All Right, I’m Sold

Rob Bradford:

The bottom line is exactly what a scout told me at 1:30 yesterday afternoon when word first trickled out: "Boston just got a whole lot better."

When middle relief is your only hole — and, really, isn’t that everyone’s hole? — it’s hard to be disappointed.

37 comments… add one
  • The move does make the rest of the bullpen look a lot better by comparison. There’s a good amount of capable setup arms and a great LOOGY.
    Still, now there’s a “hole” in the #5 starter spot. Still, as you pointed out, isn’t that nearly everyone’s problem? Not many teams out there with solid offerings at the back end of the rotation. Come on, Lester!

    Steve March 23, 2007, 8:04 pm
  • Paul, you weren’t convinced when I said it made the Sox better?

    Nick-YF March 23, 2007, 8:40 pm
  • Your “Loogy” gives up an awful lot of HR’s, so calling him great is an overstatement.
    As for middle relief being the “Only Hole” time will tell on that one. Also ask the 2002-2006 Yankees how important middle relief is. Having solid middle relief like the Yankees did 96-01 shortens the game and allows you to capitalize on lights out closers like Mo and Paps. What good is Paps if the leads are gone by the time the 9th rolls around.
    Lastly a weak middle relief core leads to overuse of your closer. Mariano went from a 3 out guy to a 6 out guy when Joe had no confidence in that make shift set up crew. Not good news for a young man with arm issues.

    Triskaidekaphobia March 23, 2007, 8:47 pm
  • Like I said yesterday, this move inspires massive cognitive dissonance in Yankees fans. First the Sox had no closer, and this would be fatal. Now they have a world-class closer, and the starting rotation is a problem. Or the middle relievers. Even though the #5 spot merely has to perform at league average (or perhaps barely better than league average), and the middle relief corp is deeper simply by the fact that the same group of characters (less the weakest of the bunch, who will now be in Pawtucket) is no longer entrusted with getting the last three outs of the game.
    So what is it, Yankees fans? Are the Sox better off now or worse off? If they are worse off, then all the YF claptrap about having no closer was complete BS, since the Sox apparently now have a brilliant closer. If they are better off, then trying to mitigate the Sox’ improvement by harping on the middling middle relief corps comes off as just a bit desperate.
    Despite the fact that I am not necessarily convinced (yet, as Paul is!) that this is the best move, at the very least it’s made Yankee fans dribble in their cream of wheat, and this I relish.

    SF March 23, 2007, 9:58 pm
  • And there we go again. The Sox fan relishing the response from Yankee fans over his own feelings towards the move.
    This does make the Sox a much better team. But will Paul SF step back from his ‘closers are overrated’ meme now that Papelbon is the closer and it was clearly the right move? Are closers now NOT overrated?
    This solves a problem at the end of the games, sure. But Papelbon HIMSELF said that he will not be pitching 2-inning relief games, or even back-to-back (who is this guy, Kyle Farnsworth? Was his injury was a lot more serious than I thought and he’s looking out for himself and now he’s an ever-injury prone player?) So what’s going to happen then? So it makes the Sox definitively better, but not as much as you’d think. Yankees still take the East.

    Andrew March 23, 2007, 10:08 pm
  • Stop the press: Andrew still thinks the Yankees will win the East.

    Brad March 23, 2007, 10:36 pm
  • 2006 season.
    LOOGY #1: 48 1/3 IP, 3 HR
    LOOGY #2: 30 2/3 IP, 3 HR
    LOOGY #1: 0.81 HR/9
    LOOGY #2: 0.96 HR/9
    One of these gentlemen pitches for the Red Sox. The other, the New York Yankees. Any guesses as to who is who, Trisk?

    QuoSF March 23, 2007, 11:28 pm
  • How exactly do we have weak middle relief? Donnelly, Timlin, Romero, Piniero, Okajima, and Snyder (probably), with Hansen, Delcarmen, Cox, Hanseck, and Gabbard waiting in the wings. As the season goes on, our middle relief will be a strength.
    Anyone have thoughts on this rotoworld article?

    Tyrel SF March 24, 2007, 12:02 am
  • Tyrel, trust me on this, from a Yankees fan, having a bunch of assorted crap together does not a bullpen (or in 2003-2005/beginning of 2006’s case for the Yankees, a rotation) make. Timlin starts the season on the DL after showing he has nothing left in the tank last season. Romero is junk, Pineiro is junk, Donnelly has shown every sign of decline over the past three years. Snyder has not really done anything to prove himself in the majors (where are all these amazing numbers he supposedly put up? I can’t find them) and the same goes for Delcarmen and Hanson(sic). Predicting strength from this motley crew is like predicting an ace-like season from Pavano. Sure, it’s possible, but are you seriously expecting anything close to that?
    If it is a strength, though, cook me up some of that delicious crow.

    Andrew March 24, 2007, 12:23 am
  • I don’t think it’ll be a strength, though with the amount of youth in the minors it could be, it just won’t be as bad as you think. Snyder’s most intriguing stat from last season is his 8.5 K/9 and 2.85 K/BB from last season. (For what it’s worth…he’s struck out 10 and walked four in 9.1 ST innings) What should temper any enthusiasm about his potential is his HR rate and history of injury.
    Pineiro’s peripherals in a small number of innings last season as a reliever were pretty dominant; high GB rate, low-200’s BAA, one or two bad outings that f*cked up his ERA. This spring, after allowing 4 ER in his first appearance, he’s given up just 7 hits and 3 walks in 8.1 innings, to go along with 6 strikeouts and no runs allowed.
    Donnelly has been off-and-on; besides one disasterous appearance vs the Mets, he’s been OK. Not closer OK, but OK. Okajima can probably be effective for at least a season, and Romero should be fine as a LOOGY; if he can get some semblence of control back he could be a decent 6th-7th inning guy. Not against every lineup, mind you, just the occasional righty.
    Then there’s Hansack, who the organization seems to like quite a bit; I don’t care what the Astros thought, he pitched very well in AAA last year. Delcarmen and Hansen could be ready to contribute this year, and both Bryce Cox and Edgar Martinez could, too.

    desturbd1 March 24, 2007, 12:49 am
  • Oh, and did anyone else hear about the other trade Peter Angelos nixed? One that would have sent Brian Roberts to Atlanta for Andy LaRoche? I vaguely remember hearing about it a few months ago, but Angelos just confirmed it a few days back.
    “I just thought that Brian [Roberts] should stay an Oriole, not that the front office didn’t think so. They were looking at it from a standpoint of improving the ballclub,” Angelos said Sunday, confirming that he nixed an offseason deal for slugging first baseman Adam LaRoche. “And they may have been totally right. I looked on it as the retention of a player that came through our system and who is of such great value to the club for all the things that he does out there with the public and in the hospitals and so on.
    “This is a special kind of player, just like Cal Ripken was for the Orioles. And the kind of player you want to keep as part of the organization. And so there’s an area where one might say that I have interfered, but I felt impelled to do that from the standpoint of keeping a player that I thought was critical.”

    I actually feel pretty bad for Orioles fans…or at least, I feel sorry for the ones who still pay enough attention to care. Their owner is actively admitting to hanging on to a player for being a good guy at the expense of his team’s performance…f*cking ridiculous. If Baltimore had made this move, along with the Aybar-Santana for Tejada deal, they’d have made themselves a very interesting club in 2008 or 09. Hell, they might even have made some strides in 07. Instead…well, at least this is good for the rest of us.

    desturbd1 March 24, 2007, 1:51 am
  • But will Paul SF step back from his ‘closers are overrated’ meme now that Papelbon is the closer and it was clearly the right move? Are closers now NOT overrated?
    I will not step back! I fought hard for that piece of ground. Just because something is overrated doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a great deal of value. I decided this is a good move because the difference in value — both psychological and actual — between a mediocre-to-sucky Joel Piniero and Jonathan Papelbon in the closer’s role was greater than that between Papelbon and the eventual return of Jon Lester in the 4/5 slot. It weakens the Sox at a position in which every team in the league is weak and gives them one of the best performers in baseball at a very important (though overrated) position.
    Not only that, but it strengthens the rest of the bullpen — Donnelly’s a question mark, but Romero crushed lefties last season, and he was having a bad year. Okajima has unfamiliarity on his side. There’s no reason to call Piniero “junk” unless he’s starting, which he’s not. The fact is middle relief has been and continues to be a crapshoot for every team, including the Yankees (sorry if I’m not awed this season when the great Kyle Farnsworth and his league-average ERA trot to the mound).
    The question, Andrew, is this. If moving Papelbon has made the Sox “definitively better,” and if we assume that means the Sox will be improved by at least a couple games, and if we furthermore all agreed before the Papelbon move that the race between the Sox and Yanks this season was likely to be within a couple games, doesn’t “definitively better” now mean the Sox have the advantage?

    Paul SF March 24, 2007, 2:38 am
  • “Your “Loogy” gives up an awful lot of HR’s, so calling him great is an overstatement.”
    So Romero gives up an awful lot of HRs to lefties? The guy is among the best against them in the entire league, look up the numbers. He sucks against righties, but that’s why he’s the freaking LOOGY.
    I love how Pineiro is automatically junk even though he was solid in relief last year and has done everything well enough in ST to prove he can get the job done. Apparently Romero’s junk too even though he still destroys lefties, and yeah, Donnelly blows as well because he’s not quite as good as he was 4 years ago. Real insightful stuff there.
    Not mentioning that the notion of Papelbon only pitching 1 inning 1 day at a time is completely wrong. He originally said a few things that were taken the wrong way, and explained them further after the fact. He’ll be used just like every other closer out there.

    Steve March 24, 2007, 2:47 am
  • It’s never been said that Papelbon will only pitch one day at a time. The only thing I’ve heard and read is that he won’t go more than three days in a row, which just makes sense anyway…

    Paul SF March 24, 2007, 2:50 am
  • The Red Sox have a “world-class closer”? Ha!
    Based on one season of work, and injury shortened at that?
    They moved one guy from a more valued position to a less valued position. One would have meant 200 innings, the other means 70-80 innings. No matter how you slice it, the Sox still need to get quality pitching for those other 120 innings. Tavarez ain’t that. Lester may have to fill innings for one of the hurt 40 year olds. There are still innings to be pitched gentlemen and the pickings are mighty slim.
    The only thing that has been addressed is the drama of the no closer situation. Otherwise it’s still the same team, and one that hasn’t made up ten games since last year.

    Jim - YF March 24, 2007, 4:07 am
  • Jim, Papelbon had one of the greatest seasons ever (for a closer) in the history of the game, statistically speaking. That’s why I called him a “world-class closer”. He was a world-class closer last season, and if healthy he could be again. I didn’t say the Sox had a “year in, year out HoF closer on their roster” (that’s Rivera), because Papelbon isn’t that yet.
    Really, some of you YFs sound desperate scared trying to prove this move does very little for the Sox (even though it’s been nothing but “hahaha you have no closer and not only that but touting Papelbon is no good because he has no track record as a starter so you can’t count on him” for the last two months) that for this reason alone I am starting to think it is a great move. You can’t have it both ways. If the Yankees had moved A-Rod back to shortstop at some point and I started crowing about how it does nothing for the Yankees right after blustering (do I bluster?!) about how I thought it was foolish to slot him at third and that the mistake was inexplicable to me I would sound just like some of you guys sound right now w/r/t Papelbon going back to closing.

    SF March 24, 2007, 7:33 am
  • …good to see life goes on in “rationalization nation” while i’m gone…
    …actually, i’m going to agree somewhat with sf…any sox move that appears to improve the team is typically met with skepticism and concern by yf’s…i’ll let you in on a little secret, we don’t want this to work out…
    …i’m not sure what happened to the notion that a strong starting staff trumps a good bullpen, but that’s part of the rationalization strategy i suppose…i also don’t happen to agree with paul’s notion that closers are “important”, but “overrated”…it’s a team game alright, but i’m not sure the yankees are winning those ws in the late 90’s without mo…maybe another more average guy could have closed out those games, but i wouldn’t want to take that chance…
    …as for the sox move with papelbon, it’s a no-brainer, and i think the only thing that’s held it up for this long was the injury and pap’s wanting to be a starter…his recent about-face [apparently}, which he’s certainly entitled to, have taken the sox off the hook…they can make it appear to be his decision to return to the riskier [as in injury] role…i just hope they don’t mess it up…i’ve heard the yanks say they were going to be careful with mo in the past only to overuse him when they had a few tight games in a row…perhaps terry has more discipline in that regard than joe…the bottom line is that they filled a very huge hole in their pitching staff with a guy who was only considered a 4 or 5 starter…duh

    dc March 24, 2007, 9:23 am
  • ONE: The Sox are much better off with Papelbon closing, unless it leads to arm problems again. Duh.
    TWO: “When middle relief is your only hole — and, really, isn’t that everyone’s hole? — it’s hard to be disappointed.”
    The Yankee bullpen is the best since the World Series years. It’s not our hole.
    THREE: “When middle relief is your only hole — and, really, isn’t that everyone’s hole? — it’s hard to be disappointed.”
    Your only hole?
    Your ace is forty-what? Your number two had a 5+ era last year. Dice-K may be great, but let’s agree he has to show us that. Wake is one year older, had aging problems last year and has declined (as measured by his era). Julian Tavarez, ’nuff said.
    I don’t deny that this could be one of the best staffs, but what are the people who say now that it IS one of the best staffs talking about?

    john March 24, 2007, 9:46 am
  • Where have you been, dc?!
    Good to have you back.

    SF March 24, 2007, 9:56 am
  • I just heard a news from Wfan Sweeney Murti from Wfan about Wang and.He said Wang is out at least three weeks and He will be on the DL at the beginning of season.They said that injury is kind of serious.

    JeterFan March 24, 2007, 10:05 am
  • House of cards.
    House of cards I say…

    SF March 24, 2007, 10:34 am
  • Assistance Anyone ?????
    I just called Comcast Cable to order the MLB package and apparently they “did not win the bid” and do not have the package to offer.
    So, how do we watch ALL the games ?
    Anyone have the inside scoop on this or any suggestions ? Thanx!!

    Anonymous March 24, 2007, 10:48 am
  • “So how do we watch all the games”
    Depending on where you live, and what teams you’re most interested in seeing (Yanks and Sox, heh) your best bet is getting a DirecTV satellite dish and subscribing to the MLB Extra Innings package. This will get you most, but not all, of your out of market games, and there’s additional sports channels available to get your in-market games as well.

    Whatever March 24, 2007, 12:07 pm
  • Yeesh. The season just got a whole lot harder for the Yanks.
    At least we don’t have to worry about Wang’s innings this year? Right? Right?
    Sigh. If the Yankees make it through April with a .500 winning percentage at this point, I’ll be happy.
    On a great note, Bobby Murcer seems to be doing better, and he says he’s planning on returning to the YES booth sometime this season.

    Andrew March 24, 2007, 12:25 pm
  • Wait, so the Sox were the team that was full of question marks, that could crumble with one injury, but now the Yankees lose their #2 starter and they’ll be lucky to finish April at .500?
    If that’s the case, then this Yankee team is, by that measure and speculation, incredibly weak and thin on talent.

    SF March 24, 2007, 12:34 pm
  • I said I’d be happy. If the Sox lost someone like Schilling or Matsuzaka for all of April, they’d be lucky to finish April at .500 too. The difference between a great starter like Wang and a scrub like Karstens (or, really, Pavano, since that’s who’d be taking Wang’s starts) is pretty big. Probably 2 games.

    Andrew March 24, 2007, 12:41 pm
  • Of course, expecting Pavano to lose 2 more games than Wang would have is pretty pessimistic. Or realistic. But hey, at least I’m not saying Pineiro is going to be a reliable middle reliever.

    Andrew March 24, 2007, 12:43 pm
  • Well, let’s see, Pettitte’s elbow is a little tender, now Wang’s got a some sort of a hammy problem. If these things had occured September 1st with the Yankees fighting for a playoff spot, it would be a real concern, but right now, not so much.
    We may be seeing some of the young arms, Rasner, Karstens, perhaps Ohlendorf, sooner then we thought. Not Hughes, btw.
    Pavano and Igawa will need to step up. Should be interesting. We’ll have to hunker down and try to keep the Mighty Sox from busting out to a 10 game lead on us by May 1st, not to mention those hungry Blue Jays.
    I’m looking forward to the challenge.

    Whatever March 24, 2007, 12:53 pm
  • Whatever – it’s Pettitte’s back. And it’s not actually a problem, it’s precautionary. Pettitte’s elbow is healthy as anyone’s.
    Also, Jose Veras is out for 2-3 months with bone chips. Not that it really matters at all.

    Andrew March 24, 2007, 1:57 pm
  • “it’s Pettitte’s back”
    My mistake. Someone over on Pete Abraham’s blog was talking about Pettitte’s elbow problems of the past and I assumed that was the problem this time.

    Whatever March 24, 2007, 2:36 pm
  • “The only thing that has been addressed is the drama of the no closer situation. Otherwise it’s still the same team, and one that hasn’t made up ten games since last year.”
    You don’t think Drew is at least a couple wins better than Trot? Coco won’t have a healthier season? Or Varitek? Or Wakefield? Beckett won’t learn from last year? Personally I think Matsuzaka alone is 10 games better than the starting pitching combo of Jason Johnson, Matt Clement, David Pauley and Kyle Snyder. The only place we’ve possibly regressed is 2B, and it won’t be a fatal regression.
    And I stand by it, our middle relief will be a strength by mid-season.

    Tyrel SF March 24, 2007, 3:23 pm
  • There will be no regression at 2B. Loretta was one of those guys who looked good, but was really pretty average. Pedroia should best him in offense and defense.

    Steve March 24, 2007, 3:42 pm
  • I like the optimism Steve, and I have faith that Pedroia will be a god major leaguer, but I think he’ll struggle a bit this year.

    Tyrel SF March 24, 2007, 5:45 pm
  • “Good” major leaguer, not “god” major leaguer. That’s a little too optimistic, me thinks.

    Tyrel SF March 24, 2007, 5:47 pm
  • Pedroia > Loretta, offensively and defensively. Pedroia could post a worse BA and is highly likely to get on base at a significantly better clip than Loretta, who never walked. Likewise, Loretta was sure-handed but had no range. Pedroia is much more athletic in the field.

    Paul SF March 24, 2007, 6:24 pm
  • Paul
    I just went to look up some stats on Loretta to show how he was a good fielder, but it turns out, to my surprise, that he was actually pretty lousy, with a Rate 92.
    He had 49 walks last year, which isn’t great, but it’s hardly Hillenbrandesque. He was pretty good at making contact, but his slugging was pretty terrible.
    So okay, Pedroia has a good shot at being an upgrade, even in his rookie year. Though I am anticipating some rookie errors, in the field, on the basepaths, and at the plate. Loretta was at the least a smart, veteran ballplayer.

    Tyrel SF March 24, 2007, 6:56 pm
  • I was of the opinion last year that the Loretta acquisition was one of the best of the offseason. I was a bit disappointed. Loretta was a great contact hitter. He didn’t walk much, but didn’t K much either. Throw out his wretched April, and he had a good season. But if you don’t walk much, don’t hit for a high average, don’t have much power, and aren’t great on defense, you just shouldn’t have much of a presence on a $100M+ payroll team. I loved his professionalism, and the fact that he loved playing in Boston. He’s just a bit too much past his prime, sad to say…

    Paul SF March 24, 2007, 8:16 pm

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