Up late, catching up after a busy week.
Many people have sung the praises of Rob Bradford, the North Andover Eagle-Tribune’s Red Sox beat writer. His dual stories on J.D. Drew were excellent — far better than other "Hall of Fame" reporters we could name. Today, he has aa lengthy exclusive interview with Josh Beckett, future 30-game winner.
Let me regress by saying that after eight months of hearing everyone say Beckett should have thrown his curveball more, I was surprised to open my Bill James Abstract and find that Beckett actually threw a curveball on 20 percent of his pitches — fifth-most in the AL and above his career average. Unable to reconcile this discrepancy, I filed it away.
Now, lo and behold, here is Bradford with this tidbit:
In Beckett’s opinion, it was always his changeup which was his priority when setting up hitters. The statistics bear that out, with the righty throwing the pitch 13 percent of the time before he came to Boston. Despite Beckett throwing it faster than most traditional changeups (his ranges between 81 and 87 mph), hitters only managed a .198 batting average against the offspeed offering, while chasing (swinging at a pitch out of the strike zone) an impressive 34 percent of the time.
According to the article, Beckett’s resurgence in six of his seven final starts occurred because he threw the change more — enough to raise his season average to 10 percent. Beckett already had one of the three most effective curveballs in the league in 2006, measuring by BA plus SLG. If he improves on a similarly effective changeup, his fastball (third-fastest in the league in 2006) would presumably return to its devastating form. This is highly encouraging.
And incidentally, an 85-mph changeup is just fine when you’re averaging 95 mph on your fastball, like Beckett did last year.
More random notes from my late-night hours on the Interwebs after the jump
- Bradford has a blog, which you should immediately bookmark.
- Among the tidbits on that blog? Just two teams of the six to win the Series since 2001 have had the same closer at the end of the year as they did on Opening Day (’02 Angels and ’04 Sox). There’s plenty others, but you should read it yourself.
- Wondering what newly minted most-beloved Sox first baseman Mo Vaughn is up to? Now you know.
- Keith Foulke, of course, has retired. The comments to Buster Olney’s ESPN story on this are just idiotic. Particularly when you consider that Foulke could have reported to spring training, retired and pocketed $5 million. Instead, he took the classy way out and retired and let the Indians keep their money.
- Revenue sharing’s a bitch, eh, YFs? Just after the Texas Rangers reportedly say they plan to make a run at signing Teixiera, the Twinkies (and Dave Pinto) say they might have enough dough to lock up Johan Santana. And Zambrano says he’s close to a deal with the Cubs.
- This just in: Coco Crisp’s throwing arm? Not so great. Johnny Damon’s throwing arm? Even worse. But Manny Ramirez kicks butt out there in left. I suspect this is where the Monster helps rather than hurts him.