Friday, October 05, 2012

By The Numbers

The season is over, the numbers are now final, and I like to poke around at them.  I did not watch an entire at-bat of a Sox game this season.  I do listen to sports radio, but they were continually convinced that communication problems were the core of Red Sox troubles, so I switched stations among the three available a lot.  The Red Sox had getting people out problems, full stop.

I did hear things along the way.  I heard that Daniel Bard wanted to be a starter (they make 3-4 times as much, I understand) and it didn't work.  It is always easy to say in retrospect that we should have gone north when it is clear that south didn't work, but I claim to have seen a problem with their method from the start.  He was essentially a rookie as a starter, and the place for rookies is in spot starts and long relief.  But the Red Sox thought they were contenders, and they needed Bard to be a middle of the rotation player, so they shoved him in there.  If you knew you weren't a contender and were developing players and seeing who could pitch for a year, Bard's 5.68 ERA is not that terrible and worth fighting through.  Now they've apparently ruined his head and he can't get guys out in AAA.

Similarly, they needed Buchholz or Lester (and now Lackey) to be top-of-the-rotation guys and that looks bleak. Adding in Doubront, Boston now has four fully capable 3rd - 5th starters, and could have had five.  They are fine if you just see them for what they are.  ERA 4.50 - 5.00, 200 innings for a .500 ball club.  Sort that out for one more year and contend again in 2014.  What's your problem?  You need a #1 and a #2 starter, at least one of whom can eat innings, and you actually have the flexibility to trade 2 of those current guys, because you have another spot-starter long relief guy available (see below).  Heck, with Barnes, Webster, and De La Rosa looking almost ready, you have lots of halfway-decent pitchers you can trade.  All depth, no top.

For relief pitchers, Tazawa is 26, had an ERA of 1.43 in 44 IP.  How is he not your closer, or at least your set-up guy?  Problem solved.   Atchison if he's healthy and Hill both deserve the same number of innings or more. ERA's under 2.  Ride that wave.  Breslow has 63 IP - a good number - at 2.70 ERA. 

Then there are four players right about the same age who have limited strengths, but would be fine in designated roles.  Miller is 6-7 and gets the first batter out all the time. He is still good on the second batter and maybe the third. Mortensen is not only a very good pitcher on 2 or more days' rest, he can go more than two innings if need be. Long relief.  Melancon and Carpenter both did well late.  They round out your bullpen.

GM's like to play around, bringing in this, that, getting a guy for cheap, etc.  I hope no one on the Red Sox puts any energy into thinking about that.  Top starters.  Eat innings.  Pay money.  Do that.  The rest is in place, with a decent number of developing players on the way.


Michael said...

Shhhh! Don't tell the Oakland A's that thing about rookie pitchers! They rode over 100 games started by rookie pitchers to the second best record in the American League! The 2012 Red Sox were a mess! I think management figured they could mask the problems of Sept 2011 by hiring a new manager and it didn't work. They then shipped out millions of dollars of contracts to give them some room to misspend this winter. I am not optomistic

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yeah, they mostly are real rookies, too, rather than guys who are technically rookies but had forty innings the year before. The A's have some of that, but not much. And they even got another one they brought up in August and did quite well.

Jarrod Parker looks like he was falling off July and August, but pitched well in September.

It's a very different approach, to bring in several young pitchers and give 'em games and see how they do, but it sure worked this year, and it may be a better strategy overall and cause me to reevaluate my generality.