Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bye bye Manny

But it is a different one this time. The Red Sox traded away Manny Delcarmen to the Colorado Rockies today in exchange for starting pitching prospect Chris Balcom-Miller. Delcarmen's fall from grace has been a precipitous one; in the 2007 and 2008 offseasons many writers and fans speculated that he could be traded, netting the Sox a starter elsewhere and putting Delcarmen into a closer role with his new team. Looking at his numbers, you can understand the excitement. Delcarmen posted a 2.05 ERA in 2007 and a 3.27 ERA in 2008, striking out more than 8 batters per nine innings and walking under 3.5. Since 2008, however, everything has gone down hill. Taking a look at the graphs of his various pitching rates. clearly shows a pitcher in decline. Delcarmen started striking out fewer hitters, walking more, and allowing more home runs. The walk rate, in particular is troubling, as it has climbed from about average (3.5 BB/9) to absolutely horrendous (5.73 BB/9), seventh worst in the AL among pitchers with 40 or more innings pitched. Really, the only thing keeping Delcarmen from being much worse than his 4.70 ERA was his .220 batting average on balls in play, instead of the average .300.

While it is a bit depressing to see the Red Sox "sell low" on a player, Delcarmen was getting worse while simultaneously getting more expensive as he was going to enter arbitration for the second time this offseason. Chris Balcom-Miller seems like a solid return for Delcarmen. Before the trade a Rockies blog had a small write up on him. I haven't been able to find a description of his stuff, which is key in projecting a pitching prospect, but he's posted very good numbers in the hitter friendly Pioneer League. His strikeout and walk numbers are very good (117 K and only 20 BB in 109 IP), but it is important to keep in mind that strikeout numbers typically drop and walk numbers typically rise as a pitcher moves up in the minors. According to one scouting report, Balcom-Miller has the upside to be a mid-rotation starter.

The other benefit is that I think this move will make the 2010 Red Sox a better team, even if their playoff hopes are pretty much dead. I figure Robert Manuel, recently named as the PawSox MVP will snag Delcarmen's roster spot. It seems that every single time I write about the 'pen, I have marvelous things to say about Manuel, but he really does deserve a shot. In 64 IP at AAA he put up a 1.68 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. He'll have some competition for innings once the rosters expand, but the Red Sox need to get a look at him and see if he's a viable major league reliever.

As I was writing this the Red Sox called up Manuel to replace Delcarmen. Now let's see how he does.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Is this the end?

Right now the Red Sox are 5.5 games behind the Rays for the wild card and 6.5 games behind the Yankees, with only 39 games to play. After a 16-2 drubbing from the Blue Jays last night, things certainly look pretty grim. And in case you had forgotten, Youkilis and Ellsbury are out for the year, and Pedroia is out for at least another two weeks.

Despite the injuries, the Sox have played fairly well this season, as their 69-54 record would put them within striking distance in any other division in the majors, and would even lead the AL West. However, when you're in the same division as the Yankees and Rays there really isn't any margin for error. Without a doubt the starting pitching has been a huge disappointment for the team this year. Although the starters' 4.21 ERA is more than half a run better than last year's numbers, the Red Sox rank in the AL and MLB as a whole is nearly identical. I suppose it really is the year of the pitcher. Of course, that half a run of ERA was given back by the bullpen, who have only been the 9th best in the AL this year, a far cry from last year's #2 ranking. That is a huge disappointment considering the Red Sox decision to go with pitching and defense this offseason.

Despite the insanity and inanity surrounding the decision to go with defense this offseason (the decision to go with pitching, which has apparently blown up in the Red Sox face, was not subjected to nearly the same amount of babbling on talk radio) the defense has actually been substantially better this year, despite having to play role players across the diamond. Pedroia, Drew, and Beltre are all among the leaders in UZR at their respective positions and the Red Sox moved up to 8th in baseball in park adjusted defensive efficiency, 10 spots better than last year's team, according to Baseball Prospectus' numbers.

It is still a bit early to do a post mortem on the season, as the season isn't all dead yet, just mostly dead. I wouldn't count on Miracle Max though, I hear he's a Yankee fan.

Friday, August 20, 2010

2010 Draft Breakdown

With the signing deadline come and gone, we can now take a firmer look at the Red Sox draft. The top two picks, college hitters Kolbrin Vitek and Bryce Brentz. Both are currently in Low A; Bretz is struggling, hitting only .174 while striking out in 25% of his at bats, while Vitek is holding his own with a .793 OPS. It is far too early to draw any major conclusions about either player, however.

The big question marks in the Red Sox draft were the following two picks, college starters Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranaudo. As I wrote in my initial write up of the draft,and has been written about in many other places as well, Ranaudo was a highly rated prospect coming into the college season who struggled in his junior year. In order to raise his draft stock, Ranaudo decided to pitch in the Cape Cop league to prove he was healthy. He certainly did. Ranaudo was probably the most dominant starter in the league this summer, throwing 30 innings without allowing a single run, while striking out 31 and walking 8. It took right up until the deadline, but the Red Sox were able to get Ranaudo to sign for a $2.55 million bonus, the largest of their draft class.

Brandon Workman, a starter out of Texas, was also considered a relatively tough sign. Coming into the draft he was expected to go in the bottom half of the first round, but fell about 30 picks to the top of the second round at 57th overall. As with Ranaudo, Workman and the Red Sox were able to work out a deadline deal, with Workman signing for an $800,000 bonus, which is about the slot for a player selected slightly higher.

All told, the Red Sox managed to sign 14 of their top 15 draft picks, only failing to sign high school righty Tyler Barnette. It is always hard to analyze a draft right after it happens, but the talent the Red Sox ended up with in this year's draft seems awfully impressive. They ended up with four picks in Baseball America's top 30 rankings and managed to sign them all. To top it all off, the top 4 are all college players, who can replenish a farm system that is currently a bit depleted at the upper levels.

Non-baseball content?

I was thinking of putting some links to photos and some write ups of my trip to Africa here. Would folks be interested in that?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I'm afraid that there's going to be another big posting drought, as I won't have much time to work on blog entries while I'm in South Africa for the next two weeks. Don't give up on the Red Sox just yet; the last time Andrew and I were out of the country was late June through mid August of 2004 and the Sox managed .700 ball without us.