Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring in the Sox

With spring training's end just around the corner, it's time to turn our thoughts to all things Red Sox as the Celtics stutter-step towards the playoffs, the Bruins in an epic battle for 8th place, and our adopted squad in the UK, Everton, trying to make a late rush to make up for their glacial slow start this season in the EPL.

Personally, I liked the Red Sox continued movement towards a team that wins games like a 21st century pitching killer.  Outside of Adrian "Free-swinging" Beltre, the Sox line-up upgrades significantly at shortstop with Marco Scutaro taking over for the Nick Green/Alex Gonzalez nightmare.  With Jason Varitek on the bench and a full-season of Victor Martinez in Fenway Park, the second line-up black hole is eradicated.  Not to blow your mind, but has anyone in Boston compared 1B in Boston versus NY?
Kevin Youkilis - 53.5 VORP, .317 EqA, .548 Slugging Avg, .413 On-base Avg., .961 OPS
Mark Texeira - 54.7 VORP, .318 EqA, .565 Slugging Avg, .383 On-base Avg., .948 OPS
Looks to me like if I were Youk, I'd be looking for a raise considering what Texeira brings home.

Finally, a national (since 99% of the local sportswriters seem to think sabermetrics are a formula for the area of a triangle and they got into writing because algebra was too hard for them in high school) writer sheds some light on the Red Sox offense projected for the 2010 season. Jayson Stark at ESPN steps up referencing the Red Sox PECOTA offense projection while notating the Papi-bounce back last summer.
To wit:
PROJECTING THE 2010 RED SOX

STAT 2009 *2010 CHANGE
Runs    872   846  minus-26
BA     .270  .277  plus-7
OBP   .352  .357  plus-5
SLG   .454  .449  minus-5
HR      212   179  minus-33
* -- Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projection

BIG PAPIRODUCTION:
"...you find a guy who led the league in homers (27), tied for the league lead in RBIs (78) and was third in slugging (.557) from June 6 on."
Meanwhile, on the subject of Big Papi, the greatest evaluator of MLB injuries EVER, Will Carroll over at http://www.baseballprospectus.com/, checks in on the Big Papi comeback and wrist and steroids issues.  Do you think the screaming heads at The Sports Hub or the WEEIdiots bring on Will Carroll or just shout back at idiots calling in with their inane opinions and no attempts to bring the four-letter F word into the discussion: FACT. (Boston sports radio is a rant for another day!)
 
"The Comeback: So if it was steroids, this is an easy story. David Ortiz has that shadow over him like many players, but his gregarious image helps shoo away some of the nastier blowback.
If it was steroids, then unlike his friend Manny Ramirez, he's been able to pass the tests without any issue.
If it was steroids, he won't be any better than last year.
If it was steroids, he beat a test that netted almost a hundred of his fellow Dominicans over the past couple seasons.
If it was steroids and not the wrist, his power shouldn't have come back after that terrible start at about precisely the time wrists tend to come back from injuries. (NOTE: my emphasis here)
Look at Rickie Weeks or Mark DeRosa, who had very similar injuries and very little steroid suspicion. If it was steroids, his age-34 season should trend more like Barry Bonds, rather than sliding downward, though we might expect a bit of a Willie Stargell-style resurgence if we didn't know he already swung for the fences every time up. Ortiz is in a contract year, he's healthy and happy, but you know what—when he comes back, people are going to say it was steroids."
 
Anyone who has perused http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ knows that Will Carroll has made baseball injuries his life work (seriously, I am not kidding).  If he says it was the wrist last spring, not steroids, then I believe him.  Unlike Boston sports radio nitwits, he has credibility.
 
Speaking of credibility, in my second fantasy baseball league (aka "the Dan League" as I call it), I totally boneheaded and forgot about the draft and had the computer autopicking my team. This left me with a shortstop heavy team and no relief pitchers.  Some serious waiver-wire work is needed here to make this team look like a team.  Gotta run, thanks for reading!

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