Sunday, December 30, 2012

An In-Progress History of the "B" Logo


The Red Sox "B" cap insignia, as displayed by Ted Williams in 1939, is arguably the most enduring logo for the franchise.  It was adopted well before the Hanging Sox, but where exactly did the B originate?  I've been wondering about that, and after browsing through some old photos I think I've finally pinned it down.

Old baseball uniforms had a heavy focus on Olde English lettering, a legacy that lives to this day on Detroit Tigers' uniforms.  Back at the turn of last century, Olde English lettering was used by a few teams: Boston Americans, Boston Beaneaters, Brooklyn Superbas, and the Detroit Tigers.  Besides the Americans -- who later renamed themselves to the Red Sox after the Beaneaters, who were once the Red Stockings before becoming the Braves, decided not to wear red stockings with their uniform in 1908 -- all of the teams using Olde English lettering were in the National League.  But this was the first decade of the 1900s, the upstart American League had just formed and they wanted to differentiate themselves from the Senior Circuit.  Both leagues had teams in New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia, so unlike today when most cities only have one team, both leagues were competing for the same fans.

Uniform fashion became one method the American League used to separate themselves from the older league. In 1903,  the Chicago White Stockings and New York Highlanders used uniforms with a style of lettering that still exists in the current Red Sox  logo:


Note the "pointy" styling of the letters, a departure from the familiar Olde English that featured grand, curvy letters like one would see in newspapers. 

But it didn't take long for this fashion of lettering to migrate to the National League.  In 1906, the Cincinnati Reds came out with a new uniform that looks similar to what they wear today:


Take note of the empty space in the bridge of Cincinnati's "C".  They kept this hollow space for their 1908 uniforms, but they increased the height of their logo for that season:


Cincinnati is the city that originally used the name "Red Stockings" for a team, before the Cincinnati Red Stockings disbanded and moved to Boston, becoming the Boston Red Stockings in 1871.  Boston's first professional baseball team went through numerous name changes: Red Stockings, Red Caps, Beaneaters, Doves, Rustlers, Braves, Bees, and Braves again.  In 1908, the then-Doves removed red from the uniform color scheme, a decision the Americans reacted to quickly by renaming themselves to the Red Sox.  For a historian who doesn't have access to primary sources for Americans/Red Sox ownership during the time period of 1907-1908, it would seem that Boston's American League team, the one that we all love and cheer for now, ripped off much of their crosstown National League rival's identity.  

Coincidentally, the last time the then-Doves were a good team was when they called themselves the Red Stockings and Red Caps.  Talk about smart marketing and giving yourself the identity of being a winner -- the fact that the Americans won the World Series in 1903 and a pennant in 1904 also helped give them a reputation for winning. 

While Boston's National League franchise was still named the Doves, they took a liking to the lettering trend in American League uniforms that was spreading into the National League -- particularly Cincinnati's interpretation of this new styling for uniforms.  The Doves went with a red coloring scheme again and wore these threads in 1908:


Take a closer look at the B logo, worn by the Doves' shortstop Bill Dahlen in 1908:


The Doves' B logo looks mighty similar to the logo worn by Ted Williams in 1939, doesn't it?  With the hollow space in the middle of the backbone, you have the logo that Cincinnati would have used if their city's name started with a "B".  

Even though the Boston Americans changed their name to the Red Sox in 1908, developing an identity with that franchise name that we know today, they didn't use the B logo as a part of their uniform until adopting a new cap in 1933:


The Doves, for their part, changed their name to the Braves in 1912, won a pennant in 1914, then had a couple more decades of failure.  Placing an aging Babe Ruth on their roster in 1934 didn't help the team's fortunes, so they tried another name change: They became the Boston Bees in 1936.  In 1937, they even added the B back to their uniforms with this rather ugly color scheme: 


The Bees' uniform looks like a ripoff of uniforms that Brooklyn wore before they became the Dodgers. Maybe they thought that ripping off a team's uniform was a tried and true strategy since the Red Sox did it to them.  But, after letting New York purchase Babe Ruth from them before the 1920 season, the Red Sox hadn't experienced much luck for a while, either. 

The Red Sox streak of bad luck would last until 2004, but the Bees' luck would turn around after renaming themselves back to the Braves in 1941 and adopting their own, now familiar, style in 1946:


The Braves finally ended a 43 year world championship drought in 1957, winning the World Series as the Milwaukee Braves.  Upon receiving their first Major League franchise, Milwaukee only had to wait four years to enjoy a World Series title.  Boston had to wait 86 years between World Series titles -- and for 35 of those years, Boston had two baseball teams.  That's a combined 121 seasons of baseball in Boston before seeing another World Series title.  While that sounds torturous for baseball fans, it's certainly better than enduring the combined 176 seasons Chicago waited between the titles for the White Sox, from 1917 - 2005.  

The Cubs had a chance to end this streak before it started, just a year later in 1918, but they lost the World Series to the Red Sox in six games.  If the Cubs had the clairvoyance to see a baseball scandal on the horizon in 1919, perhaps they would have waited a couple seasons to steal part of their crosstown rival's identity to change their own luck. If my memory serves me right, I recall that -- just like the Doves in 1907 -- the Chicago White Sox also changed the color of their stockings by the end of 1919. 

As for the B, adopting this Boston Doves design didn't help the Red Sox win for a few decades.  Quite a few decades, actually...  But if I find out any more information about its origins, I'll let you know. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Redundants

The players acquired by the Red Sox this offseason has led to some interesting redundancies on the team's roster:
  • Shane Victorino could replace Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Stephen Drew will replace Jose Iglesias
  • David Ross makes either Salty or Lavarnway expendable 
  • And Joel Hanrahan makes Andrew Bailey expendable 
This gives the Red Sox flexibility to trade players who could serve as key pieces for another team's playoff run.  Let's consider the positive case for each player: 
  • This is a contract year for Ellsbury, a player capable of surpassing the season Mike Trout had in 2012
  • Salty's 2012 stats are comparable to those of Mike Napoli, and look at the contract he was offered (I'll touch upon that later)
  • Lavarnway is 27 and has shown a lot of promise at Pawtucket
  • Andrew Bailey is only 28 and won Rookie of the Year as a closer in 2009
  • Jose Iglesias is still a defensive wizard that could come off the bench to solidify a team's defense in the late innings of close games
I realize that I'm a total crackpot conspiracy theorist who thinks any trade or free agent acquisition Ben makes right now means that another Sox player we've come to know is on the move, but even the most ardent, knuckle-scraping Sabermetician douchewad has to admit that Ben has given himself a lot of leeway to trade away MLB players to stock the Sox farm system with good prospects.

Or make a trade for a first baseman. 

We've all heard the PR spin on Napoli: It's just contract language, and it took the Red Sox five weeks to put the language in JD Drew's contract in place where the team felt protected if his health went south.  That's a nice story, and, hey, maybe it will turn out to be true.  But it assumes that Mike Napoli and JD Drew are the same person with the same problems, and that just isn't true.  

The Mike Napoli story is different, because this story includes the caveat that Napoli's former team wouldn't even offer him a qualifying deal, which would have placed the Rangers in line for a free second round draft pick from the team that ended up signing Napoli.  The Rangers weighed the risk of Mike Napoli taking their one year qualifying offer against the reward of Napoli going elsewhere and leaving them with a high round draft pick, and they decided that placing themselves in the position to keep Napoli for a year was too risky a bet to place on that coveted draft pick.

Think about that for a second, then consider the acquisitions that Ben has made this offseason that makes other Sox players redundant.  And now you see why I'm a conspiracy theorist about one big trade, if not more, being in the works, since the expendable players needed for such a trade exist along with holes at first base and in the farm system.  

The Red Sox currently have supply and demand, and this situation rarely ends in a stalemate. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kirby Puckett shirtless -- Score!

I found some old baseball cards from the early 90s, back in those pre-web days when every MLB team didn't have a TV contract so seeing a game once or twice a week felt like divine intervention bestowed upon you by some benevolent deity.  Beyond that, you kept up with your team with the daily newspaper and through baseball cards.  What did Wade Boggs hit in 1987?  You didn't know until you found his 1988 Topps card, and under the stats it included some completely useless information like "Wade Boggs has a wife, 2 kids and a dog."  I swear one of his Topps cards had that as a fact.

As baseball card collectors will remember, though, Topps wasn't the only company in town.  They weren't even the best company, but collectors bought their cards regardless of quality because collectors are a little OCD about collecting things.  The best cards in the early 1990s were produced by Upper Deck, who took spectacular photos.  Score was a close second, since their photos weren't as good as Upper Deck but they took time to write a 1-2 paragraph bio of each player on their card.  The historian in me loves this because I love all primary resources, and the player bio on Score cards stands as a first person account to how the player was thought of in the game at that point in time.  The bio that Score provided was far superior to Topps letting me know that Wade Boggs has a dog.

Baseball card companies had weird marketing gimmicks, as well.  Topps's gimmicks were mostly cheesy, but Score's were...  Surreal.  Creepy.  I'm not sure how to describe what you're about to witness.

In 1992, Score feature MLB's best players in a series of cards called "Dream Team".


As you can see, the Dream Team photos were taken in a studio and included a twist.  Score gave baseball fans a close up of Wade Boggs, Will Clark in a suit, Doug Jones contemplating why he has such a horrible mustache, and Benny Santiago playing with his ball. 

Then Score gave us this:


Yes, that is Kirby Puckett.  Shirtless.  His belly button, which we all now know is an "innie", hangs above the B in his name; and the natural satellite that orbits his belly button must have been somewhere behind Kirby's back when this picture was taken. 

Score should be noted for trying to push the baseball card medium out of the hokey corner that Topps had painted the industry into, but, you know... Giving us a half naked Kirby Puckett probably isn't the company's proudest moment. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

The Napoli Mystery is Solved

Not to boost my own ego, but back on November 12 I had a very interesting thought regarding the risk of signing Mike Napoli.  Let's hop in the time machine and take a look at this stroke of genius:
...but it should also be noted that Texas refused to give Napoli a qualifying offer for $13 million a year before he hits the free agent market -- and Texas was ready to talk with David Ortiz if he went to free agency, and they still intend to give Josh Hamilton the boot.  So it's not like Texas doesn't need a big bat or two in their lineup, so why are they willing to let Napoli walk without even the possibility of getting a draft pick for compensation?  Are they that afraid of Napoli actually staying there another year?  Very odd.
Odd indeed.  We've been told by the Red Sox front office, their dutiful PR arms in the Boston media, and bloggers that Mike Napoli was the best option for the Red Sox because signing him wouldn't burn a draft pick; as opposed to signing Swisher or LaRoche where the Sox would have lost a draft pick.  But the only reason why Napoli didn't come with draft pick strings attached is because Texas didn't even give him a qualifying offer.  At the end of the 2012 season, instead of trying to sign this supposedly-prized free agent, Texas opened the door and told Napoli to GTFO.

Besides myself, nobody else found this to be strange.  This is probably because I'm a fucking genius and everyone else was earning a +2.00 WAR for their heightened masturbating abilities when they considered all of those gaudy Sabermetrics that Napoli would create playing 81 games a year at Fenway.  Hey, not everybody can be as fucking awesome as me.

I also have two good hips, which is something Napoli should be jealous of.
Rosenthal indicates the Boston physical revealed a problem with one of Napoli's hips, and it was this hip problem that made Seattle leery of signing him, and may have contributed to the Rangers' reluctance to tender a qualifying offer.
I'll try not to be smug.  Hah, just kidding -- fuck everyone who shoved this so fucking prized free agent down our throats without looking at all the facts.

Right now, Mike Napoli is "still technically a free agent".  It's time for the Red Sox to adopt the wisdom of Texas's front office, cut the bait, and toss this whale back into the ocean.

Monday, December 17, 2012

And we thought Theo had problems with shortstops

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Ben Cherington.  Carrying on the recent tradition of another Red Sox GM, Theo Epstein, Ben is fucking up the shortstop portion of the roster.

Ben sent Scutaro packing.  Admittedly, Scoots wasn't really a shortstop anymore, as the Rockies and Giants favored him over on the other side of the bag.  After trading Scutaro, Jose Iglesias was brought into spring training and told that he might make the big club.  In fact, Bobby Valentine made it known that he wanted Iggy on the team.  Instead, Mike Aviles was foisted upon us.  Aviles was like a typical shortstop: played good defense, but didn't hit a ton.  So Ben sends Aviles north of the border in exchange for a new manager, fires Cupid, and now -- yes, NOW -- Iglesias will be the starting shortshop of the Red Sox.

Except Ben just signed Stephen Drew.  Drew spent 11 months nursing an ankle injury he got from a slide into home in 2011, a feat that not only makes Ellsbury go "Whoa, why didn't I think of that?", but it reminds me of Stephen's brother in all the wrong ways.  So I really wonder about Stephen Drew's attitude and if that's anything this team really needs, but I'm also annoyed that Ben just give a $9.5 million deal to a 29 year old, injury prone shortstop who has only shown potential to be a great player, but he's never achieved his potential.

Remind you (JD) of anyone (JD) that might (JD) be a similarly (JD) disappointing (JD) player?

In the meantime, Pedro Ciriaco's minor league stats and contributions at the MLB level indicate that he's finally getting things together.  At 27, Ciriaco is old for a prospect, and his AAA numbers were disappointing.  He batting .231 at Indianapolis in 2011, but that average spiked to .301 for Pawtucket in 2012.  Additionally, Ciriaco kept that pace going with Boston, hitting .293 with 16 stolen bases in 272 plate appearances.  You know how many times Stephen Drew has stolen 16 bases?  Never.  Between AAA and MLB last season, Ciriaco stole 30 bases.  Also, unlike Drew, he's been fucking healthy for the past two seasons.

I understand that the organization doesn't want fans to think that it's stealing their money by not signing veteran free agents, but it doesn't mean that a vet has to be signed if you have a better option sitting right there.

The only silver lining to Drew's signing -- indeed, the only way I see this signing amounting to any value at all -- is that it frees up Iglesias to be traded.  The Red Sox can now package Ellsbury, Iglesias and either Salty or Lavarnway into a deal for some prospects.  I doubt they can get MLB level help for those players, and at this point, why would they try?  Blue Jays just signed Dickey, the Rays just improved their offense and they have a pitcher in the minors ready to fill the hole left by James Shields; and even if the Yankees and Orioles don't improve they were still better than the Red Sox last season.  The 2013 Red Sox will still be a basement team even if they got Cliff Lee, so it doesn't really fucking matter.

The only way that grossly overspending on shitty free agents makes sense is if Ben can trade other players for prospects.  If he's unable to do that, then he's pretty much a complete failure. Because these free agent signings suck.  And, at this point, the organization has so grossly mishandled Jose Iglesias that you almost need to trade him elsewhere because he I doubt he thinks that the Red Sox will let him start at shortstop, and those doubts will be reflected in how he plays.  He's set to become a failed prospect, and the only way he'll have value to the Red Sox is if they trade him this offseason.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And gWAR consists of a replacement level puppet that eats people

ESPN posted their methodology for choosing the 100 best baseball players of all time.  Here's a snippet of THIS VERY SERIOUS BASEBALL DECISION MAKING!
That's where GAR comes in. What GAR does is put career WAR in a historical context that takes into consideration both a player's career value and peak value. It starts with career WAR and adds a player's five-year peak WAR, multiplied by 1.6 to put peak and career on an equal scale. For a baseline, replacement level doesn't make sense -- typical replacement level is talent that's freely available, which just won't do when trying to separate the great from the greatest. Instead, we've chosen as the baseline the average of the 20th through 30th best at each position, that sweet spot at which you've stopped talking about inner circle Hall of Famers and started talking about the fictional Hall of Very Good.
I read through that a few times, and... If you actually understood any of that, then your head is up Bill James's ass far enough for you to lick the twinkies he ate five years ago.

Remember when we rated players by watching them play?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Victorino in, Ellsbury out?

I'm trying to figure out next year's batting lineup... OK, somebody tells me if this makes sense: 

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Pedroia, 2B
3. Ortiz, DH
4. Napoli, 1B
5. Victorino, RF
6. Gomes, LF
7. Middlebrooks, 3B
8. Saltalamacchia/Lavarnway/Ross, C
9. Iglesias, SS

You want to place speed and on-base percentage first, which make Ellsbury and Pedroia a perfect fit for the top of the order.  Ortiz hitting third is obvious, and you want to place Napoli behind him since he's a right handed hitter and you want to keep the lefty/righty combo here so one relief pitcher can't come in and specialize to both a team's sluggers in the late innings.  Ideally, you want to put a lefty behind Napoli... Victorino is a switch hitter, do you place him there or Salty, a natural lefty who can hit for power?  But Salty strikes out a lot and can kill rallies, he's not ideal. 

Beyond Salty or Victorino, Sox have a bunch of righties: Larvarnway, David Ross and Jonny Gomes.  Iggy, of course, will bat no higher then 9th.

So who's going to hit behind Napoli next year?  Since Victorino doesn't provide any power to go along with his speed, he makes more sense at the top of the order -- but the Sox already have a great 1-2 combination up there. 

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but the only way the Victorino deal makes sense is if Ellsbury is now placed securely on the trading block or the Sox intended to bat Ellsbury fifth. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Money for Question Marks

Three basic points on the Red Sox signing Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes:

The Good: The Sox batting order is set to beat the fuck out of unsuspecting Southpaws with the addition of righty hitters like Napoli and Gomes.  Both players do have swings that are suited for Fenway, and perhaps they can combine to hit 50 homers a piece over the next couple of seasons.  And if this whole experiment fails, then it only costs the franchise $49 million over 3 years.  A decent chunk of change, but that is only short term. 

The Bad: I'm extremely worried about the durability of both players.  Last season, Napoli and Gomes combined had merely 631 at-bats.  If you're an OBP freak and want to see walks factored in, fine: They combined for 750 plate appearances and a decent OBP.  So the Red Sox have tied up $18 million over the next two years in two players whose combined plate appearances equal one full time player.  That's a warning flag right there.  

The Sox are expecting both of these guys to play full time, but they haven't -- period.  Napoli has tried to go full time for a couple of seasons, and after finally notching over 500 plate appearances last season, he broke with a hammy injury in August, 2012.  Remember what happened to the Rangers' season after that?  Just like the 2011 Red Sox, the Rangers were flying high at the top of their division only to suffer a massive collapse.  If the second wild card spot hadn't been added last season, all the Rangers would have had over the 2011 Red Sox is a division tie-breaking game 163 -- which they would have lost, and then everyone would compare the great collapses of the 2011 Red Sox and Braves, and the 2012 Rangers.  Mike Napoli's faulty health played a key role in the Rangers collapse, and that's the player the Red Sox just signed to a big deal to replace Adrian Gonzalez, one of the scapegoats of the 2011 collapse.  I'm going to have an aneurysm if I continue to think about this. 

Beyond their questionable offensive stats (Napoli has had only one stand out season, and it certainly wasn't in 2012), the durability of Napoli and Gomes to last through 162 games as full time players is questionable, at best.  Players generally don't jump from being used primarily as part timers to full timers easily.  Napoli breaking down during a key point in the pennant race last season certainly isn't a good sign. 

And the Ugly: How does this increase the Red Sox chances of winning against the Blue Jays and Yankees?  I know the Red Sox haven't address pitching needs yet, but they just replaced a first baseman who gave them 15 homers but raked in RBIs (15 HR and 86 RBI for Gonzo last season) with a player who had 24 HR, but just 56 RBI because he can't hit.  Gonzo batted .300 and Napoli batted just .227, and you can see the difference that average makes in the RBI totals both players amassed.  As for Gomes, if he replaces Cody Ross, then the Sox just swapped a full time player who gave them .267/22 HR/ 81 RBI for a part time player who went .262/18 HR/46 RBI last season.

So how have these moves improved the team in comparison to last season?  The Yankees haven't changed much (ironically, A-Rod's surgery might give them a chance to improve over the first 3 months of the season), and it looks like the Rays are going for a building year next season, but the Blue Jays are vastly improved.  And Baltimore, despite their shitty starting pitchers, has the offense to put up a decent amount of runs and the bullpen to shut most good offenses down in late innings during the regular season.  

If the Red Sox don't start winning, I think fan interest will wane and Boston will become more of a normal baseball town.  You know, one of those cities that doesn't have 30,000+ fans showing up for every single game -- which would place them in the vast majority of Major League cities.  If the revenue stream drops while other teams revenue streams increase, then the Red Sox better hope all of their prospects pan out because signing good veteran talent will be difficult. 

Bottom line, these moves have not improved the offense of the Red Sox in comparison to their 2012 squad.  The starting rotation needs vast improvement if the 2013 squad is going to win any games and compete. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Jack Morris and the Dwight Evans Class of Pitchers

I enjoyed reading Tom Verducci's creative look at the stats for Jack Morris's career, because it reminded me of how Morris went out there and was a valuable asset to eat innings and give the bullpen a day off.  This is the kind of bulldog pitcher that any team would want near the top of their rotation.

Jack Morris also had a career ERA of 3.90.  No pitcher in the Hall of Fame has an ERA that high.

That's the only stat that matters.  Jack Morris is like the Dwight Evans of pitchers, an outstanding player and you don't want to say anything disparaging about his career.  Which is why debating whether or not a player should be in the Hall of Fame can be torture sometimes.

Something writers aren't supposed to admit is that they just stared at the end of their last paragraph for a long time, wondering what to follow it up with.  Sigh.  I don't want to say anything bad about Jack Morris, he just doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame, OK?  Please don't force me to make some faux-witty comment that could insult him, I just don't wish him for him to be in a debate that he doesn't belong in.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Russell Martin and the New Money in Baseball

The Pirates just signed Russell Martin to a 2 year, $17 million deal.  That's $8.5 million a year for a 29 year old catcher who...  Well, let's compare his 2012 numbers to our very own catcher:

Salty: .222 BA, .288 OBP, 25 HR, 59 RBI, 17 2B, 55 R, 38 BB (448 plate appearances)
Martin: .211 BA, .311 OBP, 21 HR, 53 RBI, 18 2B, 50 R, 53 BB (485 plate appearances)

Fifteen more walks = A fuckton more cash.  Sickening proof enough that the Cult of Sabermetics is alive and well in the front offices of Major League teams.

Martin's contract would be ridiculous, if Brandon League hadn't been offered $22.5 million over 3 years by the Dodgers.  Ditto for the $75.25 million the Braves gave to an underachiever like BJ Upton for five years.  (Should that contract be called the "Theo/Drew Special"?)  Hell, let's throw the $10 million, 2 year contract the Red Sox just gave to Johnny Gomes -- a glorified backup outfielder -- into the ring. In light of the other contracts players are signing before the 2013 season, Martin's deal seems normal.

I still think the money is ridiculous, but I'm not one of the owner's looking at my general ledger and deciding who to cut a check to.  From reality's point of view, it is myself who must alter my views of what is now "normal" in regards to the contracts received by Major League ball players.

I feel like Red Sox fans are grappling with this new reality right now, as well.  We see other teams making big deals, while Ben Cherington seemingly has his hands stuffed in his pockets, looking around, whistling absently.  That's the impression we get after the Blue Jays just made a historic trade with the Marlins -- let me correct myself, a historically ridiculous trade.  A trade of such proportions that hasn't been seen before, and any General Manager would have jizzed their pants if it was offered to them.  I can't say why Toronto got so lucky.

Regardless, trades like this and the enormous amounts of money being thrown around in the free agent market right now for, well, shitty players, places Cherington in a bad position.  I feel bad for the guy, it's not his fault.  What should Ben do -- try to compete with a loaded Toronto Blue Jays team?  Baseball pundits will gripe about how the 5-9 positions in Toronto's batting order is full of question marks right now, but please...  Toronto is building around a superior 1-4 core of hitters at this point.  They have a starting rotation loaded with pitchers who can easily have a collective 4.00 ERA and 200 IP for the top four starters.  All the Blue Jays need to do is load the 5-9 portion of their batting order with competent big league players and their pitchers will rake in wins.  This is what is staring Ben in the face right now.

I wouldn't blame him if he loaded the 2013 Red Sox team with prospects.  Though I would, AHEM, made a 15% cut in ticket prices.  If Ben could engineer that, Red Sox fans would have less gripes about Mauro Gomez and Pedro Ciriaco being in the line up everyday.

The positive side of that line up, of course, is...

Martin: .211 BA, .311 OBP, 21 HR, 53 RBI, 18 2B, 50 R, 53 BB (485 plate appearances)

Do you really think Mauro Gomez is going to post worse stats than that over 500 plate appearances?  I mean, fucking really.  $8.5 million a year buys those stats in 2013, and Ben could pay Mauro Gomez league minimum to get the same fucking thing.  Personally, I'd give Gomez a two year, $4 million deal simply because he's been durable in the minors, he's spent so much time in the minors that a low contract like that would buy his undivided attention, and he seems like a nice guy who Red Sox fans would enjoy the presence of; seeing an underdog fight his way through the minors to become our starting first baseman.  An awesome baseball story.

Or.. Ben could give Napoli 4 years, $40 million, for slightly better numbers.  Pardon me while I think about that contract and vomit.

Not only do I want the Red Sox to field a competitive team next season, but I've staked the thesis of this blog on it being crucial that the Red Sox pretend to be competitive.  But this Blue Jays/Marlins trade changes the whole dynamic of the AL East, and now I'm wondering if you gotta know when to fold'em instead of hold'em.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Soxophrenia

So far this offseason, the Red Sox front office has gotten their asses handed to them -- twice -- by the Blue Jays front office; not made a contract offer to Cody Ross but signed a backup outfielder to a 2 year, $10 million deal; salivated over Mike Napoli while not mentioning peep about Adam LaRoche; added another catcher onto a roster full of catchers; and now they are talking with the Royals about trading Jon Lester for a prospect.  This is the same Jon Lester that still has potential to blossom into an ace, but he was really thrown under the bus with mechanical problems and John Valentine's inability to coach last season. 

After ditching Theo's master plan last season, has anyone figured out Ben Cherington's plan to build this team?  Does he even have a plan?  Because if Jon Lester gets traded for a prospect, why even waste money pretending to compete by signing Napoli for 4 years?  Just place Mauro Gomez at first for a couple seasons, throw Pedro Ciriaco in the outfield since he's a better player than Kalish, coast on a small payroll while letting prospects like Rubby De La Rosa, Jose Iglesias develop at the MLB level; hope that the hype surrounding Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts pans out while praying that Lavarnway finds his focus behind and at the plate.  Then take the money saved from not signing Napoli or Ellsbury, as well as Lackey's contract expiring, and pour it into a better free agent market a couple years from now and get the vets needed to construct a team that competes again. 

Or try to build a competing team now. 

But, really, just what the fuck is the Red Sox plan here?  Can anyone figure it out? 

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Durability of LaRoche

Adam LaRoche is still out there on the free agent market, and, in 5 out of the last 7 seasons, has hit at least 20 homers, had at least 80 RBI, played in at least 140 games and had at least 550 plate appearances.  During this time, he's maintained batting average and OBP levels of .270 / .340, so he can swing for contact and get on base at a steady rate.  Last season, he had 33 HR and 100 RBI.  He also just won a gold glove, in case you're worried about him being a defensive liability.  And if you're down with the Red Sox focus on bringing in hitters who are patient at the plate, this player had an average of 4.04 pitches per plate appearance last year -- 10th in the National League.

He also wants a 3 year contract.

Mike Napoli, on the other hand, wants a four year deal.  He's only played in 140 games in a season once, he's never had 550 plate appearances in a season, he hits less homers, drives in less runs, and he's batting average dropped 93 points from 2011 to 2012.  If you're a Bill James stats purist, that drop in batting average was followed by a drop in OBP by 71 points.

So Mike Napoli is barely a full time player, meaning he's not durable, yet he could command a 4 year, $40-50 million contract this off-season.  LaRoche is a left handed hitter, and Napoli is a righty, so the two arguments I see going for Napoli is that you can place him behind Papi in the batting order and he's a couple of years younger than LaRoche.  Of course, if the Red Sox sign Cody Ross, then he could hit fourth and LaRoche could hit behind him, which might give Ross more fastballs to knock over the monster.

You know, I still just don't see why the fuck we're talking about Mike Napoli.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just how good are the new Blue Jays?

Half the story about gauging the Red Sox chances of competing in 2013 lie with moves the team makes, then you must measure up the competition.  Unfortunately for the Sox, the other half of the story has begun with an ugly chapter.

Thanks, Toronto.  Fucking Canada.

Before the new Blue Jays have their 1-9 batting order and bullpen set in stone, we can't fully gauge their strength.  But here's how they look right now, starting with their 1-4 hitters:

1. Jose Reyes, SS
2011 stats: .337 BA / .384 OBP, 31 2B, 16 3B, 39 SB, 101 R
2012 stats: .287 BA / .347 OBP, 37 2B, 12 3B, 40 SB, 86 R

Reyes's stats returned to normal after he had a career year in 2011, and "normal" for Reyes means he gets on base 35% of the time and he's a threat to run once on base, so he'll fuck with opposing pitchers head.  I wonder how that will improve the Jays' #2 hitter...

2. Melky Cabrera, OF
2011 stats: .305 BA / .339 OBP, 18 HR, 87 RBI, 44 2B, 20 SB, 102 R
2012 stats: .346 BA / .390 OBP, 11 HR, 60 RBI, 25 2B, 13 SB, 84 R

Before his PED suspension, Melky was on his way to duplicating his power and stolen base stats while adding 40 points to his batting average and 60 points to his OBP.  Assuming that Melky's stats will fall in 2013, he'll still get in base 33-34% of the time, be a threat to steal, and be a doubles machine that provides some pop.  Why the Red Sox didn't pursue him is beyond me. 

3. Jose Bautista, OF
2011 stats: .302 BA / .447 OBP, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 24 2B, 105 R
2012 stats: .241 BA / .358 OBP, 27 HR, 65 RBI, 14 2B, 64 R (399 plate appearances) 

The drop off in Bautista's batting average could be due to pitchers throwing him less strikes.  Even factoring in the pitcher's change in strategy, projecting a 35-40 HR season for him is hardly a stretch -- but when you take into account that having Reyes or Cabrera at first, itching to steal second, this will force pitchers to throw more strikes to Bautista.  I don't expect another 50 homer season from him, but don't be surprised to see a .300 BA, 45 HR, 130 RBI campaign in 2013.  All the pieces are in place for Bautista to have another monster year. . 

4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
2011 stats: .272 BA / .334 OBP, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 36 2B, 70 R
2012 stats: .280 BA / .384 OBP, 42 HR, 110 RBI, 24 2B, 93 R

Edwin took quite the leap from 2011 to 2012.  With merely a 8 point batting average increase, and 12 less doubles which could account for increased power and more homers, he hit 25 more homers in 2012.  Since his batting average staying roughly the same indicates that he wasn't seeing the ball better, and his doubles drop off would only account for 12 more homers from 2011, I'm wondering if he's been 'roiding up.  I wouldn't be surprised (nor, for the matter, would I be surprised if Bautista was juicing).  Regardless, we can either assume that Edwin had a career year in 2012 in he's just getting warmed up.  So, will he hit 30 homers.. 35.. 40..?  I'm interested in seeing what happens with him. 

So, previewing the potential fireworks display that's coming to Fenway Park next year, Toronto has two hitters at the top of their order who will get on base and get to second by either smacking  double or stealing the base; and these hitters will cause a 3-4 slugging tandem to see more strikes.  Since Reyes and Cabrera will be on base when Bautista and Encarnacion homer, expect the latter's RBI totals to increase.  And, oh yeah, Bautista will see more strikes because of Encarnacion hitting behind him, too. 

That's scary.  Toronto's 1-4 hitters could score a combined 380 runs next season, with over 100 homers 350 RBI.  For Toronto, that's money well spent. 

I won't dwell on the Jays starting rotation because I don't want the depression I've already induced in Red Sox fans to increase and cause some unintended causalities.  But if Ricky Romero has a bounce back year and continues down the path of becoming a staff ace in 2013, then the Jays will have 4 starters who can eat innings and post sub-3.80 ERAs  But fucking hell, with the offense that the Jays have, all of those starters could have ERAs in the lower 4.00s and they'll still win fucking games in bunches. 

The Blue Jays got all this in exchange for a couple of unproven, single A pitching prospects, an infield prospect with some MLB time under his belt, and they got rid of the "IMMA GONNA CALL PLAYERS FAGGOTS" bad influence that was Yunel Escobar.  And then, just a standard free agent signing with Melky Cabrera. 

Personally, I think Bud Selig should have vetoed the trade for three reasons: 1) It wasn't a fair swap of talent, 2) The Marlins demanded a lot more from the Red Sox for a lot less than they sent to Toronto, and 3) Miami and Dade County invested over half a billion in the Marlins new stadium, and that money is not just supposed to build a competitive major league team, but it was meant to build and strengthen their local economy and surrounding businesses.  By trading away all of their talent that made over $1 million a year, the Marlins have abrogated their civic duty to Miami -- and the fact that Bud Selig allowed the Marlins to do this without penalty is a black eye for Major League Baseball.  This trade is disgraceful. 

But the trade is also finalized.  I don't blame the Blue Jays for this mess, either, since any team would have done this trade if the Marlins presented the swap to them.  Personally, I think the Jays' front office staff got shitfaced drunk one night, proposed the most ridiculous trades ever as a joke, left a couple 2:30AM voicemails to other teams and the Marlins responded with, "Hey, fuck it."

Regardless, these are the Blue Jays that the Red Sox now must face.  The next season just became more difficult. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Party like it's 1995

I don't want this blog to become solely an anti-Sabrmetrics blog.  Nor do I want to start every post with a Player A vs. Player B comparison.  But Sabermetricians must be the biggest trolls ever...  Try as I might to not pay attention to them, it's kind of like trying to not pay attention to a train wreck that's happening right in front of your eyes.  You just can't believe it.

So, after using one tired cliche about train wrecks, let me fall back on another lazy writing device...  Let's look at Player A and Player B.

Player A: .298 BA, .399 OBP, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 37 2B, 20 SB
Player B: .300 BA, .388 OBP, 39 HR, 139 RBI, 28 2B, 11 SB

Any sane baseball fan would like both of these players on their team.  And, in fact, both of these players played for the same team in 1995.  One was MVP, and the other was not.

Question: Which one was MVP, and which win had a higher WAR?

Player B was MVP, but Player A has a higher WAR -- by 4 points.  Player A's WAR is 8.1, and the MVP had a WAR of 4.1.  Why is there a difference of 4 between the WAR ratings of these two players, with the 4+ favorable rating going to the player with less homers and RBIs?  Does defense account for this?

Yes and no.  Player A was a shortshop, but his oWAR rating is 5.9.  Player B's oWAR is 3.5.  So, despite hitting 12 more homers with 37 more RBI, and 9 less stolen bases, Player B had -2.4 WAR rating less than Player A.

Despite Player B hitting behind Player A.

Player B is Mo Vaughn, and Player A is John Valentine.  Both had spectacular seasons for the Red Sox in 1995.  And, as a shortstop, John Valentine was great on the defensive side of the ball while Mo Vaughn stood at first base and caught balls thrown to him.  I suppose the larger, slower Vaughn wasn't as flexible on defense, but if John Valentine was such a threat on offense -- as the oWAR between both of these players says he was -- why did the Sox manager in 1995 slot Valentine above Mo Vaughn in the batting order?

Was it because Valentine would see more fastballs to hit, given that a power hitting slugger was due up a couple batters behind him and pitchers didn't want to have runners on base if Vaughn homered so they would challenge the hitters ahead of Vaughn?

Does oWAR take baseball strategy like this into account?  Does it account for the presence of a hitter like Mo Vaughn in a lineup helping to give hitters above him, like John Valentine, more strikes to swing at?  Or does WAR just look at statistics in a vacuum?  I'd like to say that is a rhetorical question, but looking at Vaughn's obviously superior offensive numbers to Valentine, I can't even see how it's supposed to be a question.  The only question is why oWAR seemingly values doubles and walks over homers and RBIs.

John Valentine had a great year in 1995.  But if a 1995 batting order was full of Valentine-like hitters from 1 through 9, then Valentine wouldn't have had the same stats than when a player like Mo Vaughn is ahead of him, making sure he gets good pitches to hammer.  That's the value of a slugger in a lineup -- to improve the hitters before him.  That's why big, strong, slow footed sluggers get paid the big bucks to stand at first and catch balls from infielders.

Looking at the oWAR ratings of Valentine and Vaughn from 1995, though, it's apparent that Sabermetricians do not take the slugger dynamic in ballgames into account when coding programs with certain variables to calculate WAR.

Sabermatricians are stupid, and WAR is worthless.

Moneyball: 2013. Now with 1500% more real money!

How much should a team invest in the 3-4-5 hitters to get the combined production potential of 80-90 HR and 280-310 RBI?  In about an actual dollar value for a second, and then consider what that production would do for a team.

Done thinking?  Good.  You should also know that the Detroit Tigers got 92 homers and 321 RBI from their 3-4-5 hitters last season, and that production cost them $50.75 million.  Does knowing this make to rethink some of your original thoughts? 

What would be a good deal for 80-90 HR and 280-310 RBI?  Since we just determined that production from the middle of the order hitters can help launch a team into the World Series, that's one question Red Sox fans should be asking. 

David Ortiz gave the team a hometown discount, signing for a maximum of $15 million a year, that's 35-40 HR and 110-120 RBI right there.  If the front office stops sitting on its hands with Cody Ross, they could sign him for a little under $10 million a year.  Ross would provide 20-24 HR and 75-85 RBI potential from the 5 hole.  That's $32-35 million for 55-64 HR and 185-205 RBI, now Red Sox just need to find a clean up hitter for $15 million a year or under so this all makes sense. 

Adam LaRoche had 30 HR and 100 RBI last year, how much will he cost per season? 

Having a 3-4-5 combination of hitters that can deliver the Red Sox similar production that the Tigers got from Cabrera-Fielder-Young last year, for a similar price tag, is within this organization's reach.  All they have to do is spend the money.  The Tigers spent it and got themselves into the World Series.  Through the acquisitions the Blue Jays made this past week, they're opening their wallet and dumping its contents. 

Things look bleak, but the chance for putting together a 2013 that can at least compete isn't lost.  All the Red Sox have to do is pay to play.

This is Moneyball: 2013.  Except this time, it's being played with real money. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Old Time Baseball


This is on display at SB Nation right now. While the sarcasm is heavy handed, it almost doesn't feel like sarcasm since the Sabermetric stat geeks have had their superiority complex about Mike Trout and the MVP race on full, heightened display before the end of the regular season.

Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for the rest of us normal people, Old Time Baseball won today.

The Sabermetrics geeks were preparing for this day, and before Miguel Cabrera was awarded the AL MVP, they used their mystical powers of WAR to dig back in time and find all of the worst MVPs ever according to their own statistics that are just oh so correct.  They all know the WAR statistics are right because it gives their useless fantasy teams victories in their useless fantasy leagues.  The geeks think they're so correct that they prepared cute, sort of tongue-in-cheek headlines telling the rest of us unenlightened baseball fans to, ahem, "fuck off an die" when Miguel Cabrera dared to win MVP.  Since, you know, we're all such fucking assholes for daring to think that Miggy had an MVP-caliber season. 

Well now.  Hey Grant, and the rest of your Sabermetric ilk -- it's time for you to answer some questions. 

First and foremost: If defense is so important, then how come the teams who played against each other in the World Series were ranked 12th and 27th out of 30 in team defense this year?  By the way, the team with the 27th worst defensive stats in 2012 won the World Series.

And let's get to specifics about your holy grail of Sabermetrics: Wins Above Replacement.  Who the fuck governs the calculation of this stat, anyway?  God almighty?  Did Jesus rise on the third day simply to dictate which baseball players are responsible for more wins?  It sure seems like that's what you think.

There are so many examples to cite, since baseball has so many players, but let's stick to two great players: Alex Gordon and David Ortiz.

In the 2012 season, Alex Gordon was given a WAR rating of 6.2 -- meaning that he alone was responsible for adding 6.2 wins to his team's win/loss record, according to Sabermetrics.  His offensive WAR was 3.8, and his defensive WAR was 1.8.

First off, 3.8 + 1.8 does not equal 6.2, it equals 5.6; so I'm not sure where the extra .8 of WAR comes from.  Secondly, Gordon was so spectacular at shagging fly balls in left field that his WAR rating for this is 1.8?

David Ortiz, a DH who succumbed to an ankle injury this past season, had a WAR rating of 2.9 for his abbreviated season.  In real world terms, that means Papi's 23 homers and 60 RBIs were worth 2.9 wins compared to Gordon's 1.8 defensive WAR for patrolling the outfield.

So hitting bombs and driving in fucking runs, in the eyes of our Sabermetrics overlords, is somehow only worth .9 more WAR than shagging flies in the outfield. 

How does this even make sense?

To add insult to injury, Papi's defensive WAR rating is -1.0 (his offensive WAR was 3.1, so how Ortiz received a 2.9 WAR with 3.1 - 1.0 offensive/defensive WAR is beyond me).  He played seven games at first in 2012, didn't make an error, and I don't remember him flopping around the bag, either.  Ortiz may not have great range, but I remember him making a decent play on a ground ball hit down the line off Beckett in the Phillies series -- it would have been a double if Papi didn't snag it.  Maybe it wasn't a gold glove caliber play, but Beckett recognized Papi's effort on the play by waiting up for Papi and tapping gloves with him before heading to the dugout between innings.  

Papi isn't a gold glove first baseman, but he's not that bad, either.  He didn't make a single error in the 7 games he played at first.  But with a defensive WAR of -1.0, over 162 games WAR dictates that he would have cost the Red Sox 23 games.

Really?  Flawless defense at first, showing decent range, would have cost the Sox 23 games?  I'm not buying it, that's bullshit.

The Sabermetrics geeks can jerkoff all they want to Mike Trout's WAR rating and how much better it is than Cabrera's, but you know what?  None of those geeks can look at their precious statistics and answer why it was that Cabrera turned it up a notch in the last couple months of the season, hitting .344 with 54 RBIs and placing his teammates on his back into the playoffs while Trout's Angels were beat by the Oakland fucking A's.  

Mike Trout only hit .286 in the same stretch, and for all the geeks who claim that batting average no longer matters, here's an Old Time Baseball lesson: A PLAYER MUST PLACE THEIR FUCKING BAT ON THE FUCKING BALL TO CREATE FUCKING RUNS.  FUCKING DUH.  WHERE'S YOUR GODDAMN FUCKING SABERMETRIC STAT FOR THAT? HUH? 

The fact -- carved in stone, dyed in wool fact -- is that Miguel Cabrera created more runs when it counted.  This shouldn't discount from the fact that Mike Trout had a historic season for a rookie, and no sane baseball fan would say "I can't build a team around Trout" with his age and his monstrous talent.  But, as far is the Most Valuable Player award is concerned, Miguel Cabrera heated up during the final two months of the season and carried his team into the playoffs while AL pitchers caught up with Mike Trout, and his .392 batting average in July was brought down over 100 points to .286 in August and Sept/Oct.  

If Trout had played at his superior June/July levels for the remainder of the season, the Angels would have made the playoffs and there would be no question about his MVP status.

But the Angels stayed home.  The Tigers advanced because Miggy took it up a notch.  The Tigers went to the World Series despite having shitty defense from their sluggers, and they were beat by a Giants team with worse defense whose offense clobbered the shit out of them.

This ain't fantasy baseball, this is reality.  And it's about time that Sabermetrics geeks were knocked off their high horse and asked to address baseball reality, because unfortunately for them, none of their special statistics reflect this reality.  

So, in short, they are wrong.  Old Time Baseball wins yet again.  And until the Cult of Sabermetrics accept and address reality, they can feel free to get fucked.  Because, objectively speaking, they've all been proven wrong and they have some explaining to do. 

Suck it. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Case for MiggyVP

In the months of August, September and a week in October -- the time that matters the most in the playoff hunt -- which player would you want on your team?

Player A: .286 BA/.371 OBP, 12 HR, 20 RBI, 49 R, 7 2B, 18 SB
Player B: .344 BA/.398 OBP, 19 HR, 54 RBI, 42 R, 12 2B, 1 SB

If you're a sane baseball fan, your choice would be both players -- but you only get to choose one.  So which is it?  Which player do you think is more valuable?

These numbers are what the MVP vote should come down to.  They are the August - Sept/Oct stats for Mike Trout (Player A) and Miguel Cabrera (Player B).  And both lines are spectacular.  Who wouldn't want a player that can bang out 12 homers and steal 18 bases in a couple months?  And who wouldn't want a player to can amass 54 RBIs in a couple months?

Picking either of these players feels like winning; except, of course, to the sanctimonious pricks who fashion themselves as "Sabermetricians".  Personally, I think the value of Sabermetics begins and ends with on-base percentage, the wonderful stat that shows us the percent of how often a hitter makes on base.  Beyond that, I'm pretty suspect of all these stats that Sabermetricians pull out of their ass that try taking the level of competition and space in ballparks into account.  For example, take WAR.

In 2012, Alex Gordon had the fifth highest WAR in the American League at 6.2 games.  With a .368 OBP and 51 stolen bases, along with 14 HR and 72 RBI, Alex had a spectacular season and plenty of teams would take a player like him in a heartbeat.  But, according to WAR, Gordon is the fifth most valuable hitter in the American League and worth an extra 6 victories to a team's Win/Loss record.

Does anybody believe that?  Would you take Alex Gordon over Jose Bautista?  Or Prince Fielder?  Or David Ortiz?  Josh Wilingham?  Dustin Pedroia?  Or hell, even Josh Reddick?  Call me an old time baseball guy, but I don't see how picking Gordon before any of those guys is even defensible -- though I'm sure some Sabermetrician is prepared to write a thesis on a probability model they programmed with [ahem] "independent" variables to prove their argument.  I don't feel like wasting my time arguing with them, because that's akin to arguing with a Ron Paul fan over the role of the federal government in the economy.  You're just not gonna get anywhere.

Let's bring this argument back to Cabrera and Trout.  I'm ignoring stats from the first 4 months of the season for a reason -- I want to see when these players were more valuable.  Hence "Most Valuable Player".  And when you come right down to it, a player's value lies in the runs that he's able to create.  So let's boil this down to 3 stats for August - Sept/Oct:

Trout: .286 BA, 20 RBI, 49 R
Cabrera: .344 BA, 54 RBI, 42 R

What this tells me is that Cabrera got his bat on the ball more often, which helped him drive in more runs and get in base often enough to become a run himself.

Cabrera had 34 more RBI than Trout.  Trout had 7 more runs scored than Cabrera.  Who would you rather have in your line up?

Personally, I think the choice of obvious.  Fuck the Sabermetricians.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pick your favorite crappy first baseman

Here are the 2012 stats for your first baseman options for next season:

Player A: .222 BA, .288 OBP, 25 HR, 59 RBI, 17 2B, 55 R, 38 BB
Player B: .227 BA, .343 OBP, 24 HR, 56 RBI, 9 2B, 53 R, 56 BB

Which player would you go with?  Are 18 more walks worth more to you than 8 more doubles?  And if I told you one player was under contract for $2.5 million last season, and the other got $9.4 million and he's up for a 3-4 year, $40-50 million deal, would that influence your decision? 

Or do you think both options are total shit?  Be honest now. 

If you haven't guessed by now, Player A is Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Player B is Mike Napoli.  While Salty looks like he's out of the discussion for catching options next season, there are reports that say the Red Sox are interested in entering the Mike Napoli, uh, sweepstakes.

Why?

I've been critical of Salty, but if Sox could pay him $8-10 million over two years to give them almost the exact same production that Napoli can provide, why has the discussion shifted to possibly giving Napoli a $40-50 million, multiyear deal?  Why?  Because Napoli can catch every once in a while?  Because he can get 18 more walks than Salty?  Because he can pump up his Fenway stats by hitting .600 against Jon Lester?    Why? 

Does overpaying Mike Napoli to put on a Red Sox uniform for four years make sense to anybody?  When Saltalamacchia provides a fractionally worse option for a fraction of the price, how in the world does signing Mike Napoli make any sense at all? 

Personally -- and you can call me crazy -- but I think Mauro Gomez can give you a better season, offensively and defensively, than both of these guys.  If you want a more legit option at first base, the safe money lies with overpaying Adam LaRoche (an option I'm not against).  But even if the options were whittled down to just Salty and Napoli, you still pick Saltalamacchia.  I simply cannot comprehend or understand why we're seriously discussing bringing Mike Napoli to the Red Sox.  I just don't get it. 

Name that Napoli contract!

Despite the Red Sox signing David Ross to be their Backup Plus Catcher (not just a backup, not quite a starter) for 2013 and 2014, there are still rumors swirling about going after Mike Napoli.  I've already covered how overrated Napoli's Fenway stats are, but it should also be noted that Texas refused to give Napoli a qualifying offer for $13 million a year before he hits the free agent market -- and Texas was ready to talk with David Ortiz if he went to free agency, and they still intend to give Josh Hamilton the boot.  So it's not like Texas doesn't nee a big bat or two in their lineup, so why are they willing to let Napoli walk without even the possibility of getting a draft pick for compensation?  Are they that afraid of Napoli actually staying there another year?  Very odd.

Regardless, the biggest question with Napoli is how much should he be compensated?  He was paid $9.4 million last season, and should have been offered $13 million next season for the kind of production that the Red Sox got out of Cody Ross for $3 million last season, and don't want to offer Ross a 3 year deal for $8.3 million per year.  So if the Red Sox don't want to give Ross fair pay, what should Napoli get?

Leave your most ridiculous, ludicrous offer in comments.  The winner receives a signed testicle from yours truly.  (Please bring latex gloves in case you have any of them crabbies.  Those fucking things hide in my fur and I can't afford another body wax job until I get my tax refund.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Salty Tears

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a prime example of a player that some in Red Sox Nation tend to overvalue.  Youk has reached this status now in the Nation, with some who wish to see the Sox bring the aging veteran back to Boston to play first base despite every his age and stats pointing to the fact that his career is on a downward slide.  And Jason Varitek's career was extended 3-4 years beyond when it reasonably should have ended because of his cult, overvalued status.  But at least Youk and Tek had spectacular seasons before now to earn their cult following -- Salty hasn't done shit.

The only thing that Salty fans can point at to justify his spot on the Red Sox roster is 25 HR last season.  Salty also had the most playing time of his career last year, having 405 AB in 121 games.  Before 2012, Salty played in over 100 games once and never had more than 400 AB in a season.  In this respect, we need to view Salty as a prospect who's finally getting a chance at the MLB level -- he's 27 years old, and he's played in the Bigs since he was 22 but before coming to the Sox, he split a lot of that time between the minors and majors.

Given Salty's lack of experience and status as a graduated prospect, we need to assume that other MLB teams didn't have great scouting reports on him until now.  And if Salty's only bright spot is that he hit 25 HR when he was 27 years old, therefore he might finally be blossoming as a hitter, I'll counter that with the assumption that team scouting reports will instruct pitchers to give him less pitches on the lower, outer portion of the plate that allows Salty to extend his arms out to generate full power from his 6'5" frame. 

In fact, this is how I see teams pitching to Salty next season: inside strikes that he'll only be able to foul off, and sliders a few inches off the outside part of the plate that he'll chase.  

How will Salty recover from being pitched to differently next season and getting less outside pitches to hammer?  Not well -- Salty just isn't a good hitter.  Looking beyond his wretched .222 BA and sub-.300 OBP last season, Salty struck out once every 3.22 plate appearances last season.  Comparing that to Adam Dunn, the prototypical homer-or-K slugger who whiffed 222 times last season, and Dunn racked up a K per 2.92 plate appearances.  While Salty had 139 strikeouts, Dunn had 649 PA to Salty's 448.  But Dunn is able to knock out over 40 homers, and hitters with 40+ HR power bring a certain presence and aura to the plate that forces pitchers to throw strikes to the hitters in front of them; trying to challenge weaker hitters so they don't get on base.  Salty does not, and will not ever, provide a MLB line up with this kind of aura that improves the hitters in front of him. 

So is it worth it for the Sox to keep a hitter who strikes out nearly as much as Adam Dunn, cannot provide power to make those Ks a sacrifice that's worth it, and hasn't shown the ability to become a better hitter and make adjustments when pitchers are sure to have revised their strategies against him next season?

No, it's not worth it for the Sox to keep this type of player.  Additionally, given the horrible pitching last season, Salty showed absolutely no ability to handle a pitching staff and do the kind of in-game coaching and correcting errors with pitcher's mechanics that we saw Varitek do for over a decade. 

Salty had two seasons to prove to the Red Sox that he's their catcher for the future, and he failed.  The Sox cannot afford to shift Salty to first base with the arrival of David Ross, either.  They must trade Salty now while his value is high, or else get tagged with an unhappy player sucking down a couple million to ride the bench. 

Trade Salty.  Now.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

If you think Cody Ross wants to be overpaid...

Is $25 million over 3 years worth 70 HR and 255 RBI to the Red Sox?  Because of Cody Ross can give the team for 3 more years the same production he gave them in the 2012 season, those are the numbers that $8.3 million a year will fund.

Ross produced at that level for $3 million last year, and when you look at what other outfielder's of Ross's caliber made last year, you can see why Ross wants more:

Nick Swisher - $10.5 million
Andre Ethier - $10.95 million
Nelson Cruz - $5 million
Ben Zobrist - $4.5 million
Colby Rasmus - $2.7 million, but Colby is 26 and only has 3 seasons of MLB experience

So at 2012 market values, $8.3 million a year for Cody Ross trends towards overpaying him but it's still not as much as what some veterans are paid.  But this doesn't take into account what 2013 market value could be.  Players like Swisher are already sensing that his value has increased, since he just declined a qualifying offer from the Yankees to look for a multi-year deal that pays him more than he's being overpaid right now.

Cody Ross has two other things going for him: His swing is made for Fenway and he's more valuable if he plays 81 games a year in the park, and he's a fan favorite who easily handled the pressures of playing in Boston.  If the Sox sign an outfielder who hasn't played in a high pressure environment before, there's no telling how he'll react -- but Ross's qualities to handle the pressure and Boston media are proven.

Giving Ross a $25 million, three year contract will look like a fair bet in the 2013 free agent market.  The Sox should try offering him such a deal to bring him back.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Big Papi, Small Deal

It's human nature to complain about everything...  Well, maybe it's just my nature because I'm an asshole.  So I'll mention a good thing: The money in the contract Ben just got David Ortiz to sign.  If Papi meets all of the incentives for each year, the contract will cost a total of $15 million a year.

With the money about the be thrown around this offseason, I guarantee you that before spring training, Papi's contract is going to look like a bigger steal than the $3 million Cody Ross got last year.  I mean, the Dodgers just inked Brandon League to a 3 year, $7.5 million per year deal to pitch 60 innings a year as a setup or mop-up reliever.  But, for an additional $7.5 million, the Red Sox just secured their best bet to get a .400 OBP, 35-40 HR and 120+ RBI hitter sitting in the meat of their batting order.

That's Pujols-like production for the price of a couple of crappy relievers, at current market value.  It almost feels like the Red Sox just molested Papi's wallet.  This is a spectacular deal for the team.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Without Big Papi, say goodbye to 2013 -- and beyond

This is going to sound incredibly boring, but bear with me here.

The central thesis of this blog is to highlight that increasing television revenues to MLB teams will flatten the landscape of "large market teams", a mountain that the Red Sox of yesteryear climbed to the top of.  The Red Sox ascent was funded by an abnormal spike in fan attendance -- paying the highest ticket prices in baseball -- and fan interest outside of Fenway, channeled through NESN.  This abnormal interest in a baseball team was fueled by the Red Sox using the revenues earned to field damn good teams for nearly a decade and a half.  

But.

Baseball is changing, and should the interest of Sox fans ebb while other MLB teams are seeing revenues increase, this will mean that, comparatively, Red Sox revenues will decrease, making it tougher for them to use the lure of money to draw top talent and compete.  So, even though the 2013 Red Sox don't stand much chance of seriously contending for the pennant, they need to do a convincing job of pretending to do such in order to keep fans glued to their seats at Fenway.  After the debacle that was last season, and the collapse of 2011, if Sox fans see any more bullshit in 2013 then Fenway is going to have a lot of empty seats to fill. 

See?  I warned you that would be boring.  But I'm glad you're still reading, because this brings us to David Ortiz.  We all saw what happened to the offense when Big Papi went on the DL last year -- it sucked.  No details needed. 

What was Ortiz worth to the team before his injury, though?  Fangraphs tries to answer the question of player value judging by the numbers they put up, and they say that a little over half a season of Ortiz was valued at $13.3 million last year.  And a full season of Ortiz in 2011, when he wasn't on pace to challenge a couple of Miguel Cabrera's triple crown statistics?  That was $18.6 million.  Had Ortiz played the full 2012 season, he probably would have given the Sox stats for a player valued at $25 million on the open market. 

Right now, though, the Red Sox front office is whining because David Ortiz wants a two year deal worth $14.5 million per year. 

I understand that David Ortiz has heightened age regression and injury risks attached to him right now, but we also must understand the current MLB market -- Ortiz will get this contract from a team.  It'll likely be the Rangers, who look at Ortiz as a cheap option in order to stick with their plan of telling Josh Hamilton to take a fucking hike.  

We all saw what the Red Sox offense was like last year without Ortiz.  Will Ben Cherington double-down with the only player left from the 2004 and 2007 rosters, who is still one of the best hitters in baseball...  Or will he chuck $30-40 million at some shitty veterans like Napoli who will never, ever carry the presence at the plate that Ortiz brings to every at-bat? 

I don't even see why this is debatable.  Without Big Papi, the Red Sox offense will be a joke.  They won't even pretend to compete, which is the one thing that they need to do in 2013.  A team good enough to compete for most of the season will help sell enough overpriced tickets to more than pay off the salary that Ortiz wants; along with helping keep fan interest in the team for years to come.  I mean, this is just a no-brainer.  And if Ortiz walks, fire the whole front office -- from Larry and Ben on down -- because they just don't have a fucking clue. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You're out of your fuckin' League, son

Before the premature ending to the World Series because of the Tigers general fuckery, I was going to write a post regarding the attitude many Red Sox fans have about long term contracts, since I've heard countless times that "WE SHOULD SIGN PLAYER XYZ! ... But ONLY to a one year deal!" 

I would have gone into detail about the new television contract money flowing into the coffers of MLB teams, and how the trade for Adrian Gonzalez and the contracts for Votto, Pujols and Werth are not out of the ordinary -- they are becoming baseball's new ordinary because there is so much new TV deal floating around on the market. 

Instead, I'll just let the latest free agent signing speak for itself:
The Dodgers have re-signed reliever Brandon League to a three-year, $22.5-million contract, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
Having trouble recalling who Brandon League is?  Probably because he only had 15 saves last year; and he blew 6 saves, to boot.  This piece of crap has a multi-year deal making $7.5 million per year, given to him by the team that just bloated their payroll with Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to sit atop of their contract to Matt Kemp.

So.  Somebody be the next person to tell me that the Red Sox can get a one year deal for Mike Napoli.  Go ahead, I dare you.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The 2013 Starting Nine [Part 2/2]

Picking up where we left off in my first post on this topic, after placing Middlebrooks fifth in my 2013 Red Sox batting order, my defense for the rest of my choices will be more ... creative.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Ryan Lavarnway Platoon, expected 2013 stats: 

Salty (should he get more than 400 AB):
.230 BA/.281 OBP, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 19 2B, 53 R

Last year, Adam Dunn led the American League in strikeouts with 222, Curtis Granderson was second with 195 strikeouts, and Salty was 17th with 139 Ks.  But let's look at the at-bats for this trio: Dunn had 539, Granderson had 596, and Salty had 405.  Dividing at-bats into strikeouts to get the K:AB ratio, Adam Dunn had 2.42 AB per K, Granderson 3.05 AB per K, and Salty had 2.91 AB per K.  It would take real sorry ass talent to strikeout more than Adam Dunn, but Dunn also knocked 41 balls out of the park last year compared to Salty's 25 homers.

Salty strikes out almost as much as Adam Dunn, and he doesn't give you nearly as much power or ability to create runs.  This strikeout total is also indicative Salty's inability to put the ball in play to at least move runners along the base paths, force a fielder to commit an error, or at least try to get on with a single or something.

So, what's our other option?  A total wild card.

Ryan Lavarnway's 2013 performance is unpredictable.  After tearing the cover off the ball at Pawtucket in 2011 -- 18 homers and 55 RBI in 227 at-bats, with a .357 average -- Lavarnway hit a total of 10 homers in 472 at-bats between the AAA and MLB levels.  Only two of those homers were for the Red Sox, where he batted an Iglesiasian .157 with a .211 OBP.

Lavarnway's extended cup of coffee at the big league level was nothing short of horrible, and he did absolutely nothing that wouldn't make a sensible major league team say "We're putting you back in the minors to start 2013."  But Salty isn't the future catcher of the Red Sox.  Should the team stick with a catcher who's good for a homer every 3-4 strikeouts, or go with the player who's talent level is more promising but he seems to have trouble staying focused?

I'll leave that question just dangling there as I move onto the bottom third of the order.

Mauro Gomez, expected 2013 stats:
.298 BA / .340 OBP, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 29 2B, 65 R

Everyone will say this prediction is nuts.  Gomez will be 29 in 2013 and he reached MLB level for the first time last year.  He's only had a couple months of big league experience, and he's too old to be a prospect.  How can Gomez possibly become a threat at the Major League level?

I'm going with my gut on Gomez.  Given the lack of good free agent options this offseason, I have the liberty to go with my gut here.  And Gomez -- the International League MVP last year -- doesn't have any other place to go.  He's conquered the AAA level, mashing 24 homers in 506 AB at Gwinnett in 2011 then upping his game at Pawtucket with 24 homers in 387 AB last year.  Along with increasing his power at the plate, Gomez has shown an improved eye by increasing his OBP due to a decreased K:AB ratio (K per 3.86 AB in 2011, 4.39 in 2012).  And Gomez's extended cup of coffee last year wasn't that bad, hitting .275 with a couple homers.  He had bad Sept/Oct numbers, but so did Cody Ross.

If any player has earned the right to be an old rookie, it's Mauro Gomez.  The Red Sox could grossly overpay some crappy veteran mercenary for marginally better numbers or give a dirt dog with something to prove a chance.  There's no better baseball story than the unknown, underrated underdog overachieving.  Mauro Gomez has all the tools to be one of baseball's best stories in 2013 -- give him a shot.

Ryan Kalish/Ryan Sweeney, expected 2013 stats:
Not going there.

I had to look up Sweeney's first name before writing this post, so that's what I think of him.  As for Ryan Kalish, the last time he had more than 400 AB combined in profession baseball leagues was 2010.  Yeah, Kalish is still young, I know.  He had that backflip catch in 2010, I know.  Kalish showed some power at Portland in 2009, but it seems like he hasn't encountered an injury that he hasn't fucked like 1:30am scraps at the townie bar.  I'm not impressed.  If any spot in the Red Sox offense is ripe for a free agent intervention, Right Field is it.  But if the Red Sox are stuck with Kalish and Sweeney going into spring training, then the Right Fielder's spot in the batting order needs to be the forgotten spot of 8th, where the weakest hitter goes in AL line ups.

Pedro Ciriaco, expected 2013 stats: 
.290 BA/.320 OBP, 7 HR, 55 RBI, 40 2B, 45 SB, 80 R

Before the Farrell trade, I wanted slot Ciriaco in the nine hole at shortstop.  I think we all know that Iglesias will be SS, but let's pretend for a minute...

Two biggest arguments against Ciriaco: limited time at MLB level, and an inability to get on base that's revealed in his low walk totals and OBP.  Indeed, between his .293 BA and .315 OBP for the Sox last season, Ciriaco gets on base purely through hitting -- if/when he goes into a slump, then he's not getting on base at all.

And Ciriaco's upside?  When he gets on first, he'll take second and place himself in scoring position. He had 16 stolen bases and 33 runs scored in a third of a season in 2012.  That's pretty promising. If you project those numbers out over a whole season, Ciriaco becomes the kind of player you can slide nicely into the nine hole as a replacement leadoff hitter.  You can't trust him to get on base that much, but it would be nice to have Ciriaco stealing second with Ellsbury at the dish and Pedroia on deck.

I'll dedicate a post to the shortstop position, comparing Ciriaco to Iglesias, for a later time.  But it should be noted that Ciriaco plays adequate defense, gets on base a little more than 30% of the time, and will swipe a bag.  Even if Aviles was still around, I'd pick Ciriaco over his .282 OBP and 14 stolen bases over a whole season.  Ciriaco is the kind of player who can get on base and create runs.  And Aviles, for his part, isn't even being considered for the starting SS or 2B job in Toronto right now.

The Costas/Cupid Teabagging Extravaganza

Between Costas's softball questions and Cupid's contrived stories and total fabrications that he used in response, it's difficult to pick out one thing to be most angry about as NBC Sports Network let the two botox phonies switch positions teabagging each other every couple of minutes last night.

Of course Cowardly Bobby wasn't going to face the Boston media, which is why he choose to goto a softie like Bob Costas.  But I think I'm most insulted at NBC postulating that Costas is in any way, shape or form a "journalist".  After the interview-cum-unquestioned statement to the press Costas gave Cupid a forum for last night, NBC Sports should have immediately placed him on probation for not asking any tough questions.

For example, Cupid took a shit on David Ortiz.  Big Papi, the Clutch King, Mr. 2004 ALCS, the one Red Sox hitter who has meant more to this organization than any other position player over the last 15 years.  And here Cupid was, on national television -- disgraced as former Red Sox manager -- taking a massive shit on David Ortiz.

"How dare he" is one of the thoughts that should have occupied Bob Costas's vacant mind, but I guess years of botox treatment pushed out any knowledge about sports whatsoever.  Here, in front of Costas, was a disgraced Red Sox manager throwing the face of the franchise under the bus, and Costas doesn't think to drag this out for a few more minutes because, at the very least, it'll make damn good television?  Costas doesn't decide to use one or two methods to draw more Ortiz comments out of Cupid: either by playing Devil's Advocate or holding Cupid accountable for his comments by pointing out the extent of Ortiz's injuries?

And Costas is supposed to be a professional sports journalist who knows what he's doing in an interview?  NBC Sports should be embarrassed.  So should Cupid, but it's obvious after last night's interview that he's emotionally incapable is feeling embarrassment, nevermind his inability to push beyond his huge ego to experience a catharsis.

I hope NBC, Costas and Cupid had fun with their little circle jerk.  Fuck all of them.