Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 30, 2006
BASEBALL: Sox on the Block

This morning's Boston Globe has a profile of Bill James, which quotes James "shortly after returning from an eight-day trip to Fort Myers, Fla., in February" on a project he was doing for the Sox:

''There's a player on our team who we might keep or who we might trade," he generalizes. ''And there's an issue about his performance last year about which we need specific information. The specific information is, do players who have this tendency ever get over it or is it permanent?

''I need to study that, and I need to get that done within a week or two because I need to send it to [general manager] Theo [Epstein] because Theo needs to make a decision. Is this guy going to stay with us or do we involve him in a trade?"

Given that the interview was about two weeks before Bronson Arroyo was traded, I'd assume that's who the master was studying (possibly the drop in Arroyo's G/F or K/9 ratios in 2005). There are actually surprisingly few other candidates: among players with 100 or more at bats or 35 or more IP for the Sawx in 2005, the only ones left as of February were Varitek, Manny, Ortiz, Trot, Graffanino (now with the Royals), Wakefield, Arroyo (now with the Reds), Clement, Wells, Foulke, Timlin, and Schilling. Of course, Varitek and Ortiz are essentially untradeable, there's little enough to study about Manny, and Wakefield, Wells, Timlin and Schilling are all so old you wouldn't bother doing a study to see if they are likely to change some existing pattern. I suppose James could have been studying Trot or Clement (maybe Clement's second-half fade), but those are about the only other candidates.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

More to the point: The Mets!

Zambrano stays in the rotation, a junk-baller with no MLB experience joins him, and a guy with a live arm and great numbers last year get sent back to the pen to compete with stiffs like Duaner Sanchez & Jorge Julio to be Wagner's set-up guy.

The season hasn't even started, and I'm ready to blow a gasket.

Posted by: Mike at March 30, 2006 12:45 PM

Relax Mike. Heilman isn't competing with Julio or Sanchez, he IS the 8th inning guy. Think Mariano in 1996. Heioman will probably go back the the rotation once they realize that Kazimir is gone, and Zambrano won't be him, and losing gets old quickly.

However, Heilman has good stuff, is mentally tough, and I can see him closing for ten years. He just needs to be sold on the idea.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 30, 2006 3:57 PM

Funny, the first guy I thought of was Mike Lowell. I don't know why a winter acquisition (Lowell / Crisp) couldn't be a candidate for immediately moving out (though I think you are correct about Arroyo).

So I thought of Lowell. The "tendency" is "not being able to hit anymore".

I hope his spring training numbers do NOT prove his personal trend.

Posted by: Henry at March 30, 2006 4:35 PM

Do you guys think Crisp is going to be a monster at Fenway? I do, I think by the All-Star break Boston won't even remember Damon.

Posted by: maddirishman at March 30, 2006 4:53 PM


Perhaps you're right. But:

1. Why can't Heilman stay in the rotation til Wagner moves on?

2. Why on earth move Jae Seo -- necessitating Bannister's or Zambrano's place in the rotation -- for Duaner Sanchez so he can pitch the 7th inning?

3. Why keep Zambrano in the rotation under any circumstances. He's a bad pitcher. In 5 years he's had 4 bad years as a starter, and one very season from the pen (2001). Why not put him in the bullpen?

Posted by: Mike at March 30, 2006 5:00 PM

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Posted by: J. Mark English at March 30, 2006 6:21 PM

Mike, I don't know why the Mets did what they did. I would have kept Seo, bit my tongue, cut my losses, and not start Zambrano. It's a predictable, but very bad business decision, to keep a bad decision, and sort of fudge, and hope it doesn't turn out so bad.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 30, 2006 9:12 PM

I'm a big believer in having your good pitchers face more hitters than your bad ones, so I'm not happy about Heilman being relegated to the bullpen. Seems like he gets punished for what he can do, while Zambrano gets rewarded for what he can't. I'll hope for the best, though.

Posted by: Jerry at March 30, 2006 9:30 PM

Being a Phillies fan who for some ungodly reason follows te sox in depth (good friend is a member of the Sox nation) I firmly believe James was looking at Trot Nixon. With Wily Mo in the fold I believe they are evaluating whther Trot is worth trading away for a reliever.

right wing attitude

Posted by: That Dude at March 31, 2006 12:06 AM

Crank, I think Clement is the guy James was talking about. He's been a rumored part of trades through the entire offseason and splits seem to show his season took a dramatic downturn when he got hit in the head by a line drive last year. I think James' choice of words ("get over it") also seem to indicate something more than just a statistical swing. Also checking out trends in K/9 or G/F doesn't seem like the kind of complex research for which you would need James.

As far as Lowell, I think he's another unlikely candidate, if for no other reason than because the whole discussion is about whether they should trade the player. Lowell is unlikely trade bait for the Sox because of his contract and 18-month slump.

Posted by: The Deuce at March 31, 2006 8:29 AM

It's Trot or Clement. Seriously, when is Trot going to get playing time?

I think Coco SHOULD have a great year, if he can get a lot of balls into center. I'm more excited to see Choi pull the ball for 81 games. Oh, please, oh please.

Posted by: jinnmabe at April 1, 2006 12:13 AM
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