He’s in the best shape of his life

Sox fans might want to monitor this situation. Is it a crisis or a boring change? Hmm, Pavement never quite made much sense anyway. Maybe you just want to return to watching the dazzling performances on ice. But if you're interested in neurotic speculation, what does another lost season for Dice-K mean for the Sox?

26 comments… add one

  • It just means their rotation has great front-line talent, but a lack of true depth, just like last year.

    AndrewYF February 17, 2010, 9:54 am
  • It doesn’t mean anything. Yet. It’s 6 weeks before the season is starting, and a full two months before the Sox even need a fifth starter, which is what Daisuke is this year.
    Andrew, your comment comes off as needlessly antagonistic, unless I am reading it incorrectly.

    SF February 17, 2010, 10:05 am
  • Antagonistic? The Sox had a good rotation last year, that was marred by a lack of depth. If Dice-K is a non-factor this year, I predict the same thing. If Dice-K repeats, enough Sox starters have enough health concerns that the Sox are going to be digging deep into their shallow pool of major-league ready starters.

    AndrewYF February 17, 2010, 10:11 am
  • If Dice-K is a non-factor this year, I predict the same thing.
    Good grief. Based on a sore back? If Matsuzaka suffers an injury, then Wakefield gets to start. If the Sox have two starters go down, then yes, they will struggle to fill the fourth and fifth spots in their rotation. Please tell me which team has seven MLB-ready, MLB-quality starters ready to go this offseason.

    Paul SF February 17, 2010, 10:20 am
  • I said if Dice-K is a non-factor. It was a completely hypothetical scenario. And yes, I do predict the Sox struggling to find capable starters for portions of the year just like last year if Dice-K is a non-factor.

    AndrewYF February 17, 2010, 10:26 am
  • I do predict the Sox struggling to find capable starters for portions of the year just like last year if Dice-K is a non-factor.
    And I predict that water will remain wet. In fact, I predict that the Sox will have to find capable starters if Dice-K remains healthy. Because someone else will get hurt. Like Beckett, or Lackey, etc. I am sure of it, this always happens to almost every rotation on earth, unless there is significant luck involved.

    SF February 17, 2010, 10:45 am
  • the back is a big deal…as the owner of a barking back, i can tell you that it limits you a lot…this guy is starting to make me think that he may be the redsox version of a more expensive wang…couple good years, now the injury bug…he also has a serious communication problem with his bosses that has nothing to do with a language barrier…

    dc February 17, 2010, 11:08 am
  • To ease the concern our YF friends feel for the health and well-being of Daisuke Matsuzaka and the rest of the Red Sox rotation, here’s a hopeful article from WEEI.com today.
    Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka felt some discomfort in his mid-upper back while playing catch on Friday, which the team subsequently determined to be a “really mild strain.” Though the team considers the issue a minor one, it decided to proceed in a conservative fashion, given that Matsuzaka had already been scheduled to head back to Boston for a couple of days for a personal matter and that team physician Dr. Thomas Gill is not scheduled to arrive in Fort Myers until Friday. …
    Epstein said that the pitcher’s communication with the team on the issue was excellent, and that he engaged in “full disclosure” of the condition before it could become an issue. Those measures offer further evidence that the pitcher and the team are now in broader agreement on his training program and care than has been the case at times in his Red Sox career.
    “His attitude has been great. He was very accepting when we told him we want to treat it conservatively,” said Epstein. ”I know he’s worked really hard this winter to make up for last year and come out and have a big season. That’s what we’re all hoping for him. We want to slow this thing down so we don’t turn something small into something big. Last year, he never really was able to get into condition to pitch in part because of the way things went early in spring. We want to make sure we avoid a repeat of that.”

    Paul SF February 17, 2010, 11:22 am
  • Hey, the post did ask what another lost season for Dice-K meant for the Sox. I was simply speculating that if Dice-K has a lost year, the Sox would mirror last year’s trouble of finding a capable 5th starter for most of the year.
    The balky back certainly doesn’t portend good things. Dice-K has a definitive history of injury/fitness concerns. Anything in the news that concerns that will rightly be magnified.

    AndrewYF February 17, 2010, 11:38 am
  • Last year the Sox went in to the season with the following:
    Beckett
    Lester
    Dice-K
    Wake
    (Buck)
    (Penny)
    (Smoltz)
    So four proven (albeit one of them really old) guys, three guys for the final spot, two of whom were injured and looked at as upside-potential and one an unknown, high potential rookie (effectively). That’s superb for most any average team, and absolutely solid and defensible for a big budget (but not perhaps the biggest budget!) team, considering the top three (Dice-K’s preexisting undisclosed condition notwithstanding).
    This year it is:
    Lester
    Beckett
    Lackey
    Buck
    Daisuke
    Wake
    ??
    Certainly deeper 1-3 with Matsuzaka’s 2009 in the books, and probably deeper 1-4 with some better idea of what Buck can provide, even more ridiculously deep if Matusaka can make 20-23 starts as a #5 and come even remotely close to approaching his ’07-’08 years, if not match them (doubtful IMHO, but he doesn’t NEED to do that from that slot). Wake as a 15 start #6 guy is quite a luxury, frankly. Assuming Lackey/Beckett are dented at some point is reasonable to me, but if they blow out a wing then all bets are off, but you don’t plan a team with that kind of contingency, it is unaffordable to do so.
    The idea that this season, on paper, is basically just like last year is a weak argument, in my opinion. And the idea that last season was “marred by a lack of depth” is also suspect. It was “marred by significant, season-altering and ending injuries to their #3 and #4/5 starter” (Dice-K and Wake). As Paul said, no team can really sustain that type of problem, and the Sox still actually made the playoffs. If that is “marred by a lack of depth” then expectations of what a GM should do for a team in stacking personnel are not realistic.

    SF February 17, 2010, 11:48 am
  • Last year the Sox went in to the season with the following:
    Beckett
    Lester
    Dice-K
    Wake
    (Buck)
    (Penny)
    (Smoltz)
    So four proven (albeit one of them really old) guys, three guys for the final spot, two of whom were injured and looked at as upside-potential and one an unknown, high potential rookie (effectively). That’s superb for most any average team, and absolutely solid and defensible for a big budget (but not perhaps the biggest budget!) team, considering the top three (Dice-K’s preexisting undisclosed condition notwithstanding).
    This year it is:
    Lester
    Beckett
    Lackey
    Buck
    Daisuke
    Wake
    ??
    Certainly deeper 1-3 with Matsuzaka’s 2009 in the books, and probably deeper 1-4 with some better idea of what Buck can provide, even more ridiculously deep if Matusaka can make 20-23 starts as a #5 and come even remotely close to approaching his ’07-’08 years, if not match them (doubtful IMHO, but he doesn’t NEED to do that from that slot). Wake as a 15 start #6 guy is quite a luxury, frankly. Assuming Lackey/Beckett are dented at some point is reasonable to me, but if they blow out a wing then all bets are off, but you don’t plan a team with that kind of contingency, it is unaffordable to do so.
    The idea that this season, on paper, is basically just like last year is a weak argument, in my opinion. And the idea that last season was “marred by a lack of depth” is also suspect. It was “marred by significant, season-altering and ending injuries to their #3 and #4/5 starter” (Dice-K and Wake). As Paul said, no team can really sustain that type of problem, and the Sox still actually made the playoffs. If that is “marred by a lack of depth” then expectations of what a GM should do for a team in stacking personnel are not realistic.
    If the Sox lose Dice-K for the year, all other things remaining on paper as hoped for (not a safe expectation, but the question isn’t “what if two or three pitchers in the rotation get hurt”), then they are in better shape than last year. Easily.

    SF February 17, 2010, 11:50 am
  • “To ease the concern our YF friends feel for the health and well-being of Daisuke Matsuzaka and the rest of the Red Sox rotation, here’s a hopeful article from WEEI.com today.”
    darn it ;)

    dc February 17, 2010, 12:02 pm
  • Hope certainly Springs eternal.
    This year, you have to put parentheses around Dice-K and Wakefield. So you have 4 starters you believe to be solid, and 2 parenthesesed pitchers. Looks a lot like what you had last season, to be honest, at least in terms of depth.
    Like I said at the beginning: if Dice-K has another lost year (the question posited in the original post), then the Sox will likely have a strong front of the rotation, but a shaky back of the rotation due to a lack of depth, just like last year. I didn’t say it was a terrible thing, they had a good pitching staff last year.

    AndrewYF February 17, 2010, 12:03 pm
  • But Andrew, the Sox losing Dice-K last year meant they only really played the season with what they charted as their #1 and #2 starters. This year they go in with healthy 1-2-3 starters. It’s apples to oranges because of the addition of an (ostensibly) healthy Lackey. If you asked “what happens if the Sox lose Lackey for the season”, then that’s the comparable discussion – Dice-K is, depending on your opinion of Buck, the #5 starter.
    Now, every team still needs 30 starts from their #5, just like from their #1, but depth is depth, and this year the Sox #1-#3 pitchers are BETTER than last year’s, in hindsight. That is more depth, without question, and with the benefit of hindsight w/r/t Daisuke’s injury.

    SF February 17, 2010, 12:20 pm
  • Well, except that if that’s the standard, Wake also should be parenthesized for the 2009 rotation. He is essentially an injury-per-year pitcher, and that was known last spring, as well.
    So the Sox went into 2009 with three solid starters, an old guy likely to be injured, two guys recovering from injury and an uber-prospect who had flamed out the previous year.
    The Sox go into 2010 with four solid starters, a solid starter coming off an injury and the old guy likely to be injured. When the old guy likely to be injured goes from four to six on your depth chart, that’s prima facie evidence for a deeper rotation.

    Paul SF February 17, 2010, 12:22 pm
  • Heating up already. I love it.
    I’d rather that Dice-K not have a sore back, but I’ll be more concerned about it if it’s something lingering in May. I agree with Andrew in some respects though – an injured Dice-K is a severe blow to what the Red Sox think they have as a rotation. Far be it for me to assume, but having a guy with nagging injuries now just doesn’t concern me. It could easily be 60 days before they really need him at all – so unless it’s a broken bone, I’m holding onto my fears.

    Brad February 17, 2010, 12:56 pm
  • you can boil all this depth discussion down to 1 transaction: adding lackey gives them more depth…i’m sure they’d take 11 or 12 wins from wake again, and any contribution from dice and buck over what they did last year only adds to that…sox have a better staff this year no matter how you “dice” it… ;)

    dc February 17, 2010, 1:45 pm
  • Ah, so now we can ret-con. What happened to all the proclamations of the ‘insane’ ‘depth’ the Sox had last year? As it turned out, they only truly had three starters.
    I’m not saying the Red Sox should have done anything differently this offseason to improve their rotation. I’m saying that their depth situation this year, ASSUMING DICE IS A NON-FACTOR FOR 2010, is very similar to that of last year’s. The Sox have 3 starters at the front who seem to be a good bet to give at least 30 starts, and a 4th guy who’s a little less of a solid bet. Then they have a humongous wildcard in Wakefield and I guess Bowden. And then they don’t have much at all.
    Obviously, if Dice-K is healthy, the Sox’s rotation is deeper than last year’s. I was never arguing against that.
    But my original post on this topic came from the HYPOTHESIZED SCENARIO in the original post. And it stands to pretty good reason.

    AndrewYF February 17, 2010, 2:42 pm
  • Don’t want to get into a big re-hashing of last year, but the Sox DID have pretty good depth last year. They went in with a number of unknowns at the back end of the rotation, and only by virtue of their depth (the decent starts that Penny provided intermittently, the emergence of Buchholz) were they able to weather the complete loss of Dice-K and the later injury to Wake. Though Smoltz was awful and Penny eventually cast off, their depth in the rotation was part of the reason they salvaged a playoff spot.

    SF February 17, 2010, 4:14 pm
  • you can never quarantine the past.

    sf rod February 17, 2010, 4:31 pm
  • I think we have different definitions of depth. To me, the Sox succeeded despite their lack of SP depth, because they had very good talent at the front of their rotation, and a very good bullpen.
    Penny and Smoltz performed like below-average pitchers, sometimes horrifically below-average. Your typical minor league filler would have been able to duplicate their statistics. I don’t know what replacement level technically is for a SP, but I’m guessing it’s close to that. That’s not depth. If that were depth, every single team in the major leagues would have ‘depth’. Depth is what the Angels’ rotation had, multiple starters that were able to give above-replacement-level production. The Angels are usually a team with depth, but not that great front-line talent. In 2008, Toronto was a team that had both: good depth and good front-line talent. The Sox didn’t have good depth last year. Their replacements were at or near replacement-level, and their very good front-line talent carried them throughout the year. If they had both front-line talent AND depth, they would have allowed far fewer than 736 runs.
    Note that the same applies to the Yankees in 2009 – they had a good top 3, and the rest was pretty bad. They didn’t really have the SP depth to cover up the complete loss of CMW. Their 753 runs allowed shows that. But their front-line talent put a stop to losing streaks, and their bullpen kept them in games.

    AndrewYF February 17, 2010, 5:46 pm
  • I don’t think we disagree that much, but we do disagree. My measure of depth is that when you root for a team where you only really worry about the guy who is being trotted out every fifth day (that’s not to say there isn’t worry every single night), and that worry about that even after your third best starter gets crippled, then you have depth. How many teams can really go three-deep with their rotation, much less four? The Sox this season have six guys for five spots, the top three of whom shouldn’t be a concern beyond typical injury concerns (and if they all get injured then, well, WTF), the fourth is in ascendance but apparently quite good, the fifth and sixth are experienced, proven veterans with health questions. That, to me, is true depth. Especially when your fifth and sixth starters could be #3 starters, if healthy, on almost any team but for a few. I think my bar may be lower than yours, and if that is the case I do think your bar is unrealistically high.

    SF February 17, 2010, 6:02 pm
  • Not to be a trouble maker here but…Who are the Sox “Fifth and Sixth starters” that could be “#3 Starters” on other teams?
    I’d argue that most teams that are looking to compete in 2010 have a 3 deep rotation:
    Yankees: CC, Burnett, Vazquez/Pettitte
    Sox: Beckett, Lackey, Lester
    Rays: Shields, Garza, Price/Niemman/Davis
    Twins: Baker, Blackburn, Slowey/Liriano
    White Sox: Buehrle, Floyd, Peavy/Danks
    Tigers: Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello
    Angels: Weaver, Saunders, Piniero/Kazmir
    Mariners: King Felix, Cliff Lee, Bedard
    A’s (Reach): Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Sheets/Duchs (I love Brett Anderson, but will admit this is a slight reach both because they are so young up front and not really contenders)
    Braves: Lowe, Jurjjens, Hanson
    Mets: Santana, Pelfrey, Maine
    Phillies: Hallady, Hamels, Blanton/Happ
    Cubs: Dempster, Big Z, Lilly
    Cards: Wainwright, Carpenter, Lohse
    Arizona: Haren, Webb, Jackson
    Giants: Lincecum, Cain, Zito/Sanchez
    Dodgers: Billengsley, Kershaw, Kuroda (another reach, Kuroda worries me, but they are a contender so…)
    Now, there are different levels here, but all of these teams has aspirations of contending and all have at least 3 reliable SP’s. Of those listed, I still think the Sox are top 3 (if not the best) with Beckett, Lackey, Lester. So the point is, in order to be considered a contender I think you have to have 3 starters, the luxury comes in after #3 for teams like the Yankees, Sox, White Sox, Twins, etc…

    John - YF February 18, 2010, 11:31 am
  • I’d probably put the White Sox, Diamondbacks and Giants ahead of the Red Sox on that list. I wrote a post several months ago (around the time of the Lackey signing?) that listed the above, with OPS+.

    Atheose - SF February 18, 2010, 2:01 pm
  • Ath, I don’t know that I’d put the White Sox ahead of the Red Sox until we see what Peavy can do A. in the AL and B. coming off that injury. I do think they are deep, I just think they lack that Beckett, Sabathia, type of guy. As for the D’Backs, again it’s going to take a healthy Webb for them to be better than the Sox. The Giants are interesting for sure. If Sanchez can be as dominant as he was in the 2nd half, they stand a real chance to be better than the Sox. All things equal, I’d take the Sox 1-3 over just about anyone. Especially with that 3 including Lester.
    If the Phillies don’t move Lee, they are easily the best rotation in the game AND if Bedard can manage to stay healthy, that honor belongs to Seattle.

    John - YF February 18, 2010, 3:58 pm
  • Yeah I’m not saying that either is definitively better; just voicing my opinion that at this point I think they’re better than the Red Sox. I’m extremely happy with the Sox rotation. I think Buchholz is going to have a monster year.

    Atheose - SF February 19, 2010, 8:51 am

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