Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Okay, I lied.

I'm still thinking about baseball. Really quickly...

One month ago I was dreading the possibility (first brought up by X a while back) that the AL East would hinge on that final 3 game series against the Yankees...

...Now, I'm pretty much hoping that's the case.


  1. Wouldn't it be nice to just have one day when we win and they lose? When was the last time that happened? With the exception of the game we beat them that Schilling pitched, it seems like a long, long time ago.

  2. And really any talk in Boston about 1978 really should be tempered. Totally different clubs. Totally different circumstances. The really 1978 repeat is happening in CLE and CHI - what was 15 games on August 1 is now 2.5.

  3. Not to mention the fact that it's painfully obvious that the Yankees starting pitching is now better than the Sox. (So sad.. but true).

    Not that I am giving up, but if the Yankees catch us, which looks pretty likely at this point. It's not because the Sox have folded. We're playing .500 ball the last 10 games. It will because we needed to play .600 ball and we didn't. Ok, so that's as obvious as saying we need to score more runs than the other team to win, but my point is that this not a choke.

    The team has the pedal to the metal and at times is playing inspired baseball. The best evidence of this is Cora's recent play in the field. He basically won for us two nights ago and gave us a chance to stay in it last night. In fact, we missed tying it up in the 9th by what... 3 feet?

    If we can get a couple of good starts to build a bit of momentum we can hold off the Yankees. Otherwise, we best hope that the Indians cool off.

  4. Well... that was a step in the right direction. More, please.

  5. The Yankees starting pitching is strange...If we go back to the early predictions and match up pitcher by pitcher, I don't know if you can say the Yankees have better starting pitching.

    Schilling v Big Unit...Schilling has 3 quality starts in a row and was lights out against the Yankees. At this point in time in a head-to-head matchup, I'd take Schilling. But maybe I am nuts...

    Wells vs Chacon...Chacon's record has been very good with the Yankees. Wells struggled a bit (but apparently needed a cortisone shot. Also, we knocked Chacon around...This is a toss up...slight edge Chacon???

    Aaron Small versus Wake...Wake has been unbelievable...Small is 9-0...but last night they Yankees won 12-9...In his last two starts, Small has a .340BAA and an almost 7 ERA. At this moment I give this to Wake....

    Arroyo vs Wright...Arroyo has 19 quality starts and has pitched very well as of late...He's 3-0 in September with a 3.54 ERA. Wright is 1-1 with a 4.22...His last start he lasted 2 1/3...Edge Arroyo...

    Wang vs Clement...I'd give the edge to Wang only because Clement has been bad lately.

    Overall, I don't think that either team holds a huge edge in starting pitching.

    I say the difference has been the production of the entire Yankees team (guys like Bubba with walk-offs)...

    I also want to add that (even though this sounds fairly crazy) I'd feel comfortable going in to the postseason with a bullpen of Delcarmen (Kapler's DL), Hansen (Mantei's DL), Papelbon, Timlin, and Myers...Of course Arroyo will probably head out there as the long relief guy...Leave the other boys at home...Oh, and Myers...Bradford? No...Foulke? Not at this point in time....by the way, wouldn't last night have been a good night for Foulke to go two innings or so? Harville? No...


  6. Yeah the bullpen you can just flip a coin. Foulke looked awful two nights ago. Max velocity of 85. Right down the chute.

    I think the baseball people would say he is off a postseason roster, but there is too much $$ at stake. And his ridiculously fragile ego. Basically if they leave him off the roster, he is done for next year. He'll whine and cry about and demand a trade, etc, etc. This past weekend he gave an interview with a writer here in SF and he basically said he hates Boston and hates baseball.

    Maybe between Hansen and Papelbon they will consider trading Foulke, even if they have to pay some of the freight. Of course you hate to give that role to a rook, but who knows. Or work those guys in and keep Timlin for another two years.

  7. Well, Huston Street has worked out pretty well for the A's...

  8. Agreed. And he has worked out quite nicely for Team X.

    However, Oakland is not Boston.

  9. Ok, but let's look around baseball and look at the closers on contenders?

    How does one qualify as dominant? What are the criteria? You cannot solely look at saves. Foulke was fairly successful in save opportunities, but surely none of us want him out there.

    K-Rod...Dominant? Yes, you take him on your postseason roster, but do you feel very confident each time out? It seems (and please correct me if I am wrong) that the assumption is that you can't use him more than one inning, and that teams that see him in a few games in a few days fare quite well against him.

    Hermanson? Man, this is a guy with a ton of saves and underwhelming stuff...I don't get it...But he keeps getting the job done.

    Rivera? Well, he's Rivera...Best of the bunch still.

    Wickman? Here's another guy I don't get. You see him pitch and you wonder why guys aren't taking him out of the part.

    Isn't Timlin as good as a lot of these guys?

    As for Foulke, they were saying on EEI that they watched the full games of last year's postseason to see what Foulke did differently. His fastball was consistently 87 mph (not much different than this year), but his changeup was consistently 76-78 mph. This year it has been 82, 83, 84... It isn't so much that his velocity is down, but it's that his changeup velocity is higher. And, of course, he can't locate anything.

    The only thing I can say about him is that last September he kind of sucked, too (then lit it up in the postseason). The difference is that he was good the rest of the year.

  10. For all the talk of how it takes 'something special' to be a closer, every single year some dude comes out of nowhere and is very solid in the back-end of games. Just this year alone, you can point to: Chad Cordero, Huston Street, Dustin Hermanson/Bobby Jenks, Todd Jones (!!!), Ryan Dempster, K-Rod... all guys who either did not have closing experience before, or were considered washed up. To me, closing is probably not as hard - or at least not as emotionally hard - as it's thought to be. I have no doubt that Papelbon or Hansen could be an effective closer for the Red Sox starting right now.

  11. Right, Andrew. That was sort of my point.

    Here's the postseason recipe for success (in terms of pitching)...

    Starter goes 6-7. Combo of guys (Delcarmen, Myers, Arroyo, Hansen) for the 7th. Papelbon in the eighth. Timlin in the ninth. Of course, you won't use all those guys in the 7th, so they'd still be available in the 8th and 9th for insurance.

    Of course, it is tough to send Arroyo to the pen with the way he's been pitching lately. Like I said before 19 quality starts. That feeds in to the recipe above. But it is him or Wake, and Wake has been unbelievable...

    And we have to get there first....

  12. Hey look, I agree that closers are a unique breed and to a certain extent a media creation. I just don't know that in Boston in particular that you can throw anyone into the role.

    Agreed that every year there are a few closers that come out of nowhere, but there are also a few that blow up.

    Hermanson is a bit of a strange case. But this year he has found the magic. You ask if these guys are as good as Timlin - the numbers say they are all probably about the same. And if Timlin had been closing all year he'd have 35 saves probably. No reason to think he would not have the 25 or so that Foulke got, plus Curt's 9 and his 9.

    Of course Hermanson may have lost his closers role to Jenks who throws gas.

    I guess my bigger point is that you want to go into the season with a plan. at least know who your closer is. Of course it doesn't always work out. ask ATL, who survived. Or the Mets, who didn't.

    And sure guys like street emerge, but he may (would) not have gotten the chance if Dotel did not blow up (although Beane may have traded Dotel), same for Todd Jones and for Dempster. Cordero and Hermanson were put in roles by default on teams that weren't really expected to contend.

    K-Rod did not really come out of nowhere.

    Right now what is the Sox plan for 2006? Hell we don't even really know what it is for the rest of 2005 - well I guess it is Timlin but not by design.

  13. It does seem that closers, more than other pitchers, tend to suddenly collapse year-to-year. Recently we've seen it with Lowe, Foulke, Kolb, Mesa, Wagner, Percival...

  14. .... Dotel, Danny Graves, armando benitiez, Mike Williams, Mike Dejean, Billy Koch (hehehe), Ooogie, Kaz Sasaki and lest we forget Byung Hung Kim.

  15. Yep. Though I'm not sure about Benitez -- while he's about the last closer you'd ever want coming in for a Big Game, he hasn't really had a Terrible Season the way all the others had. Pretty weird.

    But yeah, that's a long list. Can't be a coincidence.

  16. Yeah Benitez has been okay in relation to the other guys. Agreed he still has a chance to be okay (as do a few of those guys who were injured).

    But it sure is a long list. I wonder if it is any more dramatic than starters. I mean closer is a very unique and somewhat freakish stat.

    I got a lot of that list from the top saves leaders in 2002. If you look at the top winning pitchers that year the fall off is not as dramatic - Zito Lowe Pedro Buerhle Halladay Mulder wells moose washburn in the AL and in the NL - Unit, Curt, Oswalt, Glavine Millwood, Morris, Jason Jennings (there is a big one), Maddux, Nomo (another).

    I guess we have an answer that it is easier to have an elite season as a closer than a starter. Of course Billy Beane and Bill James have know this for a while.

    James has a good point on saves - that many of them are the easy 3 outs, 3 run leads that even a replacement level player will convert them about 85% - 90% of the time.

  17. King Felix. No hitter thru 5.

  18. Wow, thanks for the heads-up -- I hadn't noticed the nono. Man that guy is amazing.

    I like the list of Toronto pitchers so far: Bush/League.

  19. I had just been thinking the other day that there has not been a nono this year - a few close calls but no one sealed the deal.

    Only one season in the last 15 years (2000) has not seen at least one no hitter.

    So, I'm sure I just jinxed it.

  20. Uh oh. missed line drive.

    sure enough. right after I hit publish.

  21. I should say things like Jeremy never gets his penis sucked by a hot beautiful random stranger (female) on a Friday evening.