December 7, 2013
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Sunday, August 30, 2009
A couple of days ago, the Red Sox announced they were releasing Brad Penny. In 131.2 innings, his ERA was 5.61 and he was particularly struggling in August. With the Red Sox in a dog fight to win the wild card, many people were discouraged at that performance to say the least.
However, like many Red Sox pitchers this year, he being plagued by an elevated BABIP and his strand rate was very low as well. His peripherals remained solid, as he was striking out over twice as many hitters as he walked and had a respectable home run rate. Accordingly, his FIP was over a full run lower than his ERA at 4.49 - a pretty solid line while pitching in a pitchers park in the AL East.
Furthermore, despite having major surgery before the season started, his stuff was looking just as good as when he was a dark horse Cy Young candidate with the Dodgers a couple of years. It's not like he is old either, he's only 31. Combine that with the fact that ZIPS projected a 4.19 FIP going forward, and it looks like Penny was still as solid pitcher going forward.
Of course this isn't an isolated indecent. The Red Sox recently released John Smoltz under similar circumstances, and he has since pitched very well for the Cardinals. Given the information we have about Penny, I am inclined to think he will also have success with whatever team picks him up.
I'm sure you've heard this shtick before, as seemingly almost every single writer in the world have had similar opinions. In a recent post at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron disparaged the Red Sox for releasing Smoltz and Penny:
For the second time this month, the Red Sox have overreacted to a recent poor stretch of results and granted free agency to a quality major league pitcher.
However, it isn't a one sided debate. A lot of people are willing to give the Red Sox the benefit of the doubt. They have been one of the most successful teams over the past half decade, and their front office is generally regarded as one of the best in baseball. Furthermore, the possible reasons for releasing Penny and Smoltz certainly have some merit:
*Both were relatively expensive and past their prime
*They were also hurting the team by giving up so many runs
*Their was reason to believe that some of the younger Red Sox, like Buchholz and Tazawa, could pitch as well going forward
Also, it's almost a certainty that the Red Sox front office has more information about the situations then the average blogger. Many people pointed to the fact that the Red Sox have Bill James on the payroll so they understand that ERA isn't a good way to evaluate pitchers, and they were obviously basing the decision off of something else.
However, none of that explains why the Red Sox started Paul Byrd today against Toronto. Yes, that Paul Byrd*. The one that is 39 years old hasn't had an ERA under 4.59 since 2005 and whose tRA last year was a nifty 6.31. To top that off, he was previously considered to be retired and hasn't pitched since the 08 season. His preseason ERA projections ranged from the high 4's to the low 5's, and those seem optimistic considering he hasn't pitched in 8 months.
I can't think of one logical explanation of why the Red Sox would replace Smoltz and Penny, both guys who have clear and tangible upside, with a guy like Byrd, who is the walking definition of replacement level. Cutting Smoltz and Penny due to opportunity costs is defensible, but all of that goes out the window when you give a guy like Byrd starts. Even if they only planned to use him for 1 start, it still doesn't make an iota of sense.
I'm still willing to give the Red Sox the benefit of the doubt, but it's starting look a whole lot like they were simply blinded by Smoltz's and Penny's ERA.
*I have nothing against Byrd, I'm sure he's a nice guy and was once a solid pitcher
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Today, the trade sending Scott Kazmir to the Los Angeles Angels for two minor league players (LHP Alex Torres, 3B Matt Sweeney) and a player to be named later is official.
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Friday, August 28, 2009
There was a recent thread on The Book blog about how to tell if a pitcher is any good. I recommend reading it if you haven't already seen it. There isn't anything groundbreaking, but the basic idea is that MGL goes through how uncertain the process really is, which plenty of people don't seem to realize. Could we tell if John Smoltz was actually finished after his 40 innings with the Red Sox earlier this season? Red Sox Nation said he was, Nick Steiner, among others, said he wasn't. Here's the early returns: Stat nerds 1, RSN 0. But my point here is not to talk about John Smoltz.
My purpose here today is to talk about the two batting lines posted below the jump. Both are from exactly 50 games, but I extrapolated each one out to 150 games just so you can get a better feel for what all these numbers mean over a full season.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009
The son of seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, Koby Clemens is looking to make a name for himself this season.
The 22-year old Clemens is tearing up the California League to a tune of .349/.424/.638 with 20 home runs. The California League is a notorious hitters paradise, but even when neutralizing the park factors (available on minor league splits) he his still batting an impressive .316/.406/.558.
Koby was an 8th round pick by Houston in 2005 while he father was still pitching for the Astros. Despite playing much of his first three seasons at third base he switched to catcher last season and has remained there in 2009.
His success this season has been inflated in large part due to his .435 BABIP (nearly 100 points above his career mark). While his numbers are probably not indicative of his true talent level, his raw power is evident. He is leading the league in OPS (1.062) this year, in 2008 he slugged .423, and in 2007 he hit 15 home runs.
Clemens career walk rate of 11.3 percent demonstrates his ability to consistently draw walks and reach base. His strikeouts are a bit high (25 percent) but his power should help make up for this.
His future will likely be determined by whether or not he can remain behind the plate. If he can stick there, his bat should be a plus. His path may be blocked by the organization's top prospect catcher Jason Castro. Castro is more advanced offensively at this stage, but Clemens has more power potential.
Thursday, the Dodgers transferred Jason Schmidt to the 60-day disabled list. He had originally been placed on the 15-day disabled list with complications stemming from his surgically repaired right shoulder. His season is obviously over, and with it, likely his career.
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