9-29-2011: RIP to the Red Sox

Last night was such a fitting end to the Red Sox’ 2011 season. With the Sox up 3-2 and the Rays trailing New York 7-0, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that, at worst, we’d be playing that one-game playoff today. But one rain delay, a Dan Johnson pinch-hit home run and a Jonathan Papelbon collapse later, it was suddenly gone. I just have no words. How do you explain a season where we were roundly picked as the best team in baseball, and we collapse like this? How do you explain THIS (image taken from FanGraphs.com):

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1-14-2011: The Yankees and Soriano, 2011 draft picks, Sox offseason pays off

The Yankees signed a pretty good reliever in Rafael Soriano yesterday, but curiously, I’m fairly positive about it. I’m happy because his 3-year, $35M deal (with TWO opt-out clauses) smacks of desperation. It’s like they were trying to copy what we did with Bobby Jenks, but botched it badly. Nobody pays this much to a setup guy, but somehow Scott Boras made the Yankees just look foolish. Brian Cashman had to directly go back on his word to sign Soriano, and they gave up their first-rounder to Tampa Bay in order to do it. They also ensured that we would get Texas’ first-round pick for signing Adrian Beltre. The Yankees haven’t improved this offseason, and they have some heavy payroll commitments coming up. I’m not saying that Soriano won’t make them better. He’s a very good player when healthy. But they could end up flushing quite a bit of change down the toilet on this deal.

We’ve done pretty well on gathering draft picks while also improving as a team (getting younger and more athletic). Only Tampa Bay has acquired more early picks, but I’m of the opinion that they will take a pretty big step back this year, so they’ll need them.

The Red Sox offseason has already paid off, as far as upper management is concerned. They are selling tickets like crazy, and ESPN has picked up four of their early games on Sunday nights. They are relevant again. They also have some ticket voucher giveaways coming right up.

Hideki Okajima has resigned with Boston for one year on the team’s terms. I still think he could be mildly effective, though we probably won’t see any more low-2 ERAs from him anytime soon. I feel somewhat comfortable with him and Felix Doubront as lefty options out of the pen, though even the righties don’t have terrible splits against lefties.

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Links 11-4-2010: Sox hire Young, re-up Ortiz and Atchison, acquire Dlugach, BA prospect rankings

The Sox announced the hiring of Curt Young as their new pitching coach. He’s had a lot of experience working with young pitchers in the Oakland system, and helped them to some good success, even at young ages. Let’s hope that he can work some magic with the veterans here as well. He’s a quality hire by all accounts, and the timing was perfect for us, having just lost John Farrell.

Well, it’s official. As expected, the Red Sox chose to exercise their one-year options on David Ortiz and Scott Atchison, but let utilityman Bill Hall and MI Felipe Lopez go to free agency. While it might be shrewd to save a few million by letting Big Papi go out on the market, it’s not worth saving those millions if he signs with a potential contender like Tampa Bay, who has been looking for a true DH for years. The Sox still have the option of extending him if they so choose later on in the offseason. Atchison is a solid back of the bullpen guy with minor league options, so he was a no-brainer. As for Hall and Lopez, the presence of a healthy Jed Lowrie (knock on wood) makes it unnecessary to pay them big money to back up Dustin Pedroia and Marco Scutaro.

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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 defenseĀ 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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Links 6-4-2010: Bogar’s fault?, draft outlook, Sox sweep AL awards for May

Tim Bogar has apologized for getting both Victor Martinez and Darnell McDonald thrown out at home with no outs. We ended up losing by one run, despite getting 18 hits; and that hindsight has a lot of people upset at Bogar. Saberist Tom Tango points out that sending the runners may not have been wrong, and that teams are generally too conservative on the basepaths. So it’s not always so clear cut- but I’d say that he should have held up because Martinez, who is a slow runner to begin with, has been struggling with a bruised big toe. McDonald also banged his right knee on a pickoff play at first earlier, and was sort of loping home, and was thrown out easily. I think the injury concerns should have forced him to be a little less aggressive with these guys. But let’s not pin the loss on just these two outs. If we pitch and play defense better in a game where Brett Anderson leaves after two innings, we win, plain and simple.

This year’s amateur draft is quickly approaching, and the Red Sox, with 4 of the first 57 picks, are salivating over the talent that’s available. The last time we had this many picks that high (in 2005), we ended up with Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Michael Bowden. Apart from Bryce Harper and a couple of other guys, there isn’t a lot of separation between the players in the rest of the first round, and Theo Epstein thinks that could help us out this year.

Congratulations go out to David Ortiz and Jon Lester, the AL Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively. Not surprisingly, Ortiz says confidently that the wrist is no longer an issue. Well, duh.

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Links 5-27-2010: Sox sweep Rays, Ellsbury dissatisfied, catcher defense

The Red Sox blew it wide open in the top of the 9th inning yesterday, tacking on five runs to blow out Tampa Bay by a score of 11-3. John Lackey struggled some, but cobbled together enough to limit the Rays to two runs. Despite that, he maintains that it was a very good start. Adrian Beltre doubled and homered twice, driving in a career-high 6 runs. While I was surprised by the show of power, his teammates think he’s got the most raw power in the lineup. Another great moment- David Ortiz chugging home, with Kevin Youkilis hot on his heels.

The Red Sox certainly made a statement when, even with an 8-run margin, the Sox sent the half-loping, half-hobbling Mike Cameron around from first base on a single Jeremy Hermida to score their last run. I’m don’t agree with that call for a 9th insurance run, not given the risk of injury to Cameron with an already light outfield. With the victory, the Sox move within 5 1/2 games of the Rays, and just two games behind the Yankees, who are sliding hard of late. It’s been a good week.

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