Alright ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another round of news, notes, and observation.
Dustin Pedroia – During Pedroia’s torrid 25 game hitting streak, he’s produced an impressive .404/.459/.752 triple slash with nine home runs and nine doubles in 122 plate appearances. Did someone say MVP? Oh, and while we’re on the topic of MVP, let’s take a look at the three most valuable Red Sox players as of Thursday morning: Pedroia (6.2 fWAR, 5.8 bWAR), Jacoby Ellsbury (5.9 fWAR, 5.1 bWAR), and Adrian Gonzalez (5.0 fWAR, 4.9 fWAR). With all due respect to A-Gone who’s having a tremendous season, if the season ended today, he wouldn’t be the team MVP. In fact, since I wrote my article on the subject last Friday, there seems to be a groundswell of support toward away from A-Gone lately with Nick Underhill of Masslive.com and Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal expressing support for the scrappy for other candidates. I’m not taking credit for swaying their opinions because they’re all smart people capable of realizing Pedroia’s greatness on their own. I’m just pointing out that the tide is starting to turn in Pedroia’s favor.
Jacoby Ellsbury – If you’d told me that Ellsbury and Gonzalez would have the same number of home runs on July 29th, I would have openly mocked you in public. Baseball is a funny game though, and sometimes the unexpected, or even implausible, happens. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t appear Ellsbury’s getting lucky on fly balls leaving the yard. According to Hit Tracker Online, only one of his home runs have been of the “Just Enough” or “Lucky” variety. The remaining 16 have been categorized as “Plenty” or “No Doubt.” Furthermore, Ellsbury’s 31% fly ball rate is nearly identical to Gonzalez’s 33% rate. If Ellsbury’s getting lucky, there’s a pretty good chance A-Gone is as well.
Starting Pitching – Yesterday, I wrote an article discussing the Red Sox’s need for another starting pitcher; especially in light of the news that Clay Buchholz needed to see another back specialist. After doing a little research the other night, I found that the Red Sox starting pitching has been worth 7.4 fWAR through 102 games, which is good for 22nd in all of baseball. For reference, our closest fWAR comparables this season are the Indians, Cubs, and Rockies. Forgive me for not being impressed. To make matters even worse, 5.3 fWAR have come from two pitchers: Josh Beckett (3.3 fWAR) and Jon Lester (2.0 fWAR). That means that Buchholz, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, and Kyle Weiland have contributed a combined 2.1 fWAR on the season despite pitching 361-1/3 innings. That’s a lot of replacement player-y crappiness. While a healthy Buchholz would be a huge addition to the rotation, another starting pitcher (Dear Santa – Please bring Hiroki Kuroda to the Red Sox as my Christmas in July present) is desperately needed. Trading for a starting pitcher isn’t a want, it’s a need.
Baserunning – The Red Sox are baseball’s fourth worst team on the base paths at -6.8 runs against the average. David Ortiz and A-Gone are the primary culprits being worth -4.5 and -3.9 runs respectively. Surprisingly, the slow footed Kevin Youkilis is the Red Sox’s best base runner at +1.9 runs above average.
Jose Iglesias – Many Red Sox fans seem to think Iglesias should be the Red Sox starting shortstop either now or in 2012. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but he’s nowhere near ready. To date, he’s hitting .234/.278/.254 with five extra base hits and 12 walks in AAA Pawtucket. If you translated his stats to the majors (playing half of his games at Fenway, no less), he’d be hitting .210/.246/.229. For reference, he’d be the worst hitter in baseball among qualifiers. Among near qualifiers, he’d be in the same class as Chone Figgins and Brandon Inge, which isn’t exactly elite company. Even with his defense and base running skills, he’s still a replacement level player at best. Unless he drastically turns it around, we’re looking at a 2013 ETA at the earliest.
J.D. Drew – Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston writes that Drew’s progressing in his recovery from shoulder impingement. According to the report, the discomfort from the injury caused him to release his top hand during his swing, thus creating bad habits in the process.
Erik Bedard – According to Gordon Edes at ESPN Boston, the Red Sox are aggressively looking at making a trade for the former Orioles left-hander. If the front office is satisfied with the way he pitches tonight, they’ll probably move to pull the trigger on a deal that brings him to Boston.
Hunter Pence – With Carlos Beltran off of the market, Hunter Pence becomes one of the premier outfielders on the trading block. According to ESPN sources, anywhere from six to eight teams (including the Red Sox and Reds) have been had conversations with the Astros about acquiring the right-handed corner outfielder. As a 28 year old outfielder with good power and two more seasons of arbitration eligibility; the cost to obtain him will likely be high. Josh Reddick would need to be a part of any deal, as he’d be expendable with Pence on board. Kyle Weiland would also be a likely candidate to be moved as well. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports Eye on Baseball notes that Carlos Quentin is another right-handed outfield target of the Red Sox.
Ubaldo Jimenez – According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox have cooled on the Jimenez front. According to sources close to the negotiations, they “aren’t motivated enough” to put together a deal to land the hard throwing right-hander. Also, word is they “passively inquired” about the availability of power hitting catcher Chris Iannetta as well.
Andre Ethier – Since a large portion of Red Sox Nation seems to be obsessed with the idea of trading for Dustin Pedroia’s best friend, I have some bad news. According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the odds of Either being moved are “very slim.” As I’ve mentioned in the past, this is a good thing. While he’s a very good offensive player, he’s an atrocious right fielder that would be a bad fit roaming the vast concourses at Fenway.