Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Theo's new Lackey

The Red Sox have apparently come to terms on a five-year deal with John Lackey. I've never been a Lackey fan, but he's been a good pitcher, consistently, since he came up, and he makes the Red Sox a better team. There are still moves to be made, as we don't know who is going to be playing third or whether there's going to be a blockbuster trade for Adrian Gonzalez or Miguel Cabrera. I'll do some more analysis when things shake out.

But I think that there are a couple of things that we can say.
  • The Red Sox offered Jason Bay more than he's going to be worth. He's a good player, a very good hitter, but he's not a good outfielder, and he's not a great hitter, just a very good one.

  • If the Red Sox do sign Cameron, that hurts the market for Bay, I'd think. He and his agent may - may - find later that they've overplayed their hand. They may not, of course, but if I were him I'd start to feel a little stirring of trepidation in the back of my mind, the way that the Red Sox walked away so quickly and easily. Are the Mets bidding against themselves now?

  • The Red Sox scored 872 runs and allowed 736 in 2009. That works out to a Pythagorean winning percentage of .577, a 93 win pace. And they won 95. If they score 50 less and allow 50 less, that leads to a Pythagorean winning percentage of .582, a 94 win pace.

  • Replacing Bay and Lowell with Cameron/Hermida and Beltre, as rumored, may lead to scoring 50 fewer runs. On the other hand, they've replaced a lot of Varitek at-bats with Martinez at-bats and they've replaced a lot of Nick Green at-bats with Marco Scutaro at-bats. Without going deeper into the analysis right now, it's not obvious that the offense is going to be a lot worse, and 50 runs seems a reasonable floor for assumption purposes.

  • The Red Sox gave 32 starts, ~172 innings, to John Smoltz and Brad Penny last year. In those 172 innings, they combined to allow 126 runs, an average of 6.63 runs per 9 inninngs. A pitcher allowing 4.00 runs per 9 innings would allow 76 runs in 172 innings, saving 50.

  • Clearly, a team with Adrian Beltre at third and Mike Cameron in left and Marco Scutaro at SS is a vastly superior defensive team to one with the remains of Mike Lowell at third and Jason Bay in left and Nick Green at SS.

  • The column from the curly-headed Globie (I'm not going to link it) was insane. That's why people hate Boston sports fans, and that's why Boston sports fans hate Shaughnessy.

The work is not all done yet, but I don't see any reason right now not to expect the Red Sox to be, again, one of the two or three best teams in baseball when the 2010 season starts.

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