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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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 8-27-2010: Make it or break it in Tampa, random links

It seems like the 4th or 5th time I’ve written this, but the Red Sox’ playoff hopes may ride on this series. Tonight they begin a three game series in Tampa, and if they don’t win at least two of these three, the season may be sunk. History is not on our side for a sweep, but what a great story it would be!

However, Dustin Pedroia looks likely to pack it in for the year and have surgery on his foot, which makes it all the less likely we can go anywhere in October.

Kolbrin Vitek has impressed with the bat, but his fielding has always been sort of questionable. It looks like the Sox might try to transition him to third base. We could use another good prospect there, if he can handle the position.

An interesting article looking at exactly how much clutch hitting figures into baseball, at least statistically.

Tom Tango says that ejected or not, Adrian Beltre made the better bet with Felix Hernandez for that game.

Part 2 of that knuckleballer series is up, and now we see that R.A. Dickey throws his knuckleball much harder than Wake does.

Links 8-26-2010: Consensus building, Damon, Lackey and lefties, Reddick back

I’ve been saying it since Dustin Pedroia went back on the DL, but it appears that more and more people are priming their forks to stick into the 2010 Boston Red Sox. The playoffs are a tough sell at this point, but hey, anything can happen in baseball.

For every good thing that happens to the Sox, it seems that there is a black lining to it. Jon Lester was cruising along, but then he gets blown up in his last start. Josh Beckett is back, supposedly healthy, but he still looks shaky. Clay Buchholz has been dominating, but Patrick Sullivan reminds us that his numbers rest on a lot of “luck”. Hideki Okajima is being held at Pawtucket because of his last poor outing. They don’t want him to come to the Majors on a bad note.

There are some interesting names on the waiver wire, though I don’t expect the Red Sox to be able to land any of them. Scott Downs and Manny Ramirez are both out there. I’d like to add Downs, but no way would I claim Manny. The White Sox are reportedly interested in getting him, though. And guess what else? Man-Ram wants another contract extension. Surprise, surprise.

Unlike some, I was not at all surprised at Johnny Damon’s decision not to return to Boston. With the Sox on the very fringe of contending, what reason does he have to come here? The management refused to pay him what he thought he was worth, the fans have given him an icy reception several times, most of his “idiot” friends have moved on, and most of all he knows how this club works. If he came here, he’d be a part-time guy who would only play against righties. I don’t blame him in the least, though I think he could definitely help this team right now.

It appears that more than one observer has commented on John Lackey’s inability to put away left-handed hitters this season. Southpaws have hit .308/.381/.435 off of him this year, but righties hit him to the tune of .301/.353/.493 back in 2008. Splits can be tricky, because of sample size. We don’t know if this is a real problem or just a blip due to a bad year, and we won’t know until at least next year.

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Links 8-20-2010: Prospects post, playoffs slipping away, some bright spots, Papelbon

All told, the Red Sox spent a team record $10.66M on signing bonuses for this year’s draft class, guys who had not pitched a professional inning. It was a necessary infusion of talent into a farm system that has been drained of top prospects and had some of our best young guys get injured or tarnished this year. Considering we drafted well and signed all of our first 10 picks, evaluators have been picking the Sox draft as the best in our division this year.

Baseball America published their “best tools” series this week, and many Red Sox prospects got recognition, especially the superb defense currently at Double-A Portland.

Catching prospect Adalberto Ibarra did not pass his physical, so he renegotiated his contract with Boston to the tune of $700-800k. That’s a far cry from the $3M guaranteed deal that he originally agreed to. Sure, it saves money, but it must have been a significant issue for him to backtrack so much on the numbers.

Goodbye 2010?

Just when you think the Sox are ready to turn the corner, a day like yesterday happens. Dustin Pedroia is held out with foot pain, and Josh Beckett gets lit up by a so-so lineup in the Angels. Jarrod Saltalamacchia gets sent to the DL with a mystery leg infection. Add that up with no more Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, and you’ve got a boring October looming.

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8-18-2010: So you’re saying there’s a chance, bullpen, outfield, draft signings, etc

This AL East race is just maddening. Every time the Sox look like they’re about to go on a run, they stumble, and every time they stumble, so does either New York or Tampa Bay. This is the season that just refuses to die.

The porous bullpen has been better of late, though it is still prone to blowups. It seems that Felix Doubront has surpassed Dustin Richardson on the depth chart, since Richardson was sent down to make room for Dustin Pedroia.

The outfield situation is beginning to look especially dire, given that Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron are out for the year. Yes, those would be our only real center field options for 2010. Add to that Eric Patterson going on the DL, and we’re looking at a whole lot of Ryan Kalish over the next two weeks. Hey, he’s been playing great for us, but any rookie who is pressed into duty will get exposed a bit… On a related note, Kevin Youkilis thinks he could play in October if we make it that far. Mike Lowell is filling in admirably at first base for now, and with Carlos Delgado on the shelf, we may not have many other options. The Diamondbacks’ Adam LaRoche just cleared waivers today, so there’s an off chance that we could try to bring him back if we get back in the race.

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Links 8-13-2010: Playoff hopes fading, Salty and Hall, draft deadline coming, Sickels reviews our farm

The Red Sox took two of three from the Blue Jays, which is okay, but we should have had game 3. If we let games like that slip away, I don’t see us getting back to the playoffs this year. The math is starting to get pretty tough for us, points out Rob Neyer.

It certainly won’t be any easier with Jonathan Papelbon lacking his previous dominance as a closer. It’s not just one game, but Pap is showing a gradual decline which started last year. He’s still a very good closer, but he’s rapidly losing elite status, and that’s bad with just one year of arbitration left.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was called up this week, and did just fine in his first start yesterday. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we let Victor Martinez walk this offseason, but there’s some hope yet for Salty to become something.

Seems like people only remember a couple of botched plays when they think of Bill Hall, but he’s had a pretty good season at the plate. Jeremy Greenhouse points out that, in at least one situation, you’d rather bat him than Prince Fielder.

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Links 8-11-2010: Lowell/Delgado/Saltalamacchia controversy, roster moves, looking ahead

Despite yet more heroics yesterday, the Red Sox have made it abundantly clear that they don’t trust Mike Lowell to play every day at first base. Jerry Remy also thinks Lowell will be somewhat limited. First they signed Carlos Delgado to a minor league deal, and now with Kevin Cash on the DL, they have called up Jarrod Saltalamacchia, probably to be the backup catcher/left-handed first baseman. It makes sense to employ a platoon at first base to try and replace some of the production lost with Kevin Youkilis, says Matt Klaassen. For his part, Lowell is confident that he can play regularly, and he doesn’t see himself being ousted by former teammate Delgado.

Hideki Okajima hit the DL with a hamstring issue, and Felix Doubront has gotten the call to the bullpen. Apart from the solo HR he allowed yesterday, Doubront has looked every bit the part of a strong Major League reliever.

Jeremy Hermida cleared waivers and was outrighted to Pawtucket this week. That really says something about how far his star has fallen; nobody wanted him for free (besides his remaining salary, which isn’t nothing). He’ll be called up on September 1 when the rosters expand, but he’s running out of time to convince the Red Sox he’s worth a roster spot.

August 17. Circle that date on your calendar, because that’s when The Laser Show (TM) comes back to town. That’s right, Dustin Pedroia has a due date.

The Red Sox signed 6th-round OF pick Kendrick Perkins for a $600k bonus this week. Perkins is super-athletic and has drawn comparisons to Carl Crawford.

Beyond the Box Score ranks catchers by overall value this year, and finds that Red Sox catchers are smack in the middle of the road, thanks primarily to Victor Martinez.

MLB Trade Rumors looks at teams who may pursue Adrian Beltre in the offseason. I think if the Red Sox can’t land him, it’ll be the Tigers or Angels.

8-6-2010: Youkilis lost for the year, Cleveland redux, Yankees on tap

Now comes the disturbing and somehow predictable news… Kevin Youkilis will have surgery today and will miss the rest of the 2010 season. This news could not have come at a worse time, with guys like Dustin Pedroia and Mike Cameron still out, Victor Martinez playing hurt and Jacoby Ellsbury just trying to get back into the swing of things. We need to win now if we want to stay in the chase.

What will the Red Sox do about first base? For now, they will play Mike Lowell there every day. Despite his Daniel Nava-like heroics in his first at-bat, there are still some serious health concerns with Lowell. He may not be able to play every day, so we’re going to need a quality left-handed bat to complement him. For now, there are no plans to promote Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Lars Anderson. Theo Epstein would like to see if Salty can stick at catcher, so he’ll be working on that for now. J.P. Ricciardi really likes the addition of Salty, and says that it could really pay off down the line.

As far as other options, I think the Sox are trying to avoid paying any real talent to try and salvage what looks like it could be a lost year already. Jed Lowrie has reportedly taken some reps at first base as a fill-in for when Lowell can’t go. They will reportedly audition Carlos Delgado, and they do have room on the 40-man roster, but I’d be surprised if the Sox committed to play him while Lowell is around. He’s an option only if Lowell clears waivers and is traded. There are some other DFA/FA options out there as well, such as Casey Kotchman and Daric Barton.

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8-3-2010: Youk to the DL – nail in the coffin?

It’s official. Kevin Youkilis has been placed on the DL with a torn muscle in his jammed thumb. The Sox have activated Mike Lowell and expect for him to play first base every day until Youk returns.¬†Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-5 at Pawtucket today, and looks like he could return any day now, but this latest injury could be the straw that broke the camel’s back in 2010.