Day In The Life - Theo Epstein
I've made fun of retired numbers (see: Wade Boggs in Tampa) or numbers under consideration for retirement (see: Luis Gonzalez) in previous posts. There is no mocking the Red Sox when it come to their standards, though. To have a number retired, a player must have played at least ten years in Boston and be elected to the Hall of Fame. The only exception is Johnny Pesky and his pole. Those are standards and a tradition that can be respected. FYI - next number to be retired should be Wade Boggs.
The Wine People Must Like Boston
Run Prevention - That's The Goal
“We needed to improve our run prevention."
That is what "Boy Wonder" Epstein said after the Sox signed Mike Cameron. Apparently, the "run production" model wasn't working for them. And it makes sense to me, at least in terms of pitching. Pitching, by definition, is based on run prevention. And they did sign front line starter John Lackey to join an already potent staff. But Epstein took it one step further when acquiring position players by putting an emphasis on defense, seemingly at the expense of offense. Cameron, Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro, Bill Hall and Jeremy Hermida were brought in this offseason. Not a hitter in the bunch but they have defensive versatility and UZR by the truckload.
So how's that working out for them so far? Well, not very good. They currently sit in fourth place in the AL East with a commanding lead over the Orioles. But surprisingly, it's not because of the offense, which is second in the AL in runs scored. No, the problem is "run prevention."
The pitching staff has an AL-worst 4.78 ERA. Standard defensive stats (errors, fielding percentage) are middle of the pack but defense's uber-UZR hasn't helped the pitching staff, with Lackey, Wakefield, Becket (D.L.) and Dice-K all sporting ERAs higher than 4.80, with the latter having numbers above 7.
Of course, the defensive contributions to the plan have not all been positive. Newly acquired Beltre (7) and Scutaro (4) lead the team in errors. And they can't throw out any baserunners. Tampa stole 10 in one series and Texas stole 9 in one game.
So far, the "run prevention" model and signing players based on some fielding metric has not been successful in Boston and if things don't turn around, maybe they'll go back to doing what has been successful in baseball for 100+ years - pitching, defense, and being strong up the middle.
Best Team Song?
John Lackey - Allowed 11 earned runs in last two starts.
Dice-K - He'll face KK and has been very KK-like this season, mixing terrific starts with disastrous ones. Which Dice-K will we get? Which KK will we get? Don't bet on this game...
Tim Wakefield - Wakefield only has four hits in the last 16 years. However, before becoming a knuckleballer, he was setting batting records at Florida Tech and was drafted as a corner infielder. With the Pirates he was a competent hitter. He only hit .127 with the Buccos, which isn't all that great, so you'll have to trust me...until he takes Roy Halladay deep in his first at-bat!
The Phils get lucky again, missing Boston's two best starters (Lester & Bucholz). They'll take two of three from the Beaneaters.