Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Logan Mankins, former Patriot

I don't know enough about Pro Football Focus' statistics and tracking to say that this is entirely correct, but I think it's pretty clear that the Patriots agree with the basic premise of this piece, that there's a significant disconnect between Mankins' cost and Mankins' value.

2. Logan Mankins, Left Guard

Mankins signed a contract extension three seasons ago that made him the highest-paid guard at the time. His contract remains the second-highest in average per year, but his play has taken a dip over the last couple seasons largely as he plays through injuries. His performance has still been positive (+12.0 in 2013), but nowhere near elite status like he is being paid. He set to count over $10 million against the cap again in each of the next two years. Unless Mankins, who turns age 32 tomorrow, is able to regain some of his elite form, he will likely remain among the most overpaid on the Patriots’ roster for a third straight season.

2013 Cap Hit: $10m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $4.2m
Value Differential: -$5.8m
(Emphasis mine.)

I am definitely not of the "Bill can do no wrong camp." But I recognize that there are situations where I've got nowhere near enough information to make an informed criticism, and this is one of those cases. One of the reasons that the Patriots have been consistently good for the last 14 years is that Belichick is an economist. I don't see much, if any, evidence that he's any better at talent evaluation and prediction than anyone else, but he's very good and disciplined at allocating his resources.

This move may be a mistake, because it may be that Mankins was enough better than any of the replacement alternatives to justify the cost of keeping him on the roster. But it's not inconceivable that the replacement will weaken the run blocking slightly while improving the pass blocking, and on the whole, the offense won't suffer. Since I can imagine a scenario where this improves the team as a whole, and don't have enough information to argue convincingly against it, I am left without a good reason to condemn it. Not exactly, "in Bill we trust;" more like "Bill definitely knows more than I do and I hope he's right..."

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday pythagorean - 8/25/2014

Well, there goes the "they're going to tease us by playing well the rest of the way" prediction...
  • Seven games, seven losses. Wow, did they treat us to some bad baseball this week. They lost games early, they lost games late, they lost games close, they lost games big - they just lost and lost and lost.

  • Pythagoras says they should have won twice. They didn't listen.

  • Koji Uehara has been a brilliant performer in a Boston uniform over the last two seasons. But he's a primary reason that the losing streak is now eight games. He allowed the winning run to score in the 9th inning of a tie game on Tuesday. Well, everyone will allow a run sometime. But then, on Friday, he entered the game with a 3-0 lead to start the 9th inning and promptly allowed five runs for a 5-3 loss.

  • On Wednesday and Saturday, the Red Sox scored a single run in each of the first three innings, then allowed the opposition to score more than three in a single inning while failing to score again themselves.

  • They were no-hit into the 7th on Thursday and managed only one hit for the game.

  • They failed to score more than three runs in any of the games before Sunday.

  • From Tuesday through Sunday, they averaged exactly three runs per game, as they scored three runs four times, were shut out once and scored six runs once.

  • As bad as the pitching was (5.429 runs allowed per game, 12th in the AL), the offense was worse (2.857 (14 in the AL).

  • I have no idea whatsoever whether Rusney Castillo is worth $72 thousand or $72 million. They, apparently, have a very good opinion of him. I hope that they are right. Let me just say this - they can afford a big payroll, and repeatedly have one. While there is an opportunity cost here (the dollars spent on Castillo cannot be spent on anyone or anything else), acquiring prime talent without giving up either current talent or draft picks is a good thing. You can overpay a little bit when the money is the sole cost.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - The team was 0-7, and I was, on principal, just not going to give out awards this week. But there were some good offensive performances from Markus (Mookie) Betts (.273/.429/.364/.792, 4.52 runs created, 7.06 RC/25 outs) and Yoenis Cespedes (.318/.346/.591/.937, 4.36 runs created, 6.06 RC/25 outs), and then there was this, almost unbelievable, week from David Ortiz (.647/.769/1.118/1.887, 11.32 runs created, 47.15 RC/25 outs). That's got to be recognized even if it didn't lead to a win.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Yeah, right. Ok, there were a couple of performances that weren't awful, as Kelly pitched five very strong innings and De la rosa was good again. And some members of the bullpen pitched well. But there were no award-worthy performances, so there's no award.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 8/25/2014
LA Angels4.69(2)3.92(6)0.581(3)755477522
Kansas City4.15(9)3.88(5)0.531(5)686172574
Tampa Bay3.95(14)3.76(3)0.522(7)68626466-4
NY Yankees3.95(13)4.22(8)0.47(11)606867617
Chicago Sox4.22(8)4.77(14)0.444(12)587259711
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels9765
Kansas City9072
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels9666
Kansas City9072
Standings for the week
LA Angels4.43(5)2.71(2)0.71(1)52520
Kansas City4.67(4)3.67(6)0.609(3)42420
NY Yankees4.17(7)3.67(6)0.558(6)33421
Tampa Bay3.5(8)3.33(5)0.522(9)33330
Chicago Sox2.67(15)5.5(13)0.21(15)1506-1

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday pythagorean - 8/18/2014

4-2 on the week. "Too little, too late" is apparently the way the Red Sox are going to play the rest of the way...
  • Offensively, this was one of Boston's best week's of the year, as they were third in the AL with 5.167 runs scored per game.

  • That was offset somewhat by the weak pitching. De la Rosa and Kelly both had very tough starts against Houston over the weekend. The offense bailed Rubby out on Saturday, but they did nothing on Sunday in Kelly's first Boston start in an AL park, leading to a bad loss.

  • So, there's a theory that moving Bogaerts from 3B to SS "broke" him, screwed him up, that he went from a good hitter to a bad hitter because he moved 45 feet to the right on defense. It's pretty clear, at this point, that, if he was, in fact, "broken" by the move to 3rd, he wasn't "fixed" by moving back to SS. This is what his season looks like by defensive position in order:
  • Xander Bogaerts (SS) (.296/.389/.427/.816, 33.08 runs created, 5.70 RC/25 outs)
  • Xander Bogaerts (3B) (.182/.217/.300/.517, 8.26 runs created, 1.40 RC/25 outs)
  • Xander Bogaerts (SS) (.115/.172/.154/.326, -.06 runs created, -.03 RC/25 outs)
  • If he has to be a shortstop, and that's the issue, then he should be better now, and he isn't - he's worse. (It's also worth noting that his first week at third was outstanding - Xander Bogaerts [.318/.375/.682/1.057, 5.52 runs created, 9.20 RC/25 outs]). If he can't handle a defensive shift mentally, then he's not going to be the player that we all thought he was going to be. More likely, in my mind, is that the initial shift over to third roughly coincided with Major League scouting and pitching realizing that he can't hit a slider, and he's seen pretty much nothing but since.

  • Bogaerts' defense at short also figured prominently in both of the Sox' losses this week. On Friday night, they had a one-run lead with two outs and two on in the 8th. On a ground ball to SS, he shoveled the ball (late) to Pedroia, rather than taking the almost certain out at first, and the tying run scored in a game that Boston would lose in the 10th. On Sunday, he threw the ball to first before stepping on the bag at second, costing them the double play which should have ended the 2nd inning. Instead, the inning stayed alive, with two men on, and Kelly proceeded to allow a walk and a grand slam. Instead of 2-0, it was 6-0, and the game was effectively over. Now, it's certainly not Bogaerts' fault that Kelly was horrible, but giving teams extra outs results in bad things more often than not, and it was a bad mental mistake - there's no excuse for making the throw before touching the base in that situation.

  • One of the positives last week was the performance of Rubby de la Rosa and Joe Kelly in three excellent starts, combining to allow just three runs in 20 innings. In three starts this week, they combined to allow 15 runs in 14 innings.

  • In the 10 starts since coming off of the DL, Clay Buchholz has an ERA of 4.86. Better than before he went on the DL, of course, but not what they need from him if he's going to be the veteran presence in the rotation.

  • Yesterday's replay leaves me wondering what, exactly, is the definition of the "neighborhood play." Farrell certainly blew his top after replay confirmed that Bogaerts threw to first before stepping on second, and extended the inning. MLB has said that the "neighborhood play" is not reviewable, but I'm not aware of a specific definition of what qualifies. There's no question but that Bogaerts never touched second base with possession of the ball, but for player safety reasons, umpires don't always require that, and MLB doesn't want them to. So what, exactly, would qualify? Had the runner been closer to the bag, would that have done it? If Bogaerts had gotten his foot down beside the bag before releasing, would that have done it? What are the criteria? One understands Farrell's frustration, though it should mostly have been aimed at his pitcher.

  • Has any other manager garnered multiple ejections for arguing calls post-replay? Farrell's done it at least twice now.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Several good performances this week, from David Ortiz (.350/.409/.700/1.109, 5.29 runs created, 10.18 RC/25 outs) and Brock Holt (.333/.429/.417/.845, 4.66 runs created, 6.86 RC/25 outs) and Mike Napoli (.357/.500/.643/1.143, 3.99 runs created, 9.97 RC/25 outs). The best performance came from Daniel Nava (.500/.526/.778/1.304, 5.61 runs created, 14.02 RC/25 outs)

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Clay Buchholz had another good outing, allowing two runs in seven innings against the Astros. But that's not a special performance, just good. So I'm going to go with Burke Badenhop, who has been effective all year, and threw 3 2/3 perfect innings over four appearances this week.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 8/18/2014
LA Angels4.7(2)3.99(6)0.575(3)705272502
Kansas City4.12(9)3.89(5)0.527(6)655868553
Tampa Bay3.97(13)3.78(3)0.522(7)65596163-4
NY Yankees3.94(14)4.25(8)0.466(10)576563596
Chicago Sox4.29(6)4.73(13)0.455(12)566859653
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels9666
Kansas City9072
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels9567
Kansas City8973
Standings for the week
Tampa Bay4.86(6)2(3)0.835(2)6143-2
LA Angels4.6(7)3.2(5)0.66(4)32411
Kansas City5(4)4.43(6)0.555(6)43521
Chicago Sox5(4)5(9)0.5(9)32320
NY Yankees2.6(13)5(9)0.232(13)14231

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday pythagorean - 8/11/2014

The best week in over a month sees the Red Sox win a series, going 2-1 in LAnaheim, and split the week, going 3-3. This is the exact right situation for using the phrase, "too little, too late..."
  • The trades were supposed to weaken the pitching but strengthen the offense. We've seen a little of the former (just a little) and not much of the latter thus far.

  • The Red Sox scored and allowed 17 runs this week, 2.833 runs per game (12th) and 2.833 runs allowed/game (5th). That sounds like the pitching was pretty good and the offense was pretty bad. Which is accurate. In fact, the pitching was even better, and the offense even worse, than it sounds, because, with Saturday's 19-inning effort, they played seven games worth of innings, not just six.

  • How bad was the offense? The team hit (.173/.220/.248/.468, 10.23 runs created, 1.31 RC/25 outs) for the week. They were actually lucky to score 17 runs, as they "created" only 10.

  • There were only two Red Sox who managed to reach an OBP of .300 with more than that 2 at-bats this week, Dustin Pedroia (.296/.345/.333/.678, 3.29 runs created, 4.12 RC/25 outs) and Mike Napoli (.211/.375/.474/.849, 3.60 runs created, 6.00 RC/25 outs). There was only one who managed a SLG of .500 with more than 2 at-bats this week, Yoenis Cespedes (.296/.296/.519/.815, 4.12 runs created, 5.43 RC/25 outs).

  • Six position players - Daniel Butler, David Ortiz, Daniel Nava, Xander Bogaerts, Kelly Johnson and Jackie Bradley, Jr. - were negative in runs created this week, hitting a combined (.083/.127/.125/.252, -1.89 runs created, -.66 RC/25 outs) in 72 at-bats. Bogaerts was 2 for 23. Ortiz was 1 for 15. Bradley was 0 for 11.

  • From June 19 through July 26, Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit .304/.354/.380/.734 and there were hopes that he had the offense thing figured out. In the second inning of that July 26 game in Tampa, he singled. Since that single, he is 0 for 35 with 0 walks and 18 strike outs (.000/.000/.000/.000).

  • You don't see games that go 19 innings very often. The Red Sox, before Saturday night, hadn't gone more than 17 in eight years, since 2006. So it's kind of a funny quirk to see another 19 inning game the very next day, as Detroit's bullpen melts down late and the Tigers lose to the Blue Jays in 19 innings on Sunday.

  • The Red Sox starting pitching was outstanding this week, as the starters averaged 6 2/3 innings with an ERA of 2.70. Of course, if you're going to win three games while averaging 2 runs/game scored, you're going to need outstanding pitching. For the most part, they got it this week.

  • I'm not going to say that this is the reason they lost on Saturday, because you have no way of knowing what anyone out of the bullpen may have done in the 8th or 9th, but I was surprised that Buchholz went out for the 8th. And I thought it was a mistake. And this is not second-guessing - it's first-guessing, as I thought it was a mistake before events revealed it to be, if not a mistake, at the very least not the way to keep the Angels scoreless in the 8th.

  • That said, the way that game started, with two Angels' runs in the first, it looked like we were headed for another Buchholz disaster start. Instead, we got one of the very positive developments of the week, as he settled down immediately, and was very effective for the next seven-plus innings.

  • Tough week for Brandon Workman, with two losses in one start and one very brief relief appearance. He had the worst start (although at four runs over 5 1/3 innings, it wasn't horrible) and then allowed the Pujols HR in the 19th inning, facing just one batter and allowing the game-ending HR.

    He was still better than most of the offensive players.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - There's not a lot to choose from here. Yoenis Cespedes (.296/.296/.519/.815, 4.12 runs created, 5.43 RC/25 outs) led the team in runs created, but it took him a lot of outs to do it. Mike Napoli (.211/.375/.474/.849, 3.60 runs created, 6.00 RC/25 outs) took some walks and hit for some power, but there's that 4-19 (.211). In the end, there's just not a worthy candidate, so there's no Player of the Week for this week.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Joe Kelly allowed just one run over seven innings in his Red Sox debut. Allen Webster (2 runs, 6 1/3) and Clay Buchholz (3, 8) were both very good. But the best week came from Rubby De La Rosa, who made two starts, and they were both excellent, as he allowed just two runs over 15 innings of work.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 8/10/2014
LA Angels4.71(2)4.03(6)0.571(3)675068491
Kansas City4.07(9)3.85(3)0.525(7)615563532
Tampa Bay3.91(13)3.89(5)0.503(9)59585760-2
NY Yankees4(11)4.21(8)0.476(10)566161565
Chicago Sox4.26(7)4.72(13)0.453(12)546556632
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels9468
Kansas City8874
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels9468
Standings for the week
Kansas City6.33(1)2.17(1)0.877(1)51601
Tampa Bay3.17(10)2.5(3)0.606(5)4233-1
NY Yankees3.14(11)2.71(4)0.567(7)43430
LA Angels2.57(13)3.57(9)0.354(14)25250
Chicago Sox2(15)6.29(15)0.11(15)16251

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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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