Archive for Red Sox

Worlds are Colliding, Jerry!

Posted in Sports with tags , on October 6, 2010 by fieldingmellish

So, if you haven’t heard, John Henry and the New England Sports Ventures conglomerate have waded into the morass that is top flight European Football. And not only that, they’ve purchased Liverpool FC, my favorite Premier League team. I’ve been reading the English press, and it seems Liverpool fans are a bit reticent about more Yank owners. I will just say this: Tom Hicks bid against himself to sign Alex Rodriguez, and then somehow managed to pay the Yankees to take A-Rod off his hands. John Henry brought Boston its first (and second) World Series in 86 years. I can’t even tell you how excited I am.

What’s even more awesome about this is that the New York Yankees, hated rivals of the Red Sox, have a partnership with Manchester United, hated rivals of Liverpool. It warms my heart that hopefully, some day, some little lad from Merseyside will grow up hating the Yankees just because he’s a Liverpool fan. And if Henry and Co. put a Red Sox logo on the Reds’ jersey, everyone in my family is getting a Liverpool replica kit for the holidays.

Bold prediction: Liverpool will lift a major trophy by 2014. And maybe you’ll even hear the dulcet tones of “Sweet Caroline” ringing down from the terraces.

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Scientific Baseball

Posted in Sports with tags , on July 22, 2009 by fieldingmellish

No one has been harsher on Jason Varitek than I have. It’s really hard to accept that “managing the staff” makes up for “not hitting at all.” (Though to be fair, Jason has been average with the stick this year, even with his sparkling .230 BA.) That said, it’s tough to be a big league catcher, and this is a really interesting piece of analysis. Even though Tony Mazz works in the oft-debunked “Catcher ERA,” it’s still a really cool look at how pitchers and catchers work the strike zone in a game. I recommend it.

h/t Neyer

Pedroia Defense Redux

Posted in Sports with tags on June 12, 2009 by fieldingmellish

I sparked off a little debate yesterday when I mentioned that Robby Cano was statistically as good defensively as Gold Glover Dustin Pedroia. According to Baseball-reference.com, which now tracks Runs Saved as a defensive stat, they are. I checked Baseball Prospectus, and their FRAA was similar. Then I went to Fangraphs, and looked at their UZRs (Ultimate Zone Rating), which is the currently popular defensive metric. In UZR, Pedroia does have a pretty big advantage. Last year, his rating was around 10, which means he was a very good defender. Chase Utley, for comparison, was around 20, so take that for what it’s worth. Cano was below zero, so by UZR, Pedroia was better than Cano. It’s also worth noting that in his early years, Cano’s defense was much, much better than it is now.

I love Dustin Pedroia. I think he’s the second best second baseman in the majors, after Utley. You don’t usually get the amount of production he gives, with an above average glove, at a premium defensive position. But I still think his defense has been overrated, and I still think Youkilis was more valuable to the Red Sox last year overall. But you can disagree, and that’s fine.

Breaking Down Sox vs. Yanks

Posted in Sports with tags , on June 11, 2009 by fieldingmellish

So, since I’m bored at work and I have baseball on my mind, I decided to take a deeper look into the Red Sox vs. the Yankees this year. Why exactly have the Red Sox gone undefeated? It must be a statistical fluke, right? Anything can happen in a small sample size? After all, even though the Sox have beaten the Yankees in every match-up thus far, they are only up one game. Sure, anything can happen in 7 games. However, the Red Sox are playing right at their Pythagorean, while the Yankees are 2 games ahead of it.* So maybe the Sox should be 3 games up. But still, that’s no excuse. So I decided I’m going to break down the teams by position. Maybe I’ll do this periodically as the season progresses.

*Also of note, the Sox are 19-8 against the AL East, which is the best division in baseball, while the Yankees are 12-15. I’m not what this means, but I think the Red Sox are very good.

First Base: This is an excellent head to head matchup. Rob Neyer mentioned it in his blog, but it’s worth pointing that between Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, and Justin Morneau, there’s a heck of a battle for title of best First baseman in the AL, and best human first baseman in the MLB.* The stats don’t say much, since they’re both awesome. They are both good with the glove too. Youkilis might get the slight edge, since he can play third (and play it well) in a pinch, but there’s not much to choose. If this was based on contracts, Youkilis is more efficient, but since we’re talking about on the field performance, this one is a wash. Edge: Draw.

*Albert Pujols, of course, is a baseball-playing android designed by Soviet scientists to be the perfect hitting machine.

Second Base: Another close one, as Pedroia and Cano have OPS+’s of 110 and 108 respectively, with Pedroia’s big advantage in OBP largely offset by his relatively anemic power production compared to Cano. Pedroia’s reputation of being better with the glove is largely undeserved, as he and Cano both saved only about 3 runs in 2008. Still, I think OBP is more important than Slugging, so I have to give the MVP a slight edge here. Slight Edge: Red Sox.

Shortstop: No contest here, as Derek Jeter blows away the pu-pu platter of Sox Shortstops. Even his terrible defense isn’t a liability, as the Sox have been even worse. Big Edge: Yankees.

Third Base: Lowell just keeps producing, as his .296/.331/.509 is good for a 111 OPS+. He’s still a very good to excellent defender, as he saved 17.6 runs in 2008 and looks to be continuing that pace this year. Alex Rodriguez missed time with a hip injury, but has put up a 132 OPS+, despite hitting only .231, thanks to a lot of walks and power. Rodriguez is not a good defender, but he contributes too much with the bat to hold that against him. Lowell’s edge with the glove won’t overcome A-Rod being one of the best hitters ever. Edge: Yankees.

Left Field: Jason Bay has been awesome this year, hitting 16 homers with an OBP of .402. After Youkilis, he’s been the most productive hitter on the squad. Johnny Damon has had a nice year as well, hitting 13 homers in Coors Field East. Damon has a massive edge in fielding, despite the poor arm, but it isn’t enough to overcome Bay’s production at the Plate. Edge: Red Sox

Center Field: Possibly the weakest position on each team, as the combination of Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera goes head to head with Tacoby Bellsbury. Ellsbury may have the slightest of advantages with the glove (at least over Cabrera), but his sparkling 83 OPS+ and .370 Slugging% wipes that clean off the board. Gardner isn’t much with the stick either, but Cabrera is pretty good, and combined with the speedy Gardner as a late inning defensive replacement has to give the Yankees the edge here. Edge: Yankees.

Right Field: The white Nick Swisher goes head-to-head with the really white J.D. Drew here. Both are sub-average fielders, but Swisher has a reputation as a “gamer,” while J.D. has to be rebooted around the 5th inning. Swisher has been better at the plate this year, but he’s playing above his head, while J.D. is having a pretty typical, solid year. I’d take Drew, except he’s going to get hurt at some point. Edge: Draw.

Catcher: The perennial battle between Jorge Posada and the exhumed corpse of Jason Varitek continues. Varitek can’t seem to hit the ball, but when he does, he’s been hitting for power. Posada has an OPS+ of over 150, which is very good. Neither has as much as they did in the field, but Varitek can’t throw anyone out right now. I’m glad he’s not as dead as he was last year, but he’s still not as good as Posada. Edge: Yankees.

Designated Hitter: Oy. David Ortiz’ struggles have been well-documented, while Hideki Matsui has been pretty bad too. Both teams will be looking for help here before they get set for the stretch run. Edge: Draw.

Bench: Oy again. I don’t know if there are good benches in the majors these days, but they aren’t here. Baldelli vs. Gardner? Kottaras vs. Molina? Jeff Bailey? Cody Ransom? Someone will get a big hit in a tough spot, but it will be by accident. Edge: Draw.

Starting Rotation: Two pretty similar rotations. Beckett and Sabathia have been good, Wakefield and Chamberlain have been OK, and everyone else is just not good. Lester is coming on, but he has a ways to go. Wang and Dice-K have been horrendous. Penny and Burnett? Meh. The Red Sox have a few bullets in the chamber with Buchholz and Smoltz, but right now these two rotations’ best days are ahead of them. I’ll give the edge to the Red Sox, because Lester is getting back on track, and Matsuzaka is closer than Wang. Slight Edge: Red Sox

Relief Pitching: The Red Sox easily have the best bullpen in the Majors. How good is it? Right now, every member except Javier Lopez would have a PB rating of 2-7 or better in Statis-Pro Baseball, with 5 guys getting the coveted 2-9. This doesn’t mean anything to most of you, but it means they don’t give up very many runs. Papelbon has been worrying at times, but Okajima and Ramirez have been awesome. The Yankees? Well, Brian Bruney pitched pretty well before he got hurt. And Rivera’s still pretty OK. Huge Edge: Red Sox.

Offense: The Yankees have scored about 20 more runs, but it seems like the New Stadium may be even more of a hitters’ park than Fenway. The Yankees lineup has been better, though, and unless the Red Sox start getting more production from Ortiz and their shortstops, they won’t be able to out bomb the Bombers. Edge: Yankees.

Pitching: The Sox have allowed 40 fewer runs than the Yankees. Their rotation is marginally better, their bullpen is way better, and their backlog of pitchers is better. If the Sox are going to win the division, they’ll have to do it with their arms. Big Edge: Red Sox.

Fielding: The great X-factor. Neither team is going to set the world on fire. Lowell, Youkilis, and Teixeira are all legitimately good fielders. Ellsbury and Gardner can track down some flies, as can Damon. Both teams have little to no range at short, and ok defensive second basemen. The right field arms are pretty good. Very blah. Edge: Draw.

Managers: Francona still drives me crazy with his relief pitching decisions, but other than that he’s been great. Girardi? He was likely going to be fired if the Yankees didn’t improve. I’ll take Francona. Edge: Red Sox.

Overall Edge: Red Sox, on the strength of their pitching.

So there you have it. There’s no way the Red Sox are good enough to beat the Yankees like they have been without some major luck. I wouldn’t be shocked if they split the rest of the season series, or the Red Sox went 7-5 or so. These are two very good teams, and it’s going to be one heck of a race.

Tim Wakefield Saves Red Sox Season

Posted in Sports with tags , on April 15, 2009 by fieldingmellish

Well, not really. But after a long night in Oakland when the bullpen was drained after WBC Matsuzaka was chased after one solitary IP, the Sox needed a good one from Wakefield. And they got it, with 7 no-hit innings and an 8-2 stomping of the A’s on a gettaway day. So, at 3-6, the Sox are still in need of some good vibes. Put there’s something comforting about having old Timmy dust off his 1995 goatee and pitch well.

Liveblogging Red Sox Opening Day

Posted in Sports with tags on April 6, 2009 by fieldingmellish

All right! It’s finally spring, and that means it’s time for Baseball. The game is on ESPN2, so I get to watch it here in New York. Let’s get started.

11:25 AM – Find out the game has been postponed.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-

Well, that was fun. See you next time!

SI Pulls Predictions Out of Ass, Film at 11

Posted in Sports with tags , on April 2, 2009 by fieldingmellish

I’ve never been a big fan of Sports Illustrated’s prognosticators. In fact, since Dr. Z picked about 11 straight weeks against the Patriots in 2001, I’ve noticed more and more that the “analysis” is usually nothing more than vague notions and silly reasoning. And now, the normally good baseball team has gotten in on the action. Their predictions, you ask? Here’s the AL:

AL East: Yankees 97-65

AL Central: Twins 85-77

AL West: Angels 86-76

AL Wild Card: Red Sox 96-66

I’m not upset they have the Red Sox losing to the Yankees by a game. That’s just a toss-up between two great teams. One game over 162 is nothing more than who gets that July 14th bounce in the left field corner. Ten games, on the other hand, is more than that. Ten games is a serious advantage, especially when the team 10 games ahead plays in the hardest division in the league. See where I’m going with this?

SI has picked the Angels to not only beat the Red Sox in the divisional series, but to beat the Yankees in the ALCS before losing to the Mets in the World Series. They have to win 3/5 and then 4/7 against teams that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ITSELF THINKS ARE TEN GAMES BETTER. Doesn’t anyone think that’s a little weird?

They’re definitely right that the Red Sox and Yankees are both better than the Angels by a lot. I mean, the Angels replaced Mark Texeira with Bobby Abreu in the downgrade of the year. So it must be pitching and defense, right? That’s what wins championships, they say. Except the Angels defense is light years behind the Red Sox’. There’s not a single position I can tell that the Angels are better defensively. So it must be the pitching. Except the Red Sox #3 starter is ranked ahead of the Angels Ace in SI’s PVR rankings. Bullpen? You mean the part that Peter Gammons said most people agree the Red Sox have the best bullpen in the league? This is, to put a fine point on it, bullshit. As far as I can tell, the only reason the Angels will win is because they’ve lost every post season series against the Red Sox since 1986 and they’re due.

This sort of hackery, predicting these collosal upsets without so much as a reason given, is indicative of what’s the sporting media has become. All anyone wants to do is guess the future, but be contrarian while doing it. When the Angels lose the AL West to the A’s, no one at Sports Illustrated has to come out and say, “boy-o we made some absolutely idiotic predictions at the beginning of the season.” They just pretend it never happened, then they come out and say “I know the Patriots are 6-0 with an average win margin of 23, but I have a feeling the Bengals are due this week.” It’s a sad state of affairs, and one that is unfortunately infecting all arenas of Sports Journalism.