463 0.285 0.343 0.461 218 0.239 0.307 0.367
Jeremy Hermida 226 0.255 0.338 0.402 158 0.203 0.257 0.348
Josh Reddick 92 0.252 0.312 0.429 62 0.194 0.206 0.323
Jacoby Ellsbury 541 0.290 0.347 0.410 78 0.192 0.241 0.244

At the top of the table, you see those players who outperformed their predicted OPS by the greatest margin, and at the bottom are the laggards. Although he wasn’t the biggest plus on a pure OPS scale, playing time meant that Adrian Beltre was this season’s offensive MVP. Jed Lowrie was a big boost at the end of the season, and performed surprisingly well at the dish after finally recovering from mononucleosis.

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Links 10-01-2010: A quiet October in Boston

Well, we’ve been saying it for some time now, but it is now mathematically official – the Red Sox are out of it. Here’s Theo Epstein’s statement on their elimination. Nothing to do but root for the Rays against the Yankees now. And, of course, begin obsessing about the offseason. Sox Therapy is looking ahead too. Don’t cry over spilled milk, like this post does.

Notes on 2010

Go out and show some love for Mike Lowell on October 2, which has been dubbed, “Thanks, Mike” Night. He’s been a class character and I have the utmost respect for the man. And for God’s sake, someone get him his final home run ball.

Looking for a way to explain how the Red Sox could possibly have ranked second in offense after losing Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia for much of the year? Look no further than Adrian Beltre. His season had some of the hallmarks of an MVP year, with much of his success being found on hard-hit fly balls.

BP’s redux on the Red Sox this year was that it wasn’t just the injuries, but the poor starting pitching outside of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz that doomed the Red Sox. All of the focus has been on the bullpen, but I think they looked extra bad because they were forced to pitch tired by the rotation. Things should right themselves next year as Josh Beckett and John Lackey regress back towards who they were (fingers crossed).

There were some rumblings that the Red Sox seemed to fare poorly against poor teams, while they played well against tough opponents. This study at Dugout Central shows them as middle-of-the-pack in this regard.

David Ortiz downplays his 100 RBI season. Good for him. 100 is just a number, as is 20 wins. Lester still matches up against anyone else just fine.

Terry Francona insists that Jonathan Papelbon is all growed up, but Paps’ complaints about the umpiring tell us otherwise. It’s the game, Paps. Just do your job.

For those of you wondering why the Red Sox claimed Felipe Lopez for a stretch run with little hope and little need for him, Francona notes that he was insurance for Marco Scutaro, who was apparently playing with a lot of physical problems for some time. That, and his departure could net the Red Sox a compensation draft pick. He passed up a chance at the playoffs with the Padres to be here, though, so we’ll see what happens.

Looking ahead

The crowd believes Beltre will command 3-4 years at $13M per season as a free agent. If it’s three years, I might do it, but if it’s four, I’d hesitate a bit at that price.

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Links 9-20-2010: Beckett and Lackey, farm awards, V-Mart, crowdsourced contracts

Joe Pawlikowski examines Josh Beckett and John Lackey, and concludes that Beckett is probably more likely to return to form next season.

The Red Sox announced their minor league awards for 2010. Pitcher of the year is Felix Doubront, who did great as a starter, then bit the bullet to relieve for the Major League club.

After years of our top prospects kind of flaming out and struggling, Ryan Lavarnway and Anthony Rizzo are building some real value after very strong 2010 campaigns. And don’t forget Oscar Tejeda and Jose Iglesias, who also performed very well this year. Prospect guru John Sickels believes that Rizzo has passed up Lars Anderson as the top 1B prospect in our system.

The Red Sox signed four more international players, according to the Full Count blog.

Sully at Red Sox Beacon puts Darnell McDonald’s season into context for us. Yes, his defense was exposed in center field, but McDonald was better than a lot of  “name” outfielders out there this year. Without him, this team would have been sunk a while ago.

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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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