Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Like Christmas Morning...

It may be snowing yet again in the greater Boston area, but I can smell spring right around the corner. Yes, baseballprospectus.com has released their initial PECOTA forecast spreadsheets. For geeks like me who spent/spend a disproportionate amount of time reading about too many baseball statistics, projections, valuations and evaluations, the excitement about the most accurate projection information is palpable.

So let's take a sneak preview of how the Red Sox batters are projected to perform in 2009 Batters: VORP (Value Over Replacement Player -- with batters, it is runs contributed over a normal fringe position player. A normal fringe position player is a 0.0, a good player is a 10.0, all-star level is 20.0+ and over 30.0 is when you get into game changers) & WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player -- basically, how many wins the individual player is worth over a season above a normal fringe player)]:

SUPERSTAR:

Dustin Pedroia - VORP 31.8 / WARP 4.7
My comment: Pedroia, an undersized 2nd round pick, has emerged as the AL MVP (never thought I'd see the day) and into a consistent defender and excellent hitter.

ALL-STARS:

David Ortiz - VORP 28.7 / WARP 3.2
My comment: I am certainly optimistic that PECOTA expects a bounce back from Big Papi. Of course, the WARP may seem low for Big Papi, but remember he is the DH and not contributing defensively.

Jason Bay - VORP 22.0 / WARP 2.1
My comment: I was surprised to see Bay ahead of Youk on VORP, but then, on WARP we can see the effect of Youk's glove and Bay's lack of defensive impact in left field in Fenway Park.

Kevin Youkilis - VORP 20.3 / WARP 3.3
My comment: Youk rounds out the Sox line-up with four 20+ VORPs. Hmmm. I wonder where the line-up drops into the dead zone.

SOLID CONTRIBUTORS:

Jed Lowrie - VORP 14.7 / WARP 2.4
My comment: Hmm, guess the "who plays shortstop" debate is all but over.

J.D. Drew - VORP 12.7 / WARP 2.4
My comment: I guess the always challenging question is when does Drew put it together, healthy and playing to potential for a full season?

Jacoby Ellsbury - VORP 11.6 / WARP 4.1
My comment: I thought the VORP was a little low for Ellsbury, but then I remembered some of those horrible funks he went through in 2008 and thought it may be pretty accurate. His WARP rating shows why the Sox were willing to trade defensive stalwart Coco Crisp to Kansas City.

Mike Lowell - VORP 10.6 / WARP 2.6
My comment: Again, surprised with the lower VORP rating, but then he is at his decline phase of his career and is coming off major hip surgery. I certainly understand the conservative rating.

THE LINE-UP KILLERS:

Rocco Baldelli - VORP 6.6 / WARP 0.9
My comment: Yup, a decent back-up you do not want to run out there everyday.

Josh Bard - VORP 4.7 / WARP 1.0 & Jason Varitek - VORP 3.2 / WARP 1.3
My comment: OK, I'll concede Varitek may be slightly better defensively than Josh Bard, but certainly Bard's bat is expected to make a more positive impact in the nine hole this year.

Julio Lugo - VORP 2.8 / WARP 0.5
My comment: Well, at least they have him as a positive VORP/WARP rather than the negative numbers of the past year or so.

Mark Kotsay - VORP 0.3 / WARP 0.4
My comment: Uggh. 24th man on the bench seems an appropriate assessment.

SUMMARY:

Eight of nine line-up spots as a source of strength is again evidence of Theo Epstein's theory of line-up strength top to bottom. Catcher will be a black-hole for a few more years, I assume (Kottaris & Brown both came in the negative VORP/WARP range) and Mark Wagner is likely a few years away still. Lugo will remain the albatross of the Epstein era, and I bow down to the power of PECOTA and will no longer (publicly at least) think about new options at shortstop.

Tomorrow (hopefully) the pitching staff will be examined.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Getting My Rant On...

A peaceful Sunday morning, ruined by wandering onto ESPN.com and reading the Hollywood Sports Guy’s chat. Here’s where things got ugly for me:

Conrad (Phila.): ...Manny Ramirez is perfectly rated. He's just a nut case.
That's why nobody wants him; nobody doesn't say he isn't like one of the top 10
hitters in baseball EVER . . .
Bill Simmons: But he's not! He is
NOT properly rated! Here is a guy who got on base 24 of 36 times in the 2008
postseason and the fans of teams like Anaheim and Texas and San Fran aren't
clamoring for their GM's to sign him. It's crazy to me. Everyone seems to think
he is a cancer of the highest order... why? Because that's what the Red Sox
front office told their media minions. We have NEVER HEARD MANNY'S SIDE EVER. We
are hearing one side of the story. It's a smear campaign. How could anyone NOT
think this guy would produce for 3 years if you gave him $75 million... in a
league that's given AJ Burnett and Barry Zito huge money? I am just
flabbergasted by this whole thing. His teams have won everywhere he's gone.
Without fail. ...
Jeff (SF): What's Manny's side of the story? The
clubhouse attendant had it coming?
Bill Simmons: Manny got manipulated by
his agent. We know that much. But at the heart of it is this: The Sox won the
2007 WS, and heading into 2008, Manny made it clear he wanted to stay and he
wanted some resolution to his contract one way or the other - either waive the
09 10 options or pick them up. The Sox did neither. They let him twist in the
wind. Did he deserve that after giving them 7 HUGE years and helping them win
two titles? I say no. I think they were jerks about it. But that's what nobody
seems to take into account ... the Sox could have avoided a potential mess with
Boras simply by waiving those last 2 option years. Why didn't they do it?
Because they wanted to control the process.
Bill Simmons: I just
thought they handled it arrogantly. "You know what Manny? Go out and hit some
baseballs and we'll let you know what we decide in a few months." And he handled
it poorly. But when you have someone that YOU KNOW will handle something like
that poorly, and you proceed in that direction anyway, aren't you at least
partly to blame?


Point number one: how does any person who calls themselves a Red Sox fan, after the way Manny abused the team and city by constantly bailing on them, go on a national stage and start spouting Scott Boras party lines? Yes, Manny WAS a great hitter. Yes, Manny HAD a great run with the Dodgers. But no one is insane enough to believe he would stay Happy Manny as he hits his serious decline seasons (he’s 37 years old!) and gets handed a guaranteed contract.

I think there are 30 teams that would take Manny on a one-year contract with a club option. NO ONE is deluded enough to hand him three or more years guaranteed after the way he acted in Boston.

Point number two: If Manny wanted to stay in Boston, he could have shut his mouth, went out to play everyday, and the Sox would have picked up the options. What, after the debacle with Pedro’s option the Sox ownership group is expected to just grab their ankles AGAIN. They want to “control the process”? Duh!

Oh wait, I keep forgetting about the Manny contract: those pictures where Dan Duquette and Manny’s previous agent Jeff Moorad each had a gun to Manny’s temple and forced him to sign the contract. I for one am ecstatic Manny is floundering about in free agency. He is getting what he deserves.

As for the Hollywood Sports Guy, stay the hell out of Boston…you are no longer welcome.

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