Saturday, November 30, 2013

2014 Bill James Projections - David Ortiz

©Kayla Chadwick 2013
2011 projection: 151 games, .261 BA, .366 OBP, .509 SLG, 33 HR, 112 RBI
2011: 146 games, .309 BA, .398 OBP, .554 SLG, 29 HR, 96 RBI
2012 projection: 150 games, .277 BA, .378 OBP, .517 SLG, 30 HR, 104 RBI
2012: 90 games, .318 BA, .415 OBP, .611 SLG, 23 HR, 60 RBI
2013 projection: 147 games, .283 BA, .386 OBP, .533 SLG, 32 HR, 103 RBI
2013: 137 games, .309 BA, .395 OBP, .564 SLG, 30 HR, 103 RBI
2014 projection: 146 games, .287 BA, .384 OBP, .531 SLG, 30 HR, 98 RBI

It's hard to believe that just a few years ago, Red Sox fans all over were openly speculating that David Ortiz's career was over - that his bat speed was gone, and his April struggles might be a harbinger of the years to come.

Instead, David Ortiz is like a fine wine: he's just getting better with age. Every year, Ortiz meets or exceeds the projection set forth by the fantastically prescient Bill James. Even during years when Big Papi lost significant time to injuries, like 2012, he manages to make up for lost time by performing well while on the field.

Of course, the true value of David Ortiz is not what he does during the regular season, but what he manages to accomplish once he gets to the postseason - something essentially impossible to predict.

Given the pattern from the last three years, I'm going to go ahead and guess that Ortiz will once again outperform James' projection. Perhaps he won't ever play more than 145 games again - but if we keep getting 30 home runs and 100 RBIs each year, I won't complain about playing time.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Hanukkah, Red Sox fans!

Buy it here
Are you concerned your love of the Red Sox hasn't made your family question your sanity yet? Have you wondered whether your Red Sox cufflinks, socks, and tie were too discreet? Worry no more, because the MLB team store has you covered - at least if you're a Jewish fan looking to add more baseball to your temple experience.

There are actually two choices on the yarmulke (pictured above), and the kippah. My preliminary internet research tells me the two terms mean the same thing, but that yarmulke is the Yiddish word, while kippah is the Hebrew word.

This isn't the first time I've seen a baseball logo on yarmulke - there was a Jewish Studies professor at my undergrad institution who was an avid Twins fan, and he used to attend Shabbat services every week wearing a Twins yarmulke.

One week, we reached the part of the service where the service pauses, and people say the names of friends and loved ones who might be sick or injured and in need of prayer, and this professor was sitting directly behind me. All I could hear was him murmuring, "Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Francisco Liriano..."

That day, we all prayed for the future of the Twins lineup, and I did my best to keep a straight face. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

If you don't love David Ross, you're wrong

©Kayla Chadwick 2013
Sadly, the Red Sox were without David Ross for a good chunk of the glorious 2013 season; the veteran catcher was recovering from concussions (and because MLB takes concussions more seriously than certain other professional sports franchises, he missed two months getting totally healthy).

Though this was technically Ross' second stint with the Red Sox, he had exactly nine plate appearances  with them in 2008, so you're excused if you've forgotten.

Ross only played in thirty-six games for the Red Sox this year - but somehow it seems like many more. Perhaps it's because of his nearly ubiquitous presence in the dugout, or how enthusiastically he embraced the beard-growing trend - indeed, his beard might be among the greatest of the bunch.

Last night was the premier of the 2013 World Series DVD in Boston, and Ross was one of just two Red Sox players reportedly in attendance (the other being third baseman Will Middlebrooks).

He spoke about the strangeness of being recognized in public (not an everyday occurrence for a career backup catcher), and the efforts of the team to convince its free agents to come back for 2014.

Whether or not cajoling his teammates works, Ross will get to enjoy another year in Boston. Hopefully it will be concussion free.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

McCann to the Yankees

The free agent market for catchers is dwindling, which is probably good news for anyone who's hoping to see Jarrod Saltalamacchia back behind the plate at Fenway Park next season.

Earlier this week, Carlos Ruiz signed back with the Phillies, agreeing to a three-year, $26 million deal. Yesterday, news broke that Brian McCann would be heading to the Bronx for five years and $85 million - with a vesting option for a sixth year and an additional $15 million dollars.

This could be a great signing for the Yankees. They didn't get very much production from their catchers in 2013 - though that particular problem was overlooked with all the drama and injuries surrounding the team all year.

McCann's swing is an excellent fit for that short porch at Yankee Stadium. He managed to knock in twenty home runs in 2013, a year in which injuries limited him to 120 games. 

McCann has played in Atlanta for the entirety of his nine year career, and he's leaving just in time to miss the controversy following the announcement of the Braves new stadium.

To be honest, I'm glad the Yankees got McCann, especially given the time and money they've committed to him. The Red Sox never would have offered McCann five years: he's 30 years old and injury prone.

This signing should be great for New York - for about two years. Then I'll be surprised if McCann manages to catch even fifty games.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shane Victorino: History Buff?

In a video compilation of politicians (including all living presidents), journalists, and celebrities reciting Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address, Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino is the only athlete.

The video was produced by legendary filmmaker Ken Burns, and its website doesn't have any clues as to why Victorino made the cut. However, Shane was cleanshaven during his lines, so it either had to be recorded very recently, or quite long ago.

If you're super impatient (I mean, the Gettysburg Address is only 270 words, and the video is under two minutes), Victorino's part starts around the seventeen second mark.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ben Cherington - Executive of the Year

©Kayla Chadwick 2013
Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington has been named the Sporting News Executive of the Year. The award was decided by a voting panel of 31 Major League executives, and this year marks just the fourth time in MLB history that a Red Sox exec earned the honor.

Of the thirty-one votes, Cherington got fifteen, while Neal Huntington of the Pittsburgh Pirates got nine, Dayton Moore of the Kansas City Royals got four, and Frank Wren of the Atlanta Braves got three.

Cherington's award is a testament to how much people love an underdog story. If any team with the payroll capabilities of Boston could be considered an unlikely winner, it was this one. After an unbelievably disastrous 2012, the worst-to-first romp of 2013 was both glorious and unexpected.

Cherington's offseason moves (signing Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, and Mike Napoli, among others) are certainly to be congratulated, but the true start of the 2013 turnaround came late in 2012, when the Dodgers gave the Red Sox a mulligan on some truly mammoth contracts. Without the trade of Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto, the Red Sox would never have the chance to win it all in 2013.

So maybe Cherington should send a case of World Series champagne out to the LA front office? Because without them, he doesn't get this award.

Monday, November 11, 2013

FAQ: Free Agency

The World Series has been over for almost two weeks. The boys of summer have all gone home, and with their departure comes the worst season of them all: winter.

There is some excitement to be had during the offseason, and it's mostly free agent-related speculation. With a lot of free-agency related questions floating around out there, and the GM Meetings kicking off today, I thought I would gather all the answers in one place.

What is free agency?
Free agency is the state of being free from contractual obligations, and able to sign with any team.

Who can be a free agent?
There are different kinds of free agents. Typically those we hear about the most are players who have at least six years of major league service. Players who have been in the league much longer but have reached the end of their contract, and players who have been released by their most recent team are also free agents.

What's the difference between that and international free agents?
Because the MLB draft only includes players from US high schools and colleges, any player who falls outside those institutions in any other part of the world is an international free agent, and can sign with any Major League franchise. International free agent signings usually take place in the summer, but can happen at any time.

What's the difference between arbitration eligible and free agency?
To be arbitration eligible, players must have between three and five years of service time. At the end of the season, their team must either offer them a contract for the following season, or allow them to become free agents. Once a deal has been offered, the player can accept, or make a counter offer. If the team and player cannot come to an agreement, a salary arbiter will decide which contract the player deserves. The arbiter can either select the team's offer, or the player's counter offer, but cannot compromise between the two.

What's the deal with "compensation"?
Until last offseason, free agents were classified as Type A, Type B, or unclassified, based on rankings from the Elias Sports Bureau. If a team offered a contract to a Type A free agent, and that player signed with another team, the original team was due the top draft pick from the signing team, as well as a supplementary draft pick between the first and second rounds. The arrangement for Type B free agents was similar, though teams got supplementary picks.

The 2011 collective bargaining agreement amended that process. Now, teams can get compensation for their departing free agents only if they offer those free agents a contract worth at least the average of the 125 richest contracts in baseball.

What's the time frame for signing free agents?
Today was the last day for free agents to accept offers from their 2013 teams - if they do not accept qualifying offers, they can still negotiate and/or sign with that team, but other teams are not allowed to make offers. Free agents can now sign with any team at any time. Arbitration hearings aren't until January, though many teams come to terms with their arbitration eligible players before then.

Where can I find out more?
The internet is full of information! Here are a few good sites. Just make sure you get information from sites updated after the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. If you want a more in depth look at the history of free agency, I highly recommend The Way It Is, by Curt Flood, who took the fight for free agency (unsuccessfully) to the Supreme Court, and Catfish: My Life in Baseball, by Catfish Hunter, the first player to be granted free agency.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hot Stove Check In: Robinson Cano

The biggest free agent of the offseason is undoubtedly Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, and once Watch-gate blows over the real negotiating can begin.

Cano asked for a deal worth over $300 million before declaring free agency, but it's unlikely he'll end up getting that much. Teams are usually loathe to invest such mega-dollars in a middle-infielder, because the wear and tear on their bodies makes them shaky investments long term.

Luckily for Cano, one of his biggest selling point should help to assuage those concerns. Cano typically plays between 159-161 games each year, and hasn't missed any substantial time to injury.

The 2014 Bill James Handbook projects Cano to play in 161 games next season, hitting .306 with 27 home runs and 101 RBIs. He has consistently dependable defense (though Dustin Pedroia beat him out for the Gold Glove at the position for 2013).

At the end of the day, Cano is going to end up back in the Bronx. He needs them, and they need him - but most importantly, there aren't too many teams out there who are willing or able to pay Cano what he's worth.

As a Red Sox fan, I'm hoping the Yankees overpay and over commit, because watching them struggle with behemoth contracts is one of my favorite forms of entertainment.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vote for Pedro(ia)!

©Kayla Chadwick 2013
Dustin Pedroia is up for the MLBPAA Heart and Hustle Award, and if you're anything like me, you're a little surprised that the award wasn't named for him.

The award is presented by the Major League Baseball Player's Alumni Association, and is described on the website like this:

The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association's Heart & Hustle Award is voted on by Major League alumni and active players and is presented annually to a player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.

If you don't think Dustin Pedroia was born to win this honor, I don't know how you can call yourself a baseball fan.

Fans can vote for their favorite team finalist until this Friday - so in honor of election day today, get out there and VOTE FOR PEDEY!

Boston's True Heroes

There was a moment at this Saturday's World Series parade when the crowd spontaneously began to cheer, more than half an hour before the first duckboat appeared.

At first I thought it was simply an outburst of excitement. After all, there were people who had been waiting for more than five hours by 10am, so the anticipation was palpable.

But then I caught a glimpse of this guy, through the crowd:
©Kayla Chadwick 2013
You could argue that a crowd as amped up as these Red Sox fans would cheer for anything, but I disagree. The crowd was going wild for Boston's finest, their men and women in blue.

Boston has always had a love-hate relationship with its police force. We complain about them to our fellow Bostonians, but will unleash our accented wrath on any interloper who dares to badmouth the BPD.

This past Patriot's Day, we witnessed the incredible bravery and selflessness of the Boston Police and Fire Departments. After the terrible events of that April 15th, three of Boston's finest were immortalized on one of the most emotionally charged Sports Illustrated covers in my memory.

Those same three officers, Javier Pagan, Rachel McGuire, and Kevin McGill, are featured on this week's cover, with Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.

Boston is no stranger to hyperbole when describing its athletes: we call them bosses, legends, heroes. But that fateful day this April, we were jarringly reminded of who the real heroes are.

Sure, the Red Sox inspired and united the city in one of its darkest hours - but the true heroes of the Boston Marathon Bombing (police officers, firefighters, runners, and bystanders) inspired the Red Sox. 

The Red Sox put a grieving city on their backs, and went on an absolute rampage through Major League Baseball - refusing to let up until the World Series trophy was in Boston where it belonged.

It seemed fitting that Red Sox fans cheered their police officers even before their favorite team. Without the Boston Police Department, sporting events in Beantown would feel a lot less secure.

Red Sox World Series Victory, in OYOs!

They's like Legos, but more awesome.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mike Napoli gets white girl wasted

Mike Napoli really, really enjoyed the Red Sox rolling rally on Saturday morning. The Red Sox first baseman didn't even make it to Hynes Convention Center before stripping off his shirt, to the delight of everyone in the crowd (and Jonny Gomes).

But even after the hours long duckboat ride, Napoli wasn't ready for the festivities to end. Jake Peavy may have celebrated by purchasing a bright green duckboat, but Nap didn't want to be outdone - so he became a Red Sox legend.

If you're a Twitter regular, you probably saw the #DrunkNapoli hashtag popping up on Saturday night, and unlike hashtags like #LaserShow, this wasn't hyperbole, but reality.

Napoli made his way around the city, hitting up bars left and right. The photo progression shows that he wore at least two different shirts over the course of the evening, but most often returned to his element: half naked.

But where were his teammates? Napoli was short a wingman, stumbling around Boston all on his own. I can't speak for all of Nap's fellow champs, but Shane Victorino decided to celebrate in a more reserved fashion - by grocery shopping at a local Shaw's.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Jake Peavy: Impulse Buyer

A few weeks ago on Intentional Talk, we learned that Jake Peavy can't always control himself when he sees something he wants.

But today's purchase was rather more expensive than a cigar shop Native American statue. Peavy enjoyed his championship ride today so much that he bought the duck boat he was riding in.

Personally, I'm hoping he drives it to Fenway for every game next season, and/or works as a duckboat tourguide on off days.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Shipping Up to Boston!

©Kayla Chadwick 2011
I'm still mad at myself for not going to the game on Wednesday night. Sure, my bank account is happy to still contain the $1000 it would have taken to get into the door - but can you really put a price on witnessing history?

I don't think you can, so I'm sacrificing more than $100 in gas money and my entire weekend to getting myself to Boston for the 2013 Red Sox World Series parade.

By way of a strange coincidence, I found myself at the Bruins duckboat parade two summers ago. Though my love for the Bruins pales in comparison to my devotion to the Red Sox, I had an amazing time, and I vowed to be there in person for the next rolling rally.

So I'll be there tomorrow, bright and early, with my two obnoxiously large cameras - I hope to see some of you out there, too!