Monthly Archives: January 2013

Our Modern, Diverging Sensibilities: Boston.com vs. NYTimes.com’s Most E-Mailed Stories

BostonNY Times

Advertisements

Study: Boston-area housewives can’t wait to watch Pedro Martinez pitch for Red Sox in 2013

The Boston Red Sox front office is carefully considering the implications of a hastily conducted research study done over the past 24 hours that suggests a considerable amount of women over the age of 35 believe Pedro Martinez will be pitching for the team during the upcoming 2013 season.

Pedro Martinez

“We have informed the team of our findings,” said a spokesperson for the independent marketing agency. “This really is quite an exciting development. We phoned, at random, a list of women, whose names we stole from emergency contact databases maintained within a bunch of local school systems.”

The results? “Most respondents reported that they had watched any number of local 6 o’clock news broadcasts and were thus aware Pedro was back on the Red Sox. A strikingly high percentage of them now assume the team will win the World Series. In fact, a lot of the people who categorized their interest as anything ‘passive interest’ to ‘violently indifferent’ were not aware Pedro had ever left Boston.”

The market researchers have therefore presented the team with what they believe is “overwhelming evidence that Pedro Martinez ought to be forced to pitch in games this season regardless of any ill-impact on the team’s chances of winning or remaining the least bit competitive in an offensively stacked AL East.”

Said one woman in her audio transcript: “You mean to tell me my husband’s been wearing around his Martinez 45 replica jersey for like 10 years even though Pedro wasn’t even on the team? He never even lets me wash the damn thing.”

Said another: “That’s good the team is finally getting some decent players again. Nobody really talks about the Red Sox anymore. I kind of thought they disbanded. But, I mean…shit…PEDROOO!!”

Reached for comment, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino was appalled by a line of questioning put forth about the club’s true intentions behind signing Martinez.

Lucchino declined to directly answer exactly what Martinez’s role as Assistant to the General Manager would entail.

“Look, I really shouldn’t be answering these inquiries at all. Yes, Pedro Martinez will be given a uniform and granted access to our bullpen mound to begin building his arm strength as he sees fit. And presumably from time to time he will work alongside our new manager John Farrell, who was a pitching coach for years…”

“But really, I just want to remind all of New England and beyond that tickets for individual games at Fenway Park this season go on sale tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. Online, over the phone, in person, however people wanna do it. Pedro’s decided he’s gotta be here for this. So do you and all of your closest friends and relatives!!”

Lucchino added, “Fans of players who will actually play in the games scheduled for this season are also welcome to purchase tickets, I suppose…”

A decidedly un-sexy yet graphic presentation of the 2013 Boston Red Sox 40-man roster

Are the Red Sox pretty much done tweaking their roster for the 2013 season?

The luxury tax threshold for the 2013 season based on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is $178m. It will increase to $189m for the 2014-2016 seasons.

Based on some rough back-of-the-envelope math, the impending Mike Napoli signing will put the Red Sox payroll right near $160m. Considering the incentives* reportedly included in the deal, the signing probably puts the projected 40-man roster at around $166-168m – right in line with where the team has been the past few seasons.

Boston Payroll history

If the team is indeed finished making major acquisitions or trades, the rundown looks like this:

Veterans / Free Agents:
John Lackey – $16.0m
David Ortiz – $14.5m
Ryan Dempster – $13.25m
Shane Victorino – $13.0m
Jon Lester – $11.6m
Dustin Pedroia – $10.25m
Stephen Drew – $9.5m
Clay Buchholz – $5.75m
Johnny Gomes – $5.0m
Mike Napoli – $8.5m*
Koji Uehara – $4.25m
David Ross – $3.1m
Jose Iglesias – $2.1m

*Incentives could escalate Napoli’s deal to a value of $13.0m. However, without knowing the particulars, we’ve split the difference in the base pay of $5m and the $13m maximum with escalators and projected Napoli’s 2013 compensation to be $8.5m.

Avoided Arbitration:
Jacoby Ellsbury – $9.0m
Joel Hanrahan – $7.0m
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – $4.5m
Andrew Bailey – $4.1m
Craig Breslow – $3.1m (*received two-year deal, buying out first year of free agency)
Alfredo Aceves – $2.7m
Daniel Bard – $1.9m
Andrew Miller – $1.5m
Franklin Morales – $1.5m

Los Angeles Dodgers Trade:
Add in another $3.9m to cover contract buyouts and cash sent to the Dodgers (per Cot’s Contracts) as part of the team’s 2012 trade that shipped Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to LA.

0-3 Years’ Service*:
Lastly, the following players have zero to three years’ service time in the majors. Most of these players will likely receive somewhere in the neighborhood of the MLB minimum of $490,000 in 2013, per MLB’s CBA.

For our purposes, we’ve rounded up to an average 2013 salary of $500,000 for these 18 players (for a total of $9.0m):

Felix Doubront
Ryan Lavarnway
Ryan Kalish
Chris Carpenter
Will Middlebrooks
Rubby De La Rosa
Pedro Ciriaco
Daniel Nava
Drake Britton
Dan Butler
Mauro Gomez
Alex Hassan
Brock Holt
Clay Mortensen
Christian Vazquez
Allen Webster
Alex Wilson
Steve Wright

*The one exception is Junichi Tazawa, who got $920,000 in 2012 after his initial three-year/$9m MLB contract expired at the end of the 2011 season. We have assumed Tazawa’s 2013 compensation will be around $1m.

Give or take, the Sox can therefore be expected to pay about $10m to round out its 40-man roster with both low-cost contributors such as Doubront, Middlebrooks, Kalish and Middlebrooks as well as injury replacements and guys on board for organizational depth.

Not surprisingly, the Sox have put significant expenditure toward the starting rotation:

Boston Payroll by position

Meanwhile, while the team will need a number of younger players to fill the void this season, the payroll is still heavily skewed toward veterans (a function of the pay structure of MLB as much as it is any organizational philosophy at work).

Boston Payroll by age

So the Sox are in position to potentially add another impact player or two if they are able to keep their salary for 2013 under a cumulative $10m or so. However, the front office has exhibited a preference to go into the season with a little bit of wiggle room to make a trade that would take on salary during the season. With the salary cap going up to $189m next season, there would seem to be little reason to overspend to the point that would put the team at risk of a luxury tax hit this year.

Having said all that, with the bulk of available tickets slated to go on sale this weekend – and considering the front office’s track record in free agency – the likelihood the team will call it quits after it officially announces the Napoli deal may not be all that certain.

Globe 10.Ohhhh Look: A Bored Hockey Writer Talking About Baseball Pitcher Wins and Losses!

Check out this Globe 10.0 video posted to Boston.com on Friday afternoon. It features former Bruins beat writer Kevin Dupont and Scott Thurston taking a look at some hard math and coming to something like a conclusion about the 2013 Red Sox.

The abbreviated version: The Red Sox rotation isn’t going to be very good because club consultant Bill James “says” the five expected starters will only go 59-56.*

*Dupont jokes that they are a “reinvention of the Forever 500s” – a painfully dated reference to a defunct NHL franchise, the Hartford Whalers.

Untitled

Let’s leave alone the fundamental disingenuity of portraying these projections as information Bill James, who Dupont flippantly classifies as a “high-priced statistician” at the end of the video, has provided the front office. The totals are a result of a system developed by James decades ago published in his annual Handbook and made readily available to the general public on sites such as FanGraphs.

Projection systems by their very nature are meaningless when it comes to counting stats. They are particularly meaningless when contemplating fickle statistics such as Wins and Losses.

Before the team’s Ryan Dempster signing last month, Fenway Pastoral provided a look what the rotation would look like if Franklin Morales was the No. 5 man, based on meaningful rate stat assumptions for 2013 from Bill James’ system:

Rotation

Here is an update based on Dempster slotting in somewhere in the middle and assuming Morales moves out of the projected rotation:

starters

Those totals would make Boston’s starting staff perfectly suitable given the team’s downfall isn’t likely to be scoring runs. They would be significantly better than last year’s results and well above the 2012 league average.

Another key thing you’ll learn from the video:

– It’s cold in Boston in the winter.

Thanks for coming out, fellas.