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Terse Predictions: ALCS Game 1, Detroit @ Boston

Under-explained predictions for tonight’s ALCS Game 1 at Fenway Park, ranked roughly in the order each will be confirmed or debunked.

1. David Ross will hit a home run sometime in the middle innings (4th through 6th).

2. Jon Lester will pitch less than 6 innings and will labor through 110+ pitches, but will record a victory.

3. Jacoby Ellsbury will steal two bases.

4. Prince Fielder will hit a home run over the visitor’s bullpen. A solo shot.

5. Clay Buchholz’s wife Lindsay Clubine will show up with the couple’s infant daughter during the second inning and sit in her usual seat behind home plate. She will exit before the game prior to the end of the 6th inning.

6. Craig Breslow will pitch the equivalent of a full inning in the game.

7. Koji Uehara will pitch in the game and will record an out total other than three.

Bonus: Nobody is going to purchase that opened copy of Fever Pitch that Curt Schilling is trying to pawn off as part of his estate sale.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, September 6 – 12

The Red Sox followed up a stirring comeback victory in New York last Thursday by slugging their way to wins in the next two games, ensuring a series victory against the Yankees. Boston forced Mariano Rivera into a second blown save of the series on Sunday afternoon, but the Yankees fought back in the bottom of the 9th to salvage the finale.

The Sox won their three-game series in Tampa Bay and have a 8.5-game lead over the Rays in the American League East. The Magic Number now stands at eight games. Boston is three games ahead of Oakland for best record in the AL and home field advantage in the playoffs.

Koji Extends His Perfect Streak to 34 Batters
Koji Uehara picked up a win in Boston’s 10-inning victory Wednesday night. The reliever has now recorded the equivalent of a perfect game plus an additional seven hitters. Eight out of every 10 pitches thrown during the stretch have been strikes.

The World According to Carp
Mike Carp’s grand slam over the center-field wall gave the Red Sox the 7-3 win on Wednesday in extras. After sitting on the bench as a spectator for four hours, Carp swung at the first pitch he saw from Fausto Carmona and ran hard out of the box, thinking triple…

Mike Carp thinking triple

…right up until the ball cleared the fence.

 Carp grand slam

Clay Buchholz Returns
Boston’s three-game set in Tampa Bay began Tuesday night with Clay Buchholz taking the mound for the first time in three months. Buchholz struck out six batters and walked only one in five innings, throwing an efficient total of 74 pitches. David Price pitched eight innings and struck out nine for Tampa, but the Sox were able to scratch out a couple of runs thanks to a Mike Napoli double and a Johnny Gomes single in the fifth.

Buchholz k's Molina

With the Sox maintaining a comfortable lead in the AL East over Tampa, it was likely one of the last impactful wins the team will have this season. Buchholz made a strong case in his first start back that he can go head to head with the league’s best pitchers.

Jacoby Ellsbury Has a Fractured Navicular Bone
Ellsbury will shed his walking boot and take the next week or two to let the bone finish healing on its own. Jacoby is expected to return before the end of the regular season to “regain his timing” at the plate leading into the playoffs. Or, if you’re Ellsbury’s agent Scott Boras, he is expected to return in time to *cross fingers* pad counting stats in lieu of his pending free agency.

Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe Bump Fists
With NESN color commentator Jerry Remy out for the season, various former Red Sox are being brought into the booth to fill the void. During the first game of Derek Lowe’s three-game tryout in Tampa, Pedro joined Lowe to reminisce about the 2004 World Series team.  

Pedro and Lowe fistbump

D-Lowe was very solid in providing insightful assessment of Buchholz’s return. But he still sounded a bit shell-shocked at times over the last three days by his abrupt retirement from the game. Earlier this year, Lowe pitched 13 innings out of the bullpen for the Rangers. He was able to maintain a self-deprecating good humor about how quickly things ended. On Thursday night, he jokingly pointed out that three of the AL Wild Card contenders – the Yankees, Indians and Rangers – were all recent former employers competing for a playoff spot minus his services.

The Red Sox Announce Dollar Beard Night
You know it’s been a rare season when the Red Sox need to resort to a minor league-esque marketing gimmick to get fans to show up at Fenway Park to watch a team that is flirting with 100 wins.

Sox Dollar Beard Night

This Week in Boston Baseballing, August 23 – 29

The Red Sox took two of three from the LA Dodgers last weekend, finishing a stretch of 16 of 19 games on the road with a record of 9-10. Boston began the stretch on August 5 with a half-game lead over Tampa Bay and finished its trip on the West Coast up one full game over the Rays. The lead has since expanded to two and a half games as Boston’s winning four of its last five games coincided with the Devil Rays losing four of their last five.


DEVELOPING: Shane Victorino Is NOT Carl Crawford
Shane Victorino paced the Red Sox with a gigantic offensive week that included a two-homer, seven-RBI performance on Tuesday night. GIFs of the HRs here, courtesy of Over the Monster. Coincidentally, some time late Tuesday night and also well into Wednesday morning, a bunch of fellows in the baseball media came to the conclusion that Shane’s been a pretty good signing for the team. (For example: here, here, here, here and here). His 3 HRs, 9 RBIs and 7 runs since Monday probably make him a favorite for AL Player of the Week honors.

Koji Uehara and David Ortiz Get Slap Happy After Wednesday Night’s Win
Click on photo for GIF animation, courtesy of @CorkGaines:


Is This The End of Jerry Remy’s Television Career?
In a statement on Thursday night, Jerry Remy said he will sit out the remainder of the 2013 season. It isn’t fair to speculate too deeply about his future in the NESN booth, but Remy’s statement included reference to returning next season. Sadly, though, his days logging full seasons as Red Sox color commentator may be over. Meanwhile, NESN has quite a bit more than the requisite “two weeks’ notice” to find an adequate replacement not named Dennis Eckersley. Hopefully, it does the right thing. 

A beard-oriented, photographic retrospective of an exciting, productive week for the Red Sox:


Look! They made the trainer grow one too! (From

victorino and dustin



From Photo Photo

Boston Globe Photo

Boston Globe Photo



This Week in Boston Baseballing, August 16 – 22

Boston dropped two of three to the Yankees at Fenway last weekend before heading to the West Coast. The Red Sox blew out the Giants, 12-1, on Wednesday afternoon to win their three-game series in San Francisco. Boston outscored the Giants, 22-4, in the series. The Red Sox begin a three-game series against some familiar faces tonight in Los Angeles.

Xander B


20-Year-Old Xander Bogaerts Gets Called Up
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts made his major league debut on Tuesday night in San Francisco, playing shortstop and batting seventh. He went 0-for-3 before being lifted by John Farrell in the bottom of the 6th as part of a double switch. The most memorable moment from the debut was his charging in to field a chopper just to the left of second base. The play was not exactly routine and required a quick transfer and hard, accurate throw to first that bailed Peavy out of a leadoff triple in the fifth inning.

Prior to that, Xander almost made a highlight reel catch on a blooper to shallow left-center:


Boston held off on calling up Bogaerts long enough that he won’t reach 130 at-bats in 2013, thus he’ll maintain rookie status for 2014 while enjoying the status as the third youngest player in the league. In the meantime, Boston media will likely achieve veteran status deploying tired puns like “X-Factor” well before October.

Ryan Dempster: Vigilante
Sunday night’s Ryan Dempster vs. Alex Rodriguez showdown renewed some of the fervor lost in the Boston/NY rivalry. The Sox and Yankees play seven times during the month of September and Dempster, at the very least, has probably guaranteed that the Bombers will remain interested even if they continue plummeting in the standings. Meanwhile, the Improper Bostonian points out that Joe Girardi’s two-day crusade against Dempster for throwing a dangerous projectile at one of his players was a bit hypocritical since the main reason for his ire was that his team was robbed of the reasonable opportunity to retaliate with a similar dangerous projectile aimed at a Red Sox player.

Maybe the worst part of the whole thing is that Dempster spurred a series of A-Rod as sympathetic anti-hero columns. Former ballplayer Doug Glanville gets some:

…the most righteous Red Sox player will never be more of a friend than the most egregious rule-breaking Yankee to the Yankees. You hit our teammate, even as wrong as my teammate may be, we will fight for him.

Anyway, all parties can settle down a bit now: Dempster received a five-game suspension on Tuesday and likely won’t make his next start until August 30. Justice hath been served, etc., etc.

A 2004 Red Sox Has A Fun ‘Where Are They Now?’ Moment
Old friend Doug Mientkiewicz got his name in the local headlines by participating in a minor league brawl as a manager. The 39-year-old, who the Red Sox got from the Twins as part of the four-team Nomar Garciaparra deal, was mostly known for his defensive prowess during his playing days. He was one of those media darlings whose uniform got dirty even on his off days, so maybe this development doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Fenway Park Screens A Baseball Cinema Classic, 1993’s ‘The Sandlot’
The Red Sox celebrated the 20th anniversary of the baseball movie The Sandlot with a screening at Fenway Park on Wednesday night. Earlier this season, some characters from the movie hung out with Red Sox players in Minnesota. At the time of the photo op, several sites ventured comparisons of Sandlot characters to Red Sox players. But is there really any debate? Dustin “Ham” Pedroia just has more ring to it and fits a whole lot better than Muddy Chicken ever will.



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

BostonNY Times

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

Check out this Globe 10.0 video posted to 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.


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:


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


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.

Youker Files Archives: A Retrospective

Kevin Youkilis debuted for the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and quickly became a fan favorite. Over the past few years, Youk was a regular contributor in this space, providing episodic snapshots of his life and times.

As a service to Yankees fans excited to learn more about their newest third basemen, Fenway Pastoral has pulled together its archives of Youker Files.

  • 10 Tips for a Successful Job Interview Youkilis offers fans some practical career advice and generally basks in the glow of being one of only a handful of third basemen available on the free agent market.
  • On My Bittersweet Swan Song as a Red Sox Kevin’s emotional goodbye to Boston after he was shipped out to Chicago is sure to tug at the heartstrings.
  • In Which I Accidentally Fart during Yoga Class with Mrs. Youkilis-Brady Kevin pontificates about the true meaning of life and comes to the realization that even embarrassing bodily functions can sometimes lead to enlightenment.
  • Marrying Tom Brady’s Sister Kevin rehashes his nervous excitement leading up to his marriage proposal to the sister of a fellow Boston sports legend.
  • Dinner With the Guys at Applebee’s Back before anyone knew just how sourly the year would end, a 2011 spring training team-building dinner at a local bistro seemed innocent enough.
  • A Trip to the Farmer’s Market Youk weighs in on the staying power of a popular consumer trend while on the shelf with a thumb injury.
  • 4th of July Fireworks Safety Tips Kevin articulates his passion and appreciation for a popular American past-time (other than baseball).
  • A Day on the Links Youkilis manages to fit in one last round of golf with Dustin Pedroia prior to the beginning of the 2010 regular season. The results aren’t completely disastrous.
  • An Evening at the Nutcracker Demonstrating an appreciation for high culture that is sure to resonate with the box-seat dwellers at Yankee Stadium, Kevin cleans himself up and takes his then-girlfriend “wife” to a popular holiday-themed ballet.
  • My Visit to Disneyland A day before the first game of the 2009 ALDS against the Anaheim Angels, Kevin made a regrettable decision to ride the teacups.

2013 Bill James Projections: Red Sox pitchers

Last week, Fenway Pastoral ran through key Red Sox hitters’ projections based on Bill James’ proprietary system. Today, Boston’s impact pitchers and what James’ system sees in store for them during 2013. The forecasts are undoubtedly more optimistic than not in most cases.


The top three pitchers in the rotation as of this writing – Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront – are all expected to pitch over 200 innings and generate ERA results that are roughly a full run better than in 2012. If the front office puts any credence into James’ system or one with a similar predictive methodology, that alone suggests the team may not be all that concerned with the front end of its rotation.

The rotation’s two wild cards at this point are John Lackey as he returns after Tommy John surgery and Franklin Morales. In Lackey’s case, James’ system has him performing much more in line with his career norms than his disastrous 2011 season. If the James projections for Morales are close, he could potentially fill the role of a fifth starter or long reliever out of the bullpen.

Putting it all together, if the Sox rely mainly on the five starters listed above, the team would get a combined ERA and FIP significantly better than the 2012 league average. Again, though, expecting four Red Sox starters to top 200 innings – particularly after the team’s injury history over the last few seasons – is a bit charitable.


Out of the bullpen, James’ system expects the Sox will get the Andrew Bailey they thought they were getting based on his 2011 stat line. The forecast for Daniel Bard is based on the presumption that all of the jerking around done with him during 2012 did not do the righty any permanent damage. Bard is probably the best case in point on this list for the general limitations of projection systems since they can’t possibly account for a pitcher’s confidence level.

Alfredo Aceves, Junichi Tazawa, Andrew Miller and Mark Melancon all project as key cogs in the middle relief arsenal. As relievers, however, expectations for their final statistical lines are useful mostly just in theory.


Based on the largely bullish projections for pitchers already on Boston’s 40-man roster, the front office will likely target undervalued players in the marketplace rather than making a big splash by signing a front-end talent like Zack Greinke. Greinke and Kyle Lohse are therefore included primarily as reference points.

Roy Oswalt could be particularly intriguing if he were healthy enough to contribute to a club earlier in the season and if the team were willing to write off his time in 2012 in Texas as a fluke. The Sox would presumably be one of a handful of teams for whom the veteran may be willing to pitch if the price were right. Boston could also be in position to offer someone such as Brandon McCarthy more on a average annual basis than other interested clubs.

Josh Beckett
Finally, just for fun, former Sox ace Josh Beckett is projected to bounce back from an uninspiring 2012. He will almost surely benefit from moving out of the AL East and if he is able to reinvent himself into more of a finesse/location pitcher, he could be an effective pitcher in 2013. Maybe James’ system accounted for Beckett’s bizarre seesawing career of being at his best in odd-numbered years and poor in even-numbered years?

**All data taken from player pages at

Fun with Bill James Projections: Red Sox hitters and their expected 2013 stat lines

Bill James’ projection system has earned a reputation over the years of being a bit optimistic, particularly when it comes to forecasting younger players’ playing time and number of at bats given the potential for injury. But with James’ expanded role in the Boston front office this offseason, perhaps the projections that carry his namesake provide some insight into the way the Red Sox front office is thinking in the days leading up to the post-Thanksgiving signing frenzy.

Via Fangraphs’ individual player pages, a summary of key Red Sox hitters’ 2013 projections, their actual 2012 numbers and the positive/(negative) change.

The system is bullish on Dustin Pedroia’s chances for a rebound season after a down year that can be blamed partly on injuries. But would that 2013 line be enough for a contract extension in the neighborhood of $20m per year for a 2B?

David Ortiz
Fans would gladly take this kind of cumulative production in 600(!) at bats from Big Papi – even if it meant a fall back to earth in rate stats.

Will Middlebrooks
James’ system projects a continuation of what Middlebrooks showed in his rookie season.

Jacoby Ellsbury
This type of full season from Ellsbury looks eerily similar to Carl Crawford’s averages during his last couple years in Tampa.

Pedro Ciriaco
Ciriaco isn’t an everyday player in any world other than Bobby Valentine’s.

Daniel Nava
Nava slots in somewhere between a fourth outfielder and just another body the team can throw in the outfield.

Jose Iglesias
It may be telling that a projection system known for optimism still expects Iglesias’ weighted on-base average to be around .250. That may just be good enough if he keeps gloving every ball hit in his general vicinity.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Salty can’t possibly strike out as much as he did in 2012 again? James’ system doesn’t think so…

Ryan Lavarnway
We think maybe Ben Cherington hard-coded this very bullish stat line into the output for trade leverage…

Jerry Sands
As mentioned earlier, James’ system takes some liberties in assuming teams will find younger players plenty of big league at bats.

Red Sox Catchers
Speaking of catchers, James’ projections put to rest any potential debate if the Sox go into camp with Salty, Lavarnway and David Ross on the roster. Any combination of two of the three major league catchers on the roster as of this writing would be expected to provide the lineup with above-average power and overall production.

Also, some free agents that are on the team’s radar.

And just for fun – Kevin Youkilis is expected to rebound into a form more recognizable to his peak years in Boston. No true Sox fan can begrudge Youker a few more years of success – even if it’s somewhere else.

Reverse Standings Update: Red Sox in danger of losing top 10 draft status

The Red Sox enter their final home series of the season tonight against Tampa Bay with a solid chance to finish in the bottom third of the standings, capping off one of the most disappointing years in franchise history considering spring expectations, theoretical talent level and the recent success of the team over the past 10 years.

However, there is still some losing to be done if they are to secure a coveted top 10 selection (“protected” even if the team signs a Type A free agent). The Sox essentially have to finish inside the bottom nine teams listed above or worse since Pittsburgh is locked into the No. 9 position after failing to sign 2011 first-round selection, Mark Appel.

(As WEEI’s Alex Speier pointed out, the last time the Sox picked anywhere near this high in a draft, they selected Nomar Garciaparra at No. 12 in 1994.)

Elsewhere, Sox fans might take some Schadenfreude in the fact that Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs have played well enough in recent weeks to let the Colorado Rockies (losers of nine of their last 10) back into the picture for the second pick in the draft.

These are indeed dark, dark days. Eight games to go and counting down…