An Update on SIP

Before I jump into this, let me just apologize to the readers and to Sam Killay who did a great job filling in for me while I was offline Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday when something sudden came up. Unfortunately, his writings and my most recent columns before my departure were lost due to a database error. Nothing can be done, they are lost forever, so we will have to just keep those lost columns in our memories every day as a sign of … something. Please note that for some strange and convoluted reason, the comments that were made on the post immediately following the July 6th post (that was lost) still show up, so the first three comments are regarding my grades for the pitching staff of the Red Sox.
With the off-day today, it seems fitting to check up on the stat I made, SIP. I’ve I want to make one note about SIP, though. SIP is designed to measure which team is using it’s closer as a one-inning closer or closer to a relief ace. Doesn’t it make sense, then, to include blown saves in with saves? In other words, it’s not Saves per Inning Pitched, it’s Save opportunities per Inning Pitched.
However, middle relievers and set-up men are a lot more likely to BLOW a save opportunity than to recieve one. They may come in in the bottom eighth, give up a two-run HR and get registered a blown save, a save they would not have gotten if they had gotten out of the inning because the closer would have come in to shut them down. This does not help us in this case enough to justify using it.
To recap, the rules of SIP:
– Said person that is being measured by SIP needs to have at least 50% of all team saves.
– The next person with the most saves on the team cannot have more than 25% of the total saves.

Team – Player – Saves – IP – SIP
Anaheim – Troy Percival – Does not qualify
Arizona – Jose Valverde – 8 – 29.2 – 0.27
Atlanta – John Smoltz – 16 – 41.0 – 0.39
Baltimore – Jorge Julio – 12 – 35.1 – 0.34
Boston – Keith Foulke – 13 [team only has 23 Save Opportunities!] – 47.0 – 0.28
Chicago (A) – Billy Koch* – Does not qualify
Chicago (N) – LaTroy Hawkins – Does not qualify
Cincinatti – Danny Graves – 33 – 49.2 – 0.67
Cleveland – Jose Jiminez – Does not qualify
Colorado – Shawn Chacon – 20 – 38.1 – 0.52
Detroit – Ugueth Urbina – 14 – 35.0 – 0.40
Florida – Armando Betinez – 30 – 46.0 – 0.65
Houston – Octavio Dotel* – Does not qualify
Kansas City – Jeremy Affeldt – 8 – 61.1 – 0.13
Los Angeles – Eric Gagne – 23 – 39.0 – 0.58
Milwaukee – Dan Kolb – 26 – 33.1 – 0.78
Minnesota – Joe Nathan – 23 -39.2 – 0.59
Montreal – Rocky Biddle – Does not qualify
New York (A) – Mariano Rivera – 32 – 45.1 – 0.70
New York (N) – Braden Looper – 18 – 48.0 – 0.38
Oakland – Arthur Rhodes – 9 – 29.0 – 0.31
Philadelphia – Billy Wagner – Does not qualify
Pittsburgh – Jose Mesa – 22 – 36.2 – 0.61
San Diego – Trevor Hoffman – 23 – 32.2 – 0.71
San Francisco – Matt Herges – 22 – 42.1 – 0.52
Seattle – Eddie Guardado – 15 – 39.1 – 0.38
St. Louis – Jason Isringhausen – 21 – 41.1 – 0.51
Tampa Bay – Danys Baez – 17 – 38.2 – 0.45
Texas – Francisco Cordero – 27 – 39.0 – 0.69
Toronto – Jason Frasor – 9 – 37.1 – 0.24
*Billy Koch/Octavio Dotel was traded to the Florida Marlins/Oakland Athletics However, Koch/Dotel still qualifies under Chicago/Houston as Saves Leader.
One thing I noted here interestingly is that two less teams have closer upheaval this year than last year. Last year’s SIP’s had 9 disqualifications, while this year, so far, 7 have been disqualified.
Now, the interesting parts of this. The person with the lowest SIP, IE the best relief ace, is Jeremy Affeldt. Now, he qualifies under SIP so he takes the crown, but he did just win the closer’s job and started eight games earlier in the season. The next lowest SIP is Jason Frasor and Jose Valderde, who wrested the job away from everyone and Matt Mantei (respectively) earlier in the season, so they don’t have a “true” SIP, although they qualify. Finally, we reach a real closer, who has a SIP of 0.28.
That’s Keith Foulke, fourth-best SIP in the game and first-best SIP out of those who was and remained the closer right out of the gates. A lot has been said about Foulke’s usage out of the bullpen. Quite frankly, I don’t see an issue with it. There are two reasons why.
Reason One – Curt Schilling has said that when Terry Francona puts in Foulke in blowout games to get some work, it is at Foulke’s request. People lambast Francona for this, but just remember this: Schilling says Foulke asks, so Terry tries to accomodate. And we all know Terry would never say this, never compromise his players. This is a primo reason why Theo liked Terry, I bet. Protect your players. And you can bet the players respect Francona for that.
Reason Two – We didn’t live in Oakland. We didn’t breathe in Oakland games. Facts are facts – Terry was Oakland’s bench coach last year, and Foulke was the A’s closer. Perhaps this WAS how Foulke was used in Oakland, we just didn’t know it.
Foulke is on pace for (a simple multiplication of two) 26 saves and 8 blown saves. Not exactly Great Closer stats there. But you know, Leskanic looks like a great find for us, and our relief corps is really stabilizing. All we need is a decent longman as Jimmy Anderson is definitely not cutting it and we lost a valuable middle reliever, Lenny DiNardo, to injury. (This is not the injury many people said would happen once we got 100% control of DiNardo per Rule 5 rules. Every offseason, teams have a little draft called Rule Five in which they can draft players not on other team’s 40-man roster. The caveat is that they have to spend 90 total days in the majors the next season – and cannot be sent down. Rumors were flying DiNardo would go on the DL July 12th, the 91st day. He went on the DL a few days before that. People panicked, for they thought DiNardo had to be on for 90 consecutive days before he could be sent down. Wrong, it’s 90 total. So, this injury is real, and I hope he gets better as there are whispers we want him to stretch out in hopes of eventually becoming a starter for us.)
Anyways, the continuing stablization of the bullpen should offer Foulke more saves and Foulke should respond in kind with less blown saves. Foulke isn’t getting much work. If this was 2003, this is a good thing; we have too much offense. But this year it’s a bad thing. We are either blowing them out or getting blown out…or having umpires blow calls. (See ninth inning, last game v. Texas before the All Star Break. Specifically Pokey Reese and Mark Bellhorn.)
I’m going to end this column with a little question for all two of you readers. Quite a dilemma here, I’ve been asking people all day and they all give an answer, but say it’s a very difficult answer. Here we go.
Someone approaches you. They have tickets to Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 of the World Series. He will give you one of the games for free if Boston makes the Series. You have to pick which game you want to go to right now.
Do you pick Game 1? It has the most pomp and circumstance, but it IS Game One – six possible games to go, three wins to go.
Do you pick Game 2? Similar to Game 1, except less pomp and circumstance. Really, when you think about it, I wouldn’t be surprised if Game 2 was the least-watched Series game, total.
Do you pick Game 6? You have less of a risk of missing out on seeing the Red Sox win in person. Not a ton of pomp and circumstance, and by then, most people start hoping for a Game 7.
Do you pick Game 7? Emotions agog, pretty good pomp and circumstance, heavy viewership, the possibility of seeing the Red Sox WIN IT ALL in GAME SEVEN!
I would pick Game Seven for the reasons listed above, and also this reason, which someone said today, and is true. The last several World Series for the Red Sox have all gone seven games. Also, the last three World Series have gone to seven games. Couple that with the unprecedented “parity” we’ve been seeing in the game, and I like my odds.
How about you?