Saturday, June 23, 2007

Returning to the Fold (Part II)

A continuing look at the pitchers featured in Part I.

Rich Harden:
Current Stats: 20 IP, 0.95 WHIP, .191 BAA, 1.35 ERA

On April 15th, after pitching 6 shutout innings against the Yankees, Harden called for the trainer in the top of the 7th. He took a few practice pitches and then said he was ok to continue. He proceeded to give up a double to A-Rod and then asked out of the game with shoulder tightness. His quote after the game: “It's not too serious, I'm not concerned.” After 2 weeks of scratched throwing sessions, he visited Dr. Lewis Yocum and was advised to rest for 10 days. On May 12th, he threw for the first time since the injury and “felt great.” On May 19th, his shoulder “didn’t feel right” while throwing in the outfield and was shut down again. He finally got back on a mound on June 12th, then an inning rehab assignment June 20th, and a scoreless inning for the Mets out of the bullpen on June 22nd, more than two months after the original injury. It will probably be July 15th at least until he starts another game, 3 months of injury time for something he originally felt was not too serious.

Project Harden consisted of an effort to combine Nolan Ryan’s fastball, Trevor Hoffman’s changeup, and Roger Clemens’ splitter, but Billy Beane’s henchmen are now kicking themselves for putting it on all Nomar Garciaparra’s body.

Zack Greinke:
Current Stats: 59 2/3 IP, 1.54 WHIP, .312 BAA, 5.13 ERA

Not exactly what was planned for this season, as Greinke has been relegated to the bullpen until further notice. He’s had good success relieving: 23 2/3 IP, 6 BB, 27 K, but it still seems like a long road ahead towards being a consistent starter. The best thing might be a move to another team who will give him the innings.

Josh Beckett:
Current Stats: 83 IP, 1.07 WHIP, .224 BAA, 3.14 ERA

That’s more like it! The Red Sox are getting exactly what they traded for now. It was only a matter of time.

Ben Sheets:
Current Stats: 96 IP, 1.17 WHIP, .246 BAA, 3.19 ERA

Sheets is back this year, and finally has a winning team to lead. His stats are solid as a rock and he might just get some Cy Young award votes this year if the Jake Peavy train ever slows down.

Tim Hudson:
Current Stats: 105 IP, 1.15 WHIP, .242 BAA, 3.43 ERA

Ok so numbers do lie sometimes. Huddy’s been brutal the last month or so and is now complaining of shoulder soreness. We’re going on year 3 now that he’s had injury problems, and he’s not getting any younger, so his days as an elite pitcher may be behind him. He should be effective the rest of the year even at 90%, but the Braves probably need more than that to be a playoff threat.

Jake Peavy:
Current Stats: 100 IP, 1.02 WHIP, .204 BAA, 1.98 ERA

Oh my! He’s a healthy version of Rich Harden! I consider Peavy the crown jewel of baseball pitchers right now, especially since he’s only 25. Think about the Jake Peavy for Mike Lowell trade rumors from last winter and how ridiculous they were. Who knows how long Peavy can stay on top of the baseball world with that violent delivery of his, but for now it looks like he’s arrived.

Felix Hernandez:
Current Stats: 63 IP, 1.46 WHIP, .292 BAA, 4.00 ERA.

Some pitchers make it look easy when they are rolling. King Felix makes it look completely effortless. I’d say the jury’s still out on this year since he has said that he didn’t feel healthy after coming off the DL until his last start (8 shutout innings against the Pirates). He’s not missing much in his arsenal, but it does seem like his control in the strike zone is still developing. If it is, then it’s probably because he was able to get away with throwing pitches right down the middle for most of his minor league career. He’s still as likely as anyone in baseball to go on a crazy pitching run of dominance. As of this moment, he’s just over 21 years old and has 321 K’s in 338 major league innings. He’s not making the immediate impact that Dwight Gooden did, but Gooden had chosen cocaine over baseball by age 24, so hopefully the early/middle part of his career will go much better for Hernandez.

Just a reminder of why he’s named King, his career minor league stats:
306 IP, 246 H, 363 K, pitching against guys 3-4 years older than him at every level.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Now for something different, a guest article by Dave Y. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

The Wrong Way to Win?

If it wasn’t for the title “Things Going Right for Red Sox, but for All the Wrong Reasons”, I would have no idea what this article is actually trying to say. Joe Lapointe, who may be functionally illiterate, starts the piece with a rambling half-story about Varitek ribbing Tavarez in the clubhouse. Just when you think this might be another sappy story about clubhouse chemistry winning ballgames, Lapointe makes a sub-Livejournal transition that goes,

“The day before, Tavárez retired a batter by fielding a grounder on the first-base line and intentionally rolling a throw to first base as if bowling…People are hearing the Red Sox loudly and clearly this season while watching them succeed in somewhat unorthodox ways.”

Ok. So. Their eccentric 5th starter for now/resident Spider-Man villain look-alike (Vulture!) made a weird play to get one out in one game. That’s not really how I’d sum up their season so far but ok. I’m on board Lapointe. Tavarez is nuts. Where are we going? The ice cream shoppe?

“They beat the Giants, 9-5, on Sunday behind the knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield and a home run and three runs batted in from Manny Ramírez...But there is something counterintuitive about these 2007 Red Sox, who play in a hitters’ ballpark and are generally thought of as a power team.”

What?? You just pointed out that Manny “Power-Hit” Ramirez powerfully powered a bunch of power-balls across the plate yesterday! Then immediately followed it by saying that they’re not so good with the power.

His other points in the article are just as self-defeating and pointless:
Manny and Ortiz haven’t hit that many homers yet.
But the Sox have had consistent hitting from Youkilis, Pedroia and Lowell.
But they haven’t from Lugo, Drew or Crisp.
But Drew perked up this weekend.

Also something about Lowell being old and being such a veteran that he can pretend to run because rookies sometimes forget how their legs work being so young and all.

Picking apart a NY Times sports articles is a little bit of a fish in a barrel move, but this has to be the laziest of the crop of lazy articles about the Red Sox offense I’ve been seeing lately. Of course you would expect more runs out of this lineup. After the past couple weeks they’ve dropped to 5th in the A.L. in runs scored. But their rock-solid pitching staff (2nd in the AL in ERA, OPS-against and WHIP only to Oakland) has kept runs scored against them low. Low enough for the best run differential in the AL and the 2nd best in all of baseball behind the Padres. These facts, as far as I know, are some of the most obviously right reasons a team would be winning a lot of games. If you score more runs than you allow, then you will win baseball games.

Staying on top despite the grossly below-expectation production from Drew, Crisp and Lugo, and while waiting for Ortiz and Manny to crank up their homer machines, is a good sign for the team. A couple of power hitters getting streaky all at once and carrying a mediocre team is not.

He mercifully stops stringing words and concludes by explaining how the DH rule will affect the Sox’s upcoming interleague road-trip (in case you’re not really sure what baseball is but say, your cat sat on the computer and this article showed up.)

He asks Red Sox Manager Terry Francona "what he will do to solve this problem?"

Francona audibly gasped and turned white as a sheet.
“…um…what? Heh…I don’t……wha…….…Papi…?”
He looked around for some help, any help! But he found no solace from his terrified squadron. There was no way out. No way out…but down! He darted for the press room window screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” Through shattered glass he fell swiftly, dramatically, to his death.

(Ok so it actually just ended with Francona saying he hadn’t really thought about the lineup but he’d figure it out at some point and Lapointe snidely replied with a “we should all be so lucky.”)

Labels: ,

We’re Back!

What better way to return to blogging than to rip on the team that made stupid ball popular, the 2005 White Sox. Looking at their team struggling this year I couldn’t help but notice how many of the same players remain from the World Series winning luck machine. Here’s the majority of the two rosters, with stats for players who are now different. (Podsednik remains but has been injured, while Crede is out for year now but had contributed for most of the season up until this point). The stats for hitters are career AVG/OBP/SLG and career ERA/WHIP/OBA for pitchers.

















Podsednik (.275/.342/.379)

Mackowiak (.259/.332/.406)


Rowand (.284/.342/.453)

Erstad (.285/.340/.413)








Everett (.271/.341/.462)

Thome (.282/.410/.564)





Garcia (4.07/1.30/.254)

Vazquez (4.35/1.27/.259)








Hernandez (4.13/1.26/.241)

Danks (4.34/1.55/.280)


Hermanson (4.21/1.36/.263)

Jenks (3.36/1.30/.238)


Cotts (4.55/1.44/.244)

Thornton (4.46/1.54/.248)


Politte (4.40/1.37/.252)

MacDougal (3.93/1.46/.261)


Marte (3.16/1.27/.224)

Logan (6.91/1.65/.278)

The only player on here who is way past their prime is Erstad, so I think for most of these guys you would expect something like their career line everything else taken equal. Going down the list of changes, Podsednik/Mackowiak is a wash, Rowand is better than Erstad, Thome is better than Everett, Garcia/Vazquez is a wash, Hernandez is better than Danks, Jenks is better than Hermanson, Cotts/Thornton is a wash, Politte/MacDougal is a wash, and Marte is much better than Logan.

The main point I’m trying to make is that taking both of these teams in a vacuum separately, you would expect both to be decent ~.500 teams. In reality one of them overproduced to create an expected Win-Loss of 91-71 and beat that by pure luck alone by 8 wins to finish 99-63, and followed that up with an obscene playoff rampage.

Now if they really had some kind of superior strategy or heart then with the same manager and players they should be able to reproduce it year after year. Maybe not win 99 again, but at least they wouldn’t be sitting at 29-37 in fourth place right now if it were true. What we need to remember though is that while the 2005 Sox weren’t running into outs and giving away other outs through bunting, nearly all of their positional players were outslugging their career averages and their starting pitching was anomalously healthy, leading to absolutely gaudy numbers from 5 journeymen relievers in the pen.

There’s nothing that annoys me more than a team that’s lauded for all the wrong reasons while they continually shoot themselves in the foot in an apparent effort to cancel out all of the good fortune they keep receiving. At least I don’t think anyone of us will have to watch them back in the playoffs anytime soon.

Labels: ,