April 2, 2009

Baseball Prospectus: Red Sox Notes & Top 100 Prospects

Baseball Prospectus 2009 notes that the Red Sox have had a knack for "finding promising talents in the late rounds, a point in the draft at which most of the players selected are ticketed as minor league roster filler, not coming stars. ...
All in all, the Red Sox have had an extraordinary run of major league success coupled with unusually efficient minor league production. They most closely resemble the dynastic Yankees of the late 1940s and 1950s (more so, ironically, than do the Yankees themselves), and like that team, they are well situated to overcome, indeed have overcome, the dangers of age. Those old Yankees kept their dynasty fresh by ruthlessly turning over the roster, something they could do, in those pre-draft days, because they used their financial advantages in the areas of scouting and player development. Having thwarted the diminishing returns of low-draft positions, the Red Sox are in a position to do the same thing.
The Red Sox have had great success with the players chosen with compensation picks for departing free agents.
Departing Free Agent     Compensation

After 2004

Orlando Cabrera Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie
Derek Lowe Craig Hansen, Michael Bowden
Pedro Martinez Clay Buchholz

After 2005
Johnny Damon Daniel Bard

After 2006
Alex Gonzalez Nick Hagadone
So ... anyone out there still pining for O-Cab?

A sampling from some of the player comments:

Dustin Pedroia
... was far more productive at home -- .344/.393/.519 with 35 of those [54] doubles -- he was no slouch on the road, with an impressive .309/.359/.468 that many teams would kill to get out of their second baseman. Pedroia's numbers lack any kind of BABIP-related concerns, meaning that as long as he keeps on using Fenway to his advantage, he's going to put up impressive campaigns at the plate.
Kevin Youkilis
His walk rate actually dropped for the fourth straight season, but his strikeouts remained around the 20 percent mark, and he not only swung at more pitches but made contact with a higher percentage of them as well, meaning he was waiting on pitches he could not do anything with and swinging at those he could. ... The biggest gain came from his rate of homers on fly balls; with roughly the same percentage of fly balls, Youkilis hit almost twice as many of them for homers. ... [He] had plenty of long balls that just cleared the wall, tying for fifth in the majors in homers that cleared the fence by less than 10 vertical feet with 11 fence scrapers.
Jason Bay
He wasn't as productive at Fenway as elsewhere, as most of the balls he pulled turned into singles or groundouts. Though this is most likely a small-sample issue, if it's provoked by the swing-altering presence of the Green Monster, the loss of pull power would be bad news for his production.
Jacoby Ellsbury
... pitchers quickly figured out that he lacked the muscle or the swing to be a power threat, and they began to bust him inside. The result was an awful run through June and July, during which he hit .246/.271/.308. He did finally adjust, hitting .314/.352/.463 over the final two months by switching to an all-fields approach.
Lars Anderson
... has middle-of-the-order potential and should get a look in 2009 with the expectation that he'll be Boston's everyday first baseman the following year. [JoS Note: Perhaps 2011, since Mike Lowell is owed $12 for 2010.]
Josh Beckett
Both Beckett and the Red Sox denied that he was injured for much of the season, but it was apparent that something was amiss, as his velocity was often well below past averages ... Despite the health issue, Beckett's season was much like his '07, when he was a legitimate Cy Young candidate, as his peripherals were almost identical; he stranded fewer runners but gave up a few more homers, and saw his ground-ball rate dip, with those balls in play becoming liners. Better luck in 2009 may be all he needs, but that dip in velocity is a bit disconcerting.
Jon Lester
Lester arrived in 2008, serving notice with his May 19 no-hitter against the Royals that he had become the pitcher many thought he could be back when he was breezing through the minors. His velocity rocketed back to his precancer level, while his command finally blossomed at the major league level (its belated manifestation not being atypical of young southpaws).
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Dice-K was maddening last season ... nibbl[ing] with pitch after pitcher rather than putting the hitters away or forcing them into contact. His P/PA increased, as did his walk rate, but fewer home runs and a low BABIP helped him survive that. Dice-K stranded nearly 81 percent of his baserunners, thanks to a .164/.285/.288 line with runners in scoring position. Relying on both that and his BABIP to hold up in '09 is just asking for trouble.
Terry Francona
The idea that Tito is the most successful manager in Red Sox history continues to build up a head of steam. He handled the bullpen very well, considering it lack depth, but the poorer pitchers were used in the lowest of low-leverage situations, while his better relievers were utilized to good effect ... Francona is sabermetrically sensible, not bunting much or getting too cute ... If there's cause for complaint, it's that Varitek was not lifted for a pinch-hitter once during the regular season ... Given the weight of the pros versus that single con, it's difficult to complain about his performance, let alone the results.


BP's Kevin Goldstein -- "after months of research and analysis" -- has published the "Top 100 Prospects List For 2009". Here is the Top 10, followed by any AL East players:

1. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
2. David Price, LHP, Rays
3. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants
4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates
5. Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays
6. Neftali Feliz, RHP, Rangers
7. Rick Porcello, RHP, Tigers
8. Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals
9. Buster Posey, C, Giants
10. Jason Heyward, OF, Braves

15. Tim Beckham, SS, Rays
16. Chris Tillman, RHP, Orioles
17. Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox
19. Brian Matusz, LHP, Orioles
29. Wade Davis, RHP, Rays
31. Michael Bowden, RHP, Red Sox
38. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees
41. J.P. Arenciba, C, Blue Jays
46. Austin Jackson, CF, Yankees
49. Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
52. Jake Arrieta, RHP, Orioles
62. Reid Brignac, SS, Rays
87. Josh Reddick, OF, Red Sox
88. David Cooper, 1B, Blue Jays
90. Brett Cecil, LHP, Blue Jays
97. Daniel Bard, RHP, Red Sox
98. Brandon Erbe, RHP, Orioles


Baseball Musings forecasts
a seven game gain by the Yankees over the Red Sox just on offense. Baseball Prospectus projects an eleven game turnaround between the clubs, so that consistent with this analysis.
BP has the Yankees at 100-62 (which is +11 wins over their 2008 record) and the Red Sox and Rays at 95-67. The 2008 Red Sox finished 95-67.


Redsauce said...

I wonder if the BP projections have Slappy off the roster until May?
Those compensation picks are amazing--didn't realize they were all sandwich picks.

Jere said...

The Yanks have one prospect in the top 100.

KRAMER: Do you have any prospects?
KRAMER: You got anything on the horizon?
GEORGE: Uh...no.
KRAMER: Do you have any action at all?
KRAMER: Do you have any conceivable reason for even getting up in the morning?

Anonymous said...

how do you do this:

published, well you had the link to the site and all you had to do is click on: published

i would YAHOO it but i dont know how to word it

redsock said...

They have two (38 and 46).

They are still finishing third -- maybe second.

redsock said...

swf: do what? make words that will act as a link?

Zenslinger said...

My gut says that of the three contenders in the AL East, we are the steady, deep team least likely to falter. I feel like either the Rays or the Yankees could be better than us, or could fall on their faces (if you call 86-89 wins falling on one's face - I guess you do in the Yankees' case, especially if it's the second season in a row.)

I doubt both will shine, so I kind of think we have the best chance of either getting the wild card...or the Division.

Jere said...

Daily News poll: 57% of fans think the Yanks will finish..."out of the playoffs"! I love it. Granted, you could say all the Mets fans (and me) voted for the worst option--but according to a recent article of theirs, that should only be 30-something percent.

Jere said...

Just realized there's a Mets poll, too, and 75 percent say they'll miss the playoffs, too.

L-girl said...

how do you do this:

published, well you had the link to the site and all you had to do is click on: published

i would YAHOO it but i dont know how to word it

L-girl's handy link tutorial:

[a href="URL"][words you want to be clickable][/a]

replace [ ] with < >

URL = the thing in the address bar, starting with http://

Put it on a post-it on your computer.