Prospective Additions and the BoSox’ AL East Title Chances

April 13, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Arizona's Chris Snyder in action during the Major League Baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks, 9-5..Josh Thompson/CSM.

There’s no doubt the Sox recent injuries have done a number on the club’s chances of winning the AL East. So we thought it would be interesting to uncover how bleak — or rosy — the those chances have become.

Prior to the slew of injuries that befell Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Varitek, Baseball Prospectus had the Sox at about a 99-win team with an 853-702 scoring differential. That team, with the current standings, would have won the division about 38 percent of the time — a solid second best to the Yankees’ expected title rate of 45 percent. The Devil Rays take the cake about 18 percent of the time while the Blue Jays and Orioles are almost nowhere to be seen.

But that was a different team. Injuries have decimated this club and with it, their chances at the division. So, we sought to quantify this question and see just how often the new lineup would win the AL East.

We’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details, but the essentials are this: based on the expected run production of the new lineup, we simulated 10,000 “seasons,” the end result being an AL East championship probability.

Further, we plugged in some of the club’s rumored trade targets and internal options to measure their effect on the team. Playing time estimates are rough estimates and are subject to change. Production estimates are based on’s CHONE projections. Below are the results.

Varitek and Delcarmen Down, Possible Trade Candidates

May 16, 2010: Boston Red Sox's Jason Varitek (33) during the MLB baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. Tigers defeated the Red Sox 5-1.

The injury carousel keeps turning – and, unfortunately, keeps landing on the Red Sox’ spot.

While Jason Varitek was placed on the disabled list Thursday with a broken foot, Manny Delcarmen was also added on Friday with a strained right forearm.

Reliever Robert Manuel was recalled to replace Delcarmen while catcher Kevin Cash was acquired from the Astros in return for infielder Angel Sanchez. Second baseman Niuman Romero was called up from Pawtucket to assume Sanchez’ vacated roster spot.

With all the injuries and new names flying around, this seems like the perfect opportunity to stress the importance of offseason minor league acquisitions. While these replacement level signings are often glossed over in the newspapers and on the transactions lists, these players are signed for precisely this reason: to provide insurance against the unlikely event of a nightmare scenario playing out — much like the one the Sox are currently in.

Trying to value pitch calling

Boston Red Sox' starting pitcher Matsuzaka looks down as he stands with catcher Martinez during their MLB American League baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York

On May fourth I asked the question, Should Jason Varitek be the Starting Catcher? Not much has changed as at the time I noted “In 146 IP thrown to Martinez the staff has a K/BB of 1.64, but when Varitek has caught in 83.6 innings the staff has thrown a 2.35 K/BB.” That trend has largely continued as Varitek has saw more time, so how much is the difference worth?

Some things to keep in mind is that this is a skill we really can’t value before the catchers catch the same pitchers. We knew Victor Martinez was not the best catcher, but how could anyone know for sure his pitch calling would raise these questions. So this is more of an exercise done in retrospect and would help decide how to approach Martinez this offseason.

The Future Holds many Questions for the Red Sox Catching — And Hopefully an Answer

Fact: As a catcher, Victor Martinez makes a good first baseman – and a D.H.

MLB: Red Sox vs Royals APR 11

Fact: Jason Varitek, at 38, is on the down side of a once brilliant career.

Fact: Both players’ contracts expire after the 2010 season.

Question: Who will comprise the next generation of Red Sox catchers?
Will it be either Pawtucket catcher Mark Wagner or Dusty Brown, each of whom is on Boston’s 40-man roster?

Or will it be one – or both – of Boston’s very best catcher prospects, Luis Exposito or Tim Federowicz?

Matsui in Red, Varitek’s ‘C’

Yankee's Hideki Matsui bats during game 5 of the world series in Philadelphia

Hideki Matsui as a Red Sock?

(Left: While not the best “action shot” out there on Matsui, it would offend our sense of decency to have pictures of Yankees high-fiving or trotting around the bases on our site. Therefore, we felt a picture of Matsui being brushed back by a fastball was much more appropriate.)

Yesterday, the Red Sox official website announced a rumor linking the team to Hideki Matsui. According to sources at (don’t even bother with the link, unless you can read Japanese), the Japanese website expects the Red Sox to tender Matsui a contract at some point this offseason.

Though Matsui proved this season that he is still a force at the plate, the real question is whether or not he can effectively man left field.

Red Sox Offseason BluePrint v.2 : Holliday, Harden, Scutaro

Houston Astros vs St. Louis Cardinals

Like most teams, the Boston Red Sox offseason will be defined by the willingness of their owner to open his wallet.

Fortunately for Sox fans nationwide, Uncle John certainly has some deep pockets. However, the amount he is willing to spend will have a lot to say about the direction that this team will be headed.

The prudent move by the Red Sox will be to look for incremental gains in what is partly a transitional year, while also being a year of opportunity. The club has nearly its entire 2009 starting lineup under contract, including its entire starting staff and at least seven of nine position players. For a team that won 95 games last season, that’s a recipe for success. Still, the American League gets more competitive every year, as the AL West, the Yankees, and our little brother Rays make it harder and harder to buy the Wild Card.

Projecting the Playoffs, The Case for Kotchman

MLB: Angels v Rangers September 26, 2007

With just 20 games left and a 4 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card, what exactly are the chances for our beloved Sox to play in October? Baseball Prospectus seems to think they’re pretty high, but Texas has life yet.

And who, exactly, is the Red Sox’ most unappreciated player. Surely, it couldn’t be Casey Kotchman. Though he doesn’t always see the field, he provides stability at a key position on the diamond, while simultaneously solidifying the team’s outlook at … catcher?

Projecting the Playoffs

With just 20 games remaining in the regular season, the Sox’ Hunt for Red October is getting stronger by the day. At this juncture, with this team, a 4 ½ game lead in the Wild Card is a considerable advantage. Don’t get cozy though, as one hot or cold stretch can completely change the complexion of this race. Still, it’s looking pretty good for the Sox, as Baseball Prospectus gives the Red Sox…

The good, the bad, and the Tek

Early season series against top flight division rivals are always difficult to measure. It’s been said time and time again that the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees are likely to play themselves all around .500 against each other by the time this season shakes out and the team that outperforms against the rest of their schedule has the upper hand in the race for the division. That said, it’s never easy to swallow being beaten in your own house by a team you’ll be battling with all season long.

Given that it was the first three games of the season, a whopping 1.9% of the full slate of regular season games, it’s difficult to draw any firm conclusions without being beaten over the head with comments about sample size. But as it is the regular season and no longer the fruitless analysis of in game Spring Training analysis, it is fair to point out a few things that were both good and bad omens, directionally speaking.

Poll: Better or Worse: Josh Beckett’s ERA in 2009

New Poll Question: Better or Worse: Josh Beckett’s ERA in 2009?

Josh Beckett pitched better than his 4.03 ERA might suggest in 2008, so it’s safe to assume he’ll better that total in 2009. The question is, “by how much?”. How low can he go? How does 3.50 sound for a bar? Vote in the poll to the left and give your community projection for Beckett here.

Find out how you all responded to our previous poll, “Will Jason Varitek hit .240+ in 2009?” after the jump.

Poll: Better or Worse: Jason Varitek’s Average in 2009

New Poll Question: Better or Worse: Jason Varitek’s Average in 2009?
Coming off a career low batting average of .220 in 2008 and one of the lowest averages for a primary catcher in the past ten years, will Jason Varitek be able to right the ship and break the .240 barrier this season? Vote in the poll to the left and give your community projection for Varitek here. Find out how you all responded to our previous poll, “How many bases will Jacoby Ellsbury steal in 2009?” after the jump.