Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Hint of Optimism from the GM

I'm taking a JD-cation to Ireland during the last week of the baseball season. I don't plan on missing any meaningful Boston baseball. I was actually going to write this post, citing some numbers on exactly why this Red Sox team is finished. During the Injury Stretch (the San Francisco series to the present), I was going to argue, the main problem with this team hasn't been the injured offense. It's been hideous underperformance from the reasonably-healthy major league pitching staff.

This is not the first time this has happened: I looked at the numbers and realized my thesis was incorrect. The problem with the team HAS been the offense. Their pitching, over the last 21 games since the San Fran series, has given up 4.52 runs per game, under the AL average of 4.54. Taking out the Matsuzaka/Garza implosion, Doubront's worst start, and Wakefield's worst start, they have averaged under 4 runs a game over eighteen games.

A major league lineup should be able to give enough run support to win games where the staff is only giving up four runs.

And the bottom line is, this team has done so on a consistent basis. They are still the second-best run-producing offense in the major leagues despite the fact that they have only scored 4.38 runs a game over the last 21. And also despite the fact that throughout the season, they have not had 46 or a healthy Mike Cameron.

But if Eric Patterson, Kevin Cash, and Bill Hall (who does get a temporary pardon) at-bats are minimized and are replaced by, oh, I don't know, Victor Martinez, Pedroia, a rested Varitek, Hermida, and maybe someday even 46 if he decides to a) play baseball and b) not take called third strikes right down the middle, you gotta think the team has a chance to score those four runs a game.

I don't think this team should go out and get a Craig Breslow - acquiring a reliever is contingent on that reliever having the hot hand, which is just as likely to happen if you were to get a guy from Pawtucket (this is a Felger idea first). But they're only four and a half behind Tampa - only four if they can hold a five-run lead. As Tony Massarotti beat the drum loudly about this afternoon, this team played .667 baseball over a seventy-game stretch earlier this season without all their major leaguers. Who's to say they can't do it again?

They don't even have to play .667 baseball. They just need to win four more games than Tampa. So as bad as this team has been, and it has been really bad, take a look at some stats. I did. If you find the right stats, a team that loses 4-10 for their last 14 looks like a contender. Not that I am worried about finding a place to watch baseball in Ireland. But it might not be as over as it has looked lately.

Plus, they're playing the Seattle Mariners, a perfect case study about how "run prevention" doesn't work. Ask John Lackey how it is.

9 comments:

the gm at work said...

A big thanks to Manny Delcarmen, who is going to cost my organization and many (okay, few) across the northeast some productivity today. His inability to hold a five-run lead kept me up until 2:15 last night. If Red Sox fans actually cared in 2010 the same way they cared in the 1990s, lots of people would be tired because of MDC this morning.

Anonymous said...

DV

MDC was not good last night. But two things--first, did you really expect anything else? I mean, the guy just isn't that good. I would rather have seen Okajima or Ramon Ramirez in there than him, and that's saying something. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the Sox should, at the very least, have won 6-4. Scutaro's error would have made the force at second on Jack Wilson's grounder the last out and had Bill Hall made the turn, that would have been the last out. Not that MDC or Papelbon pitched well, but it's not like each gave up four hits and three walks. The defense really, really let them down.

That said, a win is a win. And the Sox have three more against the worst offense in the AL and no Felix Hernandez in sight. Hopefully Beckett shows up tonight and isn't completely awful like he was in April and May and maybe, just maybe, the Sox will bang home enough runs and not have gloves of lead and take two or perhaps all three of the remaining games in Seattle.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

Delcarmen's antics last night are the kind of thing that teams look back on in November and say, "Hey, that kept us out of the playoffs!"

Instead of benefiting from Lackey going eight strong and giving our pen the chance to relax going into six consecutive road games, we now are in a spot where Paps, Bard, Okie, and Ramirez all pitched in a game where they really should not have even stood up. It's like Lackey made it through four innings. And, with Beckett unlikely to be given much of a leash tonight in his first start back, I bet we tap into the pen yet again tonight. It'll take its toll down in Texas with that sand-box of a stadium.

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

Fair. But it is necessary to bear down and get some outs regardless of your defense.

Pat always talks about winning series being the goal. Not this time. The goal should be to sweep. Massarotti said it best yesterday afternoon: Seattle sucks.

the gm at work said...

Tim C,

Angels are next. I wish Texas were next with their 8:05 starts. But it's 10:05 in Anaheim. Hopefully Tony Pena's pitching.

Your points are well-received, however.

Enjoy yo weekend.

TimC said...

I was tired from watching last night's game.

the gm at work said...

Good answer.

TimC said...

To cap off the weekend:

http://www.sporcle.com/games/lineupquizzes/RedSox

Also a Yankees one on the site if you use the search tool. Good luck.

the gm said...

For the record, I got 159. Only missed one between 06-10 - and that wouldn't have been a problem if JD could just stay in the lineup. I scored notably poorly on the 1997 team, missing the last six. I got no less than three wrong on any other team, though.

I'd say my Mitchell Report score (also courtesy of a Tim C recommendation) was more impressive.