10 March 2005

"Meet the new boss/ Same as the old boss..."

With the new season almost upon us, I wanted to keep my super-fan girlfriend Erin up-to-speed on some of the more significant new Red Sox. Gone are Pedro, Derek, Orlando and Mientkiewicz- now it's Matt, David, Wade, Edgar and Halama. So here's some quick rundowns of the guys to get you, Erin, a little more acquainted. The "stat scouting" comments come courtesy of Baseball Prospectus 2005, a great book you should go out and buy. I got the guys to come in and say hello, introduce themselves to Erin. Away we go...



    Hey Erin, my name is Matt Clement. I'm a 30 year old right handed starting pitcher, coming from the Chicago Cubs, with whom I spent the last three seasons. Before Chicago, I was in Florida for one season before getting traded with Antonio Alfonseca to the Cubs for Julian Tavarez and the 2003 Rookie of the Year, Dontrelle Willis. I began my career in San Diego with the Padres. I was actually originally traded to the Marlins from San Diego for, among others, Cesar Crespo, the human pile of waste that was a 2004 Red Sox utility infielder for a short stint.

    I feature a hard, riding four-seam fastball that can hit as high as 95 MPH. I also feature a low-90 MPH sinking fastball and a changeup. My best pitch though, my strikeout pitch, is a hard breaking slider with a lot of movement. In my career I've been a very good strikeout pitcher, averaging 8.01 K/9, and in 2004 got that number up to 9.45 K (strikeouts)/9 (for every nine innings pitched).

    I wear my socks up high a la Mark Bellhorn, and I have an Amish looking goatee. You and Tim will be calling me "Zeke" cos I look so Amish. Here's what Baseball Prospectus has to say about me:

    Clement has a reputation, not undeserved, for being wildly inconsistent from start to start, but the three seasonal lines you see above (pg. 50, 205 BP) are awfully compatible with one another. He's most effective when he's able to keep the ball down, something he was able to do better in the first half of the year than the second. It's easy to attribute his poor finish to overuse, but Clement hasn't been worked especially hard, and the injuries that were nagging him were to his back and neck, rather than his arm. Signed with the Red Sox; PECOTA (BP's projection method) thinks he'll do well in the American League, in part because the current crop of [AL] hitters, for whatever reason, are notably less patient than their [NL] counterparts.

    I project to be the #3 starter on the Red Sox this season. Here are my stats from 2004 with Chicago:

    9-13, 3.68 ERA (123 ERA+)*, 190 K, 181 IP (innings pitched)


    Hey Erin, I'm David Wells. I'm a very fat, boisterous, colorful guy that's pitched for a ton of teams in my career. In 18 major league seasons (I'm 42) I've seen time with Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Cincinnati, San Diego, and now Boston. I'm most known for my years and my role on the Yankees 1997-98 and 2002-03. In fact, I began my second stint in Toronto in 1998 when I was traded straight up for Roger Clemens, which began the Clemens-as-a-Yankee era. I've been traded four times in my career, for players who, with the exception of Clemens, you've probably never heard of.

    Nevertheless, I'm an often-dominating left handed starter that has tremendous success in postseason play. I threw a perfect game while a Yankee in 1998, the year I won my second World Series (1992 with Toronto). Besides my tremendous "stuff" I'm well known for my borderline-historic command. In my career, I've thrown 3.07 K's for every walk, and last two seasons I've bettered that to a 5:1 ratio, a tremendous display of command of my pitches. I use that command to compensate for a lack of velocity. My fastball, which I turn over in my hand to sink, often tops out in the high-80s, but I have a devastating sweeping curveball- my best pitch- as well as a good slider and a great changeup. Between great control and changing speeds, I am able to keep batters consistently off balance. Here's what BP had to say:

    He ambles around on the mound, his belly bulging under his baggy uniform, jersey flapping behind him, untucked and disheveled. As he wipes the sweat from his brow and squints at the sign, he looks like he'd rather throw down beers than throw to big league hitters. But when David Wells delivers his sweeping curve or darting fastball, he does so with a surgeon's precision. The Padres did well to patch the rotation with Woody Williams and Darrel May, but they'll still miss Boomer now that he's a Red Sock. His age and success aside, his success will depend largely on his ability to keep the ball on the ground: his 1.51 GB [groundball]/FB [flyball] rate last year was a career high, and either a sign of Wells making a valuable adjustment or a fluke that portends to more flyballs in 05, many of them over the Monster.

    I project to be anywhere from the #2-#4 starter on the Red Sox this season. I've had a history of some back problems, and I hope to stay healthy, which I've managed to do for the most part for the last 10 seasons. Here are my stats from 2004, in San Diego:

    12-8, 3.73 ERA (108 ERA+), 101 K, 195.7 IP

  • WADE MILLER- SP, #52

    Hey Erin, what up? I'm Wade Miller. I'm a 28 year old former co-ace (with Roy Oswalt) of the Houston Astros. The Astros- worried they wouldn't be able to have money for Roger Clemens, and not sure they wanted the risk of my injury- did not offer me a contract this past January, giving the Red Sox a chance to do so. The contract I signed was contingent on my health- if the Red Sox get me healthy, I'm one of the better young pitchers in baseball. If not, the contract does not escalate, and they're not spending enough money to make it a "mistake" for them. I've spent every one of my 6 professional seasons in Houston for the team that drafted me. Last season though, I sustained a fairly serious injury- a fraying of my rotator cuff of my pitching arm- and instead of going potentially career-ending surgery, I'm opting for rest and rehab. This is the reason for my long tenuous recovery that projects to keep me out of the rotation until around June.

    When I'm healthy though, I'm a great pitcher. When my mechanics are on, my pitches are strong- a hard, riding mid-90's fastball and a low-90's slider that is comparable in quality to Matt Clement's, though not in movement. My getting healthy will be a long process, but if I can get there, I should be a great shot in the arm for the rotation in the second two-thirds of the season. Here's what BP has to say about me:

    Miller was forced to the sidelines with shoulder pain in June, and never returned. Diagnosed with a frayed rotator cuff, he tried rest, rehabilitation and a cortisone shot, but not surgery. The Astros non-tendered him rather than risk paying $4 million or more to a pitcher who can't take the mound. The Red Sox called his agent at 12:01 AM on the deadline night, and soon after signed him to a one-year deal for $1.5 million plus incentives. It's a good gamble; the most likely result is he makes 10-15 effective starts, and that's worth the money.

    When healthy, I am the best starter on the staff not named Curt Schilling. Here'a look at my injury-shortened 2004 season with Houston:

    7-7, 3.35 ERA (129 ERA+), 74 K, 88.7 IP

  • MATT MANTEI- RP, #31

    Yo, Erin, Matt Mantei. Good to meet you. So, I'm a 31 year old relief pitcher, just signed a one-year deal here with the Sox after 5 1/2 seasons in Arizona with the Diamondbacks. To say I've had an injury plagued career would be an understatement- my entire time in the MLB, it seems, has been spent trying to get healthy and avoid further injury- neither of which I'm very good at. What I AM good at though is striking batters out when my arm is attached. In my career, I've struck out a staggering 11.36 K/9 IP. Unfortunately, my career high in innings is 65.3, in 1999. I started my career in Florida and was traded for Brad Penny mid-way through that season. I won a World Series in 2001 with Arizona, though I didn't contribute due to my recovery from Tommy John surgery.

    Simply put, if I'm healthy for the Red Sox, I make their bullpen dominant. I throw extremely hard (97-99 MPH) with a hard slider and an overhand curve. Pitching as a setup man for Keith Foulke, if healthy, it makes the pitching staff that much thicker. Here's what BP has to say:

    Having seen the Snakes soaked for several pretty pennies over the years, we hope they have learned not to overpay for closers, or at least closers with trick elbows. Nevertheless, picking up Mantei is not a terrible risk for the Red Sox to take. If he's available to pitch at the right time, he'll help them win some games, but knowing when he'll be available to pitch is the province of the Amazing Kreskin

    Here's the 2004 numbers with Arizona, and beware- they're injured hampered and UGLY:

    0-3, 11.81 ERA (38 ERA+), 13K, 10.3 IP

  • JOHN HALAMA- RP, #54

    Hi, I'm John Halama. Pleasure to meet you Erin. I'm a big, doofy looking guy (6'5"), a left handed relief pitcher that can step in and do an emergency start if need be a few times over the course of a season. I'll be honest- I'm nothing special. But, I can pitch in middle relief, long relief, keep the relief pitchers fresh in an extra inning game, and I can come in and get a left-handed hitter out. My versatility is my strong point. I'm 32, and have split time in my career between Houston, Seattle, Oakland and Tampa Bay.

    Here's BP on me:

    A left-handed pitcher with home run tendencies, moving to Fenway Park? Yikes. Halama lives and dies by how well he spots his pitches, and while his control was better than usual last year, it isn't enough to turn him into a valuable commodity. He can chew up some innings in long relief and spot starting, which each of his last three teams has recognized.

    And my 2004 numbers in Tampa Bay...

    7-6, 4.70 ERA (95 ERA+), 59 K, 118.7 IP



    Erin, I am Edgar Renteria- a two-time Gold Glove, 4-time All Star, 4-time Silver Slugger shortstop, splitting my career between Florida and St. Louis. In 1997, while with the Marlins, as a 21 year old 2nd year cog in a poweful team's wheel, I hit a single up the middle of Jose Mesa in Game Seven of the World Series to win it against Cleveland. In 2004, I'd end another World Series, this time making an out on a chopper to the pitcher against my new employer, Boston. Hailing from Colombia, I'm well respected around baseball for being a quiet, humble, decent fella. In fact, word is in Red Sox spring training that not only have I gotten to be great friends with Manny and Papi, but our prize minor league prospect, SS Hanley Ramirez, has begun "shadowing me," as he's taken a shine to me, and I've taken him under my wing.

    I'm a tremendous defender- much like my fellow Colombian Orlando Cabrera. At 29, I'm currently in the peak of my career, and while I may not be as "flashy" as Cabrera, I have a stronger arm, better range, and tend to make better decisions in the field. As a hitter I'm a line-drive doubles machine. I don't hit a lot of HRs, but I spray balls all over the park, especially against left handed pitching, whom I handle rather well. 2004 was a bit of a disappointment over 2003, which was my career year, but I do a lot of things very, very well. You know, following my 1997 Series heroics, I was named "Sportsman of the Year" in Colombia by El Espectador, and "San Carlos Cross of the Order of the Great Knight," Colombia's highest honor, from President Ernesto Samper at La Casa de Narino presidential palace on November 4th, 1997.

    Anyway- here's my BP summary:

    His platoon issues are overstated, but so is his defensive prowess. The Red Sox inked him for four years and $40 million. If that was the going rate, the Cardinals were wise to pass on him. Renteria's had his moments of brilliance, but his lone MVP-caliber season, in 2003, is beginning to look more and more aberrant. Someone like Julio Lugo will provide infinitely more value on the dollar.

    Just call me "Chopper." Anyway, I've got a lot to prove in 2005. Here's my 2004 numbers:

    .287/.327/.401, 10 HR, 72 RBI, 37 2B, 84 R, 17 SB

  • JAY PAYTON- OF, #44

    Yo, E-Roc. Jay Payton here. "Sweetness." I came over to Boston here in a trade with Ramon Vazquez (see below) for your man Dave "Stolen Base" Roberts. Anyway, I'll be entering my 6th full professional season, begun in 2000 with the New York Mets when I came in 2nd behind Atlanta's Rafael Furcal for Rookie of the Year. In fact, Tim saw one of the more fun games of his life in person as I hit a game winning HR at Shea Stadium to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the 12th inning that year. I started in LF for the NL Champion Mets that year. I was traded in 2002 to Colorado, where I flourished in the light mountain air. I signed with the Padres prior to 2004, going from the best hitter's park in baseball to the worst.

    I've been brought over to be Trot Nixon's replacement when facing left handed pitching- as a right handed hitter, I can handle lefties really well. Furthermore, I'm a tremendously gifted outfielder, so not only can I sub for Trot, I can give Johnny Damon a day off in CF, and even Manny a day off in LF. I'm the de facto OF super-sub. I'm fast, but I'm a really bad baserunner, so I won't be attempting too many steals. The situation in Boston this year is tailored to my strengths, so hopefully 2005 can be a rebound from a horrendous 2004. Here's BP:

    This is what happens when you're not willing to go that extra buck. The Padres were hot after Mike Cameron following the 2003 season, envision a graceful CF who could cover Petco Park's vast expanses and rope line drives off the Western Metal Building in left. When the Mets beat them out with an affordable three-year $19.5 million deal, the Pads settled for Payton. Ignore Payton's defensive numbers, a function largely of covering for Ryan Klesko in left; Payton's an average defensive center fielder at best who was so bad at bat Terrence Long became a more palatable alternative. Part of the package traded to Boston for Dave Roberts.

    Here's me in 2004:

    .260/.326/.367, 8 HR, 55 RBI, 17 2B, 57 R, 2 SB


    I'm Ramon Vazquez, and I'll be the utility infielder. I came over from San Diego in the trade with Jay Payton for Dave Roberts. I'm 28 and entering my 5th pro season. I can play 2B, 3B and SS, all with a good glove. I'm not much of a hitter, but as far as insurance for days off and the short-term injury, I'm perfect. I'm your classic utility infielder. Here's BP's take:

    A decent little stopgap at short when they had no better options, Vazquez stepped aside for Khalil Greene in 2004, and should now function as a workable utility man for the next couple of years. He's a better player than he showed in 2004, and a much better bargain than the contracts doled out to Neifi Perez and Juan Castro the last couple of years. He'll be a useful utility guy for the Red Sox.

    ...and my 2004 season in San Diego:

    .235/.297/.322, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 3 2B, 12 R, 1 SB

  • *- ERA+ is a stat comparing a pitcher's ERA to the league average. If the number is above 100, they are that much better than league average (a 115 ERA+ means the pitcher is 15% better than league average). Below 100, that much worse than league average (an ERA+ of 85 is 15% worse than league average).


    ______________________________ |


    Mr. Wells, let's not forget to tell the lady how you said you wanted to blow up Fenway Park...

    By Blogger Jere, at 3/11/2005 11:56 PM  

    I'm sure he's very sorry he ever said that. Ha.

    I bet there a number of Sox fans that'd help him though...

    By Blogger BS Memorial, at 3/17/2005 4:00 PM  

    Yeah, in fact, I just thought today, I bet there are some bigger (physically, that is) Sox fans who'd trade all the new stuff around the Park for some comfortable, field facing seats....

    By Blogger Jere, at 3/17/2005 6:26 PM  

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