November 30, 2006

The State of Boston Sports Radio

At least three SoSHers report hearing WEEI's Glenn Ordway say the following on Thursday afternoon:
If you have all these OBP guys from one to nine in your lineup, who's going to knock these guys in?
Clearly, any actual baseball knowledge is not a requirement for the job, but is the general fan base so ignorant and stupid as to give these guys any ear time? These morons should be collecting cans and panhandling on Landsdowne Street.

They don't understand that when more of your batters reach base, that's a good thing.


[Please vote for JoS as Canada's Best Sports Blog. (One, because it is. And two, because you want me to be happy.) (See category #13) Thank you.]

Red Sox Sign LHP Hideki Okajima

[Please take 15 seconds and vote for JoS as
Canada's Best Sports Blog. (Because it is.
And because you want me to be happy.)
(See #13) Thank you.]

Official announcement:
The Boston Red Sox have agreed to terms with free agent lefthanded pitcher Hideki Okajima on a two-year contract for 2007 and 2008 with an option for the 2009 season.

An official announcement will take place at 5:00 p.m. ...

Okajima, 30, has been one of the top setup relievers in Nippon Professional Baseball for the last several years. ... The lefthander has a career record of 34-32 with a 3.36 ERA and 41 saves in 439 games with Yomiuri (1995-2005) and Nippon (2006).
Okajima's ratios for 2006, in 54.2 innings:
 9.9 BR/9
7.6 H/9
0.8 HR/9
10.4 K/9
2.3 BB/9
4.5 K/BB
2.14 ERA
1.10 WHIP

vs. RH (130 AB) .254 BA, 6 BB, 36 K, 5 HR
vs. LH ( 70 AB) .186 BA, 8 BB, 27 K, 0 HR
The Herald reports that Okajima "is said to have a devastating curveball but is not a hard thrower." His fastball runs from the mid-80s to 90. ... In-depth stats are from this SoSH thread, which also has some video clips.

November 29, 2006

Manny And Protection

[Please vote. (See #13)]

Peter Gammons says the White Sox are also interested in Manny Ramirez, in addition to the Giants, Padres and Dodgers. Jeff Goldberg of the Hartford Courant passes this along:
The White Sox are reportedly attempting to trade for Angels starter Ervin Santana, who could then be flipped to Boston, perhaps with 23-year-old righthander Brandon McCarthy, for Ramirez.
Michael Silverman (Herald):
According to multiple sources, the Red Sox are close to a satisfactory deal for Ramirez but still have not concocted one good enough to justify trading away David Ortiz' primary source of lineup protection. Talks with the Angels, Rangers, Dodgers, Padres, Giants and possibly the White Sox have been productive but no team, or pair of teams, has yet come up with the proper mix of young and proven talent that the Red Sox could live with.
The Globe hints there are "strong indications" that the Sox would pay at least a portion of Ramirez's salary. (Well, if they trade him, they sure ain't gonna pay all of it.) ... Jonathan Papelbon wants Manny to stay.

Speaking of "protection", a SoSH lurker named "Laschelle Tarver" looked at the numbers for Ortiz since 2003 without Manny in the lineup. He found that Ortiz played in 55 games in which Manny did not have an AB. The Sox went 33-22 (.600) in those games.

In 186 AB, Tiz hit .301 and slugged .624 with 17 HR. Over a 162-game season, that projects to 50 HR with 133 RBI with 133 walks. ... In 2006, he slugged .636 with 54 HR, 137 RBI and 119 BB.

SoSHer "Crazy Puppy" adds that
Ortiz hit behind Manny for all of 2003, a good chunk of 2004 (including the playoffs), the first few months of 2005 and most of September 2006. Ortiz put up a .983 OPS hitting behind Manny in 2003, a .958 OPS during the part of 2004 that he hit behind Manny, a .960 OPS when he was behind Manny in 2005 and an OPS over 1.200 in September of '06.

I'm not suggesting the loss of Ramirez will have no effect on Ortiz, but the impact is dramatically overstated by a lot of people. Plenty of hitters put up terrific numbers without having Manny Ramirez batting behind them, and Ortiz is one of them.
Also, Gordon Edes writes that the Red Sox
are nearing the completion of a deal with J.D. Drew that would pay the free agent outfielder $14 million a year for a total package of around $70 million if he stays with Boston for a full five seasons.

Day 15

[You've voted today, right? (See #13)]

We are at the half-way point of the Red Sox's contract negotiations with Scott Boras and Daisuke Matsuzaka -- and the team has made its first official offer. Larry Lucchino, in Japan meeting with officials from the Seibu Lions, said it was a "fair and comprehensive" offer.

All reports say the team's offer was between $7-8 million, with Boras looking for $15. Let the negotiations begin. The length of the contract is also an issue, with Boras hoping for only three years and the Red Sox looking at perhaps five.

There has been talk that if the Sox and Boras can't agree on an annual salary, the Lions could kick in $10 million, for example, from the posting bid to help bridge the gap -- and still pocket $41.11. But MLB says (publicly) that is not allowed.

Also: The Yankees won the bidding for 27-year-old Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa with a $26 million offer. (Anyone asking if they bid high to block the Sox?) Igawa had a 2.97 ERA last year for the Hanshin Tigers and led the Central League with 194 strikeouts. He was the CL's MVP in 2003. ... Reliever Danys Baez is off the market, having signed a 3/19 deal with Baltimore, who has also inked old friends Chad Bradford and Scott Williamson.

November 27, 2006

Manny Gone By Saturday?

Buster Olney, who had the scoop on the Red Sox's winning bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka, writes that the Red Sox are "aggressively shopping" Manny Ramirez.

"I wouldn't be shocked if the Red Sox traded him by Saturday," says one league official -- after signing JD Drew.

Olney says the Giants, Padres, Dodgers, and Rangers are talking seriously with Boston.
Executives with other teams say that in order to move Ramirez, Boston will have to come to grips with the idea that they will not get back major league talent equal to that of Ramirez; rather, they might have to settle for a deal much like the Gary Sheffield trade the Yankees made early in November, when they got three pitching prospects from Detroit. ... [T]he recent salary explosion -- Alfonso Soriano's $136 million deal, Carlos Lee's $100 million contract -- has cast Ramirez and his [high and possibly previously untradeable] salary in a different light.
Obviously the front office on Yawkey Way knows more about the Manny situation than I do, but with Boston's trade demands dropping, and obvious need for Manny's bat, I don't see getting rid of Manny as a good move from any perspective. And if recent contracts make his salary more of a bargain, shouldn't that also work in Boston's favour to keep him?

Could the Red Sox make the playoffs in 2007 with improved pitching (some bullpen help might come in a Manny deal), Lugo and Drew replacing Manny and Gonzo, and a more normal set of player injuries? Maybe, but it's no sure thing.

One scout says David Ortiz "will draw about 200 walks next year without Manny hitting behind him. I don't care who it is who bats fourth instead of Manny -- JD Drew, or Wily Mo Pena, whoever -- he won't be as dangerous as Manny was, because Manny can hit good pitching."

The cynic in me -- not having figured out if the probable replacements parts could produce an aggregate benefit -- says the team is punting for 2007 and getting set for a strong 2008 (they may get some "almost ready" prospects for Ramirez). ... Perhaps the front office strongly suspects that Manny will miss big chunks of playing time in 2007 and 2008.

Too many questions at this point.

P.S. Don't forget to VOTE.

November 25, 2006


Click here and choose Joy of Sox as the Best Sports Blog in Canada.

I'm not chummy with Diebold, so please vote once a day -- every day.

November 23, 2006

Sox Meet Dice-K in LA; CBA Round 2

Red Sox brass had what Scott Boras called a "purely social, almost quaint" meeting with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

I was surprised to have a dinner with them. Meeting the Boston owner, GM, and the manager is the most impressive thing during this trip. I feel close to becoming a major league player.
Afterwards, Matsuzaka returned to Japan, leaving the negotiations to Boras.

Best Sports Blog: This blog finished 3rd in the first round of the 2006 Canadian Blog Awards (scroll way down), and thus moved on to the second and final round. Thanks to everyone who voted, and for those who didn't bother, I know who you are and where you live.
Best Sports Blog 

RaptorBlog (286) 27%
The Battle of Alberta (157) 15%
The Joy of Sox (101) 10%
Nascar Ranting and Raving Blog (77) 7%
James Mirtle (65) 6%
Round 2 voting begins on Saturday.

November 21, 2006

Morneau (!) Wins AL MVP

UPDATE: Every writer's ballot here.

That was a surprise.

Justin Morneau got 15 first-place votes and edged Derek Jeter (who had 12) 320-306. Johan Santana got the other first-place vote and finished 7th. ... All but 2 voters had Jeter either first or second.

David Ortiz finished third with 193 points: 1 2nd place vote, 11 for 3rd, 5 for 4th, 7 for 5th, 6 for 6th and 1 for 7th. ... Manny Ramirez received one vote each for 8th, 9th and 10th place.

It wasn't me: Travis Hafner received one 2nd place vote and someone voted Jeter 6th.

Get Out The Vote

Ryan Howard wins the NL MVP in a race (388-347) that was not quite as close as I anticipated. (AL MVP announced this afternoon.)

Also, today is the last day of Round 1 to vote for me for Best Sports Blog in the Canadian Blog Awards. ... Let's do it! Yeeeearrgh!

November 19, 2006


The American League Most Valuable Player will be announced on Tuesday.

Derek Jeter easily topped the MVP voting at Baseball Prospectus (from both the staff and public) and he won the Aaron Award as the AL's top offensive player. This gives me a pretty good feeling that he'll also be the favourite of the BBWAA.

Back in mid-September, many scribes proclaimed Jeter as the logical choice, especially after David Ortiz missed eight games with heart palpitations. In mid-September, Bob Ryan of the Globe wrote: "It would be a mockery to anoint anyone else."

However, even with Papi's time off, Jeter played in only three more games (154 to 151), so there is no reason why Ortiz's absence should count against him. Nevertheless, The Man himself has no expectations of winning: "Apparently, a designated hitter doesn't win it ... I was very frustrated in 2004 when I didn't win the award, but I don't think about that anymore."

So, after finishing the second-best season of his career, the Yankee shortstop and captain is the favourite. For Red Sox fans, the discussion can perhaps be boiled down to this question(s): Was Jeter the most valuable player in the American League in 2006? (And if not, who was?)

The first problem -- and perhaps the biggest obstacle -- is figuring out exactly what a "Valuable Player" is. The voting standards on the official ballot are open to multiple interpretations. Ryan admitted that the concept is nebulous:
How much stock are we really supposed to put in the word "valuable"? Is "valuable" actually a synonym for "irreplaceable," and if that's the case, why should a player be penalized if his team has an adequate substitute for him, thus rendering him less "irreplaceable"? I must tell you I have a real problem when people harp on this word "valuable," as opposed to, for example, "outstanding." I'd like to introduce another word: worthy. Most Worthy Player. How does that sound?"
Not much better. "Worth" is no easier to pin down than "value".

Here's my definition of the MVP: If I was building a team for 2007, my MVP would be the guy I would choose first if I was guaranteed his 2006 performance.

I looked at ten worthy contenders -- Jeter, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, and Travis Hafner -- and looked at how they did in three categories: hitting, fielding, baserunning. (Johan Santana will get some much-deserved votes, and he's in my Top 10, but I'm looking only at non-pitchers.)

Here are some basic hitting stats and each player's ranking among AL hitters (I've listed them by OPS):
           AVG  R   OBP  R   SLG  R    OPS  R
Hafner .308 17 .439 2 .659 1 1.097 1
Ramirez .321 8 .439 1 .619 4 1.058 2
Ortiz .287 38 .413 7 .636 2 1.049 3
Thome .288 37 .416 5 .598 5 1.014 4
Dye .315 12 .385 12 .622 3 1.006 5
Giambi .253 71 .413 6 .558 7 .971 6
Mauer .347 1 .429 3 .507 20 .936 7
Morneau .321 7 .375 18 .559 6 .934 8
Rodriguez .290 32 .392 9 .523 14 .914 13
Jeter .343 2 .417 4 .483 29 .900 15
Jeter finished second in the AL in batting average and 4th in OBP, but his lack of power gives him the lowest OPS of these 10 players. His slugging percentage was a distant 29th -- 176 points behind Hafner.

Of Jeter's 214 hits, 158 of them -- 74% -- were singles. By comparison, Hafner had 47% (66 of 140), Ortiz 47% (75 of 160) and Manny 56% (81 of 144). Mark Loretta, who appeared to hit only singles this year, had 79% (143 of 181).

Baseball Reference's Top 10 in OPS+ (which is park-adjusted):
Hafner    183
Ramirez 168
Ortiz 164
Thome 156
Giambi 154
Dye 152
Mauer 144
Guerrero 144
Thomas 141
Morneau 140
Jeter came in at 138.

Runs Created as calculated by Baseball Reference, The Hardball Times and ESPN (and each player's AL ranking):
           BR  R   THT  R    ESPN  R
Jeter 123 8 138 1 128.2 3
Ortiz 146 1 127 2 141.8 1
Thome 122 9 124 4 122.8 5
Morneau 125 6 121 5 119.7 8
Hafner 130 2 121 6 124.4 4
Dye 128 3 120 8 120.4 7
Rodriguez 116 117 9 113.5 13
Ramirez 124 7 112 15 116.7 11
Giambi 100 111 16 106.5 20
Mauer 114 106 20 107.6 19
THT says its formula is "the most complicated version, which includes the impact of hitting well with runners in scoring position, and is adjusted for ballpark impact", so I ranked the hitters according to them.

Grady Sizemore was #3 at THT (124), #4 at BR (128) and #2 at ESPN (134.1). ... And even though he missed all of September, Hafner did amazingly well.

Runs Created per 27 Outs (ranked according to THT):
           BREF    THT  R   ESPN  R
Hafner 10.77 10.4 1 10.31 1
Ramirez 10.24 9.9 2 9.64 2
Thome 9.15 9.6 3 9.21 4
Jeter 7.58 9.1 4 7.90 7
Giambi 7.71 9.0 5 8.22 6
Dye 8.77 8.8 6 8.25 5
Ortiz 9.50 8.6 7 9.23 3
Mauer 8.23 8.4 8 7.76 8
Morneau 7.92 8.1 9 7.59 9
Rodriguez 7.18 7.8 11 7.03 15
Jeter had the third-most PA in the AL (715), so this rate stat bumps him down a bit. According to BR, a lineup of 9 Hafners would score nearly 3.2 more runs per nine innings than a lineup of 9 Jeters -- and Giambi was actually the top hitter in the Yankees' lineup. (What's with the differences in Jeter's and Giambi's THT numbers?)

Baseball Prospectus' Equivalent Average (EQA) (and Al ranking):
            EQA   AL
Hafner .355 1
Ramirez .342 2
Ortiz .334 3
Thome .328 4
Giambi .326 5
Mauer .321 6
Dye .320 7
Jeter .316 8
Rodriguez .311 10
Morneau .308 13
EQA measures "total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching." EQA also considers baserunning, but not fielding, and "is deliberately set to approximate that of batting average".

SABR member Bill Gilbert compiled the 2006 leaders in Bases Per Plate Appearance (BPA). This is the formula: (TB + BB + HB + SB - CS - GIDP) / (AB + BB + HB + SF). Here are the 14 MLB players with a BPA over .600 in 2006:
Hafner    .703
Howard .700
Pujols .694
Ortiz .681
Beltran .667
Thome .659
Berkman .658
Ramirez .654
Dye .637
Giambi .634
Soriano .632
Sizemore .605
Johnson .604
Cabrera .604
and six more with a .600+ BPA, but who did not have enough plate appearances to qualify:
Luke Scott     .667
Barry Bonds .647
Chipper Jones .629
Ryan Theriot .621
Chris Duncan .615
David Ross .613
(This was Manny's 9th straight season over .600.) I emailed Gilbert and asked for the BPA of the other AL players we are looking at. Putting them together:
Hafner    .703
Ortiz .681
Thome .659
Ramirez .654
Dye .637
Giambi .634
Sizemore .605

Morneau .573
Rodriguez .573
Jeter .562
Mauer .535
Regarding Mauer, Gilbert wrote: "Not much power and too many GIDP."

One stat in which Jeter led the AL was Win Shares, a complicated formula invented by Bill James. Here are each player's batting and fielding WS and their rounded total:
          Bat  Fld  WS    WSP
Jeter 28.0 4.6 33 .882
Mauer 21.3 9.5 31 .970
Ortiz 29.3 0.1 29 1.093
Ramirez 26.9 2.1 29 1.008
Morneau 25.5 2.0 27 .765
Ibanez 24.0 3.1 27 .737
Guillen 21.5 4.3 26 .769
Dye 23.7 2.8 26 .812
Thome 25.9 0.0 26 1.089
Young 18.5 7.7 26 .679
Hafner, Sizemore, Santana and Slappy all had 25 WS. (In the NL, Pujols (39), Beltran (38), Berkman (34) and Cabrera (34) topped every AL player.) Note: James explains that Win Shares do not discriminate against players on losing teams on pages 168-173 of his book Win Shares.

The WS stats come from The Hardball Times, which says it has "tweaked James' original formula somewhat".

Jeter topped the AL in WS, but when we look at Win Shares Percent (WSP) -- a measure of the player's contribution, given his playing time -- he drops to 5th on our list.

Jeter also led the AL in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), which measures "the number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances." However, when we adjust for playing time and look at VORPr (runs per game), Jeter slips a bit:
          VORP Rank   VORPr  Rank
Jeter 80.5 1 .498 3
Hafner 79.7 2 .611 1
Ortiz 76.8 3 .494 4
Mauer 66.9 5 .470 5
Ramirez 66.1 7 .523 2
Dye 64.6 9 .458 6
Thome 62.6 11 .445 8
Morneau 52.0 13 .336 16
Rodriguez 51.6 14 .339 15
Giambi 47.4 19 .363 14
Looking back at Bob Ryan's article asserting Jeter's worthiness as MVP, he wrote:
The numbers are all in order, right down to categories such as hitting with runners in scoring position and late-inning pressure averages. ... In a season of great Yankees turmoil, he was the absolute rock, the absolute leader, the absolute irreplaceable man. He was, in short, the most worthy player in the American League.
Here is how our candidates hit with runners in scoring position (minimum 150 PA and ranked by AL OPS):
           AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  AL
Hafner .305 .472 .718 1.189 1
Thome .336 .468 .690 1.158 2
Giambi .271 .485 .662 1.147 3
Dye .351 .421 .716 1.138 4
Ramirez .323 .471 .605 1.076 5
Jeter .381 .482 .581 1.063 6
Mauer .360 .497 .544 1.041 9
Morneau .323 .401 .575 .976 13
Ortiz .288 .429 .538 .967 14
Rodriguez .302 .431 .508 .939 19
Jeter finished #2 in batting average (behind Michael Young, .412), #3 in OBP and #10 in slugging. His slugging with RISP was 43 points higher than Ortiz. (Albert Pujols led all major leaguers with a .535 OBP, .802 SLG, and 1.337 OPS with RISP -- and his .397 BA was second to Young.)

"Close and Late" are plate appearances "in the seventh or later inning with the score tied or one team leading by a run; or with the tying run on base, at the plate, or on deck." Again, here are our 10 hitters (minimum 75 PA ranked by AL OPS):
           AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  AL
Hafner .411 .522 .821 1.343
Ortiz .314 .443 .756 1.199 1
Ramirez .262 .459 .525 .983 7
Giambi .222 .421 .556 .977 8
Dye .299 .351 .582 .933
Morneau .299 .343 .540 .884 15
Thome .188 .409 .469 .878 16
Mauer .288 .419 .452 .871 17
Jeter .325 .434 .434 .868 18
Rodriguez .237 .326 .368 .694 56
Hafner (69) and Dye (73) did not have 75 PA, but I put them in the OPS ranking. This confirms Ortiz's standing as a guy who delivers when tight games are in the late innings. Thome and Giambi don't hit but they walk a lot -- and Slappy doesn't do much of anything.

A hitter's RBIs are subject to how many of his teammates are on base ahead of him. BP has a stat called OBI% -- the percentage of all runners on base batted in. Here are our MVP candidates and how they finished in the AL (with PA, ROB (runners on base for the player) and OBI (RBI-HR)):
           PA  ROB OBI   OBI%  AL
Morneau 661 469 96 20.5% 1
Hafner 564 382 75 19.6% 4
Jeter 715 444 83 18.7% 8
Mauer 608 397 71 17.9% 11
Dye 611 430 76 17.7% 13
Thome 610 389 67 17.2% 15
Ortiz 686 485 83 17.1% 18
Giambi 579 410 70 17.0% 21
Ramirez 558 406 67 16.5% 27
Rodriguez 674 534 86 16.1% 32
Is this a better definition of clutch? If so, Jeter tops Papi. Jeter and Ortiz each drove in 83 teammates, but look at their opportunities: even though Ortiz had 29 fewer trips to the plate than Jeter, he batted with 41 more runners on base. When it came to driving in runs, Jeter took better advantage of his situations than Ortiz.

More comparison of Jeter and Ortiz:
        AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS  OPS+  EQA
Jeter .343 .417 .483 .900 138 .316
Ortiz .287 .413 .636 1.049 164 .334

Jeter 118 97 69 102 123 7.58 79.2
Ortiz 115 137 119 117 146 9.50 75.8
Ortiz makes up for the .056 difference in batting average (which says a single and a home run are equal) by drawing 50 more walks, thus making their OBPs roughly the same. Ortiz was obviously the better slugger, creating 23 additional runs in 29 fewer plate appearances. EQA gives Jeter credit for his stolen bases, but Ortiz still comes out comfortably ahead.

Manny and Jeter:
          AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS  OPS+  EQA
Jeter .343 .417 .483 .900 138 .316
Ramirez .321 .439 .619 1.058 168 .342

Jeter 118 97 69 102 123 7.58 79.2
Ramirez 79 102 100 102 124 10.24 66.1
Re Jeter's 2006 OPS+ of 138: Manny has never had an OPS+ lower than 143 in any of his 12 full seasons. Ramirez's overall numbers are even more impressive when you learn that Boston's #5 hitters -- the guys batting behind Manny -- were far and away the worst in the AL -- putting up .231/.321/.362 line.


Since several of our candidates -- Ortiz, Hafner, Thome -- are DHs, we should ask whether Jeter's MVP chances are helped by his performance at shortstop.

One note: Fielding percentage is just about worthless -- and has been for more than 100 years. A player will not make an error on a ball he can't get to -- he also won't record an out. I'll quickly note that of the nine qualifying AL shortstops, Jeter was 4th in fielding percentage -- middle of the pack -- before we all agree that FP should be immediately retired and never mentioned again (are you listening, Remdawg?).

Fielding statistics remain imprecise, but they are improving. Two of the best known are Range Factor (putouts and assists divided by innings) and Zone Rating (the percentage of balls fielded in the player's defensive zone):
            INN     TC   PO  A   E    RF   ZR
Peralta 1275.1 710 235 459 16 4.90 .817
Young 1356.1 747 241 492 14 4.86 .836
Uribe 1130.0 604 217 373 14 4.70 .868
Tejada 1294.2 675 238 418 19 4.56 .824
Berroa 1117.1 573 188 367 18 4.47 .791
Betancourt 1374.1 701 251 430 20 4.46 .806
Guillen 1235.0 634 178 428 28 4.42 .832
Cabrera 1321.2 645 253 376 16 4.29 .818
Jeter 1292.1 610 214 381 15 4.14 .810
Jeter finished last in RF and 7th in ZR. Among 24 qualifying MLB shortstops (playing 2 of every 3 games), Jeter was 19th. Alex Gonzalez did not play enough to meet the qualifications, but here are his fielding stats (and Alex Cora's):
           INN     TC   PO  A   E    RF   ZR
Jeter 1292.1 610 214 381 15 4.14 .810
Gonzalez 966.1 475 163 305 7 4.36 .863
Cora 434.0 239 66 167 6 4.83 .859
An infielder's RF will be affected if his team's pitching staff allows a higher percentage of ground balls or fly balls, but in Jeter's 11 full seasons, his RF has been above the league average only 4 times (1996, 1997, 2004, 2005). In the last 7 years, Jeter's RF/9 was higher than the league average only once (2005).

Finally, Jhonny Peralta played 17 fewer innings than Jeter in 2006, but he got to 100 more balls. And although Jeter played 162 more innings than Juan Uribe, he handled only six more chances. At a minimum, Jeter would have to be above average in the field to get any push towards the MVP, and I don't see any evidence that he was.

Jeter is a very smart and good baserunner. Here are the stolen base stats for our players, ranked by steals:
           SB  CS   SB%
Jeter 34 5 87.2
Rodriguez 15 4 78.9
Mauer 8 3 72.7
Dye 7 3 70.0
Morneau 3 3 50.0
Giambi 2 0 100.0
Ortiz 1 0 100.0
Hafner 0 0 0.0
Thome 0 0 0.0
Ramirez 0 1 0.0
The breakeven point for stealing second base is approximately 73% -- anything lower than that, and the player is harming his team. Jeter is clearly the best baserunner of the gang. But a player's baserunning is already factored into his EQA -- and Jeter was 8th in the AL in EQA.

Back in September, Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal wrote:
What's harder to see is the resolve, the grit, the fact that Jeter always comes to play, through the good times and the bad, the fact that it's always been Jeter that gives this team it's [sic] toughness. Maybe there is no more enduring image of his heart than the night against the Red Sox in 2004 when he chased a foul ball into the box seats, the ultimate example of hustle.
Maybe ... but that was 2.5 years ago. (And why couldn't you see that "Jeter always comes to play"? He's right there on the field!)

Reynolds notes that although Jeter has
benefited by being on a great team throughout his career ... by always being a part of the ensemble, never having to carry a team on his back, ... never been a guy who puts up the big power numbers, the kind of hits that get on highlight films. ... [But] Jeter is having one of his best seasons, in a year when this Yankee team so needed him to have one. Are there any better MVP credentials than that?
Yes, Bill, there are better credentials. Ortiz had a great season when his team really needed him to have one. Same with all of the other players. Every team needs its best players to have as great a season as possible -- that's pretty basic stuff. Jeter can be as gritty, tough and hearty as humanly possible, but if he doesn't create runs for his team, it won't make a damn bit of difference in the standings.

There was no player in the AL with significant fielding skills that also put up strong batting numbers, so I went mostly with hitting. A fewmonths ago, when I first mentioned doing a long MVP post, I had Hafner and Ramirez in mind for MVP. And even though they both missed games in September -- Hafner broke his right hand on September 1 -- they remain my top 2 choices.

Hafner has led the AL in OPS+ for each of the last three seasons, and he's gotten better each year: 158, 170, 183. And despite Ortiz's numerous game-winning hits, Manny gets the nod for simply being a more productive hitter.
1. Hafner
2. Ramirez
3. Ortiz
4. Santana
5. Jeter

November 18, 2006

54 Cookies


Gonzo Signs With Reds For 3/14


He was eye-popping in the field, but that's a lot of green for a guy with a career .684 OPS (and a .299 OBP (!) last year).

It sounds like the Red Sox were firm about not offering him anything more than one year. Plus, we got Cora and his three-year OPS of .672 for only 2/4.

We still need a starting shortstop. I doubt Theo can convince Julio Lugo to sign for two years -- Lugo would like four -- but how about 3/27?

November 17, 2006

The Pro Calls It Quits

Bill Mueller, whose single up the middle knocked Mariano Rivera to the dirt in the bottom of the 9th inning in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS and brought home Dave Roberts with the game-tying run, has retired and accepting a job as a special assistant to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti.

Canadian Blog Awards

Canadian Blog Awards

I just discovered that this blog has been nominated for a Canadian Blog Award as "Best Sports Blog".

You are all encouraged to click here and vote for JoS (scroll down). Round 1 voting ends next Tuesday. ... You are allowed to vote more than once, but only once a day.

While you are there, cast a vote for we move to canada (my partner Laura's blog) in the following categories: "Best Blog", "Best Progressive Blog, and "Best Personal Blog".

Thanks (and thanks to the mystery person who nominated me).

November 16, 2006

Report: Red Sox Offering Drew 4/48

Philadelphia Daily News:
The Red Sox aren't through yet. Multiple sources say they are set to sign free-agent outfielder J.D. Drew, the Phillies' old amigo, for a 4-year, $48 million deal.
The Herald adds that more than a dozen other teams are interested in Drew.

With reports of Alfonso Soriano and his career .325 OBP commanding as much as $20 million per year and Frank Thomas signing with Toronto for somewhere around $10, snagging Drew at $12 per year is not only pretty good, it's a steal.

Drew needs to stay healthy, but his numbers are much better than what we've been used to from right field.
OPS+   Nixon  Drew
2000 108 122
2001 129 162
2002 114 110
2003 149 133
2004 123 158
2005 112 148
2006 98 125
Career 117 133
Reading Matsuzaka's comment that he is "most looking forward to facing Ichiro Suzuki", SoSHer Noah writes:
It's waaaaay to early to speculate on which game he'll start, but I'll do it anyway. Let's say Schilling starts the season opener in KC on Monday 4/2, and Matsuzaka starts the second game on Wednesday after the off-day. That would put Matsuzaka on schedule to start the home opener on Tuesday 4/10. It would also give him 5 days rest (an extra day) going into that second start. And Ichiro would be the first guy to the plate in the top of the first. That's too awesome for them not to do it.
Matsuzaka Watch includes info on all of his 2006 starts (some video also). Here are some of his stats from Seibu:
Year  W  L   IP     H   ER  BB   K   ERA WHIP
1999 16 5 180 124 52 87 151 2.60 1.17
2000 14 7 167.2 132 74 95 144 3.97 1.35
2001 15 15 240.1 184 96 117 214 3.60 1.25
2002 6 2 73.1 60 30 15 78 3.68 1.02
2003 16 7 194 165 61 63 215 2.83 1.18
2004 10 6 146 165 47 42 127 2.90 1.42
2005 14 13 215 172 55 49 226 2.30 1.03
2006 17 5 186.1 138 44 34 200 2.13 0.92
108 60 1402.2 1140 459 502 1355 2.95 1.17
Johan Santana was the unanimous choice for the AL Cy Young. Chien-Ming Wang (15 second-place votes and 6 third-place votes) was second, followed by Roy Halladay (12 and 12).

November 15, 2006

Matsuzaka Departs For US

This JapanBall article puts the Red Sox bid at exactly $51,111,111.11.

Matsuzaka, at the Narita Airport:
First of all, I was very relieved. I haven't been able to sleep soundly for the past four or five days. I feel like I've just crossed the starting line. It has been difficult waiting. ...

I was shocked at first to hear the amount of the accepted offer. I never thought that the amount would be over $30 million. I'm happy that I've been valued so highly, but I also feel pressure to perform now. ...

I want to perform well in the majors, so I can be booed by our opponents' home field fans.

The batter I really look forward to facing is Ichiro-san.
Shemp who?

We Love Daisuke. ... Will Fenway have the Dice-K Men?

Media Roundup

If they can sign him, they've got the best pitcher in the market, and he may be the best pitcher in baseball when all is said and done. He's got five outstanding pitches. ... It's a lot of money, but if you have it, why not use it on a kid like this? The Yankees have to be sick about this.
Bobby Valentine:
I think they've done a heck of a job scouting. I've seen [Red Sox assistant GM for international scouting] Craig Shipley and [coordinator for Pacific rim scouting] John Deeble here for the last three years, where they followed his movement, they've charted his pitches, they've watched his best and worst outings and done a heck of a job of understanding the kind of competitor and pitcher this guy is.
Approximate bids from three other teams: Mets ($40), Yankees ($33) and Rangers ($27).

So what will it take to sign Matsuzaka? Reports definitely vary. From an annual salary of $7-$10 to $10-$14, maybe $16. Reports are Boras wants only a three-year deal so Matsuzaka can be a free agent at age 29 after 2009, but the Sox may try to get him for four or even five years.

Yasuko Yanagita, Hochi Shimbun sports newspaper:
The Red Sox-Yankees series will have new meaning to people in Japan because you have one of the best hitters against one of the best pitchers. Boston is a popular team because they won the World Series not so long ago, and if Matsuzaka plays for them and Matsui plays for the Yankees, it will create excitement. ...

People will want to see how Matsuzaka pitches Matsui. The Yankees are probably the most popular team in Japan and many Red Sox-Yankees game are shown on TV. They understand the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry and now they'll have this added to it.
Gordon Edes on the gyroball:
First of all, let's drop all talk of the "gyroball," the wonder pitch Daisuke Matsuzaka is said to throw.

He doesn't. No pro, here or in Japan, has been documented as throwing one.
Robert Whiting, author and expert on Japanese baseball, says it's
somebody's idea of a joke. A couple of Japanese guys did a comic story about Matsuzaka's 'pitch,' and a guy wrote a story about it on Yahoo, and that's how it got started. ... Remember Sidd Finch? Same category. ... Matsuzaka doesn't need the gyro. He throws a slider and forkball and changeup and fastball and curve. He throws them all with great control and great command.
Whiting admitted that almost everyone in Japan assumed the Yankees would top the bidding, but
the Red Sox faked everybody out. ... This is pretty big. There hasn't been a pitcher like Matsuzaka in a generation, since Nomo. And he's better than Nomo was in his prime. His control is better, he's just as fast, and he has more pitches than Nomo. ... He's very composed, as cool as a cucumber.

Daisuke Matsuzaka - YouTube

August 30, 2006 (14 strikeouts):

Pitching in the 2006 WBC against Cuba and Mexico:

April 14, 2006:

He can hit too (HR on June 9, 2006):

More videos here.

Pap 2nd in RoY; Sox Talk To Astros

Jonathan Papelbon finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting
           1  2  3  Pts
Verlander 26 1 133
Papelbon 20 3 63
Liriano 1 3 16 30
Johjima 2 4 10
Weaver 2 2 8
Markakis 1 2 7
Kinsler 1 1
Someone moron left Verlander off his ballot. ... Hanley Ramirez won the NL RoY award.

Gary Tuck was named the Sox's new bullpen coach. He was the Marlins' bench coach last year and was the Yankees' catching instructor in 1998-99.

The Red Sox have asked the Astros about relievers Brad Lidge, Brad Qualls and Dan Wheeler -- and have said Wily Mo Pena is available. ... Boston is also curious about Justin Speier and Danys Baez.

November 14, 2006

6 Billion Yen

Or $51,110,000.

Peter Gammons's comments, as posted by SoSHer JohntheBaptist:
-would be "shocked" if deal didn't get done
-sox want 5 years, boras wants 3
-"he's the best pitcher on the market, youngest pitcher on market"
-red sox can market, "sell all their games in japan"
-theo did a lot consulting w japanese teams
-thinks 30-40% of the great players in world will be coming out of asia
-sox feel very strongly "he's the best pitcher on market"
-thinks biggest adjustment will be his pitching every 5th day, instead of once a week
-think they may use 6 starters here and there
-DM sometimes throws "200 pitches day before start to warm up"
-In WBC, everyone was notedly impressed by his control of all pitches
-Thinks Sox will get another starter to build up depth
-Thinks Yankees aren't worried about "responding," Cashman too smart
-Hopeful about Pavano coming back, throwing 200 IP
-MFY aren't in love with Zito
-Loves their two trades
-Sees Hughes in rotation in July
-Cashman wants to get younger
-Thinks Sox/Yankees are beyond the "arms race" in offseason
SoSHer ragecage:
Minor point, but I just caught the replay of the Gammons interview. When I first read your point about Theo's consulting, I took it to be in regards to the posting bid (I probably just mis-interpreted), but when I listened again he mentioned the consulting in regards to two Japanese teams Theo consulted with last Fall/Winter, when he was away from the RS. When you look at it from that perspective, you get an idea of how long this has been brewing in the RS FO (if not even much longer as some have suggested). Without having details, when you add this all up, you get the sense that this was a long time coming, and they wanted to leave nothing to chance.
And geoduck no quahog:
What is it about JWH's money compartments that some people don't understand?

If Henry wanted to buy the John Hancock Building with $50M leverage, would some be complaining about the impact on Red Sox financials?

The posting bid is a sunk cost based on a return-on-investment related to Asian marketing and relationship issues. It has nothing to do with Red Sox payroll. It's a cost that was calculated outside of payroll based on smart people's assessments of potential return.

I have yet to hear or read any impact of the posting on the Red Sox' intention to maintain (or increase) payroll. Complain about Matsuzaka's "cost" after the contract is negotiated.
For those of you who aren't pleased with the amount of money or with Matsuzaka himself, would you have been happier with a 5 year 80 million offer for Zito? Personally I'd rather take the 26 yr old, with 4+ pitches and who lets us put our foot in the Japanese market. Oh yeah and a ton of potential to boot. Of course it's a risky move for the money and the fact that he hasn't pitched in the majors, but none of the options out there are better for us.
First of all, the Japanese Leagues are at LEAST comparable to AAA, I believe. And this guy has been tearing the shit out of the Japanese League for several years. He's as close to a sure thing as anyone is going to get coming from out there, so saying he hasn't proven anything is a little unfair, don't you think? You can only win the games you're allowed to play in, after all.
I know not every Red Sox fan is head over heels about this deal, but how can you say this is not FUN? This winter will not be dull.

November 13, 2006

More on Matsuzaka; And JD Drew?

An official announcement by MLB and the Seibu Lions regarding Boston's winning bid is still almost 24 hours away (8 PM Tuesday night).

Peter Gammons reported that the bid was $42 million, but SI's Jon Heyman says it was between $34 and $38, while Orestes Destrade of XM Radio puts it in excess of $50 million. adds: "Several high-ranking baseball sources also said they had heard Boston was the winner at about $50 million."

Numerous reports say the bids from the Mets and Yankees were between $30 and $38 and the Rangers' bid was $27.

I agree with SoSHer DieHardSoxFan1:
Let's make no mistake about it -- this is an unprecendented deal orchestrated by the Red Sox organization. ... How many times does a pitcher of Matsuzaka's caliber and age, hit the open market? This almost never happens. ...

This has been mentioned before, but this move opens up a whole new world for the Red Sox organization. We may not feel these ramafications for another 5-10 years, but the Red Sox logo is now in Japan and all over the Japanese media. The team will exploit this and market the shit out of themselves over there. And in a country where the Yankees reign supreme and rake in millions of dollars while having the inside track to the top Japanese talent, this Red Sox infusion into the Far East cannot be overlooked or downplayed in the least bit.
Also, there are rumours the free agent the Sox have offered a contract to is JD Drew.

Gammons: Red Sox Win Matsuzaka Bidding

Sources tell Peter Gammons that Boston's bid of $42 million for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka "far exceeded any other team's offer".

At 2:59, SoSHer Carmine Hose posted this:
Just walked by Yawkey Way and there is a 3-man Japanese news team there. The on-camera guy is wearing a Red Sox jacket. They said it's not official, but it is the Red Sox who won the claim.

November 10, 2006

Have Sox Made Top Matsuzaka Bid?

Buster Olney, ESPN:
The Boston Red Sox may have posted the top bid for the right to negotiate with Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, according to Major League Baseball sources.

There has been no official announcement, and the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka's team in Japan, have until Tuesday to accept or reject the high bid.

But, according to officials monitoring the bidding, the Red Sox bid may be between $38 million and $45 million. ...

If the Lions accept the top bid, the winning bidder has 30 days to reach an agreement with Matsuzaka. If a deal cannot be reached, he would return to the Lions for the 2007 Japanese baseball season.
I would have expected Theo to submit a bid, but I figured it would fall short (signing Matsuzaka would mean dropping a total of between $80-90 million (though the bid presumably would not come out of the team's payroll budget)). Then again, if Boston is serious, they'd have to submit a mega-bid to make sure they ended up on top of the MFY.

SoSHers have been trying to get a handle on what his Japan numbers might translate to in the AL. Also, Olney's short article mentions nothing about a Yankees bid.

Nick Cafardo adds some info from the Globe:
There's growing steam behind a report by ESPN's Buster Olney that the Red Sox might have submitted the top bid for Seibu Lions righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka.

One major league source indicated, "That wouldn't surprise me one bit. I have heard the Red Sox were very competitive. It would be a strike against the Yankees, who have been considered the front-runner, and it show Red Sox fans the team is serious about rebuilding what happened last season." ...

If that should happen, the Sox would have three starters -- Jonathan Papelbon, Josh Beckett and Matsuzaka -- all within that prime 26 years old range and the hope that lefty Jon Lester can eventually rejoin the staff.
Cafardo notes that a Fort Worth Star-Telegram report earlier today stated that the Rangers might have made the top bid.

November 2, 2006

A Top 10 Prospect List

Top Prospect Alert has put up its list of the Red Sox's Top 10 prospects:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury (23) OF
2. Clay Buchholz (22) P
3. Craig Hansen (23) P
4. Jed Lowrie (22) SS
5. Lars Anderson (17) 1B
6. Michael Bowden (20) P
7. Bryson Cox (22) P
8. Dustin Pedroia (23) 2B
9. George Kottaras (23) C
10. Daniel Bard (21) P
I know most of the names on this list, but don't follow the minors closely enough to offer any informed opinion. I'm not even sure how reliable TPA is. Any comments? (In TPA's Top 100, Ellsbury is #26 and Buchholz is #31.)


Also, reader Tim O. tells me you can hear a podcast interview with Joe Castiglione here.

November 1, 2006

Wakefield's 2007 Option Picked Up

Tim Wakefield's $4 million option for 2007 was picked up by the Red Sox.

Wakefield was sidelined last July with a stress fracture in his ribs and pitched only 140 innings, his lowest total since 1999. In 23 starts, he had a 4.63 ERA -- approximately the same as the AL league average (4.61). His ERA+ of 100 was second best on the staff, behind Curt Schilling (112) and ahead of Jon Lester (97) and Josh Beckett (92).

As far as my health is concerned, I feel great ... I'm looking forward to getting back to the gym and starting to throw, probably by the first part of December. My body feels a lot better than in July. ... I think time is the cure-all for this injury, and now that I’ve been off for a month, it feels really good. ... I plan to pitch as long as the Red Sox continue to pick up my option.
Two more Boston players -- Alex Gonzalez and Mark Loretta -- filed for free agency, joining Trot Nixon, Doug Mirabelli and Gabe Kapler.

Former Royals GM Allard Baird was named as Theo Epstein's assistant. He will oversee the team's professional scouting department.