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General Red Sox

Great Moments In Recent Red Sox Playoff History

A look back into Sox legend along with the increase in Boston’s probability of winning the game as a result of the play. Ortiz’s grand slam tonight ranks second, and he’s also ranked fourth, sixth and ninth. #therealmisteroctober

• Dave Henderson’s game-tying, two-run home run with two outs in the ninth, Game 5, 1986 ALCS: 73 percent.
• David Ortiz’s game-tying grand slam with two outs in the eighth, Game 2, 2013 ALCS: 45 percent.
• Bernie Carbo’s game-tying, three-run home run with two outs in the eighth, Game 6, 1975 World Series: 44 percent.
• David Ortiz’s series-winning, 10th-inning home run, Game 3, 2004 ALDS: 43 percent.
• J.D. Drew’s game-winning, ninth-inning hit to cap a rally from 7-0 down in the seventh inning, Game 5, 2008 ALCS: 38 percent.
• David Ortiz’s game-winning, 14th-inning hit, Game 5, 2004 ALCS: 38 percent.
• Carlton Fisk’s game-winning, 12th-inning home run, Game 6, 1975 World Series: 36 percent.
• Mark Bellhorn’s go-ahead, two-run home run in the eighth inning, Game 1, 2004 World Series: 31 percent.
• David Ortiz’s game-winning, 12th-inning home run, Game 4, 2004 ALCS: 27 percent.
• J.D. Drew’s first-inning grand slam, Game 6, 2007 ALCS: 26 percent.
• Bill Mueller’s game-tying hit, scoring Dave Roberts in the bottom of the ninth off Mariano Rivera, Game 4, 2004 ALCS: 25 percent.

editor’s note: I am a thief and I stole this from Paul SF to post here. He is listed as the author, but I totally burgled his writing from elsewhere — ag

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General Red Sox The Wire

Epstein ‘On the Cusp’?

Steve Buckley is reporting this evening that Theo Epstein is "on the cusp" of joining the Cubs, with an announcement possible within 48 hours. John Henry and Larry Lucchino better be asking for the moon.

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General Red Sox

Yuck.

I guess it's a good thing I've been too busy the last couple of weeks to pay much attention to baseball. Never has a four-game lead in one direction looked so large and a three-game lead in the other looked so small.

There's always next year, right?

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General Red Sox General Yankees

No Business Sniffing a Pennant Race

I guess it's a tad generous to describe anything in baseball this year as a "pennant race," considering none of the eight teams currently in line to make the playoffs has worse than a 78 percent chance of getting the job done.

Nevertheless, if we take the Sox' and Yanks' nearly annual battle for the AL East crown seriously (and we as fans do, even if the teams themselves don't seem to), there's no divisional race as close as this one. Given that fact, it's clear the following two pitchers have no business taking the mound in a meaninful game the rest of the season:

  • Pitcher A: 61.1 IP, 81 H, 12 BB, 39 K, 5.72 ERA, .879 OPS allowed, 1.52 WHIP, Avg, game score: 41
  • Pitcher B: 54.1 IP, 70 H, 27 BB, 52 K, 7.79 ERA, .957 OPS allowed, 1.79 WHIP, Avg. game score: 39

These would be, of course, Tim Wakefield and A.J. Burnett since July 1. 

Here's how they stack up against their peers in the same timeframe:

  1. Jon Lester, 2.36
  2. Josh Beckett, 2.77
  3. CC Sabathia, 2.87
  4. Freddy Garcia, 2.89
  5. Ivan Nova, 3.40
  6. Erik Bedard, 3.46*
  7. Bartolo Colon, 4.33
  8. Phil Hughes, 4.70**
  9. Andrew Miller, 4.78
  10. John Leckey, 5.01***
  11. Tim Wakefield, 5.72
  12. A.J. Burnett, 7.79

*Since coming to the Red Sox July 31. **3.70 ERA until last start. ***4.11 ERA since July 9.

I think that speaks for itself.

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General Red Sox General Yankees

The Rest of the Way

Sorry I haven't been around much the last couple of weeks. Work got crazy, home never stopped being crazy, and since I'm starting grad school next week, it doesn't look like things will change anytime soon.

Selfishly, the Red Sox and Yankees have not put their pennant race on hold to better accomodate my schedule. As Peter Abraham astutely notes this morning, the teams are tied atop the division with 34 and 36 games remaining, respectively. Further, slight difference in winning percentage aside, they are both on pace to win 99 games.

Abraham takes a cursory look at the rest of the schedule for the two teams and concludes:

By virtue of having fewer games and a greater percentage of them at home, the Red Sox would seem to have an advantage in the race. Both teams have aging players in key roles and how they hold up down the stretch could determine the division champion.

He predicts the Sox take it with 97 wins to the Yanks' 95. In either case, one team will face the league's best pitcher twice in a five-game series while the other will face one of the league's best offenses with three games in one of the game's most offense-friendly ballparks. Fun times.

If I can pull anything positive out of the recent spate of injuries and the overall malaise into which the Sox have slumped this month (12-10, +3 run differential, 4.3 runs per game) and in particular the last two weeks (6-7), it's that a slump of this sort was inevitable, and it's better that it happen in August with a nearly impenetrable wild card lead than in September, when you're wanting the club to be getting ready for the playoffs.

That said, here's hoping last night's destruction of Colby Lewis and the Rangers, featuring the electrifying return of Jacoby Ellsbury, heralds a return to health and consistent winning for the Red Sox from now through the end of October.

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General Red Sox General Yankees

Is the Rivalry Dead?

Steve Berthiaume thinks so:

The Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is dead and baseball has helped kill it: Eighteen meetings a year at four hours each has watered down the product to the point of overkill and taken the starch out of things. These games have become overdone and overblown, almost meaningless. Worst of all, baseball has handed the Boston/New York hatred over to the NFL. The angst, spite, resentment and, most of all, the do-or-die stakes that used to symbolize the Red Sox/Yankees feud now thrives as the exclusive property of the Patriots and Jets. Baseball has to get that back and restore the rivalry that came to define the game in the previous decade. When Red Sox and Yankees fans get sick of the Red Sox and Yankees, there's a problem.

I'm not sure Sox and Yanks fans actually are sick of Red Sox-Yankees games. Are we? 

For myself, I agree the rivalry is languishing (it will never be dead, but I'm treating that phrasing as poetic license). The Red Sox are perennially successful, have proven twice they can win the World Series, and they even beat the Yankees to do it the first time. The Yankees are … perennially successful, have proven they, also can win the World Series, and they too beat the Red Sox to do it, though a little longer ago. Yawn, right?

In the meantime, the clubs play each other 18 times, and despite occasional seasons from the Rays are more likely than not to both make the playoffs (they did it in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009), thus removing any practical incentive to go all out in the regular season. Eighteen times can feel like a heavyweight battle in the heady days of 2003-05, when every game felt like the weight of a century was bearing on it. But now, they just feel… heavy.

[And I'm not referring to the times of the games. Everyone likes to complain about the games' length, and maybe if I weren't a fan of one of the teams, I would, too. But if you don't like long games, don't watch them, then ESPN will stop showing them in primetime, which would make those of us who endure the blackouts and later start times happy, too. Besides which, preliminary studies indicate game times lengthen proportionally to the combined winning percentage of the two teams and the number of people in the stands (a proxy for importance of the game); these are consistently the two best teams in the game, who sell out every game they play. Add in their shared philosophy of grinding out at bats. Long games will happen. Deal with it.]

In the end, this was bound to happen, wasn't it? We all suspected the passion with which Red Sox fans hated the Yankees would dissipate once the Sox got the monkey off their backs. The manner of disposing of the monkey in 2004 pretty much ensures it will never return in our lifetimes.

The tension from the 2004 ALCS lingered into 2005, but ultimately the world had changed. We can reduce the number of regular-season appearances and try to reduce the comfortability of the wild card qualifier (as Berthiaume suggests), and I think these are both good ideas. But, in the end, the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry might never again reach the heights we saw in the late 1970s and mid 2000s. Is that such a bad thing?

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General Red Sox General Yankees

Not Dead Yet

Well, we gave Derek Jeter enough guff early this season that we should acknowledge his fine performance since returning from the disabled list a month ago. 

Since July 4, Jeter is hitting a Jeterian .333/.380/.495.

To help that bitter medicine go down, we'll point out that if the season ended today, Dustin Pedroia would have the best case for MVP in the American League.

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General Red Sox The Wire

Tick Tock

That was fast.

As Alex Speier at WEEI notes, all the starting pitching that was on the market last night disappeared today: Erik Bedard looked bad in his return from the DL, Hiroki Kuroda decided not to waive his no-trade clause for anyone, and the Indians swooped in to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez after the Rockies told the Yankees they could not do a physical before finalizing the trade.

That left Rich Harden (and Jeremy Guthrie and some others, including Bedard), and the Boston Red Sox apparently have him, sending Lars Anderson and a player to be named. It's a good trade for the Red Sox assuming Harden can stay healthy through October because when he's healthy he's a top-line starting pitcher. Anderson, meanwhile, had no role anymore with the Sox once Adrian Gonzalez came on board, but he is just 23, and still has plenty of potential despite a rocky couple of years at AAA; it's a good deal for the A's, too.

With less than 24 hours to the trade deadline, it seems the Sox have addressed their No. 1 concern. I could see them going after a player like Guthrie or using Bedard's poor performance to hold out get him even cheaper than they otherwise would have (if you're going to have one potential ace-quality guy who is chronically injured, might as well have another for backup, right?), but it seems more likely that the Sox have done what they needed to do. Now all eyes are on New York.

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General Red Sox History

120 Percent

How do you know the Boston Red Sox' offense really cares? They give 120 percent.

Entering Thursday's game, the Sox had a 121 OPS+. For an individual player, that's no amazing feat; 56 players have an OPS+ of 120 or better this year in baseball.

But that should give you an idea of how impressive a team OPS+ of 120 is. Only one-third of the qualifying players in the game can manage it on an individual level, and here an entire team is averaging that total. 

Follows is the list of all the teams to ever finish the season with an OPS+ of 120 or better:

  • 1927 Yankees
  • 1930 Yankees
  • 1931 Yankees
  • 1982 Brewers

And here is the list of teams to get very close (118 or better):

  • 1902 Pirates
  • 1932 Yankees
  • 1933 Yankees
  • 1994 Yankees
  • 1997 Mariners
  • 2003 Red Sox

That's a small group of elite offenses: The 1902 Pirates, 1927-33 Yankees, 1982 Brewers, 1994 Yankees, 1997 Mariners and 2003 Red Sox. Let's have a look at them:

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The Wire

Getting Closer

Hiroki Kuroda? Ubaldo Jimenez? B.J. Upton? Someone else we haven't heard as much about?

The Sox and Yankees are both making inquiries, and they have both been tied to just about every available player under the sun. For some reason, I think there will be a major move today, so if there is, comment about it here.

Until then, feel free to discuss the major events from yesterday: the Blue Jays fleecing the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus and the Giants and Mets making a more traditional prospect-for-rental trade involving Carlos Beltran.

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General Red Sox General Yankees The Wire

Trade Fodder

It's coming. The 2011 MLB trade deadline.

The Red Sox are certainly not in need of more offense, on pace for 885 runs and, even more stunningly, a 120 OPS+, which would be the highest team total in the American League since the 1982 Brewers of Yount, Molitor, Cooper, Oglivie and Gorman Thomas. (By comparison, the only teams to come close in the past 15 years are the 1997 [119] and 2001 Mariners [117] and the 2003 Red Sox [118].)

So forgive me if I don't put much stock in rumors that the Sox are interested in Carlos Beltran or even Hunter Pence (who is at least a cheaper, younger, overall more attractive possibility but not necessarily more attractive than simply playing Josh Reddick full time). They could go after pitching, if there were any quality pitching worth having. As Theo Epstein has said, the best move the Sox could make would be adding a healthy Clay Buchholz to the roster. In fact, that isn't quite right. The best move the Sox will make occurs today, when Jon Lester replaces Kyle Weiland in the rotation, and this despite the fact that Boston has been 12-2 since placing Lester on the DL.

No wonder, then, that Fangraphs rates the Red Sox the team in baseball with the least need to make a move at the deadline.

The Yankees aren't much worse off, coming in at No. 23, with strengthening their rotation the team's obvious priority. But, again, is Derek Lowe or Wandy Rodriguez really the savior here?

So have at it, Yanks and Sox fans. What should the teams do to prepare for the playoff run and the playoffs themselves. Who should they be willing to give up to get 'em?

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Sox Gamers/Postmortems

Surprise! Sox-O’s Afternoon Gamer

I'm always caught unawares by the afternoon games, but here's a gamer for this one, anyway. With Andrew Miller on the mound, the Sox try to take the series and avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since June.

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General Red Sox

J.D. Drew: Still Classy

No one around these parts has been a bigger J.D. Drew defender than I. He's had a superlative, criminally underrated career, and was even worth his big contract, at least through the first four years. 

But the end has clearly arrived for him. Drew hasn't had an OPS+ lower than 105 since he was 23; it currently sits at 74. His .309 slugging percentage sits more than 110 points below his career low. He's still a decent defender, but at this point it's merely offsetting the negative value of his offense, making him a replacement-level player according to both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs.

"Replacement level" is loosely defined as the production you'd expect if you called up a AAA player and stuck him in the lineup every day. A player like, say, Josh Reddick, who entered the season exactly at that level.

Except Josh Reddick has been tearing the cover off the ball all season. Among all players with at least 80 plate appearances this season (not a big sample size, granted, but that's not the point at the moment), Reddick ranks second in all of baseball to Jose Bautista in wRC+ and slugging percentage while ranking fourth in on-base percentage to Bautista, Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera. In this admittedly selective sample size, Reddick is first in the majors in batting average. 

Reddick has also been generally good on defense, passing both the eye test and the initial statistical evaluations, though we've seen him have some growing pains outside his left-field comfort zone.

Now this isn't sustainable. Reddick has a .397 BABIP, which also leads the majors. I suspect we'll see regression with increased playing time, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Reddick deserves the chance to play over Drew once David Ortiz returns from his three-game suspension.

It's certainly clear to Drew himself:

"I want to get things rolling, but this team has to win ballgames. I want to see another postseason. Tito's got a decision to make. For me, it's a matter of getting to where I'm swinging the bat well, in whatever role. They'll figure it out." 

Not every 35-year-old veteran can handle the prospect of losing his job with such aplomb. And while Terry Francona may not remember an example of when he stuck with a veteran too long, I can: Kevin Millar, who took playing time away from Kevin Youkilis in 2005, then groused privately and threw teammates under the bus when his playing time was finally reduced.

Perhaps this simply confirms the lame idea that Drew doesn't care enough about the game while "dirt dogs" like Trot Nixon and Millar, who provided far less value in their careers but wore their emotions on their sleeves, proved their passion and thus their worth to the fans.

More likely, this confirms that J.D. Drew is a really nice guy and a classy ballplayer, who has never deserved the abuse he received and will likely never receive the credit he should for being an all-around excellent ballplayer and classy person.

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General Yankees The Wire

Trade Days

It's that time of year, and we have the first report of a team making a completely ridiculous reasonable request of the Yankees, who are seeking a starting pitcher:

The Rockies have asked the Yankees for four minor league players – including top pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances – in exchange for 27-year-old right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted Sunday. Jimenez is 5-8 with a 4.08 ERA this year, but is a past All-Star, World Series starter and Cy Young candidate.

The other two players asked for are Triple-A catcher Jesus Montero and right-hander Ivan Nova, who is 8-4 with a 4.12 ERA for the Yankees.

To recap, that's Banuelos, Betances, Montero and Nova for Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a 4.21 ERA in his last 37 starts dating to last June.

Get it done, Cashman! 

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General Red Sox General Yankees History

Let the Race Begin

The Boston Red Sox sit atop the American League East at the All-Star break, a welcome but not unfamiliar position: The Sox have been in first place at the break six times since 2003, yet actually finished the season there once.

Here are those seasons, with their first-half record, winning percentage and games ahead, followed by their second-half record and games ahead/behind)

  • 2011, 55-35 (.611), 1.0 // ?
  • 2009, 54-34 (.614), 3.0 // 41-33 (.554), 8.0
  • 2008, 57-40 (.588), 0.5 // 38-27 (.585), 2.0
  • 2007, 53-34 (.609), 9.5 // 43-32 (.573), up 2.0
  • 2006, 53-33 (.616), 3.0 // 33-43 (.434), 11.0
  • 2005, 49-38 (.563), 2.0 // 46-29 (.613), 0.0
Categories
General Red Sox History

Home Run Derby

Fully two-thirds of the Red Sox lineup last night hit a home run, tying the club record. The dates and players (PH means they came off the bench, not that the home run necessarily occurred in their pinch-hit at bat):

  • July 4, 1977 (Lynn 2, Rice, Yastrzemski, Scott 2, Hobson, Carbo PH) 
  • June 20, 1979 (Lynn, Yastrzemski, Watson, Evans, Hobson, Dwyer PH)
  • June 7, 2003 (Ramirez, Ortiz, Nixon, Varitek, Millar PH, Mueller PH)
  • Sept. 15, 2008 (Ortiz, Youkilis, Lowell, Bay, Varitek, Ellsbury)
  • July 7, 2011 (Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Reddick, Saltalamacchia)

The all-time record is eight, set by the Cincinnati Reds against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 4, 1999, though two of those came from players coming off the bench. The Yankees in 2007 (July 31) had seven players go yard, six of them in the starting lineup (Damon, Abreu, Matsui 2, Posada, Cano, Cabrera, Duncan PH).

Limiting it only to members of the starting lineup, the record is seven, set by the Athletics on June 27, 1996, and tied by the Rangers May 21, 2005.

Having now had six hitters hit homers in the same game five times, the Sox are second all-time to the Reds, who have done it six times. No team has done it more since the Sox first did it in 1977, however. Likewise, perusing the list, I don't see any teams with three such games in as short a time as the Sox in the past eight years, so I'm assuming no player has been involved in as many such uprisings as Ortiz's three unless they've done it for different teams. 

The full list below the fold.