Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dream Job: Acquired!

I've been sitting on some pretty big news for a while now. About two weeks ago, I went to Secaucus, New Jersey for a job interview at MLB Network - and I was offered the job!

I couldn't be more excited to start - this is everything I worked for in graduate school, and everyone I met when I was down there as extremely friendly and welcoming.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the whole process (aside from the whole "gainful employment" thing), was that the interview was conducted in Chris Rose and Kevin Millar's office. Since the two of them often work from home, it was vacant for the day, and I sat in Kevin Millar's chair, trying to act like it was no big deal.

I discovered while covering the Nationals this summer that the awe of professional athletes wears off very quickly when you see them every day, but I'm still pretty pumped to get to work in the same building as Sean Casey, Mike Lowell, John Smoltz, Millar, and even old friend Heidi Watney, among others.

I'll be working behind the scenes (and that's how I prefer it), mostly cutting video teases to start. Tune in if you can, I'll be starting the second week in December!

2015 Bill James Projection: Pablo Sandoval

2011: 117 games, .315 BA, .357 OBP, .552 SLG, 23 HR, 70 RBI
2012 projection: 144 games, .311 BA, .363 OBP, .525 SLG, 24 HR, 86 RBI
2012: 108 games, .283 BA, .342 OBP, .447 SLG, 12 HR, 63 RBI
2013 projection: 150 games, .298 BA, .356 OBP, .498 SLG, 22 HR, 88 RBI
2013: 141 games, .278 BA, .341 OBP, .417 SLG, 14 HR, 79 RBI
2014 projection: 140 games, .292 BA, .354 OBP, .466 SLG, 18 HR, 81 RBI
2014: 157 games, .279 BA, .324 OBP, .415 SLG, 16 HR, 73 RBI
2015 projection: 151 games, .287 BA, .344 OBP, .447 SLG, 18 HR, 82 RBI

I don't know about any of you, but when I was watching the World Series this year, the idea that the Red Sox would go after - and then sign! - Pablo Sandoval never even crossed my mind. I took it as a matter of course that he would return to the Giants, but I'm thrilled to have been wrong.

The man they call Panda will be in Boston for the foreseeable future, as the deal has been reported at 5 years/$100 million. While I know there are people concerned about the length of the deal, I am not one of them: Sandoval is currently 28 years old, and will be just 33 at the end of this contract - well within the lifespan of an elite hitter.

There's plenty of speculation that Sandoval has been brought into the fold to take David Ortiz's place as a full time DH when the lefthanded legend calls it a career. Obviously, Red Sox fans will always have a special place in our hearts for Ortiz, but the comparison with Sandoval isn't too out there.

Panda is the kind of player who typically has good production during the regular season, but absolutely explodes when the pressure is on. Over three World Series, Sandoval batted .426 with 3 HR, 8 RBI, and a WS MVP Award. For comparison, Ortiz's line is .455 with 3 HR, 14 RBI, and 2 WS MVP Awards.

Personally, I can't wait to see the two of them sharing a lineup; as a guy who thrives in high-stakes situations, the pressure cooker of Boston should suit Sandoval nicely.

Monday, November 24, 2014

2015 Bill James Projections: Hanley Ramirez

2011: 92 games, .243 BA, .333 OBP, .379 SLG, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB
2012 projection: 136 games, .298 BA, .379 OBP, .489 SLG, 21 HR, 69 RBI, 28 SB
2012: 157 games, .257 BA, .322 OBP, .437 SLG, 24 HR, 92 RBI, 21 SB
2013 projection: 144 games, .281 BA, .356 OBP, .470 SLG, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 23 SB
2013: 86 games, .345 BA, .402 OBP, .638 SLG, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 10 SB
2014 projection: 151 games, .296 BA, .368 OBP, .505 SLG, 27 HR, 86 RBI, 23 SB
2014: 128 games, .283 BA, .369 OBP, .448 SLG, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 14 SB
2015 projection: 151 games, .290 BA, .367 OBP, .476 SLG, 23 HR, 85 RBI, 20 SB

The rumors would crop up almost every year between the time Hanley Ramirez went to Florida and this offseason: the one-time Red Sox prospect was coming back. It now seems there's an actual fire under all that smoke, and Ramirez, now a bona fide star, is on his way back to Boston.

But what can we expect from Ramirez this season? It's unclear where the soon-to-be 31-year-old will even play: the Red Sox seem content with Xander Bogaerts at shortstop (and pulling him from his natural position seemed to have consequences this season), and are reportedly among the finalists to sign free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

There's talk that Ramirez could end up in left field if the Red Sox are the winners of the Sandoval sweepstakes, but he's never played a major league game in the outfield in his ten years of service time. One thing remains clear: no matter what we get from Ramirez defensively, his bat will add some much-needed pop to a Red Sox lineup that in 2014 could be accurately described as "lethargic."

Ramirez's average has hovered around .300 his entire career, and his power numbers are certainly well above what you would expect from a shortstop in the post-steroid era. Over the past few years, Bill James and his team have done a reliable job either underestimating Ramirez slightly, or hitting their projections almost exactly on the nose.

If Ramirez can live up to what James has projected for his 2015 in the midst of trading one big market (LA) for another (the admittedly much more baseball-crazed Boston), we should have an exciting season on our hands.

Welcome back to Boston, Hanley Ramirez: the expectations will be higher here, but the fans will show up before the third inning and stay until the end, and the reward, should you lead us all the way, will be that much sweeter.