Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jon Lester: Right-handed?

Jon Lester bats, throws, and golfs lefthanded. But he signs autographs (and so presumably writes) righthanded. It's relatively common for baseball players to bat lefty and throw righty (sometimes the only glove around when they're learning is righthanded, while bats are obviously ambidextrous), but I have never heard of someone who writes with their right hand, and does everything else with their left.

Check out the video on Boston.com (Lester starts autographing at about 30 seconds).

 Signed with Jon Lester's right hand.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pedroia ready to rip

Dustin Pedroia showed up to camp early this year (shocking, I know), and he is most certainly ready to go. Pedey was interviewed on NESN by Tom Caron and Peter Gammons yesterday, and he shared some gems, including some "idiot advance scouts" who handed out ALDS books during the rain delay in the middle of Game 162, and the fact that he and Andre Ethier worked out "like maniacs" this offseason. 




Gammons looked straight at Pedroia and deadpanned: "Now I realize that, you know, you're so strong now, we're gonna have to put a screen up in front of the Monster seats." As always, Pedey didn't miss a beat: "It's the hundred-year anniversary, I might tear that thing down." 


I don't know about you guys, but quotes from Pedroia are one of my favorite parts of Red Sox baseball, and I'm looking forward to months of cockiness.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Red Sox or rednecks?

As a native New Hampshirite, I'm well acquainted with what some people might call rednecks. The kind of people who not only like to hunt, they live to tell the tale of the one that got away.  Normally, these types of people are not millionaires, but in recent years the Red Sox have boasted more than a few legitmate rednecks as part of their roster.

First, there's the photographic evidence:

And then we have the terrifying stories, like this one about JD Drew from last Spring Training (courtesy of Boston.com's Extra Bases blog):
Drew said he was in a boat with his son once when they hooked an alligator with a fishing lure. He had his son hold the pole and took position to try and leap on the alligator.
"I figured I could get him myself," he said. "He was about five or six feet."
"With your bare hands?" I asked.
J.D. gave me his best "no, you stupid city boy" look.
"I had a knife," he said.
But the line snapped and the gator got away. J.D. missed his chance.
So next time you read about J.D. missing a game with a bad hamstring and consider complaining, consider that this is a guy who was willing to jump out of a perfectly good boat and attack a man-sized alligator with a knife. 

And now we have an anecdote about panthers, courtesy of Clay Buchholz (and Boston.com's Extra Bases blog):
A Fort Myers resident told me that the woods beyond the practice fields are known to have panthers and wild hogs.
According to Clay Buchholz, who knows of such things, panthers can be five or six feet long. "I'd want to shoot it before it could hunt me," Buchholz said.

New Hampshire would be proud to have them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No, not THAT Chris Carpenter...

You can follow Carpenter on Twitter: @ccarp37

So we finally know who we'll be getting in exchange for letting Theo head out to Chicago... Chris Carpenter, Cubs pitcher. Our new Chris Carpenter even has the same middle name (John) as the other Chris Carpenter, but ours is ten years younger.

Hopefully he can live up to the other Chris Carpenter in time - he seems to have had a promising start. Just twenty-six years old, Carpenter broke into the bigs at the end of last season, and tossed 9.2 innings over ten games, recording a 2.79 ERA, 7 walks, and 8 strikeouts.

Unsurprisingly, he does not have an entry in the 2012 Bill James Handbook, and he's yet another righthanded option for the bullpen.

The Red Sox and Cubs will each owe the other a player to be named later as part of the compensation deal.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2012 Bill James Projections - Red Sox Bullpen

Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, so I figured I'd better wrap up this segment - with a few disclaimers: despite the fact that we now know Daniel Bard is preparing to be a starter, he will be listed here, as James projected his numbers as a reliever; this is also true of Alfredo Aceves, who has expressed interest in starting again but might be more valuable in the bullpen.

RHP Alfredo Aceves:
2011: 10-2, 114 IP, 42 BB, 80 SO, 2.61 ERA, 2 saves
2012 projection: 8-5, 118 IP, 43 BB, 85 SO, 3.43 ERA, 0 saves
Aceves had some success last season as a starter, but when he was plugged into the bullpen he couldn't get back out.  He has made it clear that he prefers starting, and with the glaring holes in the rotation, he just might get his chance - it looks like James projected him as more of a starter, anyway.

RHP Matt Albers:
2011 projection: 3-5, 73 IP, 34 BB, 51 SO, 4.68 ERA, 0 saves
2011: 4-4, 64.2 IP, 31 BB, 68 SO, 4.73 ERA, 0 saves
2012 projection: 3-4, 65 IP, 30 BB, 49 SO, 4.57 ERA, 0 saves
Albers was an acceptable middle reliever for the Sox last season, and it looks like we can expect a comparable performance this season. It's not a fantastic line, but there's a reason that middle relievers aren't closers or starters.

RHP Andrew Bailey:
2011 projection: 4-2, 58 IP, 21 BB, 56 SO, 2.64 ERA, 30 saves
2011: 0-4, 41.2 IP, 12 BB, 41 SO, 3.24 ERA, 24 saves
2012 projection: 4-2, 50 IP, 14 BB, 48 SO, 2.34 ERA, 26 saves
Bailey slightly underperformed last season with the A's, but James is predicting a rebound in 2012.  A word of caution: James' numbers are calculated for Oakland, where Bailey pitched in the AL West... it's possible we see a backslide.  We knew we were saying goodbye to near-certainty in the ninth when Paps shipped off to Philly, but hopefully Bailey can live up to his reputation.

RHP Daniel Bard:
2011 projection: 6-3, 76 IP, 34 BB, 90 SO, 2.72 ERA, 0 saves
2011: 2-9, 73 IP, 24 BB, 74 SO, 3.33 ERA, 1 save
2012 projection: 6-2, 70 IP, 25 BB, 79 SO, 2.31 ERA, 2 saves
We know Bard is coming into camp to be stretched out as a starter, and if he can be half as effective in the rotation as he's been in the eighth inning, that will be one less thing to worry about there - but who will fill the eighth?

RHP Michael Bowden: 
2011: 0-0, 20 IP, 11 BB, 17 SO, 4.05 ERA, 0 saves
2012 projection: 2-2, 30 IP, 12 BB, 24 SO, 4.20 ERA, 0 saves
Bowden is a mystery here. The reason he hasn't been shipped off in a trade is because no other teams know enough about him to risk giving up something of value.  This line suggests a middling performance out of the pen, and if he can eat up some innings, that would be helpful.

RHP Bobby Jenks:
2011 projection: 3-2, 49 IP, 17 BB, 48 SO, 3.12 ERA, 32 saves
2011: 2-2, 15.2 IP, 13 BB, 17 SO, 6.32 ERA, 0 saves
[No 2012 projection]
I'm not sure why there are no numbers for Jenks in 2012 - James does projections for players who have said they're retiring (hello, JD Drew) and those who have been injured far longer than Jenks (like Daisuke Matsuzaka).  In any case, Jenks has already arrived in camp, looking much fitter than last year, so perhaps we'll see him slide into that eighth inning vacancy if he gets his pitching act together.

RHP Mark Melancon:
2011 projection: 2-2, 37 IP, 16 BB, 36 SO, 3.89 ERA, 0 saves
2011: 8-4, 74.1 IP, 26 BB, 66 SO, 2.78 ERA, 20 saves
2012 projection: 3-5, 75 IP, 31 BB, 71 SO, 3.84 ERA, 13 saves
These numbers are projections for Houston, so it stands to reason they might not be as impressive in Boston.  I don't know much about Melancon, so I'm excited to see his performance in Spring Training.

LHP Andrew Miller:
2011 projection: 3-5, 65 IP, 43 BB, 54 SO, 5.68 ERA, 0 saves
2011: 6-3, 65 IP, 41 BB, 50 SO, 5.54 ERA, 0 saves
2012 projection: 3-5, 70 IP, 47 BB, 58 SO, 5.40 ERA, 0 saves
 Miller was right on his projected numbers last season, so it stands to reason that could happen again. It's not an impressive line, but every bullpen needs a mop-up guy, right?

LHP Franklin Morales:
[No 2011 projection]
2011: 1-2, 46.1 IP, 19 BB, 42 SO, 3.69 ERA, 0 saves
2012 projection: 3-3, 51 IP, 26 BB, 42 SO, 4.41 ERA, 0 saves
Morales has a good BB/SO ratio, and acceptable innings and ERA - he's another one to watch in the next few weeks.

Other options for the pen who don't have numbers in James' Handbook include LHP Felix Doubront, RHP Clayton Mortenson, RHP Stolmy Pimentel, and RHP Junichi Tazawa.  Doubront is intriguing since there aren't too many lefties on the above list - but he came to camp last year out of shape.  Tazawa could be a starter or come out of the pen - or not make the team at all. He's finally coming back from Tommy John surgery, so it will be interesting to see how he performs.  The bullpen is in a state of transition from end to end: for the first time in years we don't have a set closer or eighth inning an or long reliever or anything else. A challenge for Manager Bobby Valentine, and we'll get to see this started tomorrow!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Now I can finally say: "It's over."

As we all wipe our tears, some of you will pretend "there's something in my eye." Yeah, no. We see you. It's okay to cry it out.

But enough crying. We knew it would happen someday, and that day is here.  To get your mind off today's tearjerking events, here are some fun facts about the knuckleballer.

  • Tim's middle name is Stephen, and he was born in Melbourne, Florida
  • Wake has more innings pitched for the Red Sox than any other player, with 2,944, nearly 200 innings more than Roger Clemens
  • Nominated for the MLB Roberto Clemente Award for community service eight times, Tim won in 2010
  • Wakefield was a first baseman until the minor leagues, and his Florida Tech number (3) was retired in 2006
  • Wake converted to pitching full time the same year I was born, in 1990, with the Single-A Salem Buccaneers 
  • With a single home run in his career (1993 with Pittsburgh), Wakefield wasn't a great hitter - but always a great teammate
  • Wakefield took himself off the playoff roster in 2007, allowing the team to fill his slot with an uninjured player and win a World Series
  • Tim Wakefield has the 56th most career strikeouts all-time, with 2,156
  • Tim Wakefield pitched at my very first baseball game at Fenway Park
And yes, I know most of you don't care about the last one, but I'm full of nostalgia and I can't help myself.

Enjoy your retirement, Tim Wakefield

I think you all know how I feel about Tim Wakefield. He's been a part of the Red Sox since I was five years old.  I literally cannot remember a Red Sox team without Wake tossing the knuckler.

But it was time. Tim had a terrible second half last year, going 2-5 post All Star break, and he only won 4 games in 2010, with 10 losses. However, Wakefield has been well worth the few stinkers over the last few years, as he's been instrumental for seventeen.

Wake has been a starter, a middle-reliever, a mop-up guy, and even a closer, stepping up whenever the team was in need, and even last year's excruciating climb to 200 career wins doesn't begin to negate that kind of dedication.

In 2003, we all cried with Timmy at the end of the ALCS in New York, and then we celebrated harder than ever before just a year later when the Sox won it all in 2004.  In 2007, Wakey won a career high seventeen games and helped the Sox to their second title in just three years. In 2009, Wake won 11 games before the All Star break, and was named an MLB All Star for the first and only time in his long career.

Tim Wakefield will be announcing his retirement this evening at 5PM at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.  Wake probably could have caught on with a team in the National League, but he's retiring as a Red Sox, and for that I tip my cap to him.

Happy trails, Wake - nineteen years in the majors, and seventeen with the Sox, it's been a good run, and it's time to say goodbye. Kudos to you for recognizing that time.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

2012 Bill James Projections - Red Sox Rotation

I've waited long enough to see if we'll be getting any new and exciting pitching additions - Spring Training is fast approaching (and Lester is already in camp!), so it's high time to finish out the 2012 projections.

LHP Jon Lester:
2011 projection: 14-9, 31 starts, 204 IP, 3.53 ERA, 82 BB, 193 SO
2011: 15-9, 31 starts, 191.2 IP, 3.47 ERA, 75 BB, 182 SO
2012 projection: 15-9, 31 starts, 192 IP, 3.61 ERA, 74 BB, 180 SO
I thought James was being too pessimistic about Lester in his projection for 2011, and he turned out to be pretty much right on the nose.  Hopefully Lester can top this, but these numbers certainly aren't anything to scoff at.

RHP Josh Beckett:
2011 projection: 10-9, 26 starts, 168 IP, 3.86 ERA, 49 BB, 155 SO
2011: 13-7, 30 starts, 193 IP, 2.89 ERA, 52 BB, 175 SO
2012 projection: 12-9, 29 starts, 186 IP, 3.63 ERA, 53 BB, 169 SO
James underestimated Beckett last year, and I think there's a good chance he's done so again. Beckett came into camp last year with something to prove after his injury-marred 2010, and this year he'll have a chip on his shoulder about the way last year ended.

RHP Clay Buchholz:
2011 projection: 13-9, 29 starts, 193 IP, 3.54 ERA, 74 BB, 168 SO
2011: 6-3, 14 starts, 82.2 IP, 3.48 ERA, 31 BB, 60 SO
2012 projection: 13-8, 30 starts, 191 IP, 3.53 ERA, 73 BB, 162 SO
A lot of things went wrong in 2011, but losing Buchholz for the entire second half should not be overlooked: a healthy Clay and we probably would have been playing in October. That said, Buchholz has the Sox counting on him to be healthy, and he'll want to show that they were right to trust him - I think James is spot on.

Now comes the guesswork: will Alfredo Aceves be starting in 2012? How about Daniel Bard, who has also expressed interest? Will Tim Wakefield get invited to camp, or will we finally be saying goodbye? For the purposes of this post, I'll only be doing the projections for players James projected assuming they were starters (this means Aceves and Bard will be in the bullpen post - even if Valentine has them in the rotation).

RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka:
2011 projection: 10-9, 27 starts, 173 IP, 3.85 ERA, 73 BB, 158 SO
2011: 3-3, 7 starts, 37.1 IP, 5.30 ERA, 23 BB, 26 SO
2012 projection: 4-4, 12 starts, 74 IP, 4.14 ERA, 37 BB, 66 SO
If you're like me, when Matsuzaka underwent Tommy John surgery last June, you were probably thinking "good riddance." I'd had enough of Matsuzaka, who has never been the pitcher for the Sox that he seems to be in Japan.  But on the bright side, he can't get much worse, and maybe after TJ he'll be better for his presumptive midseason return.

LHP Andrew Miller:
2011 projection: 3-5, 14 starts, 65 IP, 5.68 ERA, 43 BB, 54 SO
2011: 6-3, 12 starts, 65 IP, 5.54 ERA, 41 BB, 50 SO
2012 projection: 3-5, 12 starts, 70 IP, 5.40 ERA, 47 BB, 58 SO
Obviously James isn't expecting Miller to start too much this year - and with those projected numbers, hopefully he won't.

RHP Tim Wakefield:
2011 projection: 6-6, 14 starts, 115 IP, 4.07 ERA, 37 BB, 72 SO
2011: 7-8, 23 starts, 154 IP, 5.12 ERA, 47 BB, 93 SO
2012 projection: 4-4, 12 starts, 80 IP, 4.16 ERA, 24 BB, 48 SO
Obviously, Wake's not even signed right now, and it would be putting Valentine in a rough position if they invited the 45-year-old knuckleballer to Spring Training. But for some reason, James thinks Wakefield's ERA will fall by nearly a run, but that he'll throw barely half the innings he did last year. We'll see.

After the top three (37- 27 combined), the dropoff is pretty steep. Though I wasn't sad to see the back of John Lackey for Tommy John surgery of his own, his absence really exposes how shallow this rotation is. Hopefully Cherington can pull something out of thin air.  In-house possibilities include Junichi Tazawa, Stolmy Pimentel (though he's just 22 and needs some more seasoning), Felix Doubront, Aceves, and Bard (though the latter two would leave GAPING holes in the bullpen). None of these players were included in James' 2012 Handbook as starters, so their numbers aren't in this post.