Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Red Sox & Their Fans' Misguided Confidence

As promised, a blog entry. Wow, 2 days in a row. The kid is on fire.

I listen to a lot of baseball talk on XM radio. I probably listen to it for 10-11 hours per day. A lot of the talk has been about the Red Sox and what their fans perceive to be the greatest team ever assembled. I think it's funny how overly-confident they are about what I consider to be marginal upgrades. Ya know? They remind me a lot of some Yankee fans. I think we can all say over the last several years we've thought going into the season the Yankees were the best team ever, only to have them miss the playoffs or lose in the ALDS. Building a team that's great on paper often doesn't translate into glory. You think Sox fans would have noticed that by now.

Now don't get me wrong. The Sox improved their team by trading for Adrian Gonzalez and by signing Carl Crawford. But they didn't improve by leaps and bounds. They did lose both Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez. Here's a quick comparison:

  • Beltre/V-Mart = 338 for 1082 (.312), 81 2B, 3 3B, 48 HR, 181 RBI
  • Crawford/Gonzalez = 360 for 1191 (.302), 63 2B, 13 3B, 50 HR, 191 RBI

Pretty close, eh? And yes I know, different parks, blah blah blah. Either way, you're not going to see the monumental gains you're expecting. Here's another point to consider: V-Mart was a catcher and his production is a lot harder to replace than that of a LF. Another point: Crawford isn't going to have the Red Sox to run all over either so expect fewer SBs. Again, marginal upgrades in my opinion.

The Red Sox really need those guys to over-perform. They also need Youkilis and Pedroia to bounce back from their injuries. Why, you ask? They need as much offense as they can get to make up for what I consider to be an average/below average starting rotation. On names alone their rotation is pretty good. But let's face it, after Lester and Buchholz, it's pretty bad.

  • Josh Beckett = 6-6 w/5.78 ERA, 1.54 WHIP & 20 HR allowed in 127.2 IP
  • John Lackey = 14-11 w/4.40 ERA, 1.42 WHIP
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka = 9-6 w/4.69 ERA, 1.37 WHIP
  • Tim Wakefield = 4-10 w/5.34 ERA, 1.35 WHIP

Ok, maybe pretty bad is an overstatement. But they're not good. I've heard many a Red Sox fan exclaim, "They'll bounce back. That was an off year." Blah blah blah. If that argument has any merit to it, then I can make the case that A.J. Burnett will also. While I'm at it, Jeter, A-Rod, and Teixeira will all perform to the numbers on the back of their baseball cards. No way those 3 all hit .270ish again, right? That argument is weak. Either way you want to slice it, the Red Sox rotation is not as good as the Yankees. Assuming of course Andy Pettitte comes back (which he will). If he doesn't, then I'll concede that point based on the 3 for-sure Yankee starters (Sabathia, Hughes & Burnett).

Do the Red Sox remind you of anyone? Maybe the Yankees from 2001-2009? Think about it. Their lineup is stacked with all-stars. Their rotation, while good on paper and high on name recognition, is for the most part, average to below average. The goal is to score a lot of runs because the pitchers are going to give up a lot. Sound familiar Sox fans? Your team is basically following the Yankees formula. Not surprising. the Sox and their fans suffer from a massive inferiority/jealousy complex. Can someone remind me how that formula for success worked out for the Yankees? Oh yeah. No rings and a bunch of first round eliminations from the playoffs. Good luck with that.

Having said all of that, I don't see why people are touting the Red Sox as heavy favorites. Based on the current rosters (Yankees without Pettitte), I'd give the Sox the edge. But not nearly to the extent that the run-of-the-mill Red Sox fan thinks. I'm failing to see where all of the confidence and chest pumping is coming from. I really am. Allow me to further explain.

If Pettitte comes back, the Yankees have pretty much the same rotation as they did last season. That rotation led them to 95 wins and the wild card. The Sox rotation, which is the same as last season, got them to 89 wins. The additions of Crawford and Gonzalez only marginally make up for the loss of Martinez and Beltre. I don't think you can assume that a healthier Sox team could have made up for the 6 game difference. There's no way of knowing what would have happened. Injuries are part of the game. Every team has their share of them, some more so then others, and the good teams rise above them. That's baseball.

So someone explain it to me because I don't get it. Why are Sox fans overly confident about their team? Maybe their a little better on paper than the Yankees right now, but only by a small margin. I don't see how anybody can call them heavy favorites. Sox fans should have also learned by now that the best teams on paper (see the 2001-2009 Yankees) don't often win. I don't understand how their confidence level is so high and I look forward to saying "I told you so" come October.

Peace, love and Pinstripes,



Anonymous said...

ur an idiot. good teams overcome injuries? 8 players were on the disabled list. lets see any other team have that many injuries and still win 89 games.

J-Boogie said...

Thanks for the comment my anonymous friend. I appreciate the name calling. Always good to have some intelligent back-and-forth.

Anyway, good teams, aka ones that are good to start with, with solid depth, a good farm system, and a GM that can make things happen when needed, can and absolutely should overcome injuries. They're a part of the game.

Blaming injuries for a poor finish is a poor excuse. It's not like the Sox are the only team to have that misfortune. Nick Johnson, Andy Pettitte, Curtis Granderson, Alfredo Aceves, Jorge Posada, Damaso Marte, Lance Berkman, and Alex Rodriguez all missed time last season.

In addition to that, Jeter had an OPS .127 below his career avg, Teixeira had an OPS .067 below his, and A-Rod was .111 below his.

Now on top of that, A.J. Burnett had an ERA 1.27 points above his career ERA. Javy Vazquez was a bust and they made due with the likes of Sergio Mitre, Dustin Moseley, and Ivan Nova.

Injuries to 8 key guys, under-performance for 3 key guys, and crappy pitching from 2/3 of the rotation. And they still won 95 games. There you go. There's your team.

The Sox were a good team, no question. But pinning their failures on injuries is an epic fail. Good teams find a way to get it done.

The Sox were good. But not good enough. Assuming Pettitte resigns and both teams are healthy, the Sox still won't be good enough. Well, maybe they'll surpass the Rays.

mwmjr1974 said...

First. The sox lost Ellsbury for the year. Then Youk and Pedroia the last 6 weeks.

Second. Yes injuries are part of the game but those are the sox 1, 2 and 3 hitters. If the Yanks lost Jeter, Cano, and Teixeira they would win 80 games.

Third. Now add the defense that Crawford, Ellsbury in the outfield and having Youk at third instead of Lowell will benefit the pitching staff.

The bottom line is the sox may have to win 6 to 8 more games next year to make the playoffs. And with the Rays loosing Crawford, Pena, and Rafael Soriano they will not be in the Wildcard race. The Yankees and Angles did not upgrade there roster in anyway and got another year older. So if the sox stay healthy worst case is they win the Wildcard.

J-Boogie said...

I agree with you 100% that the Rays and Angels haven't done anything in the way of improving their teams. Not yet anyway.

Injuries definitely play a factor and last season's outcome very well may have been different had the Sox been healthy. No real way of knowing. Now, I know this isn't exactly the same, and part of thinking this way is definitely b/c I'm a Yankee fan, but you can argue that the Yankees lost quite a bit last year when you combine injuries and less than normal production from Jeter, Teixeira, and A-Rod. That definitely cost them some games.

It will definitely be an interesting year. I do think a lot of Sox fans are failing to recognize the Yankees (assuming with Pettitte) as a formidable threat that could easily win the division and roll the competition. I think there's a lot of over-confidence right now in RSN.

corporate baseballguy's glass awards said...

Well, I am an avid Sox fan and I really would love to see them win a lot of games, however, as the saying goes, "health is wealth", They may need to adjust on a lot of things and come up with creative strategies to win. Win or lose I'll always be rooting for you Sox!

Uncle Mike said...

J-Boogie, kindly stop telling the Sox fans the truth. It only confuses the poor Chowdaheads.

In all seriousness, with the Rays cutting payroll (already dumping Crawford, their most important player if not their best), and the Sox pitching having more holes than a cheese convention in Switzerland, and the Blue Jays seemingly handing over their talent at Customs and not getting it back, I'm thinking Buck Showalter may turn the Orioles into the team that will challenge the Yankees for AL East honors over the next few years. The Red Sox may sink into what they were 1979-85 and 1992-87: Just another team.