A lot of interesting stuff has been buzzing around the Interwebs lately. Here's an attempt to distill it into one handy post:
- You might have heard that Albert Pujols and the Cardinals will not be reaching an agreement before the end of the 2011 season, if at all. Re-signing him, even for the money he's seeking, still makes too much sense for the Cardinals, but if they don't, Gordon Edes and Peter Abraham both note the Sox will have a lot of money coming off the books and an open DH slot for him and Adrian Gonzalez to share.
- That's obviously a little far-fetched, but it's not out-and-out crazy. Ken Rosenthal has that market cornered with his pair of preposterous trade proposals: Pujols straight up for Mark Teixeira (laughable) or Ryan Howard (worst trade idea in the history of bad trade ideas).
- Joba Chamberlain showed up to camp "heavier," in the words of Brian Cashman. Heavier because he's Fatty McFatterson or because he put on some muscle, which is heavier than fat? "Heavier." Ah. Of course. Has Cashman always been this weird?
- If you haven't been following along, the introduction several years ago of MLB's Pitch f/x has done more than just give statheads more numbers to parse (effectiveness of individual pitches, more refined splits for pitchers and batters, etc.). It's also given some data to what we've known all along: that umpires are not consistent in how they call the strike zone — they don't call the zone by the rulebook, they vary based on pitcher, based on hitter, based on catcher and even based on inning and count (x2). A simply terrific summary of the research and a huge step forward in determining the importance of catchers' framing ability can be found at Baseball Prospectus. Well worth the read.
- Finally, some projected standings have begun surfacing. PECOTA has the Sox with baseball's best record, at 93-69, one game ahead of the Yankees and both teams ahead of Philadelphia. Every AL East team is projected to finish within five games of a .500 record. CAIRO has the Sox at 96 wins, also baseball's best record (by two games over the Phillies) and winning the East somewhat easily, by four games over New York. Only the Rangers reached the playoffs more times than the Red Sox in SG's simulations. CAIRO has all five AL East teams within four games of .500.
- Rob Neyer, after wrongly picking Robinson Cano over Dustin Pedroia as the best second baseman of the coming decade, does his best to make up with Red Sox fans by picking Carl Crawford as the 2010s best left fielder. Brett Gardner gets a mention, but Neyer figures he's ticketed for center once Curtis Granderson's contract is up in 2012.
- And, in case you wondering, the unofficial awards for the 2010-11 offseason are in, and the Red Sox cleaned up: Best Trade Acquisition, top grade in the division, First- and third-biggest moves, Most Improved Team, Checkbook Champs, second-best free agent signing, best trade (all from the previous link, Jayson Stark's annual poll of MLB GMs.) Glad we got those titles out of the way. We can all stop paying attention now, right?