10-12-2011: Epstein to join the Cubs

If you haven’t heard it by now, Theo Epstein to the Cubs is pretty much a done deal at five years and between $15-20M. He will assume GM duties there, but he will be given basically free reign and report to only one person. It’s hard to blame him for wanting the opportunity Chicago offers, with a bigger market, a high-profile team, and a chance to make history – again. Still, if I were him, I don’t think I would want to leave a team like this, after the biggest September collapse in Major League history.

From what was reported, the front office was trying desperately to keep Epstein, but he’s had issues with them before about having more autonomy. On the bright side, the Sox stand to gain compensation for letting him leave a year early. It looks like it will be a high-profile prospect and cash, and names like RF Brett Jackson and SP Andrew Cashner have been mentioned. I’d be glad to add either of those guys to our organization; both of those are areas of need.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

9-14-2010: Looking ahead to 2011

Sorry for the lack of postings, but I haven’t really been too motivated to write about the Red Sox, with even their mathematical playoff chances circling the drain. Can you blame me? It’s kind of hard to get excited about Darnell McDonald and Yamaico Navarro on a nightly basis. Now I know how Kansas City fans feel!

What went Wrong

If you’ll remember, we came into 2010 with a lot of confidence, and projected for a close finish with the Yankees for the divisional pennant. If you ask me what happened to this year’s team, I’d certainly cite injuries, but beyond that, we got off to a terrible start in April, while the Yankees and Rays roared out of the gate. Yeah, Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury were on the shelf then, but we didn’t have an excuse to play under .500 baseball that month. Add Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Josh Beckett to that injury list, and you can see where even an incredibly hot May and June wasn’t enough to salvage the season. The bullpen was really bad, yes, but I think that’s more a function of the starters not doing well early on (4.86 ERA in April, 4.36 ERA in May) and burning out the bullpen. Hideki Okajima’s injuries and subsequent ineffectiveness was also a huge blow to this relief corps.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

8-2-2010: Minor moves at the deadline, Lowell still in play

The Red Sox, expected to land an additional bullpen arm by the deadline, dealt one instead, and made another small acquisition at catcher. It was hard watching the Yankees land Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns, and this is a signal from Boston’s front office that while we’re not giving up on this season, they’re content to let it play out and finish third if we have to. Theo Epstein is clearly thinking 2011 at this point, and I don’t really blame him.

What it will take

Currently at 60-45, the Red Sox sit 6.5 games back of Tampa Bay. If the Rays play .600 baseball the rest of the way, they will have a 100 win season, and we need to go 41-16 to edge them. If they play .550 baseball, they will still have 97 wins and we will need to go 38-19 (.667) the rest of the way. Is this team capable of that? With a healthy rotation, an easier second half schedule and the impending returns of Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, you have to think that it’s at least possible. But it means we will have to win just about every series, and probably sweep the Rays in at least one of our two remaining series. We can’t play any worse than taking two of three from the Tigers, or we’re done. That’s why the management decided to go conservative at the deadline.

Let’s look at each move that was made:

Read more of this post