Tagged: Josh Beckett

The All Currently-On-The-DL Boston Red Sox & an Introduction to WAR

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(Photo Cred: boston.com)

As the Red Sox take the field against the Orioles tonight, they do so with their 69th unique lineup in their 80th game of the season.  Without further ado, I bring you the July 2nd, 2010 edition of the All Currently-On-The-DL Boston Red Sox.  As a side note, I will explain what WAR means after the roster.  Also, I will dip into the minor leagues when necessary to fill the gaps (there aren’t many).

Catcher
Jason Varitek; 23.4 Career WAR, 0.8 2010 WAR, DL since 7/2/10
We start off with the captain and the newest member of the All-DL team, Jason Varitek.  With a broken left foot, he is expected to miss up to 6 weeks.  He has exceeded the expectations of most this year and has performed more than admirably in the role he has been assigned.  
First Base
Mike Lowell; 29.3 Career WAR, 0.1 2010 WAR, DL since 6/23/10
Lowell has been the odd man out on the team from the get go, and even with all these injuries there really is no place for him.  Lowell’s injury is listed as a strained right hip, but you better believe that if the Sox needed him he would be playing through it.  The sad truth is, we need the roster spot more.  You may think it is a bit of a stretch to put him at first base, but he has actually played 6/10 games there this year (not including when he was the DH).
Second Base
Dustin Pedroia; 17.6 Career WAR, 3.6 2010 WAR, DL since 6/26/10
Pedroia has been the best player on this team this season by most metrics.  For this reason his injury is probably the most widely known.  He was recently joined by Jason Varitek on the All-Broken-Left-Foot team, but we’ll list those guys another time.  This list is starting to look like an All-Decade team…
Third Base
Jed Lowrie; 1.5 Career WAR, has not played in 2010, DL since 3/26/10
Remember him?  Lowrie is one of the longer-tenured members of this team, and has been forgotten by most fans.  He is out with mononucleosis right now, but has been ailed by several aches and pains over his short career.  The once highly regarded prospect sure is missed by the Sox right about now.
Shortstop
Jose Iglesias; hasn’t played in ML- WAR unavailable for minor leagues, DL since 5/29/10
I had to reach a little for this one, down to AA, but Iglesias is one of the team’s top prospects.  He has a broken right index finger.  Although he would almost certainly not have been called up to the Sox to help out at this point anyway, the injury is not helping his development into our first consistent shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra.  Not that we have high expectations for him, no pressure Jose.
Left Field
Jeremy Hermida; 3.5 Career WAR, 0.0 2010 WAR, DL since 6/10/10
Hermida makes the list by virtue of his broken ribs.  He, like Varitek, played better than a lot of people were expecting and was a great role player.  Speaking of outfielders with broken ribs…
Center Field
Jacoby Ellsbury; 6.5 Career WAR, -0.2 2010 WAR, DL since 5/25/10
The date here is a little deceiving as that is just the start of Ellsbury’s latest stint on the DL.  In reality, he has collected just 45 plate appearances this season.  It’s pretty amazing when you take one of the best players and the spark plug out of this team and they are still one of the best teams in baseball.
Right Field
Zach Daeges; hasn’t played in ML, DL since 2009
Another bit of a reach, Daeges is probably one of the lesser known Sox prospects.  This is because he has not played yet this season and missed most of 2009 as well with a severe ankle injury.  When he has played though, he has shown some signs of promise, so here’s hoping he can overcome the injury bug and return as soon as possible.
Designated Hitter
Victor Martinez; 23.4 Career WAR, 1.2 2010 WAR, DL since 6/28/10
Martinez gets the nod at DH, since sadly he is not the best defensive catcher on this list.  He was just heating up before he broke his left thumb.  Hopefully he will back sooner rather than later to spare us Sox fans from the offensive efforts of a Kevin Cash/ Gustavo Molina platoon.
Starting Pitcher
Josh Beckett; 22.8 Career WAR, -0.9 2010 WAR, DL since 5/19/10
Beckett is out with a lower back strain.  He obviously was expected to be at least an above average pitcher this season, and it just hasn’t happened.  Remarkably, the rotation has been a strong point for the Red Sox, even with their ace on the mend.  
Closer
Manny Delcarmen; 3.5 Career WAR, 0.2 2010 WAR, D
L since 7/1/10
Delcarmen is a new member of the team as well, having just gone down with a strained right forearm.  Bullpen depth is always crucial, but Manny hasn’t provided an irreplaceable service thus far.  A triple-A replacement will do just fine.
This list will mean a lot more if you understand what WAR means, so I’ll try to explain it here for those who are unfamiliar with it.  It is one of my favorite statistics and I plan on using it frequently on this blog in the future.  WAR, which stands for Wins Above Replacement and was created by Sean Smith of baseballprojection.com, is defined on Baseball-Reference as “A single number that presents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement player would add.”  Pretty powerful concept, right?  All these other stats we have mean nothing if your team doesn’t win games, so why not put a player’s performance in those terms?  A replacement player is defined as someone on the cusp of the Major Leagues, a “AAAA” player if you will (between AAA and the majors).  Essentially, the replacement level player will have a WAR of 0.0 and neither hurt nor help the team.  It is important to note that these are not the worst players, many players have accumulated negative WAR totals with poor play.
I love this stat for a few reasons.  Not only does it put everything in terms of wins, which just makes sense to me, but it also incorporates EVERY part of the game.  Offense, defense, baserunning, pitching, even an adjustment for high leverage situations.  I’m not going to post all the actual calculations because there are a couple different methods, I don’t fully understand them, and I don’t think you need to in order to appreciate and understand the stat.  The other reason I love WAR is because it is used for both hitters and pitchers.  There really has never been a way to compare Ted Williams to Roger Clemens before, but we now can see that by this method at least, Roger Clemens contributed just a hair more (128.4 to 125.3 Career WAR).  All of the WAR numbers in this post and for all players can be found on www.baseball-reference.com.  
Finally, to put the single season numbers into perspective a little (keep in mind that the 2010 numbers are for a partial season, through 7/1/10), Baseball-Reference provides this handy dandy scale.  A 0-2 WAR season is typical of a reserve/bench player, 2+ is a starter, 5+ is an all-star, and 8+ is an MVP.  There’s a lot I could say about WAR, but I’ll leave it at this for now and talk about it more in future posts as it becomes relevant.
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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.

6 Game Win Streak Snapped

Alright, on the heels of the 6-4 loss to the Angels I’m sure you’re all turning to me for an explanation.  Never fear, I have one.  

I mentioned the ties in my first post, and sadly they are the culprit tonight.  Here is the background information on the ties: my school’s dress code requires that I wear a tie each day.  If the Sox are on a winning streak, I wear the same tie as I did the day before.  Simple, right?  Why haven’t we won every weekday game then?  Well, believe it or not, there has been a valid explanation for every exception.  I won’t detail all of them here but just so you know I’m not pulling your leg… take a look at the week of March 30th.  We won Tuesday and Wednesday per the tie rule, off day Thursday, and then oh wait!  The rule has been disproven right?  Wrong.  We were out of dress code on Friday and since I didn’t wear a tie, we lost the game 6-3.  Another fact worthy of mentioning: we lost all weekend long and did not win again until the next Tuesday,  which was the next gameday when I could wear a tie.

Back to tonight.  This tie was on a roll.  6 games in a row.  But they don’t count because they were over the weekend right?  No, this tie, with the help of another superstition that I can’t mention right now, powered through the weekend until I could continue wearing it on Monday.  Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  The reason may sound a little farfetched, in fact I would be surprised if many out there believed me.  But I’m not going to worry about that, all I can do is promise you that at all times on this blog I am telling the truth.  So, during school today, my friends and I discovered a kite stuck in a tree on our campus and we decided to spend the period trying to get it down.  Sure, it started off by innocently throwing tennis balls at the kite, but it eventually became an obsession and we had to turn to more drastic measures.  So we all tied our ties together to make a string about, well, 3 ties long.  We tied a lemonade bottle to the end of the string (which was my tie, THE tie) and tried to loop it around a tree branch so we could pull it down and retrieve the kite.  To make a long story short, which I am doing a horrendous job of, by the time I got my tie down from the tree about 40 minutes later it was not in good shape.  It had some pretty tight knots tied in it and it got a little beat up from rubbing against tree bark.  We didn’t get the kite and I knew I had compromised the luckiness of the tie in the process.  So consider this an apology to Red Sox Nation, I promise not to fool around with the lucky ties anymore.

P.S.- Get well soon Curt Schilling, Mike Lowell, Alex Cora, Josh Beckett, Jason Varitek, Manny Delcarmen, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kevin Youkilis, and Coco Crisp.  Did I miss anyone?