Greetings, everyone! With the loss to the Colts that I can handle but haven’t quite gotten over yet in the rearview mirror, I now am at a loss for the next 24 days. Sure, the Celtics are playing, but wake me up when its time for the NBA Lottery. The Bruins? I’m not a hockey fan, but if I was, their inconsistency would madden me. The New England Revolution, Boston Cannons, and so on and so forth? Not working for me. I’m all Red Sox, all the time, but the Patriots were a nice distraction. The distraction is gone, and I’m left flailing about.
Good thing that the PECOTA numbers are out from Baseball Prospects, as I am sure everyone has heard. I’m going to join the popular masses in running PECOTA numbers through the Lineup Analysis tool to find the best lineup. In fairness to Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA stats being subscriber-only, the only rate stats I will provide are Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage and the counting stats will be as minimized as much as possible to only provide the relevant information. The pitching PECOTA look will be a later article.
Before I get to the Lineup Analysis, I want to explore three specific people on the Red Sox that will certainly not reach a full season’s worth of numbers: Jacoby Ellsbury, David Murphy and George Kottaras.
Jacoby Ellsbury, if he had 540 AB over the course of 2007 would be projected by PECOTA to hit .302/.353/.414. I would normally say this is fantastic news, but Dustin Pedroia’s 2006 PECOTA projection has turned me off a bit on PECOTA’s ability to project minor league players.
David Murphy would hit .259/.315/.387 in a full season (keep in mind they don’t factor anything else in but stats, so David Murphy’s 10 lbs. gain of muscle is not being used) means we should trade him for Taylor Tankersley as soon as possible, as evidence by the latest poll results:
Should David Murphy remain a Red Sox?
* Yes, he offers great depth!
17% of all votes
* Maybe, for someone better than Taylor Tankersley.
17% of all votes
* Murphy for Tankersley. Do it now!
57% of all votes
* Dump him for someone. We don’t need him.
9% of all votes
Be sure to vote in the brand new poll, and allow me to thank everyone for taking the time to vote in the poll. I’m pleased with the amount of responses, and I think it’s a great addition to Fire Brand, and I think it helps get a good look at what us Firebranders are thinking. For the record, I voted for “Maybe, for someone better than Taylor Tankersley” but only because I’m hesitant to give up a man who just gained 10 lbs. of solid muscle for a left-handed reliever for control problems. I won’t cry if this deal happens, though. I have a feeling both teams are waiting until Spring Training to send scouts to the other side and to evaluate their own personnel.
George Kottaras is projected to hit .258/.338/.408, which I would take from a 23-year old yet to control Triple-A.
Okay, according to the Lineup Analysis tool, what is the best lineup the Red Sox could feature in 2007 using the following players: Julio Lugo, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia (this is the order we will likely open Opening Day with)?
J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, Coco Crisp, Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Julio Lugo.
Interesting. This lineup is slated to score 10,989.132 runs a game, while the standard lineup I present is supposed to score 10,915.111 runs per game. (I’m not sure how anyone can score 10,989 runs a game unless we really are that good — unless I’m reading that Lineup Analysis number wrong, but the numbers are there to compare with the expected lineup.)
Coco Crisp will not end up batting third. We know this, but that just shows you how much PECOTA likes Crisp (58 percent chance of improving). Here is my proposed lineup plus these PECOTA numbers:
Coco Crisp – .309/.361/.452 … 21 SB 7 CS
Kevin Youkilis – .271/.376/.456 … 18 HR
David Ortiz – .289/.406/.577 … 41 HR 130 RBI
Manny Ramirez – .297/.401/.567 … 33 HR 105 RBI (big collapse probability says PECOTA)
JD Drew – .285/.392/.476 … 15 HR
Mike Lowell – .273/.333/.441 … 33 2B
Jason Varitek – .274/.357/.453 … 14 HR
Dustin Pedroia – .294/.361/.431 … 36 2B
Julio Lugo – .284/.347/.406 … 19 SB 6 CS
Wily Mo Pena – .276/.336/.504 … 20 HR in 378 AB
Alex Cora – .254/.313/.333 … 212 AB
Eric Hinske – .263/.336/.446 … 279 AB
Doug Mirabelli – .218/.294/.386 … 124 AB
(additional bench player TBA, unless we go with 12 pitchers)
You can see that Lugo is projected to have a very solid season. These numbers are in general what we are expecting out of Lugo, but the fact that he is batting ninth in my proposed lineup is strictly because (a) PECOTA really likes Pedroia, but if we adjust his numbers to our expectations, Lugo leaps to the eight spot and (b) PECOTA thinks Crisp will bust through. Crisp may or may not bust through. Even if he does, it will be long enough for Francona and the fans to accept Lugo in the leadoff spot, and Crisp’s additional power over Lugo will prove useful in the eight spot.
I am happy with my proposed PECOTA lineup, but I also think that there should be a possibility of J.D. Drew moving to the #2 spot and slotting in Youkilis at #5. If the handiness of the lineup did not matter, I would advocate this based on the PECOTA numbers. But we play the games on the field not on the paper, and so Drew stays.
Out of the lineup likely to break Opening Day (Julio Lugo, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia), adding in the PECOTA numbers makes me very happy with the lineup, even after I temper my Pedroia expectations.
Thus concludes the look at PECOTA and now we move to a roundtable that I recently hosted. I asked four prominent members of American society to answer four questions about the Red Sox. Enjoy:
The Red Sox fell apart in 2006. What should the Red Sox take away from 2006 to ensure 2007 is a great season?
Mark McGwire: I’m not here to talk about the past. What anybody can do to improve it so that there’s no more meetings like this, I’m all for it.
Jack Bauer: I’m gonna need a hacksaw! To saw off the part of the brain that remembers 2006.
Tommy Heinsohn: What are you talking about? Falling apart? The Red Sox didn’t fall apart! Tommy Points for everyone!
Stuart Scott: Don’t playa hate, congratulate.
Who’s your favorite Red Sox player?
Mark McGwire: What I will not do is participate in naming names and implicating my friends.
Jack Bauer: The only reason that you’re conscious right now is because I don’t want to carry you … that’s why David Ortiz is my favorite. He always wants to carry the team.
Tommy Heinsohn: I LOOOOOOOOVE WIIIIIIILLLLYYYYY-MMMOOOOOOO.
Stuart Scott: Aye, Papi, I did not know you could do it like that.
How do you feel about Johnny Damon now that it’s been a year since he left for the New York Yankees? Are you still upset?
Mark McGwire: If a player answers ‘No,’ he simply will not be believed. If he answers ‘Yes,’ he risks public scorn and endless government investigations.
Jack Bauer: A year and a half ago I was warned my life was in danger. I was told the only way to survive was to create the illusion that I was dead. I had to deceive people I cared about. My daughter will never forgive me. Now that I see the depth of Damon’s corruption there is no doubt that source of danger was Damon. David Palmer was a great man and a great president, but he was also my friend. He tried to warn me about Damon and now he is dead. Other people tried to help me and they are dead. So Mr. Damon, I really have nothing left to lose.
Tommy Heinsohn: I’d like to wipe that smirk right off of Damon’s face. That’s one cocky kid. If I had the opportunity, I’d run right up his chest.
Stuart Scott: Damon was drinking some haterade on the Red Sox. It’s all about the Benjamins.
Okay, last question. Will the Red Sox win the World Series in 2007?
Mark McGwire: My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself.
Jack Bauer: When the Red Sox are finished with the majors, the majors are gonna wish that they felt this good again.
Tommy Heinsohn: You know what he said to me!? Wanna know what he said?! He looked me right in the face and said … WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!
Stuart Scott: You better recognize.