Thursday, April 22, 2010

Five Swings: Doctor My Eyes

The Red Sox, desperately seeking quality starts, send Clay Buchholz to the hill tonight.

1. Cycle repair? In Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, he has an exhaustive treatise on the meaning of quality. Quality starts in baseball parlance have clear definition: six or more innings with three or fewer earned runs allowed. As I recall, only five percent of quality starts have that 'minimum' standard, and the composite E.R.A. of pitchers in quality starts is under two in those efforts.

How bad is it? Well, the Sox are a distant last in quality starts, with only half as many as the top trio of Oakland, Seattle, and Toronto.
2. Center cut. The Sox rely on leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury to ignite the offense. Well, with Ellsbury diagnosed today with fractured ribs, there's no telling when he can return. The above ARE NOT CT scan images of Ellsbury, but they could have been, with 3-dimensional reconstruction possible with complex computer algorithms.

3. Coming and going. With Daisuke Matsuzaka returning soon, the logical shuffling, based on year-to-date performance, would be Tim Wakefield to the bullpen and Scott Atchison the likely odd man out. There's always the chance of the Fenway Flu, but you never know.

4. Standing on your head? Sox fans would stand on their head for a win, not that it would guarantee anything. But you don't have to stand on your heads, because Wally (in this case All-Star Wally) will do it for you. Thanks to the late Vin Orlando for his generous contribution.

5. Laundry list. Why can't we get guys like that? Well, actually the Sox had David Murphy, who now plays in different laundry. Murphy hit seventeen homers last season in over 500 plate appearances, with over a hundred strikeouts and a .785 OPS. One of Murphy's 'similarity score' top tens is Matt Murton, another Sox farmhand, whose career started out well with the Cubs and then drifted down hill. I suppose that Murphy is good enough to be a backup for the Sox, and for comparison Mike Cameron's career OPS is .788, J.D. Drew's is .892, and Ellsbury's is .765. So now you know.

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