Sunday, April 10, 2011

Good Extension News

Some good news coming in from unconfirmed sources regarding the Red Sox signing one of their keystone players to a long-term contract extension.  No, it's not Adrian Gonzalez, who (by the time most of y'all read this) is only signed through the next 153 games.  But they did sign Clay Buchholz.

This is a topic we debated a little bit back on February 21st here on How Youz Doin Baseball.  The gist of the conversation was that signing him represented a risk, but this is going to be the case no matter who you sign.  The Red Sox only do this kind of pre-emptive buy-out of players' arbitration years if they have a lot of faith in the player.  So far, with Youkilis, Lester, and Pedroia, they've done well in evaluating their own guys.  They've also done well not extending Papelbon in this kind of situation, but, of course, it takes two to agree to an extension.

Buchholz said a few months ago that he was willing to take less money for the "security" of a long-term contract, and we discussed whether the Red Sox would want to assume that risk.  Well, they apparently do.  That's that's awesome. 

After all:  What's the worst that can happen?  He could be John Lackey last year at 60% of the cost.

While the last two starts haven't really reinforced all the faith I've personally had in Buchholz, I still believe that he's not a "sophomore slump" candidate after all the other teams get good scouting reports on him.  That's garbage, because this already happened in 2008.  He pitched half a season in 2009 before the full season last year.  Before last year other teams had 190 innings of data about his career.  If he were to be figured out and need to make adjustments, it would have happened by now.

Not gonna say Josh Beckett's locked in right now, because I've said that before just to see him melt down against the Yankees.  I don't need that guilt in my life.

10 comments:

PF said...

one big positive to come from tonight: we get on the umpires all the time for inconsistency, and the homeplate umpire tonight was incredibly consistent in giving red sox pitchers one of the biggest strikezones i can ever remember seeing. right down to the very last pitch, which varitek (literally) caught in the dirt for a called strike! beckett/papelbon got so many called strikes to lefties in the somewhere in the right-hand batter's box i began to hope one of them would throw a pitch into the yankees dugout to see if they would get that call too. no wonder beckett had his highest strikeout total in nearly two years. yankees probably don't win this game anyway, but this put them in a major uphill spot from the get go. which happens and you have to deal with it, which they did not. but it's tough to overcome called strikes in the dirt. and i don't mean that in a wah wah way, i mean that in a matter of fact way. i'd say the same thing if the yankees got that kind of called strike, it's part of the game.

Anonymous said...

It will be tougher to overcome the confusion in these parts when Beckett pitches into a real strike zone and starts getting run out of games again...

TimC

Anonymous said...

PF,

I'm confused. Bobby Valentine said the homeplate umpire was a great balls and strikes umpire. ESPN also had the overlay of the strikezone on the broadcast so that we could make sure they were really strikes.

All in all though, your points aside, I thought Beckett pitched very well. However, he had the curveball going which as I understand is something he doesn't always use due to blisters etc. Did other people think Beckett pitched well?

-bandi

Anonymous said...

PF,

Also, did you feel like the Yankees pitchers weren't getting teh same strike zone?

bandi

the gm at work said...

A few things to say about this, some real, some sarcastic:

1. As far as the strike zone goes, sometimes that happens. Are you saying that at the same time, CC was being squeezed? Sox walked eight times last night.

2. I thought the 10 strikeouts had 100% to do with the fact that Varitek was catching. He calls such a great game; he knows things that nobody else in the history of the game knows.

3. In all seriousness, throwing the ball harder than 91 miles an hour is also helpful.

Patrick said...

timc/bandi/gm -

i didn't think the yankees got the same calls last night. but i think this has more to do with sabathia being a lefty and beckett being a righty than them getting different strikezones. what i mean by that is that this was one of those umpires who had a strikezone that was not equal on both sides of the plate. he was tight on the left-hand side, and wide on the right-hand side, as if you took the k-zone and moved the whole thing 6 inches right. my roommates watching with me agreed with this assessment. this resulted in beckett having a big outside corner and cc not being able to throw to the outside corner without making near perfect pitches. i'm not complaining, the yankees have been on the other side of this many times. it was noticeable enough that the new york media asked girardi about it after the game. if they're picking up on it that means there was probably something to it. 8 walks to 1 says a lot. one thing this does not explain is the very last called strike, a slider in the dirt from papelbon, especially given that neither sabathia or beckett seemed to be getting low calls all night.

i'll have more thoughts on the game tomorrow, but one last thing on this point was that beckett was very good. but i thought the above definitely helped him get through his classic "danger zone" against the yankees. beckett has developed a pattern against them over the years. he usually comes out of the gates firing. very strong first two innings (the game in which he famously melted down last year, he went 6 up 6 down 5 k's to start the game). then in innings 3-5 a few things don't go his way, and it starts to spin out of control. this is why he entered last night's game with a 6.22 era against the yankees in 22 regular season starts, and gave up 9 of his 20 home runs last year in 5 starts against the yankees. he's also had some very strong outings (there is usually very little inbetween with him against the yankees) and the difference is usually him being able to find a way to get through the inning 3-5 danger zone. if he does that, he typically cruises.

last night he got the breaks. in the third chavez picked up the yankees first hit, and beckett hit the very next batter. classic. but then he got gardner, who has grounded into 9 double plays in 308 games in his career entering last night, to gdp on a nice play by pedroia. good job by him.

in the very next inning he walked teixeira and cano singled. here we go again, can't touch the guy first two innings now it's baserunners galore. the granderson at bat was the one where i thought the strikezone really came into play. he got two changeups called for strikes that looked decidedly outside, and then made granderson expand on a changeup in the dirt. his command had been shaky for the last 4-5 batters, and this was a spot where the yankees typically do damage against him, especially if he's forced to come more over the plate because he can't find the corners. he couldn't find the corners, but the ump gave it to him anyway and that was a difference. this may seem like an arbitrary at bat to point out, but i think you guys know me better by now. it was the start of beckett, who was starting to look typically shaky in the danger zone, retiring 14 yankees in a row. he seemed to get his confidence back in this at bat with the help of some egregious calls.

it was also big, though i don't think as critical as the above, that cano's ball didn't get out in the 2nd (clearly the sox didn't see gm's scouting report on cano, as he got another pitch up and just missed it). these are the things that sway an outing and beckett got them last night, much of which is credit to him. a-rod, who hits beckett pretty hard for his career, being out also helps. amazing how different even a strong lineup can look without one guy, and that goes for both of these teams.

Anonymous said...

PF,

Good stuff, and there is rarely an 'arbitrary' at bat in a game that was one-run for most of the night before getting into the bullpens.

TimC

Patrick said...

thanks timc. there was a ton more that went on in this game and this weekend in what was a smashing success for the red sox, and i'm going to utilize the yankees' off day to talk about some of it tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

PF,

Really good analysis. I too was waiting for the typical Beckett implosion and you are right that he caught some breaks without a doubt (let's be honest, you need some breaks to make it through the Yanks lineup relatively unscathed like he did last night. They're just that good).

I also thought that Beckett had better movement on his pitches than I've seen in recent memory so like you, I'll give him some of the credit for last night

Patrick said...

bandi -

beckett was a lot sharper than he usually is. there's no doubt about that. the yankees were saying after the game they couldn't remember the last time he was that good. the biggest reason he was able to cruise late is because he maneuvered through innings 3 and 4, which as we seem to agree on is a combination of him having an uptick in stuff/performance and getting some breaks. he allowed all four of his baserunners in those frames, so those were clearly the critical spots. he teetered with going down the path we are used to against the yankees, but was able to hold it together in the danger zone, and once he got through that he was in cruise control, which is often the case for him. seems like innings 3-5 dictate his outings more often than not.