This Week in Boston Baseballing, March 15 – 21

The Red Sox forge ahead toward the start of the 2014 season, which is now 10 days away. The overall local buzz for a team coming off its third World Series in 10 years has been a bit restrained so far thanks to the Patriots’ active offseason and the Bruins’ continued success. But it’s hard to argue with a largely uneventful spring as that usually means good things for a baseball team with a roster as talented as Boston’s. The enthusiasm will come in due time.

Airline-style Pricing For the Monster Seats
On Forbes.com, Jesse Lawrence writes about the Red Sox’s decision to implement dynamic pricing for Green Monster seats this season, a move could net the team about $2 or $3 million of extra revenue.

Last year, Green Monster tickets had a face price of $165. While supply on the secondary market is usually limited to under 10 tickets each game, secondary-market ticket prices typically range from $250 to $450. … At 81 games over the course of the season, our calculation assumed an average free-market price of $350, which would mean an incremental $185 of revenue each game. For conservatism’s sake, we discounted that to $150 of incremental revenue per seat per game. With 20,000 Monster seats to sell over the course of the season, that equates to a clean $3,000,000 of incremental revenue for the World Champions–perhaps just enough to cover the addition of right-handed pull hitter at the trade deadline.

Wait, the Sox didn’t sign Jonny Gomes for his facial hair?
Yankee Stadium gets a lot of attention – along with Coors Field of course – for having a short porch in right field and a generally hitter-friendly environment. However, in 2013, as Tony Blengino writes on FanGraphs, Fenway Park was actually the second-most flyball-friendly ballpark in the majors after Coors (which is in its own stratosphere). Fenway’s “Park Factor” came in at 151.1 (average being 100) versus 116.5 for sixth-place Yankee Stadium. This measure is just another of the many ways in which New York is overrated.

We are now beginning to localize and quantify the Fenway fly ball factor – it is largely attributable to fly balls that would be outs almost anywhere else, that instead become doubles off of the high LF, LCF and CF fences. Now, to find some position players who hit more such fly balls than other players do, as well as some pitchers who can minimize such damage.

The Red Sox did just that, particularly in acquiring hitters Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp, both of whom are especially adept at lifting the ball in the air. Of course, park factors are somewhat dynamic from year to year and it’s likely pitchers may adjust. But it’s probably no accident that Gomes and Carp both drop their wrists low early in their swing path in order to get underneath the baseball.

Red Sox-Yankees Gets Delayed Because of Bees
“Bees everywhere! God, they’re huge and they’re sting-crazy! THEY’RE RIPPING MY FLESH OFF!” 

killer-bees_4844283_GIFSoup.com

Rumors swirled about whether Mike Carp did his best Chris Farley impression as he vacated the infested outfield.

Groundskeepers Dig Out After A Long Winter
With MLB Opening Day only a little more than a week away, teams that will be hosting games in late March amidst a late-arriving spring thaw face the challenge of getting the field in playable conditions.

From ESPN.com’s news services:

That frost in the ground at U.S. Cellular Field can be measured in feet, not inches. To ready the field for the first pitch, Bossard is overseeing an effort akin to blowing a gigantic hair dryer under a tarp to pump hot air onto the field and thaw it out. Crews have been chipping away at ice near the right field line with shovels.

Groundskeepers at Fenway Park will have a few extra days to get the field in shape for Boston’s opener at home on April 4. But they are likely in a similar situation. Here is one encouraging shot of the park in early March posted on Sons of Sam Horn by user “Tippi Hedren”, just prior to several weeks of additional snow, ice and cold temperatures rolling through:

Fenway before March thaw
The outfield seems to have a color that at least resembles a very pale shade of green. It won’t be long now…

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