Adding Rod Barajas may not be a bad idea at all. As it stands today, the Red Sox do not have a foundation-level catcher. This was something we were all aware was going to happen as we ended the Jason Varitek-era. There was no catcher of the future. Remember what it was like before Varitek? [...]
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 Fangraphs.com’s CHONE projections. Below are the results.
It’s been another harrowing week for the Red Sox as yet another key starter has gone down to injury.
With Dustin Pedroia sustaining a broken foot, the second baseman is expected to miss an estimated six weeks – forcing the Sox to scramble for a replacement due to their lack of infield depth.
Elaborating on Pedroia’s importance would be superfluous. The former AL MVP is among the three most indispensible Red Sox on the active roster next to Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester – if not the most important of the three. Considering the absence of any semblance of a Major Leaguer middle infielder in Boston’s stead, he is as good as irreplaceable.
Still, the length of Pedroia’s injury is nearly as confounding as the injury itself. Assuming he returns along the proposed six-week time line, the Sox are in a purgatory of sorts when it comes to finding a replacement. On the one hand, they could trade for a replacement outside the organization – costing the team prospects in exchange for gaining about a win or two in Pedroia’s absence. On the other, they could tough it out with the inadequate options available.
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.
Drew Back on Track
No Sox hitter in the past two weeks has been hotter than J.D. Drew. In Boston’s last ten games, he’s batted 17-for-36 with three homers. The eight Ks are a bit unfortunate, but nothing concerning.
Not including last night, his first strike percentage is down to 63.4 from 72.7, his BABIP is up to .329 from .194.
What is particularly exciting about Drew’s performance is the type of contact he’s making. Besides it being hard and consistent, he’s been doing an excellent job of sending the ball the other way on two strikes.
According to MLB.com’s Fenway Park hit chart, Drew has four opposite field singles this season to go along with two doubles. In 2009, he had all of five singles (seven depending on how narrowly or widely you define the left field) and five doubles (up to nine for the width of left field).
In particular, Drew has been serving these opposite field singles with two strikes. Keeping his hands back and serving outside pitches into right field means he’s timing the ball much better than he had been. Lots of hitters in slumps will get ahead of the pitch and roll the ball over to the pull side…
Fact: As a catcher, Victor Martinez makes a good first baseman – and a D.H.
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?
As Buster Olney stated in a recent piece, “the Red Sox may look to replace David Ortiz if he struggles again in the first half like he did last year.”
Certainly, the struggles of Big Papi have a lot to say about the success of the team. Like we profiled earlier, David Ortiz is undeniably on the downswing of his career. In what should be the last year of his contract, Ortiz will likely have difficulty living up to his $12.5 million price tag.
The plan outlined by Olney involves a specific scenario under which Ortiz repeats his 2009 first-half struggles, leading to a trade of Ortiz, acquiring a catcher and moving Victor Martinez to DH.
Quite the series of moves.
The first obstacle to any such move involves Ortiz underperforming to such a degree that he repeats his putrid April and May, in which he hit just one home run in 178 at-bats on his way to a .185/.289/.286 overall line…
New Poll Question: Which Red Sox catcher would you least like to see go on free agency? * George Kottaras * Victor Martinez * Jason Varitek Vote in the poll on the sidebar.
For two consecutive seasons, Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox front office have made a splash on the infamous “Deadline Day”. His shrewd ability to assess his team and aggressively make maneuvers to address any weaknesses or “fatal flaws” has been well documented and proven out year over year.
The question I pose to you all today, is who was larger impact on their respective teams in the year of their deadline day acquisition; Jason Bay in 2008 or Victor Martinez in 2009?
Of course much of VMart’s story is still to be written and Bay’s success last post-season places a high bar against which Martinez will be measured, but there is certainly enough of a sample between July 31 and today from which to engage the conversation.
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…