Tagged: John Lackey

Close Calls & DMac

Before tonight’s 2-0 victory over Toronto, check out the last time the Red Sox won by more than 1 run:

Gm# Date Tm Opp R RA W-L GB Win Loss Save
8 Wednesday, Apr 14 boxscore BOS MIN W 6 3 4-4 1.5 Lackey Slowey Papelbon
9 Thursday, Apr 15 boxscore BOS MIN L 0 8 4-5 2.5 Liriano Wakefield
10 Friday, Apr 16 boxscore BOS TBR L 1 3 4-6 3.0 Cormier Delcarmen Soriano
11 Saturday, Apr 17 boxscore BOS TBR L 5 6 4-7 4.0 Shields Buchholz Soriano
12 Sunday, Apr 18 boxscore BOS TBR L 1 7 4-8 5.0 Garza Lester
13 Monday, Apr 19 boxscore BOS TBR L 2 8 4-9 6.0 Niemann Lackey
14 Tuesday, Apr 20 boxscore BOS TEX W 7 6 5-9 5.5 Papelbon Francisco
15 Wednesday, Apr 21 boxscore BOS TEX W 8 7 6-9 5.5 Okajima Nippert
16 Thursday, Apr 22 boxscore BOS TEX L 0 3 6-10 6.0 Wilson Buchholz Oliver
17 Friday, Apr 23 boxscore BOS BAL W 4 3 7-10 5.0 Delcarmen Albers Papelbon
18 Saturday, Apr 24 boxscore BOS BAL W 7 6 8-10 5.0 Lackey Albers Papelbon
19 Sunday, Apr 25 boxscore BOS BAL L 6 7 8-11 6.0 Johnson Atchison Meredith
20 Monday, Apr 26 boxscore BOS TOR W 13 12 9-11 5.5 Schoeneweis Camp Papelbon
21 Tuesday, Apr 27 boxscore BOS TOR W 2 1 10-11 5.5 Buchholz Downs Ramirez
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2010.

That’s right, not since April 14th, 2 weeks ago. The BoSox may have gotten back to .500 with tonight’s win, which is always good to see, but the fact of the matter is they still have a lot of work left to do if they want to contend this season. I am encouraged by the way Clay Buchholz has been pitching and by Jon Lester‘s last two starts. If John Lackey and Josh Beckett can pick it up, then the rotation will be in good shape even if #5 remains a mystery with Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Don’t look now, but Lester hasn’t allowed a run in his last 13.1 innings.

One of the more interesting and surprising bright spots for the Sox thus far has been Darnell McDonald. Carrying a .286 average and 2 home runs through just 25 plate appearances into tonight’s contest, many fans are wondering where the heck this guy came from. That’s where I come in.

McDonald is 31 years old and in his fourth major league season. He made his major league debut back in 2004 at the tender age of 25 with the Baltimore Orioles, who selected him with the 26th overall pick in the 1997 amateur draft. Since then he’s been all over the majors and the minors, logging just 147 big league at-bats coming into this season. During that time he posted a below average slash line of .231/.276/.333.

So where is this new found success coming from? Your guess is as good as mine, but I can tell you one thing. He’s not the young prospect that some interpret him as, and for this reason he doesn’t have a legitimate chance of staying with the team long term. He may be a fan favorite already, but something’s gotta give when both Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury (remember them?) return from the DL. The team can’t afford to carry more than four outfielders at a time, and there’s just no way that McDonald can play himself ahead of Ellsbury, Cameron, J.D. Drew, or Jeremy Hermida. Thanks for the memories DMac, but I’m afraid your time is almost up.

Guess Who’s Back

You can all stop holding your breath now- that’s right, I have returned from my nearly two-year blogging hiatus.  So much has happened since my last post, in the baseball world and in my own.  I’m now close to completing my freshman year at Boston University and the New York Yankees are now reigning world champions.  Go figure.

No promises on how often I’ll update this time- but hopefully it won’t be two years until my next post.  I’d like to add a new spin to the blog as well.  Since my last post I’ve developed more of an affinity for the number behind baseball- sabermetrics for those familiar with the term.  I spend much of my free time on http://www.baseball-reference.com which, by the way, is an incredible site for anyone with even the slightest interest in baseball or anyone trying to settle any baseball related argument.  They have an overwhelming amount of data over there, and one of these days I’m going to get around to giving back to them either via donation or volunteer work.
One of my favorite features on the website has to be the similarity scores.  At least a few of my posts in the coming weeks will be about these specifically, because quite frankly I think they’re awesome.  To put it simply, similarity score is an advanced stat created by Sabermetrics God Bill James that is designed to show how similar two given players careers have been.  Every player has not only a list of his top 10 similar players for his career numbers, but also the top 10 most similar careers through a given age.  I encourage you to read the quick primer here if you’re interested at all: http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/similarity.shtml
Today I want to talk about Josh Beckett.  While perusing his page the other day I noticed that his most similar player is none other than brand new teammate, John Lackey.  The way similarity score works is it starts at 1000 and points are subtracted for each “unsimilar” thing. Lackey’s score is 971, so they actually have had remarkably similar careers.  Beckett has a record of 107-68 compared to Lackey’s 103-71, and a lifetime ERA of 3.81 compared to Lackey’s 3.79.  
One of the trends in baseball today is general managers and front offices leaning towards new age statistics such as WAR, UZR, and ERA+ to determine a player’s value.  This may be part of the reason why a Jermaine Dye who is coming off a 27 HR, 81 RBI season is still unemployed, but that’s a story for another post.  I only mention this trend because I wonder if any agent or GM has tried to use these similarity scores in negotiations.  Much was made this winter about John Lackey’s brand new 5 year, $82.5 million deal.  GM Theo Epstein had previously set a precedent of not signing starting pitchers to contracts longer than 4 years, but he broke that rule for Lackey.  When it came time to extend Josh Beckett this spring, he told Beckett that he would not do the same for him, and Beckett accepted a 4 year, $68 million extension.  Now of course similarity score does not take expected performance into account, which is at the forefront of contract negotiations.  Beckett has more injury questions than Lackey, which is the reason Theo & Co. are reluctant to sign starting pitchers to long-term deals in the first place.  But it seems to me like Beckett and his agent Michael Moye could have pushed harder for a 5 year deal, given its proximity to Lackey’s and the near identical careers of the two pitchers.  
From here on out, you can assume all data is coming from either http://www.baseball-reference.com or Cot’s Contracts at http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com.  Both are fabulous resources and I am forever indebted to them.  So credit to them.  Drop me a comment if you enjoyed this post and I’ll try to post again soon.