Monday, June 02, 2014

Monday pythagorean - 6/2/2014

As a general rule, I think that I'm as optimistic about the Red Sox as it's possible for a relatively realistic fan to be, and I knew that the losing streak couldn't continue forever, but I absolutely did not see this week coming...
  • As I say, I didn't see it coming. Apparently, there was no reason to. According something that was said on one of the post-game shows, if I heard it correctly, there's never been a team which followed a double-digit losing streak with a winning streak of 8 games. If Boston wins tomorrow, they would be the first.

  • Was that two sweeps or three? Did they play two 2-game series with the Braves or one 4-game home-and-home? I don't remember ever seeing that before in a baseball schedule, during the regular season, anyway. I guess I'm going to go with two sweeps, a four-game (Atlanta) and a three-game (Tampa).

  • There was certainly some help from the competition. Yes, Atlanta's a first place team, but in the NL, and they were not very impressive defensively during their games with Boston. And Tampa's now got the worst record in the AL. Still, they lost three to Tampa during the losing streak. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do - the other team plays so well or so poorly that their performance is deterministic. And other times it doesn't matter what they do - you play so well or so poorly that your performance is deterministic. We saw some of that both ways in each streak.

  • It's interesting that they've made this rapid pivot without getting healthier. Buchholz joined Doubront, Napoli and Victorino on the DL. (Middlebrooks, too, of course, but Holt has been much better, and Drew will be here this week, so Middlebrooks' absence has been a positive rather than a negative.) Ryan Lavarnway was here for one day before breaking his hamate and heading to the DL. Pedroia missed time with a hand injury (thankfully, not serious) and now Mike Carp is headed to the DL with a broken bone in his foot. One of the strengths of the Red Sox organization coming into the season was its depth. They're using it now.

  • I don't know whether Clay Buchholz is on the DL for a hyperextended knee, as the official report says, or just for sprained mechanics, but once through the rotation, the de la Rosa for Buchholz substitution was a big win.

  • It was quite a week for the youngsters, as Holt, Bogaerts, Bradley, Hassan and Cecchini combined to hit (.337/.404/.533/.936, 19.91 runs created, 8.03 RC/25 outs) in 92 at-bats, while Rubby de la Rosa threw 7 scoreless innings on Saturday night. Both Hassan and Cecchini made their Major League debuts and collected their first Major League hits on Sunday.

  • Cecchini may be ready to perform at the Major League level, but, unless Drew or Bogaerts gets hurt, he's not going to be on the roster. I'm undecided on Alex Hassan. His career minor league numbers show decent plate discipline and a little pop, but he's 26 year's old and has put up some of his good numbers in leagues where he was older than the top prospects. He could concievably spend a couple of years in "the show" as a fourth outfielder/utility type, and might even have a couple of years with some value at the plate. But he's not going to be a star, maybe more of a Mike Carp type.

  • Despite what I wrote last week, about having played themselves out of playoff contention, they will start play tomorrow just 2 1/2 games behind the Angels and Yankees in the AL Wild Card race. And, believe it or not, there are only five AL teams with a better run differential than Boston's -6.

  • Again, when I was putting together last week's report, I had no expectation that they'd go 7-0 this week. I would have bet real money against it. If they go 4-2 next week, they'll be back at .500, despite being 9 games under just one week ago.

  • It's impossible to overstate how valuable Brock Holt was this week, as he stabilized the infield defense at 3rd, stabilized the lead-off spot, and then played a creditable first base on Sunday, while putting up an outstanding offensive week. But it would be very easy to overreact to the past week and say, as I'm hearing some say, "you've got to get him in the lineup every day!" No, you don't. What you need to do is thank all of the Baseball Gods that you got that performance from him, at a time you needed it, and go on your way, hoping that he's going to be a viable utility infielder.

  • Obviously, this was not the first time that two players have made their Major League debuts for the same team in the same game. And I'm sure it's not the first time that two players have collected their first Major League hit in the same game as their simultaneous debuts. But I would bet that both of those things have happened more often in September or April than June.

  • Hmm... Left-handed batting third baseman, not a lot of power but great plate discipline, repeatedly putting up OBPs over .400 in the minors, comes up and goes the other way, stroking a double off the monster. Let me just say this - as someone who was watching during the early 80s, I've seen this before.

  • Of course, it's unlikely that young Mr. Cecchini will have Wade Boggs' career. Very few have. Unfair to even make the comparison, I know, I know. (And as good as Cecchini's minor league numbers are, they aren't Boggs'.) But that's what I was thinking when that ball hit the monster...

  • They have a tough schedule stretch coming up. Six of their next eight series, and 19 of their next 26 games, are on the road. They'll finish that stretch at the Yankees on June 29, at which point they will have played 82 games, one more than half of the schedule. Currently, they are 27-29. If they can finish that series at 42-40, which means that they will have gone 15-11 over that stretch, they will absolutely still be in competition for a play-off spot.

  • Ok, a couple thoughts on Friday night's kerfuffle:
    • David Price's protestations that he wasn't trying to hit David Ortiz are beyond laughable. He fumed about the last home run that Ortiz the last time they faced one-another, he went on to social media to complain about Ortiz, he's reached the end of May with two hit batters and eight walks allowed and then, the very next pitch he throws to Ortiz, with two outs in the first, hits him solidly in the rump. And we're supposed to believe that it wasn't intentional? Please. I may have been born at night, but not last night.
    • I don't have a big problem with the way that Price hit Ortiz. I really don't. If he was going to do it, well, that's the right place. I don't think it was necessary, I think that he took offense at something at which he should not have taken offense (the Ortiz hit was either going to be a foul or a home run, and there was no point in running on a foul, and once the HR was called, he got around the bases as quickly as he ever does) but if you're going to hit someone, that's the right way to do it.
    • The hit-ejected discrepancy for the game is misleading. Both Farrell and Lovullo were ejected because they lost control with the umpires, regardless of anything that Tampa or the umpires did. If they maintain their composure, they don't get thrown out.
    • All that said, the umpires did not handle things well. Given what happened last Sunday, warnings should have been issued before the game. Failing to do that, and then immediately warning both teams, gave Tampa a free shot at Ortiz. And if the hit batsman is intentional, as was clearly the case in the first, they don't need to have issued a warning to throw out Price, which they should have done.
    • Which brings us to the thing that the umpires got most wrong. Having failed to warn before the game, and then having failed to either toss Price after he threw at Ortiz, and having failed to give the Red Sox the free shot at retaliation that would also have ended things, the single most inexcusable mistake from the umpires was the failure to toss Price after he hit Carp. Do I think he was trying to hit Carp? Probably not, but the ball was up and in and hit him and warnings had been issued. There was no excuse for not tossing both Price and Maddon at that point.
    • I'm willing to give Workman a little bit of the benefit of the doubt - he doesn't have Price's control, it was raining fairly hard, and the previous pitch had been in pretty much the same spot on the other side of the plate. If he was throwing at Longoria, it was very poorly done - the pitch was too high, and if Longoria had leaned back a little bit, it would have hit him in the head, which is not acceptable. (And is part of the reason I could believe that the ball slipped. Not that I do believe it, necessarily, but, unlike the Price-Ortiz situation, it's not fantastic.)

  • Speaking of the umpires, it sure seemed like someone on that crew had some rabbit ears going yesterday, as Pedroia was tossed from the game for something that was not apparent on any of NESN's video.

  • I've seen a lot of baseball over the years, and I don't ever remember seeing a pitched ball bounce off the plate, off the catcher's shin guard and hit the batter flush in the face and knock him out of the game. I don't ever remember seeing a leaping outfielder miss the ball and have it richochet off the wall and hit him flush in the face, knocking him down and resulting in an inside-the-park home run. I saw both of those things happen on Saturday night.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - When they took the field on Sunday afternoon, six games into the current seven game winning streak, I didn't think anyone could catch Xander Bogaerts (.367/.457/.500/.957, 6.83 runs created, 8.99 RC/25 outs), who had an outstanding week. But he went 0-5 in Sunday's game, while Brock Holt (.375/.429/.656/1.085, 8.43 runs created, 10.53 RC/25 outs) went 4-4 with four doubles, a stolen base and a walk, and finished as the clear Player of the Week.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Giving a split award this week. John Lackey had one start and was excellent. Koji Uehara finished three games, saving two and winning one. They both get mention, but no prizes. For the award winners, Jon Lester was good once and very good once, winning 2 and allowing 3 runs in 13 innings, and providing the most "pitching value" for the team on the week. And the most impressive start, all things considered, came from Rubby de la Rosa, who made his first start for the Red Sox in a nationally televised game between two teams which had cleared the benches in both of their previous two head-to-head games, and he absolutely shut down the Rays for seven innnigs, allowing no runs and just four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/2/2014
LA Angels4.85(3)4.31(6)0.554(3)31253026-1
Chicago Sox4.57(4)4.78(15)0.48(8)283029291
NY Yankees4.18(9)4.45(9)0.471(9)262929263
Kansas City3.8(14)4.21(4)0.453(13)253126301
Tampa Bay3.88(13)4.55(11)0.427(14)24332334-1
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels8775
NY Yankees8577
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels8973
Standings for the week
Chicago Sox3(12)2.33(2)0.613(5)42420
NY Yankees3.17(10)4.67(12)0.33(11)24331
LA Angels3.71(8)6.14(14)0.285(13)25250
Kansas City3(12)6.29(15)0.205(14)16251
Tampa Bay2.67(15)6(13)0.185(15)1506-1

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