February 28, 2004

Manny Speaks Out, Curt Throws BP. Ramirez shared his thoughts about the Red Sox off-season with Deron Synder. "I can't be mad at anybody. I'm happy to be back with the guys. What happened in the winter happened, and it's in the past. ... I have five years left, and I'd like to stay here and finish my career in Boston. ... There are probably some people who think I'm difficult because I don't talk that much in the press. But I get along with everybody. I'm not mad at the press. They have a job to do. ... I'm not mad just because sometimes they write some stuff." Even so, he made it clear he was not doing any other interviews.

Pedro on Manny: "We wish he had more awareness and knowledge and understanding for certain stuff. ... But we can't ask him to have it all. We'd all like to be good at all things. But we're not. He's not a bad guy. He doesn't harm anybody or offend anybody. He's a pleasure to be around."

Spring Starters:
March 4* v Twins : Derek Lowe
March 5 v Boston College: Tim Wakefield
March 5 v Northeastern: Curt Schilling
March 6 v Twins: Byung-Hyun Kim
March 7 v Yankees: Bronson Arroyo

* - That's next Thursday!!!

Curt Schilling threw 45 pitches in live batting practice Saturday morning. MLB's Ian Browne says he looked in complete control, fired a barrage of nasty offerings to Jason Varitek and didn't take it easy on Brian Daubach, Adam Hyzdu or Cesar Crespo. Daubach: "He looked like he was game-ready. He meant business out there for sure. He didn't want anyone to hit him and he threw great. ... I think he was just trying to get used to throwing to Jason a little bit too. That's probably why he was taking it a little bit more seriously." ... Schilling began studying video of Boston's four AL East opponents about six weeks ago: "Anywhere from a half-hour to two, three, four hours a day depending on the schedule."

Pedro Martinez may throw his first side session on Sunday. ... Keith Foulke appears to be completely over the strained calf he suffered earlier in the week.

In the latest posting of "Baseball Prospectus Basics" -- Stolen Bases and How to Use Them -- Joe Sheehan makes a point that argues for placing Johnny Damon in the #8 spot. "Much of the frustration 'statheads' have with base-stealing isn't that it's happening, but with how teams misuse the tactic. You want to steal bases when: ... The batter at the plate is much more likely to score the runner from second than he is from first. Teams will often use their best base stealers at the top of the lineup, even players with low on-base percentages, in front of their most powerful batters. In fact, they should be using those players lower in the lineup, in front of their least powerful hitters. Risking an out to advance from first base to second base is much more important when the guy at the plate can't get the runner home from first base."

Sheehan also posted the run-expectation table from 2003:
     Bases               Outs

0 1 2

empty 0.5219 0.2783 0.1083
1st 0.9116 0.5348 0.2349
2nd 1.1811 0.7125 0.3407
1st 2nd 1.5384 0.9092 0.4430
3rd 1.3734 1.0303 0.3848
1st 3rd 1.8807 1.2043 0.5223
2nd 3rd 2.0356 1.4105 0.5515
1st 2nd 3rd 2.4366 1.5250 0.7932
A similar mindset exists about sacrifice bunts. With a runner on 1st and 0 outs, a team could expect to score .91 runs. However, bunting the runner to 2nd (and using up an out) lowers that expectation to .71 runs. Sacrificing a man from 1st to 2nd with one out already on the board lowers the team's run expectation from .53 to .34.

A New York sportswriter plays "What If?" and imagines Nomar signing with the Yankees and playing 2B. Another writer, also out of ideas, quotes Jason Giambi saying such a scenario "would be nice." Viola -- instant non-story.

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