Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday pythagorean, 7/28/2014

It's over. OK? Yeah, it's a lousy division this year, yeah, stranger things have happened, but none of that matters. It's over. Period. A legitimate team in the situation that this team was in on Tuesday morning does not go on to lose its next five. Over. Finished. Stick a fork in 'em, they're done...
  • Remember the old story about the guy with his feet in the freezer and his head in the oven, and how, on average, he was pretty comfortable? The Red Sox offense looks like it was so-so this week, at four runs per game. But half of their offensive output, 14 of the 28 runs they scored this week, came in the first game of the week - they scored only 14 more in their next six games. They were shut out twice, and were one David Ortiz swing away from being shut out three times in four games.

  • For the week, they hit .258/.308/.414/.722, 30.03 runs created, 3.99 RC/25 outs. For the six games starting Tuesday, they hit .226/.286/.337/.622, 17.77 runs created, 2.76 RC/25 outs.

  • Jake Peavy finishes his Boston career with a 5-10 record and a 4.48 ERA over 30 starts. I would argue that those numbers underrate his actual performance, as he was plagued by virtually non-existent run support during his entire tenure. In 17 of his 30 starts, he gave the team a quality start, pitching at least six innings and allowing no more than three runs, and yet he still only finished with five wins.

  • I am still a supporter of the trade that brought him in. As for the trade that sent him out, I've got no opinion. I believe that they have options that are better, or at least as good, for the starts that need to be made, so I've got no problem with moving him. I don't know anything whatsoever about the guys that are coming back. Essentially, I think that this move, at this time, doesn't hurt the team, and could conceivably help it down the line.

  • I know that Ortiz has hit more home runs than Yastrzemski, and that kicked off the flurry of comparisons between the two. I know that Ortiz has higher raw numbers than Yaz in many categories. But I also know that the league contexts in which the two have played are significantly different. David Ortiz never had a season even close to as good as Yastrzemski's 1967. He never had a season as good as Yastrzemski's 1968. And that's just offense. When you add in defense and base-running, there's just no comparison. Yastrzemski was a better hitter than David Ortiz and he was a much more valuable all-around player than David Ortiz. And anyone who says otherwise has either not looked at it closely, or is giving Ortiz too much credit for his teammates and management, who were better, on the whole, than Yastrzemski's.

  • Public contract negotiations result in lots of nonsense. Apparently, now Jon Lester has said that he'd be willing to sign with Boston, even if they trade him now. Obviously, if they trade Lester now, he's gone, and he won't be back. That would be a mistake. They need to sign him, or overpay someone else by more to replace him. He's never going to win a Cy Young, but he's a good enough pitcher to be the best pitcher on a World Series winning team, and they need someone of his caliber. Yeah, he's probably going to get overpaid. That's the way the market works. The team's underpay early and overpay late. Maybe they think that they can put together a good staff next year with just the pitcher's already under their control. I think that they're wrong. They need Lester, or someone like him. If they're going to overpay a veteran, it would be foolish not to just go ahead and overpay Lester.

  • I do not expect them to trade him. I do expect them to attempt to re-sign him after the season. I think the odds of his being in Boston next year are roughly 50-50.

  • I do think that we'll see the roster change some more this week. I would rather not trade Miller or Uehara, but I think that one or both could go. Mike Carp could go. Maybe Lackey. Maybe Drew has some value. But this is not a team with a lot of veteran's playing out the last years of their contracts. They're already well into the generational transition, and have already dumped the veteran most-likely-to-be-dumped.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - He's no Yaz, but David Ortiz (.286/.310/.893/1.203, 7.57 runs created, 9.47 RC/25 outs) had a very good week.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - He was 1-1, as the team got shut out in his second start, but John Lackey went seven strong innings twice, allowing 4 runs (3 earned) over 14 innings.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/28/2014
LA Angels4.88(2)4.01(5)0.589(2)614363412
Kansas City4(9)4.01(5)0.499(8)525253511
Tampa Bay3.94(12)3.98(4)0.496(9)52535154-1
Chicago Sox4.28(6)4.44(12)0.483(10)515551550
NY Yankees3.97(11)4.24(8)0.47(11)495554505
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels9864
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels9765
Standings for the week
Tampa Bay4.2(4)1.8(1)0.825(1)41410
Chicago Sox4.14(5)3(5)0.644(4)5243-1
Kansas City4(6)3.57(8)0.552(6)43521
LA Angels2.71(12)2.57(3)0.525(9)43430
NY Yankees3.43(9)3.29(7)0.519(10)43430

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday pythagorean, 7/21/2014

Yeah, it's just three games, and yeah, it's just Kansas City, and yeah, they only scored two runs on Saturday, but 3-0 is 3-0, and it's better than any of the alternative possibilities...
  • It clearly cannot all be blamed on AJ, but the post-Pierzynski record is now 7-1.

  • They're also 2-0 in the triumphant return of Shane Victorino.

  • Reason for optimism - Over the last month (6/21-7/20), Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.309/.356/.353/.709, 8.06 runs created, 4.03 RC/25 outs) has been a very productive hitter. Corner turned or just a fluke? Either way, he's been a very productive player for the past month. His defense is good enough that he doesn't have to be a great hitter to be a productive player, but if he can keep is OBP above .350 with that defense, he's a good player.

  • This is going to reveal me to be a bad baseball fan and possibly even a sub-human, but here it is anyway - I do not like Derek Jeter. I have watched the All Star Game less and less over the years, but I didn't watch a second of the game or the coverage this year. I had no interest in the glorification and paeans to the wonder of the most overrated great player in the history of the game, a player who happened to be in the right organization at the right time to accrue tremendous acclaim based on the accomplishments of others. He played for the one team that was never going to require public contract squabbles to result in being overpaid, was never going to require a move somewhere else to get paid, was never going to put him in a situation where he had to move to have a chance of winning. I think he's as big a phony as Alex Rodriguez, just better at it. He hurt his team defensively for his entire career, and his Gold Glove award is one of the biggest jokes of any award ever given to anyone. Rafael Palmeiro's Gold Glove at first the year he DHed in Texas is less of joke than Jeter's.

    And just like the soccer afficianados turn my dislike of the game into loathing by repeatedly telling me that I should love it, the Jeter krishnas and New York media suck-ups (ok, that's redundant) have turned my dislike of a great player into loathing by telling me, over and over again, about how he represents truth, justice and the American way. If he was what they say he is, he would have moved to third when his team acquired a better - much, much better - shortstop. He would have welcomed Rodriguez to New York instead of playing the kind of passive-aggressive games that made the NY media and fanbase choose sides, his of course. He's been as big a problem in the Yankees failing to win more than one World Series in the last 13 years as he was in their success in the five years before that, but he's taken none of the heat that others have taken. When the Yankees were losing four straight in the 2004 ALCS, and everyone on the Yankees was taking blame for the collapse - except him - he was going 4-19 with no walks and no power. But everyone else was to blame and St. Jeter got to sit in judgement on his underperforming teammates.

    I don't like him, I never liked him, I won't partake of any celebrations of his career, and if he were still great, or even good, I'd be glad he was going.

  • So we know two things right now - the American League team will have home field advantage in the World Series, and that team won't be the Red Sox.

  • Does that seem strong? They're 7 1/2 games our in the East with 64 games left to play. They're six games out in the Wild Card race with 64 games left to play. But they are behind three teams in the division and 6 in the Wild Card, and tied with Tampa in both. It's difficult to imagine that someone will get into the post-season with fewer than 90 wins, and to get to 90, Boston would have to play .688 ball, 44-20, the rest of the way.

  • If we weren't anchored to the idea of the Red Sox as a good team, we would look at their current state very differently. There have been many teams, and many times that this team, have been this far back in the third week of July, and no one would consider them contenders. But this is a team that won the World Series last year, a team that many predicted to return to the playoffs, with players that are highly regarded and that suffered many injury troubles during the first three months of the season. So we hesitate to give up on the season.

  • It's absolutely not impossible for the Red Sox to get to 90 wins, or even 93 or 94. It's absolutely not impossible for the Red Sox to take one of the Wild Card spots, or even win the East. It's just unlikely. They can't just play well - .600 ball from here to the end of the year, which is a 96 win pace for a whole season, will just get them to 84-85 wins. That's pretty clearly not going to get it done - someone ahead of them will finish with 83 wins or fewer, but they won't all finish with 83 or fewer. So they need a significant hotstreak, where they win 15 of 20, and then they need to play well. They cannot afford any more losing streaks. They cannot afford any more 10-10 stretches. They don't have that many more losses that can go on to their record without taking them out of the playoff hunt.

  • Since he returned from Pawtucket on 5/24, Daniel Nava (.306/.392/.352/.744, 15.85 runs created, 5.02 RC/25 outs) has been productive again. Would that have happened without the trip down? There's no way of knowing, but if you wanted to argue that Farrell panicked and pulled the plug on Daniel Nava 2014 too quickly, you won't get an argument from me.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - It was a short week, and some were shorter than others, but even in two games, Mike Napoli (.571/.625/1.000/1.625, 3.30 runs created, 27.50 RC/25 outs) created more runs than anyone else on the team.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Jon Lester was excellent, again. That is all.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/21/2014
Kansas City4.32(6)4.1(5)0.524(5)514653442
Tampa Bay4(11)4.04(3)0.495(8)484948490
Chicago Sox3.88(15)4.18(7)0.465(13)465246520
LA Angels3.88(14)4.75(14)0.409(14)405941581
NY Yankees4.11(9)5.23(15)0.391(15)386039591
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Kansas City8973
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Kansas City8775
Standings for the week
Tampa Bay5.33(2)2(2)0.858(1)30300
NY Yankees4.67(5)2(2)0.825(3)21301
LA Angels3.67(11)3.33(5)0.543(8)21210
Chicago Sox4.67(5)5.33(13)0.439(10)12211
Kansas City1.67(15)4.33(8)0.148(14)03030

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday pythagorean - 7/14/2014

So, they've reached the All Star break, and look to be attempting to maintain the tease as long as possible...
  • The youth movement went into high gear this week, with the designation of AJ Pierzynski for assignment and the call-up of Christian Vazquez. The Red Sox took the field on Wednesday night with five rookies in the starting lineup (and in order in the batting order, from 6-1). And what didn't get noted, because he's not actually still a rookie, despite his limited time in the Majors, is that Rubby de la Rosa was on the mound that night. We knew, coming into 2014, that Bogaerts and Bradley would play. To see Holt, Betts and Vazquez also on the field, and de la Rosa on the mound, was not something I would have predicted before the season started.

  • I don't know whether Christian Vazquez is really ready to be in the Majors yet or not, but his first few games have been prodigious (.455/.417/.727/1.144, 2.71 runs created, 8.46 RC/25 outs).

  • I don't know whether Christian Vazquez is really ready to be in the Majors yet or not. I also do not care. The Red Sox, organizationally, approach at-bats as something of value, outs as something not to be squandered. They go to the plate looking for something to work on, and will take a walk if that's what they're given. AJ Pierzynski approached the plate as if he were late for his bus, and didn't really have time for this silly "try to hit the round ball with the round bat" ritual.

  • I've seen less productive players in a Red Sox uniform. I do not immediately remember one whose mere presence in a Red Sox uniform so grated on my nerves as Pierzynski.

  • I thought that Pierzynski was a downgrade from Saltalamacchia. I did not think he'd be a big downgrade. I was wrong.

  • Over the last month, since 6/12, Jackie Bradley is hitting .286/.348/.357/.705. That's obviously not great, but given his defense, if he could maintain that kind of offensive production, he's a legitimate Major League player. And you have to love the gap between his batting average and his OBP, because that means that he's a disciplined hitter, and he sees pitches and takes walks.

  • Thomas Wolfe - "You Can't Go Home Again." Brock Holt - ".667/.688/1.067/1.754 in Houston, so, yes, you can."

  • Ok, Holt is not exactly from Houston, but close enough that the whole weekend had a return-of-the-prodigal-son feel to it. His mother's reaction after his lead-off home-run on Sunday was special.

  • And who knew that Brock Holt could hit a baseball that far?

  • Too bad there aren't more games with the Astros on the schedule...

  • Some guys have all the luck. (Wasn't that a Rod Stewart song?) Which is true for both good luck and bad luck. The Red Sox scored 8 runs for John Lackey and 11 runs for Clay Buchholz in Houston. In between, they scored two for Jake Peavy, as he pitched very well in accumulating yet another loss to go with his one (1) win on the season.

  • Ok, pedantry alert: The Major League baseball season is 162 games long. To refer to the "first half" and "second half," as Dave O'Brien did ad nauseum yesterday is convenient and understandable. It's also innumerate and exceptionally irritating. The first half of the season ended after game 81, two weeks ago in New York.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Brock Holt (.394/.412/.667/1.078, 7.75 runs created, 9.23 RC/25 outs) continues to amaze.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Jon Lester was excellent, again, allowing only 1 run in seven innings of work, and he was, again, the starter with the lowest ERA for the week. But. The performance of the week was Clay Buchholz' three-hit, no walk shutout against Houston on Sunday, and that brought his ERA for the week in two starts down to 2.25, and doing that over 16 innings was sufficient for the award.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/14/2014
Kansas City4.31(6)4.03(3)0.53(5)504452422
Tampa Bay4.07(10)4.03(3)0.505(7)474748461
Chicago Sox3.86(14)4.26(8)0.455(13)435243520
LA Angels3.83(15)4.75(14)0.403(14)395740561
NY Yankees4.12(9)5.25(15)0.39(15)375838571
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Kansas City9072
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Kansas City8874
Standings for the week
LA Angels6.57(2)4(9)0.713(3)52611
Chicago Sox4.43(7)3.43(6)0.615(6)4334-1
Tampa Bay4.33(8)4.17(11)0.518(9)33330
NY Yankees3.14(14)3.86(8)0.407(11)34340
Kansas City3.57(12)4.71(12)0.376(13)34340

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Monday, July 07, 2014

Monday pythagorean - 7/7/2014

Last week, I was a little bit disappointed that they were treading water. Obviously, they responded by deciding not to tread water any more...
  • The weakness of the AL East has them only 9 game out, on the fringes of contention. But this has been a bad team. Particularly offensively.

  • They lost with good pitching. They allowed 2 runs three times this week, and managed to win only one of the three games, on a walk-off Saturday afternoon.

  • They lost with decent offense. They scored at least six runs twice, and lost both.

  • Over their last 30 games, the Red Sox have scored far and away the fewest runs in the AL. They've scored 98 runs in 30 games, 3.267 runs/game. In all of baseball, only the San Diego Padres have scored fewer.

  • Yes, Xander Bogaerts is in a slump that is reaching epic proportions. No, anti-Drew talk radio know-nothings, it did not begin with the Drew signing. Here's what Bogaerts did in his first five games as a 3rd baseman this year: Xander Bogaerts (.318/.375/.682/1.057, 5.52 runs created, 9.20 RC/25 outs). One of his best five-game stretches of the season.

  • If this continues for another week, we will need to consider whether they promoted Mookie Betts (.188/.188/.375/.563) to soon, and whether keeping him in the Majors is likely to do permanent psychological damage.

  • Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.455/.500/.636/1.136), on the other hand, may have just had the best week, albeit in only three games, of his Major League career.

  • The Red Sox pitching has been pretty good, particularly the bullpen. But. The offensive ineptitude has meant that they've been pitching without a safety net, with no margin for error. And so we have Andrew Miller, during the 10-game losing streak, repeatedly being tagged with walk-off losses. And then this weekend, back-to-back Burke Badenhop performances that cost them the game. And Badenhop has been outstanding. But he failed on Saturday night, costing them that game, and he failed again on Sunday, costing them that one.

  • There's been some criticism of Jake Peavy, still winless since April. And there's some recognition of a lack of run support, but people still look at the win-loss as if it's meaningful. So let's consider a couple of things. Jon Lester has 11 Quality Starts this season, starts in which he's gone at least six innings and allowed no more than three runs. He is 9-0 with 2 No Decisions in those 11 starts. John Lackey is 8-1 in his 12. Jake Peavy is 1-2 in his nine quality starts. Peavy has four starts in which he's gone at least six and allowed only one, and another with six innings and two runs allowed, one earned. He's got only one win.

  • Yes, all QS are not created equally, but six innings and three runs should lead to a lot of wins on a good team. This one isn't.

  • Ok, pedantry alert: On the post-game show after Saturday afternoon's Red Sox win, we were told repeatedly (at least twice) that Jon Lester "did not factor in the decision." What a dreadful use of the language. Lester was the single biggest factor in Boston's win. Yes, he was not "awarded a win," he was "awarded a no-decision," which is not at all the same thing as not factoring in the decision.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Ironically, the one Red Sox offensive player who had a great week, David Ortiz (.412/.500/.647/1.147), was 0-5, as he missed the one win.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Again, Jon Lester was outstanding in Boston's one win (which he didn't get, despite going 8 innings and striking out 7 while allowing only 5 hits and no walks and no earned runs).
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/7/2014
Kansas City4.38(6)4.11(4)0.528(6)464248402
Tampa Bay4.11(10)3.98(3)0.516(7)454245420
Chicago Sox3.8(14)4.32(8)0.441(13)394939490
NY Yankees4.11(11)4.98(15)0.414(14)365238502
LA Angels3.71(15)4.68(14)0.396(15)365436540
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Kansas City8874
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Kansas City8775
Standings for the week
LA Angels6.57(1)3.71(8)0.74(3)52611
Tampa Bay4.71(4)3.29(5)0.659(4)52611
Chicago Sox3.67(11)3.5(7)0.521(7)33330
Kansas City3.83(9)3.83(9)0.5(8)33330
NY Yankees4.29(7)4.29(11)0.5(8)4334-1

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