Bloody Sox Laundry - 8/18/09

After the long off day (some college kids just got loads of money before playing a single MLB game), we're back to the whole playing baseball thing - or maybe it's a lost cause. Let's see:

In or out? - Extra Bases

Baseball Prospectus's Postseas[on] Odds, compiled by Clay Davenport, tout the Red Sox as having a 38.2 percent shot of winning the wild card and a 3.7 percent glimmer of hope to overtake the New York Yankees in the AL East -- a 41.9 percent total.

The Rangers, meanwhile are given a 20.6 percent chance to win the wild card and a 19.5 percent chance to win the AL West. The total is 40.2, slightly less than the Red Sox.

Statistically Speaking, Red Sox Will Make the Playoffs - NESN.com
Wow, did Baseball Prospectus send an email to a bunch of media outlets about their playoff odds page? For those of you who would prefer a friendly face along with your odds (compiled in a more effective way, in my opinion), check out the playoff odds on Beyond the Boxscore in a (mostly) weekly post by vivaelpujols - they're based on the Power Rankings done by JinAZ.

Not a lot of other links because of the off day (I guess the crazies were struggling with the fancy cup-holder/CD drive), but there were no shortage of great stories - a revelation of just how desperate Theo was to get Halladay, some arm-chair general managing, a look into negotiations with the kids who haven't played a single game, and some reminders for those of you who don't have great memories.

Theo and Tito - the new Jon and Kate?

Reeling Boston Red Sox in surprise fight to make playoffs - Jon Heyman, SI

Boston is thought to have offered a five-prospect package of Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and a position player for Halladay, and even more than that for that Hernandez, whose value is higher because he isn't eligible for free agency until after 2011, a year later than Halladay. Comparable packages with more position players were dangled for Gonzalez, but Epstein, knowing Padres GM and past mentor Kevin Towers well, moved on fairly quickly when he could sense they weren't going to reach a deal.

I really hope Theo was crazy stressed out when he made that offer, because that's just insane.

This Goes All The Way to the Top - Surviving Grady

After watching the Sox drop the series to the Texas Rangers and fall a half-game out of the Wild Card lead, a drinking buddy and I engaged in some friendly debate over the musical question, "What, exactly, is wrong with this team?"

This, along with Randy's "Puzzle Pieces" post indicate that Theo's using up a lot of the points he's earned with Red Sox Nation. Let's see who else has ideas of what Theo can do to get out of our collective doghouse:

What these Sox need - Full Count

We all thought after the trading deadline that things might turn around but it’s been just the opposite. Since July 31 the Sox are 6-9, a half game back in the Wild Card and 7.5 back in the AL East. Those injuries to Wakefield, Drew, Lowell, Bay, Lowrie and the suspension of Youkilis have not helped. But when you’re looking for the real reason for the bump in the road, focus in on the lineup — what was supposed to be, and what hasn’t been.

Oh goodie - more suggestions. The first one's not going to go well with the general OTM thought process, either. If one was to read only the mainstream media, one would think Theo's never made a good decision in his life - good thing we're not the only blog that knows how to think relatively objectively:

Johnny Damon or JD Drew? - Fire Brand of the American League
They use stats and stuff. Maybe we should start doing that more... *cough*WHENISSOXSTATSGOINGTOPOSTSOMETHINGWOWDIDIACTUALLYTYPETHAT*cough*.

Even the totally biased MLB-employed writers make decent points from time to time:

V-Mart contributing in a variety of ways - RedSox.com

Martinez has been with the Red Sox for only 17 days, but he is turning into a valuable cog for a team making a push toward the postseason. Martinez has hit .311 (19-for-61), played excellent defense at catcher and first base and been a leader for his new team.

Well, they've got the concept down, they just need to work on using better data to make their point.

Of course, not everyone is talking about Theo - Tito gets his fair share of time too. And, because he's more of a public figure, we get to enjoy work like...

The Terry Francona Motivational Speaker Series - Surviving Grady

Of course, considering what deadline passed in the wee hours this morning (when this correspondent would prefer to be logging off - damn adjusting schedules), maybe we should examine Theo's process a little more.

How the Sox Negotiate: A Look at the Non-Signing of Hunter Morris - Full Count
So that we all know why or why not some of the draft picks didn't sign, here's an inside look at the "process".

Don't forget - those strings tied around your fingers could cut off circulation

To Whom These Sox Compare - Wicked Good Sports

On more than one occasion this summer, I’ve heard and seen the 2009 Sox compared to the team from 2006—a crew that led the division by three games at the All Star Break, but struggled with injuries, identity and starting pitching, went 9-21 in August, and ultimately faded into Bolivia.

WARNING: RANDOM COMPARISON BASED ON LIMITED PARALLELS. But seriously, people, calm down - every season is unique. Ooh, that fits with the next link too!!! I'm getting kinda good at this.

Seeing and UZR and Teixeira - FanGraphs

Okay, I've been meaning to add this to my description of UZR (a "UZR Manual" of sorts) when people ask questions about it. So, here it goes:

UZR tells us how many runs a player has saved compared to the league average for his position. So, when a player's UZR changes drastically (i.e. Ells, this season as compared to previous years'), there are three possible explanations:

  1. A player has actually gotten better or worse defensively. Whether this be from aging, new techniques, better scouting and positioning, or even a dramatic injury, it's a possibilty. BUT, it's not the only reason, and people often abuse UZR by using it incorrectly.
  2. A player had an odd season where his play varied from his true skill. It's a distinct possibility - and it's also why most people regress data to find a more realistic rating. And no, I don't know how to regress stats- I haven't gotten that far in math yet, I'm sorry.
  3. THE COMPETITION'S GOTTEN BETTER. I don't mean batters are becoming better at making balls drop in for hits, I mean the other players at a position have improved. Since UZR is based on rewarding players for making uncommon plays, when better players start playing more, the "uncommon" plays become a lot more common and they result in less reward for the players.

The third explanation could be why Ells has seen a drop in his UZR - there have been a LOT of young, good center fielders that are stealing runs from Ells. So... umm... right, this isn't really related to what Dave Cameron was writing about. If you like seeing high-profile media members taught how to do their job correctly - and based off FireJoeMorgan's popularity, I'd wager you do - then you'll want to read that article.

Getting back into the playoff picture

Rangers Capitalize on Liriano's Struggles, Pad Wild-Card Lead - NESN.com
*sigh* At least it's a nice, even race now - both teams have played the same number of games, with the Rangers having one more game. We are now set up for a good ole'fashioned stretch run, ladies and gentlemen. Maybe we'll even find a way to crawl back into the AL East race (it's possible, check the first two links). If you find any good reading material today, drop a link in the comments.

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