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,


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee Went To Philly, B.F.D.

Greetings everyone. Long time, no talk. I have no good reason to explain my absence. I've just been super-busy with work, life, and all that jazz. I've been meaning to blog an entry here and there but it's been hard to find the time. I told myself I would when the whole Cliff Lee drama resolved itself. So here I am.

I can sum up my feelings about Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies in 2 simple words: don't care. Would it have been nice if Cliff Lee signed with the Yankees? Abso-freaking-loutely. But is it the end of the world that he didn't? Not even close. Adding Lee to the Yankees rotation would have been a huge improvement to the team. No doubt about that. But they're still fine without him, as long as one thing happens, and that is Andy Pettitte returning to the Yankees.

Had Lee signed with the Yankees it would have made losing Pettitte not such a big deal. Lee would have been like a super-awesome insurance policy. The fact of the matter is that last year's Yankee rotation, which included a horrible A.J. Burnett and a revolving door of 5th SPs, won 95 games and made the playoffs. If Pettitte resigns, the rotation, is for all intents and purposes, the same as it was last year. Sure the 5th spot is open but let's face it, anybody could step into that spot and do as well as Vazquez, Moseley, Mitre & Nova. A rotation of Sabathia, Hughes, Pettitte, Burnett and Lee would have been awesome. A rotation of Sabathia, Hughes, Pettitte, Burnett, and ?? would still be pretty damn good. Again, that tandem won 95 games last year. They'd be formidable enough to win that many again. Right now, Pettitte is the key to that happening. If he retires, then we have a problem.

It seems pretty clear to me that Lee never wanted to be a Yankee. If anybody out there is blaming Brian Cashman for messing things up, and there are people saying he did, they need to stop. Silly irrational fans. There isn't anything he could have done, except for mortgaging the entire future of the franchise, to sign Lee. He was never coming here. I can understand why he went to Philly. I think it gives him the best chance to win. The NL East pales in comparison to the AL East. The Phillies should pretty much roll over that division with ease. Their rotation is pretty sick and is arguably the best in MLB. I'd give that nod to the Giants. They did after all beat Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels and Lee in last year's playoffs. If Lee comes out and says he chose Philly because it gives him the best chance to win, I can kind of respect that. But, it's kind of a wuss move. The AL East is without question the toughest division in baseball. Maybe Cliff was afraid of a little tough competition? Everybody knows NL pitchers have better numbers. I can't blame him for not wanting to face the teams in the AL East 19 times each per season. That's my slightly-irrational view on that. I can admit it.

I also get that Lee loves the city of Philly. I know he has a child with cancer and the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, aka the CHOP, is one of, if not the, best cancer center for children in the country. Makes sense that he'd want to be close to that. Signing with Philly was a good move for Lee. Even at what could be $40-50 million less in guaranteed money.

And those are my thoughts on Lee. Again, not a big deal to me. Assuming of course that Andy Pettitte comes back. I'm inclined to think he will but who knows. The Yankees have been down this road with him before. He'll be back. I hope.

Tomorrow, I'll have up a post about the Red Sox and their fans' misguided confidence about next season. I'm going to write it now and have it come up about this time tomorrow. I also hope to blog more regularly but I make no promises.

Peace, love and Pinstripes,