Five Reasons …

…. To Stop Whining About the Josh Beckett Trade:

Not to take anything away from Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez, clearly great young players who should contribute to the Florida Marlins for years to come, but a lot of this harping about the Josh Beckett trade in light of Sanchez’s no-hitter has been really silly.

I don’t begrudge Yankee fans their potshots. They’re likely facing another embarrassing first-round playoff exit and for the first time since 2002 have a team that’s clearly better than Boston’s, so it’s all a little new and scary and unfamiliar-yet-all-too-familiar for them. No, it’s comments like one we had on the Sox game thread the other night, and the article by Edes in Thursday’s Globe that get my goat.

This Edes paragraph was especially irritating:

[I]n the aftermath of last night’s no-hitter thrown by Anibal Sanchez … Epstein is in a position to deflect demands to know what the Sox were possibly thinking when they made that deal

If you’re a Red Sox fan, and you’ve done little more than perked your ears up when these two players’ names were mentioned on BBTN, then you already knew before the no-hitter that they’ve had fine years. You also likely supported the Beckett trade when it was made.

So stop, please stop, whining about the trade just because Sanchez threw a no-hitter. If you need reasons, though, here they are:

  1. Who Do You Love? Hee-Sop Coi or J.T. Snow? Because one of those guys would be hitting around .250 and playing first base right now. Kevin Youkilis, while adequate, would not be playing Gold Glove defense at third, and the Sox’ lone offensive spark of the past two weeks would still be in Florida.
  2. Rami-wreck: Edgar Renteria in Boston: .276/.335/.385 8 HR, 70 RBI, 30 errors. Hanley Ramirez in Florida: .281/.347/.456 13 HR, 49 RBI, 20 errors. Aside from the big power boost, Ramirez has gotten on base at roughly the same rate as Renteria — and committed errors at roughly the same rate, as well. Sox fans booed Renteria out of town in 2005. Now they act like Hanley would be the second coming of Ozzie Smith. Maybe he will be, but it’s a bit soon, isn’t it?
  3. Nipped in the Bud. Last rookie major-league pitcher to throw a no-no? Bud Smith, in 2001. It was one of six wins Smith recorded that year. He also recorded a victory in the NLDS against Arizona, throwing five innings and giving up just a single run. He won exactly one more game as a major-league pitcher. So let’s all chill a bit. We just don’t know how things will turn out.
  4. NL = Nothing but Lightweights: After a month of bemoaning how much playing the National League made the Red Sox look better than they actually were — and most of a season criticizing the front office for not realizing Josh Beckett might not be as much of an ace in the AL as he was in the NL — why are Sox fans so quick to forget that Anibal Sanchez is benefiting from the reverse effect, particularly on his first time through the league? (Call it BAS — Bronson Arroyo Syndrome)
  5. Beck-ing for Some Credit: Is Josh Beckett really that bad? Curt Schilling has 18 quality starts out of 29 games. Beckett has 17 of 29, or 59 percent, percentage points behind Derek Lowe, Chris Carpenter, Tom Glavine and Barry Zito and percentage points ahead of Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman and Chien-Ming Wang. Also of note: Josh Beckett has zero wins in non-quality starts, meaning that all 14 of his wins have been excellent. The only AL pitchers with zero "cheap wins" and more victories than Beckett? Zito, Wang and Santana.

Likewise, Beckett has pitched games with just as much — or at least close to as much — dominance as Sanchez’s no-hitter. Sanchez allowed zero hits and walked four. Beckett in July allowed four hits and walked none in one fewer inning. In June, he allowed just three hits with no walks in eight innings, although one of the hits was a two-run homer. So Beckett isn’t bad — he’s inconsistent. His wins are incredible — he has a 2.21 ERA in 101.2 innings over 14 wins. His losses are abominable — a 9.08 ERA in 74.1 innings over 10 losses and five no decisions (which includes two quality-start losses).

It’s clearly too soon to declare a "winner" or "loser" for this trade. The Sox are better in 2006 for having made it. Will they be better in 2007 and beyond? I look at Beckett’s numbers and see too much potential to throw him in the street with Coco Crisp, another favorite and unjust whipping boy. I still believe in this trade, and I still believe in Josh Beckett. And so should you.

Edited to correct Bud Smith as the last rookie pitcher to throw a no-hitter.

41 comments… add one
  • Hey, really great post here man, really, but uh…yeah, your team sucks, and the whole country is glad they won’t have to hear RSN’s bitching and moaning in the playoffs this year. Happy golfing!

    DJ Twins Fan September 8, 2006, 12:37 am
  • PaulSF, really good post. I’ve been a reader of this site for a while, but the recent posts have got me worked up enough to post. As a yanks fan it’s been great to see Beckett not work out this year, but anyone who thinks he won’t improve is nuts. He’s still young, and I really do think he’ll be the pitcher the Sox are looking for. I still think the trade was a good one, and like you said, it’s still too early to tell. As for us Yankee fans, I’d be doing less gloating and more worrying about the post season. With Liriano coming back for the Twins, and that insane 3-4-5 that the White Sox have…definetely nervous about the Yanks making another quick exit.

    m.g. yanks fan September 8, 2006, 1:04 am
  • Thanks for this, Paul. As an unabashed Beckett fan (and Mike Lowell fan for that matter), it’s nice to see all of this laid out in print.
    I’ll add some more numbers to help your points if you don’t mind:
    Schilling in Quality Starts: 18 games, 2.46 ERA, 7.77 H/9, 7.98 K/9, 1.09 BB/9, 0.93 WHIP (13-5 team record)
    Beckett in Quality Starts: 17 games, 2.34 ERA, 6.25 H/9, 7.10 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, 0.92 WHIP (14-3 team record)
    Funny how one of them is universally considered the Sox ace while the other is bemoaned when in reality, their numbers in QS are eerily similar. If a 26 year-old pitcher can match what a 39 year-old pitcher with more than twice as much ML experience is doing half the time, that 26 year-old pitcher is clearly doing *something* right.

    mouse September 8, 2006, 1:22 am
  • Excellent post Paul. That being said, if the Yankees were the team that pulled off the Beckett trade, with Ramirez and Sanchez being from the Pinstripe farm system, the shots from Sox fans on this site would be coming as furiously and frequently as AK rounds on a Marine fighting position in Fallujah. You don’t begrudge us the potshots… because your ass would be doing the exact same thing if the shoe was on the other foot. Is Beckett going to be much better next year? Most likely. Then this whole hoopala about this trade will look stupid. But, for the time being it has been a fun little side story for us Yank fans.
    Now for my big bone to pick with you.
    The 2006 Yankees might take an early exit in October, this I’m prepared for. But as a Yankee fan who has followed this club seriously since 1990 at age 11, I would comfortably say this team is better built for October than any Yank team since the 2003 club; and this offense makes the 2003 club look like pikers.( Great Brain reference for you non 1980’s elementary school types) Bottom line, if what I pray for happens; does happen, I’m going to make you eat so much crow that your wife will be shaking the black feathers from your bedsheets through December.

    bloodyank78 September 8, 2006, 2:58 am
  • Referring to the Yankees and Yankees fans, Paul wrote:

    They’re likely facing another embarrassing first-round playoff exit and for the first time since 2002 have a team that’s clearly better than Boston’s, so it’s all a little new and scary and unfamiliar-yet-all-too-familiar for them.

    Please, elucidate. What’s a little new? What is scary? What is unfamiliar? There is one team that has won the AL East (or tied if you want to look at last year in that light) the last eight seasons, likely soon to be nine; that team has been to the playoffs the last 11, likely soon to be twelve. That team has battled Boston, its fiercest rival and what may represent the greatest rivalry in sports to roughly a .500 record which has represented some of the best baseball I have ever been privileged to watch, but they also battle every other team they face amidst scrutiny afforded only to itself in the Major Leagues. It is the one team that has been to the brink of victory in a division series only to see an unprecedented collapse that is lorded over them by Boston fans at every opportunity since. It has seen defeat in the World Series twice, but has also won it four times in the previous ten seasons with a continuance of three marquis players (two of which are locks for the Hall of Fame), ownership and principle management. That also means that team has seen defeat in the playoffs at every level in between in that span.
    I can’t address the point of “pot-shots” taken at the Sox which may have been a reasonable impetus to bring the Yankees into this discourse along side disgruntled Boston fans, because I haven’t taken any of those shots. One thing is certain. None of this is new, nor is it frightening, nor is it unfamiliar.
    Addressing your points:
    You made the suggestion that: “They’re likely facing another embarrassing first-round playoff exit.” I assume you represent that New York will have a difficult time winning three of five in a short series against Detroit, Minnesota, or Oakland. That’s inciteful, but not necessarily insightful. New York played two sets against each of those teams, winning one and losing one against Minnesota and Oakland, and winning two against Detroit. Certainly the pitching wasn’t aligned as it may be in the playoffs, but that applies to both teams. Is a short-series victory a certainty for New York? No. Is it a _likelihood_ they will be embarrassed? No.
    Item 1: Youkilis is playing decent defense at first, I agree. I have seen him make some incredible plays and he is an asset at the position. He is not in the top three for consideration for the gold glove, which will be won by Mark Teixeira.
    Item 2: “Sox fans booed Renteria out of town in 2005. Now they act like Hanley would be the second coming of Ozzie Smith. Maybe he will be, but it’s a bit soon, isn’t it?” Isn’t that the problem?
    Item 3: Your sourcing is inaccurate on this one. Bud Smith did throw a now hitter. However, the last no hitter prior to Sanchez was Randy Johnson’s perfect game in 2004. Before that was Kevin Millwood for Philadelphia in 2003. Before him was Derek Lowe for Boston in 2002. Then Smith in 2001. There also was the weird combined no hitter where six Astros no-hit the Yanks in 2003.
    Item 4: I do not agree with your assertion that although Sanchez is having a great season and has thrown a no-hitter that these are lessened accomplishments by throwing in the NL. Regardless of league, he is a superb pitcher this year. This does not alter the fact that Boston is a sub-500 team against AL opponents this year.
    Item 5: I can’t argue with this point. The only thing I would say is that Beckett is still a work in progress. His ERA is too high and he gives up way too many home runs; he’s led the league in the latter stat for most of the year until recently.

    attackgerbil September 8, 2006, 4:37 am
  • Bud Smith was the last rookie to throw a no-hitter, I believe, which is they key fact.

    SF September 8, 2006, 8:10 am
  • I think I love you, attackgerbil.

    tom yf September 8, 2006, 8:42 am
  • Gerb, responding to your points, responding to Paul’s:
    1. Gold Gloves are terrible measures of fielding prowess. See Jeter, Derek. Or Palmeiro, Rafael (DH). Regardless, Youkilis/Lowell has been a superb combination, and pushing Youk back to third would have had a cascading effect. Whether or not Youk finishes in the top 3 really doesn’t matter. He’s exceeded expectations and, with continued improvement, could be one of the best fielding first basemen in the entire league, I don’t think that’s a stretch.
    Item 2: Perhaps it’s a problem, but I disagree with Paul and don’t think Renteria was “booed out of town”. If Epstein and the brain trust thought Renteria would have improved this year they wouldn’t have traded him: Rent didn’t ask out, and at last check players can’t trade themselves. I think (and I criticized LaRussa wrongly for saying this when the Sox signed Rent) that Renteria wasn’t right for Boston, personality-wise. Plenty of players can deal with the pressure, Renteria couldn’t deal with it well enough, though I don’t think he was as terrible as everyone made him out to be, either.
    Item 3: Bud Smith was the last rookie to throw a no-hitter.
    Item 4: A no-hitter is a fluke. As you say, it’s not lessened by his throwing it in the NL: it’s still a tremendously difficult thing to do, externalities and all. But his overall numbers have to be considered through the lens of the NL. If it’s fair to look at Beckett as having slipped due to an NL-AL switch, then presuming that Sanchez might be benefitting from the opposite is totally fair.
    Item 5: Agreed, but Paul’s breakdown of Beckett’s starts is very helpful and should make lots of Sox fans drool over what is going to come from Beckett down the road; I am a confident one on this front – he’s 26 – this we sometimes forget.
    As an aside, I wonder if the Red Sox’ organizational pitching coaches have anything to do with the Boston hurlers not excelling. We know Dave Wallace missed a ton of time over the season, and Al Nipper did nothing to impress me: he seemed to exert almost no influence over Tito. And Tito has a way with pitchers that I really don’t like, as I have established over and over. I believe that the bench management of the Sox has much to do with why some of these guys don’t do better here; it’s not all on Theo’s decision-making.

    SF September 8, 2006, 8:44 am
  • SF, I never ralized what a whiny little b*tch you were until the last few days. You really just look childish and petty at this point. You should stop while your ahead.

    Eric September 8, 2006, 8:54 am
  • So, how’s that brilliant Pavano deal working out for the Yankees?

    Hudson September 8, 2006, 9:03 am
  • Also, aren’t New York fans relieved that they let Contreras go to Chicago?

    Hudson September 8, 2006, 9:04 am
  • SF:
    I believe your point for Gold Gloves would have been made more clear by referencing Varitek, Jason.

    Bozo September 8, 2006, 9:05 am
  • EXCELLENT post.

    beth September 8, 2006, 9:12 am
  • That’s true, Bozo. Varitek is not the best fielding catcher in the league, no way.

    SF September 8, 2006, 9:17 am
  • My fave, Bozo, is Palmeiro winning it when he played like 31 games at first, and 120 at DH, though.

    SF September 8, 2006, 9:18 am
  • You’ve got to hand it to Theo Epstein. He just seems to be in the right place at the right time. The obvious example is the ’04 World Series.
    But last night 22 year old former Red Sox farmhand Anibal Sanchez threw a no-hitter for the Marlins (link). Red Sox nation wondered aloud, “Why can’t we get guys like that?” Sanchez was shipped away with Hanley Ramirez (Ramirez is also enjoying a great season) in the winter of 2005…during Epstein’s resignation/holdout for more money.
    So you can’t blame Theo for the trade. He wasn’t around. So Epstein gets no blame for the deal that could have been the difference in the 2006 season. Meanwhile, “Boy Wonder” gets all the credit for the ’04 championship and pretty much everything else that goes right for the Red Sox. That’s Theo – he’s in the right place at the right time and makes sure he gets all the creidt for successes and none of the blame for his failures.
    The fact is Epstein bailed on this team last winter and no one is calling him on it. Fans in New England seem to have different standards for players and management. Manny Ramirez recently sat out a stretch of games b/c of a hamstring injury. Many fans and media types questioned the injury. Some wondered aloud (see Edes column in today’s Globe) what this season could have been if Manny toughed it out. But no one is asking the more iportant question.
    Where was Epstein the winter of ’05? He sacrificed the 2006 season to fulfill his own agenda and now the Red Sox are paying for it. And for those who believe that Epstein was pulling the strings behind the scenes, then he should be blamed for the horrid deal that sent Ramirez and Sanchez to Florida for Josh Beckett. This one has Lowe and Varitek for Slocumb written all over it and its not becuase of one game last night. Ramirez and Sanchez look to be key players on a contender in their rookie seasons.
    The shine is defintely coming off Epstein aura. The current Red Sox are being outplayed by teams with higher and lower payrolls. Epstein’s excuses about losing to the Yankees because of their significantly higher payroll ring hollow when teams like the A’s and Twins are also much better than the Red Sox.
    The business side of the management team has done a decent job spinning the failed season in a way that has evoked sympathy and leeway in the fan base. Larry Luchino, Terry Francona, the Red Sox, and the fans should not lose site of the truth. Theo Epstein and his Baseball Operations people failed in ’06.

    Syam Buradagunta September 8, 2006, 9:20 am
  • Salaries of Youk, Gonzo, Lowell for 06 $12.35 million
    Salaries of Choi, Ramirez, Youk for 06 $1.4 million
    That is $11 million for “great defense” since Gonzo bats .265 I would go out on a limb and say that better defense could have been purchased with some better middle relief, but maybe not.
    Anyone would still do the same exact trade today. Beckett is a proven commodity, but that does not mean you did not give up a lot for him. Why is it so hard to acknowledge that?
    I think this trade will be decided by what becomes of Dustin Pedroia, if anything.

    Seth September 8, 2006, 9:46 am
  • I was at game 6 of the 2003 World Series. Sat in the bleachers as Beckett DOMINATED the Yankees. Best pitching performance I’ve ever seen live. I have a really hard time believing that someone could lose so much in so short a time.
    Did the Sox overpay? Maybe. It takes time to adjust to the AL, and we’ll reserve judgement until next season. (Hey, maybe Pavano can still turn it around. That was a joke.)
    And the quality starts thing is slightly misleading – I’d like to see Schilling and Beckett’s stats for non-quality starts. Schilling at least keeps his team in the game.

    YFinBeantown September 8, 2006, 10:28 am
  • A couple responses.
    First, I meant rookie pitcher. My bad on that one.
    I guess I’ll take these in order:
    “What’s a little new? What is scary? What is unfamiliar? There is one team that has won the AL East (or tied if you want to look at last year in that light) the last eight seasons, likely soon to be nine; that team has been to the playoffs the last 11, likely soon to be twelve.”
    The Red Sox were the better team in 2003 (debatable), clearly the better team in 2004 and were essentially equal in 2005. I was being inciteful, a rarety for me I admit, but I just felt like throwing a few jabs of my own out there. The Yankees might be embarrassed, they might not. But for a $200 million team, losing in the first round to me qualifies as embarrassing, just like missing the playoffs altogether at $120 million is embarrassing. Anyway, I wasn’t trying to be particularly informative in that graf — just exacting some measure of payback for all the snide comments directed our way in recent weeks.
    “Youkilis is playing decent defense at first, I agree. I have seen him make some incredible plays and he is an asset at the position. He is not in the top three for consideration for the gold glove, which will be won by Mark Teixeira.”
    I agree Youk will not win the GG at first. I was referring to the fact that he would not be winning thew Gold Glove at third, like I believe Lowell will be.
    “I do not agree with your assertion that although Sanchez is having a great season and has thrown a no-hitter that these are lessened accomplishments by throwing in the NL. Regardless of league, he is a superb pitcher this year. This does not alter the fact that Boston is a sub-500 team against AL opponents this year.”
    No-hitters are tough — and flukey –regardless. But as others have mentioned, Sanchez really has exhibited the same skill set as Jon Lester. Lester threw essentially a one-hitter for the Sox and had trouble when control problems came back to bite him. I think Sanchez would be looking at a Lester-like were he an AL pitcher. Still a fine performance but not the ridiculous numbers we’re seeing.
    Seth: “Anyone would still do the same exact trade today. Beckett is a proven commodity, but that does not mean you did not give up a lot for him. Why is it so hard to acknowledge that?”
    I don’t think anyone has tried to avoid acknowledging that. The best way for this deal to turn out is all four of the players are successful. It’s not that Ramirez and Sanchez haven’t been good or won’t be good. It’s that supposedly intelligent baseball people (Boston Dirt Dogs, Olney, Edes, etc.) seem to be acting like Beckett and Lowell have been failures and that the Sox were “fleeced.” Not only is it too early, it’s just not true, not even based on the numbers before us today.

    Paul SF September 8, 2006, 10:28 am
  • Incidentally, Edes’ On Baseball column today continues the tripe of lining up former Sox’ players recent accomplishments with no context.
    Oh no! Marte hit a grand slam! (He’s lucky to be batting .200)
    Oh no! Seanez got a win! (He won two with the Red Sox)
    Oh no! Bronson Arroyo got a shutout! (First win in something like 11 starts)
    Oh no! David Wells got a win! (Are we supposed to be surprised?)
    Give me a break. There’s lots to criticize the FO for. I’d start with the Mirabelli trade. But let’s be intelligent about it.

    Paul SF September 8, 2006, 10:51 am
  • Last winter when my son, a Yankee fan, was expressing concern over the Beckett and Crisp deals, I reassured him that these acquisitions would not make a difference, and that in fact, by the time the 2006 season was played out, the Red Sox fans would be disappointed in both players, and begin feverishly second-guessing their management. I can’t blame the Sox for going after Beckett….he was, after all, a Yankee killer [for 1 game in the WS a few years ago]. How has he done this year against the Yankees?….I don’t have the stats handy, but I know of at least 2 starts that they humbled him unmercifully. One of you guys got it right…he is “inconsistent”…when he’s good, he’s very good, but when he’s bad….ouch! He’s not an ace…he’s a 500 pitcher. He’s only above 500 this year because the Sox score so many runs. Only, it’s not all his fault…the Sox have a history of mismanaging their pitching staff.
    You fell in love with Crisp in the off season because you had to…Damon was gone, another unforgivable mistake by Sox management. Damon was not starting to “lose it”, as the Sox management accused him, and they were not outbid by that much. If there wasn’t such a love affair in NY with Jeter, most folks would tell you that Damon might be the MVP, of the Yankees anyway. I never saw much in Crisp when he was in Cleveland, but the Sox management did, or they realized they had no choice.
    I like what I see in Youklis…hard working, hustling, adaptable [as in moving to first base]…good attitude. The biggest problem with the Sox this year was that the team was a house of cards. There are a handful of good, even great, players, but the remainder of the team, like 04, were cast-offs and wannabes. Unlike 04 however, where there were no significant injuries to overcome, and everyone [i.e. Millar, Mueller, and others], had career years, the Sox have not had the same luck this year. Add to that the bullpen while in 04 was extablished and veteran, this year it was in flux and unproven, all year. Scary to think where they’d be without Papelbon. This Sox team was doomed from the beginning of the year, and I’d love to rub it in to the so-called experts who predicted the Sox would win the world series. Only problem is that I can’t find them…they hide too well.

    dc September 8, 2006, 11:20 am
  • Beckett manhandled the Yankees his first start of the year, then was torched the next two.
    I disagree with you, dc, about Coco Crisp, but that’s all been outlined in previous posts. Do a search for him on the site if you’re interested.
    Technically, Beckett is an above-.500 pitcher because he has thrown more quality starts (14 wins, 2 losses, 1 ND) than non quality starts (7 losses, 4 ND). By QS alone, Beckett should be 17-11, and like I said, that’s better than many of the league’s elite pitchers. The main problem is that even though Beckett is excellent at the same rate as the league’s elite, when he’s not excellent, he gives his club no chance to win the game.

    Paul SF September 8, 2006, 11:38 am
  • DC, as a yankee fan I could not understand how we missed the boad on Beckett when he went for what seemed like a fire sale (an A and B prospect) and taking on Lowell. There was nothing bad about that trade then when a team had the financial ability to absord Lowell.

    Seth September 8, 2006, 11:59 am
  • SF: Absolutely, gold gloves do not serve the purpose of accurately representing the quality of a defender; that’s why I prefaced my statement that he wouldn’t finish top three by saying he is an asset at the position and commenting on that he has made incredible plays. In fact, I think that we are in basic agreement here. I was stating a fact regarding Teixeira, not intending to use the fact that he won’t win the gold glove to denigrate his game at all.
    Paul: Figured that’s what you meant regarding rookie. One thing I forgot to post last night because of the fact it was so ridiculously late was that Sanchez is 1-1 in interleague play; he pitched part of a game where the Yankees were shut out by Florida, and got shellacked when he pitched against Boston.

    attackgerbil September 8, 2006, 12:11 pm
  • While I was distressed that the Sox got Beckett, I must say I was very happy that they let Sanchez and Ramirez go. That to me sums it up.
    Now if only they can find a way to trade Lil’Papi for Barry Zito, the situation will be perfect.

    Sam September 8, 2006, 12:50 pm
  • I understand, Gerb – I was just reiterating my dislike of the Gold Glove as an arbiter of defensive quality.
    I can’t help but think there are two lines of criticism here – one is that the Sox made a mistake for this year, the other that the Sox made a mistake for the long term. They are somewhat intertwined, of course, but I believe there is clearly something missing by proclaiming the first (what a mistake!) without contemplating the second (the AL is different, and WYSIWYG, improvement in time be damned). It’s easier argued that the Red Sox misjudged how Beckett and Crisp would adapt to playing in Boston, at least in their first year (I’ll disregard, reluctantly, the fact that Crisp missed 40+ games right at the beginning of the season, which was hardly helpful). Certainly many of us fans did. But extending that beyond this year is pure speculation, obviously. To continue speculating, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Beckett improve at least slightly next year. And it could be that an offseason of reviewing his performance, some additional coaching, familiarity with players, his improvement is more than slight. Depending on the amount of improvement, and where in his game the improvements occur, we could be looking at a regular 4.25+ ERA, 16-18 game winner (rare, right?) or a 3.75+ ERA, 19-21 game winner (really rare, right?). If he regresses at all, then it will be clear how poor the Sox’ (and some of us fans) were in judging Beckett pre-AL. At this point, I think Paul is correct: Though Beckett hasn’t been what we expected this year and that has hurt the Red Sox, he also hasn’t been the unmitigated disaster that many scribes and bloggers and blog-commenters are now claiming.

    SF September 8, 2006, 1:24 pm
  • I cant believe any of us are really debating much of the topics. First, plain and simple when trading (especially proven players), you usually are trading “potential” for “proven commodities”. Second the National League is weaker than the American League. Also learn to look at the deals as a whole. That being said let me explain.
    Sanchez and Ramirez are “prospects” just in case you dont know it means ” anticipation; expectation; a looking forward”. Knowing the definition, they were getting Beckett (and Lowell I may add) who has proven he/they can cut it in the majors. So the Sox got what they wanted.
    Next Its interesting how the the last no hitters were R. Johnson-NL, Millwood-NL, Lowe-AL and Sanchez-NL. Does that tell you about the weak hitting NL teams or what.
    Lastly the Beckett deal was good for both teams. The Marlins have a good young pitcher and a good your short stop (gotta stop throwing the word “great” around, Johan Santana-great, Annibel Sanchez-good). The Sox got a good starting pitcher in Becket who is 2nd on the team in wins with even more potential to be an ace and also the Sox got a very good third baseman in Mike Lowell who will probably end up with close to 20 homers, 80 RBI, batting over .280 and a gold glove contender. So its not like the Sox got a bunch of stiffs in return. Hopefully this puts some things into prospective.
    Oh and by the way would someone like to look up Johnny Damon’s stats at the point of his career that CoCo is at???

    Jig4040 September 8, 2006, 3:37 pm
  • Jig, it’s an interesting comparison except one of the problems seems to be that Crisp has not made a successful transition to CF. You don’t really want Damon’s numbers as a corner outfielder. So if the Sox decide that Crisp’s poor routes to the ball are hurting the team too much (the team’s defense efficiency is low according to BP–seems like the outfield is the culprit), he turns bak into a corner outfielder, and that makes him less valuable than Damon even if they put up similar numbers.

    Anonymous September 8, 2006, 3:59 pm
  • that was me.

    Nick-YF September 8, 2006, 4:00 pm
  • //The main problem is that even though Beckett is excellent at the same rate as the league’s elite, when he’s not excellent, he gives his club no chance to win the game.//
    “No chance” is a slight exaggeration. But only slightly:
    Schilling’s Non-Quality Starts: 11 games, 7.14 ERA, 13.24 H/9, 8.07 K/9, 1.19 BB/9, 1.60 WHIP (5-6 team record)
    Beckett’s Non-Quality Starts: 12 games, 10.48 ERA, 12.73 H/9, 7.04 K/9, 5.54 BB/9, 2.03 WHIP (2-10 team record)
    Schill’s non-QS are less than stellar, but Beckett’s are outright horrible. (Check out the huge spike in his walk rate–I’d say that’s a pretty telling statistic.) He’s very much a feast or famine pitcher this year, no doubt about it, but that’s the same reason why there’s room for optimism. The numbers would indicate a lack of consistency, not outright failure.
    Incidentally, Anibal Sanchez had a 6.30 ERA against the American League this year. Small sample size of course, but anyone who thinks he’d have the same numbers playing for Boston as he does with Florida is fooling themselves.

    mouse September 8, 2006, 4:08 pm
  • Paul, good stuff in general. I guess the only issue I have is with your assessment of Beckett. If you take the 9 poor starts you have one of the worst samples of baseball by any pitcher this season. What’s his ERA in those games: 10.00? It’s pretty godawful and as much as you can spin that his other games show potential, contrarians can spin these 9 games as the work of a pitcher, who after 4 seasons in baseball, has failed to figure out how to pitch. To me, his closest comp is Javy Vazquez, who shows flashes of brilliance, but for whatever reason can’t put it all together as entered his prime years.

    Nick-YF September 8, 2006, 4:11 pm
  • I suppose if you get a starter that makes 22 starts where his team, if they score their normal runs, wins 20 of them, and 12 where he’s lucky if they win 1, that’s a pretty good pitcher at the major league level, right? And that’s not far from a great pitcher, right? As I said earlier, if Beckett can improve those non-quality starts he’s a monster, by most measures.
    I think the two big questions are “why is there such a staggering differential between the QS and the NQS?” and “what are realistic expectations for a factor of improvement?”. I mean, that’s a BRUTAL differential. Is it tipping pitches? Is it the hitter types he faces? Is it physical? What’s the explanation? This has to be an almost historic differential for a 14-17 game winner. It’s quite confusing, to be honest. It has to be attributable to something — it’s such an oddity that I can’t help but thinking that something specific is causing it, or that there’s something specific causing some sort of cascade of effects that makes Beckett utterly hittable on some nights.
    I also wonder what the typical quality start is for an “ace”, and what the typical percentage of QS has been across time for the elite pitchers of the last 10 years. It could be that Beckett’s QS are far better than the typical “ace”, while his NQS are almost immeasurably worse. That, too, is very odd.

    SF September 8, 2006, 4:25 pm
  • Nick, I see your point, but Beckett’s great performances outnumber his bad ones, 17-11. Facoring in the better offenses he faces in the AL (across the board, not just the top teams in the AL East), the adjustment factor he must make and his youth, it seems there’s far more reason for optimism than pessimism when looking at those splits.

    Paul SF September 8, 2006, 4:55 pm
  • I’m not entirely sure if CoCo’s transition to CF has not been sucessful. Granted recently his angles to the ball are not great but I would say that’s more of a byproduct of trying too hard to make up for a struggling team. When those type of issue’s were not at hand I have seen him make many spectacular catches that most outfielders would not make. Also keep in mind he is playing on what of the quirkiest fields in the Game

    Jig4040 September 8, 2006, 5:14 pm
  • Paul, I’ll only argue this point:
    You state that this Edes graf:
    [I]n the aftermath of last night’s no-hitter thrown by Anibal Sanchez … Epstein is in a position to deflect demands to know what the Sox were possibly thinking when they made that deal.
    … was irritating.
    Not really.
    It’s a fair question.
    You can applaud or question any move a GM makes.
    It’s Theo’s job to be able to defend any criticism, warranted or not.
    Given the fervor that permeates Red Sox fandom, it should not be unexpected that knee-jerk criticism goes hand-in-hand with anything that happens post trade.
    Oh, and now I hope the Twins get swept in the first round in time for all their fair-weather fans to crawl back into their igloos.

    I'm Bill McNeal September 8, 2006, 6:34 pm
  • The context of the paragraph though, Bill, is that Theo wasn’t on the job at the time, so he’s in a position to deflect questions about the trade — the underlying premise being that of course the deal was bad (his use “what the Sox were possibly thinking” without any kind of defense or qualifier is telling to me), so Theo’s lucky that he can deflect those questions that will now inevitably arise from such a horrible trade.
    It’s continued in today’s dreck, which was just as bad as some of the crap Shaughnessy’s turned out lately, nothing more than a woe-is-us, “look at all these former Sox players who had good days without any context as to how well they’re actually performing this season or what opposition they might be facing.” I don’t in any way mean to detract from Epstein’s responsibility to answer for moves he does and does not make. I do believe that a usually responsible reporter like Edes should be providing context and not jumping off the Shaughnessy Bridge.

    Paul SF September 8, 2006, 6:45 pm
  • SF-
    It IS a brutal differential between the QS and non-QS, isn’t it? I can’t wrap my head around it either, as the numbers are quite literally all over the place.
    Some of it undoubtedly has to do with the level of competition; I think Baseball Prospectus currently ranks Beckett first in the MAJORS in terms of quality of batters faced amongst starting pitchers. (I believe Schilling ranks 30th on the list, for some perspective.) So Beckett truly has been thrown to the wolves this year, make no mistake. Nearly all of his non-QS have come against teams with very good lineups:
    Quality Starts: TEX, TOR, SEA, NYY, BAL, PHI (2), ATL, TB (2), NYM, KC (2), OAK (2), LAA (2)
    Non-Quality Starts: TOR (4), CLE (2), NYY (2), TEX, CWS, OAK, DET
    He’s basically dominated every weak team he’s faced (as he should), but has had mixed results against the tougher offenses. Cleveland in particular made him their personal whipping boy, smacking him for 15ER in two starts. Ouch.
    Contrast with Schilling, who has been both good and bad against all kinds of lineups:
    QS: TEX, SEA, BAL (2), TB (3), NYY (3), DET (2), MIN, ATL, PHI, NYM, CWS, OAK
    Non-QS: CLE, NYY, BAL, TB (2), TEX, OAK (2), LAA, KC, SEA
    I don’t for a moment think the strength of the opposition tells the whole story about Beckett’s numbers, but they are certainly a part of it.

    mouse September 8, 2006, 6:50 pm
  • mouse, all the stat stuff was making my head spin, and I was hoping to see who the QS v. NQS teams were to provide some perspective…thanks.
    Seth, I’m not sure the Beckett deal was a fire sale…after all, Ramirez was one of the most coveted Sox prospects, and one that the Sox refused to part with in the past. The Marlins were primarily interested in dumping salary, which is the reason they insisted on the Sox taking Lowell. He’s a good player, he just costs more than the Marlins wanted to spend.
    Paul SF, I didn’t say that Beckett was a bad pitcher, or an “unmititaged disaster”. I was wrong to call him a 500 pitcher at 14-10, but the 33 HR’s and ERA of 5.11 [1.3 runs higher than his career] should be a big concern even though the AL is a stronger league. He is, to use your word, “inconsistent”, especially against the good teams that he has to beat to be an ace. The most galling for Sox fans had to be the 2 starts against the Yankees where he got pasted. In that sense, and considering the high expectations that came with him, my assertion that Beckett has been a disappointment is right on. I never said he was a bad pitcher…he’s a young pitcher with something to prove beyond his win against the Yankees in the WS. I’m not sure what you disagree with me on about Crisp. My only Crisp comment was that he would be a disappointment, which he has been, getting booed regurlarly at Fenway. He looks lost defensively in center field, and he’s no Johnny Damon, who was loved by the Sox fans before he defected. Sox fans were forced to embrace Crisp before he even played a game, because they had to. Damon was already gone, and the taste of sour grapes was too much for them. Rather that send me on a search, please clarify what your Crisp disagreement is.
    Finally, of course the jury is still out on the prospects…let’s face it, all trades are risky and speculative. ALL teams have made bonehead personnel moves, that sometimes aren’t evident for years later.

    dc September 8, 2006, 10:42 pm
  • dc, I was referring to this perception that Crisp has been a horrible player. He hasn’t.. At least not offensively. The injury took a big bite out of most of the year for him, eveb when he was back swinging the bat. Of course, being injured for so long and having it affect your stats for even longer is still disappointing, so you’re correct there…
    I think it remains to be seen whether ditching Damon ws a mistake. It all depends on how well he ages. If next year is his last good year, the Sox were smart. If he’s productive into the fourth and fifth years of his contract, it was a colossal blunder. Damon and Crisp are very similar, statistically and defensively. They’re each valuable because of his position — putting up good stats in center field. But neither is a center fielder. Crisp has looked worse out there than Damon, but Damon also has a lot more years of experience. So I guess we shall see…

    Paul SF September 9, 2006, 4:34 pm
  • ” Damon and Crisp are very similar, statistically and defensively. They’re each valuable because of his position — putting up good stats in center field. But neither is a center fielder. Crisp has looked worse out there than Damon, but Damon also has a lot more years of experience.”
    this is completely untrue. Besides last year, Damon has always been a very good centerfielder. His arm sucks but his range out there (which means a lot more) is great. He’s a lot better and more established than Coco in CF. The odd thing is that Crisp has been poor offensively when playing center and decent when playing left. Does defensive stess translate to offense? Coco sure acts that way. And this year, Crisp has been bad even if it’s because of an injury. He’s hurt the Sox more than he’s helped them.

    Nick-YF September 9, 2006, 11:14 pm
  • Couldn’t have said it better myself, Nick YF. Let me add in response to Paul SF, that while the Yankees sign players, like Damon, to multi-year contracts, they seem to focus on trying to win one year at a time. Certainly they hope that the player is fully productive for the life of the contract, but with older players there’s no guarantee. Injuries and erosion of skills are big risks. On the other hand, the philosophy of getting rid of players just before they’re “too old” caused the sox to give up too soon on Roger Clemens…I know, different time, different management, but the philosophy’s the same. The risk with giving younger players a long term contract is unfulfilled potential, along with possible injuries of course. How well a team manages those risks [along with some luck] is what makes a team successful over time.
    I didn’t say Crisp was a “horrible” player. He’s not. What I did say was that he is a disappointment. He’s no Johnny Damon, and the fans won’t let him forget it.

    dc September 10, 2006, 12:51 am

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