November 28, 2012

Fairly Insignificant Goings On

The Red Sox have
named Greg Colbrunn as hitting coach;

traded third baseman Danny Valencia to the Orioles;

traded right-handed pitcher Zach Stewart to the Pirates;

traded right-handed pitcher Sandy Rosario to the Athletics; and

not had any discussions with Jon Lester about a potential contract extension (2013 is the last season on current deal, and the team holds an option for 2014).
Speaking of Lester, there have been rumours (via the Kansas City Star) that the Red Sox and Royals have discussed (at least a little bit) a Lester-for-Wil-Myers trade. Check out Alex Speier's detailed take on the idea (here (and here)); SoSH's thread is also informative.

November 27, 2012

RIP: Marvin Miller (1917-2012)

Marvin Miller, one of the most important figures in baseball history, has died. He was 95.

That Miller was not elected to the Hall of Fame during his lifetime is a stain upon the national game that cannot be removed.

Richard Goldstein, New York Times:
When Mr. Miller was named executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966, club owners ruled much as they had since the 19th century. The reserve clause bound players to their teams for as long as the owners wanted them, leaving them with little bargaining power. Come contract time, a player could expect an ultimatum but not much more. The minimum salary was $6,000 and had barely budged for two decades. The average salary was $19,000. The pension plan was feeble, and player grievances could be heard only by the commissioner, who worked for the owners.

By the time Mr. Miller retired at the end of 1982, he had secured his place on baseball’s Mount Rushmore by forging one of the strongest unions in America, creating a model for those in basketball, football and hockey. ...

"There's been a concerted attempt to downplay the union," Mr. Miller told The New York Times, referring to the Hall, when he narrowly missed out on election in December 2010, the fifth time he had been on the ballot. "It's been about trying to rewrite history rather than record it. They decided a long time ago that they would downgrade any impact the union has had. And part of that plan was to keep me out of it."
Bill Madden, New York Daily News:
A native of Brooklyn who grew up a staunch Dodger fan, Miller had had a decorated record as a trade unionist – as a labor negotiator for the International Association of Machinists, the United Auto Workers and as staff economist for the United Steelworkers - when a group of major league players, Jim Bunning, Robin Roberts and Harvey Kuenn, approached him in early 1966 about becoming executive director of their newly-formed players union. At the time, they told him, as an appeasement to the vast majority of conservative players, they were prepared to offer the job of general counsel of the union to former vice president Richard Nixon – a dealbreaker for Miller, an avowed liberal Democrat, who informed them he could not work with Nixon.

In his 1991 memoir, "A Whole Different Ball Game" Miller recalled going home to his wife, Terry, and saying: "I blew the job." But a few days later, Roberts called him back and urged him to re-consider taking the executive director's job - with the agreement that he could name his own general counsel. Miller accepted, named Dick Moss (who later became a prominent agent) as his general counsel and then quickly set about changing the entire structure of baseball.
As Miller put it in A Whole Different Ball Game:
I loved baseball, and I loved a good fight, and, in my mind, ballplayers were among the most exploited workers in America.
Other obits: USAToday (Jim Bouton has some excellent comments),, AP.

November 22, 2012

Red Sox Sign Jonny Gomes For Two Years

The Red Sox have signed outfielder Jonny Gomes, who turns 32 today, to a two-year contract worth $10 million. It is a substantial raise for Gomes, who earned $1 million with Oakland last season.

Gomes had a career year last year, his best since his rookie season in 2005. He hit .262/.377/.491 (140 OPS+) in 333 plate appearances. An increase in his walk rate gave him the highest OBP of his career. Gomes had a severe platoon split in 2012, hitting much better against lefties (.299 average, .974 OPS) than righties (.209 average, .715 OPS).

Gomes also played a brutal left field. According to Dave Cameron (Fangraphs), Gomes "is basically as bad as an outfielder can possibly be while still being considered a passable part-time player at the position".

The price tag for this cog in the 2013 machine won't break the bank (though it seems high) and we do need more than Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield, but this is a pretty uninspiring move.

November 16, 2012

"There Is Great Power In The Objectivity Of Math"

And so the Most Valuable Player in the American League did not win the American League's Most Valuable Player award.
Miguel Cabrera had an astoundingly good season, but Mike Trout was a more valuable player. As Jeff Passan says in this must-read column, it's not a travesty that Cabrera won the hardware last night. It's just wrong. (I have been slowly teaching myself to not give a damn about the BBWAA awards and I think that I have done a pretty good job in recent years.)

There have been dozens of articles out there over the past few weeks weighing the stats of Cabrera and Trout, positing this vote as a crucial battle in some supposed "stats vs. scouts" war. I've read a few, but haven't written about or linked to any of them (... except Passan's, I guess!).

And I won't be linking to any of the braying articles attempting to convince you that Cabrera's easy victory - 22 of 28 first-place votes - is a stunning and well-deserved rebuke to basement-dwelling dweebs like myself. However, you may certainly post any particularly exquisite cases of stupidity in comments.

November 15, 2012

Red Sox Finalize Deal For Catcher David Ross

The Red Sox have finalized their acquisition of catcher David Ross, signing him to two-year deal for $6.2 million. With Boston unlikely to carry three catchers in 2013, it seems as though either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway will be traded before Opening Day.

Some Ross stats from Alex Speier:
Atlanta went 54-35 (.607) in his 89 starts behind the plate over the last two seasons, the best winning percentage for any National League catcher with at least 65 starts in that time. The only catcher in the Majors with a better record from 2011-12 was Mike Napoli (.618).

Over the last four seasons, Ross has led the majors with a 3.33 catcher's ERA (min. 200 games), the best four-year stretch in the Major Leagues dating back to 1998.

He has thrown out 37.5 percent of attempted base stealers (99 of 264) over the last eight years, the second-best rate in the Majors after Yadier Molina's 40.0 mark (min. 400 games). In those eight seasons since 2005, he placed among the best National Leaguers in caught stealing percentage six times: 2005 (2nd, 53.8), 2006 (2nd, 41.4), 2007 (2nd, 39.0), 2009 (1st, 43.2), 2011 (4th, 31.2) and 2012 (3rd, 42.4).
Ross, 35, appeared in eight games for the Red Sox in September 2008, and went 1-for-8 at the plate.

As Atlanta's back-up, Ross has posted OPS+ of 133, 136, 107, and 105 over the last four seasons, since leaving Boston. He had a .353 OBP with Atlanta from 2009-12.

November 7, 2012

Juan Nieves Named As Pitching Coach

Ian Browne,
The Red Sox have selected Juan Nieves as their new pitching coach, a source has confirmed.

Nieves beat out three other finalists -- Rick Peterson, Randy St. Claire and Steve Foster -- for the spot. ...

The 47-year-old Nieves has been the White Sox's bullpen coach for the past five seasons. Though he has never been a pitching coach at the Major League level, Nieves worked in that role in Chicago's farm system for nine years.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports - who was the first to report the news - said Nieves's interview with the Red Sox lasted seven hours.

Nieves pitched for three seasons with Milwaukee (1986-88), throwing a no-hitter on April 15, 1987 against the Orioles.

November 5, 2012

Ortiz: Valentine "Must Have Some Mental Issues Or Needs Medicine"

After officially signing a two-year contract with the Red Sox, David Ortiz responded in detail to former manager Bobby Valentine's asinine statement that Ortiz quit on the team after the Punto trade.

Valentine, "Costas Tonight", October 23:
He realized that this trade meant that we're not going to run this race and we're not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.
Ortiz, November 5:
No. 1, never bite the hand that feeds you, because in the end that will come back to bite you," Ortiz said. "I was one of those players that always showed support for him. In fact, I held a couple of player meetings.

No. 2, the day that I returned from the DL, I told him that I was not sure what percentage health-wise I was in, but that I could not be out there without trying to help. When I told him that, I put my career on the side to help him and the team. Being in an incredible amount of pain, I went out there to support them.

No. 3, after he went on national TV to say what he said, he sent me a text message trying to tell me that it was the media trying to change things. I did not respond to the message and I said to myself, this guy must have some mental issues or needs medicine or something? I said, I am dealing with someone crazy and I am not going to drive myself crazy, so it is better if I leave it alone.
True to form, Valentine knows he is on film saying XYZ but claims the media is twisting things to make it look like he said XYZ when (I guess) he really said ABC. (Who even knows if he believes it?) Ortiz is not buying any of it, of course, because Ortiz is not a moron.

I'm just grateful that Valentine is looooong gone and Ortiz is staying where he belongs.

The details of the deal: $1M signing bonus; $14M in 2013; $11M in 2014.

November 2, 2012

Red Sox, Ortiz Agree To 2/26 Deal

Several sources are reporting that the Red Sox and David Ortiz - who bashed .318/.415/.611 last season - are putting the finishing touches on a 2/26 deal. Various incentives could push the deal to $30 million.

There is no downside to this contract, as it keeps a happy Ortiz in Boston through 2014. Keeping Ortiz in Boston was essential from a public relations standpoint and if the deal is a little high, well, the Punto trade gave the team the necessary payroll flexibility and if they're going to potentially waste a few million, it might as well go to someone like the Large Father.

Gordon Edes posted the following:
• In the past three seasons (2010-2012), he trailed only Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

• In the past three seasons, he trailed only Cabrera, Votto, Bautista, Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun in OPS+, which measures OPS adjusted to a player's home park.

• In the past three seasons, he trailed only Cabrera, Bautista, Hamilton, Votto and Braun in slugging percentage.

• In the past three seasons, he trailed only Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Cabrera and Hamilton in isolated power (ISO), which measures the percentage of extra-base hits a player has.