Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Arbitration Results

Arbitration this year was not painful. Only Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon were still needing a new contract and both players agreed yesterday.

Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to a $2.4 million contract for one year. He will remain arbitration-eligible for a couple more years. Ellsbury had an injury-ravaged season last year, but he will hopefully be ready for action in Spring Training. He and new teammate Carl Crawford could steal 100 bases between them.

Jonathan Papelbon agreed to a $12 million contract. He will be eligible for free agency after the season. He had his worst year of his career last year and if he can not reverse the trend, Boston almost certainly will not bring him back.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Busts Pt. 15: Eric Gagne

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.
Wow, this one is a massive bust. Eric Gagne was supposed to come in and solidify the bullpen in 2007. He was acquired at the trading deadline in a large trade in which the Red Sox gave up former first round draft pick David Murphy, Kason Gabbard, and minor league slugger Engel Beltre. Boy, does this trade look awful now, with Murphy being a solid regular in the outfield and Beltre being one of Texas's top prospects.

Gagne was having a pretty good year in Texas in 2007, his first year away from Los Angeles, for whom he won the 2003 Cy Young Award. At the time of the trade, he had pitched in 34 games, saving 16, with a 2.16 ERA and 29 strikeouts and 12 walks in 33.1 innings. He went to Boston and was only supposed to be a setup man to young closer Jonathan Papelbon. He pitched in 20 games for Boston, but his ERA was 5.75 and he was 2-2 with three blown saves.

He also pitched badly in four games in the playoffs against American League teams, giving up three earned runs and two walks in 3.1 innings. He did pitch a perfect inning against Colorado in the World Series, but that was his only playoff success that year.

For costing the Red Sox two good young players and pitching horribly for two months, Gagne is one of the biggest trade deadline busts in recent memory.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

One-Card Wonder Pt. 16: Ernest Riles

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).

The only Red Sox card of Ernest Riles in existence is this 1994 Fleer card. Riles spent one year with the Red Sox in 1993. He was a utility infielder, spending time at second base, third base, first base, and designated hitter, and he was used a pinch hitter and pinch runner. Riles was a steady defender, but was not much with the bat. He did manage to pop five home runs, but his slash line was .189/.292/.350/.641. Riles made it into 94 games that season, but only had 170 plate appearances. He bounced around the minors for a couple more seasons after 1993 before calling it a career.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Unknown Heroes Pt. 17: Wily Mo Pena

Wily Mo Pena was acquired in a trade with the Reds for Bronson Arroyo. Mistakenly believing that they had too much pitching, GM Theo Epstein decided he needed some outfield depth and acquired the power-hitting outfielder who hit 19 home runs the prior year and 26 the year before that in part-time work.

Pena actually had a decent year in 2006, although he was hurt a lot and was otherwise a part-time player. He hit .301/.349/.489/.838 with 11 home runs. He played right field and center field most of the time, while also playing in left field and designated hitter. He did show a tendency toward laziness in the outfield and did not walk much though. I saw him in two games that year and in the game in Kansas City, he hit a ball that landed on the roof of the concession stand out in left field, the longest home run I have ever seen.

The next year, Pena had even more injury problems and did not hit when he was in the lineup. He was traded to Washington near the end of the year for Chris Carter who was later traded in the Billy Wagner trade.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Busts Pt. 14: Javy Lopez

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.

The Red Sox dealt with some disastrous injuries in 2006, not the least of which was to their starting catcher Jason Varitek. Doug Mirabelli was also having a bad year, so the Red Sox shipped former Husker Adam Stern over to Baltimore for Javy Lopez, who lasted all of 18 games with the Red Sox.

Javy Lopez, who once hit 43 home runs for the Braves, a mark he hit just three years earlier, was a complete disaster for Boston. Lopez hit .190/.215/.270/.485. What's more, he did not hit a single home run. Five doubles accounted for all of his extra base hits.

Defensively, Lopez was pretty bad as well. He allowed 15 stolen bases, catching only two in 18 games. He also allowed two passed balls.

Lopez was released just a month after being acquired when Varitek returned to the lineup.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One-Card Wonder Pt. 15: Chad Fox

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).
Chad Fox was part of the ill-fated closer by committee approach Boston took into the 2003 season. Fox was viewed as a low-risk, high-reward signing when he was acquired after pitching in just three games in 2002 for the Brewers.

Unfortunately, the reward part never paid off. Fox pitched in 17 games for Boston in 2003, going 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA. He did strike out 19 in 18 innings, but he also walked 17 and gave up 19 hits, for an unforgivable WHIP of 2.00. Fox was released in late July and ended up with the Marlins.

The only card I own is a 2003 Upper Dec 40 Man card.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Unknown Heroes Pt. 16: David Wells

Well, David Wells was not really unknown, but he was definitely near the end of his career by the time he joined the Red Sox. Wells had been successful for several years with the Blue Jays, Yankees, White Sox, and several other teams and he joined the Red Sox in 2005 at the age of 42.

Nevertheless, Wells had a pretty decent season in '05. He won 15 games and pitched to a 4.45 ERA with 107 strikeouts. Wells was one of the better pitchers for the Red Sox that year, as many of their other starters had injury problems or were ineffective. Wells's weight was always an issue, but that was part of what made him such an interesting pitcher to watch.

2006 found Wells dealing with a variety of injuries and ineffectiveness. He did start the only game I have seen at Fenway Park to date, and he took the victory in that game, despite leaving early after a line drive caught him on the knee.

Later in the year, Wells was traded to the Padres for future backup catcher George Kottaras. He did pitch one more year before retiring at 44.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Well, So Much for Max Ramirez

Today he was claimed by the Chicago Cubs after the Red Sox attempted to pass him through waivers. So, that's it for that. Too bad. I was looking forward to Max Ramirez with the Red Sox.

Feature: Relatives to Play for Red Sox

With the Red Sox recent signing of Tony Pena Jr. to a minor league contract, I wondered how many relatives have played with the Red Sox. I also wondered who the best family to play for the Red Sox is.

Here are the results:

Marty Barrett: 9 years, .278/.338/.347/.684, 17 home runs, 311 RBIs, 57 stolen bases
Tommy Barrett: 1 year, 3 at-bats, 0 hits

Roy Carlyle: 2 years, .311/.345/.454/.798, nine home runs, 65 RBIs
Cleo Carlyle: 1 year, .234/.324/.345/.669, one home runs, 28 RBIs

Tony Conigliaro: 7 years, .267/.331/.488/.819, 162 home runs, 501 RBIs
Billy Conigliaro: 3 years, .269/.329/.461/.740, 33 home runs, 98 RBIs

Rick Ferrell (HOF): 5 years, .302/.394/.410/.804, 16 home runs, 240 RBIs
Wes Ferrell: 4 years, 62-40, 4.11 ERA, 17 home runs

Alex Gaston: 2 years, .223/.277/.285/.562, 2 home runs, 30 RBIs
Milt Gaston: 3 years, 27-52, 3.95 ERA, 215 Ks

Johnnie Heving: 5 years, .268/.315/.326/.641, 0 home runs, 68 RBIs
Joe Heving: 3 years, 31-11, 3.83 ERA, 132 Ks

Long Tom Hughes: 2 years, 23-10, 2.69 ERA, 127 Ks
Ed Hughes: 2 years, 3-2, 4.78 ERA, 11 Ks

Roy Johnson: 4 years, .313/.386/.458/.844, 31 home runs, 327 RBIs, 48 stolen bases
Bob Johnson: 2 years, .302/.395/.476/.872, 29 home runs, 180 RBIs

Pedro Martinez: 7 years, 117-37, 2.52 ERA, 1,683 Ks, 0.978 WHIP
Ramon Martinez: 2 years, 12-9, 5.70 ERA, 104 Ks

Ed Sadowski: 1 year, .215/.284/.333/.618, 3 home runs, 8 RBIs
Bob Sadowski: 1 year, 1-1, 5.40 ERA, 11 Ks

Ed Connolly: 4 years, .178/.239/.229/.469, 31 RBIs
Ed Connolly Jr.: 1 year, 4-11, 4.91 ERA, 73 Ks

Dick Ellsworth: 2 years, 16-7, 3.07 ERA, 110 Ks
Steve Ellsworth: 1 year, 1-6, 6.75 ERA, 16 Ks

Walt Ripley: 1 year, 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 0 Ks
Allen Ripley: 2 years, 5-6, 5.36 ERA, 60 Ks

Haywood Sullivan: 4 years, .150/.245/.226/.471, 3 home runs, 10 RBIs
Marc Sullivan: 5 years, .186/.236/.258/.494, 5 home runs, 28 RBIs

Smoky Joe Wood: 8 years, 117-56, 1.99 ERA, 989 Ks
Joe Wood: 1 year, 0-1, 6.52 ERA, 5 Ks

Shano Collins: 5 years, .271/.302/.366/.668, 5 home runs, 168 RBIs
Bob Gallagher: 1 year, 5 ABs, 0 hits

Dom Dallessandro: 1 year, .231/.351/.293/.643, 11 RBIs
Dick Gernert: 8 years, .252/.352/.436/.788, 101 home runs, 377 RBIs

I think the winner is between the Conigliaros, the Ferrells, and the Johnsons.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 14: Nomar Garciaparra

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Is Nomar Garciaparra a future Hall of Famer? I personally believe that he should merit induction, and it's not just because he was one of my favorite players when I was growing up. Garciaparra was easily one of the best hitting shortstops ever at his peak. He was also one of the best players in the game from 1997 through 2003. The downside is obvious, he really did not play particularly well from 2004 on to the end of his career, and he did not stick at shortstop.

Garciaparra came up at a time when the American League had three great young shortstops. Garciaparra was a great hitter at his peak and put out one of the all-time greatest rookie seasons. He won two batting titles in 1999 and 2000 and was a good bet to hit 25 home runs and drive in 100 runs every year. Pretty lofty numbers for a middle infielder.

During the seasons 1996 through 2004, when Garciaparra was playing for the Red Sox and was universally considered one of the greatest players in the game, he hit .323/.370/.553/.923. He also hit 178 home runs during that time.

Garciaparra did falter after being traded to the Cubs in 2004 and was never again the same hitter. He did hit 20 home runs for the Dodgers in 2006, but that was the only time after leaving Boston that he hit more than nine. It is this steep decline that makes his Hall of Fame candidacy questionable.

For his career, Garciaparra hit .313/.361/.521/.882, numbers that are better than his contemporary, Derek Jeter. However, Garciaparra had a shorter career and only spent the first nine seasons at shortstop. Will his status as one of the best shortstops in the game for those nine seasons be enough to put him in the Hall? It should, but looking at the voting record for players like Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker does not fill me with confidence.

I do think Nomar belongs in the Hall, but there are some serious issues with his candidacy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Busts Pt. 13: Coco Crisp

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.
Okay, we can talk about this now. Coco Crisp was a bust in Boston. A year after hitting .300/.345/.465/.810 with 16 home runs and 15 stolen bases, Crisp was acquired to take over in center field for the departed Johnny Damon. Basically, he was considered to be a younger version of Damon. It was a pretty big trade and Boston was credited for their ability to trade for him.

Only problem was Crisp never developed into a Damon-type player. He had a great Spring Training with Boston and looked ready to play well in 2006, until he broke a finger early in the season. In 105 games with Boston that first year, he only hit .264/.317/.385/.702 with eight home runs. He did steal a career high 22 bases and was the team's only credible base-stealing threat.

In 2007, Crisp improved slightly, but still did not come close to matching his 2005 season. He once again set a career high for stolen bases with 28, but basically lost his job late in the season to Jacoby Ellsbury.

In 2008, Crisp split time with Ellsbury and played other positions in the outfield. His overall numbers were better once again as he hit .283/.344/.407/.751 but he only hit seven home runs and stole 20 bases. Crisp was traded after the season to Kansas City for Ramon Ramirez.

In his time with Boston, Crisp made several highlight reel catches in center field. His defense, particularly in 2007 was his strength. That year, he put up a dWAR of 2.6. He was a threat on the basepaths, and he could fight as James Shields could attest. However, Crisp was not the player Boston expected when they traded Kelly Shoppach, Andy Marte, and Guillermo Mota. That player never emerged. Crisp was serviceable and fun to watch, but nowhere near a star.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Red Sox Claim Max Ramirez


In the least surprising news of the offseason, Boston claimed Max Ramirez off waivers. Having traded for him last winter, sending Mike Lowell to Texas in return, a deal that was later rescinded based on Lowell's hip, I am not shocked at all that he was claimed when Texas put him on waivers earlier this week. Last year, the Rangers had three catching prospects: Taylor Teagarden, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Max Ramirez. Boston coveted all three of them, and now have two of them. We will have to wait and see whether Saltalamacchia and Ramirez can reach their potential.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Congratulations Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar

Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were elected to Cooperstown today. No big surprises here. Congratulations to them both. I liked Blyleven when I first got into baseball, though he retired soon after. I was never a big fan of Alomar, I always liked his brother Sandy better, but my little brother was a huge fan.

As for the Red Sox showing, the three players who played in the Majors for them eligible on this year's ballot were Lee Smith, John Olerud, and Carlos Baerga.

Lee Smith finished fifth on the ballot, receiving 45.3% of the vote, well short of the required percentage, and he dropped a bit this year. This is his ninth year on the ballot, so six more years to try to climb. I just do not see it happening, not when Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera have both eclipsed his then-record saves total. Too bad.

John Olerud received only our votes and dropped off the ballot. I really think he was deserving of a closer look, although I am not surprised by this result.

Carlos Baerga did not receive any votes. That also did not surprise me.

Next year, Smith will be back on the ballot and Javy Lopez, Jeff Fassero, Carl Everett, Bill Mueller, and Mike Remlinger will be players who played with the Red Sox that are eligible to appear on the ballot. None of them stand a very good chance of surviving that first year either, with the possible exception of Lopez, the power-hitting catcher.

Goodbye Adrian Beltre

Well, the news is that Beltre is off to Texas. Good luck to him. I wish he could have stayed around Boston awhile longer, he was a lot of fun to watch, but with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, my disappointment in him leaving is assuaged. Beltre was the team's best player last year, but there was no room for him after acquiring Gonzalez and Crawford. Good luck Adrian. Hey, at least we have more draft picks to replenish the system.

Red Sox Acquire Tony Pena Jr.


Tony Pena Jr. has converted to a reliever after being one of the worst offensive players in recent memory. He comes to the Red Sox with just one year pitching in the minors under his belt. He may be an interesting player to follow.

His father caught for Boston for four years and was one of my early favorite players.

One-Card Wonder Pt. 14: Sergio Valdez

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).
This is a 1995 Pacific card of a little-used reliever. It is the only Boston Red Sox card out there of him. Valdez only pitched in 12 games for Boston in 1994, but he got a card thanks to Pacific's commitment to Latin players. He pitched to the tune of an 8.16 ERA with four strikeouts compared to eight walks. It's no wonder he did not last long.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 15: Devern Hansack

I chose to consider Hansack here because I really did like the player, and he was not really a prospect by the time he came to Boston. Hansack was a 28 year old rookie from Nicaragua in 2006 when he arrived in Boston. He made it into only two games that year, but his second game was in the last game of the season when he pitched a five inning no-hitter. Obviously it is not official, because the game did not go the full nine innings, but it was impressive nonetheless.

In 2007, he made it into three more games and in 2008 four more, but that has been it so far for Hansack. Unfortunately, he just never stuck. He had pretty decent stuff, but was never able to show it off for long in the Major Leagues. It did not help that he bounced around for so long before finally making the Majors.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 13: Fred Lynn

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Fred Lynn had one of the greatest rookie seasons ever. In 1975, he won both the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player, becoming the first ever player to do that. That year, he hit .331/.401/.566/.967, leading the league in runs, doubles, slugging percentage, and also won a Gold Glove deservedly for his fantastic play in center field. Lynn also hit 21 home runs, with 105 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. If he had continued to play at that level for the rest of his career, he would have been a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

Lynn however had some injury problems the next couple of years, common for a player that plays as hard as Lynn did. He was however, a very good player for the remaining time in a Red Sox uniform and even turned in his career year for the Red Sox in 1979 when he won the batting title, hitting .333/.423/.637/1.059 with 39 home runs and 122 RBIs, while again winning the Gold Glove. The next year he was again injured and slumping and was traded to the Angels in a deal that brought over Joe Rudi and Frank Tanana, not a very good trade for the Red Sox.

Lynn continued to put up nice numbers for several more years for the Angels, Orioles, and Tigers, but never reached his height of 1975 or 1979 again. He regularly hit between 20 and 25 home runs and drove in 65 to 85 runs. Lynn finished his career with the San Diego Padres in 1990.

His career line was .283/.360/.484/.845 with 306 home runs and 1,111 RBIs. His career WAR was 47.3, which is actually six wins higher than Hall of Fame teammate Jim Rice in only one more season.

Unfortunately, Lynn is hampered by the fact that he was never a league leader in any category after leaving the Red Sox. His best years were already basically over after his first five seasons. He was a very good player for nearly ten years after that, but never again a great player.

I do not think Lynn deserves to be a Hall of Famer, but if he had a few more great seasons, he might be closer. He was a better all-around player than Jim Rice, but Rice's eye-popping power definitely got Hall of Fame voters' attention moreso.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Taylor Buchholz and Jordan Parraz, We Hardly Knew Ye

Taylor Buchholz signed with the Mets today and Jordan Parraz was picked up off of waivers by the Yankees a few weeks ago. Both players were picked up by the Red Sox this offseason. Buchholz was non-tendered to sign to a lesser contract and Parraz was placed on waivers to make room for one of the bigger acquisitions. Brent Dlugach was also sent to the minors, making three lesser signings. None of these will likely come back to bite the team too badly. I'm not even sure why I'm writing this. Stupid boredom.

Busts Pt. 12: Edgar Renteria

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.
I remember going to a Cardinals game with my older brother (who lived near St. Louis at the time) in 2004. Edgar Renteria was having a down year, but had a couple good years before that. I nudged my brother and said that Renteria would be a Red Sox the next year. I was right.

Unfortunately, Renteria was a very expensive disappointment. His offense was not bad actually, he hit .276/.335/.385/.721, numbers that are not as high as his career norms, but not far off either. He also hit eight home runs and drove in 70 runs. Across the board, his numbers were down, but not to the point that he had a significantly worse season than 2004.

Defensively though, Renteria was a total disaster. He was worth -2.0 dWAR and committed 30 errors. Maybe the field contributed to this showing, but he was never given a chance to prove that. After the season, despite being on the hook for $30 million and three years, Boston traded him to the Braves for Andy Marte, who was then packaged for Coco Crisp, another disappointment. Renteria of course went on to a good year in 2006, a great year in 2007, and then crashed again. He was the World Series MVP in 2010 though. Boston is still looking for a high quality everyday shortstop, although Marco Scutaro last year was decent.

Red Sox Sign Hector Luna (Minor League Deal)


Virtually meaningless, because he probably won't spend much time at all with the big league team. He provides middle infield depth should Jed Lowrie go back on the disabled list (entirely possible). But he provides no offense.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

One-Card Wonder Pt. 13: Jesus Tavarez

For whatever reason, sometimes I am only able to find one card of certain players. To be considered a One-Card Wonder, a player must have been active since 1991 (when I started paying attention).
This is a 1998 Invincible Gems of the Diamond card. Tavarez spent a year as a backup outfielder for the Red Sox in 1997. He played in 42 games, hitting .174/.216/.243/.463. As you can see, not great numbers. He did not offer any power or speed numbers either, so there was good reason not to bring him back.

Unknown Heroes Pt. 14: Bronson Arroyo

I really liked Bronson Arroyo and was a little disappointed when he was traded away. I thought Arroyo had the talent to develop to be a very strong third starter for the Red Sox. This theory has been basically proven since he went to the Cincinnati Reds. I also got the impression that Arroyo really enjoyed being in Boston and never really wanted to leave.

Arroyo was originally picked up on waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003, just the kind of short-sightedness that has lead to the team not finishing above .500 for almost two decades. Arroyo did not pitch much in the Majors with the Red Sox in 2003, but put up some decent numbers. In 2004, he was 10-9 with a 4.03 ERA. He also played a role in the postseason that year.

In 2005, Arroyo was one of the better pitchers on the team, going 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA in 205.1 innings.

He signed a team-friendly contract after the year and looked like a durable workhorse for years to come. Then, Theo Epstein in one of his worst trades, dealt Arroyo to the Reds for Wily Mo Pena, a player with a world of talent, but no idea how to grasp it.

Arroyo, of course, has generally pitched well since being traded.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 12: Wally Schang

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

There are 13 catchers currently in the Hall of Fame that played in the Major Leagues. However, the Hall is missing one of the better Dead Ball Era catchers. Wally Schang, whose stats are better than some of the catchers already in the Hall of Fame, is still outside the Hall.

As a Dead Ball Era player, Schang's stats obviously do not compare to Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, or other more offensive-minded catchers. However, they do compare favorably to such Hall of Famers as Ray Schalk, Roger Bresnahan, and Rick Ferrell.

Let's look at some numbers:

.279/.386/.377/.764, 26 home runs, 530 RBIs
.281/.378/.363/.741, 28 home runs, 734 RBIs
.253/.340/.316/.656, 11 home runs, 594 RBIs
.284/.393/.401/.794, 59 home runs, 710 RBIs

Players A-C are all Hall of Famers. Player A is Roger Bresnahan, Player B is Rick Ferrell, and Player C is Ray Schalk. Player D is, of course, Wally Schang. As you can see, Schang was a better hitter than all three of the other players, yet he is not a Hall of Famer. Why not?

Well my theory is that Schang was not as good defensively as the other three. A theory which is at least partly supported by defensive WAR values. Schang was worth -2.4 dWAR for his career. Schalk was 3.2, Ferrell was 0.1, and Bresnahan was -1.8. So, that does not totally explain it.

I guess we may never know why Schang did not get in the Hall of Fame.

Better than three catchers already in the Hall, but is that really a good reason for putting him in? However you answer that is the answer. I personally think he should be in.