Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Theo Compensation: Chris Carpenter...

Photo by J. Daniel/Getty Images
Misleading headlines are fun, aren't they? According to multiple Twitterings from Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald out of Chicago, the Cubs and Red Sox have settled the matter of compensation for Theo Epstein between themselves (read: without the help of Uncle Bud.)

Chicago will send minor-league pitcher Chris Carpenter (obviously not that Chris Carpenter) and the ever-infamous player to be named later (which generally never really amounts to anything at all) to the Red Sox for Theo and a PTBNL (to be decided by April 15th). The teams and league had to keep things on the up and up and since this was a baseball trade in the end, the PTBNLs had to be included.

Miles also tweets that Carpenter is a "Hard thrower, can hit 100. Potential closer down the line."

This seems to be a fair deal for all involved, especially since Baseball America has Carpenter listed as the 13th best prospect in the Cubs system (down from no. 6 in 2011). Hopefully he can can turn into a solid 8th inning guy within a year or two and provide some support for Bailey.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On Making Cody Ross Sweat It Out

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Now that Yoenis Cespedes is in Oakland, all eyes on the international scene have turned to 19-year old Cuban wonderboy Jorge Soler. He's 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, and looks to be either a firstbaseman or most likely, an outfielder.


Wait for it...

The Red Sox need a rightfielder.

Sure sure, they have World Series superhero Cody Ross, and Ryan Sweeney whom they grabbed in the Andrew Bailey deal from Oakland (among others) to man the position for now, but Ben Cherington has got to be thinking about other, more long term solutions (will Ryan Kalish ever get healthy?).

The Cubs last week had been rumored to have a deal in place for Soler--on the day Cespedes signed no less--but that somehow fell through. It's possible his fellow Cuban's contract changed his mind on the whole thing. Other than Chicago, the Blue Jays, Phillies, White Sox, and Yankees have all been mentioned as contenders for his services.

So what about Boston? Here's the latest on the situation from the Globe's Nick Cafardo:

"Jorge Soler, OF, free agent - The Red Sox are one of about eight teams that would love to land the Cuban outfielder. Some of those who elected to stay away on Yoenis Cespedes because of the hefty price and uncertainty about how his game translates to the majors have decided that Soler is a better value, because he has more upside and can be put in the development system for a while for seasoning. Soler is not yet available because of citizenship issues, but once he is, those teams might be in for sticker shock. Two general managers have told me that he will go for more than the five years and $15 million-$20 million most thought he’d settle for."

Clearly, as with Cespedes, any sort of logical projections for Soler would be about as legitimate as alchemy at this point, even Bill James can't save us on this one. In addition, his citizenship status in the Dominican hasn't been established as of yet, so it may be a while before he hits a major league camp.

Despite that, major league scouts are excited about him, and there seems to be a bidding war 'a-brewin.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wakefield to Announce Retirement

Well, it's official. Tim Wakefield is finally calling it quits according to a tweet from The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham this morning:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Can Manny Still Be Manny?

"Chief Wahoo isn't a real person?"
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
It's hard to figure out Oakland's interest in Manny Ramirez, other than it must be that Billy Beane thinks he has more left in his swing than faded memories of former teammate Chief Wahoo.

The 39-year old DH hasn't had a productive full season since 2008 (pre-drug suspension '09 notwithstanding,) and his character issues and mashups with teammates, clubhouse attendants, family members, and retirement are well documented. The man to your left is clearly Dr.-Steve Brule-crazy, just one glance at his eyes will tell you that.

Yet we still have this out of Oakland:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Greek God of...Limping?

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images
Advanced metrics. At times, they can be a tough tool to rely on--especially when it comes to measuring a fielder's effectiveness. Currently, the best--or at least most widely used system is Fangraph's Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR).

I won't get into how it's calculated--Fangraphs itself does a much better job than I can pretend to here for those interested--and admittedly it has its flaws like any method of measuring a player's effectiveness, but over a period of a few seasons (preferably at least three) it can be more than a decent indicator of a player's worth in the field.

Which is why it's so tough to get a bead on Kevin Youkilis' effectiveness as a thirdbaseman. 

I don't want to think this thing to death, but after seeing David Ortiz coming back for another season following yesterday's arbitration settlement, it seems to me that this will be Papi's final year in Boston regardless of how he performs in 2012 (historically, hitters just can't hack it at age 37 and beyond without steroids). Especially with Youkilis' injury trouble over the past few years and Will Middlebrooks, who by all accounts looks like a spectacular defender, looming on the horizon, it seems as if Youk is primed to be the DH in 2013.

That is, if he re-signs after this season (his 4-year, $40 million dollar contract is up at the end of the year.) But contract talks and injuries aside, we're definitely in for another season of Youkilis at third for better or worse. 

So how to the numbers bear out?

Back to that pesky UZR. The 32-year old came in a below league average rating of -2.3, and -3.7 when prorated over 150 games last season. Compare that to league leaders Adrian Beltre (AL-12.3) and Placido Polanco (NL-14.0), and you can see that Youkilis' numbers don't exactly inspire confidence.

I can hear all of you screaming "But he was injured!"

Okay, okay, calm down. You're right. But can it safely be argued that he'll be healthy enough to get in a full season at the hot corner in 2012, which by the way, would only be his second at the position in his career? Probably not. 

The problem comes in that he doesn't really have the games played at third to effectively measure his performance over a three year period. He racked up 948.2 innings at the position in 2011, his next highest total coming in 2004--his rookie-season, in which he rated a whopping 7.0. 2009 saw him play 494.1 innings with another dismal -1.4 UZR rating. 

Will all of this add up to a new thirdbaseman for Boston in 2013? Possibly. My guess is that he will still be a valuable enough hitter to warrant keeping around at DH, despite his poor showing last year. Hopefully he stays injury free and earns himself an extension.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Olney Report: Ortiz Settles

According to ESPN's Buster Olney, David Ortiz and the Red Sox have settled at the midpoint of $14.5 million dollars. Good situation on both sides: Boston gets one of the most productive DHs in the game for another season and saves $2 million off the sticker price, while Papi gets a nice raise following a good season.

Best of all? The Red Sox get a happy, or at least content Ortiz. Because if he'd lost his case, his attitude would've made everyone in the room feel as awkward as being hugged from the back from their favorite teacher (shivers).

Also, does anyone think it's time to up that $6 million dollar offer to Roy Oswalt with the cash they're saving?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

On Josh Beckett and the Personal Catcher

Type "Josh Beckett Complains" into Google, and you're treated to 1,510,000 results. Hit Google image search, and you can bear witness to this dreamy image:

Clearly, this really isn't a fair assessment of anything, as you can probably get a 500,000-plus Google hits on anything from "Abe Lincoln fights a grizzly" to "Donald Duck is a facist pig." Doesn't make it true. But what it does illustrate is that Josh Beckett has gained a reputation as a bit of a complainer.

Tony Massarotti and Mike Felger of afternoon drive fame on 98.5 the Sports Hub here in Boston have dubbed him the "Texas Tough Guy," a nickname I whole heartedly endorse--if only because it makes me chuckle every time it comes up. His distinction as a big game pitcher gained in the '03 and '07 World Series has suffered greatly here in recent years, a change which can probably be pinpointed somewhere around the '08 ALCS implosion vs. Tampa Bay.

It's true that Beckett hasn't exactly lived up to the billing of a number-one starter since the sweep in Colorado, aside from flashes here and there. Accusations of complacency late in the season abound, with the pitching staff and Beckett in particular taking the brunt of that ire. Fine.

But what is forgotten in all of this is that Josh Beckett had a more-than-decent season in 2011, posting a 2.93 ERA and nearly hitting the 200 inning mark. He was better than many thought, while no longer bearing the expectations of staff ace (outside of his own mind anyway). But he did so with Jason Varitek calling the shots behind the plate.

Beckett pitched exactly zero games without the former captain as his backstop last season, and it remains to be seen how this will affect him in 2012. I was all set to put together a nice chart comparing Beckett's numbers with Varitek catching and without--because, you know, stats prove a point a hell of a lot better than humor does--but there's nothing to report. JV was his one and only.

How weird will it be for the Texas Tough Guy this year? Will he feel unfaithful and a little unclean with Saltalamacchia back there? Who knows what goes on in the mind of a baseball player. My guess is that it will probably affect him a whole lot less than he thinks.