Spring Roundup III

  1. A bit late, but Baseball America released its list of Top 100 prospects last week. Daisuke Matsuzaka heads the list, with Phillip Hughes at No. 4. The rest of the Sox/Yanks: 27, Jose Tabata; 33, Jacoby Ellsbury; 51, Clay Buchholz; 57, Humberto Sanchez; 75 Joba Chamberlain; 81, Daniel Bard; 83, Michael Bowden; 100, Dellin Betances.
  2. Roger Clemens will not, repeat, will NOT go away. Please retire, and leave us all alone.
  3. Spring Stats, Highs and Lows Dept — The Red Sox’ five starters over the eight real and college games: 25.33 innings, two runs. The Red Sox’ four closer candidates to have pitched thus far (Donnelly, Pineiro, Tavarez and Delcarmen): 13.67 innings, 17 runs.
60 comments… add one
  • How many of those 17 runs were charged to The Orc?

    Hudson March 8, 2007, 9:55 am
  • The Red Sox’ four closer candidates to have pitched thus far (Donnelly, Pineiro, Tavarez and Delcarmen): 13.67 innings, 17 runs.
    Now there’s some cool spring training info for YFs.
    The Yankee bullpen has a bunch of strong arms and should be good. The starters are the question. Can Wang be an ace? How will Pettite and Moose do? Will Pavano ever justify his contract? And what about Igawa? No cause to panic yet, but he’s a complete mystery.
    One possibility is no one with an era under 4. That would be a bad thing.

    john March 8, 2007, 10:17 am
  • Red Sox:
    Starting rotation: serviceable to excellent (lots of question marks, but potential is great).
    Lineup: above-average to excellent (pretty confident this will be very good).
    Bullpen: awful to serviceable (yeah…).
    There are going to be a lot of 3 or 4-run leads that evaporate in the 7th-9th innings. I have trouble imagining this bullpen as anything better than a bit below average, and more likely in the bottom third of the AL (again). And I’m not just basing that on spring training performance, but (completely as a layman with no expertise) evaluating their stats and the trends thereof, both recent and long-term.
    Nice to see Papelbon doing a good job with his fastball topping out around 92 yesterday. Hopefully he’s learning to keep it down a gear given how long he has to pitch, relatively. I imagine him hitting 94 consistently in the regular season, but who knows?

    Devine March 8, 2007, 12:16 pm
  • Hudson, Tavarez has 3 of those ER (the fewest of any of the 4 listed above) and has pitched the most innings of any of them. Based only on spring training numbers and only ER and IP (and I realize how insignificant that sample size is) out of that list above, he’s the BEST of those pitchers.
    Isn’t that sad?

    Devine March 8, 2007, 12:20 pm
  • There are going to be a lot of 3 or 4-run leads that evaporate in the 7th-9th innings.
    Serious questions:
    Even with a bad bullpen, how often does this happen? And how often does this happen with a good starting staff? And also, what qualifies as “a lot”?

    SF March 8, 2007, 12:23 pm
  • Hmmm, are you asking me or asking the world in general, SF?
    Since I’m just broad-stroking with no backup of any kind, I’ll do that some more in repsonse. Let’s say that in…45 games this year (I have no idea how reasonable that is or not), the Red Sox have a 3-run lead going into the 7th/8th.
    I would guess that about 9-12 of those 45 games (maybe as many as 15?), the bullpen would cough such a lead back up. Maybe you lose half those games (this could be mitigated by 8-inning efforts from starters, excellent defense, and the starting lineup’s ability to score close and late). So perhaps a 5-game swing? That’s not considering the 2-run or 1-run leads. I’m guessing the difference between the best and worst bullpen is something like 10-14 games won or lost.
    Anyone wanna tell me what it actually is?

    Devine March 8, 2007, 12:36 pm
  • The Royals had the worst billpen ERA in the AL last year — 5.36. That’s about three-fifths of a run per inning, or about 1.8 runs per three innings.
    From the seventh inning on, the Sox had a terrible 4.98 ERA, third-worst in the league, yet had 46 saves. The Royals had a league-worst 6.00 ERA, or exactly two runs per game.
    So blowing three- and four-run leads over the course of three innings on a regular basis seems pretty unlikely. And that’s assuming the Sox’ bullpen will be as bad as KC’s was last year, which is equally unlikely.

    Paul SF March 8, 2007, 12:40 pm
  • Paul, I’d say the difference this year is going to be not having Papelbon. How much worse is that going to make the 7th and on ERA of the Red Sox? Take him out and replace him with somebody average and what’s the ERA then?

    Devine March 8, 2007, 12:51 pm
  • Of course, I remember being not happy with the 2005 bullpen, and that team won 95 games and tied for the division lead.
    Sorry for all the double posts…it’s just this topic (bullpen) has me pretty convinced the Sox aren’t a deep-in-the-playoffs caliber team. If anyone can present facts to confirm or deny, I’d be grateful.

    Devine March 8, 2007, 12:58 pm
  • You’ve got to remember the volatile year-by-year nature of middle relievers and non-top tier closers.
    Take Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts, for example. Both were among the best middle relievers in the AL in 2005, and helped the ChiSox win it all. Come 2006, they can’t get out of their own ways, both have ERAs well above 6 (maybe even into the 7s IIRC,) and now neither are on the team.
    Nobody knows what’s going to happen. Romero could be awful. He could be good. Donnelly could be awful. He could be good. Timlin could be awful. He could be good. Delcarmen could be awful. He could be good. Tavarez, on the other hand…I’m pretty sure he’s still going to suck. I think you know what I’m getting at, though.
    Even the Yankee ‘pen, which seems to be stocked, might not be great. Who knows how Vizcaino will adjust to the AL. Will Proctor’s arm finally fall off? Will Farnsworth be wildly inconsistent? Mo will be great, because he’s Mo, but past that…nobody knows anything at this point. What makes it all even more maddening is that we know we can’t judge anything based on ST performances, even though we still do.
    Bullpens, sans elite closers, are always unpredictable. One of the few recent teams lately that’s bucked that trend is the Angels with the Donnelly-Shields-KRod threesome, but they seem to be the exception and not the rule (and who knows how Speier and his big contract will do over there replacing Donnelly.)
    The point I’m trying to get at is this: Because of what I’ve pointed out above, I’d much rather go into a year with a solid starting rotation and a solid lineup with a question mark of a pen than to have quesiton marks in the rotation or lineup, but with a good pen. It’s also far easier to fix a bullpen halfway through a season than it is a rotation or lineup.
    We’ll all eventually see how everything plays out. Right now, I’d rather have Boston’s starting 5 rather than the Yankees’ bullpen.

    Steve March 8, 2007, 1:51 pm
  • The Red Sox allowed 256 earned runs in roughly 470 innings after the sixth (4.90 ERA). Take away Papelbon’s 70 innings and seven earned runs, and they have 400 IP and 249 ER (a 5.60 ERA).
    The league-average ERA after the sixth is 4.17. Giving a pitcher with a 4.17 ERA 70 innings in Boston’s bullpen last year adds 32 earned runs to the Papelbonless totals (or 25 earned runs over what Papelbon allowed), which totals to a 5.38 ERA — worse than Tampa Bay’s but still much better than KC. It’s nearly half a run per nine innings and .053 runs per inning worse. Does that extra 25 or so runs make a difference? It’s roughly equivalent to 2.5 wins, but the greater leverage of the situation might exacerbate it. I could see a five-game swing, which would then need to be made up by the starters and offense. The starters if they perform to projections and stay healthy could easily improve by 10 wins over last season and the offense similarly by five. That would give the Sox better than 95 wins, even with a 4+ ERA closer. Not shabby…

    Paul SF March 8, 2007, 2:13 pm
  • Thanks, Paul and Steve. I guess I (and we) will just have to hold my breath and see how it turns out. Much obliged on the presentation of both mathematical and rhetorical arguments.

    Devine March 8, 2007, 2:30 pm
  • By the by, I agree that I’d rather have the Boston starting 5 than the Yankee bullpen…by a long shot. I’ll state, in fact, that I would rather have the Sox’ pitching in toto than the Yankees’ pitching in toto, potential for disaster be damned.
    There’ll be drama with this rotation (good and bad, I imagine), but one thing it therefore won’t be is boring.
    And hey, all it takes is a couple of guys in the ‘pen to have good (even statistical outlying) years and suddenly everything there is okay. Stupid bullpen, being essentially random.

    Devine March 8, 2007, 3:00 pm
  • My hopes aren’t that high, but I think Piniero will iron things out (to a point,) Timlin will be better than last year, and Donnelly will be serviceable. Use Romero as your LOOGY, and hopefully another right-handed darkhorse like Snyder or Corey, and the Sox can have a decent line to work with.
    I’m not big on Okajima and Tavarez, I’d probably be happier if two spots weren’t guaranteed to them. I’d rather not lose Snyder, who has one of the best K rates in the pen and always does well the first time through a lineup, but that might end up being the case, since he’s out of options.

    Steve March 8, 2007, 3:02 pm
  • I’d be OK with putting Delcarmen in AAA and giving Snyder a shot. I like Okajima, not so much Tavarez. Incidentally, a good game from Pineiro today, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much.

    Paul SF March 8, 2007, 3:17 pm
  • If Delcarmen is not good enough to be on the Major League roster, then I am not sure he ever will be. He should have been able to build on last year’s experience, to learn from the troubles he had. He had enough decent outings to make you wonder if he could have decent upside. But if he isn’t developing to the point where he can stick with a team like the Sox this season, while they have great need in the bullpen, then what is his value? This isn’t like a team with great depth jettisoning a major leaguer at the expense of another major leaguer. If Delcarmen can’t contribute at the ML level this year, that’s bad news, for the Sox, in terms of getting anything of value for him in a trade and in terms of what it means for the shape of their pen.

    SF March 8, 2007, 3:25 pm
  • Yet another big hit for Phelps. I really hope he makes it over Andy, he has a bunch more upside.

    Andrew March 8, 2007, 3:44 pm
  • Please…Delcarmen’s 25. He’s getting up there a little bit, but I’m not ready to give up on him yet. His minor league numbers are good, but he’s only spent 38 innings in AAA. A few more couldn’t hurt, especially if it means hanging onto Snyder. I, too, love him as a reliever. He was with the Royals, remember; it would be just like them to give him up at a time when he was about to put it together.

    desturbd1 March 8, 2007, 3:44 pm
  • I still think we need to get rid of Julian. I don’t see any real use for him at this point. We’ve got better starters, and Lester’s ahead of him on that chart. He hasn’t been great for us as a one-inning reliever, he can’t close, and we’ve got other guys that can take the long-relief role.
    The only thing he’s been great at is being Manny’s publicist.

    Anonymous March 8, 2007, 3:57 pm
  • Maybe I am being a bit harsh, d1, but I would be very disappointed if, in this thin bullpen, MDC couldn’t crack the team. To me that would indicate that his development has stagnated.

    SF March 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
  • SF: Considered the possibility of the team holding him back because they’d rather see if the veteran presence can get the job done first (ala the Twins last year with their lineup?)
    If the vets get it done, they’re fine. If they don’t, they move them and bring the kids in.
    The reason teams often go that route is because you can’t reacquire the veterans if you ditch them after ST, but the kids are always going to be there for you to call up if you need them. A little time in AAA for MDC to get his stuff together won’t hurt him. The clock won’t be running out on him for at least a couple more years.

    Steve March 8, 2007, 4:19 pm
  • Eh, maybe Steve. But the “veteran presence” isn’t exactly overwhelming. So when you consider that MDC showed some flashes last year and spent considerable time with the big club, it’s clearly a step back for him to not make the team.
    I guess that might be good for him long-term but for me it’s disappointing, that’s all.

    SF March 8, 2007, 4:46 pm
  • The veteran presence in my other example (2006 Twins) wasn’t overwhelming, either.
    I don’t think him not making the team is a step back. A lot of innings out of the spotlight in AAA is a good thing for any young pitcher that showed consistency issues.
    To me, a step back would be making the big club right out of the box and getting clobbered.

    Steve March 8, 2007, 4:54 pm
  • The setback might be injury-related. He essentially ended the season in shambles because of his elbow (?) injury. Perhaps he hasn’t gotten back to where he was before that yet (which presumably would actually be better because of said experience, etc.)

    Paul SF March 8, 2007, 4:54 pm
  • Hey, I hope you guys are both right in your assessment. I don’t think my hopes that MDC would have continued on a positive developmental curve in the Majors is anything odd. I’d rather he be excelling and contributing to the big club, rather than returning to Pawtucket. I am by no means in favor of keeping him in Boston at all costs – if going to Pawtucket is what works long term then that’s what should be done.

    SF March 8, 2007, 4:58 pm
  • Where does Lester fit in all this? Set-up man? Long reliever? Spot starter? IDGI.

    Hudson March 8, 2007, 5:44 pm
  • Minors til he gets his strength all the way back, then starter if, as everyone keeps saying (though I don’t know they have any actual sources for saying it), the Sox move Papelbon to close for the second half.

    Paul SF March 8, 2007, 6:50 pm
  • Here we go again. Sox fans once again trumpeting how they’d rather have the starters than the pen, which oddly enough, happens to be what they’re stuck with. If you guys bring this up a couple of more times before the regular season starts, you may finally convince yourselves, and anybody else that’s read this site for the last month and who btw, keep having these feelings of deja vu, that even though your pen sucks, it’ll be of no discernible consequence over the course of the season. Good luck with that notion.
    And what is DMat doing on a prospect list? Like he’s been in the minors with all the other kids trying to make it in the Bigs. What a joke.

    Whatever March 8, 2007, 9:09 pm
  • Here we go again. Sox fans once again trumpeting how they’d rather have the starters than the pen
    What the hell good is a decent bullpen without good starters? You cheer for what you have. I for one, would much rather have a good rotation, and not becuase that’s whats in place, but because that’s what controls a game. What good is a great set-up man if he’s always setting up down a run or two?
    And what is DMat doing on a prospect list? Like he’s been in the minors with all the other kids trying to make it in the Bigs. What a joke.
    What’s with the anger? Nobody here put him on that list. What would you classify him as if not a prospect? I’ve heard several Yankee fans use the “until he pitches a real game, he’s nothing more than a prospect” line here, so either a double standard exists with him, or you have some better term to classify him as? He can’t be a prospect only when it fits into the arguement, and not at other times when it doesn’t.

    Brad March 8, 2007, 9:47 pm
  • Brad,
    No anger here, just a differing opinion.
    This starters/bullpen debate has been hashed and rehashed and rehashed again here before, which I made evident in my post, and I don’t want to do it again.
    My thought in a nutshell: You need BOTH starters and relievers to have the best shot at success. Some Sox fans here IMO, are underestimating the value of the pen, perhaps because that appears to be the biggest ? on the Sox.
    As for DMat being a prospect, I never said that. He was in the Japanese Major Leagues for what, 7 or 8 years? I was embarrassed when Matsui was being pushed for ROTY back when he came to America. Matsui was not a rookie, and neither is DMat, except in technical terms only.

    Whatever March 8, 2007, 10:17 pm
  • Pitching wins championships.
    Starters pitch more and are far more valuable than relievers.
    Starters > relievers.
    Good rotation > good pen.
    A team with 5 nasty starters and a mediocre bullpen > a team with 5 mediocre starters and a nasty pen.
    Good night.

    Steve March 9, 2007, 3:54 am
  • The Sox got to the World Series in 2004 in large part because they had five healthy starting pitchers. No one missed a single start, and while Pedro had a bad year (for him) and Lowe was well, awful, the point is that we never had to scuttle around for anyone to sub.
    I’ll take five good, healthy starters over a lights out bullpen anyday. If the starters are humming along, making their starts and eating their innings, the importance of the bullpen is drastically reduced. It’s really that simple.

    mouse - SF March 9, 2007, 4:11 am
  • Steve and Mouse speak the truth.
    The longer truth is that we all, of course, want BOTH solid starters and dependable relievers. Duh!

    SF March 9, 2007, 6:50 am
  • I would also take good starters over the good pen. But don’t underestimate the value of the pen, which is what it seems to me was being done in comments above.
    mouse,
    where might the Sox have ended up without Keith Foulke in 2004?
    “Steve and Mouse both speak the truth”
    SF, What, because they agree with you? Again, just because you say it SF, doesn’t make it so. Who are you now, Monsignor SF? Your word is gospel?
    If you would like to have both good starters AND a good pen, just say so instead of making weak, unsubstantiated, foggy arguments on why a team doesn’t need tough relievers to succeed. Duh.
    Off to work. You can take me to task while I’m gone. Heh.

    Whatever March 9, 2007, 7:48 am
  • WE:
    YOU agree with me as well (“I would also take good starters over the good pen” are your words, I believe), so they speak the truth to me as well as to you. Good bullpen? Would love to have one, and hope the Sox do have one this season. But given the choice between starters OR the pen (which is the hypothetical here), we all would take the starters, it seems.
    Seems like you’re itching for a fight where there isn’t one to have. Otherwise why the petty comments?

    SF March 9, 2007, 8:52 am
  • it’s called “rationalizing” WE…but, let’s face it, and i think brad pointed this out, we get behind the team we have and convince ourselves that despite the flaws our team has a legit shot to win…that’s what spring training and early season hope is all about…you don’t have a good bullpen, so you convince yourself that the starters and a good offense will carry the day…you don’t have a power-laden lineup, so you convince yourself that defense, speed, and manufacturing runs is the formula for success, and so on, and so on…for balance we do acknowledge the flaws and weaknesses, but our focus is hoping that the strengths of the team carry the day…we all do this, so i’m not tossing rocks here…the last dominant team [the late 90’s yankees] had the most important element of all: BALANCE: except for mo and clemens while he was there, they didn’t have any real superstars, but what they had was decent starters, bullpen, defense, speed, ability to get on base, a little power spread throughout the lineup, no glaring weaknesses, and not overboard in one particular strength…
    …the worse thing about the early stuggles of the pen for sox fans is that theo’s paralysis for pursuing a trade for better bullpen arms [and a bona fide closer] even if it means giving up more than he wants to may be the sox undoing…or this is just a blip, and i’m all wet…

    dc March 9, 2007, 9:07 am
  • I agree, dc, for the most part. But I don’t believe this is “rationalizing”, at least not for me. This is a conceptual question:
    If you could choose ONE thing to have, which would that be? Starter strength and bullpen confusion or the inverse? It seems well accepted that the former is preferable, to YFs and SFs alike.
    As far as this years’ Sox team is concerned, it also seems generally accepted that the bullpen is a huge question mark. I would be surprised to find ANY Sox fans who prefer this to bullpen stability. The issue here is whether or not a team can succeed without that stability. Some YFs seem to think and hope this is or will be a fatal flaw. In my opinion, a very strong rotation mitigates that bullpen instability to the point where the flaw may not be fatal. But obviously I don’t know what will happen, and I personally hope the bullpen situation becomes stable and dependable.

    SF March 9, 2007, 9:24 am
  • i agree…i guess i didn’t mean “rationalizing” as an insult, especially since i’d be insulting myself too…count me in with you guys who’d rather have a stonger starting staff, but the point i was trying to stress is balance: if the staff is so out of balance that the bullpen is blowing too many games, my worry is that it might put too much strain on the starters [maybe more innings, or pressing], and on the hitters, pressing to score “enough” runs…so while we agree that the bullpen weakness doesn’t necessary have to be fatal, i think better balance is critical…if i could pick between an A starting staff with a D bullpen v. a B starting staff with a C+ bullpen, i’d probably take the 2nd scenario…finishing a start these days is as rare as the dodo bird, so the bullpens log a lot of innings…with the intense competition in the al east, every blown save looms large in september…

    dc March 9, 2007, 10:05 am
  • “A team with 5 nasty starters and a mediocre bullpen > a team with 5 mediocre starters and a nasty pen.”
    5 Nasty SP’s? Slightly inflated words.
    Wakefield’s 2006 4.62 ERA
    Beckett’s 2006 5.02 ERA
    Schilling’s 2006 3.97 ERA (His highest in a non-injury season since ’94)
    Daisuke and Papelbon REGARDLESS of talent (and I really think both could be very good) are unproven. So before you annoint them as “Nasty” can we see them pitch first? I agree your staff could be very talented, but don’t dismiss the Yankees as “Mediocre.”
    Taking this stance is an easy one for Sox fans because it’s your strong point. If your strong point was offense, then we would hear offense wins championships. Your bullpen is “mediocre” at best, unless you move Paps back or make a trade.
    Since all Sox fans are enamored with pointing out the Yankees short falls let’s explore the Sox issues (Non-Bullpen, that’s too easy):
    1. Which Lugo shows up? His career OB% is 339 and other then 2005, Julio Lugo is really an average offensive player.
    2. Can JD Drew log more then 500 AB’s? That’s something he has only done once in 2004.
    3. Is Coco’s finger 100%?
    4. Can Pedroia hit at the ML level? .191 in 89 AB’s.
    5. Will the 2003/2005 Varitek show up again?
    6. Which Mike Lowell will you get this year?
    Yankees offensive issues:
    1. How will the Phelps/Dougie M. platoon play out?
    2. Will Abreu be ok?
    3. Backup catcher
    We both have questions, but see above what happens when you emphasize your strong point, rather then see the whole picture? Both teams are very good and all the debating in the world is not going to change that.

    Triskaidekaphobia March 9, 2007, 12:41 pm
  • Gentlemen have a great day I am off to practice, then off to my fantasy draft. I expect to find some Sox fans fighting back when I return. This place is awesome! I am so glad I found it!

    Triskaidekaphobia March 9, 2007, 12:43 pm
  • Come on, the obvious answer to every one of your questions for the Sox is either “the good one” or “yes” and those for the Yankees is “sh*tty” or “no”. Duh!
    ;-)

    SF March 9, 2007, 12:55 pm
  • http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070308&content_id=1834894&vkey=spt2007news&fext=.jsp
    I didn’t think the BoSox’s OF was as good as the Yanks, but it’s hard to believe with Manny that they’re not in the top 5.. I guess CoCo has something to prove..

    Lar March 9, 2007, 12:59 pm
  • Tris, that was a weak bunch of “questions” for the Yankees compared to that ton of crap you question for the Sox. Especially since Lugo, for his career, is far more than an “average” player at his position, Pedroia’s sample from last year is too small to judge, Coco’s finger is fine, and there’s no reason to assume Drew is going to be injured (if it happens, it happens.) There’s also no way Varitek is as bad as last year.
    Beckett was 4th in the AL in BAA allowed last year, he’s almost a GUARANTEE to bounce back. Name me a better 5th starter in the league than Wakefield. Schilling’s last year was a down year for him, but even with those stats, at worst, he is a wash with your BEST starter in Mussina. You’ll never find one fan of any team in the entire league that would take Pettitte and Igawa over Papelbon and Matsuzaka. Any team out there short of Detroit would switch places with Boston’s starting rotation if they could (and on that same note, any team except the Yankees and MAYBE the Mets would switch with Boston’s lineup as well.)
    The problem here is that Yankee fans seem to be utterly CONVINCED that the Boston bullpen will implode and destroy games for them, but ignore their team’s own problems. Off the top of my head, you have injury risks with Mussina and Pettitte (and that whole NL-AL transition for Andy as well.) Wang overachieved last year, he’s due to regress. Igawa projects as a 4th starter at best, likely a 5th, and he’s a largely unproven commodity (a lot more so than Matsuzaka.) Pavano? Don’t even get me started. And who’s the sixth starter? 20 year old Hughes? As nasty as his stuff has shown to be, there’s no guarantee he’s ready for the majors.
    There’s also injury risks in your lineup. Posada is no guarantee to stay healthy any more than Varitek is. Jeter will not put up stats like last year’s (he’ll be good, but you can’t rely on .340+.) No way Cano hits in the .330s again. Who’s playing first base? Does Matsui rebound completely from his broken wrist? What about Johnny’s lingering foot and shoulder issues? What is Proctor’s arm falls off from overuse? What if Farnsworth continues to be inconsistent? What about your bench, which isn’t nearly as deep as ours?
    For every question you can dig up regarding the Sox, I can name one for the Yankees as well.

    Steve March 9, 2007, 3:20 pm
  • Who the hell needs a 6th starter? If you’re going to “ask questions”, at least make them somewhat rational and logical, other than the whole “regression to the mean” logical fallacy regarding Beckett, Wang, Jeter, Cano, etc, while comparing different slots of the staff with each other..
    A team won 97 games without two major outfielders for most of the season. The other finished 3rd, but added a few new unproven players. Paps and Mats might be great.. in the long run. The injury risk for AP is probably not much worse than the insane amount of innings from Mats. Didn’t Paps have to come back some kind of injury last season? Does this mean some risk this season?
    There’s no way Varitek is as bad as last season, but err, will it be enough?
    Now, let’s not confuse “has the highest upside” with “best starting pitching”. We don’t play games on paper, do we?
    Even then, it’s easily debateable – you have Padres, Angels, Detriot (which you mentioned), Dodgers is up there, and I’m not even going to think about the Yankees..

    Lar March 9, 2007, 4:14 pm
  • Come on, that is ridiculous. Who needs a 6th starter? How about nearly EVERY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE? Injuries happen. You’re in denial if you think they don’t, especially when you’ve got risks like Mussina, Pettitte, and Pavano around.
    Go look up some sabermetrics to show you about overachivement and who’s going to regress to the mean. A LOT of things went right for the Yankees last year, nearly everything went wrong for the Red Sox. So you lost two outfielders. Every single position player from the Sox’s opening day lineup was hurt at one time or another, and the only pitcher that didn’t go down was Beckett. To ink out 86 wins with guys with a AAA squad they were throwing out there the last two months of the season is not that bad.
    Pettitte has known elbow problems. Matsuzaka does not. Therefore, the injury risks are not even close to each other.
    Papelbon’s was just a shoulder seperation from being used as a closer. He’s fine now, and although there is a little risk, doctors don’t feel there will be any issue with him getting the extra rest from starting.
    Will what be enough from Varitek? He’s hitting in the bottom third of the order, he doesn’t need to put up .300-25-95. He’ll be back to average at around .270-15-70, give or take. That’s more than enough.
    Apparently we “don’t play games on paper” but we can make insane assumptions about injuries and production. Right. That makes sense.
    The Padres play in a cavern of a home ballpark in a no-offense league. The Angels might be up there, but not until Colon comes back. Dodgers will have to get something out of Wolf and their #5 spot, which isn’t set…lot of questions in that set.
    I just can’t get over how you Yankee fans want to focus on every “what if” with a negative on Boston’s squad, but ignore the ones on your own.

    Steve March 9, 2007, 5:51 pm
  • Steve – who’s the BoSox’s 6th starter? Matsuzaka had an elbow injury that took out most of his 2002 season.. does this count as “known elbow problems”? I don’t know who you compare AP to, since it keeps on jumping, but AP pitched more AL East games/innings than Beckett, Matsuzaka, Papelbon (add more if you want) innings combined, and you’re wondering about the NL->AL risk?
    I’m trying to “play your game” by asking the same inane silly questions (without basis). Trisk is at least asking them in respect to some rationale, other than “can he keep it up?” Regression to the mean is logical fallacy, once again, which is what you keep applying on Wang, Beckett, Jeter, Varitek, etc..
    I don’t need to ignore that “what if”‘s. The fact is, “luck” or not, one team’s first last season (with very little changes, for the most part), while the other team’s third. (are the changes worth the 10-15 wins or so?) Let me know when you win a division title..

    Lar March 9, 2007, 6:05 pm
  • a lot of things went right for the Yanks last year?! Dude, Sheff and Hideki were out for most of the year. Let me repeat: Gary Sheffield, who averaged something like 36 homers for the Yanks the previous two years with a high OBP was out for almost the whole season. Matsui is also a very good player and he didn’t play. Randy Johnson pitched to a Josh Beckettian ERA. And this deserves a separate line:
    Sidney Ponson started a few games for the Yankees.
    A-Rod had a down year. On the flip side, Wang was terrific, Mussina stayed healthy most of the year and was great in the first half (a lot like Schilling was last season), Jeter was the true MVP (was he playing so over his head?), Cano built off his strong rookie season and was great. It was a mixed bag, but because of the Yanks incredible talent and depth and Cashman’s aggressiveness at the deadline (aided by the team’s deep pockets) the Yanks were able to beat the Red Sox by a ton of games and that’s with the Sox outperforming their sub-.500 Pythag record. The unverifiable truth (in other words: my opinion) is that if both teams had been healthy, the Yanks would have beaten the Sox out. This might have changed this year because the Sox upgraded in RF and added a potential ace in Matsuzaka. I don’t know. My feeling is that their close, with the Yanks having a slight advantage. Both have question marks. I think the Sox have more. Is that such a crazy idea given the amount of turn-over for the Sox and the fact that they are coming off an injury-plagued season?

    Nick-YF March 9, 2007, 6:06 pm
  • their=they’re

    Nick-YF March 9, 2007, 6:07 pm
  • Oh ya, Greg Maddux, Peavy, Dave Wells, Chris Young, Clay Hensley.
    Greg Maddux and Peavy I don’t have to say much. Chris Young and Hensley probably cancels out Paps and Matsuzaka (Matsuzaka has a higher upside, but they’ll all relative prospects..). We all know about David Wells, but he’s at least a wash with Wakefield. And that bullpen is sick.. (just as an added note, since that’s not what we’re talking about..)
    Spacious stadium or not (that’s only numbers) Padres have a pretty damn good starting staff, with some youth and upside. You can argue that Sox has a better one, but I think it’ll be a nice debate, and not a simple one-dimensional “but that park is big”..

    Lar March 9, 2007, 6:27 pm
  • I’m really glad (now) that the Yankees won the AL East last year with all those injuries because whenever it finally happens, I want the division title to have been earned, not based on medical problems for the other teams.

    Devine March 9, 2007, 6:48 pm
  • I have heard this a few times guys and I am really asking this as a BASEBALL fan….Do you really think Julio Lugo other then ’05 has been an above average SS? Sure he steals bases, but his OBP is borderline awful for a player who is getting this much money. He’s a career .276 hitter and has never hit over .300. Don’t get me wrong he’s a good SS, but better then average? Just asking.

    Triskaidekaphobia March 9, 2007, 6:56 pm
  • Yes, Lugo is an above average SS, easily. The only part of his game that’s below average is his throws. Borderline awful OBP? He’s been in the .360s a few times.
    As far as the Padres go, I love Maddux, likely one of my favorite pitchers of all time, but he hasn’t aged well. His effectiveness has been waining for a long time now. He’ll benefit from that stadium, but he’s nothing more than a #5. Peavy has excellent stuff with an absurd K rate, but he’s never put it together for a full season, even when healthy. Young is a flyball pitcher who overachieved, he’ll likely regress back to the mean a bit. Boomer is Boomer. It’s a good staff, but not great.
    To say Hensley and Young cancel out Papelbon and Matsuzaka is stretching it a LOT. Paps and Dice-K are #2 starter material, Hensley and Young look more like #4 guys. Imagine those two in the AL East ballparks with the heavy offenses.
    As far as last year goes, yes, the Yankees lost two outfielders. They also gained one who just as easily negated one of the losses in Abreu, and Melky was not a bad replacement. The Sox lost THEIR ENTIRE ROSTER at one point or another. For every Sidney Ponson start the Yankees had, there was four starts for the Sox by Kevin Jarvis, Kyle Snyder, Lenny DiNardo, Kason Gabbard, David Pauley, Julian Tavarez…getting the point yet? Even Big Papi missed time last year, that’s how bad the injury luck was. Several guys, like Loretta, Youks, Crisp, and Varitek were playing hurt for extended periods of time, the latter two the entire season.
    If both teams were full strength, the Yankees might have won. Who knows. They were a pretty close match at the beginning.
    As far as Boston’s 6th starter, that’d be Jon Lester. Talking about Matsuzaka’s elbow surgery that took place FIVE YEARS AGO with no recurring issues since is valid to you? I don’t think it is. Pettitte now is not the same pitcher he was a few years ago. Age kills pitchers, and he wasn’t exactly dazzling guys in the AL Central. To assume he’s going to be in the same class as the frontline guys is, again, stretching it.
    A-Rod’s “down year” still put him near the tops among all the 3rd basemen in the league. Jeter’s a great hitter, but you can’t seriously expect him to be in the .340 range again, same with Cano. That “incredible depth” you’re talking about for last year seems to be in favor of Boston now with a better bench and more starters to go around.
    We’ll see what happens, but I find almost all of these arguments from your side ridiculous. “Regression to the mean” is not a fallacy. Baseball is a game of statistics…some players play above their heads, some below. This evens out over time. It’s very rare to see guys play that far above or below their stats for extended periods of time. Sorry, but chances are that Beckett’s learned something and not going to give up 35 bombs again, and Wang is not going to have the same kind of support or luck winning 19 games. That’s the beauty of the law of averages.

    Steve March 9, 2007, 8:11 pm
  • Err, NL Central for Pettitte.

    Steve March 9, 2007, 8:12 pm
  • Steve: I realize this is cherry-picking at your stats, but you knock Wang (as many do) as being an aberration, talking luck, run support, (or more accurately K/9, BABIP, and I don’t remember reading that Wang has been to this point “lucky” or receiving above-average run support), whereas everyone else’s stats named were in comparison to past-personal performance, except when you chose to laud Matsuzaka and Papelbon as being legitimate top-rotation guys. Don’t misunderstand me, I think that Daisuke and JP are probably going to shine on the mound. Smarter/more well-read people than I have told me so. However, shouldn’t Wang’s record stand on its own?

    attackgerbil March 9, 2007, 9:06 pm
  • Wang will have doubters until he proves that he can replicate his performance over many years, not just two. And it is mostly because of his absurdly low K rate. If he has sustained success at the major league level with that K rate, he will be the first of his kind. That is why he has so many doubters; there is no historical prescedent for his continued success.
    Maybe he’ll be a one-of-a-kind, history-altering phenomenon. I wouldn’t rule it out. But until then, he will continue to have lots of doubters.
    Anyway, on that “regression to the mean” thing, it’s very unlikely that the Yankees will get career years from nearly everyone on their team again this year, just as it’s very unlikely that everyone on the Red Sox will hit the DL again this year. I think that’s the overall point Steve is making, and he’s right. But we’ll just have to wait and see for sure, won’t we? :)

    mouse - SF March 9, 2007, 10:44 pm
  • “compared to that ton of crap you question for the Sox”
    Actually, every one of Trisk’s questions was quite legit, and these are questions that even objective Sox fans have discussed and have concerns about, unlike Steve, who apparently thinks every issue the Sox have will work out perfectly and everything will go wrong for the Yanks.
    Just for fun, let’s answer Trisk’s 6 questions for the Sox posted above at 12:41 pm, that Steve thinks are a “ton of crap”.
    1. Lugo was a pretty good player for Tampa for a good portion of his time there, but not great. And then he went to hell after he was traded to the Dodgers. Blame it on whatever you like, but he stunk with LA. Which Lugo will show up? A fair and relevant question.
    2. Drew. I don’t know if Steve was on a trek to Mount Everest during the whole Drew negotiation or what, but everybody knows that the majority of people in Red Sox Nation from the fans to the media were all AGAINST this signing. And one of the big complaints about Drew besides his alter ego Nancy, was his injury history. Will he get 500 ABs? You don’t think everyone in RSN isn’t wondering about this Steve?
    3. Coco, how’s that finger? Well, since a lot of Sox fans are blaming Crisp’s lousy 2006 season on that finger, I would certainly think this is a BIG ? for Boston. Another good question here.
    4. Pedroia. As a guy who hit a robust .191 in his 89 ABs in the majors last year, if how Pedroia adjusts to playing full time in the Majors this year isn’t a concern for the Sox then I’ll eat my Yankee hat(s).
    5.Varitek. If ol’ Jason doesn’t rebound from that horrendous, injury plagued 2006 season, those visions of an AL East title that are dancing in Sox fan’s heads will go poof. Another legitimate issue for the Sox.
    6. Lowell did better than expected in the first half last year, but then ran out of gas. Does he have anything left or will he struggle? Inquiring minds want to know.
    Any Boston fan that can think straight would call all of these questions things that the Sox need to have work out in their favor for them to have a good shot at success this year, and they’re certainly not a “ton of crap”.

    Whatever March 9, 2007, 11:22 pm
  • “Age kills pitchers and he wasn’t exactly dazzling guys in the NL Central”
    Actually, Pettitte had a great year for Houston in 2005, 17-9 with an ERA of 2.39 and 5th in the CY Young voting. Last year he struggled in the 1st half with some nagging injuries but came back with a good 2nd half of 7-4 with an ERA of 2.80.
    BTW, as far as age goes, Pettitte is 34 and Schill and Wakes are both 40.

    Whatever March 9, 2007, 11:40 pm
  • As far as that “Nasty Sox Rotation” goes, even though they didn’t make the top five in the league in the ratings at MLB.com, if things go their way, they could be very, very good.
    However, there are some ?s.
    1. Schill. He, along with Beckett, started off red hot last year, and Sox fans were heralding the “best 1-2 punch in the majors”. He did cool off though, and his 2nd half was barely average: 5-4 with an ERA of 4.58 and gave up a whopping 96 hits in 76 innings. And he’s now a year older.
    2. Beckett. He FINALLY stayed healthy for a whole season last year, but apparently was reluctant to throw the breaking pitch because of fears about blisters, and as a result, had an ERA over 5.00 and was giving up moonshots all year. Heh. History would suggest Beckett gets hurt at some point this year.
    3. D-Mat. Has there ever been a more hyped player than this guy? I think not. He could be pretty good, but he will find out that MLB hitters are far superior to Japanese hitters, and wait till that first lazy fly to left he gives up in Fenway scrapes the monster. He won’t believe it.
    4. Papelbon. After pitching what, 60 some innings last year his shoulder goes haywire. Now, he’s supposed to log 160-180 and there’ll be no problems. Huh? Oh yeah, that set routine and extra rest will do the trick. Maybe. Maybe not.
    5. Wakefield. Wake seems to me to be about three days older than dirt he’s been around so long, but I guess he’s only 40. The knuckle ball giveth, the knuckle ball taketh away. Like Steve said, age kills pitchers, and Wakes is slipping.
    6.Lester. This guy struggled before he got sick, especially with his control, so what to expect now? Who knows? You gotta root for him though.
    My point to this is this. The Sox could have a very good rotation, or they could have a very average rotation.

    Whatever March 10, 2007, 12:34 am
  • “Yes, Lugo is an above average SS, easily. The only part of his game that’s below average is his throws. Borderline awful OBP? He’s been in the .360s a few times.”
    Once, 2005. Nothing like checking your facts before you make a statement.
    “I just can’t get over how you Yankee fans want to focus on every “what if” with a negative on Boston’s squad, but ignore the ones on your own.”
    Here you go Steve, here’s my biggest what if’s for the Yankees:
    1. Can Todd Pratt be a servicable back up catcher?
    2. Can Dougie M. and Phelps platoon work out?
    3. Will Abreu come back 100%?
    Those are 3 things that are of the biggest concern to me.
    Other issues in your highly unbiased eyes:
    1. Pettitte’s health. The Yankees won the AL East LY with starts by Kris Wilson, Sidney Ponson and Jaret Wright. Let’s say Pettitte goes down and they were to bring up Hughes, Sanchez, Karstens, etc… If you try and be objective for one second I am sure you could agree that those 3 are better then the 3 who filled in last season (I consider Wright a fill in). So if Andy goes down, the Yankees have replacements, maybe not on AP’s level, but better then that Motley Crew from LY.
    2. Matsui’s wrist. Did you see him hit when he returned last season? He batted 377 and had an OBP of 472. I think that’s already been answered.
    3. Cano and Jeter won’t hit .340…That’s a fair statement, but are you saying the Yankees will lose if they don’t? That’s a pretty ehhhh what if.
    4. Proctor’s arm falling off. Again is Scott Proctor the key to the bullpens success? How about if it does fall off we call up Bruney or Britton who might just be better then him anyway.
    5. Damon’s lingering injuries. You did watch him play a full season with these injuries and have a banner year right?
    6. Farnsworth’s inconsistency. 3.90 ERA from July to October. I will take that inconsistency every year.
    7. The bench. Pratt, Cairo, Phelps, Cabrera. Melky and Wily Mo, wash. Cairo and Cora, wash. Phelps and Hinske, wash. Pratt and Mirabelli, advantage Sox. The 2 benches are really not all that different.
    8. Pavano and Igawa. Pavano has been highly unlucky physically. He hasn’t forgot how to pitch because of that. He may not be a 3.50 guy, but he certainly can be a low 4’s guy and on this team, that will do just fine. As for Igawa time will tell, but all signs point to him be at least a #5. He’s a strikeout guy who doesn’t walk a lot of batters, give him some offense and he will be just fine.
    If you need any more questions answered Steve, just let me know.

    Triskaidekaphobia March 10, 2007, 12:34 am
  • Look, I’m sorry guys, but I’m still not buying it.
    attackgerbil: Look at what mouse said. There has NEVER been a pitcher like Wang with long-term success. Guys like Webb and Lowe can get by because they miss bats, Wang doesn’t. That’s eventually going to come back to hurt him. There’s not a doubt in my mind he can be league-average or maybe slightly better for a long time, but he’s not top of the rotation material (which is what he looked like last year.)
    Whatever: You’re making assumptions based off healed injuries and small sample sizes. As I’ve pointed out earlier, for every injury risk on the Sox, there’s also one for the Yankees. Things didn’t go Boston’s way last year when nearly everybody went down. That won’t happen again. Some guys will go down, but the chance of the ENTIRE ROSTER SANS ONE PITCHER being injured is extremely low.
    As far as Pettitte goes: Yes, he looked good for a while in a no-offense league two years ago. Last year he wasn’t that great, and he’s going back to a hitter’s park in a division where every team has above-average offenses, and three of them are among the league’s best. That’s no recipe for success.
    Schilling was also playing along with a couple nagging injuries later on last year. I’m not making excuses for his performance, but it’s something to consider. He and Mussina are about as close to a wash as you can get.
    Beckett…news recently has shown that his blister problems come from eczema breakouts, which he is now taking medication for. Last year it was believed to be caused by excessive use of the curveball, so he abandoned it in favor of the 4-seamer, which led to the dingers. When he finally started using the offspeed stuff, he had no feel for it. This year, he’s concentrating on working on the offspeed stuff in camp, which he didn’t do last year. Expect a bounceback. Again, to ASSUME an injury (just like you’re doing with Drew, Crisp, and a few other guys,) is ridiculous. If he gets hurt, he gets hurt, but he’s far less an injury risk than Pavano, but you seem to believe Pavano’s going to be fine with a low 4 ERA…to that, well, good luck.
    As far as the benches go, the Sox have a better 4th outfielder with more power. Cora and Cairo probably are washes. The Sox’s backup catcher is better. We’ve got an experienced and proven bat (something Phelps isn’t) in Hinske that can play multiple positions (also something Phelps doesn’t do.) Mirabelli’s also better than Pratt, and we have a young catcher in the waiting, which the Yankees also don’t.
    Little known fact that Lester’s ERA was in the 2s before his back started irritating him and the diagnosis came. He’s a better 6th option than anything the Yankees have until Hughes proves himself, which might not happen for over a year (if not more.)
    And if you’re seriously going to say that Pavano “has been highly unlucky physically” you have to say the same thing about the entire 2006 Red Sox squad, and J.D. Drew (who’s been the victim of some freak injuries, like tendinitis and getting his hand shattered by a pitch.)
    Either way, I’m done with this. I’m tired of writing essays to try and make points to someone who I know won’t get it.

    Steve March 10, 2007, 2:52 am

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