Don't believe me?
Will Red Sox get bang for their bucks?
Not a bad title. The question of whether the moves the Red Sox made this off-season will pay off is one that people will attempt to answer all season. Hopefully it won't get as prevalent and repetitive in sports journalism as A-Rod's opt-out clause or Manny being Manny (By the way. If my blogging delves too much into these topics this summer...shoot me
). Presumably, Dayn Perry will attempt to answer this question for us.
The Boston Red Sox delight in branding themselves as a hardscrabble, salt-of-the-earth alternative to that behemoth in the Bronx.
Well, they're full of it.
Sure, the Sox don't spend as much as the Yankees, but 28 other teams in baseball see them as being cut from a similar cloth.
This is beyond the implied intent of the article, but he's right. Look around at some of the other SBNation sites: We're either seen as equal or just slightly better than the Yankees in the greedy department. However:
Accordingly, the Red Sox have been among the most spendthrift teams this winter, coughing up more than $170 million on free agents.
I don't think we're as naive a fan base as Dayn implies with this. Raise your hand if you didn't notice that we were the third-highest team in payroll-type expenditures this off-season. No one?
The Yankees, meanwhile, have spent less than the Royals. Chew on that for second...
I chewed on it and spit it right out. The players the Red Sox signed: Julio Lugo (no spot for him on the Yankees), Daisuke Matsuzaka (the Yankees made a sincere attempt), and J.D. Drew (the Yankees have their own .OBP machine in RF with questions about his playing desire.) So basically Dayn is just taking a moment to congratulate the Yankees for not overspending on Ted Lilly or Jason Marquis. Bravo, I guess.
Woohoo. Pertinent content.
With that said, run prevention -- i.e., the rotation, the bullpen and the defense -- was the primary shortcoming in 2006.
Hard to argue with ol' Dayn here. Loretta was steady but unspectacular, otherwise our IF was tight as a drum. On the other hand, none of our OFs were quite in the running for a GG. So. Three questions, essentially, from the one original question. Rotation, Bullpen, Defense.
I continue to provide a poor impersonation of FJM after the jump. Come on along with me.
Dayn on our rotation:
Any player making the leap stateside is a bit of an unknown quantity, but Matsuzaka figures to be a certifiable force. Expect 200 or so innings and a comfortably sub-4.00 ERA. Schilling should be effective, Wakefield as a starter is a reliable purveyor of league-average innings, and Papelbon has enough of a repertoire to pass muster as a member of the rotation. Overall, expect a much better rotation in 2007.
These are all fair and realistic points. On Josh Beckett:
Beckett was never an ideal fit for Fenway, but he figures to improve on that 5.01 ERA he posted last season.
Beckett wasn't an ideal fit anywhere last season, I think we can all admit that. Pointing to Fenway is fun, but fact-checking can also be quite entertaining. A quick look at Beckett's splits
last season tells us a couple of things. He averaged over 6 innings per start at home. He gave up only 12 of his 36 home runs at home, and his ERA was almost a half-run lower than his road ERA.
His...oversight on Josh Beckett aside, he does point out that the Sox should have a much better rotation than last season. Answer to Rotation Question? Yes, much improved.
Dayn on our bullpen:
As for the bullpen, Hideki Okajima should provide reliable innings from the left side, and Joel Pineiro, provided he concentrates on the pitches he throws well (four-seamer, slider), should be a capable closer. The additions of Pineiro, Okajima and Donnelly will be offset to a degree by the loss of Papelbon's innings, but overall expect a modestly improved relief unit.
Again. This is a realistic view of our bullpen. Answer to Bullpen Question? Yes, slightly improved.
Dayn on our defense:
The troublesome defense, meanwhile, might also be a tad better. J.D. Drew (given good health, of course) is a Gold Glove-caliber right fielder, and the infield defense should also be significantly upgraded with the addition of Julio Lugo at short and the promotion of second-base prospect Dustin Pedroia.
Whether you agree with any of these particular statements or not, the important part is that Dayn sees a better OF defense and a significantly upgraded MI defense. Answer to Defense Question? Yes. Different levels of improvement in OF and IF.
Dayn on our offense: (not a question originally implied, but let's hear it)
Offensively, the Sox have some superficial appeal, but they ranked only ninth in the AL last season in runs scored on the road
Oh my God. We're playing all of our games on the road this season? And the superficial appeal thing is just pretentious throw-in. Jenn Sterger has superficial appeal too, I don't see him using that to blast her in a column. Also, as far as I can tell, the Sox didn't lead the league in superficial appeal last season (inconclusive data on made-up stats and qualifications).
As well, the total of 820 runs is the worst such mark by a Boston team since 2001.
Some names and starting positions from that 2001 team
: Scott Hatteberg (C), Jose Offerman (2B), Carl Everett (CF), Dante Bichette (DH). All (aside from Hatteberg) at the tail-end of their careers in terms of being productive everyday players. Tek and Nomar spent long stretches of time on the DL.
Boston right fielders last season combined for a .265 AVG/.352 OBP/.425 SLG, and Drew, if healthy, should provide substantial improvement over those numbers. Red Sox shortstops, meanwhile, authored a cumulative 2006 batting line of .250 AVG/.306 OBP/.368 SLG. Lugo should have no problem bettering those numbers. Elsewhere, Pedroia should roughly approximate Mark Loretta's 2006 level of production, and Coco Crisp is poised for a rebound season. On the whole, the Sox's offense should be better.
Answer to Offense Question? Yes, better across the board.
Dayn sums it up:
Overall, it's worth noting that Boston in 2006 was actually fortunate to finish with that 86-76 record. After all, that narrowly negative run differential suggests they should've been a .500 team. So while improvements have been made this winter, Boston's baseline might be lower than you think.
Finally, a point I can agree with again. Pythagorean records are available on b-r.com, and the 2006 Red Sox check in at 81-81 by that measure. Lower than we think? You just provided (.500 team) the baseline. Is it lower than that? Should we be thinking something different than the statistical evidence you provided?
Dayn pisses me off: (if you've been following along with the article, you'll already know what pissed me off)
If those things happen, the Red Sox should make the post-season. However, it's highly unlikely they'll be able to best the Yankees for the AL East title. The Yankees are simply a better team.
Before I rant, I'll present the same empirical evidence Dayn used to prove his last point:
Okay. Unbelievable. You've done so well. Used researchable data to back up a lot of your points. Even when you didn't, I helped you out, pointed you in the right direction. But we're supposed to take on faith, on your word, that the Yankees are "simply a better team"? The same Yankees for whom 1/5 of the rotation is Carl Pavano? The same Yankees who are aging faster than something else that ages quickly? The same Yankees whose 3B battles the press and fan expectations more than he has to battle AL pitchers?
I've been public in my point that the Yankees are the AL East champions until we take it from them, but assuming that people will take it on faith that the 2007 version is simply the better team is ludicrous and/or bad writing. He admits that the Sox have improved in every aspect of the game (run prevention, offensive production), but can't admit that the Red Sox have as good a shot at the AL East crown this season as any year in recent memory.