Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Pythagorean - 6/25/2012

All things being equal, 5-1 is much to be preferred to 1-5...
  • And the Kevin Youkilis era comes to an end.
  • And I've got to say, I'm not crazy about it. I understand that they think the future is now for Will Middlebrooks, and I'm not going to say that they're wrong. I'm not convinced that Middlebrooks has got adequate plate discipline yet, but deciding that Middlebrooks is ready to be better than Youkilis this year is not obviously wrong. And Youkilis is now four years removed from the last season in which he played 140+ games - he has at least seemed to be increasingly brittle over the past few years, and is almost certainly in the decline phase of his career. One could make a case for going either way with this decision, but choosing Middlebrooks over Youkilis is not irrational.
  • That said, and even with the understanding that people are not game pieces and human interactions matter and starters relegated to the bench can get upset, I don't see any urgency to get Youkilis out of town. And the trade they made - two nothings from the White Sox, with the Red Sox paying most of Youkilis' salary - strikes me as an urgency trade. They gave up a (probably) not-yet over-the-hill (just barely) former star, who can play two positions well, draw walks, hit for average and power, reasonably-salaried in the last year of his contract, for, well, roster fodder. And paid for the right to do it. If that was the best offer they had on the table yesterday, they should have waited a week. Or a month. The odds of them needing, or at least wanting, Kevin Youkilis on the roster again before the season ends are much better than the odds of them ever getting any significant benefit from Zach Stewart (now in his 4th organization in three years, with a ML ERA of 5.92 in 41 games) or Brent Lillibridge (who, like Jason Repko, is the kind of player you want off your team, not on it). The team may or may not be better off with Middlebrooks playing rather than Youkilis; that doesn't mean that they're better off with Youkilis in Chicago and Stewart and Lillibridge in the organization.
  • Looking at the last decade (6/25/2002-6/24/2012), it should not come as a surprise to see that Kevin Youkilis (.287/.388/.487/.875 - 639 RC) provided the Red Sox with the third-best production over that span, behind David Ortiz (.289/.387/.571/.958 - 1058 RC) and Manny Ramirez (.310/.409/.582/.990 - 732 RC). There were a couple of short stints in a Red Sox uniform that were better on a rate basis (Cliff Floyd for 47 games and Jason Bay for 200 [plus Scott Podsednik and Will Middlebrooks for 19 and 41, respectively]) but he wasn't just around for a long time - he was around for a long time at a high level. ("Long time" is a relative term, but he played 953 games in a Red Sox uniform, which puts him just outside the top 20 on the Red Sox list players over the last half-century or so, and 37th all time, between Troy O'Leary [962] and Jimmy Piersall [931].)
  • If the season ended today, the Red Sox would be on the outside of the playoffs, looking in. But they wouldn't be far outside. Right now, they are three games behind the Orioles for the first Wild Card slot, and two games behind Tampa for the second. And if every team were to play their remaining games with the actual winning percentage that matched their pythagorean winning percentage thus far, the Boston Red Sox would end up with the fourth best record in the AL, and the second Wild Card slot (behind the LA Angels of A).
  • Think about that last point for a minute. They've done this with no Crawford, essentially no Ellsbury, no Bailey (who has never done anything for Boston, but was expected to be the closer). They've done it with seven different outfielders on the DL for part or all of the season. They've done it with bad performances from Pedroia and Gonzalez and Beckett and Buchholz and Bard.
  • I'm just about ready to nominate Bobby Valentine for Manager of the Year.
  • The thing is, they're unlikely to continue at this pace if the "stars" of the team continue to struggle. Nava and Middlebrooks and Saltalamacchia and Ross have all played well, but they've also probably played a little bit better than you can assume they'll play the rest of the year. On that front, it's good to note that Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia both showed signs, over the past few days, of coming out of prolonged slumps. To have the kind of season that the team wants to have, they are going to need more from Pedroia and Gonzalez (and probably Lester and Beckett) than they've gotten so far.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Daniel Nava (.500/.560/.636/1.196) and Cody Ross (.318/.348/.864/1.211) made real strong runs at it, but they were overshadowed by a dominant week from Will Middlebrooks (.625/.632/1.375/2.007), who went 10-16 with 3 HR.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Franklin Morales and Aaron Cook had good starts, but nothing special. So this is the week that the award goes to Alfredo Aceves, for three perfect one-inning appearances in relief, finishing three of the five wins.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/25/2012
New York4.75(4)3.99(3)0.579(2)413043282
Los Angeles4.12(11)3.67(1)0.553(4)403340330
Tampa Bay4.32(6)4.03(5)0.532(7)383440322
Kansas City3.91(13)4.51(11)0.435(13)304031391
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9864
Tampa Bay9072
Los Angeles8973
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York9666
Los Angeles8973
Standings for the week
Los Angeles5.83(3)3.5(5)0.718(2)42420
Tampa Bay4.17(8)4(7)0.519(5)33330
New York4.67(5)5(10)0.468(8)33330
Kansas City4.17(8)6.67(13)0.297(12)24240

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