28 November 2005

Turkey Day Ovah, Beckett Deal Breakdown, Seinfeld Seasons 5 & 6...

Everybody is dancing now! C + C Music Making Factory! Sexy time explosion!

Anyway, so I'm back from Thanksgiving, sick as a dog looking down the barrel of a night of packing all my shit into a bunch of boxes I don't have (which was avoidable, by the way) so I can spend my entire day moving 110 blocks north tomorrow. As glamorous as this sounds, you'd be surprised- I'm NOT that excited about all that work. Even less so the time I'll waste grovelling for boxes tonight from local merchants.

But all was well hanging out with the family whilst stuffing my face. I developed a cold so bad though that I was waking up every morning hocking a golfball sized wad of neon yellow into the toilet. No joke.

I did, however, work on my calf muscles on the train ride home though. They got nice and tight as I spent the whole ride on my tippie toes because it was so crowded with people- including a cadre of Fordham kids with ungodly amounts of luggage to be brought back from at most a 5 day break.

Still waiting for the scabbing on the tattoo to fall away...

OK, so a little breakdown of the Josh Beckett deal which, if not at all revelatory or earth-shattering, may be a nice primer for the three new guys.

Josh Beckett

A couple things jump out to me- his steadily improving walk rate, his steadily increasing workload, and the plateau/ levelling off of his K rate.

The first two are, obviously, very good harbingers. A lot has been made of Beckett's inability to reach 200 IP in a season, and while this is a concern as he moves deeper into his 20's, 609 IP before one's 26th birthday is no small feat. It could very easily be a matter of increasing stamina- in fact, there's a definite godsend in the fact that Beckett's blister issues permitted him to avoid the Torborg/ McKeon overusage pattern that dogged Burnett, Penny and Pavano.

The walk rate started out strong and has become fantastic, approaching 3.00 K/BB. This is especially interesting considering that Beckett's first season over 150 IP (2004) was his first career dip in K rate, and the first such posting under 9 Ks per 9 IP. This could be attributed to a few things- fatigue, pacing, coaching (apparently McKeon and his pitching coach preached pitching to contact), injury, or even regression to the mean. There are reports about his shoulder not being 100%, but he's been given a clean bill of health, and before I see anything more than evidence of late-season fatigue after a career high workload, then I'm going to discount that option. I'd go with a combination of the remainder of the factors.

Here are his WHIP totals through his career:

2001- 1.04
2002- 1.26
2003- 1.32
2004- 1.21
2005- 1.18

With 2003 being the sore thumb, he's improved every year since, and it is interesting that while his K/9 went down in 04 and 05, his WHIP and K/BB both improved.

Guillermo Mota
2004 (LAD)______63.0______7.43____1.93_____2.14
2004 (FLA)______34.2______8.82____3.30_____4.81
2004 (TOT)______97.2______7.91____2.30_____3.07

To me, these are the relevant snippets of Guillermo's career, as they pertain to his performance moving forward. In 2003, his career year, Mota was dominant, and incredibly valuable. A 1.97 ERA in 105 IP made him one of the best pitchers in the NL that year, in a season his workload was at a career high by 40 IP- nearly 45% higher than his previous high in 2002 of 61.2 IP. The next year Mota was used at roughly the same rate, and was traded at the deadline in a highly debated move. He had been dominant again in LA for 63 IP (2.14 ERA), and was going to an even more pitcher-friendly park. His peripherals improved... but his performance didn't. Despite a better strikeout AND walk rate, Mota doubled his HR allowed in half the innings, and finished with a 4.81 ERA in FLA.

In 2005 he was similarly ineffective, as his K rate maintained, but his BB and HR rates skyrocketed. He was limited to 67 IP, and though his second half of 2004 in FLA could be attributed to flukey luck, 2005 could not- Mota was either very fatigued or simply hurt for most of the year- probably a combination of the two.

Like Mike Lowell, there is a wide range of expectation that could be had for Mota, but what should be expected is anything like his 2003. He will be moving to a park where his rising HR rate will be an issue (if he can't correct it) and a league that is by definition more difficult to pitch in. The top end of expectations should hold that he will be a bit above league average with maintained K rates and in comparable IP to 03/04. The low end would be a repeat of 2005 translated to Fenway Park.

He's a live arm that can strike guys out- worth a shot, as he was basically a late game toss-in on the deal.

Mike Lowell

PLAYER A_____.298_____.360______77______8_____.124
PLAYER B_____.355_____.399_____100______9_____.127
PLAYER C_____.254_____.348______56_____13_____.133

Well this was just for fun, but these are the lines of three players from the 2005 season. One of them is Mike Lowell. Guess which one, and guess who the other two are...

Mike Lowell is "Player A." "Player C" is the enigmatic Mr. Corey Patterson, who was astonishingly bad in 2005- clearly the worst of the three, but with better power than Lowell. The best of the three, "Player B" actually had a half-decent year, though not for a corner IF and not for $3.5 mill. Guessed who it is yet?

Kevin Millar. The guy me and countless other Red Sox fans are actually pumped to see gone next year, harsh as that sounds.

I guess my point is this- as good as Mike Lowell was from 2002-2004 (good, but not great), he was abominable in 2005. This isn't "off-year" territory, this is "swan dive" territory. This doesn't, of course, mean a death sentence for his '06 season. To wit-


I think the strength of this trade lays on, among other things, the Red Sox' ability to extend Josh Beckett. Right now the Sox control him through two more years of arbitration, after which he will be a free agent. Hopefully they can buy out his arbitration years and extend him at a more reasonable price than he will undoubtedly command on the open market in two years.

All that said, I'm going to root hard for both Anibal and Hanley (and Jesus and Harvey) as Marlins. If what I'm reading is true, Hanley will be the starting SS for FLA in 2006, and Sanchez will have the chance to throw some MLB innings. I'm betting Hanley struggles big time his first year before turning into a useful MLBer, and that Anibal shines pitching in that canyon of a ballpark.

In keeping with a post I did on Season Four of Seinfeld, I've decided to do the same for Seasons 5 & 6, now out on DVD. Here's the "legend":

Episodes in blue: Genuine classics
Episodes in bold: Cultural classics
Episodes in red: "Great" episodes
Episodes not notated: Not-great episodes

  1. The Mango

  2. The Puffy Shirt

  3. The Glasses

  4. The Sniffing Accountant

  5. The Bris

  6. The Lip Reader

  7. The Non-Fat Yogurt

  8. The Barber

  9. The Masseuse

  10. The Cigar Store Indian

  11. The Conversion

  12. The Stall

  13. The Dinner Party

  14. The Marine Biologist

  15. The Pie

  16. The Stand-In

  17. The Wife

  18. The Raincoats (1)

  19. The Raincoats (2)

  20. The Fire

  21. The Hamptons

  22. The Opposite

Season Five has arguably the greatest scene in Seinfeld history (Kramer's retelling of his busride to save Jerry's girlfriend's toe), arguably the greatest episode in the show's history ("The Marine Biologist," but that's VERY arguable), and arguably the greatest character sketch in the history of television ("The Opposite").

The "cultural" hits flow on this season- "I don't want to be a pirate," Kramer smoking and drinking beer at the same time, "low-talker," "spare a square," "GORE-tex," the entire "Marine Biologist" episode, "he took (huh-huh) it out," "I WAS IN THE POOL!," "shrinkage."

This season isn't up to Season Four's lofty standards- there may not be a single season of a TV show that is- but it's right in Seinfeld's heyday. Of my own top ten, "The Opposite" and "The Marine Biologist" are certainly among them (click the link to my Season Four review for that top ten).

  1. The Chaperone

  2. The Big Salad
  3. The Pledge Drive

  4. The Chinese Woman

  5. The Couch

  6. The Gymnast

  7. The Soup

  8. The Mom & Pop Store

  9. The Secretary

  10. The Race

  11. The Switch

  12. The Label Maker

  13. The Scofflaw

  14. The Beard

  15. The Kiss Hello

  16. The Doorman

  17. The Jimmy

  18. The Doodle

  19. The Fusilli Jerry

  20. The Diplomat's Club

  21. The Face Painter

  22. The Understudy

This was the season of the great guest appearances- Larry Miller, Jon Lovitz, Bette Midler, Danny Tartabull, Mel Torme. It had the beginning of J Peterman, Putty, Mr. Pitt, and George's stint with the Yankees. It is also the end of the original Elaine (she goes into not-as-funny-super-sexy-mode starting in Season Seven), and the producer of my favorite Seinfeld episode of all time- "The Beard."

It's a strange season because it's consistent, but it's not as brilliant as the three seasons before- there aren't as many "culturally significant" moments here, and the best episodes ("The Jimmy," "The Beard," "The Fusilli Jerry") weren't as show-defining has they had been.

That said, this is still vintage Seinfeld, and as such is better than most.

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