Showing posts with label Boston Red Sox. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boston Red Sox. Show all posts

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Examining the Reasoning Behind the Jake Peavy Deal

As fantasy owners we are almost always interested in the trades that happen between major league rosters. We get especially excited in the days leading up to MLB's Non-Waiver Trade Deadline. We want and expect to see big names and major loves that will radically change the face of Major League Baseball teams and the fate of our fantasy squads. Unfortunately the deadline deals rarely match-up with our great expectations. This year's deals were not an exception.

By far the most interesting deadline deal was the three-team deal between the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox gave up young defensive shortstop Jose Iglesias (to Detroit) and a trio of prospects ( infielder Cleulius Rondon and pitchers Francelis Montas and Jeffery Wendelken) and received starter Jake Peavy from the White Sox and reliever Brayan Villarreal from the Tigers. Chicago received the Boston prospects and young outfielder Avisail Garcia from the Tigers.

Jose Iglesias is a good fit with the Detroit Tigers for a few reasons. If the Detroit Tigers have a weakness it is in their infield defense. Iglesias can provide the Tigers with Gold Glove quality defense at shortstop and even second and third base if necessary. Over the last few seasons, Iglesias has become a much better contact hitter with improved patience at the plate. It does not show in his walk rate but it does appear in his swing rates and his declining strikeout rate. Iglesias has close to zero power (2.2 HR/FB% and .079 ISO) but is becoming the type of player that can find ways to contribute (or at least not be a huge negative) in a lineup full of sluggers while contributing vastly increased defensive range. He still swings at too many pitches, especially outside of the strikezone. He is also unlikely to keep batting .330 or maintain his .379 BABIP but he should be able to hit for a decent average, at least for a power lacking defensive dynamo.

Iglesias' most significant contribution to the Tigers in 2013 is likely to be as the player who replaces Jhonny Peralta during his coming PED suspension. Peralta has yet to test positive for anything illegal or against the rules at this point. However, Bud Selig is determined to punish anyone linked to rumors of wrong doing via the BioGenesis scandal. So in effect, Peralta is being punished for not testing positive while being linked to BioGenesis. No, it is not meant to make sense. Peralta is likely to miss most of the remaining season. It is possible he could be around for the playoffs but it is difficult to see that happening if Iglesias is successful over the next two months. Peralta is a free agent after the 2013 season and could very well finish his career with the Tigers watching from home.This could mean Iglesias is the shortstop of the future for the Detroit Tigers.

The Red Sox were already in good shape heading into the season's last two months.They were playing well with a solid lineup, starting rotation and bullpen all contributing. The Red Sox also have a loaded farm system which is loaded with enough quality talent to allow them to deal their former shortstop of the future. But if you look closely you can see why the Red Sox felt they wanted another veteran starter.

Jon Lester is their ace in theory but recently went through a rough period similar to last season's disaster. Lester seems to have recovered relatively quickly but he does not inspire great confidence in Boston fans nor the team's management. Clay Buchholz finally seems to be the ace-level starter he was once projected to become but his track record of success is not long and his recent shoulder discomfort is worrying.

Peavy has a history of durability problems but was great in 2012 when he contributed 219 innings in 32 starts. Peavy is recently returned from a few weeks on the disabled list with a non-displaced fracture in his ribs. It is expected that this injury has contributed to a slight decline in his velocity relative to 2012 and some rust in his command since his return. But his elbow and shoulder are both strong and not an issue at this point. He has solid velocity in the low 90's and excellent control. He has a very solid strikeout rate and induces a fair number of ground balls when necessary but also allowed quite a few homers pitching in Chicago's homer friendly stadium. Fenway should be a little better for Peavy's stats and his fantasy owners. Most of all he has pitching experience that the talented youngsters on the team can use in this group's first run into the playoffs.

The White Sox had and still have an aging roster and a high payroll that does not provide much bang for the bucks. Avisail Garcia is the best prospect the White Sox acquired but is still very much a work in progress. More than anything else the White Sox are looking to load up their farm system and clear payroll so that the new management team can rebuild the roster with younger and more cost effective talent. Garcia could see a small power boost playing in Chicago but his lack of patience and over aggressiveness will limit his impact on fantasy rosters and in the White Sox lineup. Garcia is only 22 years old so he has plenty of time to develop the skills necessary to become a solid major league outfielder.

Here are the deals leading up to the deadline that you may interest you: (from ESPN)

• The Baltimore Orioles acquired SP Bud Norris from the Houston Astros for DH L.J. Hoes and SP Josh Hader. (July 31)

• The Kansas City Royals acquired OF Justin Maxwell from the Houston Astros for SP Kyle Smith. (July 31)

• The San Diego Padres acquired SP Ian Kennedy from the Arizona Diamondbacks for RP Joe Thatcher, RP Matt Stites and a 2014 competitive balance round B draft pick. (July 31)

• The Boston Red Sox acquired SP Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox and RP Brayan Villarreal and OF Avisail Garcia from the Detroit Tigers and sent SS/3B Jose Iglesias to Detroit and Garcia, RP J.B. Wendelken, SP Francellis Montas and SS Cleuluis Rondon to Chicago. (July 30)

• The Oakland Athletics acquired 3B Alberto Callaspo from the Los Angeles Angels for SS Grant Green. (July 30)

• The Atlanta Braves acquired RP Scott Downs from the Los Angeles Angels for SP Cory Rasmus. (July 29)

• The Tampa Bay Rays acquired RP Jesse Crain from the Chicago White Sox for players to be named or cash. (July 29)

• The Detroit Tigers acquired RP Jose Veras from the Houston Astros for OF Danry Vasquez and a player to be named. (July 29)

• The New York Yankees acquired OF Alfonso Soriano and cash from the Chicago Cubs for SP Corey Black. (July 26)

• The Baltimore Orioles acquired RP Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers for 3B Nick Delmonico. (July 23)

• The Texas Rangers acquired SP Matt Garza from the Chicago Cubs for SPs C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm, 1B Mike Olt, and a player to be named. (July 22)

We can still expect to see some fairly big names moving during the waivers period. Alex Rios, Mike Morse, and Michael Young are some of the bigger names on the market and they could change the shape of some close races in both fantasy and MLB.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Is Adrian Gonzalez a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Bust?

I have been writing quite a bit lately about the various position tiers of fantasy baseball. If you have been following here and in Big League Magazine (you should subscribe!) you will know that I believe the top tier at first base to be much smaller than most seem to expect. I am about to share with you my reasoning on one of the players typically expected to be in the first tier this season but who I believe is in the midst of a serious decline in production - Adrian Gonzalez.You will find my first base tiers and some brief comments on each player below the Adrian Gonzalez portion of this article.

First basemen have a reputation in MLB as well as in fantasy as being the biggest bats in the game. These are the guys that find their way into lineups regardless of defensive limitations or lack of running speed based on the quality of their hitting skills alone. We expect them to hit for average and for lots and lots of power. If we ran a poll of what fantasy owners wanted from their first baseman I have no doubt power would rule the day. Personally, I believe that high batting averages and big power are essential qualities in a top tier first baseman. First baseman typically do not steal bases so if they do not hit for average they become three category players. I don't know about you but if a player covers less than four categories he is moving way down my list. 

When Adrian Gonzalez was with the San Diego Padres he was a very good first baseman with outstanding numbers, especially considering he was playing most of his games in the sport's least favorable hitting environment. His batting averages were usually in the .275-.285 range with 30-plus homeruns per season. As a Padre he was a serious threat to score 100 runs and collect 100 RBI every season. He probably peaked during the 2008-2009 seasons when he hit 36 and 40 homers. His isolated power has declined in each of the three years since that peak. He went from a high ISO of .274 in 2009 with 40 homeruns to just .164 in 2012 when he hit just 18 homeruns between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Gonzalez suffered a shoulder injury in May of the 2010 season. He played through the pain the entire season and had what was initially expected to be relatively simple surgery in October of that same season. The surgery was often referred to as "cleaning up the shoulder". Later it was revealed that the rehab could take up to five months. This meant that even if he started the season on time there was a significant risk that he would still lack ideal strength in the joint. This had the potential to sap his power and make him a far less productive power hitter. That did not happen but his skill indicators still took a fall even as his production remained strong.

While rehabbing the shoulder Gonzalez, who had implied he would not be returning to the Padres when he reached his impending free agency, was traded to the Boston Red Sox. They were very aware of the shoulder problem but did not seem at all worried about it. Fenway Park tends to boost batting average and slugging percentage while robbing batters of homeruns. So Gonzalez seemed quite productive in 2011 despite power numbers that might seem disappointing when compared to his San Diego numbers. Few noticed that his .380 BABIP seemed very much out of character. His groundball rate rose dramatically with a corresponding decrease in flyballs. He was swinging at many more pitches out of the strike zone but he was making slightly better contact as well, even as he drew fewer walks. Before the 2012 season the Red Sox signed Gonzalez to a seven year $154 million dollar contract.

Gonzalez started very slow in 2012. He had just 6 homeruns through the end of June. His batting average was relatively mediocre until a brief BA surge in June. This was despite a first half .327 BABIP. His line at the end of June was just .283/.329/.416 with 6 homeruns, 45 RBI and 42 runs. That would have been a pretty good line for your shortstop (assuming you were getting steals somewhere else) but for your first baseman it was atrocious. There are lots of theories about what happened. For some it was the Bobby Valentine Effect. Just about anything that went wrong in Boston during the 2012 season has been laid at the feet of their former manager. However, there had been a clear change in skills and approach. The trade to the Dodgers seemed to make him happy. He was back on the West Coast and overall his second half was much more productive - .317/.361/.517 with 12 homers, just 33 runs but 63 RBI and even two stolen bases.

But can you count on Gonzalez to repeat his second half numbers? His second half BABIP of .342 is high but not ridiculous for Gonzalez given his career .324 BABIP. His walk rates have come way down since his peak. That has a lot to do with earning fewer intentional walks but that is not all of it. It could be a sign that his bat is not as feared around the league as it once was though it could also be that he now plays in deeper lineups. He is now a far less discerning batter, he has begun swinging at just about anything within reach. His power has declined three years running in dramatic fashion. His batted ball types tell that tale. He has become more of a groundball hitter with declining FB%, ISO, HR/FB% and obviously homerun totals.He has been hitting more doubles but that was primarily in Fenway Park. The Boston doubles could become long outs. If the BABIP scores regress to career levels or worse he could be a complete disaster at his present ADP.

Tier One First Basemen

Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds - The ideal first baseman is like Votto a five category contributor in a great lineup. The knee injury should not a concern. This could be his career year.

Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers - Fielder has been very durable but has up and down power numbers. If the pattern holds this should be a up year for Fielders homerun totals.

Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels - The best player in the game until 2012, I don't think this is the end. Other than April and September he was pretty much Pujols as usual.

Tier Two First Basemen

Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals- The power everyone wanted arrived but it was mostly a HR/FB illusion. His ridiculous slow (I mean Bug Bunny slow pitch slow) running speed will keep his run totals low.
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees - The shift is killing his batting average but he still has serious power. The imploding Yankees could erode his RBI totals.

Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals- If he could stay healthy he might move up a tier. He hits for average and could hit 35 homers if he ever got a full season of at-bats.

Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays - A few years later than expected, E5 has arrived. An improved O-Swing was a big factor. He steals a few bases too.

Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks - Everybody's new favorite has even more power than this. There is some average downside in his O-swing, and strikeout rate and it would be foolish to expect 18 stolen bases again.

Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox _ He is starting to slow down but he is such a good hitter that it may take a few more years to convince most fans. The White Sox have no one to replace him with anyway.

Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers - A talented player holding a lot of risky indicators. He should probably move down a tier. But unless you skipped the above article you know all that. You might have known anyway.

Tier Three First Basemen

Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals - He might be in the second tier if he was consistently healthy. If I owned him this season I would move Tyler Moore up my list of reserve picks.

Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves - He swings at too many pitches out of the zone but is becoming more patient and his power is improving. He is young enough that his breakout could be shockingly good.

Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs- Rizzo made nice improvements to his long swing and had another very impressive minor league season and a promising major league debut.

Logan Morrison, Miami Marlins - Injuries have kept his promise under wraps. He has the skills to hit for power and average. He is a patient powerful and disciplined batter. Health and at-bats are the key to his breakout.

Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers- Hart has solid power and a decent bat. His knee injury could mess up his base to start the season, so expect a slightly lower homer rate.

Ike Davis, New York Mets - He deserves an article of his own. His power arrived in the second half of the season but he spent the first half recovering from the effects of Valley Fever.

Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies - His peak was not very long but it was great while it lasted. He still has big power but the batting average could be disappointing.

Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins - He finally appears to be healthy. He expects to get a full season of at-bats this season. If he gets them and recovers his former skills he is an MVP candidate.

Lance Berkman, Texas Rangers - Berkman is brittle but very productive when healthy. He is aging quickly and is apparently just playing for the money at this point.

Tier Four First Basemen

Garrett Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates- A solid hitter with pretty good power. Unfortunately the Pirates are always trying to improve on him.

Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies- He's really the right fielder but he serves as Todd Helton's understudy at first base. Cuddyer is a five category contributor without any elite skills.

Mike Morse, Seattle Mariners - Has big power but has yet to prove he can be a consistent contributor from season to season. Injuries have been a factor and his new home park could be intimidating.

Hosmer's beard makes him look stupid.
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals - Everyone's favorite sleeper going into the 2012 season was a huge disappointment. His ADP still has him as a top 100 pick. He swings at too many outside pitches but he does have the patience to draw walks and makes strong contact. A good portion of his problems could be related to his .255 BABIP.

Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants - Belt has not exploded on the major league scene the way some prospect junkies expected. He draws walks but still swings at too many bad pitches. He is very BABIP dependent.

Chris Carter, Houston Astros - The power has been obvious for a long time but the platoon helped him be a bit more productive hitter. The Astros can give him a ton of at-bats. He has some upside potential, if you want to understand his ceiling better read this Minor League Ball article.

Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres - Alonso had a pretty good full season debut. He showed patience and discipline at the plate. His power was a little disappointing but his 39 doubles hold some promise for greater homer totals in the future. A nice pick in leagues where you can be patient with him. The power will improve.

Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays - The lineup around him is vastly improved. The expectations for the Blue Jays are higher than they've been in years and almost all the pressure if off Lind as the DH hitting near the bottom of the lineup. He showed improvement in the second half after his stint in the minors.

Tier Five First Basemen

Michael Young, Philadelphia Phillies - Had his worst season in the majors. It was not quite the fantasy disaster that it was for real baseball unless you drafted him based on his 2011 season.

Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles - He finally got a full season of at-bats and showed his power potential. He is not a great bat but the power is as real as it gets. I expect more of the same.

Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox - The news about his hip injury has been a bit blown out of proportion because of how anxious the Red Sox were to protect themselves. According to news that went under reported the condition caught early enough that treatment should be very effective. Napoli has been very productive in Fenway Park.

Brett Wallace, Houston Astros - The Astros are determined to give Wallace as many at-bats as possible. Wallace spent some time in the minors getting his swing back and was quietly productive on his return. This kid has experienced a lot in his very short career.

Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox - His homeruns came back in a big way but his power adjustment did not improve his batting average much. Despite 41 homers his slugging percentage was just .468 as he hit just 19 doubles. He is closer to done than those in love with the homerun totals would have you believe.

Darin Ruf, Philadelphia Phillies - If Howard were to go down to injury Ruf would be better suited to first base than the outfield role he is bound to have. Ruf is not an empty power hitter nor a one hit wonder. Some guys just take a bit longer to develop. He reminds me a lot of young Ryan Howard.

Tier Six First Basemen

Tyler Moore
Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics - Based on his track record I will have to see Moss do it again before I'll have any faith in him.

Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians - He has serious power and strikes out a ton. He is now is a lineup full of similar hitters. It should be fun to watch. Indian fans will want to wear windbreakers this season.

Justin Smoak, Seattle Mariners - The Mariners are giving him another opportunity based on how he finished the 2012 season. He looks good this spring and the addition if veteran bats mean there should be less pressure on the young players in Seattle.

Tyler Moore, Washington Nationals - A player I like more than most people. Davey Johnson is not a huge fan of rookies and held off using Moore as long as possible in 2012. he knows that Moore can be a very productive bat now. He should have a bench role to start the season.

Juan Rivera, New York Yankees - Rivera is not a great bat but thanks to the brittle and aging bats in the Yankees lineup Rivera should have plenty of at-bats this season.

Tier Seven First Basemen

Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies - A former fantasy stud reduced to hitting for average and trying to stay healthy enough to complete his ridiculous contract.

Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals He could be the starting second baseman if all goes right but he does not qualify there. He has some potential with the bat if he can find a position.

Jordan Pacheco, Colorado Rockies - A decent hitter but he has no power and no start role.

Gaby Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates - A better player than he showed in 2012. The Pirates will give him another opportunity to steal the first base job. He'll end up getting at-bats even if he doesn't start on a regular basis.

Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers - He has not improved while in the majors and looks to lose at-bats this season to Lance Berkman and eventually Mike Olt.

Mike Carp, Boston Red Sox- A favorite sleeper from 2012, Carp is now a bench bat for the Boston Red Sox. He should find at-bats at first and the outfield corners.

Casey Kotchman, Miami Marlins - Kotchman will battle Logan Morrison for at-bats but unless Morrison remains injured is unlikely to play much.

Carlos Pena, Houston Astros - The new Astros designated hitter. His power is in decline and he has not hit for average in years.

James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays - Why the Rays prefer James Loney to someone like Carlos Lee is a mystery. Loney does not hit for average or power anymore.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hot Stove: The Red Sox Sign Carl Crawford

You may have tricked yourself into thinking that after acquiring and signing Adrian Gonzalez that the Red Sox had made their major move of the Winter. You would have been wrong. You're wrong because the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford last night to a seven-year, $142 million deal. I know it messed up the Hot Stove Update I was writing last night.

Crawford makes the Red Sox lineup as tough as any lineup in the game. He is such a versatile player he can hit anywhere from first to fifth in the lineup and be a major asset. The most likely scenario has him batting first or second, and since he has been a reluctant leadoff hitter in the past I'm guessing he will bat second behind either Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury. Either way, every batter in the Boston lineup should get a boost to their personal stats.

Carl Crawford is a supreme athlete and one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. He does not walk a ton (career 5.4 percent walk rate) but has improved over the last three seasons (6.9 percent three-year average). Crawford is a groundball hitter averging just a 30.8 percent flyball rate. However, he can hit mistakes a long way. He has the power to hit 20 homers but is usually in mid-teens in homeruns. While Crawford swings at a few more pitches out of the strike zone than average, he also makes better than average contact. He is easily one of the best basestealers in the game and is a cinch to steal 40-plus bases if the Red Sox allow it. I think they will.

Carl Crawford is an easy first round pick in most fantasy leagues and should only benefit by moving into Fenway Park. The contract may be a bit extreme, but as I stated in the Hot Stove Update I now have to re-write, just because a contract is for a lot of money and takes a player into his 30's does not make it a bad or even an undesirable contract.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Red Sox Go Crazy! Gonzalez Deal is Off, For Now...

There is a slight chance that you've already heard about Adrian Gonzalez coming to Boston. Well, there is a good chance the deal is off. It may or may not happen but it is probably is worth looking at. On Friday, the Red Sox and Padres agreed on a deal that would send three prospects and a PTBNL (Player To Be Named Later) to San Diego in exchange for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and a small window to negotiate a contract extension with Gonzalez. The quality of the PTBNL is probably largely dependent on whether the Red Sox are able to sign Gonzalez within the window. However, there are conflicting reports about this and as of the negotiating deadline (2pm, Sunday) there was no extension agreement. It was originally believed that the Red Sox would take Gonzalez even without the extension but obviously that may not be the case.

The Red Sox are parting with at least three top ten prospects but this still looks like a great deal for the Boston Red Sox. The acquisition will move gold glove first baseman, Kevin Youkilis back to his old third base position. Youkilis was once a potential gold glove third baseman as well, but was moved to fit Mike Lowell into the lineup after the Red Sox received him in the Josh Beckett acquisition. Youkilis may not be quite the third baseman he was, but he should still be a solid defensive third baseman.

Gonzalez would be moving from Petco Park, one of the most extreme pitchers' parks into Fenway Park, one of the better parks for hitters. Fenway would provide a slight boost to Gonzalez's power numbers but it would do much more for his batting average. Gonzalez likes to send flyballs to the opposite field where they went to die in Petco, but would bounce off the Green Monster for singles and doubles.

Gonzalez is streaky but also a fairly disciplined hitter. He has a essentially equal distribution of flyballs and grounders, a consistent 20 percent of his batted balls are linedrives. He has a strong walk rate of 11.4 percent in his career and makes strong contact, especially for a power hitter. In Fenway Park I would confidently expect him to bat .300-plus with around 40 homeruns.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Felix Doubront, the Next Red Sox Ace?

Felix Doubront has come on strong his last two seasons in the Red Sox organization. Doubront was signed out of Venezuela in 2004. He progressed slowly but steadily through the system putting up mostly good but not great numbers. The last two seasons things have started to click for him and he has emerged as a top prospect.

Doubront is making his major league debut today primarily due to the DL-stints of Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. However, he also deserved the promotion because of his very good numbers at triple-A this season. He has a 2.11 ERA in 12 starts between Double-A and Triple-A this season, with 54 strikeouts, 22 walks and no homers allowed in 59 2/3 innings. He gets to face Manny Ramirez in his return to Fenway Park.

From Red Sox Prospects:

Doubront utilizes a 91-94 mph fastball, a very good 79-81 mph changeup with screwball action, and a developing mid-70s curveball. Flawless and fluid downward pitching motion with excellent control. Deceptive delivery, hitters don't pick up the ball until late, causing his fastball to look a little faster. Used to struggle against left-handed batters, but seemed to fix this issue in 2009. He has a reserved and modest demeanor, but is aggressive and poised on the mound. Sometimes has the tendency to leave the ball up in the zone too much, giving up too many home runs. Athletic and agile in the field. Doubront struggled in 2007 due to numerous injuries, including recovery from a hernia operation.
Doubront should be worth an add in AL-only leagues. He isn't likely to be great in mixed leagues just yet. He will probably go back to the minors when Dice-K comes off the disabled list.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Adrian Beltre to the Boston Red Sox

Photo from fOTOGLIF

The Boston Red Sox have signed third baseman Adrian Beltre to a one year contract worth $9 million in 2010 with a $5 million player option for the 2011 season. No one actually expects Beltre to utilize the player option (unless he gets hurt). The option allows the Red Sox to keep the luxury tax value of the contract to just $7 million per season. This signing instantly reduces the fantasy value of Mike Lowell to nearly zero until he is traded or someone is hurt at a position Lowell can handle. I am nearly certain the Red Sox will give Lowell some at-bats against left-handers but they won't have him in a straight platoon so at-bats will be few and far between.

Beltre completes the Red Sox's makeover of their team defense. The infield now has three (maybe four depending on your opinion of Marco Scutaro at shortstop) legit gold glove candidates. Beltre, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are superior defenders. Mike Cameron takes over center field and pushes the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury to left field (yes that is official now). The Red Sox pitching staff should see huge benefits.

Beltre should also play much better offensively in Fenway Park than he did in Safeco Field. He's moving from one of the worst parks for his skill set (right-handed pull hitter) to one of the best parks for his skill set. Dave Allen of fangraphs had a nice article about how Beltre might be better in a more appropriate park. Fantasy owners should be excited about Beltre in a way that you could not be in his years with the Seattle Mariners.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Did you catch Hulk Hogan's return to the wrestling world last night? He's attempting to become the Vince McMahon of TNA iMPACT. There's a great interview with the Hulkster on FanHouse, if you are the least bit interested in wrestling you should check it out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Boston Red Sox Fantasy Report

Last offseason the Red Sox made a concerted effort to bolster their offense by signing Mark Teixeira. There were also several rumors of them attempting to trade for various offensive stars. They also seemed determined to upgrade their captain Jason Varitek with a younger, more offensively oriented catcher. They pretty much failed in every effort. However, the team projected as stacked and there were few public concerns. Then David Ortiz, the heart of the sox lineup began the season with a horrendous months-long slump. The Red Sox were still scoring runs but after every loss, fingers were pointed at the offense and the lack of it from the designated hitter. Eventually Ortiz did pull out of his slump and had a strong second half but the doubts remains as he heads into the last year of his guaranteed year of his contract (the club holds a $12.5m option for 2011).

As David Ortiz slumped, Jason Varitek was as inconsistent as expected from an offensive viewpoint. Lauded as a great leader and fair defensive catcher, Varitek did many intangible things to help the team win. Nevertheless, the Red Sox wanted offense from the catcher position and got it when they sent several prospects to the Cleveland Indians for Victor Martinez who will be the starting catcher in 2010. Varitek will return by virtue of utilizing his player option for $3m and incentives after the Red Sox passed on using theirs.

The Red Sox run the risk of losing slugging left fielder Jason Bay to free agency. A loss that will be difficult for the Red Sox faithful (an unsabermetricly inclined crowd to say the least, despite the clear beliefs of the teams management) to understand. Most analysts believe that signing Bay to the rumored deals that include several years and over 100 million dollars would be a colossal mistake. Granted, it is a mistake the Red Sox can afford to make. Unlike the rival New York Yankees, the Red Sox have avoided including extra years into contracts as incentives to sign. But Bay is an aging player (who some describe as a Three True Outcomes type) who is mediocre at best defensively and a perhaps a future designated hitter. Paying full price for Bay seems like something the Theo Epstein Red Sox would never do but then you hear things. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports on the Extra Bases Blog this series of events:
So we're talking to Theo Epstein Monday afternoon and he mentions that restructuring Tim Wakefield's deal will save the Sox $1.5 million on the CBT, which is GM-speak for the payroll luxury tax, or collective bargaining tax. "That's important because there's some things we want to do this winter and we don't have a ton of room under the CBT," Epstein said. The tax threshold for 2010 will be $170 million. Are the Red Sox actually planning to approach that? I mean, zowie. They were around $125 million this season. Keeping in mind that is an extremely rough estimate, I have the Red Sox committed to approximately $109 million for next season. That's figuring arbitration raises for Jonathan Papelbon, Jermey Hermida, Hideki Okajima and Ramon Ramirez and $500,000 each for the assorted 0-3 service-time players. Let's say they sign Jason Bay for $18 million. So now they're at $127 million. Where is that extra $43 million coming from that Theo seemed concerned about? Are the Red Sox leaving room for Roy Halladay and some other superstar? This is total conjecture, of course, and perhaps Epstein was just musing out loud. But perhaps that was a clue that the Sox are, if nothing else, giving themselves the option to make a huge splash.
It seems impossible that the Red Sox could worry about approaching the tax threshold without planning to devote a substantial amount to re-signing Jason Bay. Maybe they plan to sign Bay AND Holliday and put Bay at designated hitter. That would be out Yanking the Yankees, no doubt.

Fantasy Focus

Clay Buchholz, RHP
The Red Sox have a very strong pitching staff. They have a clear ace in Josh Beckett. Jon Lester is among the top starters in the American League and he has room in his development to become a dominating lefty ace. Daisuke Matsuzaka has been a slight disappoint for the Red Sox but he still has that amazing talent which made him such a desirable roster addition. Tim Wakefield is the versatile, and effective veteran that has the ability to throw opposing lineups into weeks-long slumps. But the pitcher who has the potential to have the biggest impact on the Red Sox staff as it now stand may be Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox have been huge believers in his incredible talent and have refused to include him in potential deals for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Felix Hernandez, and even Roy Halladay. After several brief appearances in the Red Sox rotation and some rumored (but hard to document) fiddling with his mechanics over the last three seasons (which include a no-hitter in his second major league start), he appears to have finally cemented a place in the Red Sox rotation for the 2010 season.

Coming through the Red Sox farm system Buchholz displayed double strikeout rates and solid groundball rates. He reportedly owned a potentially plus slider, plus fastball, plus-plus change up, and a plus-plus curve ball --The curve being his devastating out pitch. The strikeout rates have fallen in the higher levels (which is to be expected). However, the 6.65 k-rate Buchholz displayed in the majors in 2009 was much lower than we had come to expect. The 7.85 mark for triple-A Pawtucket was also an unexpected low but it may have been a price paid to deliever something else – an increased groundball rate. Buchholz delivered a career best 52.5 GB percentage for Pawtucket in 2009 (discounting small sample sizes). He brought that powerful skill with him to the majors in the second half where he produced a 53.8 percent mark in 92 innings and 16 starts.

FIP says that Buchholz was not as good as he looked this season (4.69 FIP, 4.21 ERA) probably due to his relatively low .289 BABIP. It does not look quite so much like good fortune when compared to his .270 minor league career BABIP. Buchholz has a minor league career K/9 of 10.12, a ML career GB% of 47.6 percent, and a HR/FB of 8 percent. This makes the 15.7 percent HR/FB in the majors look like more of an aberration than his .289 BABIP. The skills are there and even if his development has not gone exactly as expected he does not have anything left to prove in the minors.

Buchholz is an extremely talented pitcher and the Red Sox view him an extremely valuable. In fact, if what we know of trade negotiations is true, they see Buchholz as untouchable. This places him in a very elite class of prospect. I think the Red Sox look at Buchholz and see a pitcher that will eventually compare well to Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay. While Fantasy Owners should be very careful not to expect too much of young pitchers without a full season of experience in the majors, I think there is a lot of reason for optimism here.

Jonathan Papelbon, RP
They have died down recently but not long ago, Red Sox Nation was flooded with rumors about a possible change in the closer role for the Red Sox. These rumors found fertile ground in a few areas. One, Red Sox General Manager, Theo Epstein, does not believe in paying exorbitant prices for closers. He has learned well the PR lesson of not actually having a closer but I doubt that his core beliefs on building bullpens has changed. Two, Jon Papelbon has refused attempts to sign a long-term contract. He has indicated that he will not accept anything that does not pay him as one of the best closers in the league. In other words, he wants to be paid like Mariano Rivera. This makes it unlikely that he remains in Boston past his arbitration seasons. Three, rookie Josh Bard came up from the minors and justified all the talk of him being the closer of the future. In fact, Bard was dominating in the playoffs. Meanwhile, many fans have blamed Papelbon for the Red Sox failure to advance past the first round.

Papelbon was not his usual self in 2009. His control was way off and his fastball was much less effective than it has been. This is not to say that Papelbon was bad. In fact, he was a fine closer. Nevertheless, he was less deceptive, less dominating, and less intimidating in 2009. It does make some sense that the Red Sox in their search for offense use Papelbon as bait. Bard is definitely a closer-quality talent who the Red Sox love. They have a deep bullpen and plenty of help in the minors should Bard fall apart. With the Detroit Tigers in dump mode, perhaps the Sox can pry Miguel Cabrera away to fill the role they failed to fill with Teixeira. It would give the Tigers a real closer finally, and dump enough salary that they could keep Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson. Just a thought…

Searching for Sleepers

Jeremy Hermida, OF
Red Sox fans were surprised by the acquisition of Jeremy Hermida. They were expecting news regarding Jason Bay, one of several shortstops, or maybe even Roy Halladay, not a fourth outfielder. This is what Hermida represents to Red Sox fans these days. If you aren’t a huge name with a huge contract, what good are you? The thing is Hermida has it in him to be good…very good. I will not re-hash Hermida’s development as a prospect. Since the trade, a million and one blogs and newspapers have related the story of Hermida’s high minor-league walk rates and impressive plate discipline. However, what they have neglected to share is that Hermida was probably a bit overrated based on numbers put up in the low minors. Yes, he had good walk rates but his strikeout rates were not very impressive and this is part of his problem.

I am not going to pretend to completely understand strike zone dynamics, but I am going to share my theory anyway. Despite the ability to lay off pitches outside of the strike zone, Hermida still has high strikeout totals. He is not missing pitches in the zone; he has an upwards trending contact rate in the strike zone. I am guessing that he is being called out on strikes in the zone (I could not find this data – I know it is out there somewhere, but I wanted to get this published). Perhaps he is being stubborn about a personal strike zone, or Umpires just are not respecting his judgment. Whatever it is, I think he needs to start swinging at more pitches. Hermida had a 90 percent contact rate in 2009, and swung at just 23.9 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. Either he has been just unlucky (possible), or he is being called out on borderline pitches, pitches that Hermida needs to do something with. There is more evidence that Hermida needs to swing more in his BABIPs. His MLB career BABIP stands at .322, yet his career batting average is just .265. How can his discipline be good, his BABIP be high, and his batting average low, when he does not swing at many pitches? If you look at the image below, it appears that he does receive a lot of called strikes out of the zone but I have no idea if this is typical or not.

Here is what we do know. Hermida makes better than average contact in the strike zone, and less than average at pitches outside the zone. When he makes contact the result is better than average. His walk rate is back on the rise and has been better than average anyway. He is trending more fly balls and line drives and fewer groundballs. He looks (in my eyes) like a player just on edge of a leap forward. The Red Sox obviously see things they like and believe he can be a productive player for them. They certainly did not acquire him for his defense. Therefore, they must believe that he can contribute with the bat. The Red Sox are excellent evaluators and have top notch coaching, that in combination with Hermida’s talent make me willing to take a chance on Hermida in AL-only leagues. I would have to be very impressed during Spring Training to recommend him to shallow mixed-leaguers, but anything can happen.

Best Team Blogs for the Boston Red Sox

Firebrand of the American League -

Yawkey Way Academy -

ProJo Sox Blog -

El Guapo’s Ghost -

Sox Prospects -

Sunday, November 01, 2009

2010 Hot Prospect: Jose Iglesias SS Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have been struggling to find a long-term solution at shortstop since they traded away Nomar Garciaparra. They won a World Series for the first time in a hundred and something years but Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, and a few others have failed to make the Red Sox happy for various reasons. The answer may have finally arrived in the form of Cuban defector and shortstop, Jose Iglesias.

The Red Sox signed Iglesias to a four-year, $8.2 million contract. He has been placed on the 40-man roster and invited to big league Spring Training. Iglesias is not expected to begin the season in the majors but could move very quickly. His glove is ready. He has already drawn comparisons to Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel. The question (especially for fantasy owners) is will he be able to hit. The Red Sox seem to think so. They expect him to make good contact and eventually develop into a gap to gap hitter with speed on the bases.

From the Boston Herald:
“What jumps out are his raw athleticism and the instincts for the game,” Red Sox director of player development Mike Hazen said. “He’s maybe not polished yet. I don’t know what his coaching was like (in Cuba), and there probably were some nuances -- basestealing, selectivity at the plate -- that need work. But his natural instincts are incredible.”

“His tools are really impressive,” said Brandon Hyde, a minor league manager for the Florida Marlins who is serving as Mesa’s manager. “For as young as he is, he has unbelievable upside. He’s raw, but really talented. He’s an incredible defender. (At shortstop), it’s really about fine-tuning. He has amazing quickness. His hands are great and his footwork is excellent. For him, it’s all in there. It’s really about making the routine play consistently.”
Iglesias should not be high on the radar of Fantasy Owners even in long term keeper leagues at this point. His offense (despite a nice start in the AFL) is still way behind his defense. He will need a few months (at least) in the minors and it may be a few years before his bat becomes fantasy worthy. The hype is going to be huge especially if he does well. You need to know that he is not ready to be a fantasy option just yet.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dice-K Removed From Red Sox Rotation

It was obvious that eventually the Red Sox would have to make a change in their rotation. With John Smoltz healthy and ready to go and every other starter currently outperforming him, Daisuke Matsuzaka was the odd man out. This is from a report on manager Terry Francona's afternoon press conference.
"We need to get him looked at physically," said Francona. "He's gonna get looked at by (Red Sox trainer) Tom Gill. He's going to get tests done. There's a potential for MRIs. All of that information will be coming very soon."
Terry Francona and the Red Sox seem to be blaming Dice-K's appearances in the World Baseball Classic for leaving him unprepared for the regular season. While he is currently only assured of missing one start I believe that the Red Sox intend to see his velocity returned to its former level and an improvement in his control before he will pitch in the major leagues again.

This also takes some of the heat off the Red Sox to trade one of their rotation starters. Brad Penny has been a competent starter for the Red Sox and should continue to be as long as he stays healthy. Unfortunately this will do nothing to release Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden from their minor league purgatory.

Dice-K owners should thank their lucky stars that they won't be punished with his poor statistics for a while. I would not drop Matsuzaka if you have the ability to stash him in your reserves. Dice-K is a very talented pitcher and when he is "on" he is an asset to a fantasy team.


Statistics Courtesy of
1999 Lions (NPB) 7.55 4.35 0.70 0.196 1.17 0.236 82.20% 4.12
2000 Lions (NPB) 7.73 5.10 0.64 0.218 1.35 0.267 68.20% 4.18
2001 Lions (NPB) 8.01 4.38 1.01 0.214 1.25 0.253 75.60% 4.44
2002 Lions (NPB) 9.57 1.84 1.60 0.225 1.02 0.267 81.50% 4.28
2003 Lions (NPB) 9.97 2.92 0.60 0.232 1.18 0.314 75.90% 2.97
2004 Lions (NPB) 7.83 2.59 0.43 0.286 1.42 0.357 80.20% 3.07
2005 Lions (NPB) 9.46 2.05 0.54 0.221 1.03 0.295 78.90% 2.71
2006 Lions (NPB) 9.66 1.64 0.63 0.208 0.92 0.277 79.70% 2.56
2007 Red Sox 8.84 3.52 1.10 0.249 1.32 0.306 73.90% 4.23
2007 Red Sox 7.78 3.66 0.46 0.284 1.53 0.353 67.60% 3.54
2008 Red Sox (AAA) 9.00 1.80 0.00 0.221 1.00 0.305 60.00% 1.80
2008 Red Sox 8.27 5.05 0.64 0.213 1.32 0.267 80.60% 4.03
2008 Red Sox 9.00 5.06 1.69 0.274 1.63 0.325 82.60% 5.26
2009 Red Sox (AAA) 10.80 3.86 0.00 0.215 1.20 0.323 86.70% 2.34
2009 Red Sox 8.74 4.63 2.06 0.374 2.20 0.441 68.90% 5.72

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's wrong with David Ortiz?

David Ortiz is large, slow and in his mid-thirties. He has hit for power just about everywhere he has ever played. Last season he had a wrist injury which definitely impacted his stats. But every media source seems to agree with Ortiz and batting coach, Dave Magadan when they say the wrist is no longer a problem. Ortiz missed a few days with a stiff back. At his age a stiff back and sore joints becomes a normal condition. This has been reported as a brief and minor problem. However, Ortiz is not hitting for average or for power. Two weeks ago, Magadan thought he had hit on the answer to Big Papi's problems.

From on April 20th:
Hitting coach Dave Magadan diagnosed Ortiz's issue late last week. Ortiz has been cocking his hands into a hitting position too late, the same problem that has crept up on Ortiz when struggles surfaced in the past, Magadan said.

Late last week, Magadan showed Ortiz two pictures, one from last year during a hot streak and one from this year. In the first, Ortiz had his hands back, ready to swing, while the ball was halfway to the plate. In the second picture, Ortiz was in an identical position, but the pitch had nearly reached the plate.

Yesterday, Koji Uehara struck out Ortiz swinging twice, both at fastballs that did not reach 90 miles per hour. "When you're a little bit late . . . getting to the spot where you need to put a swing on the ball, 87 is like 97," Magadan said.

Magadan emphasized that readiness is Ortiz's main issue. Ortiz has not been hitting the ball to the opposite field and producing familiar Wall Ball doubles, but Magadan said opponents have been pitching him hard and inside. Magadan also said he has witnessed no effects from the wrist injury that plagued Ortiz late last season and in the playoffs.

While Magadan had identified the problem, he was not concerned with it. He and Ortiz worked on fixing it Saturday and Magadan is happy with the results.

"When you can change your season around in two games, it's not a start," Magadan said. "It takes some time. He felt good about the changes he made yesterday. For me, I think it's just a matter of time."
I and David Ortiz owners across the globe hope and pray that this is indeed the problem and that it is just a matter of timing. But I'm not so certain. Ortiz is in a class of player that has historically declined very quickly when reaching their mid-thirties, often it seems to happen overnight. Former Red Sox Mo Vaughn is a good example of this type.

Ortiz has a career walk rate of 13.5 percent, it is currently at 14 percent. His career K-rate is 21 percent, this season his rate is a just a touch higher at 22 percent. His BABIP is a little low at .281 compared to his .308 career rate, but that is hardly a sign of disastrous luck. Ron Shandler's XBA (expected batting average), which combines statistical indicators to predict what a player's batting average should be, suggests that Ortiz should be batting for about a .223 average. That's right on the money so far.

Ortiz's slugging percentage is hovering around .315, which is nearly .300 points below his last few years of production. He is hitting more flyballs than ever but a large percentage of them have been infield flies which helps supports Magadan's theory. The fact that he is not hitting homers at all is much more disturbing than the batting average. This is the part I believe is a fluke that will be corrected in the second half of the season.

So, what's wrong with Ortiz? He's getting older. His bat is slowing down a bit. His batting mechanics are a little off and he has struggled to correct them. I doubt the batting average will improve much above the .260 range, but I believe we'll see 20-plus homers before the season ends. That said, I wouldn't look acquire him unless the price were extremely low. I believe he'll bounce back but he's also an old enough version of the type that falls completely off the map to be willing to risk much. Then, maybe he just misses Manny...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Moving Up: Julio Lugo

With Jed Lowrie looking more and more like he will miss the remainder of the season, Julio Lugo's health and ability becomes huge for the Red Sox. Fantasy owners would probably prefer the more aggressive Lugo to Lowrie in any case. Lugo has shown the ability to steal 30-plus bases and hit 10-15 homeruns. His on-base percentage is not stellar but his other numbers (if he's healthy) could make that irrelevant.

On Friday Lugo had five plate appearances in a rehab assignment. According to Red Sox manager Terry Francona "Lugo ran the bases a couple of times and scored on an extra-base hit. " which would seem to indicate that he could return to action very soon. In any case, the Red Sox do not have a qualified major league alternative. All Lowrie owners should pick up Lugo if he is available. Any owner with a need for steals or an upgrade to their infield positions is advised to do the same.

Julio Lugo's FanGraph's Page

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Daisuke Matsuzaka to Disabled List

The Red Sox have now placed Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list. He left last night's game in the first inning after struggling with what the team called arm fatigue. It has been suggested that this is a result of his use during the World Baseball Classic.
The Red Sox have placed Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list and recalled lefthanded reliever Hunter Jones from Pawtucket.
To read more, visit
This sounds relatively minor. Although any arm related problems are worrisome in pitchers this problem seems easily retified with a couple of weeks off. Owners should not panic, nor should they release Matsuzaka under any circumstances.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Five Spring Training Questions Without Answers

There is no longer any doubt that Chase Utley will be ready and in the lineup for the Phillies on Opening Day. His plate discipline and patience should be unaffected. Judging by the small example we've seen in spring training he'll have no problem driving the ball. The only aspect of his game that we have yet to see is the stolen base. If the stolen base is no longer part of Utley's arsenal how will that change his value? He would still be one of the better second basemen in the National League due to his ability to hit for average and power in a loaded lineup.

If Joba Chamberlain can duplicate his performance as a starter in 2008 for the entire 2009 season he will easily be a top ten starter. The question remains if health and the Yankees will allow him to do it. He hasn't had a very encouraging spring for anyone concerned. His velocity has been down and he has appeared to be far less intense than would be ideal. It could be just a spring training issue. His velocity was down last spring and it exploded when he moved to the bullpen. Is this a Joba who is being ultra careful not to get hurt and to preserve his arm for a long season? Or is this a Joba already injured and trying to pitch through pain?

What about the Red Sox pitching staff? There are too many available bodies with another collection of arms that should be ready for the majors in in May/June. Justin Masterson is still in the running for a starting role according to recent reports and so is Clay Buchholz. What will happen with Tim Wakefield, Brad Penny, and John Smoltz if they are all effective and ready if Masterson and Buchholz are pitching well behind Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jon Lester? Rather than become clearer, this situation has become murkier. Let's not even get into the bullpen...

What is the right price to pay for Alex Rodriguez? There is noise about his rehab going well but when have you ever heard that rehab was going horribly? The cloud of controversey around him seems to get bigger and darker everyday. Even if he comes back and is effective in say June the injury risk will remain huge since effectively his injury has been patched not fixed. Will this make the problem worse in the long run? What if he comes back in 2010 and has lost a step? Minus stolen bases doesn't A-Rod become Aramis Ramirez? Not bad but not someone you want to pay first round value to have.

It probably isn't bugging others as much as me but who the hell is going to be in the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield, especially in left field? Nyjer Morgan is a speedy fourth outfielder who the Pirates seem willing to give an extended opportunity. Andrew McCutcheon is the most talented option but the Pirates will want to send him down long enough to delay arbitration by a year. Steve Pearce deserves an opportunity but doesn't seem to be very appreciated by management considering the way he's been dismissed as a possibility for two straight seasons. Brandon Moss has battled injury and is probably another fourth outfielder ultimately but maybe he's another David Murphy (another Red Sox cast away). The one lock is Nate McClouth who is probably the center fielder but if the Pirates are going to start a mediocre offensive option like Morgan wouldn't make sense to have him in center to maximize the defensive possibilities? I personally believe it may be a mish-mash of option the entire season.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ranking the Red Sox Rotation

The Red Sox have gone buy crazy. It seems they want every discounted, injury prone player on the market. In the last two weeks they've added outfielder Rocco Baldelli, outfielder/first baseman Mark Kotsay, starters Brad Penny and John Smoltz, and now former Dodgers closer, Takashi Saito.

The Red Sox rotation now has the following candidates: (the names all link to their fangraph pages)

Josh Beckett
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Jon Lester
Tim Wakefield
Justin Masterson
Junichi Tazawa
Brad Penny
John Smoltz
Clay Buchholz

What does this say about the Red Sox thinking? Are they just pouncing on deals? Or are they worried about the health and effectiveness of their top four starters? It is very tough to tell right now. We can probably assume that with the additions, Jonathan Masterson will be in the bullpen. Junichi Tazawa is likely to start in double A Portland.

  • Josh Beckett has been marketed as their ace (I happen to think that both Dice-K and Lester will be better pitchers this season) so he is definitely a lock. Dice-K, despite the walks last season is a lock for the number two spot. Jon Lester flashed top of the rotation form last season and I expect him to be number three. But that is about as far as you can guarantee the spots.
  • Tim Wakefield prefers starting but has always been willing to fill whatever role the team needs him to fill. He could easily fit in as a long reliever. His knuckleball probably isn't a good candidate for the higher leverage innings. But because of his longevity he will likely at least begin the season as the number four starter.
  • Brad Penny seems to be healthy right now, though he was injured when the 2008 season came to a close. When healthy Penny can bea very effective pitcher but has also been inconsistent throughout his career. He is probably the favorite to start as the number five starter but he has quite a bit of quality competition.
  • Clay Buchholz was disappointing in 2008 but has the talent to be a frontline starter on playoff team. He had some control problems that he hadn't encountered previously. He also appeared to be very unlucky with BABIP of .366 (average is between .290 and .310 most seasons). So with a bit of better luck and regaining his previous control combined with a groundball rate of almost 48 percent and a MLB career 8.57 K/9 we can expect much better things.
  • John Smoltz if healthy could be the number one starter, even on a team with a rotation this loaded. But if his health were a certainty he would probably still be a Brave (at the very least he would have commanded a much larger guaranteed contract). Most reports have him out until at least May but John Smoltz himself has disputed this. He has claimed that he can be ready in April. I have a hard time doubting him because the man has bounced back from more seriously injuries and quickly at that. If he is ready in April he is clearly going to bump someone from the rotation. The Red Sox obviously believe it as well, judging by the significant guarantee they gave a 41-year old pitcher coming off shoulder problems. Smoltz could be a nice sleeper option since he is likely to come with a large health-related discount.

The Red Sox bullpen is growing as crowded as their rotation and yet they refuse to part with pitching prospect, Clay Buchholz, in a deal for the young catcher they want so badly. If everyone is healthy I see the Red Sox rotation forming like this:

Josh Beckett
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Jon Lester
John Smoltz
Brad Penny

with Buchholz in the minors, and Masterson and Wakefield in the bullpen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas Yankees Fans!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...and to Yankees fans it looks like Christmas, New Years, birthdays and Mothers Day all wrapped together with a bright red bow.

The New York Yankees just committed $180 million over eight years to first baseman Mark Teixeira. Teixeira was negotiating with several teams including the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox until late last week when both teams dropped out of the bidding. The Yankees didn't even make an offer until Tuesday morning but it was quickly accepted. I'm guessing that LA and Bostn were trying to get a recession discount because this is pretty close to the asking price all along.

Teixeira is a fantastic hitter with plate discipline, patience and power. He should be an excellent fit in New York's lineup. He should have no problem scoring runs in front of Alex rodriguez and driving them in behind Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon. Teixeira is a solid early round pick in mixed leagues and a top selection in deeper AL-only leagues.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More from the Hot Stove Junkie

The latest Hot Stove Junkie is posted on Lots of interesting moves last week to analyze.

The Boston Red Sox Sign another Japanese Pitcher
I ran into Boston Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein last week. I wanted to ask him about his off-season plans but he just kept repeating the same phrase.

I'm turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so
Turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so
I'm turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so
Turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so

After walking away in confusion, I heard some news that rather explained it. The Red Sox had just signed their third Japanese pitcher. Right-hander Junichi Tazawa signed a three-year deal for $3.3 million. Tazawa is just 22 years-old. He will begin the 2009 season pitching for the double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Translating Japanese numbers to relevance for fantasy leaguers has always been a problem but Tazawa appears worthy of top prospect status. He spent the last four years pitching in the Japanese Industrial League for Nippon Oil where he was 13-1 with 5 saves and a 0.80 ERA this season in 21 games. He struck out 114 batters to just 15 walks in 113 innings. He is someone to watch, but I would not go nuts for him just yet.

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