A lot of attention has been given to the Red Sox’s three MVP candidates: Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, and Dustin Pedroia. And while they deserve every bit of the attention they’ve been given, Josh Beckett could and should win the Cy Young award.
Josh Beckett went from a power pitcher to a complete pitcher this season. His average fastball velocity has dropped 0.7 MPH since last year and 1.5 MPH since 2007. Last season he threw a fastball 36.3% of the time. Yet, so far this season he has thrown it 34.6% of the time.
Beckett threw his cutter just 0.1% of the time back in 2007 and last season 16.2% of the time. This season though, Beckett has thrown it 20.4% of the time. As for his changeup, he threw it 3.8% of the time in 2007, 11.5% of the time in 2010, and so far 15% of the time in this season. For more, see the data bellow from Fan Graphs.
While people have been noticing Beckett’s bounce back season, it doesn’t seem like people are putting him in the same class with C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Jered Weaver. But, Beckett’s numbers are equal to Sabathia’s , Verlander’s, and Weaver’s.
Some voters don’t seem to care about wins anymore. Felix Hernandez won the A.L. Cy Young award last year with a thirteen and twelve record. In my opinion the best stats to judge a pitcher on are ERA, WHIP, Batting Average Against, Quality Starts, and K/9. Strikeouts per nine innings is a better stat than strikeouts, but isn’t as important as the other four stats.
Here are the four Cy Young candidates’ stats as well as where their stats rank among American League starting pitchers.
When you average their stat ranks, including wins and K/9, Beckett’s average is eight, Sabathia’s is 8.67, Verlander’s average is 1.83, while Weaver’s is 4.5.
Yet, when you average their stat ranks, without wins and K/9, Beckett’s average is three, Sabathia’s is 10.5, Verlander’s average is 1.5, and Weaver’s is two.
But, when you average their stat ranks, not including wins, Beckett’s average is a five, Sabathia is a 10.2, Verlander’s average is a two, and lastly, Weaver has an average on 4.8.
However, when you average their stat ranks, not including K/9, Beckett is a seven, Sabathia is an 8.6, while Verlander’s average is 1.4, and Weaver has an average of 2.2.
What can you take away from this? Well, Sabathia hasn’t been as good as he has been subscribed. He is just benefiting from playing in a large market. Verlander is first, every time you do it, but Weaver follows in at a close second and Beckett is at a somewhat distant third. If you value any three of the stats used above, than it is clear that Sabathia shouldn’t win the award.
Yet, the voters look at more than stats. If you happen to be a big game pitcher that sure helps. When the Angels played in Detroit recently, Weaver and Verlander went head to head. Verlander carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Weaver on the other hand, gave up two home runs, lost his cool, got ejected and subsequently suspended. Weaver cracked under the pressure of having his team no-hit and going up against one of the best. To me, that moment showed that Jered Weaver is not a big game pitcher.
Josh Beckett on the other hand, has a record of three and zero in four starts against the rival, New York Yankees. In those four starts (twenty-seven innings) he has an ERA of 1.00 and an opponent batting average of just .170. Also, against the rival Tampa Bay Rays, Beckett has an ERA of 0.00 and the Rays are hitting just .038 off him this season.
So that leaves Beckett and Verlander. One thing that will help Verlander’s case is his no-hitter this season against the Blue Jays (I guess Toronto forgot to steal signs that day). Yet, if I’m a voter I think the fact that Beckett has reinvented himself as a pitcher will impact my vote. Ohh, and pitching in a bigger market than your “opponent” doesn’t hurt your case.
While the numbers say Verlander should win it, stats can’t tell everything and besides, we still have over seven weeks of baseball to decide on who will be the 2011 A.L. Cy Young award winner.
* All stats as of Thursday, Aug. 11
The Red Sox didn’t pull off a blockbuster, like they have in years past, at the trading deadline this year. Boston’s biggest needs were a shortstop, a starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever, and a right-handed hitting outfielder. The emergence of Josh Reddick took the Red Sox out of the outfielder market.
On the other side, with left-handed batters hitting just .195 off of Alfredo Aceves and improved pitching from Matt Albers and Dan Wheeler, they took Boston out of the reliever market.
That left shortstop and starting pitching as the two needs for Boston. Boston acquired utility-infielder, Mike Aviles for Kansas City for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz. Aviles can play third, second, as well as shortstop and is also a good base runner as he was ten for twelve in stolen base attempts, while with the Royals.
Fielding wise, Aviles’ best position is probably second base, followed by shortstop and third base. However, career wise, Aviles has spent the majority of his time in the field at shortstop. Yet, this season, he has spent the most time in the field at third base. Clearly, Alviles is an experienced utility man despite only being in the big leagues since 2008. Manager, Terry Francona has said that he wants to try and play Aviles in the outfield. Aviles hasn’t played the outfield since college, but is willing to try.
However, the Red Sox gave up to much in my opinion. According to Alex Speier of WEEI, “A talent evaluator recently suggested that he (Yamaico Navarro) was ready to be an everyday third baseman for a second-division team in need of offense right now.” Navarro is never going to be a Kevin Youkilis or an Scott Rolen, he could end up being similar to Brewers third baseman, Casey McGehee.
Kendal Volz was a ninth-round pick by Boston back in 2009. This season, he was moved to the bullpen and is now pitching in high A ball for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Volz is twenty-four years old and attended Baylor University.
Boston also made two moves just before the deadline. First, Boston traded Minor Leaguers Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, and Juan Rodriguez to the Dodgers for Trayvon Robinson. The Red Sox then traded Robinson along with Chih-Hsien Chiang to the Seattle Mariners for Erik Bedard and Josh Fields.
The best part about this deal is that Boston didn’t have to give up a whole lot for Robinson, the cornerstone of the deal, who is now the Mariners number four prospect according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Robinson hit twenty-six home runs in a hundred games for the Albuquerque Isotopes (he Dodger’s AAA affiliate), but struck out a whopping 122 times. Robinson also stole eight bases, walked forty-five times, and hit .293 for the Isotopes. In his first game in the Seattle Mariners organization, he went one for three with a stolen base, a run scored, and a walk.
Since Clay Buchholz is most likely out for the season (even though Terry Francona says there is a chance he could start before the season is over) with a stress fracture in his back, Bedard if healthy, should be able to fill Buchholz’s role with no problems. However, Bedard has an injury history of his own, but if the Red Sox were scared of by Rich Harden, than Bedard must be healthy. Bedard, is a lefty who was A.L. East experience when he pitched with the Baltimore Orioles from 2002-2007.
Since it appears he is healthy, the only reason Bedard should struggle is his dislike of well, attention. According to Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald, “Bedard doesn’t like the media. He doesn’t like crowds. He doesn’t like attention. He doesn’t like day games. Some people wonder if he even likes baseball.” You can read the rest of the article here and after reading that article, Bedard seems like a jerk in my mind.
Anyway though, this season, Bedard is four and seven and an ERA of 3.45. Yet, if you take out his horrible start on July 29 against the Tampa Bay Rays when he gave up five earned runs in 1.1 innings, Bedard’s ERA is 3.00. The bad news though, is that that was Bedard’s first start off the D.L. and his last in a Mariners uniform.
The other player Boston acquired from Seattle is twenty-five year old reliever named Josh Fields (not to be confused with Josh Fields, a former White Sox and Royal who recently signed with the Yomiuri Giants). Fields was the twentieth overall pick by the Mariners in the 2008 MLB draft. Fields has split time between AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma. In thirty-nine innings, Fields is one and two with a 3.92 ERA and a WHIP of 1.54. In a few years, it’s very possible that Fields could be the best player Boston got in this trade.
Yet, personally, I think Boston will regret both trades. Navarro should become a starting third baseman somewhere in the majors and Boston should have just held on the Robinson. As for Bedard, it’s a toss up on how he will pan out in Beantown.
*Also thanks to everyone for making Soxoholics the twenty-eighth most visited fan blog during the moth of July.
There are three pros (why the trade will/should happen) and three cons (why the trade won’t/shouldn’t happen). But we’ll start with the pros.
1.) The Dodger’s Financial State.
By now everyone is at least somewhat aware of the Dodger’s current finical state. And Yesterday, a judge rejected owner, Frank McCourt’s financial plan. This means that now, McCourt will have to receive a loan from MLB.
Like said in the previous story, with McCourt barely meeting his recent payrolls, the Dodger’s might try to dump as much salary as possible. Ethier is the third highest paid player on the Dodgers and is due about $3,166,667 for the rest of the season. Ethier’s two-year, $15.25 million dollar contract is up after this year. However, he would stay under team control for one more season.
The Dodgers are trying to lock up their two young stars in Ethier and Matt Kemp, whose contract at the end of this season, but will remain under team control for one more year. Yet, since the Dodgers don’t exactly have cash to spare, they may only be able to sign one player, if any. The Dodger’s need to realize that Ethier and Kemp will be long gone and need to trade them ASAP so they can get a few prospects.
2.) Dustin Pedroia
It doesn’t hurt when the guy who is campaigning for you is probably the most vocal guy on the team. Like mention in the photo caption above, Ethier and Pedroia (as well as Ian Kinsler), played college ball together at Arizona State University and are best friends. And it isn’t like Theo Epstein doesn’t listen to who his players want to play with.
3.) J.D. Drew
He’s thirty-five years old, hitting .129 in his last ten games, and lost his starting job to twenty-four year old kid. Sorry J.D., but your time is up. As for Josh Reddick, can you honestly expect him to keep hitting .356 in September? He’s just a kid and can’t be trusted when it matters most.
Who do you want to have up with two outs and the bases loaded? A player hitting .219 who needs to call it quits, an untested kid, or arguably the clutchest player in baseball in Ethier. In 2009, had six walk off hits (four of them where home runs), the most in the majors since 1974. Subsequently, he won the MLB Clutch Performer of the Year award and won a Silver Slugger.
Now, on to the cons.
1.) The Dodger’s Future
Next year, the Dodgers could have a new owner who has enough money to sign Ethier long term. While Ethier’s return value will decrease if he is traded in the offseason or at next year’s trading deadline, is it a risk worth taking? I mean is getting Felix Doubront (the Red Sox’s number two prospect) and not Anthony Ranaudo (Boston’s number one prospect) that bad? If I were general manager, Ned Colletti, I’d hold on to Ethier until January and if McCourt was still the owner, then trade Ethier. One thing to think about though, is that after the World Series is over, a lockout will occur.
2.) The Prospects
We saw Ryan Kalish blossom last year and if it wasn’t for shoulder and neck injuries, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had been called up before Josh Reddick. Boston has two future stars in Kalish and Reddick and Boston may end up having a position battle in spring training next year. Or have them share time in the outfield. Their last option would be to trade one, because they only really need one of them. And when you have two future stars in right-field do you need a right-fielder who is already a star? No.
3.) Josh Reddick
Simply put the kid is on fire! He has four home runs, eighteen RBI, three triples, slugging .622, and has an average of .356, in just ninety at-bats. When you stretch those numbers out over the amount of at-bats Ethier has, Reddick’s numbers would be superior to Ethier’s and look like this . . .
Would I like Ethier on the Red Sox? Sure, but with Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish waiting in the wings, this deal isn’t necessary.
According to ESPN Boston.com, “Boston Red Sox more likely to make small deadline deal than blockbuster.” Shortstop, right field, and a lefty reliever are all desires. A starting pitcher though, is a necessity. Even when Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester come back, either Tim Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, or Kyle Weiland will still be in the rotation. Wakefield has a WHIP of 1.33, Aceves is more valuable in the bullpen, Miller is averaging a walk every 0.71 innings, and Weiland is just a rookie.
Kuroda on the other hand, has a record of 6-11 (which isn’t his fault as the Dodgers have averaged just 2.18 runs per game in his starts), an ERA of 3.13, a WHIP of 1.20, averages a walk every 0.25 innings, and made his professional debut in 1997 as a member of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan’s Central League. Kuroda has been pitching in MLB with the Dodgers since 2008. Kuroda like Jose Reyes and Ryan Ludwick has an expiring contract and is due about $4 million for the rest of the season.
One thing to take into consideration is that Kuroda has a complete no-trade clause in his contract. However, according to reports, Dodger management has contacted Kuroda about waiving his no-trade clause. Yet, Kuroda hasn’t given the Dodgers a list of teams that he’ll accept a trade to and each day it starts to look less and less likely that Kuroda will waive his no-trade clause. One last thing to note on his no-trade clause is, that there is a rumor the Kuroda won’t accept a trade to an east coast team.
Kuroda has mixed postseason numbers. In 2008, he went 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings. Yet, in 2009 in a start against the Phillies, he gave up six hits and six earned runs in just 1.1 innings pitched. Despite his horrible start back in 2009, there is no reason that Kuroda shouldn’t be able to pitch in the 2011 postseason like he did in the 2008 one.
With the Dodgers’ current financial state (for starters, Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre, and Andruw Jones are owed a combined $15,033,333 at the season’s start), they might try to trade every player they can in order to dump salary, as owner Frank McCourt has barely met payroll according to reports. Kuroda is the second highest paid player on the Dodgers behind Rafael Furcal, the only players in eight figures.
Depending on the availability of Ubaldo Jimenez, Kuroda is probably the best starting pitcher on the market. Kuroda is also one of the most likely players to be traded to the Red Sox. The Indians, Tigers, and Yankees are also looking at Kuroda just to name a few teams.
The Red Sox have been rumored to be interested in a right-handed hitting right fielder and while Ludwick hasn’t played right field this year, he has played right field in over sixty percent of his career games. From the Padres perspective, it only makes since to trade Ludwick. The Padres haven’t been able to capture last year’s magic and are currently last in the N.L. West.
Ludwick will be a free agent at the end of the 2011 season and is scheduled to make $6,775,000 this season. Ludwick is the second highest paid player on the Padres behind closer Heath Bell ($7,500,000) who will also most likely be traded before the deadline.
As of right now, the Red Sox have five outfielders on their active roster: Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Darnell McDonald, and Josh Reddick. If Boston did acquire Ludwick, McDonald would probably be the odd man out. However, Reddick could be sent down in order to get more playing time.
McDonald isn’t the same player that we saw last year. In 2010 he had an average of .270 with thirty-four RBI in 117 games. This year, in forty games, McDonald is batting just .160 with thirteen RBI. On the other side, Reddick batted .194 with just five RBI in sixty-two plate appearances last year. Yet, this year, Reddick is batting .347 with eighteen RBI in seventy-five plate appearances. Reddick is twenty-four, still developing, and has a bright future, while McDonald is thirty-two with dimmer future. Since neither Reddick or McDonald would start unless an injury, Reddick could get sent down to AAA in order to get more playing time, as previously noted.
Reddick is the one thing that makes this deal less likely. If Reddick continues at his hot pace, Boston doesn’t need to make a trade for an outfielder. However, unlike Ludwick, Reddick is a lefty and not a righty when it comes to hitting.
If the Red Sox were to acquire Ludwick, you might think the Red Sox would platoon Drew and Ludwick. They could start Drew against righties since Drew is a lefty and Ludwick against lefties since Ludwick is a righty. However, against righties, Ludwick is batting .002 points higher than Drew, slugging .061 points higher than Drew, and has an OPS .032 points higher than Drew.
Also and obviously, both players are past their prime. Drew (thirty-five years old) peaked back in 2004 as a member of the Atlanta Braves and Ludwick (thirty-three years old) peaked back in 2008 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
So far this season, Ludwick is batting .241, with fifty-seven RBI, eleven home runs, and seventy-nine strikeouts in 345 plate appearances. Drew, on the other hand, is batting .223, with twenty-two RBI, four home runs, and fifty-six strikeouts in 233 plate appearances. I think it is safe to say that Drew will not be resigning with the Red Sox when his five-year, $70 million dollar contract expires at the end of the season.
It has been a decent run, J.D. and while you’ve given Red Sox Nation some good memories (a grand slam in game six of the 2007 ALCS), it is time to either call it quits or step aside and let someone else, patrol right field at Fenway Park. Wether that person is Reddick, Ludwick, or someone else, someone besides Drew needs to start in right.
At the end of the day, sports are simple. To win you just have to score more runs than your opponent. Wether you win 100-1, 1-0, or 10-5 a win is a win. Winning by fifty counts as the same amount of wins as winning by one. When you look at the standings, it doesn’t say, On May 10th this team won by 2 runs but walked 10 batters and had fewer hits than their opponent. All it says is that this team has won so many games and lost so many.
Sports may be simple, but winning isn’t. So far this year, the Cincinnati Reds have scored the third most runs per game (4.82) and the most in the National League. Yet, the Reds are just two games above .500, are third in the N.L. Central and have the 13th best record in baseball. The reason for this is that the Reds have a team ERA of 4.13, the fourth worst in the N.L. and the twenty second worst in baseball.
As for their ideal team percentage (ITP, Where a team ranks among MLB team in runs scored per game and ERA) the Reds are a 42%, (3+22)/60=42%. Keep in mind that the lowest, what a team wants to be, a team can be is 3.33% and the highest is 100%. And yes, I made that stat up.
But lets look at a team that is .500, like the Pittsburgh Pirates. For starters, what Clint Hurdle has done is amazing and very noteworthy, but that is a different story. The Pirates (35-35), currently rank 25th in MLB in runs scored per game (3.71) and are 8th in ERA (3.52). (25+8)/60=55%.
One of the more interesting teams this year, are the San Francisco Giants. The Giants have been having to deal with injuries all year long, including the loss of 2010 N.L. Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey. The Giants who are currently leading the N.L. West by just half a game are scoring just 3.48 runs per game, the second worst behind San Diego in MLB. Yet, they have the fourth lowest ERA (3.28) in MLB. All this means that the Giants have an ITP of 55%. So even though the Giants have four more wins than the Pirates, they have the same ITP.
But, we wouldn’t be done if we didn’t mention the Red Sox. Boston is first in the majors in runs scored per game (5.27), but Boston’s team ERA is 3.97, or 19th in MLB. This is largely due to inconsistent pitching by John Lackey, Bobby Jenks, and lets not forget Dennys Reyes’ three earned runs, two hit batters, and two walks in just 1.2 innings pitching. This all before being designated for assignment on April 8th. Boston has an ITP of 33%.
For more information on ITP look at the following screenshots from Microsoft Excell.