Author Archive

Boston Red Sox Opening Day Quick Hits

Both the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers seemed like they were still playing a spring training game.

Each team made early, generally inexcusable errors, while both C.J. Wilson and Jon Lester did not have complete command of their pitches, often missing spots.

For the Red Sox, there was certainly a lot of bad (considering they lost the game), but a lot of positives came from Game 1 as well.

I’ll start with the negatives so we can end on a high note!



1. Jon Lester pitched poorly. He recorded zero strikeouts for the first time since 2008, and gave up three home runs for the first time in his career.

The silver lining? He was able to tough out 5.1 innings, and seemed to gain command towards the end of the game, retiring six straight batters at one point.

2. Daniel Bard had an atrocious outing. Part of it can be attributed to the lack of velocity on his fastball (most of his pitches were around 95 miles per hour, instead of 99), but even with the decreased velocity Bard was missing his spots.

Velocity will come as Bard continues to ramp up from the offseason, and he’s the type of pitcher who throws a streak of scoreless innings and then has a horrible game.

Hopefully, he got the bad game out of the way early.

3. Carl Crawford and the bottom third of the lineup combined for zero hits. Crawford’s 0-fer is not concerning given that he has never hit C.J. Wilson well, batting .133 against the pitcher for his career.

What is concerning is that the bottom three hitters (Mike Cameron, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Marco Scutaro) had no hits. Keep in mind, Cameron is a career .260 hitter and Saltalamacchia only hit .167 last year.

Scutaro is not worrying, since he has been a consistent on-base guy and is a patient hitter, but when J.D. Drew is not playing against lefties, the Sox have a major hole in Cameron and the fairly unproven Salty.

If Saltalamacchia can put up decent numbers and put up an OBP higher than, say, .335, the problem will be less significant, but he is certainly a question mark.



1. David Ortiz hit a home run. Enough said, given his struggles in the early goings of the past two seasons.

2. Jacoby Ellsbury is back. He was a monster during the spring, and his torrid hitting is carrying into the season. He looks comfortable again.

3. The Sox lineup is unquestionably one of the most dangerous in the league, and if the bottom hitters can get on base the offense should have no problems.

To sum up, there was a lot of bad, but a lot of the negatives can be attributed to early-season rust evident on every team

The Red Sox certainly have a bright season ahead of them.


Liked this? Follow me on twitter @neso17.

This article was initially featured on NewEnglandSportsOnline.

Read more MLB news on

The Clutch Factor of an MLB Player: Is It Real in Baseball?

Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, highlighted key insights while presenting revolutionary and progressive baseball knowledge.

However, I disagreed with him in two areas.


No. 1: Speed

Lewis understood from Billy Beane (Oakland A’s GM) that steals are an unnecessary risk to take, presenting high risk and relatively low reward. Transitionally, Lewis argued that since steals are not important, neither is speed.

That is where I disagree.

Although steals may be an overrated statistic, speed itself is not. Pitchers often unravel with quicker base runners on base, knowing that if their delivery is not perfect, they can let a runner move 90 feet closer to home.

Further, it changes the pitches the pitcher will throw. Take the Red Sox, for instance.

When Jacoby Ellsbury gets on base, pitchers are more likely to throw fastballs to the next hitter (Dustin Pedroia), to give Ells as little time as possible to complete a steal.

Pedroia, however, is a fastball hitting machine, and regularly deposits fastballs into right field.

Ellsbury’s speed not only makes the pitcher change his delivery and pitching style, but it also makes the pitcher change his mentality.

2. Clutch

I believe that “clutch”, or hitting in timely situations, is something which a player either has, or doesn’t. Sure, a guy like Mark Bellhorn can hit a home run in a big situation during the World Series, but that doesn’t make him clutch if he strikes out nine out of the other 10 at bats he has!

The bottom line is, clutch is something that can be measured, and I am working on building up a statistic which relies on hitters’ stats with two outs and runners on base.

That situation is when a hitter feels pressure similar to that of a 9th inning at-bat with the game on the line since a scoring opportunity is possible, as is letting down a full dugout of teammates.


eq={[2.5(singles+doubles+triples)+4(home runs)+2.5(walks)] + [Steals\div(Steals+Caught Stolen)]}\div[(OBP^2)(2*K)]

This statistic can determine how “clutch” a player is.

For those of you who want it in simple words:

Singles, doubles and triples all help a players clutch factor equally.

A single is equivalent to a triple since speed is already taken into account with steals, and sometimes balls hit with little power can find their way into the corner for extra bases, dependent upon ballparks and factors external to the hitter.

Home runs are the most valuable hit, since they automatically produce runs, and stealing in clutch situations can be game changing, while getting caught hurts a teams chances of winning.

On-base percentage is another large factor in determining a player’s clutch factor, since the single most important thing a player can do is to get on base to prolong an inning.

Read Full Story at New England Sports Online: Is Clutch Real? Follow me on twitter @neso17

Read more MLB news on

Carl Crawford On The Boston Red Sox: Double Trouble For Tampa Bay Rays

This Article was first featured on New England Sports Online: Carl Crawford on the Red Sox: Double Trouble for the Rays. Follow me on Twitter for an always fresh perspective @neso17.

Carl Crawford is truly an intriguing player. He is arguably the game’s most feared five-tool player, in that he can hit for average, hit for power, steal bases, field well and throw well.

Crawford has stolen 50 bases five times in his career, including one 60 steals season. His lowest steal total for a season (other than his rookie year) came in 2008 with 25, when he only played in 109 games.

At this point, here’s what the Red Sox lineup would presumably look like:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

3. Carl Crawford, LF

4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

5. Kevin Youkilis, 3B

6. David Ortiz, DH

7. J.D. Drew, RF

8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

9. Marco Scutaro, SS

I have heard people criticizing the decisions Sox’ GM Theo Epstein has made this off-season, saying that re-signing Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre would make the Sox’ lineup as dangerous as it currently looks.

However, Adrian Beltre has had two great seasons in his entire career, both of which were contract years. In Beltre’s twelve-year career, he’s only hit above .300 twice, and has only topped 25 home runs three times.

Victor Martinez will certainly be missed, especially since it is unclear whether or not his replacement, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, can produce in the major leagues.

Martinez is one of the best hitting catchers in the MLB, if not the best, and considering the wear-and-tear his body takes, he is durable, hits for average and belts home runs. His fielding was good, but he was unable to throw runners out.

Also, with four years on the contract he earned from Detroit, he’ll be 36 at the expiration of the deal. Generally, catcher’s careers are shorter than most players, since their body does take a beating. The Sox did not need another Mike Lowell situation down the road.

To see whether or not this Red Sox team is better than the one they would have had by reusing last year’s squad, let’s compare each team position by position.

Right Field: J.D. Drew vs. J.D. Drew;


Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Mike Cameron;

Ellsbury. Jacoby Ellsbury is a better player. He has had a better average over his career (albeit a short one thus far) and is brutally dangerous on the base paths.

Left Field: Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Carl Crawford;

Crawford. First of all, we must realize that the team’s left field last season was made up of a platoon of Darnell MacDonald, Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish and Jeremy Hermida. Crawford is an upgrade over every one of those players.

Against Ellsbury: Crawford has a slight speed disadvantage, but has put up All-Star numbers throughout his career, showing consistency and veteran poise and leadership.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia vs. Dustin Pedroia;


Short Stop: Marco Scutaro vs. Marco Scutaro;


First Base: Kevin Youkilis vs. Adrian Gonzalez;

Gonzalez. Both are phenomenal defenders. Youkilis has shown himself to be one of the all-time great defensive first basemen after not only earning a gold glove but also setting the record for most error-less games in-a-row. Gonzalez, although he holds no records, has won two gold gloves.

Offensively, Youkilis has a better career OBP and batting average. However, Gonzalez’s numbers are hurt by his first two years in Texas, where he played sparingly. Once in San Diego, he began to put up massive numbers. His OBP is just 20 points lower than Kevin Youkilis’ ridiculous .394.

His batting average, .288, is just 6 points less than Youk’s .294, and both strike out with the same regularity (both averaging about 120 K’s/season).

However, it is A-Gon’s home run total that sets him apart. He average 32 bombs per season to Youk’s 23, and he also averages more RBI.

Nonetheless, it is not as if the Sox lost Kevin Youkilis, so his abilities are still a part of this lineup.

Third Base: Kevin Youkilis vs. Adrian Beltre;

Youkilis. I think it safe to say that Beltre will not be a part of this team next season, simply because there’s no space for him at either corner of the infield. Youkilis is a more consistent fielder than Beltre, although Adrian does have a knack for flashy, bare-handed plays.

Still, Youkilis isn’t afraid to get down and dirty on any play, and makes his share of highlight plays as well. Offensively, as I mentioned earlier, Beltre has had two good seasons, both in contract years. With a long-term deal likely on its way, Beltre won’t be in a contract year for quite some time.

Youk has better career numbers in terms of average and OBP, and has consistently put up his high numbers. Beltre, if his two fluke seasons are not considered, is a career .265 hitter who barely averages 20 HR/season.

Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia vs. Victor Martinez;

Martinez. There’s no way around this one. Martinez is just a better player compared to Salty. He’s a proven veteran who can put up big numbers in key situations.


As a whole, the Sox have a more balanced offensive attack with more weapons, including speed and power. The only flaw I see with the current lineup is how lefty-heavy it is. Only Pedroia, Youk, Scutaro and Salty are right-handed hitters.

Against the Yankees, who will feature C.C. Sabathia, potentially Andy Pettite, and possibly Cliff Lee (all pitchers who are very tough on lefty hitters), the Sox may have trouble.

Luckily, they have players coming off the bench who showed that they had starting capabilities last year, including Daniel Nava and Darnell MacDonald.

It is clear the Sox are a better team with Crawford, but they also cut the Rays’ squad apart by removing their most potent weapon.

Both the Sox and Yankees had a better record than the Rays last year. The Rays have gotten worse, and the Sox have improved.

The AL East is once again a two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees.

Liked this? Follow me on twitter @neso17

Read more MLB news on

Josh Beckett Struggling: Will He Return To Form?

As of now, Josh Beckett’s ERA stands at 6.51, while his WHIP sits at a career-worst 1.54. After returning from the disabled list, Beckett seemed to settle into a groove, culminating in a spectacular eight-inning performance in which he only allowed one run to the Cleveland Indians.

Since that game, Beckett has thrown 9 2/3 innings while allowing four home runs, 13 earned runs, and 21 hits. Ugly, ugly numbers.

Moving forward, should we expect to see the Josh Beckett who dominated the Cleveland Indians and pitched admirably against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (7 IP, 3 ER)? Or should we get used to him giving up bombs, blowing big leads and leaving fastballs over the middle of the plate?

We’ll look at the teams he has recently faced.

The Angels and Indians have both been weak offensive teams this season. In terms of batting average, the Indians rank 27th in the MLB with a .247 team average, while the Angels stand at 19th, with a .256 team average. Both are in the bottom half of the league in hitting.

On the other hand, the New York Yankees (6th) and Texas Rangers (2nd) are both offensive powerhouses as apparent from their .269 and .271 batting averages. Stepping away from stats, simply look at the players.

Of the 18 starters on the Rangers and Yankees, is there anybody you would LIKE to pitch to?

Read Full Story at NESO: Will Beckett’s Struggles Continue?

Read more MLB news on

Boston Red Sox First-Half Graders: Pitchers

This Article was initially featured on New England Sports Online.

Most seasons, grading the Red Sox would involve the starting nine, a couple of bench players, six starting pitchers, and maybe 4-5 bullpen guys. With all the injuries the Sox have been forced to endure, however, grading the team has become a little more complicated.

Nonetheless, I’ve tried to give the players who have seen significant action on the field grades..

Starting with the pitchers:

Scott Atchison: B-. He spent time in the minors early on, but has been a useful player out of the bullpen, eating up innings in big wins or losses.

He has not been very consistent, however, and as a result holds a hefty 4.26 ERA. He’s only given up three bombs this year, and his 1.23 WHIP is slightly misleading, as he tends to give up runs, and base runners, in bunches.

In all, he’s done what the team has asked him to do, and that’s the most you can ask from a journeyman like Atchison.

Daniel Bard: A-. He has been the best bullpen pitcher for this Red Sox team. He has a great 1.99 ERA while logging 41 innings with 44 strikeouts. On the downside, he has given up four home runs, a result of the velocity he throws, so he must fine-tune his location.

Clay Buchholz: A. Despite a recent hamstring injury, Clay Buchholz has been involved in Cy Young talks and was deserving of his All-Star selection. He is 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA. His 1.25 WHIP is not at all shabby, nor are his 64 strikeouts and .231 opposing average. How is that not impressive, and aren’t you glad we still have this kid? Yes, you are.

Manny Delcarmen: B/B+. It does not seem like Manny deserves this grade based on his stats. His ERA is lofty at 4.59, he has walked 20 batters while only earning 20 strikeouts in 33 appearances, and his WHIP is 1.41.

However, a lot of these stats were skewed by his last two outings, during which he pitched through a forearm strain (allegedly) and was absolutely hammered. If he actually injured himself, and he’s able to return healthy, expect him to be a 7th/8th inning go-to guy, along with Daniel Bard.

Until the end of June, he was a stud of a pitcher in the pen.

John Lackey: B-/C+. Lackey has pitched some great games, but has really had troubles during day outings. Unfortunately, it seems that he’s always pitching in day games for the Sox. He has a decent 9-5 record with a 4.78 ERA.

Despite giving up 5-6 runs in some outings, he’ll still eat up 6-7 innings, pitching like the horse he truly is. However, he has had control issues (rare for Lackey), issuing 46 walks in 113 innings compared to 33 in 108 last year. He has pitched okay, but okay is not what we paid John Lackey $80 million to be.

Jon Lester: A. A Cy Young front runner, hoisting an 11-3 record and a sub 2.80 ERA. His WHIP sits at an astounding 1.09, and batters have only managed a .203 average off this lefty. Ace of the staff.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: C+. Daisuke has gotten progressively worse since his second year, when he had a 2.90 ERA. Currently, he has a 4.71 ERA, and considering all the stamina he was supposed to have coming from Japan, has only thrown one complete game in four years here.

On the bright side, he’s only given up three home runs this whole year, so I think he ends the year with a respectable 14-6 record with a 4.10 ERA.

Hideki Okajima: D-. After a great first two seasons with the Sox, it seems the mystery that was Okajima has been solved. He has a 6.00 ERA, has blown three saves and struggles to get outs in any scenario.

He has been relegated to a role in the back of the bullpen. I have noticed that he is throwing his splitter too often, not allowing it to be a counter to his deceptive fastball.

As a result, he has allowed five home runs. I expect him to improve after the break, but don’t expect his ERA to be much better than 4.50. Telling of Okajima’s season is the fact that he has appeared in 34 games, but only recorded 27 innings.

Jonathan Papelbon: B. Most other pitchers with Pap’s current statistics earns themselves a B+. However, Jonathan Papelbon is not living up to the high expectations he has set for himself. His ERA is currently at 3.50, but he has allowed six home runs this season, twice as many as Daisuke.

However, he is holding opposing batters to a .211 average and has a 1.11 WHIP. His strikeout:innings pitched ratio is the lowest in his career, at just 0.89. Don’t worry about him though, he gets the job done (20/23 in saves) and his ERA is currently lowering with every outing.

I expect his final WHIP to be below 1.10, with an ERA at 2.65 and a K/innings pitched ratio around .95-1.05 (still low for Pap).

Ramon Ramirez: C-. He has really turned things around. At the beginning of last season, he was a stud in our pen, but after June, he couldn’t record outs. This season started similar to the way last season ended for him, horrifically.

However, he has pulled himself back together, bringing his ERA down to 4.66. Expect this to further decrease, as he is not giving up nearly as many home runs. In his last 18 appearances, he’s only allowed 2 home runs, compared to 2 in his first 10.

Tim Wakefield: C. He has had games that he’s lost despite pitching well, but he has also lost because hitters treat his knuckle ball like the ones from the home run derby. His ERA of 5.65 is not pretty, nor is his 3-9 record. However, over his past 6-7 starts (not including the Rangers one), he has gone 41.2 innings with an ERA of 4.58. He’ll end with an ERA in the 4′s, but don’t expect another All-Star (half-year) from Wake.

The Rest: B+. These pitchers, Felix Doubront, Dustin Richardson and Robert Manuel, have done exactly what the team needed from them. Hold the fort until the team puts itself back together. Doubront won his first major league game, striking out the first batter he ever faced.

He remained calm and collected despite pitching against Manny and the Dodgers. Dustin Richardson and Rob Manuel both have ERAs in the three′s in their limited appearances with the team.

Outlook: When Josh Beckett returns, healthy, the starting rotation should continue dominating, and even without a trade, the bullpen seems to be straightening itself out (at least a little).

Many of the current Red Sox pitchers seem to be improving their games over the past three weeks (until the recent, 4 game stretch where they’ve had problems). Overall, I foresee a strong push from the Sox’ pitching.

For a more in-depth pitching outlook,visit New England Sports Online.

Read more MLB news on

Tim Wakefield Moved to Bullpen: Did Terry Francona Make a Good Decision?

With Daisuke returning to the Boston Red Sox’ starting rotation, Tim Wakefield was relegated to a long relief pitching role. He has experience in the bullpen, and had been the team’s fifth starter.

This move is very dangerous for two reasons.

First, it upsets Tim Wakefield, who was just 17 wins away from the club record in career wins. An upset Wakefield means lower overall team chemistry. To add, a disgruntled player is never one that a team wants to have in a locker room.

I think Wake will handle Terry Francona’s decision with grace, and his frustration will certainly not show, being the savvy veteran that he is. And he is definitely not happy.

Second, and more importantly, Wakefield is not the type of pitcher you want in the bullpen.

Wake’s primary pitch is a knuckleball, and if a hitter can make decent contact with a pitch, fly balls become very common. The more solid the contact, the deeper the ball will travel.

As a starter, home runs are less significant, because teams will have more opportunities to neutralize the run allowed. But as a bullpen pitcher, these bombs cause momentum swings and can really lower team morale.

For the full article, please visit New England Sports Online .

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress