Tag Archives: Boston Red Sox

2013 ZiPS Projections: Probabilities for the Red Sox Lineup and the rest of the AL East

Dan Symborski’s ZiPS projections for the 2013 season were recently made available on Google Docs. Using the OPS metric as a measure of a player’s offensive value will make any serious baseball analyst have kittens. But it is interesting to look at the ZiPS system’s projections for OPS+, which accounts for for park effects and league context, to see the relative floor and ceiling for individual players.

Sox starters

 ^CLICK TO ENLARGE^

The chart above summarizes each Red Sox player’s chances of topping various OPS+ benchmarks, based on ZiPS. The median OPS+ projection is provided to the right. Players are listed in descending order of total expected WAR.

Barring an unexpected breakout, the Sox may be more reliant on David Ortiz’s offensive production in 2013 than ever before. With a 150 OPS+ forecast, his bat is projected to be 50% better than league average. Meanwhile, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli each have around a 20% chance to be an elite bat (130+) in the AL. The dropoff after that is significant as the team signed two outfielders – Victorino and Gomes – who project to essentially be right around league average (1% better).

For context, the rest of the AL East is provided below. While they have a few younger players who may drag down the lineup, the Blue Jays clearly appear to have the best chance to have a number of players be well above average. While the Yankees have more upside potential than the Sox, there is a clear separation between the top half and bottom half of the lineup. The same can be said about the Tampa Bay Rays. And, well, we got bored halfway through the Orioles…

NY

Tor

TB

Bal

An Appreciative History of Boston Red Sox Pocket Schedules

The final week leading up to spring training is unparalleled in terms of promise and hope. It is the time to be naive. It is the time to be optimistic. Nothing bad has happened yet. The whole season awaits. Nothing better embodies the optimism of this blank slate better than a pocket schedule.

So next time your buddy pulls out his smartphone to check what time a game starts, slap it out of his hand and tell him a real man keeps a pocket schedule in his wallet at all times.

Below, an incomplete chronology (primarily via eBay listings) of pocket schedules for Red Sox seasons over the past six decades:

1953
Some rare pre-cursors to the pocket schedule are occasionally available for sale on e-bay and other sites. This simple green and white design features a shield design that looks a bit like the NFL’s official logo.

1953

1969
GO RED SOX (again). State Street Bank sponsored a number of pocket skeds issued in the ’60s and ’70s (see below). Based on this 1969 edition, “Go Red Sox” must have been a thing in 1968, too.

1969

1970s
The 1970s featured a number of these simplistic designs. The game time designations – Twi-Night Games! – are especially interesting now. And of course, insert the standard observation that Sox tickets were a lot cheaper back during the Nixon administration (Richard, that is).

1971

1974
Red Sox ‘74. “We do our homework.” – State Street.

1974b

1975
It was decided pretty early that an awesome season needed an awesome pocket schedule design. Narragansett delivered.

1975

Also, the State Street-sponsored edition closely resembled the year before.

1975b

1976
Fred Lynn.

1976

1977
Fred Lynn waiting on a pitch and a fantastic old-school TV38 logo.

1977

Also, an alternative edition from Schlitz(!): “Schlitz Brings You the Red Sox ‘77” – The Sox and Schlitz beer: The Perfect Refreshment Team.

1977b

1978
An action shot of All-Star shortstop Rick Burleson turning a double play in the shadow of the left-field wall. Labatt’s takes the baton from ‘Gansett and Schlitz.

1978

1979
Dennis Eckersley throws a pitch and, as was often the case back then, Budweiser was involved.

1979

1980
Sox Magic 1980 “Yaz Hits 3000th” Images of Fisk’s homer in Game 6 and Ted Williams bookend Carl Yastrzemski getting hit No. 3,000.

1980

1981
No big surprises here. It’s Yaz.

1981

1982
On a team that had Dwight Evans, Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski, light-hitting 2B Jerry Remy somehow got the nod.

1982

1983
“The Excitement Builds” – Unassuming but effective. The 1980s were a simpler time.

1983

1984
“Catch Fenway Fever” – Wade Boggs makes the first of several appearances over the next decade.

1984

1985
“Get Out to the Ballpark – Catch Fenway Fever” – This time, Jim Rice is the one doling out the fever. And injecting The Fear into the eyes of opposing pitchers.

1985

1986
“A Boston Tradition” – Wade Boggs taught us how much better a ballplayer’s patience at the plate can be when he has sex constantly. Unchecked aggression of any kind probably makes laying off of a diving curveball in the dirt a hell of a lot more difficult. Maybe Boggs chose the wrong course in getting all blubbery and apologetic on national TV about being a sexual deviant.

1986

1987
A classy nod to the ‘86 AL champions and to Fenway Park’s 75th year.

1987b

Meanwhile, it’s hard to understand what’s happening in this rogue pocket schedule released by Suncook Bank. For one thing, the “players” look to be frolicking in wintry snow rather than playing in a baseball game. The guy in the middle only has one leg. All three guys are clearly wasted. The whole thing could just be a visual manifestation of an Oil Can Boyd cocaine-fueled meltdown…If the stuff were laced with LSD.

1987

1988
“The Fun Has Just Begun!” – The team’s younger talent crop is showcased. Left to right: John Marzano, Mike Greenwell, Todd Benzinger, Ellis Burks and Sam Horn. Greenwell and Burks combined for over 14 WAR that season.

1988

1989
“Catch the Thrills” with Lee Smith.

1989

1990
“Swing into the ‘90s” with Dwight Evans. A Sox mainstay for a decade and a half, Dewey never got any pocket sked play until he was past his prime. We would love to see this specifically cited in some hack writer’s “Why I Voted/Didn’t Vote for This Guy for the Hall of Fame” column.

1990

1991
“Fenway Fun in ‘91” focused on marketing to a crowd mentality. This a reminder that there was a point in time that The Wave wasn’t completely obnoxious.

1991

1992
“Red Hot Red Sox”: Jeff Reardon, Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens just chilling in the dugout. Clemens’ clean-shaven face makes him look prepubescent next to Reardon’s beard and Boggs’ ‘stache.

1992

1993
An artist’s rendering of a crowded Yawkey Way on game day includes a speech bubble of one fan’s declaration that “Red Sox baseball is the best bargain in sports.”

1993

1994
With the players’ strike looming, Roger Clemens headlines a very simplistic, cost-efficient design. It seems appropriately incomplete.

1994

1995
Jose Canseco is here! We got Jose!

1995a

NESN came out with another:

1995b

1996
That NESN spot proved prophetic and the ‘96 campaign was built around the fact that 1995 AL MVP Mo Vaughn was still around. Powerade sports drink took the backside ad space. But even with Vaughn and Jose in the lineup (and both actually better statistically than in ’95), the results of the ’96 season weren’t quite as syrupy sweet as the electrolytes within the now defunct Coca Cola-produced sports drink.

1996

1997
Mo Vaughn doing his thing along with Tim Naehring, who saw injuries derail his career (’97 was his last season in the majors).

1997

1998
With Mo headed to Anaheim and the Pedro Paradigm still in its infancy, Nomar takes the reins after winning AL Rookie of the Year in ‘97.

1998

1999
The All-Star Game marketing was in full swing even in the winter of ’99.

1999

2000
Pedro, at his apex. By this point, every fan simply took Opening Day and then counted ahead four games, circled; counted another four games, circled; counted four games, circled; counted four games…

2000

2001
100 Seasons, 1901-2001. This edition is appropriately creepy, managing to fit in Babe Ruth staring menacingly at the team logo. By this point, controlled by a corrupt, lame duck ownership group led by John Harrington, the team seemed to strangely embrace the idea that it was haunted by its past – even if it were on a subconscious level. If Dan Shaughnessy somehow became a Photoshop wizard, this is probably pretty close to what he would have come up with.

2001

2002
“A New England Tradition.”

2002

2003
“Paint the Town RED!” – Pedro Martinez.

2003

An alternative release featured Nomar Garciaparra.

2003b

2004
There were multiple versions released prior to 2004, including skeds featuring Nomar, Jason Varitek and even Bill Mueller, who tied Manny Ramirez for the 2003 batting crown.

2004

2004b

2005
The World Series trophy.

2005

2006
Another year of multiple editions, which included Coco Crisp, Kevin Youkilis, Trot Nixon high-fiving fans and even one with Wally the Green Monster.

2006

2007
The 40th Anniversary of the ‘67 Dream Team. Plus, Daisuke Matsuzaka comes to town. Hood sponsors at least five different editions, including multiple Dice-K releases, one featuring him playing catch with Hideki Okajima.

2007

2007b

2008
The Sox celebrating their 2007 World Series win on Coors Field.

2008

2009
“Here Are 162 Reasons to Circle the Calendar.” Other editions say things like “Here. Your Calendar Just Filled Up.” Maybe everything seems cooler with the benefit of a more distanced perspective, but these are the kinds of bad one-liners that get Peggy Olson kicked out of Don Draper’s office.

2009

2010
“162 Save-the-Dates” with Dustin Pedroia. Is anybody starting to notice a pattern here?

2010

2011
Second Edition: “162 Reasons to Have A Pocket” – Jon Lester

2011b

Third Edition: “We Won’t Rest Until Order Has Been Restored” Clockwise: Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz.

2011

2012
“Fenway Park 100 Years” – Plus, another round of pocket schedules reminding fans of the length of the baseball season – i.e. “162 Ways to Celebrate.”

2012a

But this 2nd edition and its “Best Six Months of the Year” tagline is our favorite. Oh, the irony.

2012

2013
“162 Chances to Restore the Faith.”

2013 

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.

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…

In effort to defibrillate ratings, ever-creative Red Sox to air ‘Bobby Valentine Firing Special’ live on NESN

It is the worst kept secret in town: The Red Sox are going to fire Bobby Valentine once the 2012 season comes to its merciful end.

One of the many faces of Bobby V. (H/T Stamford Advocate)

Yet even though the outcome may be inevitable, leave it to the Boston Red Sox to deliver some much-needed autumn drama to its starving fanbase.

At a future date in October subject to approval by Major League Baseball, the Red Sox will send Bobby V. to the gallows in style as part of a live televised special that will include a veritable lynch mob of surprise guests; former players; the “Real” Wally the Green Monster; Jenny Dell (pre-recorded); John Henry and Larry Lucchino wearing tuxedos and coattails; an imposter Wally the Green Monster; former and current local television personalities; 6 o’clock evening news anchors and meteorologists; Hazel Mae; a guy with a goatee who looks a little bit like Dave Roberts; and many, many more.*

*(Just kidding. Hazel Mae won’t be there.)

Organizers expect the live special to run at least two hours (not including WB Mason pre- and post-firing analysis).

NESN officials are also promising a 30-minute condensed firing will be rerun throughout the Hot Stove season on both NESN and various local affiliates.

“Lineup cards written by Bobby will be burned; fake mustaches will be worn; shit-eating grins will be obliterated; wrap sandwiches will be fed to full-size elephants and their resulting dung will be packed into trash bags and emptied on top of his car,” said one organizer who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I can’t share too much else. The final script hasn’t been approved just yet…”

The front office, accused by some of becoming a bit tone-deaf to the wishes of its bread-and-butter fanbase over the past season or two, has seemingly come through with a slam dunk idea just in the nick of time.

“This thing is going to be an absolute ratings bonanza,” said one NESN executive from his office in Watertown. “We’ve already got Charlie Moore lined up to host a pre-game fishing special and NESN Daily will have a special booth. We expect that it’s going to be incredibly popular.”

Said another club spokesman, “What better way to lay rest to this atrocity of a season than to very publicly, very humiliatingly relieve Bobby Valentine from his duties as manager of the Red Sox?”

Sources have thus far been coy about exactly how they’ll “break” the news to Bobby V. However, the front office clearly lacks neither firepower nor creativity.

“Hell, we got Bill Cosby here to throw out the first pitch for a meaningless game earlier this month and even Jose Canseco showed up for the Fenway 100-Year Anniversary celebration,” said one official. “With the number of sponsors we have knocking down our door to get in on this, we’ll have a fairly significant chunk of cash to sink into making this whole firing go just right.”

Inside sources are already handicapping the chances that local celebrity personalities such as Ben Affleck, Lenny Clarke or Maria Menounos will be brought in to emcee the extravaganza along with NESN booth mainstays Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy.

More obscure emcee possibilities include the actor from The Karate Kid who yells, “Put him in a body bag, Johnny, YEEAHH” (provided he can be rescued from Bill Simmons’ basement) and former Sox utility man Nick Punto, who bragged on Twitter that he would “both literally and figuratively tear away Valentine from his association with the Red Sox uniform.”

But why the public flogging for a guy who clearly wasn’t the only contributing culprit to a season gone awry?

Across the river, a Harvard psychology professor applauded the Sox’s decision to air the firing live on NESN.

“It’s the same old story that harkens back to our earliest history. It is that very human desire to witness pure, elemental suffering at its very core. Why did people in the middle ages show up en masse for public stonings and to the gallows at sundown? I’ll surely have my digital video recorder set in advance.”

If nothing else, the planned live firing extravaganza seemingly vindicates the front office’s decision to hold off on a decision regarding Valentine prior to the regular season’s conclusion.

“Not to brag or anything, but this is exactly how Lucky Larry drew it up at the beginning of the year,” confirmed one high-ranking Sox executive.

Reverse Standings Update: Yankees help Red Sox keep pace in mad dash for Top 5 draft pick

The Red Sox, losers of eight of their last 10 after being shutout by the Yankees Thursday night, remain fringe contenders for a top 5 draft pick in the 2013 amateur player draft. It is duly noted that the No. 6 Miami Marlins have strung together a strong three-game losing streak in a valiant effort to distance themselves from Boston, currently in the No. 7 slot. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians stupidly battered around Joe Nathan and the Texas Rangers on Thursday night, allowing Boston to move within four games in the loss column of the No. 5 position.

The Sox hope to hold off Kansas City, just 1.5 games behind in the Reverse Standings. The last time Boston finished with more losses than the Kansas City Royals was during the strike-shortened 1994 season. With such a thin margin for error, the BoSox can only hope to match their September 2011 futility.

The frontrunner Houston Astros actually won last night at home against the red-hot Phillies. But ‘Stros fans aren’t likely concerned: Houston’s magic number to clinch the first overall pick, ahead of Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs, is now just nine. Additional help could be on the way if the team gives Roger Clemens and his 90-MPH fastball a chance to start against a contender.

“Wot’s, Uh, The Deal With This Rubbish?” A Stern Message from Red Sox owner John Henry

Dear sirs of Red Sox Nation,

I quite nearly choked on my biscuits while breakfasting on my open-air terrace this morning after hearing unsavory rumours on my handheld audio device that my Boston Red Sox are for sale. Thank goodness a lukewarm cup of Earl Grey was nearby to allow me to drown out the dire circumstances of such tracheal blockage.

Let there be no further debate: I am fully committed to the Fenway Sports Group and all of its components, including the beloved Red Sox Baseball Club of Boston.

I shan’t beat around the bush: I find all such rumours to be utterly insulting and downright nasty. I do believe the whole lot of it has been done to a turn.

Might I also state that Fox Business, from which this story originated, could not possibly have the inside intelligence to put forth such a preposterous claim – even if it were true – unless it had done something drastic, like figure out some magical way to listen in on private telly conversations.

As of this writing, I have lorded over this club for a decade, during which time we have won two world championships; made substantial improvement to Fenway Park; and effectively monetized the experience of diehard Red Sox fandom.

Make no mistake, we are just getting started. Our decline and fall has been vastly overstated. We have expunged vile bodies and, I pledge, Red Sox Nation, that we shall put out more flags before this whole thing is over and done.

Good day,

Series Preview: Will “scuffling” Yankees spoil Boston’s aspirations for top-five draft pick?

The race for a top five draft pick is on, Sox fans!

Going into Tuesday night’s action, Boston’s record sat at 63-78 – four games better than Cleveland (59-81) in the pivotal “Loss” column for the fifth pick. Meanwhile, the third-worst slot was also well within reach as Colorado sits at 56-83 (five losses ahead of the Sox).

The faltering Red Sox (losers of nine of their last 10 games), it would seem, could be lining themselves up nicely for a top-five draft pick in the 2013 amateur player draft.

But leave it to the reeling New York Yankees to come to town just in time to spoil the party.

The first-place Bombers limp into town as they begin a three-game set with the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. The aging Yanks aren’t exactly forging ahead full throttle as they enter the season’s final weeks, which is likely to feature an eventual playoff staredown with fellow AL East contenders Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

And as usual, everything the Yankees do is quite obviously aimed at weakening the Red Sox.

In fact, both the manager and New York players confirmed that they will put their playoff aspirations on hold just long enough to hopefully bolster Boston’s win total and spoil their 2013 draft positioning.

“Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of pussy-footing around in Boston, I can promise you that,” said a distracted looking Joe Girardi. “Our at-bats will be submissive; our base-running tentative and our hustle uninspired.”

Girardi said further, “I’m going to set the tone here. I’m going to bat our worst on-base guy in the leadoff spot and I’ll probably unwittingly slot in our worst power-hitter in the key third spot of the batting order. Maybe I’ll pitch fragile-minded bullpen specialists like Joba Chamberlain for four games straight.”

The Yankees manager claims he is also working on disenfranchising franchise player Derek Jeter.

“I’ve got a few rumors I’m going to drop into some tabloids later in the week. None of them are really based in any truth, but the New York media should have some fun with them for a couple of days. You know…I think maybe Jeter’s ‘commitment’ to the club isn’t what it used to be. He doesn’t play as hard for me as he did for Joe Torre …ya know, that kind of stuff.”

“I’ll clarify myself before Friday night’s game against Tampa because we’re going to need to win that one if everything goes as poorly as we hope in Boston.”

Said slugger Curtis Granderson, “Joe’s told me to use a bat that’s already cracked through…I guess he doesn’t trust me not to swing for the fences up there and he figures this way even if I make contact the ball will go nowhere.”

Added Jeter: “I’m going to do that thing where I stare every good pitch right over the plate all the way into the catcher’s mitt. But I’m also going to swing at every pitch in the dirt and above my neck. We call it ‘Ciriaco-styling'”

For his part, lame duck Sox manager Bobby Valentine does not sound worried.

“Oh, we’ll see about that,” he laughed when apprised of Girardi’s comments about strategically tanking a few games with the bigger picture of 2013 and beyond in mind. “I may not be back here next season, but I sure as shit ain’t going to let somebody like Joe Girardi out-mismanage me. He thinks one little scrum with a USA Today reporter makes him a badass? This guy is way out of his league.”

Asked for specifics, Valentine remained coy, but did provide one telling piece of information.

“We haven’t made a final decision about whether to shut down Daisuke. But I think maybe his next session of long-toss could come while playing third-base during tonight’s game…”

The 2012 Yankees can’t hold a candle to epic collapses of 2011 or 1978 Red Sox

On September 4, 2011, the Boston Red Sox’s peak odds of making the playoffs were 99.78% (see the handy chart from this Sports Illustrated story). *Note that those odds were without the help of an extra Wild Card slot.*

A year later, as the slate of games went final on September 4, 2012, the New York Yankees’ playoff odds are projected to be just under 80% after the team fell into a tie for first place in the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles last night.

Boston’s 1978 collapse was slightly less impressive in that it began earlier in the summer – yet that Red Sox team still had a playoff probability of 96.54% on August 12, according to the SI story linked above. That infamous one-game playoff was necessary in large part because the Yankees won at a near 75% clip during the final seven weeks of the season rather than Boston suffering anything close to the ineptitude of September 2011.

So it is no exaggeration to suggest that both the 2011 and 1978 Red Sox absolutely dwarf this cute little bout of flatulence dressed up as a pants-shitting collapse currently fueling late-summer hysteria in the Bronx.

To wit: The NY Post only used something like 85-point font for their “TANKEES” headline on Wednesday morning. Are these jaded New Yorkers taking this thing seriously?

Even if New York is able to continue losing and to take this downward chute all the way to the finish line, they’ll merely be an also-ran in baseball’s long history of September swoons. And it is conceivable that the Yanks could place third in the AL East behind Baltimore and Tampa Bay and still managed to sneak into the playoffs for the one-game Wild Card round.

This is a laissez-faire collapse if there ever was one.

Obviously, poor New York’s odd inferiority complex with Boston has reared its ugly head yet again. Sometimes we wonder why New Yorkers can’t just accept the harsh truth that Boston is so much more efficient than New York. Its collapses are grander; its players more hapless and, if 2012 is any indicator, its fallout more maddening than ever considered possible.

The gravest tragedy that will come of all this? The Yankees will probably start fielding a better, healthier lineup over the last four weeks of the season, catch a few breaks and manage to somehow win the division anyway.

Wait ‘til next year, indeed.