Sunday, May 07, 2006

Death by a 1,000 Paper Cuts

Last night for the most part the Sox played small ball, a series of singles culminating in a quick 5-0 lead. Absent catalyst Brian Roberts, the Orioles lacked their usual spark, and the Sox put an uncharacteristic hurt on a lefthanded pitcher, the mercurial Erik Bedard. When Bedard is on, he can be tough, but for the most part he couldn't get people out inside.

Tim Wakefield's comfort zone with Doug Mirabelli shows, and one wonders whether this keeps Mirabelli around for years.

Today, it's DiNardon't against the Birds, so we have to hope the Meatloaf Principle doesn't come true, "two out of three ain't bad."

As for the upcoming Yankee series, you'd have to expect Beckett going Tuesday, Schilling Wednesday, and Wakefield on Thursday.

Kudos to Francona for tweaking the lineup, getting Lowell and Pena up, and Nixon down. Nixon had a pair of hits against the lefthander.

Stat Guy. Going into last night's action, the Sox were sixth in the AL in ERA, fifth in WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), and fourth in strikeout to walk ratio (an important predictor of ERA). Now that's what I'm talking about. The starters were 7th in ERA, sixth in WHIP, and 7th in K/BB ratio.

The Sox have four players in the top 25 in OPS (on base percentage plus slugging, Ortiz (15), Lowell (17), Ramirez (20), and Youkilis (25). In the 'Sabermetric' analysis of Runs Created (RC) per 27 innings, they have four in the top 20, Youkilis (14), Ramirez (16), Ortiz (17), and Lowell (20).

Around the league. The Tigers have played good ball thanks to their pitching staff. Last year they were among the leaders early in the year in quality starts, and I'd guess that they're up there again. Lefty Mike Maroth is a poor man's Jamie Moyer, and one has to wonder whether
Mark Buehrle has become a future top 100 winning pitchers of all-time for the White Sox.

What's my tangential point? It's that I still wonder what Abe Alvarez is, presuming that I already know what DiNardo is. Clearly Moyer, like Frank Tanana in his latter years and Mike Cuellar years ago, could get people out without a lot of giddyup on the fastball. I expect DiNardo will show today that he's not the answer.

And what's the deal with the Angels? They were supposed to contend along with Oakland in the AL West, and look pretty dead so far.

Price versus value. As they say on Wall Street, "price is what you pay, and value is what you get." Remember when Nomar Garciaparra turned down the big bucks (wanting Jeter money), and the local argument was how much 'better' Garciaparra was than Tejada. Let's look at the three year stats (average, on base percentage, slugging, and OPS) and 2006

Tejada (3 year) .298./.348/.507/.855 (2006) .380/.413/.589/1.002
Jeter (3 year) .307/.377/.458/.835 (2006) .358/.466/.560/1.026
Nomar (3 year) .299/.346/.498/.844 (2006) .306/.386/.571/.957

Of course, even that's deceptive, as Nomar missed a lot of time during those years and this year (averaging 400 at bats)...not to mention that his road games (away from Fenway or Wrigley) numbers during the 3 year period are .268/.315/.436/.751. Alex Gonzalez' three-year splits (total) are .249/.299/.413/.712. So Nomar's road action is not too far above Alex Gonzalez, and as we have seen through the years, compared with Gonzalez or Cabrera, Nomar was mediocre not average in the field.

Was Nomar deserving of 'Tejada or Jeter money'. In retrospect no. The mixture of injury, aging, and self-absorption limiting his production. However, we should remember the great years he had for the Sox to put his entire career in context. Is Garciaparra a Hall-of-Famer? Statistically, the totality of his career is excellent, and his post-season production superior. He has better numbers than Don Mattingly, who was supposed to hit from a corner position. Of course, Mattingly's on the outside looking in. How does Nomar stack up in the popularity poll with the writers? As they say on Wall Street, 'sentiment is everything.' Nomar might do well to cultivate a little sportswriter favor (a.k.a. butt-smooching) if Cooperstown is important to him.

Minor concerns. Meanwhile, Jon Lester seems to pitch better each outing in Pawtucket. The Sox have the luxury of giving him more time to figure it out, refining his secondary pitches so that he might be useful in the second half. Lester had five innings of shutout ball last night. And the pregame show suggested that they're considering all options for Craig Hansen as well, about stretching him out.

If Edgar Martinez, the hard-throwing righthander at Portland (1-0, 1.84, WHIP 0.75, 18K and 2 BB in 14.2 innings) makes the big club, does the former backstop become the emergency catcher? David Pauley and Tommy Hottovy also appear to have been pitching well lately.

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