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Jeff

Red Sox open their season tonight!

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Jeff   

David Wells has finally shifted into gear! He has had me worried for the past couple weeks, but he completely shut down Baltimore last night. smile.gif

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We have a lot to be excited about right now:

-took two of three from Yankees, outhitting them by far

-Renteria is finally hitting, giving us good production at #2 spot, and allowing Trot to move down to #5, spreading out the production in the lineup

-Wells pitched well in his last outing

-we lead all of baseball in OBP, meaning we are effectively employing moneyball strategy

-we're doing all of this without Schilling, who I have every confidence in (with his work ethic and desire) to come back and contribute in second half

-Olerud gives us some options

One thing I'd like to see is Youkilis playing more. Seems logical that he'll be our everyday 3B next year, and I'd like to see him getting more ABs now. Especially seeing that he's outhitting Millar, Bellhorn and Mueller. He should be able to get three starts a week spelling each of them (with Mueller playing 2B when Bellhorn sits), at least until they show they should be playing everday.

Back in April, Rich Kennedy asked:

How many walks per game so far? I wonder if Epstein is forcing the patience-at-the-plate principle. This is important for Moneyball teams.

We are certainly seeing a lot of pitches and getting the walks. We're first in the league in BB, and first in pitches seen per plate appearance. Sox hitters see 3.87 pitches per plate appearance, with 4 Sox regulars seeing more than 4 pitches per plate appearance (only 17 regulars total in the AL see that many) - Bellhorn, Ortiz, Varitek and Ramirez. (Youkilis sees 4.62, which would put him in the league lead, but he only has 45 plate appearances.)

We do know that Epstein is intentionally employing Moneyball strategy (thankfully, with a bigger budget than the A's). It certainly shows here, as well as with the players we've seen leave in the past two years. Here are the career pitches per plate appearance for the three regular players who the Sox have traded or not pursued in free agency:

Nomar Garciaparra: 3.18

Orlando Cabrera: 3.28

Shea Hillenbrand: 3.39

Each of these players are productive major leaguers, good hitters. I don't mean to take anything away from that. And I love Nomah as much as the next Sox fan. Just pointing out some compelling evidence. (I should note that Edgar Renteria's career P/PA is 3.57, still below average, but far better than the 2 SS that played in Boston last year.) Some players, like Nomar, hit better earlier in the count, and shouldn't be pressured to take pitches. But this does not help your teammates, who benefit from seeing more pitches, and from getting to the opposing team's bullpen sooner.

That got me thinking about this:

We have a lot of players (Mueller, Bellhorn, Nixon, and Ramirez, Varitek and Ortiz to some extent) who are just naturally patient hitters.

I wondered if the Sox, attempting to employ Moneyball, do indeed put pressure on players to take more pitches, or do they just sign guys that already are patient hitters. Bellhorn has always taken lots of pitches, as have many of the free agents we've signed. But Varitek seems to have made this a priority under the Epstein regime, as he had only 3.52 P/PA in his first full season with the Sox, and similar numbers until a bigger jump 3 years ago, rising to 4.09 last year. So maybe one can learn to do this. Damon, too, seems to have changed. In KC, his average P/PA was about 3.66; his year with Beane's A's (where it does seem to be pushed on the players) saw a jump to 3.90, and his last two years in Boston were 4.13 and 4.12. Interestingly, for Damon, this hasn't led to an increase in walks (he's always averaged about 65, a slight bump last year to 76). For Varitek, it seems to have given him slightly more walks, but he has become a much better hitter over that time too. Maybe seeing more pitches has made Varitek a better hitter (it could of course be other things).

OK, that was probably far more interesting to me than to anyone else.

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Jeff   
We have a lot to be excited about right now:

-took two of three from Yankees, outhitting them by far

-Renteria is finally hitting, giving us good production at #2 spot, and allowing Trot to move down to #5, spreading out the production in the lineup

-Wells pitched well in his last outing

-we lead all of baseball in OBP, meaning we are effectively employing moneyball strategy

-we're doing all of this without Schilling, who I have every confidence in (with his work ethic and desire) to come back and contribute in second half

-Olerud gives us some options

Good points all around. The Yankees series was very crucial (though we are still unable to catch up to Baltimore, a team which is really beginning to frighten me). And Renteria's hot streak has given the offense an enormous boost; he is finally living up to the impressive numbers posted by Orlando Cabrera last year.

Surprisingly, John Olerud has indeed turned out to be a good investment. I did some big-time second guessing when we got rid of Doug Minkiewicz (sp?) only to sign the washed-up Olerud to do the same job that Doug did. However, John is hitting decently well, and apparently Minkiewicz isn't. Now if only Millar would snap out of it and produce, we'd be totally set at first base.

I wondered if the Sox, attempting to employ Moneyball, do indeed put pressure on players to take more pitches, or do they just sign guys that already are patient hitters.

One thing to keep in mind is the way that opposing teams pitch to the Sox. Our lineup, for all its ups and downs, is considered pretty daunting for a pitcher to face. Most pitchers don't throw right down the middle of the plate, because we have so many fastball hitters. They try to use breaking balls, curve balls, etc., none of which are as accurate. That could have something to do with the number of walks we draw; opposing pitchers are trying to pepper the corners, and they aren't always hitting their targets.

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I just have to say that as a lifelong Cubs fan... these past two weeks have finally given me the first excitement/hope I've had all season. We've been impressed with D. Lee's carrying of the team all year, but it's good to see the Cubs finally putting up W's (or it was until tonight.)

I was sooo close to going to the Memorial Day Cubs at Dodgers game.... it turned out to be an excellent game, not to mention the Cubs only swing west this year I believe. Ah well... missed opportunities.

Edit: Now that's embarassing... somehow I thought this was the "Baseball 2005" thread. blushing.gifblushing.gif

Edited by theoddone33

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It's ok that we have a Red Sox thread and an Baseball 2005 thread, because by the time the post season comes, Boston will not be involved.

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Back in April, Rich Kennedy asked:

"How many walks per game so far? I wonder if Epstein is forcing the patience-at-the-plate principle. This is important for Moneyball teams."

We are certainly seeing a lot of pitches and getting the walks.  We're first in the league in BB, and first in pitches seen per plate appearance.  Sox hitters see 3.87 pitches per plate appearance, with 4 Sox regulars seeing more than 4 pitches per plate appearance (only 17 regulars total in the AL see that many) - Bellhorn, Ortiz, Varitek and Ramirez.  (Youkilis sees 4.62, which would put him in the league lead, but he only has 45 plate appearances.)

We do know that Epstein is intentionally employing Moneyball strategy (thankfully, with a bigger budget than the A's).  It certainly shows here, as well as with the players we've seen leave in the past two years.  Here are the career pitches per plate appearance for the three regular players who the Sox have traded or not pursued in free agency:

Nomar Garciaparra: 3.18

Orlando Cabrera: 3.28

Shea Hillenbrand: 3.39

Each of these players are productive major leaguers, good hitters.  I don't mean to take anything away from that.  And I love Nomah as much as the next Sox fan.  Just pointing out some compelling evidence.  (I should note that Edgar Renteria's career P/PA is 3.57, still below average, but far better than the 2 SS that played in Boston last year.)  Some players, like Nomar, hit better earlier in the count, and shouldn't be pressured to take pitches.  But this does not help your teammates, who benefit from seeing more pitches, and from getting to the opposing team's bullpen sooner.

Well, welcom Jeff! Nice rundown, thanks. I fully expected Epstein to be this way even with a bigger budget. I like the job he's doing.

That got me thinking about this:

" We have a lot of players (Mueller, Bellhorn, Nixon, and Ramirez, Varitek and Ortiz to some extent) who are just naturally patient hitters."

I wondered if the Sox, attempting to employ Moneyball, do indeed put pressure on players to take more pitches, or do they just sign guys that already are patient hitters.  Bellhorn has always taken lots of pitches, as have many of the free agents we've signed.  But Varitek seems to have made this a priority under the Epstein regime, as he had only 3.52 P/PA in his first full season with the Sox, and similar numbers until a bigger jump 3 years ago, rising to 4.09 last year.  So maybe one can learn to do this.  Damon, too, seems to have changed.  In KC, his average P/PA was about 3.66; his year with Beane's A's (where it does seem to be pushed on the players) saw a jump to 3.90, and his last two years in Boston were 4.13 and 4.12.  Interestingly, for Damon, this hasn't led to an increase in walks (he's always averaged about 65, a slight bump last year to 76).  For Varitek, it seems to have given him slightly more walks, but he has become a much better hitter over that time too.  Maybe seeing more pitches has made Varitek a better hitter (it could of course be other things).

Even if a hitter is better early in the count, it is important to break down one's hot and cold zones and wait for a pitch that is hittable. Ted Williams of all people pioneered this. Seems to me that if other teams start thinking this way (a la A's, Jays, and Red Sox), then the counter will be for pitchers to tease early in the count and make early pitch hitters impatient.

OK, that was probably far more interesting to me than to anyone else.

Not at all! This is what I really enjoy about this game. As an NL (Braves) fan, it is one of the only ways I can stay interested in AL stuff, let alone Red Sox stuff. This is a big concession for me. I have a natural aversion for anything New York, Boston, or Chicago. pinch.gif

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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mrmando   
Here are the career pitches per plate appearance for the three regular players who the Sox have traded or not pursued in free agency:

Nomar Garciaparra: 3.18

Hell, I bet I could do that without even swinging the bat...

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TedK   

Mister Jeff,

There will be NO drop in Sox attendance this year, tickets are near impossible to get. As long as they are in 1st or second TV and radio ratings will be high as well.

theoddone33,

I would say Wrigley is the best overall ball park experience.

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Jeff   

Looks like you're right, Ted. No attendance drop this year.

I have yet to make my pilgrimage over to Fenway this summer, but I'm hoping to do it soon. Actually, I'm about 10 minutes from the park right now, but I had other business in the city today and I think the Sox might be on a road trip anyways.

Still, we're in 1st place. The dreaded Orioles have finally fallen to number 2! luxhello.gif

And those...darn...Yankees are nowhere in sight. Steinbrenner will probably have a heart attack soon.

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Andrew   

Sigh indeed - the O's are back to playing like their usual 21st Century selves.

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Everything is proceeding exactly as I have foreseen. Soon the little Boston rebellion will be crushed....

You sound just like George III.

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I can't believe the O's need more offense. I would think they'd be working hard to get a starter. I guess their offense is all in their infield. They could use an OF.

How about the Sox at the trade deadline? I think Youklis is ready, so I don't mind trading Mueller for bullpen help.

I guess the Arroyo - Burnett deal is not going to happen. I like Arroyo and he'll be around longer than Burnett. Burnett might have helped more this year than Arroyo, but then he's gone (I'm assuming he's a free agent after this year).

Trade Manny? Wow. That would change our salary situation, giving us flexibility to resign Damon. Manny's contract might be obsene, but so are his numbers. You don't replace what Manny does in the lineup. And I think his OF gaffs are overexaggerated. If Manny's unhappy and is going to cause problems, I say trade him. I just wish he were happy and could keep the clubhouse loose and put up those big numbers.

The proposed trade with T.B. and the Mets is interesting. Sox would get Aubrey Huff, Mike Cameron and a top prospect from the Mets (Milledge) and not have to pay any of Mannys salary. But they also give up two prospects (between Hanley Ramirez, our best prospect, Anibel Sanchez, and Kelly Shoppach).

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Jeff   

Well, the deadline is up and the Sox did not go through with any blockbuster deals. Interesting stuff. Once again, the towering monster that is Manny Ramirez's contract prevented any trading action, but this time I'm not crying over it. Manny is the MAN.

Still, I'm kind of sad to see Alan Embree go. I liked that guy; he was a darned important part of the bullpen during the great years 03' and 04'. I guess that the large-nosed Mike Myers will be our sole lefty reliever now.

It's amazing that we're still in first place. I think we're going to make it back to the playoffs again for sure. smile.gif

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Jeff   

Yay!!! biggrin.gif Tonight I'm going to the Sox game! I'll be sitting right behind home plate, to boot. Should be an awesome time. smile.gif

Now I just need to blow the dust off my Red Sox jersey...Haven't worn it since I went to the park last summer.

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With the first half that we had, it is ironic that the Sox are winning now on the strength of their bullpen. Our starters have probably pitched slightly worse post-all-star break than pre-, but the bullpen has been much improved, allowing us to win games 11-7. The bullpen has been remade. The addition of Bradford helps. Schilling has been solid. Delcarmen has been pretty good until tonight. Let's hope Foulke comes back strong (looking better than he did in the first half) and that Schilling's return to the rotation gives it a lift.

No complaints about the offense. Nixon's out, but Kapler's hitting well. Renteria and Ramirez seem to be hitting better now than in the first half. Graffanino is filling in well for Bellhorn. I feel real good, and the Yankees don't seem to be able to do anything with their rotation.

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Jeff   
It's especially interesting given that the "Glob" isn't normally sympathetic to evangelicals.

Ah yes, it's no secret that the Boston Globe typically hates all organized religion, and those who practice it.

But that is a very nice article. Ever since 2003, the Sox have had a lot of openly religious guys on their roster, and I think they've set a great example for the people around here.

And on a more baseball-related note: John Olerud has turned out to be a darn good pick-up, hasn't he?

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And on a more baseball-related note: John Olerud has turned out to be a darn good pick-up, hasn't he?

Absolutely, especially given his game-saving fielding tonight (not for the first time). His batting dosen't hurt, either.

Of course, even for a Protestant like me, to see so many Hispanic players especially crossing themselves or tipping their hats in gratitiude to God is also a good thing.

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Jeff   

Heh heh heh, Schilling's pitching and the great performance by most of the batting lineup DESTROYED the Evil Empire this afternoon. The Yankees are finished. I'm afraid it is too late for their pathetic little band.

devil.gifdevil.gifdevil.gif

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Schilling's pitching and the great performance by most of the batting lineup DESTROYED the Evil Empire this afternoon. The Yankees are finished.

I'm sure that you are aware that the word "evil", when used to describe the Yankees, is redundant.

Too bad Wakefield's spectacular three-hitter was a loss! angry.gif

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Jeff   

Alas, what happened last night? A 9-3 loss to the Blue Jays? blink.gif And with Matt Clement on the hill, to boot! Methinks I spoke too soon, last time.....

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mrmando   
And on a more baseball-related note: John Olerud has turned out to be a darn good pick-up, hasn't he?

.324, 7 HR, 33 RBI in 70 games/136 AB? Glad to see he's got his swing back. Last year's numbers in Seattle were .245, 5, 22 in 78 games/261 AB, earning him the nickname "Olderdude" and a trip to the sofa around the All-Star break. Perhaps his relative success since then with the Yanks and Sox goes to show what a good hitting coach can do for you, or at least what a bad one (Paul Molitor) can do to you.

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Interesting things happening here. The Sox are piching well, for a change, but their batting has collapsed. They have scored all of five runs in two games; the As have scored only three, which is a help. Wakefield and Arroyo have done very well; and Arroyo might have had a shutout if he hadn't walked so many in one bad inning. Their batters had better improve, and quickly, if they are to stay on top, since the "Empire" have been winning all of their games lately.

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Jeff   

Things aren't looking too good right now. Yesterday's game was a disgrace in every way. And juxtaposed with our inability to defeat Oakland is the Yankee's cupcake-of-a-series against the Toronto Blue Jays, a team that has been on life support for the past decade. I really hope we turn things on this week, or our hopes of a divisional penant are done for.

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