Monday, August 04, 2014

Monday pythagorean - 8/4/2014

So, the bad news is that the season wrapped up early for the 2014 Red Sox. The good news, of course, is that we're getting an early look at the 2015 Red Sox. Like a show opening on the road in Cleveland or Cincinnati or Schenectady before heading to Broadway...
  • I do not remember ever seeing a team as active on the trade deadline as the Red Sox were this year. I'm not going to say that no one's ever made more trades at the deadline, or moved more players, but I don't remember a situation in which it's happened.

  • Red Sox trades made this week (ok, a little more than a week, as I'll include Peavy):
    • Red Sox trade Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Athetics for Yoenis Cespedes and a compensation pick.
    • Red Sox trade John Lackey, Corey Littrell and cash to the Cardinals for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig.
    • Red Sox trade Stephen Drew to the Yankees for Kelly Johnson.
    • Red Sox trade Andrew Miller to the Orioles for Eduardo Rodriguez.
    • Red Sox trade Felix Doubront to the Cubs for a player to be named later.
    • Red Sox trade Jake Peavy and cash to the Giants for Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar.
    Whew... Wow... Whatever else you want to say about Ben Cherington, he's clearly willing to take risks.

  • So, let's consider the moves as a whole. The Red Sox offense has been stunningly, shockingly bad this season. Seriously, my projection of their offensive output is going to end up being close to 200 runs off. There was reason to expect the offense to be worse than it was last season; there was no reason to expect it to be anywhere near this much worse. So they needed to add offense, particularly in the outfield. And this is a team that's already got a loaded farm system. Rather than add more two-to-four-years-down-the-line high-ceiling prospects, they added Major League talent. These trades are, on the whole, positioning the team for 2015. They are not, as some deadline sellers do, aiming three years down the road; they are aiming to be a good team next year.

  • All things being equal, would I ever trade Jon Lester for Yoenis Cespedes? No. I would not. Lester is a front-line top-of-the-rotation starter, Cespedes is a powerful but undisciplined bat at a corner outfield spot. There are more Cespedes and Cespedes-equivalents in MLB than there are Lesters and Lester-equivalents.

  • But. It wasn't really Lester for Cespedes - it was two months of Jon Lester, two months that the Red Sox had, to be frank, no real use for, for two months and then one full season of Cespedes. Lester was going to be a free agent at the beginning of November; by sending him to Oakland, the Red Sox have essentially guaranteed that he will still be a free agent at the beginning of November. Do I expect the Red Sox to sign Jon Lester in the off-season? No, but that's not the right question. The right question is this - by trading Lester, have the Red Sox significantly changed the likelihood of being able to sign Jon Lester? I would suggest that all signs are no, they have not. As near as we can tell, from the public statements that have been made, the two sides parted on good terms. Lester has no reason to resent Boston trading him, because now he's going to get another playoff run, which he wouldn't have gotten without the trade. And he'll still be a free agent, free to test the market, and sign where he wants to sign. There's no reason to suppose that the odds of that place being Boston are any worse than they would be if he were to make 10 more starts in August and September for a cratering last place team.

  • I'm not enamored of Cespedes, who doesn't have the plate discipline that I like to see. The fact is, he represents an enormous upgrade over what they've been getting from their outfielders.

  • Doubront was someone over whom they still had control. It seems clear that they felt he wasn't going to be what they wanted him to be in Boston, and it looks as if they were just trying to get rid of him, taking what they could get in return.

  • Lackey is under contract for next year at the league minimum. While he's unlikely to pitch at that level, it does make him valuable, because he's got little to no leverage. And the Red Sox got two Major Leaguers back from St. Louis. Both Kelly and Craig are having down seasons, and we don't know what, they'll end up doing in Boston.

  • I hated to see Andrew Miller go, but, like Lester, we're talking about two months. And, like Lester, it's not clear that this makes him any more or less likely to sign with Boston in the off-season.

  • The Drew for Johnson trade was not about bringing in Kelly Johnson. It was about saving a few bucks while letting Bogaerts play SS again. Absent a bunch of injuries, there's no reason that I can see for Kelly Johnson ever to take the field in Boston.

  • Bottom line - like the trade with the Dodgers, like the Sizemore signing, I love what Ben Cherington has done here. Some or all of it may not work, but he took steps to improve his team, now, for next season. He got value, we hope, for players whose work was not going to provide any further effective value for the Red Sox, as the odds of Boston making the post-season are vanishingly small at this point. Rather than chase a mirage, he pulled the trigger on the rebuild and went about it in a way that makes sense, trading Major League talent that will be free agents in November for Major League talent that will be in Boston next year, and bringing in players that address the specific weaknesses that have killed the 2014 Red Sox. I think Cherington has done an outstanding job as the GM of the Red Sox, and this week was more evidence of it.

  • Opening day starting rotation, 2014 Boston Red Sox, defending World Series Champions:
    Jon Lester - Traded to Oakland
    John Lackey - Traded to St. Louis
    Clay Buchholz
    Jake Peavy - Traded to San Francisco
    Felix Doubront - Traded to Chicago Cubs
    Four of five starting pitchers gone before the end of July. I have never seen anything quite like it.

  • Of course, the one starter that didn't get traded was responsible for 14 earned runs in 10 innings pitched in two losses this week. Last night, the Red Sox gave him three-run leads twice, and he gave them right back. (To be fair [actually, more than fair, given the way he pitched], he should have been out of the 5th with the 7-4 lead intact, but Cespedes didn't get to an easily catchable fly ball to left which would have been the third out.)

  • OT: For about an hour and 40 minutes, I thought that the first 10 minutes of #Shardnado2 was the worst 10 minutes of filmmaking that I had ever seen.

    Then I saw the last 10 minutes of #Sharknado2.

    But I laughed as hard as I did last year for the first one, so, mission accomplished.

  • Nice debut for Anthony Ranaudo, allowing only two runs in six innings to the Yankees for the Red Sox one win on the week.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - He's been one of the key problems with the offense this year, but Dustin Pedroia (.400/.400/.600/1.000, 5.47 runs created, 9.12 RC/25 outs) had a great week.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - None. Ranaudo was good, but there were no special performances and no award will be given out.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 8/4/2014
LA Angels4.85(2)4.05(6)0.581(2)644666442
Kansas City3.95(12)3.95(4)0.5(8)555557532
Tampa Bay3.95(11)3.96(5)0.499(9)55565457-1
Chicago Sox4.4(6)4.63(13)0.477(10)535954581
NY Yankees4.05(9)4.31(9)0.472(11)525857535
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels9765
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels9666
Standings for the week
Tampa Bay4.17(8)3.67(6)0.558(7)33330
Kansas City3(13)2.83(3)0.526(8)33421
NY Yankees5.5(5)5.5(12)0.5(9)33330
LA Angels4.17(8)4.83(10)0.433(11)33330
Chicago Sox6.5(1)7.83(15)0.415(12)24331

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