February 28, 2010

Starting Pitchers Announced

This Week's Starting Pitchers
Wed 0303
Casey Kelly vs Northeastern, 1 PM
Boof Bonser vs Boston College, 6 PM

Thu 0304
Josh Beckett vs Twins, 7 PM

Fri 0305
Jon Lester vs Twins, 1 PM
(followed by Tim Wakefield)

Sat 0306
John Lackey vs Twins, 1 PM (split-squad)
Felix Doubront vs Rays, 1 PM (ss)

Sun 0307
Clay Buchholz vs Orioles, 1 PM
The starts by Boof and HH will be on MLB.TV.

Peter Abraham claims this "sets up either Josh Beckett (on one extra day or rest) or Jon Lester (on normal rest) to start on Opening Day against the Yankees on April 4 in Boston". ... Good call -- as if someone other than one of those guys will be pitching G1.

Mike Cameron left Sunday's workout early with tightness in his left groin. ... Mike Lowell has been working out at first base.

February 26, 2010

Playing Pepper - 10 Questions

Daniel Shoptaw at C70 (and Head BBA Guy) asked me and two other Red Sox bloggers 10 questions about 2010:
How was the off-season? What kind of grade would you give it?

What is the key to success for 2010?

What will be the team's strength?

What could be their Achilles' heel?

Who will be the team's MVP?

Will a rookie make a significant impact on the team in 2010, and if so, who?

Who will be the breakout player for the team?

Which player will drop off the most from 2009?

Who is the most likely player to be dangled as trade bait?

What will be the team's final record and divisional standing?
You can read our responses here. Feel free to opine.

February 25, 2010

Francona Warns Cameron

Mike Cameron chose his minor league number when he joined the Red Sox, and Terry Francona gave him a warning:
Tito told me if you wear No. 23, make sure you don't miss the first ball because [the crowd] will go "LUUUGO!"

February 24, 2010

The Del-Lords Are Back!

They have regrouped and are now on their way to Spain for their first tour in 20 years!

The Del-Lords -- whose 1988 album Based On A True Story should already be in your record collection -- played together last night at the Lakeside Lounge in Manhattan. According to someone who taped the gig, they took the stage during happy hour under the name The Elvis Club!

Here is a clip from their rehearsal two nights ago (the internet is amazing!!!):

Back in another life, I went to guitarist Scott Kempner's apartment in the West Village to interview him before the release of 1990's Lovers Who Wander. It was shortly before Xmas. I arrived with a six-pack of beer and I remember him beaming about his Yankees tree ornament. (Scott is the guitarist on the left side in the clips. The other guitarist/singer is Eric "Roscoe" Ambel.)

You can see the Del-Lords -- named for the director of The Three Stooges short films Del Lord (Canadian!) -- in action in 1990 with The Girl That I Ain't Got and I'm Gonna Be Around.

[How cool is Kempner? When a blog posted some Del-Lords demos in November 2008, he came by to say thanks for "giving a shit about the band" and noted that even he didn't have a copy of at least one of the tracks! Then he returned to clear up some chronology about the recordings!]

Kempner (aka Top Ten) is also an original member of The Dictators -- the legendary NYC punk band. He's wearing the red shirt at the start of this run-through The Stooges' Search and Destroy. And here are The Dictators playing what should be the city's theme song (and here). ... ARE YOU TALKIN' TO ME???

Proof that there are ultra-cool Yankee fans out there.

February 23, 2010

Dice Feeling No Pain

Daisuke Matsuzaka made 25 tosses from 60 feet and another 25 from 90 feet on Monday and said he felt no pain or discomfort.

Mike Lowell arrived in camp and talked with the media: "I can't imagine I'm not on the trading block ... [but] Nobody should feel sorry for me."

Asked what kind of shape he's in for the new season, David Ortiz said: "You've got to see me naked." Re Flo, Gordon Edes presents two sets of numbers (June 1 to end of 2009 season):
Player A: 23 HR, 83 RBI, .292 AVG, .400 OBP, .520 SLG
Player B: 27 HR, 81 RBI, .264 AVG, .356 OBP, .548 SLG

February 22, 2010

San Francisco, April 14, 1906

This nearly 14-minute film of San Francisco's Market Street as seen from the front window of a cable car was originally thought to be from 1905, but some detective work from David Kiehn and the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum --
from New York trade papers announcing the film showing to the wet streets from recent heavy rainfall & shadows indicating time of year & actual weather and conditions on historical record, even when the cars were registered (he knows who owned them and when the plates were issued)
-- put the exact date at Saturday, April 14, 1906 -- only four days before the infamous earthquake. (The film rolls/flutters in a couple of spots but it clears up.)

There are several clips of the quake's destruction, including one that takes the same route as the one above, here.

February 20, 2010


 2 - Jacoby Ellsbury (changed from 46)
11 - Clay Buchholz (changed from 61)
16 - Marco Scutaro
22 - Bill Hall
23 - Mike Cameron
28 - Dave Magadan (changed from 29)
29 - Adrian Beltre
30 - Boof Bonser
32 - Jeremy Hermida
40 - John Lackey
46 - Joe Nelson
50 - Ron Johnson (1B coach)
55 - Brian Shouse
70 - Tug Hulett

97 - Kyle Weiland (highest # in camp)

Book Excerpt: "Evaluating Baseball's Managers" by Chris Jaffe

Chris Jaffe, a writer for The Hardball Times, has published Evaluating Baseball's Managers: A History and Analysis of Performance in the Major Leagues, 1876–2008 (McFarland), and he has given me permission to post some of the Red Sox-related sections.

Jaffe, from the analysis of Terry Francona:
"Gather up a handful of fans from all 30 franchises and ask them about their teams' managers. Rooters from ten teams will tell you their manager is baseball's biggest idiot. Another ten will explain that their skipper is merely a dullard. About five will admit through gritted teeth that their guy is not too terrible. The other five will shockingly have something nice to say. The crowd rarely gives managers much credit."
The excerpt Jaffe sent me includes entries on 14 Red Sox managers (he evaluates 89 managers in the book): Patsy Donovan, Frank Chance, Lee Fohl, Bucky Harris, Joe Cronin, Joe McCarthy, Steve O'Neill, Lou Boudreau, Dick Williams, Ralph Houk, John McNamara, Don Zimmer, Jimy Williams, and Terry Francona.

Jaffe explains here how he researched the in-game tendencies of managers from 80-100 years ago. You can find other excerpts from his book here. Instead of sharing one manager's entire entry, I'm going to post bits of a few.
Dick Williams

Dick Williams lived to break in fresh talent. ... Williams went with the younger player whenever possible. He was fearless about putting kids in the game and would stand by them if he thought they had the talent, even if they initially faltered when establishing themselves. With that level of trust emanating from their authoritative skipper, rookies rarely fizzled on Williams. He not only gave prospects a chance, but more impressively he did it in a way that ensured they consistently reached their potential.

When Williams arrived in Boston in 1967, he gave 22-year-old Reggie Smith the starting center field job. Smith had a rocky start, with his batting average below .200 (with few home runs or stolen bases) as late as June 24. As a rookie manager, Williams must have been under pressure to bench him for a veteran while the team hovered around .500. Williams never wavered. With that show of confidence, Smith warmed up, ending the campaign second in the Rookie of the Year voting, helping Boston win the pennant. ...

Also in 1967, Williams found room for another 22-year-old rookie, reliever Sparky Lyle. Before leaving Boston, Williams made Lyle the relief ace, a position Lyle thrived in for a decade. ...

Don Zimmer

Zimmer was historically inept at deciding who should bat in the top two slots in his batting order.
Worst at Putting OBP in Top 2 Slots
Don Zimmer 1.521
Danny Murtaugh 1.400
Johnny Oates 1.360
Dusty Baker 1.267
Phil Garner 1.216
Not only did he do the worst job ever, but no one else is particularly close to him. ... Zimmer also had problems elsewhere on his lineup card. Once in Boston and another time in Texas the bottom third of his batting order had a better OPS than the entire team. ... Is it really that hard to figure out who the worst hitters are and put them where they belong? It apparently was for Zimmer.

Ralph Houk

When Houk inserted a reliever, that pitcher was to finish the game. In fact, his relievers lasted longer per outing than anyone in baseball history. Using the splits available at Baseball-Reference.com, the following teams had the most innings per relief appearance of any squad since 1956:
Year    Team   IP/RA   Manager
1974 DET 2.73 Houk
1973 NYY 2.68 Houk
1982 BOS 2.51 Houk
1976 DET 2.51 Houk
1975 DET 2.45 Houk
There are three different franchises in the top finishers, but only one manager. Just think how difficult it must be to average seven or eight outs per appearance. There are always going to be times a reliever has no stuff and needs to be yanked immediately. Some days Houk would bring a new reliever into the game with only one inning left. Yet he still averaged almost three innings per appearance a few times. ...

An era bias exists, as all of the sixteen highest finishes, and 35 of the top 36, come from the 1973-82 AL, its first decade with the designated hitter. Yet even among that bunch Houk dominates, as the above list attests. He is the entire top five, and seven of the longest sixteen averages. ...

Due to Houk's tendency to leave relievers in games for prolonged stretches, he virtually never used them on back-to-back days. ... In nineteen years as a manager, Houk used pitchers on back-to-back days 307 times. In comparison, Nationals manager Manny Acta did it 226 times in 2007-08. In 1982, the Red Sox staff threw only 8.2 innings on zero days rest, the lowest total for any team since 1956.

John McNamara

McNamara's most famous managerial moment came in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series ... [but] Perhaps the most telling moment in that game was not leaving Buckner in, but the bullpen meltdown.

No manager has coaxed worse performances from his relievers than McNamara. Cumulative bullpen ERA, adjusted for park, serves as a good gauge for overall reliever quality. When that is plugged into the Tendencies Database, the following managers had the shoddiest bullpens in the Retrosheet years:
Worst Park Adjusted Bullpen ERA
John McNamara 1.357
Jim Leyland 1.307
Bruce Bochy 1.151
Al Dark 1.096
Tom Kelly 1.093
McNamara owns the dubious distinction of possessing the worst park-adjusted bullpen ERA with four different franchises: San Diego (1974), Cincinnati (1981), California (1983), and Boston (1987). He finished tenth or worse ten times.

Jimy Williams

There are two types of quality starting rotations: those that also eat plenty of innings, and those managed by Jimy Williams. In 2000, his Boston Red Sox bunch featured the best park-adjusted ERA of any starting rotation in the AL while also averaging fewer innings per start than any team in the league. It was the only starting staff to do that since 1956. Only one other league leader in park-adjusted ERA even came close: that was the 1999 Red Sox whom Williams, of course, also managed. ...

Every rotation Williams managed for at least half the season finished in the bottom half of the league in innings thrown per start. Only once did any of his teams rank higher than eleventh. Yet they were good rotations. They finished the top half of park-adjusted ERA every year but one, and in the top three a half-dozen times. ...

In the years when pitch counts came into vogue, Williams was one of the poster boys for how to handle a rotation. More important than pitch counts, his teams performed better as the year went on. ...

Williams could do this because he oversaw terrific bullpens. Three times his relievers claimed the best park-adjusted ERA. In 2000, they possessed both the greatest share of innings thrown and the best park-adjusted ERA. ...
Got the Most from the Bullpen
Jimy Williams 1.030
Frank Robinson 1.514
Chuck Tanner 1.647
Bill Rigney 1.663
Gene Mauch 1.679
Williams does not just lead this category; he blows everyone away. ...

Terry Francona

W/L Record: 755-703 (.518)

Full Seasons: Philadelphia 1997-2000; Boston 2004-08
Majority in: (none)
Minority of: (none)

Birnbaum Database: -195 runs
Individual Hitters: -11 runs
Individual Pitchers: -193 runs
Pythagenpat Difference: +115 runs
Team Offense: -92 runs
Team Defense: -14 runs

Team Characteristics: Francona has no interest in the intentional walk. He relies on his starting position players, but is willing to make mid-game replacements. His teams steal infrequently but generally have a fine success rate when they try. Only five AL bullpens have ever averaged less than an inning per relief appearance: Francona managed two of them.

February 18, 2010

Cody - Great News

Update 2: And she's home!


Cody's surgery went quickly and easily - and she is doing fine!
We heard great news about Cody's cancer yesterday. She's having surgery today.

Keith Law On The Red Sox And Stats

ESPN's Keith Law was interviewed on the Dale & Holley show yesterday.

He talked about the Red Sox farm system (he ranked it #2 in MLB, with the Yankees at #25, by the way; FU MFY) and the edge it gives them in any upcoming bidding for Adrian Gonzalez, and Theo Epstein's increased attention to run prevention.

Law also talked about more advanced metrics, when (as you might expect) answering a question about you-know-who:
RBIs are useless. ... It's not a stat I've looked at since I stopped playing fantasy baseball eight years ago. And batting average is not useless, but it's totally incomplete ... a single and a home run are treated as if they're exactly equal. Well, they're not. ...

Do you really think that RBIs are useless, rather than just overvalued?

Totally useless. In terms of measuring the value of a player's performance, I find them absolutely useless because 1) it's determined by how many opportunities you get — the guys who hit in front of you in the lineup, how often did they get on base; and 2) there's no particular skill to driving runs in. There's no such thing as a hitter who is significantly better in RBI opportunities. ...

Some guys take advantage of those opportunities that are there for them, and some don't. Some guys have a knack for driving people in.

I disagree with that. I do not think that's true ...

Do you think that the new metrics in baseball are a tough sell to the person who grew up thinking that the sacrifice bunt is an essential part of baseball?

They scare people. They really do. They scare people in the industry. I've noticed that with a lot of other writers. I take criticism, I took criticism for the Cy Young vote back in November [he did not include Chris Carpenter on his ballot] ... I do think ultimately you see a lot of guys who are scared, who are threatened who, "I have understood baseball this way for 50 years, you can't tell me I'm wrong — I don't want to hear that I'm wrong, that everything I thought about baseball was wrong or misleading, that I had a bad understanding of this game." ...
After I finished reading this interview, I did something that I almost never do: I glanced a bit further down at the first few readers' comments. That is ALWAYS a mistake. The large number of people who seemingly boast of their closed-mindedness, who take excessive pride in their ignorance, is staggering. And, sadly, they procreate.

When it comes to "clutch hitters", if you look at who excels in various hitting categories -- with runners second and/or third or "close & late" situations, things like that -- you will notice that the same guys do not appear at the top of the list year after year. And there are always some odd names. You know who the top 10 clutch hitters from 1960 to 2004, the players who (as Tom Ruane says here) "were able to raise the level of their game when it mattered most (or at least when runners were on second or third)"?
                           NO RISP       W/RISP

Bill Spiers 3430 2548 .607 882 .722 .115
Mike Sweeney 3760 2673 .764 1087 .867 .103
Pat Tabler 3948 2815 .626 1133 .725 .099
Jose Valentin 4882 3678 .666 1204 .765 .099
Wayne Garrett 3308 2557 .557 751 .643 .087
Sandy Alomar 4748 3831 .519 917 .592 .073
Tony Fernandez 7972 6100 .665 1872 .736 .071
Rennie Stennett 4554 3520 .612 1034 .682 .070
Joe Girardi 4150 3117 .596 1033 .666 .070
Rick Miller 3910 2991 .599 919 .668 .069

(BPS - batting average plus slugging percentage)
In a nutshell, coming through "in the clutch" is something that has not been proven to be an actual, sustainable talent.

Lackey, Matsuzaka Meet The Press

WEEI has some video of John Lackey's and Daisuke Matsuzaka's comments to the writers today.

Also: Lackey threw a bullpen session. And he answered the question: Will he miss the rally monkey?

February 17, 2010

NY Post Fitting Bot For Pinstripes; Dice Has Sore Back

Daniel Bard, February 15:
If you want to be the best reliever you can be, ultimately that probably ends up being the closer. ... That's my goal. I don't know if it'll happen here or somewhere else, two, three, five years down the road.
Maybe you can't understand the subtle implications in that quote, but someone at the New York Post sure can:
Jonathan Papelbon may be closing for the Yankees sooner than you think.
(Yes, my eyes are rolling.)

Bot Q&A from yesterday here:
I think that's the perception, that I'm going to go somewhere else, but it's all a perception. ... Of course I'd love to stay here for 15 years. Right now one year at a time is the way it's working, and I'm happy and everyone else is happy, so why not?
Daisuke Matsuzaka left the Red Sox's minor league complex yesterday with a sore mid-upper back. He told a group Japanese reporters about the injury.

Theo Epstein called it a "really mild strain" and did not think it would affect Matsuzaka's spring at all:
We're two months away from when we'll need his rotation spot anyway, so we'll just slow it down, let our doctors look at him, not make something we think is really small into something big.

February 16, 2010

Red Sox In Camp

Extra Bases reports there are about 80 Red Sox players on the field this morning. Tim Wakefield and Josh Beckett are tossing and Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected in camp later today.

Victor Martinez can be a free agent at the end of this season and he says he wants to stay in Boston, but I think that desire comes from not wanting to move to yet another team as much as it does wanting to stay with the Sox. Naturally, the team is saying nothing about any possible talks.

Clay Buchholz gained about 13 pounds over the winter and Theo Epstein likes what he sees:
He's really taken it very seriously this winter. He looks to be in great shape and has really strengthened his core. ... He's at an advantaged stage as opposed to where most guys are at this point.
Epstein also said that Mike Lowell had the pin removed from his thumb recently and that will put him a few weeks behind schedule.

Daniel Bard is working on a changeup:
Probably threw 20 of them the whole year [2009]. There's so many situations where I would think, "OK, this kind of situation kind of calls for a changeup." If there's a guy on second base, guy on third, important run, I don't want to get beat on my third-best pitch. What I want to do this year is make it so I don't have that feeling, so I can say the situation calls for a changeup and have the confidence that I'm going to get an out on it.
Amalie Benjamin has a good feature on the value of J.D. Drew (she even mentions WAR!):
Just 10 players had an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .900 or greater in 2008 and '09: Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Holliday, Chase Utley - and Drew.

Over the three seasons since he signed with Boston, Drew has gotten on base at a .390 clip. That stands as fourth-best among outfielders in baseball in that span, behind only Manny Ramirez (.412), Holliday (.403), Magglio Ordonez (.397), and tied with Adam Dunn. ...

Drew has gotten the hit so many times that some in the organization privately wonder why David Ortiz has gotten all the praise.

There was the two-out grand slam off Fausto Carmona in Game 6 of the 2007 American League Championship Series, the ninth-inning tie-breaking homer off Francisco Rodriguez in Game 2 of the 2008 ALDS, the home run and game-winning RBI in the Sox' epic comeback in Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS, the homer in a loss in Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS. ...

February 13, 2010

Pre-Season Annuals - Predictions

I've seen three of the pre-season annuals on the newsstand and jotted down the predictions for the 2010 season:

Red Sox (wc)
Blue Jays

AL Central & West: Twins, Angels
NL: Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Rockies (wc)
ALCS: Yankees over Red Sox
NLCS: Phillies over Cardinals
WS: Phillies over Yankees
AL MVP Top 5:
Slappy, Mauer, Longoria, Yook, Morales
AL CY Top 5:
Sabathia, Hernandez, Verlander, Rivera, Peavy
Red Sox
Yankees (wc)
Blue Jays

AL Central & West: Twins, Angels
NL: Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies, Dodgers (wc)
AL Pennant: Red Sox
NL Pennant: Phillies
AL MVP: Teixeira
AL CY: Hernandez
The Sporting News
Red Sox (wc)
Blue Jays

AL Central & West: Twins, Angels
NL: Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies, Cubs (wc)
WS: Yankees over Phillies
MVPs: Mauer / Pujols
CYs: Hernandez / Lincecum

February 12, 2010

Loading The Truck


Start here -- and ignore the idiots who scoff at the idea of celebrating Truck Day.
The truck arrived at Fenway Park this morning just after 6:30 a.m. and the packing began at around 7:00 a.m. with a crew of seven workers. ...

The truck will depart from Fenway around noon.
Driver Al Hartz will be making his 12th Fenway-to-Fort-Myers run.
Jere has pictures from some 1950s Truck Days.

February 11, 2010

Lester, Yook, Bot, MDC In Camp

The Truck leaves on Friday morning, but Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, Jon Lester, and Manny Delcarmen are already in camp in Fort Myers.

If you haven't seen the clip of a young Yook in the movie Milk Money, click here. ... The team grabbed right-handed reliever Gaby Hernandez off waivers.
And: A witness to Abraham Lincoln's assassination appears on the 1956 TV show "I've Got A Secret" (gee, I wonder who sponsored that show?).

February 6, 2010

Workout Videos

Two video reports on off-season workouts: WEEI has Dustin Pedroia and NESN has Jason Varitek.

Rob Bradford, on FY:
Pedroia had noted how heavy his legs felt throughout much of last year, vowing to alter that sensation in '10. ... "I just felt slower last year," Pedroia says. "That's something I wanted to change. Now I feel a lot better."
Redsox.com's "Around The Horn" looks at the 2010 outfield.

Over at BR, look at how consistent the percentages of 2-, 3-, and 4-run victories have been over the last 110 years.

Non-Roster Invitees

The Red Sox have invited twenty players not on the team's 40-man roster to spring training:
Randor Bierd
Fernando Cabrera
Kris Johnson
Casey Kelly
Adam Mills
Edwin Moreno
Joe Nelson
Brian Shouse
Jorge Sosa
Kyle Weiland

Luis Exposito
Gustavo Molina

Lars Anderson
Yamaico Navarro
Angel Sanchez
Gil Velazquez

Zach Daeges
Ryan Kalish
Che-Hsuan Lin
Darnell McDonald

February 3, 2010

Not Much Guessing About Roster

The 25-man roster for 2010 is -- barring injury -- pretty much set.

The only big question marks are the final two spots in the bullpen. Daniel Barbarisi (ProJo) and Peter Abraham (Globe) take a look at the candidates.

And the Truck leaves a week from Friday.
Also: Shitty news at Chez L-sock.