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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8-12-2011 Links: Pedey vs Cano, Sabathia vs Sox, Gonzalez grounded, defense, prospects report card

Dustin Pedroia is in the midst of his best season ever, and it has sparked discussions about whether he or Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in baseball. Here is Jonathan Scippa’s interesting take. As for me, give me Pedey every time.

Coming into the year, we were worried about our lefty-leaning lineup and some very tough starters in our division. So why is CC Sabathia so bad against Boston this season? David Pinto takes a look.

Mike Axisa at FanGraphs has some nice plots which show how Adrian Gonzalez has fallen into hitting a ton of grounders since about June 18, and how that has directly sapped his home run power. He could be headed for about a 27 HR season, which is lower than most people predicted, but is pretty well in line with the 30 HRs I predicted.

As Sox Therapy points out, the Red Sox defense has gone from very good to great this season, and it’s been a huge reason for our success in June and July.

Wondering how our top prospects are doing on the farm? John Sickels has a summary for you. (SPOILER: It ain’t pretty.)

8-10-2011: Bedard, Aviles and Fields

I’ve been away on vacation, so I just found out a few days ago about the deadline deals that were made. I was very pleased to see that we landed a starter with potential as well as a right-handed hitter off the bench.

SP Erik Bedard and OF Josh Fields for C Tim Federowicz, SP Stephen Fife, RP Juan Rodriguez, and Chih-Hsien Chiang

As I mentioned before, I thought the rotation was the area we needed to improve the most. It would have been ideal to land a quality pitcher without recurrent health issues, but those guys are simply not available unless you trade the farm for them. I was glad to see that we didn’t send any real top-tier talent anywhere in this deal. Other than that, Bedard is almost the ideal acquisition – an established (but not too old) AL pitcher who’s pitched extensively in the AL East, and he is a middle rotation guy who is capable of being much better than that at times. His contract is expiring, so the Sox have the option of re-signing him or possibly getting draft picks when he leaves. The only other thing he lacks besides health is playoff experience.

Josh Fields’ primary function is basically right-handed pop off the bench. He is also a warm body you can stick in the outfield corners. He provides some depth in case something happens to Darnell McDonald.

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7-23-2011: Sometimes the best deals ARE the ones not made…

ESPN’s Justin Havens makes the case that Mark Teixeira’s contract may not be panning out quite the way Brian Cashman planned when he signed the slugger long-term. His power remains the same (which, given his HR-friendly home park, is no surprise), but his batting average and defense have declined dramatically in his time as a Yankee. Looks like another fat cat getting comfortable after signing a huge contact.

Two points from this:

  1. It was probably a blessing in disguise that the Yankees swooped in and signed Big Tex away from us at the last minute.
  2. Adrian Gonzalez is not the kind of guy to let that happen to him.

6-21-2011: A quick note about Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller was pretty good last night. Apart from a costly mistake to Orlando Hudson, he threw the ball quite well for a depth starter. The big youngster has all the talent in the world, but has struggled with mechanics and confidence issues. His PITCHf/x data is not up yet on FanGraphs, so we have to rely on observations for now.

Miller took it into the 6th inning and was able to go out there and stick to his delivery for the most part; Terry Francona noted that even when he slipped out of his normal motion, he was able to correct himself and avoid extended wildness. Maybe the biggest encouragement was his fastball velocity, which had declined in previous years, but was sitting at 93-94 mph last night.

Peter Gammons said that the Yankees, among other clubs, were trying to get Miller to opt out on June 15, but failed when the Sox called on him this week. Miller might be one of those reclamation projects that pays some dividends. With Daisuke Matsuzaka lost for the season, that would be a welcome development.

Link 5-23-2011: Picks for the June MLB 2011 draft

River Ave Blues has compiled the complete draft order here, and the always informative¬†MLB Trade Rumors has the rundown on the number of early picks by team. Our Red Sox have 5 of the first 90 picks (#19, #26, #36, #40 and #81), which is not bad for an offseason in which we added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the roster. That’s the fourth highest total in the early going, which should really help to replenish our farm system.

We’ve noted before that the Tampa Bay Rays are in a great position to reload, with an unbelievable 12 of the first 90 picks. That’s the reason they let their whole bullpen walk this past offseason right there. The second-most number of picks with 7 is another division rival, Toronto, and third-most is the Padres with 6. Seems like everyone in the AL East knows that in order to compete, you’ve got to stockpile those compensation picks wherever possible. Everyone except the Yankees and Orioles, that is, who have just two selections each in the top 90. The Yankees have some ability to make up for that, given that they will go overslot a lot in the later rounds, but the pickings are getting slimmer every year as teams spend more on the draft.

5-21-2011: Sox acquire Morales, sign Millwood

Sox trade a PTBNL for Franklin Morales

The pitching injuries are piling up again. With Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks out, the bullpen is a little thin. I was a little surprised to hear that Hideki Okajima was DFA’d, but you have to know that the Sox were dissatisfied with their lefty reliever situation this year, quickly discarding Denys Reyes. This move comes down to upgrading the bullpen. Morales was considered a pretty good prospect just two years ago, and is a lefty who throws a 94 mph heater and a good curve. His presence makes the deteriorating Okajima expendable (his three-year numbers are all trending in the wrong direction). Theo Epstein is hoping that we can retain him if he can slip through waivers, but if not, we’ll trade him.

It’s true, Morales’ numbers are not good, but that’s why he was available. He strikes out more hitters than Oki, but has struggled with walking batters and giving up the long ball (though I hear that happens from time to time in Colorado). Perhaps Curt Young can work some magic with the young flamethrower. I’ll have to see what we send back in return for him, but this seems like a good upside deal to me.

Kevin Millwood signed to a minor-league deal

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