I would run away too. (RLRS photo)
Jacoby Ellsbury has left the Boston Red Sox for the New York Yankees and, of course, this is a personal affront to Boston.com writer Peter Abraham. Abraham’s column seems sort of reasonable and matter of fact in tone, but the details are what give it away as a hatchet job. First, there’s the completely unfair comparison to Jon Lester, Clay Buccholz, and Dustin Pedroia. Those guys get called “loyal” for signing deals extensions while they were several years from being able to leave the team. That’s pretty blatantly unfair because a) those players gained tremendous financial security from those deals–the kind of security that many people would choose regardless of their loyalty to a team, and b) there’s an assumption that players should be loyal to teams that trade them like so much chattel.
But it gets worse. Next, Abraham tells us that “Ellsbury’s priority was getting every dime he could” and that Ellsbury “would have signed with North Korea if they offered the most money.” For the first part, there’s just no justification for this. The Yankees offer was, according to reports, as much as $70 million more than what the Red Sox were offering. The Mariners were rumored to have been willing to give Ellsbury an 8-9 year deal. If Abraham has some evidence that Ellsbury wanted every last dime, he needs to actually provide some evidence that his other offers were very close to the Yankees, but lower. Secondly, invoking North Korea is pretty close to Godwin’s Law. Bad for an Internet argument, but really terrible for an actual newspaper.
So the specifics are bad enough, but it’s the big picture that makes it worse for me. The Red Sox were more than happy to take advantage of the system that allowed them to underpay Jacoby Ellsbury for 6+ years and Peter Abraham seems to think that they’re not only entitled to do so, but that Ellsbury should be thankful for this honor. Ellsbury fulfilled his every obligation as a Red Sox employee, even as he dealt with questionable medical care by the team. He worked his way up through the minors and helped the Red Sox to two championships. When he became a free agent, the Red Sox reportedly made him a ridiculously low offer and he went to another team. For this, a writer at the biggest newspaper in Boston–one owned by one of the owners of the Red Sox–essentially calls him a bad person. That is a poor showing. Sadly, judging from the recent reaction to the Robinson Cano signing, Abraham is not alone in his tantrum-as-sports-column style.
How much does he need to be at shortstop to improve? (RLRS Photo)
The Red Sox remain in a state of flux with their roster at this point. One issue is the question of whether they will re-sign shortstop Stephen Drew. There is much to be considered by the Sox as they ponder this decision but one thing I want to think about is the development of Xander Bogaerts. If the Sox bring back Drew (or sign some other possible starting shortstop e.g. Clint Barmes) the club would have effectively two options;
Option One – Bounce Bogaerts between short and third as the season progresses with Drew at short when he is in the lineup and Middlebrooks at third when he is in there.
Option Two – Same scenario except with Drew bouncing around and Bogaerts the everyday shortstop and Middlebrooks the everyday third baseman.
The concern with option one is that Bogaerts might lose some necessary reps at shortstop. Would this harm his development? My gut says it would not be ideal but I used Baseball-Reference’s Play Index to find players who played both short and third at least 25 times in the same season in their first or second season. Of the fourteen players who met that criteria since 1980 I found two that I think are interesting comps for Bogaerts;
who are those comps? Continue reading
Mamacita, what a day. Mike Napoli will be in a Boston uniform again next season, and the Twitterati are reporting that he left money on the table to make it happen.
The terms of the deal are exactly what the Red Sox would have wanted: a short contract length of 2 years, and at a very reasonable price of $32 million. Another low-risk commitment, and another player giving the Sox a discount for no other obvious reason than loving the team and the experience of playing in Boston, is pretty fantastic if you’re Ben Cherington. As a fan of a big revenue club it makes me feel a little guilty that good players are willing to make less money to play for my team, but I think if you give me a minute … wait … yep. There, I just got over it.
Wheeeeeeeee! Welcome back, you crazy bearded bastard.
“I’m thinking of going on vacation and I like baseball and sunny weather, any ideas?” (RLRS Photo).
So you are trying to make plans for a March vacation. You want to go somewhere warm and that you can kick back and relax. Maybe you are looking for clear beaches and hey if there is a little baseball to be seen that would be OK.
One option is to postpone your March vacation until April and go to Texas to see the Rangers. A better option is a trip Spring Training!!!
Spring Training kicks ass, that is all there is to it. Tickets for the spring games go on sale on Saturday and if you have never been I heartily recommend it.
Here are twelve things I love about Spring Training;
1. It’s baseball!!! ‘Nuf ced.
2. The relaxed atmosphere is the best. There is nothing like watching a ball game in on a warm, sunny day with no stress. They win…great. They lose…great. They tie…great. You are just watching people play ball.
Read on for more about Spring Training and sunny Florida
The third in a series examining the team’s needs, position by position. Previously, we looked at catchers and outfielders. The Red Sox did well last winter by looking for ways to upgrade the team that cost money or talent, but not both. They should try to do the same thing again during this offseason.
Now I am become Mike, Destroyer of Baseballs (RLRS Photo)
Of the four principal free agents on the 2013 team, at this juncture Mike Napoli seems like the best bet to return. Should we be excited about that? And if he doesn’t come back for 2014, what are the other options?
I’m still not as good at math as some of the other folks here, so again I’ve just listed each player’s age for the 2014 season and a quick ‘n dirty 5/4/3/2 weighted projection for his slash line and WAR (using Fangraphs WAR).
Mike Napoli (Age 32, .260/.360/.505, 3.5 WAR) – The case for re-signing Napoli is built on his astonishing (in the sense that it’s impressive) power and his equally astonishing (in the sense that it’s genuinely surprising) defense. The performance-based reasons are supplemented by his mutual love affair with the city and people of Boston and his prominent role in the positive clubhouse culture. He is comfortable here.
The case against re-signing Napoli would mention his astonishing strikeout totals (neither impressive nor surprising) and link them with a career-high BABIP of .367 to argue that the projected slash line above would make Pollyanna blush. The avascular necrosis affecting both his hips could also be viewed as a compelling reason to avoid a multi-year commitment to Napoli.
Verdict: The Red Sox’ information on Napoli’s hip condition must be as good as anyone’s. Napoli himself says a recent MRI indicated he’s no worse off now than he was a year ago. He’s also consistently said he’d like to keep playing in Boston if the right agreement can be reached with the Sox. Cherington can probably afford to be patient with Napoli and hope that the perceived question marks about the player’s health will dampen the market somewhat. Continue reading
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Robinson Cano is headed to the Mariners on a 10 year/$240 million deal. Probably an overpay but one that takes Cano out of the East, and therefore fantastic news for Red Sox fans. They did rope in Jacoby Ellsbury but his acquisition just doesn’t make up for this loss.
The elite-second-basemen in the AL East club just got smaller. (RLRS photo)
Thanks, Shane. But you probably project to 2 WAR fewer this year. (RLRS Photo)
We’ve been talking here about what the Red Sox need to do in order to make us happy this offseason. How good do you need the team to be? I like to use the numbers as a baseline here. Obviously anyone who watched the 2010-2013 Red Sox knows that the preseason projections have huge error bars, so I don’t think a projected 85-win team is doomed or that a projected 95-win team is a lock for the playoffs. But contrariwise, the last four seasons have not taught me that I shouldn’t strongly prefer the latter to the former. The Red Sox should be shooting for a 95-win roster, not hoping that an 85-win roster comes together magically again.
So I’m taking a look at the projections. Fangraphs has posted ZiPS, Steamer and Oliver projections to their super-useful one-stop projections page. I’m collecting average projections for all players likely to play a major role on the 2014 Red Sox, and comparing them to value numbers for players who played major roles on the 2013 Red Sox.
So that adds up to about 12 WAR difference, with only 500 PA to make up. That would put the Red Sox around 85 wins. This is the club with the LF/1B spots manned by Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp, with Jackie Bradley Jr in center field and Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts on the left side of the infield.
If the Sox make marginal improvements like bringing in a good-not-great 1B or LF, that will probably add a win or two. To get up to 90+ wins, the Sox need to use those missing plate appearances on a true star, a 5 WAR kind of guy. That’s why I want one more big move.
Below the fold are the players I used in this projection: Continue reading
Grrrr, I’m going to get you out (SF Gate Photo)
With Thursday’s signing of Edward Mujica and their earlier acquisition of Burke Badenhop the Red Sox bullpen is really taking shape and I wanted to take a moment to think out loud (or on screen) about it. The Sox have made three moves of note this off-season (Mujica, Badenhop and A.J. Pierzynski) and you can argue that those moves were at the positions they were already best set.
With that in mind here is one man’s back of the envelope look at the bullpen;
Closer – Koji Uehara
Fireman – Junichi Tazawa
Set Up Man – Edward Mujica
Set Up Man – Craig Breslow
Miscellaneous – Burke Badenhop
Long Man – Felix Doubront/Ryan Dempster
Inherited runners had little running to do once he entered a game in the playoffs (RLRS Photo).
Based on the way he was used last year (particularly in the playoffs) I think we will see more of Junichi Tazawa – Destroyer Of Rallies and Strander Of Runners in short bursts with Mujica, Breslow and someone else working clean innings (Badenhop has the rail but Workman could jump in there).
One of the things I had been anticipating was to see some of the kids filling bullpen roles this year. It is hard to see how that happens, at least at the start. The Sox are wisely building in some depth because pitchers get hurt. Right now if you assume the non-starter of Doubront/Dempster is the long man the last role in the bullpen is a mop up man and that is going to be among;
Andrew Miller (what is his health status?)
Rubby De La Rosa
I am probably missing someone but that is a lot of pitchers. This is a good place to have that problem. Per Baseball-Reference’s Play Index the Sox had fifteen pitchers throw at least 10 relief innings last year. Expand the minimum to 20 innings and you still have ten pitchers and some of those pitchers were pitching high leverage innings.
Over the last decade the Sox have used 85 pitchers for 20 or more innings, an average of 8.5 per year. The Sox have stacked up the bullpen and my initial read was that they were binding themselves up. Looking at the numbers I think Ben Cherington has augmented a strength to allow for some flexibility.
Plus he does not have to trade Xander Bogaerts for Shawn Kelley or something like that.