Tagged: Mailbag

Yankees v. Red Sox: Stats

Well, I tell people to leave comments, and I appreciate it when they do. However, there is a little-known disclaimer to this – don’t leave a comment if it’s something you’re going to regret. This is really common sense, but inevitably someone is gonna break the rules. Combine that with the fact that I have – as I’ve said thousands of times before – zero tolerance for teams, players, and fans that do something stupid, and you’ve got a reaming on your hands. Enter julejem@yahoo.com. Unfortunately, we need a good Yankees v. Red Sox stat comparison, and this is how it’s going to have be done. I’m not trying to degrade this blog with insults and return-punches, so think of this as more a point-counterpoint discussion.

You see, Julejem disagreed with my Let’s Go Yankees Graphic. That alone wasn’t bad, but we followed up with this shot, in response to my ‘things that won’t happen this year‘ post:

Dude, and your offense is strong? Your pitching is strong? HAH!! 20 mil
salaries alone do not buy wins or success, I repeat, DO NOT BUY
SUCCESS! Your pffense is inconsistent..your pitching is inconsistent,
and your defense? Well, I don’t even want to get started on that…do
your homework and study a few more games is my advice to you

Hmm. Do my homework? Alright professor. Let’s go on a stats comparison adventure together – you, me, and the rest of MLBlogs.

  1. Runs Scored
    Yankees: 80. Red Sox: 60.
    Winner: Yankees
  2. Runs Allowed
    Yankees: 52. Red Sox: 55.
    Winner: Yankees
  3. Batting Average
    Yankees: .301. Red Sox: .206.
    Winner: Yankees
  4. Slugging Percentage
    Yankees: .502. Red Sox: .426.
    Winner: Yankees
  5. Total Bases
    Yankees: 212. Red Sox: 188.
    Winner: Yankees
  6. ERA
    Yankees: 3.84. Red Sox: 3.96.
    Winner: Yankees
  7. World Series Wins
    Yankees: 26. Red Sox: 6.
    Winner: Yankees

Well, looks like me and the boys win, 7-0. Oh and, Boston does not have the lowest payroll in the league either, despite what you may want to believe. As a matter of fact, its payroll is closer to the Yankees’ than any other team in the league. Imagine that! Next, we’re gonna play some ‘Strength of Schedule.’

Yankees: Athletics, Angels, Royals, Twins. Playoff Appearances (past 3 years): 5
Red Sox: Rangers, Orioles, Blue Jays, Mariners. Playoff Appearances (past 3 years): 0
Winner: Yankees

As we can see, the Yankees have played far more challenging teams than the Red Sox, which helps to explain the fact that they have fewer wins, despite putting up better stats in just about every category.

So kids, remember – don’t make a stupid choices. More often than not, they’ll come back to kick you in the rear end – and the Yankees will win the AL East, again.

Also, regarding the last Birthday Post – I love MLBlogs, that’s why I use it. I don’t think the Birthday Celebration itself is silly, and I certainly don’t think that Newman and the crew aren’t working hard on the site or the celebration. I mean, I guess it gives people a reason to go all out on their posts. My main point was this: I’ll wish you happy birthday, but I’m still gonna talk baseball.

Hopefully, I’ll see you all again tonight.

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Mailbag: Cleveland Indians

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Today I got an e-mail from Aaron in Mill Creek, Washington. He wanted to know what I thought about the Indian’s chances this year and for the future, since they’ve only lost Coco Crisp and gained much in the offseason. I decided the Indians are overdue for some coverage, so here we go. Most of you who have read my division/team overviews know that I don’t like making predictions on where teams will end up at the end of the year – I prefer to break down a team’s strength’s and ‘holes,’ because to be honest, predictions are a crapshoot anyway.

Since finishing 93-69 and just 6 games behind the White Sox in 2005, the Indians have re-signed Jhonny Peralta (5 years,) and Grady Sizemore (6 years,) to long term contracts. They’ve acquired Guillermo Mota and signed free agents Paul Byrd and Jason Johnson. Aaron wondered whether these gains, offset only by the loss of Coco Crisp, gave the team a chance to make a run this season. Aaron, you forgot to mention that the Indians let the pitcher with the best ERA in the AL walk away to free agency. He is currently playing for the Rangers. I’ll give everyone a couple seconds to think about who that might be, because it still amazes me that this guy had the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher in the AL and barely anyone knows it.

05millwoodkevin
Alright, times up – it was Kevin Millwood. In any case, maybe people didn’t take note because he went 9-11 last year. How you can start 30 games and have a 2.86 ERA while playing for a team that won 93 games – but only win 9 games yourself – is beyond me. Oh well. On to Coco Crisp. Do you remember before the 2004 season, when the Indians shipped tinder-box Milton Bradley to the Dodgers so they could make room for Coco Crisp on the roster? Think about that for a minute, and it will become clear. If you still need help, think Monopoly and Breakfast. In any case, Coco is an average center fielder (his natural position), and the guy who’s playing in center instead – Grady Sizemore – is younger and more qualified for the job. I agree with Aaron that the loss of Coco Crisp isn’t a huge loss – more so since the Indians acquired a valuable defensive backup catcher in Kelly Shoppach, a quality reliever in Guillermo Mota, and a highly valued 3rd base prospect in Andy Marte. Marte is only 22 now, but he’s an amazing fielder and has great potential at the plate.

However, many Indian fans don’t like this trade because of the chemistry Coco brought to the team. I guess others feel that GM Mark Shapiro was trading away the present for the future, but nothing could be further from the truth, in my opinion. Crisp wasn’t playing in his natural position, and he wasn’t going to as long as Grady Sizemore is in town – which is going to be about 6 years. Power-hitting, quality fielding 3rd basemen are hard to come by, and Andy Marte will develop into one within the next couple years. Some people have even raised the idea of turning Victor Martinez into a 1st baseman and starting Kelly Shoppach at catcher, because he is defensively superior. This is a possibility, but not in the near future. Before I go further, let me say that I was almost done with this piece when my computer decided to restart. So I lost the last half. Oh well, here we go again. This is how the Indians line up on the depth chart for the 2006 Season:

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Catcher – Victor Martinez
First Base – Ben Broussard
Second Base – Ronnie Belliard
Third Base – Aaron Boone (for now)
Shortstop – Jhonny Peralta
Right Field – Casey Blake
Center Field – Grady Sizemore
Left Field – Jason Michaels
DH – Travis Hafner

Many of you who have read my team overviews are familiar with the holes analogy. We see another good use for it right here; the Indians don’t have a lot of holes, provided the team plays like they did last year. Red Sox Killer Aaron Boone should be able to produce, as long as he doesn’t get any worse than he was last year. I don’t like Jason Michaels in Left, if only because he’s never played a full season. However, Todd Hollandsworth is there to back up any outfielders that go down, and I’m comfortable with that. The Indians are young, and that’s their greatest asset. V-Mart, Belliard, Peralta, Blake, and Sizemore are only getting better, and I don’t see any of them having huge off years that would ruin the team, (but Martinez always starts slow, so be weary.) Broussard and Hafner may improve a little, but Hafner is already a great DH to begin with. Remember, this lineup finished 93-69 last year. The only major thing offensively that’s changed with the Indians is the departure of Coco Crisp, which is not a big loss to the team offensively – some Indian fans will contend that it is a matter of chemistry, but that debate won’t be settled here. The most important thing to remember is that all the members are generally consistent performers – unlike the Mets, their season isn’t riding on the success of one or two guys.

As for the rotation, I like it and it tends to be fairly solid. C.C. Sabathia is one of my favorite pitchers, and he’ll be the ace again this year. The problem with C.C. is that he has a tendency to get hit around the yard a lot. His typical ERA hovers around 4, but most people forget that C.C. is only 25 years old. This could be the year that he pulls everything together. Apparently, I fell asleep and when I woke up, it became ok to start Jake Westbrook at the Major League level. I’m not gonna bash the guy too much, because frankly he doesn’t deserve it. Ok, maybe 2005 was an off year – I mean, 2004 was his good year, and all the others were just off years. My point is that 2004’s 3.38 ERA looks more like a statistical anomaly than a genuine, quality performance. But who knows, Westbrook is supposed to pull it together any year now, (he’s 28,) and this might be the year. Cliff Lee is next in line. Lee has really figured things out since his rocky full-time debut in 2004, when he had a 5.43 ERA but somehow managed to win 14 games. In 2005, he won 18 games with a 3.79 ERA, and I think he’s for real. Furthermore, I forgive Cliff for pitching his glove into the crowd after he exited a game in 2004, unhappy with his performance. And before you ask why anyone would ever startCc1014_1
Westbrook over Lee… Sabathia, Lee, and Jason Johnson (the #5) are all Lefties. Handedness aside, the rotation might fall to some variation of Sabathia, Lee, Byrd, Westbrook, and Johnson. The veteran of this young staff is Paul Byrd, at number 4. And hold it a minute, I’ll get to Johnson in a second. Byrd has had a good last couple of years. I’m not going to go into the hurricane that’s been his career, but basically it’s stabilized. If he can continue his sub-4.00 ERA ways and stay consistent, he’ll be a great #4. And then there’s Jason Johnson. I saw him start a few too many games for the Tigers last year, and I don’t like him. I’m convinced the guy is a fraud. He’s another one of those players I just don’t care for. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy or anything, his style of play just concerns me. And by style of play, I mean he’s only had two sub-4.50 ERA seasons – for the Orioles in 2001 and 2003, 4.09 and 4.18, respectfully. But, I do understand that guys that can go 200 innings with a 4.50 ERA are a little rarer than we typically think. If Johnson can stay healthy and stable, he’s doing his job as a number 5. Overall, this is a solid rotation if it stays healthy, which it has in the past. Neither Paul Byrd nor Jason Johnson strike out a lot of guys, and therefore the outfield defense which some people worry is a little shaky may be a problem – no one seems to be too sure how  it will perform. Byrd caused some worries earlier in Spring Training when he was roughed up for 7 runs in 1.2 innings and said, "I need to get more zip on my fastball… it feels like I’m pitching underwater." That’s not a good feeling. The Indians are working on Fausto Carmona as well – Carmona is a 22-year-old prospect who allowed just 1 ER and recorded 8 K’s in 12 IP this spring. He’s set to spend the year in AAA Buffalo, but I think that if Byrd, Johnson, or Westbrook goes down for any length of time he may be called up, if he’s having a good year at AAA. Of course, this isn’t a long term solution because you risk pitching him too many innings and pulling a Mark Prior on him, but at least he provides a little bit of insurance.

The bullpen is a little bit shaky still, but it simply wasn’t the priority to be fixed during the off-season. Right now, the only reliable guy is one Rafael Betancourt, who still claims he wasn’t juiced up. But this guy is good. I actually drafted him last year because if Wickman goes down – not unlikely – he’s #2. Guillermo Mota, who was acquired when Coco Crisp departed, should be good, but there’s no telling for sure.
Ever since Mota was shipped to the Marlins in 2004 with Paul Lo Duca, he’s been a mess. His 2005 season was a total loss, but it did produce Todd Jones as a closer (again), and he’s in Detroit now. Relief pitchers aren’t something you want to bet on because they can be so fickle from year to year, but I think Mota can pull something out of his bag and get back to a serviceable condition this year. The car crash that is Danny Graves has also arrived at the Jake, and apparently won itself a roster spot. If Graves thinks Wickman’s gonna go down this year, and Eric Wedge will panic and hand him the closer spot, he needs to drop back down to planet Earth. Maybe, maybe, if the rest of the bullpen is assassinated he’ll have a shot. Do you remember when the Indians were on their bus to the Kansas City airport near the close of the 2004 Season, when all of the sudden reliever Kyle Denney was shot? The best part of this was that Denney was wearing a white cheerleader’s outfit as part of a hazing ritual, and the high white boots he was wearing may have saved him from further injury. Can you imagine how that must have gone?

"Skip, I’ve been shot!"
"Shut up Denney, you haven’t been shot."
"No, he’s serious! Reliever down! Reliever down!"

Too much. In any case, If Graves and Mota pull it together, you’ve got a decent bullpen. But any team who signs Danny Graves is grabbing at straws, and Mark Shapiro knows it. Bob Wickman, who saved 45 games last year, is fine if he stays healthy. I was at an Indians v. Tigers came last year, and I chanced into Bob Wickman by the dugout – I think it was just after we had gotten into the park. We asked Wickman if he could sign, and he said sure. He came on over, and then he dropped the bomb.

Do you care where I sign? Want it in the sweet spot?

Anyone (above the age of 15) who has ever gotten a player’s autograph know’s that this is just Wickman_1
absurd. Most of the time, the players will ignore your attempts to speak to them. You’ll say,
‘thanks,’ and they’ll give you a standard ‘no problem’ without looking up or making eye contact. Wickman looked me straight in the eye and treated Kevin and I respectfully, because he knew we’re the reason he has a salary. I’m not saying players who don’t do this are bad guys – I understand that a lot of fans are obnoxious, and the players don’t have time for everyone, etc – but anyone who takes time out like Bob Wickman gets an A+. Remember the Andres Torres Story? Additionally, anyone who has attended an Indian’s game has probably seen the old
T-Shirt lady. I won’t go into it now, but… screeching at players like
you’re their mother is not the way to go. In any case, the 37-year-old Wickman had one of his best years last year, dropping his ERA to a solid 2.47. Again, if he stays healthy he’s perfect – if not, start looking for a replacement. But Wickman is a good guy.

That said, I’m going to remind you that I like to break down teams and let you decide where they’ll end the year at. But, if I had to take a guess – and I think the AL Central is one of the easier divisions to predict, although everyone else will disagree with me – we’ll go Indians, White Sox, Tigers, Twins, Royals. The Indians and Sox may swap; the Tigers and Twins may swap. (Check out the Tiger’s Overview.) Again, there’s no way to know for sure. But the Indians have put together a great club recently and stand a good chance of running away with the division. Aaron, I hope I answered your question. Any other e-mails are welcome and I’ll do my best to address them and use your ideas.

Thanks for reading.