4-25-2011: Some props for the gloves

Wow, does it ever feel good to get the standings back into whack (for the most part). The Sox have now won 8 of their last 9 games, and looked really good doing it. Everything seems to be falling into place; even Carl Crawford is getting it started at the plate. The rotation suddenly looks like the collection of four aces I was effusing about before the season, and we are getting innings from them, making the bullpen look very strong recently.

The rotation is getting all the accolades for their recent domination, but don’t forget that a lot of this recent run is thanks to some pretty good defense. The Red Sox rank 5th in baseball with a .734 DER, just behind the Tampa Bay Rays, who we know can really pick it. Though it hasn’t had much time to really stabilize and be reliable, Ultimate Zone Rating likes the Red Sox at +6.6 runs on the year, 7th best in MLB. John Dewan’s Plus/Minus system has the Sox at -5 on the year, but we know that there were some pretty blatant gaffes early that probably contributed to that.

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6-15-2010: What moves could be made?

As we are now fully into the month of June, we know that the two-month “evaluation period” is over, and the Red Sox are looking for ways to improve their team. After a horrid start by Boston and a torrid one by both New York and Tampa Bay, it would be easy to discount the Sox, but the truth is that Boston has the best record of all three teams since May 1 and has climbed to within 4 games of the division leaders.

Team W L Pct RS RA Diff
Boston 26 16 0.619 250 186 64
New York 25 16 0.610 237 173 64
Tampa 23 17 0.575 189 160 29

And that’s been done with Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron missing a huge chunk of that time. So it’s not like anything is irreparably broken, but there’s always room for improvement, right?

Evaluating areas of need

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6-1-2010: A pretty good May for the Red Sox

I don’t think anyone could have predicted that on June 1, we’d be sitting in 4th place in the AL East. Despite that, we’re only five games out of first place, and after an 18-11 record in May, there are some encouraging signs all around. Here’s a look at what worked and what didn’t in each facet of the game:

Offensive resurgence

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Links 3-24-2010: Pedroia’s wrist, more Spring notes

After diving for a grounder, Dustin Pedroia left yesterday’s game with a wrist injury, but the report is out today that X-rays are negative, and he is not expected to miss much time.¬†BTW, if you appreciate defensive genius, you owe it to yourself to watch this catch by Ichiro Suzuki. Man.

The Red Sox sent Michael Bowden, Ramon A. Ramirez (not the one from last year) and Aaron Bates to Pawtucket yesterday, and assigned reliever Jorge Sosa to minor league camp. All of these moves were expected. We are now down to 40 players and 8 NRIs.

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Links 1-14-2010: Signed Shouse, more defensive hype, the rookie program

The Red Sox signed 41-year old Brian Shouse to a minor league deal last week. Shouse is a decent LOOGY candidate can could fill a Javier Lopez-type role this season.

For those of you who want to know what kind of difference improved defense could make this year, defensive stats guru John Dewan suggests that Boston may have added something like 8 wins based on defense alone. I’m a fan of good defense, but I’ll believe it when I see it. More likely, an improvement of 2-4 wins is in order. Dave Cameron writes about the shift of the Red Sox this offseason from OBP to UZR.

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2010 Hot Stove: Sox sign Beltre for one year

This. Is. Awesome. I have written disparaging things about the Sox getting Adrian Beltre, but that was when I thought it would take a four-year deal to get him. Instead, the Red Sox have signed him to a one-year contract at $9M with a $5M player option with a $1M buyout for 2011. Basically the way it works is the player can opt out if he thinks he will be worth more than $5M on next year’s free agent market.

Given Beltre’s injury woes and questions surrounding his age, I think this is a dream deal for the Sox, and I am utterly shocked that Scott Boras allowed Beltre to sign this small of a deal. There are rumors suggesting that Beltre turned down significantly more money from at least two other clubs (thought to be the Angels and A’s) in order to play for Boston.

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The Boston defense: so good, so good, so good

This year’s Fielding Bible ratings are out, and the Red Sox infield rates among the best in the Major Leagues.

  • Kevin Youkilis finished in a tie with Todd Helton for 9th place at +6.
  • Dustin Pedroia finished 5th among second basemen with a +15 score.
  • Jed Lowrie was 10th with a +8 at shortstop, despite playing only a fraction of the 2008 season. I’m pleasantly surprised by Lowrie’s fielding prowess; I had thought he couldn’t stick at short for more than a few years, but he’s doing a great job thus far.
  • None of our outfielders cracked the top 10 at their positions, but none of them were among the bottom 6. Not terribly surprising, considering so many of them played partial seasons this year. Mark Kotsay was tied for 3rd worst in center with Vernon Wells this year, but that was in Atlanta. No wonder they played him at first base.

For those not familiar with John Dewan’s Plus/Minus system, a trained committee reviews every fielding chance a player has during the course of the season, then gives a +1 score for an above-average play or -1 for a poor play that should have been made. This kind of system is a far better judge of fielding ability than anything using arcane statistics such as putouts, assists and range factor. They don’t address catcher, because so much of what makes a catcher good is not measurable by these metrics.