Although these questions will not determine the fate of the Boston Red Sox in 2013, they certainly are fun to think about and wager on.
1. One a scale of 1-10 how happy is Jacoby Ellsbury to be in a Red Sox uniform?
I would say around a 7. While Ellsbury is not one to ever make waves in the media (see: deferring to Scott Boras when contract talks come up) or even speak much in general, I think we can all safely assume that Ells is more than willing to move on after his one-year $9 million contract expires at the end of 2013 unless the Red Sox make him one of the highest paid center fielders in the majors.
Throughout Ellsbury’s career we have heard that he is a very reserved, quiet, and even sensitive individual on and off the baseball field. He has had his issues with Sox players in the past like Youkilis while confiding in others like Jed Lowrie. The truth is, we don’t know much about Jacoby Ellsbury. We don’t know what he is thinking, how he is feeling, if he really is injury prone or if they were flukes, and we certainly don’t know what his plans are following this season.
One thing I do know is that he is not going to be willing to take a hometown discount akin to Tom Brady. From all indications that we know of (which isn’t much) Ellsbury is going to want to make as much money as possible, especially if he has a great 2013 campaign. I also know that it probably won’t be the Boston Red Sox who will pay him the most money; that is no longer their modus operandi. And quite frankly with Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings, why would they?
2. What are the chances Andrew Bailey is traded before April 1?
Personally, I thought Bailey was going to be traded prior to now, but, alas, it has not happened yet. Will it happen? Do the Red Sox really need him?
I will try and answer the second question first: it depends on one Daniel Bard. The Red Sox will carry 5 pitchers in the rotation and 7 in the bullpen. First, let’s narrow down who will be in that bullpen: Hanrahan, Uehara, Tazawa, Miller (L), Bailey, Breslow (L)/ Morales (L), and either Aceves (help us) or Mortenson. In short, 9 spots for 7 more than capable guys. But, do you know who has more talent than all of them and is not one of those 9 at the moment? Daniel Bard. If Bard can regain his form/psychological makeup then there is no reason why you need an Andrew Bailey in your bullpen. Uehara, Tazawa, and a normal Bard are all more than capable of holding games before Hanrahan.
I think Sox management is in wait and see mode at the moment. If Bard is back, so to speak, then I predict that Bailey will be traded before the Sox head to New York on April 1. If not, then Bailey stays until Bard can figure it out. So, I’ll peg the chances at an even 50%.
3. Over/Under on Jarrod Saltalamacchia strikeouts this season: 125?
Salty has quickly become a strikeout king in the American League East. On a 162 game scale, Salty averages 174 a year, which is worse than notorious whiffers Dan Uggla and BJ Upton. Since coming to the Red Sox, Salty has struck out once every 3 plate appearances and his career SO/BB ratio is a miserable 3.64.
His massive wind producing hacks have absolutely killed the Red Sox in the past. As a former baseball player and current coach I can’t understand for the life of me why he can’t shorten up his swing with two strikes and just put the ball into play. Does he always have to swing as if he is trying to chop down the largest Red Wood tree on the planet?
Yet, after all of that, I’ll take the under for one reason: David Ross. David Ross is good, you guys, and he will play in more than 50 games this year, which will allow for more Salty bench time and less K’s.
4. Over/Under on how many games will David Ortiz play in 2013: 130?
Some might think that is fairly low for a guy who has been relatively durable since he came to Boston back in 2003 at the age of 27. However, since David Ortiz turned 30 he has averaged 134 games per season in Boston (2006-2012). Why the lower Over/Under? Well, for a few reasons.
One, Ortiz is now 37 years old. Not many 37 year olds (who aren’t taking performance-enhancing drugs) are going to play everyday in the MLB.
Two, Ortiz is currently hurt with a quite perplexing Achilles injury. It has been 7 months since Ortiz sprained his Achilles while rounding second base on an Adrian Gonzalez extra base hit. 7 months and the sprained Achilles tendon is still not healed. Meanwhile Terrell Suggs was back on a football field FIVE months after getting surgery on his TORN Achilles (DEER ANTLER SPRAY). Confounding to say the least.
At first Ortiz was going to start the spring healthy and ready to go. Now we don’t even know if he will be ready for the start of the season. How can a guy who has not recovered from a mysteriously sprained Achilles tendon expect to play more than 130 games? I don’t think he can. I’m taking the under. Get some deer antler spray, David!
Surprisingly, Ryan Dempster has not been mentioned on Fire Brand of the American League too often since he signed with the Red Sox before Spring Training. Thus, I decided to throw Dempster into one of my over/unders.
Since becoming a starter, again, in the majors, Dempster has been quietly very efficient and reliable. Since 2008 Dempster has never started less than 28 games, has an average ERA of 3.72 over those years, and a K/9 that has never dipped below 7.74 while peaking at 8.69 in 2010. Thus, something along those lines is probably what we can expect from Dempster in 2013: a guy will eat up innings, pitch in 32 games, and an ERA that sits around 3.90 (additional runs for AL East competition).
What about Dempster’s FIP, or a sabermetric way to analyze what an ERA should really look like? Between 2008-2012, Dempster’s average FIP is 3.77, which according to Fan Graph’s Rating Scale is slight below Above Average (3.75). I placed Dempster’s FIP at 3.85 because that is the average between 4 predictions: Steamer (4.08), Bill James (3.71), Oliver (3.51), and ZiPS (4.18). There is a serious amount of discrepancy between those 4, but the average sounds about right.
Although a small sample size, Dempster’s FIP while with the Ranger’s in 2012 was indeed 4.08, which is exactly the same as Steamer’s prediction. Thus, I am going to slightly take the over on this one and hope Bill James is right and I am wrong.