The Sports Daily > Firebrand AL
Projections for 2009 Red Sox and others

Bill James has come out with his new handbook for 2009, and in the handbook are the early statistical projections for players next year. This may be especially significant in the case of the Red Sox, as James has a vast amount of knowledge of players in the Red Sox system due to being employed by the team.

James posited that his projections for younger players are more accurate than older ones:

Actually, while there is a problem with young players because it’s hard to guess how much playing time they’re going to get, there is a bigger problem with older players because they get hurt more and their production becomes unreliable.

On the cusp of free agency and a new season for the Red Sox, let’s take a look at some projections that are of interest to us…


Jeff Bailey: .270//.354/.476 in 185 at-bats. Anyone else think Bailey should be our backup first baseman next year? He can also rove the outfield, too. Isn’t this logical?

Jason Bay: .280/.376/.505 with 30 HR and 9 SB (3 CS) in 582 AB, notching 102 RBI. Perfectly fine with me — may not be Manny-esque, but those are similar numbers that Manny was putting up while tanking, so to me, there’s no loss here.

Coco Crisp: .279/.338/.403, 9 HR, 22 SB in 494 AB. Decent. Not great, but decent. With his plus defense in centerfield, it makes him a viable starter.

J.D. Drew: .273/.395/.477 with 22 HR in 495 AB.  I’d take it out of the No. 5/6 spot.

Jacoby Ellsbury: .302/.359/.424 with 9 HR, 100 R in 559 AB, swiping 52 bags. Oooh, me likey. Reminds me of something I saw in the Globe today:

Justin Masterson,” said an American League GM. “I’ll
bet you the Red Sox hear that name called a lot in their trade talks. I
think the other guy is Jacoby Ellsbury. The hope is the Red Sox are down on him and would move him. That’s probably just a hope.” (Boston Globe)

With Bill James on staff, don’t bet on the Sox moving Ellsbury as long as James projects that season out of him.

Andruw Jones: .233/.328/.445 with 16 HR in 301 AB. I include Andruw because I think if we have any shot of getting Russell Martin, it comes by absorbing either Jones or Juan Pierre’s contract.

George Kottaras: .242/.335/.430 in 223 AB. This is pretty interesting; could they have him replace Kevin Cash as Wakefield’s caddy?

Mike Lowell: .277/.343/.448 with 16 HR, 31 2B, 75 RBI in 462 AB. This would be absolutely fantastic.

Jed Lowrie: .276/.366/.417 in 544 AB. Would you rather have Lowrie or this guy…

Julio Lugo: .257/.328/.359 in 463 AB. Yeah, thought so.

Russell Martin: .292/.390/.439 with 15 HR, 30 2B in 535 AB. Just sayin’.

David Ortiz: .288/.396/.570 with 37 HR, 39 2B, 119 RBI in 539 AB. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Dustin Pedroia: .315/.376/.472 with 15 HR and 107 runs in 642 AB. Could this be yet another MVP-worthy season?

Juan Pierre: .292/.340/.355 in 394 AB. Yes, but he also has three years and $30 million left.

Manny Ramirez: .301/.404/.551 in 552 AB with 34 HR and 113 RBI. Not that far off from Bay…

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: .262/.349/.424 with 11 HR in 344 AB. Looks like a future starting catcher to me!

Mark Teixeira: .299/.397/.559 with 36 HR. Amid reports the Sox will pursue Tex heavily, thought I’d drop this here.

Jason Varitek: .238/.334/.392 with 13 HR, 20 RBI in 395 AB. You know, we just might be able to squeak past with this line in 2009. But 2010 must look terrible. It may not be a wise investment to bring him back unless he is told that he will start full-time in 2009 and then transition to a backup in 2010. I bet he wouldn’t go for that.

Kevin Youkilis: .289/.386/.487 with 23 HR, 102 R, 101 RBI. Youuuuk!


David Aardsma: 38 IP, 4.81 ERA. Will he even stick in the Sox pen?

Josh Beckett: 13-8, 189.0 IP, 3.57 ERA. Please be wrong, Bill.

A.J. Burnett (100 percent chance he stays in the AL East and has been linked to the Sox): 14-11, 224.0 IP, 3.62 ERA. Wow… sign me up.

Manny Delcarmen: 81 IP, 3.44 ERA, 80 K and 35 BB. Settling in as a fine reliever.

Jon Lester: 12-11, 212.0 IP, 168 K, 88 BB, 4.02 ERA. I actually really agree with this. I think there has to be some natural regression this year, then in 2010 and on he’ll bounce back to 2008 levels.

Javier Lopez: 57 IP, 4.14 ERA. Nothing really to report here.

Derek Lowe: 14-9, 206.0 IP, 3.60 ERA. Will he do this in pinstripes?

Pedro Martinez: 9-5, 120.0 IP (20 GS), 3.36 ERA. Actually predicting something of a bounceback season for Petey.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: 12-8, 184.0 IP, 3.58 ERA, 77 BB, 174 K, 30 GS. There are parts to this I agree with, and parts I don’t. Agree: ERA, BB, K, GS. Disagree: W-L, IP.

Hideki Okajima: 61 IP, 3.19 ERA. Really? Projecting yet another decrease in effectiveness for Oki.

Jake Peavy: 14-8, 202.0 IP, 3.26 ERA. I love Peavy, but I think his price tag is too rich because of too many questions about Petco Park.

CC Sabathia: 16-10, 240.0 IP, 3.48 ERA. Goodness, what a horse he is. Is it worth it for us to invest in his late-year seasons in order to get this? I say no.

Ben Sheets: 13-8, 186 IP (29 GS), 3.39 ERA. Another pitcher that’s been linked to Boston.

Tim Wakefield: 10-8, 28 GS, 160.0 IP, 3.91 ERA. James still sees Wake as an effective pitcher, but continues his injury questions. Could the time be approaching to put him in the bullpen and have him be a spot starter?

Dontrelle Willis: 2-2, 8 GS, 31.0 IP, 5.78 ERA. YIKES! Someone we’re linked to vis a vis Julio Lugo

Well, there you have it. What do you think? What projections do you like/dislike? What’s spot on, what’s not?

Additional player projections furnished upon request in comments.


  1. Great work compiling this. I wonder why he sees so much regression on a team that should be healthier and younger in 2009?
    Bailey: Yes, he should be our 1b/of, as part of a bench built for power. Am surprised he didn't predict HR, as he had 25 in AAA.
    Bay: I see slightly higher #'s than 2008 as he settles into Fenway in a contract year. Maybe .290 with 33-35HR, with even better glove as he learns the wall and his team, and Bay discussed getting more SB's.
    Crisp: Wants full time, and his trade value is very high now.
    J.D: He is comfortable and will want to play a full season next year at his 2008 level, which could have been .290/25.
    Ells: Very do-able, but a few more HR next year as he finds his power. Harper says he will swipe 70 bases. Maybe 60 next year, with 100+R?
    Martin + Andruw or Juan is palatable at any $$ price, but the cost in prospects for Andruw or Juan might be unacceptable.
    Mike will play if he is healthy with bat and glove. If he is healthy, he should have a better year than Bill projects.
    Youk: I will bet a month's income that even if Youk has a better year in 2009, say 320/33/120/999OPS . . . projections for 2010 will be similar to Bill's. Rodney Dangerfield has nothing on Youk.
    Pedroia will try to exceed 20HR and 20SB, otherwise on target.
    Lowrie's first full year, wrist healed, bigger than projected, could surprise us all.
    Aardsma was finally getting control when he was injured, and lost some of his era by pitching injured. If he gets control back, he will be valuable, if not his 99mph will be gone.
    If Bill's projections re: Beckett, Daisuke, Lester, Wake, Oki, Lopez are correct, our goose is already cooked. And anyone who rides CC for 240 innings should be shot, no matter how much he makes.


  2. Not liking the Lester projection. After he seemed to find both his confidence and his control this year, especially after the no-hitter, he's going to drop to 3.74 BB/9 next year? I'm thinking not.
    I'd be happy with an .873 OPS out of Youks. I can see him doing better, too, but I'd be happy with that from a Gold Glove first baseman.
    I'm betting on an ERA north of 4.00 from Matsuzaka next year. Don't forget, Harry Houdini got his in the end, too.
    I still hope our interest in Teixeira is purely out of spite for the Yankees, in the hopes of driving up his eventual price tag.
    I don't care where they land, any team that tries to get that much work out of Burnett or Sabathia deserves the grief it gets when their prize pitcher is toast after no more than 2 years of service. As it is, neither one of them is a sure thing, in the years ahead. If we ink either one, I want the dude handled with kid gloves.


  3. Wow, so Bill James is predecting a regression for most of the team … funny thing is, I remember writing an incoherant rant regarding the demise of the dynasty after this year, and I was crucified for it by the readers – The team, as it stands right now, is not going to fare very well next year
    Here is hoping Theo makes enough moves to change that fact.


  4. Interesting, Ryne, that you agree with Bill predicting such regression. For a team of such demonstrable talent enjoying four months of rest and rehab, is this based on some kind of emotional let down? Certainly possible, but IMO, the antidote to that is already in place.
    Assuming the obvious: we reload the rotation with another Ace, insure Tek's protege can hit, and build a bench with high OPS . . . this should be a 100W team because:
    1. They will be rested following a shorter post-season, and having a normal winter, Spring Training, and opening schedule.
    2. They will be hungry, after just missing the WS.
    3. They are battle tested, nearly winning it all injuries to almost every key player.
    4. They will be healthy, have much to prove, and leave it all on the field.
    5. Fresh new talent like Bowden, Jones, Bard, maybe Gronk, Bailey, Carter, Van Every, Thurston, (include first full years by Buchholz, Masterson & Lowrie), maybe cameos by Lars, Reddick and others, and this team will have wonderful energy.
    6. They are jelling as a team, and can absorb this new talent in a positive, supportive way.
    All-Star talent + experience + youthful energy + teamwork + overcoming hardships together + no Manny drama + hunger + rest + health + supportive fans = a better year: 100W, 200+HR, 150SB, high BA & OPS, GG defense? No problem.


  5. Bay should be hittig up in the lineup next year. He is one of our best hitters and is in our best interest to give him more at-bats.
    I hope James is right about Ellsbury. That numbers sounds great for me.
    Aparently, James have confidence in the health of CC too. Of course, if we get him, we are not going to do something as dumb as riding him for 240 innings. He is going to be expensive, but I don't see another free agent who can be more valuable for us in the market. Texeira is going to cost a king's ransom too, and only represent a minor upgrade over our very solid infield, not to mention a future blocking for our best prospect. CC can give us another ace, instead of a hole in our rotation. So he worth it IMO. He worth more than any other FA for us.
    And about Martin, what more can I say. Just add to that numbers the fact he is an elite defensive player as well, and he has only 25 years old…


  6. By the way, I don't believe in a regretion of Lester. I think he has make the adjustments for the major-leagues, has his confidence high, and is ready to become a dominant pitcher from now on.
    About Saltalamacchia, I think his hitting capabilitieas are not the question. The doubts are about his capacity behind the plate. Maybe will be wiser to give a little more to get Teagarden.


  7. And the Rangers will do it. I have read they are open to deal Teagarden "if the return is great enough". They have high upside backups for TT, and they are not going to get a better deal from anyone. So, if we really want Teagarden, we can get him.


  8. Ignoring, for now, Ryne's snarky comments, I tend to agree with Gerry. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about next year's team.
    Secondly…where is this idea coming from that James' predictions are pessimistic? I don't think Evan said this, nor do I think the numbers bear it out. The only real pessimistic one I see is Lester (which I think James is wrong on). You can pretty much throw out win totals on pitchers, even James would say that, because they vary too much by run support and other factors each year. Otherwise, the numbers are a slight regression, but not much…particularly if the Sox upgrade at all.
    From an offense perspective, James is predicting solid numbers for Pedroia, Youk, and Drew. He's also predicting bounce-back years for Papi and Lowell (assuming you weren't expecting 07 numbers, which I never was) and big improvements for Ellsbury plus a full year of Lowrie.
    I don't see how this is particularly pessimistic. Sue me for being an optimist, but I don't generally prescribe to the Dan Shaughnessy "woe is me" school of Red Sox thought.


  9. Wait, you would be unhappy with Beckett posting a 3.5 ERA? If that happens, I'd consider it a dream. In a perfect world, we flip Beckett for Martin straight up.
    These are awfully good results for the Sox if it's remotely accurate. Here's hoping.


  10. Sean O – great idea … I believe this is the last year of Beckett's 3 year deal he signed, no? The only thing that scares me is his stock is probably at its all time lowest at the moment.


  11. Yeah we have to live with the risk Beckett has become I think. After '07 you could've traded him for someone's entire farm system. Now, he is far from a sure thing. Hoever, despite last season I do expect him to be a great pitcher over his career. But to prove it he is gonna have to have a bounceback year this year. Let's hope he can. But at the same time don't rely on it. Ace is now Lester's title. And I trust Lester will preform better than James' numbers would suggest. If not, we're gonna have a tough run of it.


  12. I don't understand the pessimism. Despite all the injuries with some of our best players (Papi, Beckett, Lowell, Drew) we have fall just one game short of the WS, which show how well this team is built. We don't rely on any one player. We have a solid foundation and next year we are gonna be healthier and stronger. And with new prospects arriving from the farms. This team can only get better.
    And, of course we have a lot of money and chips, for making a big splash this offseason. So, count on me among the optimists.


  13. Yeah, I'm with you personally, this was the best tea in the AL by run differential last season, fell a couple of runs short of a World Series and I can't help but feel like they would have succeeded where the rays failed. The big concern for me is the catcher spot (please for the love of God Russel Martin please).


  14. I have real trouble giving up any of our SP's, as we no longer have depth in that area.
    No one is more frustrated than Beckett, who pitched admirably through pain and numb fingers. Assuming health, he should have a Cy Young season in 2009, out of sheer willpower. We give him up at our peril, and I don't see Theo doing that.
    Further, as we already have one deep hole in the rotation, giving him up requires acquiring TWO top of rotation pitchers, and CC, AJ, Ben have their own issues which could, at top dollar, make Josh look like a poster child of good health. The Dodgers are looking for SS, 3b, RP as well as SP, as well as dumping the contracts of Jones or Pierre. There are many creative ways to compensate for Martin without giving up Beckett, Buchholz, Masterson or Bowden. It might horrify Sean, but a package suggested earlier that we pick up Pierre's contract, as 4th OF, could help us get Martin, as well as enhance our running game and BA (.295).


  15. Juan Pierre should be considered nothing but an albatross. If he's a throw-in in some deal for Martin, fine, we keep him around as an extra OF'er, but let it be perfectly clear that Pierre is a DOWNGRADE from what we already have. Coco is better, a little better at the plate (probably negated by Pierre's speed and aggressiveness on the basepaths) but a LOT better in the field. Coco is also younger and not exactly slow himself, FWIW. For that matter, Kotsay (if we were to re-sign him) would be better too.
    In other words, if Pierre is in the package with Martin, the Dodgers had better not be asking for them moon. It would be a real privilege for them to be rid of Pierre.
    If the Dodgers want a 3B, they can have Lowell. The salary swap might make Pierre's contract more palatable. But in that case, we have to sign Tex, and that probably renders Youks expendable down the road, if Lars pans out. But we'd have to act quickly for that to be realistic. And as far as that goes, Tex isn't going to want to sign quickly, because he's going to want to dig as deep as he can into the owners' pockets. Which could leave us in a precarious position …


  16. I believe that originally came from MLBTradeRumors, that getting Martin might mean also taking Pierre or Andruw Jones. I replied that this would be acceptable if they took no extra prospects. If this is the vehicle to get Martin, the Sox would be wise to use it. As 4th OF, neither could hurt us. I would rather this and a "touchable" prospect or player than give up Buchholz, Bowden or Lowrie for Martin. The Dodgers are also looking for SS and RP, and are looking for a bench infielder in lieu of Hu. How about we reverse this: DelCarmen, Jones, Zinc, Lugo, and lower prospect for Martin and Pierre or Jones as 4th OF???
    Re: Texeira and Manny. If the Dodgers sign Manny, the true face of their franchise, a charismatic HOFer in a largely Hispanic town (imagine the $$$), then the Angels, who are competing for fan base and regional dominance with the Dodgers (this is a very serious economic rivalry) MUST sign Texeira. Likewise, if the Angels sign Texeira, the Dodgers MUST sign Manny. Tit for tat. As Boras is manipulating both, either they both stay or they both move. Boras is such a web spinner. Shame on the owners for not being smart enough to smash his webs.