Posts tagged ‘Red Sox’

2011 Rays Projections: Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays made a few headlines when they signed Manny Ramirez to a one-year deal worth $2M. A lot of people were shocked at the low rate since Ramirez was coming off of a two-year deal worth $45M with the Dodgers and an eight-year deal worth $160M with Red Sox before that.

Ramirez, who will be 39 at the end of May, has only played in 150+ games once in the past five seasons and is limited to DH duties and probably should not have seen any time in LF since the end of 2003.

Projecting Ramirez is kind of tough. We know his amazing track record as a hitter, we know his track record of missing games the past few seasons, and he has actually hit right-handers better than left-handers over the past three seasons. He might find himself playing in a couple games in LF just to get his bat in the game and we know that will hurt his value.

For the past few years I have been using my own tools to project player stats. Last year I stumbled upon Fangraph’s Fan Projections which allows you to plug in rates, games played, batting order, UZR, and running stats based on 150 game totals. It allows you to pick ranges, not exact totals, so the projections will not be as exact as one might want, but they come close.

Using this tool, three-year averages (which I use in the FG projections), age regression/progression, and my own gut, I come up with this for Manny Ramirez’s projected stats in 2011:

 Stat  Total
 AVG  .290
 OBP  .403
 SLG  .494
 OPS  .897
 Plate App.  454
 At-Bats  393
 Hits  114
 Homeruns  18
 Doubles  26
 Triples  0
 BB  61
 SO  90
 SB  0
 UZR  -2

 

Those modest projections, compared to Ramirez’s career track record, project to about 2.0-2.3 fWAR depending on the replacement level for 2011. Incredible value for the Rays.

January 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm 4 comments

Time for Kazmir to Ditch the Slider

Scott Kazmir AP Photo

Oh, how far Scott Kazmir has fallen from glory.

From 2005-2008 Kazmir averaged an ERA+ of 128, K/9 of 9.7, K/BB of 2.39, and HR/9 of 0.9 in 172 innings pitched per season.

From 2009-2010 Kazmir averaged an ERA+ of 78, K/9 of 6.4, K/BB of 1.51, and HR/9 of 1.2 in 149 innings pitched per season.

Kazmir has seen a yearly digression in fastball velocity (92.6 mph in 2005 to 90.5 mph in 2010), slider velocity (84.0 mph in 2006 to 80.9 mph in 2010), contact rate (73.9% in 2006 to 82.3% in 2010), swinging strikes (12.5% in 2006 to 7.4% in 2010), and FIP (3.36 in 2006 to 5.83 in 2010).

Kazmir has not had a season since 2005 in which his slider was even league average and he has also seen the value of his fastball and change-up drop to career lows in 2010. Not a single season has gone by in his career where he has learned a new pitch and Major League hitters know what is coming at them by now.

With his lack of command, especially over the past two seasons, Kazmir needs a pitch that hitters can chase. In order for his fastball to play up he needs another pitch so that hitters won’t sit all day waiting for the old number one. How about a curveball? Or a cutter? Or both?

Now, I have no clue if Kazmir can even learn to throw a curveball or cutter successfully, and due his poor command and control it may not be enough, but it is worth a shot.

One person who ditched the slider for the curveball was David Price. Now, it wasn’t a complete ditch but it was a reversal of roles. In 2009 Price posted a 4.42 ERA and 4.59 FIP while striking out 7.15 per 9 innings. He threw his slider 16.4% of the time at an average mph of 85.2 and his curveball 3.7% of the time. In 2010 he posted a 2.72 ERA and 3.42 FIP while striking out 8.11 per 9 innings. He threw his slider only 4.9% of the time and saw a 1.3 mph increase and threw his curveball 15.6% of the time. His slider went from below average in value (-8.5 wSL) in 2009 to above average (+1.7 wSL) in 2010.

Jon Lester is another example of a left-hander that ditched the slider (using it 15.9% of the time in 2006 and completely ditching it 2009) in favor of using the curveball more while adding a cutter to his repetoire in 2007. He has been a Cy Young contender in each of the past three seasons.

Price and Lester may not be the best examples due to the fact that they have better command than Kazmir but it is hard to overlook such an increase from one season to the next.

We may never see the same Kazmir that pitched from 2005-2008 due to injuries and lost velocity but if he plans on staying in the Major Leagues he needs to learn to become a pitcher. He has always pitched the same and what separates a pitcher from a thrower is his ability to learn new ways to get hitters out and ditch the pitches that are hurting him. Shortening a career due to injuries is one thing, and it leaves us wondering “what could have been.” Shortening a once promising career due to the inability to adapt as a pitcher in the Major Leagues is another thing and it leaves us wondering “what ever happened to that once promising pitcher.” Kazmir has yet to adapt and I hope he learns new pitches soon because I fear he may fall in the “what ever happened to” category.

January 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm 3 comments

Crawford is Perfect Addition to Red Sox

Carl Crawford

I wrote the other day asking if Carl Crawford was one of the top 30 players in all of baseball.  Well, if he isn’t, he is sure is being paid like one.  The Boston Red Sox have signed Carl Crawford to a 7-year $142M contract.  The deal will take Crawford through his age 35 season, leaving little room for a decline phase on this seven year contract.  Believe me when I say that Crawford is worth every penny.

Crawford is coming off of the best season of his young, yet long career.  He hit .307/.356/.495 with an OPS+ of 134 and wOBA of .378, 47 stolen bases, and 21.2 UZR/150 for a career high 6.9 fWAR.  Crawford also set a career high with 19 homeruns, 141 wRC+, and .188 ISO.

We already know that Crawford is the best defensive leftfielder in the game and possibly the best defensive outfielder overall.  He has made more plays out of his zone than any other player at any position over the past three years.  Sure, Fenway may hurt some of his range but it will allow the centerfielder to play a few steps to his left and feel like he will get burned in the left-center field gap.

I am not sure how the Red Sox will do their lineup.  My guess is that, on most nights, Crawford will bat behind Dustin Pedroia in the 2-hole, where I believe he belongs.

In 2651 plate appearances Crawford’s has hit .305/.349/.463 from the 2-hole.  By far his best spot in the lineup throughout his career.  I also love the 2-hole for him because he hits best with men on base, especially with men on first, forcing the firstbaseman to hold the runner thus leaving a bigger gap on the right side of the infield. 

In 296 plate appearances last year Crawford hit .350/.399/.555 with men on base.  This is not to say that he has some “special clutch skill” but to show that he exploits the holes created by the defense when men are on base.  Crawford’s plus-plus speed also makes it difficult to double him up.  He only grounded into 2 double plays all year.  With Pedroia getting on base 37% of the time Crawford should have no problem hitting well above .300 this year with a shot at .320+.

This move makes the Red Sox immediate favorites in the AL East.  Sure, they may be left handed heavy, but they have a deep rotation and an incredibly deep and young bench.  Oh, and the best leftfielder in the game.

December 9, 2010 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

Padres Get Nice Haul in Gonzalez Trade

Casey Kelly

The San Diego Padres, and not just Adrian Gonzalez and the Red Sox, are winners in the trade that netted them top prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and a PTBNL.

The biggest chip in the deal was starting pitcher Casey Kelly.  Here is a scouting report from Keith Law over at the 4-letter:

Kelly is a great athlete who fields his position well and repeats his delivery, contributing to that above-average command. He probably will add a little velocity as he goes, but his ability to locate his fastball and chance for two above-average to plus secondary pitches make him a top-flight pitching prospect even without the big fastball

Kelly had a down year in 2010 but he played the full season as a 20 year old in AA.  He throws strikes, has above-average stuff, gets groundballs, and is one of the most athletic players in the minors.  He also loves the game and loves to hit and is moving to the best pitcher’s park in the Majors.  I cannot imagine him being anything less than thrilled with this trade.  He, in my opinion, is a Jeremy Hellickson clone, and we all remember his Major League debut in the AL East last year.  The Padres could be sporting a 2012 opening day rotation of Mat Latos, Kelly, and Simon Castro.  Not too shabby.

Anthony Rizzo also played 2010 in AA, mostly as a 21 year old, hitting 20 homers and 30 doubles in 414 at-bats but striking out 100 times.  Here is his scouting report from Law:

…one of the best defensive first basemen in the minors. He’s a left-handed hitter with a very easy stroke that generates line drives to all fields, although as he grows he should develop 25-30 home run power.

I can’t imagine Rizzo starting 2011 with the Padres.  They will need to find a 1B on the market (possibly Russell Branyan) until Rizzo is ready, hopefully by 2012.  Rizzo could easily be a plus-fielding first baseman with 40 doubles and 20 homers but his pitch recognition must improve first.

The player that could push the trade in the favor of the Padres is 2009 first-round pick Reymond Fuentes.  I, personally, love Fuentes.  He is a plus fielder, plus runner, and should hit for average.  Oh, and his uncle is just some pedestrian named Carlos Beltran. no big deal.  Here is Law’s take on Fuentes going into the 2009 draft:

The consensus [among scouts spoken to] seems to be that he has substantial upside as a hitter, at least for average, and the potential to be a plus defender in center like his uncle, Carlos Beltran.

Fuentes is small, just like Beltran was at the same age.  Listed at 6 ft tall and 160 lbs, Fuentes could gain by adding some bulk.  He could also gain by taking a few more pitches and recognizing pitches better.  He played the entire 2010 season in A-ball as a 19 year old and hit .270/.328/.377 with 15 doubles, 5 triples, 5 homers, and 42 steals in 414 plate appearances.  Fuentes has a long way to go and may never be as good as Beltran but his skill set fits the Padres needs for the Petco.

The PTBNL, according to Peter Gammons Twitter, is not a prime guy.  Overall, the haul the Padres received, knowing they had a limited amount of trade partners willing to give up the level of prospects needed and to offer Gonzalez an extension, was top-notch and I could see all three prospects as solid regulars in the majors with Kelly having the highest ceiling.

December 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm 1 comment

Gonzalez is Big Winner of Trade

Adrian Gonzalez

It has been reported that the San Diego Padres are sending 1B Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for three top prospects and a player-to-be-named-later: SP Casey Kelly, 1B Anthony Rizzo, and CF Reymond Fuentes. This trade, for the teams involved, is a complete win-win. But, the biggest winner of all is Adrian Gonzalez.

Although you may not realize it, Adrian Gonzalez is one of the top players in the entire league.  He is a power-hitting, Gold Glove fielding first baseman that also hits for average and takes a good amount of walks.  He is now moving to a great hitter’s park after being in the hitter’s wasteland known as Petco park.  People know that Petco limits a player’s offensive production, but they may realize how much it has limited Gonzalez’s.

Gonzalez’s career numbers in 3424 plate appearances with the Padres are .288/.374/.514 with an OPS+ of 141 and 161 homeruns.  Those numbers are being pulled in two opposite directions, though.  His numbers at home with the Padres in 1650 plate appearances are  .267/.359/.442 with 57 homeruns.  His numbers in the road with the Padres in 1774 plate appearances are .307/.378/.579 with 104 homeruns.

His home numbers, if in a neutral park, are James Loney-esque.  His road numbers, though, are Hank Greenberg-esque.  I see no reason why Gonzalez should not be able to appraoch those road numbers every year now, with a real possibility of eclipsing them. (Check out this spray chart created by RiverAvenueBlues that shows Gonzalez’s Petco batted balls in Fenway.)

Gonzalez also wins in this deal because he is now part of one of the richest franchises in all of sports and an extension, with Mark Texiera’s $180M deal as the negotiating point, is likely to be signed.

The biggest losers in this deal are the Tampa Bay Rays and the NL West fans. 

The Rays have no way of adding a player of Gonzalez’s caliber to their roster unless they sell the farm or commit over 25% of their payroll to one player, and they are not going to do that.  On paper, they were already behind the Yankees, who are going to land at least one of Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford to their already impressive roster, and they now sit behind the Red Sox.

The NL West, after bringing a World Series championship to it’s coast, just lost one of it’s main attratctions and are now left with Aubrey Huff being the top first baseman in the division.  Not good for a division that is also in the news for trying to deal Justin Upton, possibly the best young player in the Majors.

December 4, 2010 at 11:48 am 1 comment

2010 MLB Predictions

Rays

Man, it has been a while since I’ve written.  This is me, coming out of my hybernation and predictiong what will happen in the 2010 baseball season.  Hint:  If you know me personally, I have been touting my World Series winner for this season since the beginning of 2007.

AL East
1. Red Sox (95-67)
2. Rays (94-68) (Wild Card)
3. Yankees (93-69)
4. Orioles (74-88)
5. Blue Jays (70-92)

AL Central
1. Twins (87-75)
2. White Sox (82-80)
3. Indians (78-84)
4. Tigers (78-84)
5. Royals (70-92)

AL West
1. Rangers (84-78)
2. Angels (83-79)
3. Athletics (80-82)
4. Mariners (79-85)

NL East
1. Phillies (91-71)
2. Braves (88-74) (Wild Card)
3. Marlins (78-84)
4. Mets (76-86)
5. Nationals (73-89)

NL Central
1. Cardinals (89-73)
2. Brewers (85-77)
3. Cubs (78-84)
4. Reds (77-85)
5. Pirates (71-91)
6. Astros (71-91)

NL West
1. Rockies (87-75)
2. Dodgers (85-77)
3. Diamondbacks (81-81)
4. Giants (79-83)
5. Padres (74-88)

World Series
Rays over Rockies in 6

World Series MVP
Ben Zobrist

MVP
AL: Evan Longoria, Joe Mauer, Nelson Cruz, Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia
NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Chase Utley, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Pablo Sandoval

Cy Young
AL: Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, Brett Anderson, Zack Greinke
NL: Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Adam Wainwright, Ubaldo Jimenez, Dan Haren

Rookie of the Year
AL: Brian Matusz, Scott Sizemore, Wade Davis, Ausitn Jackson, Neftali Feliz
NL: Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Alcides Escobar, Buster Posey, Aroldis Chapman

April 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm 5 comments


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