Tagged: bowden

2011 Is Finally Here

Baseball.

I’m watching opening day. Wonderful.

I’ve been meaning to write a “here comes 2011” post for weeks now; I guess late is better than never. Most of what I have to say has been said in one place or another.

I’m optimistic about 2011 for the Red Sox, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about the pitching staff. I read a provocative question regarding the Sox staff somewhere this Spring: “Is the Red Sox staff good, or merely deep?” It strikes me as a legitimate question.

#1: Sure, Lester is an ace. No questions there.

#2: Buchholz is the poster child for sabermetric regression. Virtually every advanced metric last year (especially BABIP, xFIP, K/BB. K/9and strand rate) suggests that Buchholz was exceptionally lucky, and that his 2.33 ERA was something of a mirage. He won’t suddenly sink, but don’t be surprised to see an ERA closer to 4.00 than 3.00 this year. That’s good, not great.

#3: Beckett. Sigh. Entering the first year of a 4 year, 60 million dollar extension, one really has to wonder how much Beckett has left in the tank. This spring was not reassuring. When healthy, Beckett has a wicked curve and a nasty fastball. When not, his back injury flattens out both pitches and wrecks his control. Fingers crossed that we get more Dr. Beckett, and less Mr. Hyde.

#4: Lackey. I wasn’t a big fan of this signing last season, and I wasn’t surprised to see Lackey put up mediocre numbers last season. The guy is a horse, and he’g likely going to pitch his 200 innings. But they won’t be great innings–expect another 4.50 ERA.

#5: Dice-k? Wake? Doubrount? Player to be named later? Its hard to guess who will finish the year as the #5. Certainly, Dice “I can’t throw a ******* strike” K will be in line for the job, given his $10 million salary.

The bullpen should be outstanding. Any potential struggles by Papelbon should be absorbed by Bard (who will certainly be the closer after Papelbon departs for the Yankees this offseason). Jenks and Wheeler give nice 7th and 8th inning depth. I am a bit surprised that perennial prospect Michael Bowden didn’t make the team.

Obviously, this offense is ungodly. The Sox boast a potential all-time 1-6 with Ellsbury, Pedroia, Crawford, Youkilis, Gonzalez, and Ortiz. I mean, JD Drew isn’t an all-star anymore, but its pretty scary when he’s your #7. The Sox will score runs. And, assuming Youkilis holds up at third (and I think he’ll be ok in terms of zone rating), they can field the ball, too.

The big question for me centers around Josh Beckett. I think that will determine whether the Red Sox win 95 games (and perhaps the division) or 90 games (and perhaps miss the playoffs).

The Yankees figure to be very good. There offense might come down a bit (Jeter, A-Rod, and Posada are all getting older), but I think their gamble on veteran, back-end starters is likely to pay off. I figure the Yanks can win 95 games.

I think the Rays are in trouble. Yes, they have the best starting pitching in the loaded AL East. And, yes, traditionally starting pitching wins in the regular season. But the AL East is a different beast–and all the other teams have very strong lineups (even Baltimore). I’m not sure starting pitching is enough, especially since the Rays bullpen got raped in the off-season. You can’t seriously start Dan Johnson at first base and hope to compete in the AL East. I figure, given their pitching, the Rays will win 90 games.

The AL Central has a few top contenders, and a few real stinkers–so I wouldn’t be surprised if that division put up two 94 game winners. And, since I think all five AL East teams are strong, I would be surprised to see three teams equal the win totals of the top AL East teams last season. In other words, I’m not convinced that the wild card will come out of the East–it certainly could, and probably will, but I don’t think it is the given that it has been lately.

So, here’s to hoping that I’m wrong about the pitching staff. That Buchholz is an ace. That Beckett is still a potential 20 game winner. That the Lackey who lived in LA will finally arrive in Boston. That somebody translates “contract year” into Japanese. Because, otherwise, this great lineup might sit home and watch the playoffs. Again.

Red Sox Halladay Offer

Last week I proposed the Red Sox trade for Halladay. Here’s what that offer looked like:

The Red Sox actually offer was leaked earlier today. It pretty close to my offer, with one major difference. Here’s what they put on the table:

  • Clay Buchholz
  • Choice of Bowden, Anderson, or Masterson
  • A lesser prospect [not a blue-chip]

The Sox put Buchholz on the table, which I didn’t think they would do. Notice that flamethrower Daniel Bard is off the table. Ultimately, this is likely all academic, since I don’t think that the Jays will trade Halladay in the division if they can help it. But it is nice to dream.

Wakefield, Buccholz, and Halladay (?), Oh My!

First, as if in response to one of my questions from a few days ago, Buccholz has found a temporary spot in the rotation. I don’t know if Wake is really hurt or not–but this gives him a chance to rest up for a bit (he was clearly feeling his age at the end of last season–giving him, essentially, the month of July off is a good thing), and gives Buccholz an extended audition for the three spot in the rotation. I say three spot, because despite praising the pitching last week, I think you can see that the Red Sox have a number one starter, a number two starter, a number four starter (Wake) and then three number fives (Smoltz, Penny, Dice-K). We need a reliable third starter for the playoffs, and I don’t think we have that quite yet. (Smoltz might recover, Buccholz might develop, Dice-K might return to form, I might win the lottery).

Second, I am probably just pushing the panic button because the Yankees have just overtaken us for first place, but I want to propose the notion that the Red Sox should make a go at acquiring Halladay. He would become the ace immediately, and that would just make Beckett and Lester that much more effective come playoff time. I’ve been looking at the offers the Jay’s are hoping for (specifically the offer the Mets allegedly rejected) and think the Red Sox could easily put a package together. PS, if the Mets and the Phillies did reject the reported deals, then they must be smoking crack. The Jay’s asking price is quite reasonable for what might be the best pitcher in baseball. It is not a stretch-run rental–you get him for another whole season. While prospects are valuable–the Red Sox have shown that–you also have to realize there is a limited window to win. For the Mets and the Phillies, due to contract obligations too long to cover here, that window is likely next season.

Anyway, here’s my potential deal. In exchange for Halladay, the Red Sox exchange:

That’s three highly scouted prospects (all have ranked in BP’s top 100). Bowden is pitching great at the AAA level. I covered how a little investigation shows Masterson’s numbers to be better than they initially appear last post. Bard is a flamethrower out of the pen, and could potentially replace BJ Ryan as closer for the rebuilding Jays. I see Anderson as the hardest to let go, only because in a year or two the Sox might envision Youk moving back to third and Anderson starting at first.

So, Sox fans, Jays fans, other fans, what do you think?