Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Bill James Projections - David Ross

GIF via Surviving Grady
2012: 62 games, .256 BA, .321 OBP, .449 SLG, 9 HR, 23 RBI
2013 projection: 93 games, .235 BA, .321 OBP, .414 SLG, 12 HR, 42 RBI
2013: 36 games, .216 BA, .298 OBP, .382 SLG, 4 HR, 10 RBI
2014 projection: 76 games, .221 BA, .308 OBP, .383 SLG, 8 HR, 28 RBI

A few weeks back, I wrote a post entitled, "If you don't love David Ross, you're wrong." I stand by that sentiment - hopefully Ross can stay concussion free in 2014.

Bill James' 2014 projection for Ross predicts offensive gains commensurate with increased playing time. Assuming Ross' health (never a totally safe assumption given his all-out style of play), I can believe he'll have some modest improvement numbers wise.

But let's be honest: you don't have David Ross on your roster for what he does at the plate, you keep him around for his contributions behind it and in the clubhouse. He bonds with his teammates, gets the very best out of pitchers, and has a blast doing it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Bill James Projections - Xander Bogaerts

©2013 Kayla Chadwick
2013: 18 games, .250 BA, .320 OBP, .364 SLG, 1 HR, 5 RBI
2014 projection: 156 games, .283 BA, .357 OBP, .450 SLG, 19 HR, 84 RBI

Clearly when James and his team calculated these projections, they worked under the assumption that Bogaerts would be the everyday shortstop. Even if Stephen Drew comes back for 2014, I expect Bogaerts to play most days - whether he spends the majority of time at shortstop or third base depends on Drew's status and the early-season performance of Will Middlebrooks.

We only got a glimpse of Bogaerts last season. A late season call-up, Bogaerts slid effortlessly into the third base position during the postseason when Middlebrooks wasn't getting it done (Drew couldn't hit to save his life, either, but he was spared the bench because of his excellent defense).

This flexibility bodes well, as Bogaerts is just twenty years old, and already big for a shortstop - if he fills out more in the coming years, it's good to know he can flash the leather at the hot corner, too.

We've been hearing about Bogaerts' prowess with the glove for years - but he's also slated to become a bona fide power threat at the plate. As clich├ęd as it sounds, the sky is the limit for Xander Bogaerts going forward.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, Red Sox Nation!

Spotted this afternoon at Walmart
Of course, we received our gift months ago:

But I hope you all wake up to some wonderful Red Sox themed gifts!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2014 Bill James Projections - Mike Napoli

©2013 Kayla Chadwick
2011: 113 games, .320 BA, .414 OBP, .631 SLG, 30 HR, 75 RBI
2012 projection: 131 games, .271 BA, .364 OBP, .537 SLG, 31 HR, 83 RBI
2012: 108 games, .227 BA, .343 OBP, .469 SLG, 24 HR, 56 RBI
2013 projection: 127 games, .248 BA, .350 OBP, .498 SLG, 29 HR, 75 RBI
2013: 139 games, .259 BA, .360 OBP, .482 SLG, 23 HR, 92 RBI
2014 projection: 137 games, .246 BA, .348 OBP, .471 SLG, 26 HR, 79 RBI

The projections Bill James and his team made for Mike Napoli through last season assumed he would be playing catcher for a sizable portion of the season - and until last offseason and the discovery of Napoli's avascular necrosis, that was accurate.

With the burden of squatting behind the plate for 60-70 games per season lifted, Napoli successfully exceeded expectations in terms of batting average and on-base percentage, and his power numbers remained pretty steady.

Though it an be a strain to watch Napoli come to the plate during his dry spells, it's 100% worth it when he inevitably heats up. Streaky players are frustrating at times, but Nap made up for it with his better than advertised defense at first base and wholehearted embrace of the Red Sox and Boston more generally.

I was thrilled when I heard that the Red Sox had signed Napoli to a two-year, $32 million dollar deal (I sent several text messages that just read "MIKE NAPOLI," and was able to identify my true friends based on those who didn't need further explanation). I can't wait to see Napoli - and the beard he's reportedly keeping - back next year. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2014 Bill James Projections - A.J. Pierzynski

2011: 129 games, .287 BA, .323 OBP, .405 SLG, 8 HR, 48 RBI
2012 projection: 116 games, .277 BA, .317 OBP, .394 SLG, 9 HR, 48 RBI
2012: 135 games, .278 BA, .326 OBP, .501 SLG, 27 HR, 77 RBI
2013 projection: 137 games, .269 BA, .310 OBP, .422 SLG, 17 HR, 61 RBI
2013: 134 games, .272 BA, .297 OBP, .425 SLG, 17 HR, 70 RBI
2014 projection: 128 games, .266 BA, .303 OBP, .407 SLG, 14 HR, 56 RBI

I'll admit to being a little skeptical about A.J. Pierzynski at first: he's hardly the most popular man in the league, but apparently he's the type of player that everyone loves more in their own clubhouse than as an opponent.

The Red Sox have had their share of those types over the years (I'm looking at you, Kevin Youkilis), and if the front office folks who assembled the 2013 chemistry dream team think Pierzynski will be a good fit, I'm behind them.

Though James projects Pierzynski to play around 130 games, it's possible that he'll be behind the plate for fewer - especially if backup catcher David Ross can stay concussion free in 2014.

Somehow Pierzynski has never hit a home run at Fenway Park, but as a lefthanded batter who tends to pull his homers out of right field, I'd hazard a guess that his drought will end early in 2014.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2014 Bill James Projections - Jonny Gomes

©2013 Kayla Chadwick
2011: 120 games, .209 BA, .325 OBP, .389 SLG, 14 HR, 43 RBI
2012 projection: 120 games, .240 BA, .333 OBP, .439 SLG, 16 HR, 53 RBI
2012: 99 games, .262 BA, .377 OBP, .491 SLG, 18 HR, 47 RBI
2013 projection: 113 games, .236 BA, .337 OBP, .441 SLG, 16 HR, 49 RBI
2013: 116 games, .247 BA, .344 OBP, .426 SLG, 13 HR, 52 RBI
2014 projection: 122 games, .237 BA, .336 OBP, .433 SLG, 16 HR, 53 RBI

With a 2013 salary of $5 million dollars, Jonny Gomes was a bargain for the Red Sox last season. He produced better than expected (and you better believe the Red Sox take Bill James' projections into account, as he's on their payroll), was an excellent guy to have in the clubhouse, and was always entertaining - if not efficient - in the outfield.

The two-year deal Gomes signed with the Red Sox takes him through 2014 in Boston, and will cost the Red Sox $10 million total. Considering the Sox have gotten exactly what they were looking for in Gomes, including a World Series trophy, it will be worth it even if he spontaneously falls into a coma on Opening Day.

James' projections for Gomes will probably be just about spot-on for 2014, as they were very accurate for 2013 - though it's possible Gomes might see some additional playing time if there's some shuffling while they ease Jack Bradley Jr. into center field.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2014 Bill James Projections - Shane Victorino

©2013 Kayla Chadwick
2011: 132 games, .279 BA, .355 OBP, .491 SLG, 17 HR, 61 RBI
2012 projection: 149 games, .277 BA, .344 OBP, .441 SLG, 17 HR, 64 RBI
2012: 154 games, .255 BA, .321 OBP, .383 SLG, 11 HR, 55 RBI
2013 projection: 155 games. .269 BA, .338 OBP, .418 SLG, 14 HR, 59 RBI
2013: 122 games, .294 BA, .351 OBP, .451 SLG, 15 HR, 61 RBI
2014 projection: 148 games, .270 BA, .336 OBP, .415 SLG, 14 HR, 58 RBI

Shane Victorino spent 2013 in a constant battle with his own body. It seemed like every week he had some sort of new nagging injury to contend with, but it was clear that he gave it his all every day he made it to the field.

Yesterday Victorino underwent surgery to repair his right thumb, which he injured during a mid-September game against the Orioles; he is expected to be ready for Spring Training

It's interesting that James projects fewer home runs and RBIs for Victorino in 2014, considering he's banking on Victorino playing in an additional twenty-six games. I would expect a healthy Shane Victorino to at least match his 2013 performance, and I wouldn't be surprised if he surpassed himself.

©2013 Kayla Chadwick
What the numbers here don't show is the defensive prowess that Victorino brought to Fenway's expansive right field. As someone who has played the majority of his career in center field, Victorino slid into the right field position pretty effortlessly last season - and his flexibility will certainly be a boon as the Red Sox ease Jackie Bradley Jr. into center next spring.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2014 Bill James Projections - Jon Lester

©2013 Kayla Chadwick
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
2012: 9-14, 33 starts, 205.1 IP, 4.82 ERA, 68 BB, 166 SO
2013 projection: 12-12, 33 starts, 211 IP, 3.71 ERA, 75 BB, 192 SO
2013: 15-8, 33 starts, 213.1 IP, 3.75 ERA, 67 BB, 177 SO
2014 projection: 14-9, 32 starts, 3.67 ERA, 71 BB, 193 SO

With the exception of the win-loss record, Bill James was essentially right on the money for Lester in 2013. Sure, Lester had slightly fewer strikeouts than James promised, but overall it was a solid projection of a solid season.

It's hard to believe that this time last year, the Sox brass was rumored to be considering a Lester for Wil Myers trade, and while Myers did well in his 88 games in Tampa Bay, I'm thrilled that we kept Lester.

This year it's Lester looking for a new contract. Rather than showing himself the door, he's looking to stay in Boston long term - but not at the expense of his own earning power:

Lester is a talented left handed pitcher who has proven he can pitch in the AL East in high pressure situations, and as such he might command a longer contract than the Red Sox would be comfortable handing out. 

Hopefully he and the Red Sox can work something out, because the last thing I want is for Lester to perform as Bill James has always projected - for some other team.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ellsbury Awkwardly Introduced in New York

Via @JoeGiza
In one of the most awkward press conferences I can remember, Jacoby Ellsbury was just introduced to the New York media for the first time as a Yankee.

The awkwardness began when Yankees GM Brian Cashman presented Ellsbury's wife, Kelsey, with a bouquet of roses, looking a bit like he was asking her to prom.

Via @JoeGiza
Then, in his best impression of an eighth graders angsty poetry, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi told Ellsbury, "You no longer are a thorn in my side. You are a flower in our clubhouse."

To cap off the awkwardness, Ellsbury got up to put on his new pinstriped jersey (#22), and struggled with the buttons while the photographers took about a million pictures. 

Finally Ells got behind the podium and did his best to avoid answering any of the questions he was asked.

It's never been a secret that I'm not Jacoby Ellsbury's biggest fan - indeed, I gleefully referred to him as "D-Ellsbury" for months while he was a member of the Red Sox (and while that may have been in bad taste, I still maintain it was a clever nickname). I think New York made a mistake by overpaying Ellsbury, and I plan to gloat about it for the next seven years.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

SoxCast in Syracuse: Episode 9

In this episode of SoxCast in Syracuse, we discuss the Ellsbury defection, the Pierzynski signing, and wild trade rumors.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2014 Bill James Projections - Jackie Bradley Jr.

©Kayla Chadwick 2013
2013 projection: 148 games, .258 BA, .351 OBP, .419 SLG, 13 HR, 65 RBI, 20 SB
2013: 37 games, .189 BA, .280 OBP, .337 SLG, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB
2014 projection: 131 games, .248 BA, .329 OBP, .420 SLG, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 13 SB

With Jacoby Ellsbury off to New York, and barring another big trade or free agent signing, Jackie Bradley Jr. could be spending a lot of time patrolling center field at Fenway Park in 2014.

Bill James obviously expected Bradley to have a much larger role last season, but that didn't exactly pan out. After tearing up the Grapefruit League during spring training, Bradley started the season with the Red Sox, but was back in Pawtucket soon after.

In his short time with the big club, Bradley had some trouble with major league pitching, but given time his disciplined approach should pay off.

If we do see Bradley starting in center field in 2014, I suspect he'll be eased into it with lots of days off, especially in the beginning of the season. But if he reaches these projections in his first full year in the majors for less than three percent of what the Yankees will be paying Jacoby Ellsbury, I'll be more than satisfied.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ellsbury to the Yankees

As much as I enjoy being right, I really wish I had been wrong when I made the following prediction about Jacoby Ellsbury's future back in February:
...we already know what Boras is going to do: he'll delay all talk of a possible extension until after the end of the season, then allow the bidding war to begin. We know that Boras is licking his chops, hoping that Ells will have a 2011 type season, so he can start measuring him for high-priced pinstripes. -The Jacoby Ellsbury Farewell Tour
Nine months and a World Championship later, and Ellsbury is ready to defect to the Bronx. No one who has followed the long and incredibly predicable career of Scott Boras should be surprised - typically a player signs with him looking for a big payday, and Ellsbury is getting just that.

Reportedly the deal is worth at least $153 million over seven years, and will include an option for an eighth year and an additional $16 million.

Ellsbury is a great player. He's fun to watch, his teammates like him, and he has a tendency to make highlight worthy catches. But there is no way the Red Sox would consider offering him a deal anywhere approaching this one - and they're right.

A deal this long term is foolish, especially since Ellsbury relies so much on his speed - that's typically one of the first things to go as a player ages. I like Jacoby Ellsbury. I respect him as a player, and as a person. I even hope he does well going forward - so long as his new team fails spectacularly.