Whatever happened to faith?

    Three years ago Red Sox fans were easily recognizable.   No matter what the standings were, you could always tell if someone was a Sox fan just be glancing at their shirt, hat, backback, etc.  Even in the middle of September with the Red Sox 10 games out; the Martinez’s and Gaciappara’s would still scatter the streets around New England.  Today, it is difficult to tell a Red Sox fan from a Kansas City Royals fan. Even around mlblogs.com, the #1 site for diehard Red Sox fans to share their thoughts and oppinions, comments and postings have dropped well below average since the "Boston Massacre."  Half of the comments on Ian Brown’s blog are by Yankee fans.
    If anybody cares to glance at my last "inning by inning" blog, just scroll down a small bit.  Notice how the Red Sox fall down by five runs in the fifth, the Yankees go ahead by 5 or so as well?  When, exactly, does the post end?  The post ends when the game ends.  The post ends after nine agonizing innings, and I watch every pitch of every one.   How many others did that?
    Today was the first day of school.  I walk into the building that I have dreaded and despised for the last three years for the first time all summer: wearing by Boston Red Sox jacket.  Out of the 50 or so kids in the atrium, at least 20 of them being Red Sox fans, I am one of only two wearing even Red Sox colors.  Out of the 10 people I talked about the Sox with today, every single one of them said they had stopped watching since the Yankee series.
    Remember that movie "still we believe," that was released in the beginning of 2004?  That movie documented the faith we Red Sox fans are capable of.  It chronicled the lives of half-a-dozen fans who followed the Sox religiouly.  Some of them were pessimists, some were optimists, but every single one of them watched every single game that year.  And they had probably watched almost every game for the past decade.  They had had their hearts broken more times in 5 years than most baseball fans had in 20.  And, finally, their faith was rewarded.  The Red Sox beat all odds to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years.  And suddenly those fans, who were renowned for their celebrated "believingness," ceased to believe.  And not just believe, but to care.  At 1:00 in the morning I will probably be finishing up my "inning by inning" blog for tonight.  Red Sox Nation, where are you going to be?

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Inning by Inning analysis –

Inning by Inning analysis – game 3 vs. YankeesPregame Josh Beckett against Randy Johnson. Johnson has been strong his last few games, and Beckett has been crappy his last 20. The lack of Jason Veritek seems to have a negative effect on Beckett. His last game, the only times he hit the target Lopez set up for him, Lopez had set up outside the strike zone.
What Beckett needs to do is get his fastball over for a strike on the first pitch. Once he falls behind 2-0 or 3-1, he tries throwing a fastball middle-in every time, and some lucky fan eating a hotdog on the other side of the green monster gets a souvenir (and a concussion).

I’ll begin the analysis in the top of the second.
Top 2 Yankees get two: homer by Bernie Williams, double by Damon. Why does Javy Lopez insist on calling for pitches on the corner on a 2-0 count? Beckett keeps missing by a fraction, falling behind, and then throwing a fastball right down the middle on 3-1 or 2-0.

Bottom 2 Javy grounds into a double play to end the inning. He is quickly closing in on the leauge leaders in that category.

Top 3 Beckett proves unable to hit the mit with consistency. He gives up another run, and throws 23 pitches. That makes 63 through 3.

Bottom 3 1-2-3 go the Red Sox. Through 3 innings, Randy Johnson: no runs, no hits, 1 walk 29 pitches. Josh Beckett: 3 runs, 4 hits, 4 walks, 63 pitches.

Top 4 1-2-3 inning. Beckett only throws 9 pitches. Of the 19 batters he has faced, 6 have received first pitch strikes.

Bottom 4 With one out, a couple of walks brings up Manny. On a 2-1 count, Manny hits a 3 run homer. Two batters later, Pena gets an RBI single. Kapler grounds into a double play to end the inning, but the Sox score 4 times to take a 4-3 lead.

Top 4 A-Rod hits an RBI double on a chopper over Lowell. Posada beats out a near double play as a run scores. 5-4 Yankees. Beckett throws almost 100 pitches through 5 innings. Lopez still ******* out as the Sox catcher. He allows Jorge Posada to steal WITHOUT A THROW. The Red Sox pitcher’s ERA has gone up nearly a run since the loss of Veritek. And Yankee fans continue to complain about Matsui and Sheffield, when their replacements (Melky and Abreu) are hitting about as good as them.

Bottom 4 Two walks and Johnson is gone. Loretta bunts the runners over. Ortiz hits a sac-fly to tie the game.

Top 5 With two on, Beckett walks two batters, and leaves. Delcarmen comes in and walks A-Rod, no thanks to Javy who sets up on the corner on a 2-0 pitch. A triple for Posada makes it 10-5.

Comments will cease now, as the Yankees take all hope away from Red Sox Nation.

Now I’m depressed and why I hate NESN

</p> <p>Now I’m depressed</p> <p>I won’t even comment about the outcome of the two games.  It wasn’t pretty.  Jason Johnson stinks.  We have learned to accept that.  John Lester, however, we were not prepared for.  Nobody thought John Lester would give up five runs in one inning, or that our bullpen was bad enough to give up seven runs in the seventh.

A few good things did result from the games yesterday, however.  One, the front office opened their eyes, realized that Rudy Seanez should never pitch another major league game, and designated him for assignment.  Two, Julian Tevarez realized the object of baseball wasn’t to see how many runs you can give up without being permanently utilized as a rookie league middle reliever, and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

Another positive thing to be taken away from yesterday, is Eric Hinske.  Although he struggled in his second game, his first three at bats resulted in singles.  If Francona so chooses, he can create a 5 person platoon with Hinske, Pena, Youkilis, Lowell, and Loretta.  Also, Hinske showed in his rookie year that he does have more potential then .270, 15 HR, 60 RBI.  In his rookie year he hit 24 homers, and was voted the rookie of the year.

The fact that the Red Sox signed Hinske, who is not a free agent at the end of the year, seemingly proves that Trot Nixon will not be wearing a Boston uniform next year.  Wily Mo, Hinske, Trot, and Kapler would be an unreasonable amount of right-fielders.  Nixon is making 7.5 million this year, and will definitely not be signing for less than 5 next year.  It would make no sense to spend 5 million on a player who would be used as a defensive replacement/sometimes starter, especially when Kapler can already fill that role.

In other news, I officially hate NESN.  Third inning, two on, nobody out, middle of the Sox lineup at the plate, Yanks up by two, and Don Orsillo and Jery Remy take the time to interview a kid with a tumor (or something like that).  As much as I appreciate charities like the Jimmy Fund, I didn’t turn on the game to hear it.  I never thought I would say anything like this, but I think NESN has succeeded in making me stop caring about kids with brain tumors and young cance survivors.  NESN, heres a helpful hint: next time you choose to have a "Jimmy Fund Night," make it during May against the Kansas City Royals.  OR, rather than spending an entire inning on the topic, simply say a few words at the beggining of each inning, and CUT OUT THE **** INTERVIEWS.

Stats, stats, and more stats.

</p> <p>Statistical analysis – Runs Created</p> <p>I was reading about some of Bill James statistical analysis stuff yesterday, and thought it was only fair to post some interesting things about a few players.

Bill James invented a statistic called Runs Created (RC) which attempts to measure the amount of runs a player created without taking into account the skill of their teammates (a player on a good team has more RBI opportunities than one on a bad team).  What he does is multiply a players total bases (TB) by their on base percentage (OBP). 
The complete formula is: RC=TB*OBP

The Runs created formula can be made much more complicated.  The formula used above expresses a players RC potential if they were playing with teammates as good as them.  In many cases this creates a vastly overestimated RC potential.  A more complicated version, that also took into account steals among other things, was devised in 2002:
RC =(A*B)/C
where: A = H+BB-CS+HBP-GIDP
            B = TB+((.24*(BB-IBB+HBP))+(.62*SB)+((.5*(SH+SF))-(.03*SO)
            C = AB+BB+HBP+SH+SF

I used this formula on two players: Manny Ramirez and Coco Crisp.

Manny: A = 130+83-1+1-4 = 209
            B = 252+((83-8+1)*.24)+(0*.62)+((0+8)*.5)-(92*.03) = 271.48
            C = 301+83+1+0+8 = 393
         RC=144.37.
Compare this to Manny’s actual runs produced (RBI+Runs-HR) = 134.  Manny’s RC score is about 10 higher than his actual runs produced, a deviation of about 7%. 

Coco: A = 83+22-4+1-4 = 106
           B = 117+((22+1)*.24)+(16*.62)+((3)*.5)-(48*.03) = 132.5
           C = 301+23+1+3+0 = 328
      RC = 42.82

Dividing the RC by the player’s total chances and multiplying by 27 gives the total number of runs a team composed entirely of this player can be expected to score per game.  This statistic is known as RC/27.  Manny’s RC/27 = 9.92, and  Coco’s RC/27 = 3.5.

Despite the fact that Coco is my favorite player, I’m afraid I have to bash him a little bit.  3.5 runs per game.  Coco, that is terrible!  Although I think you have the potential to be a 40 steal/10 CS player in the future, and your defense is terrific, you have some serious holes in your repertoire.

Coco Crisp has excellent potential.  At times he has shown us what a truly remarkable player he can be, diving to his right to make the second-best-play-of-the-year (and the weak), or hitting .362 over 14 games.  But one thing he does too much of is swing. Coco has only been walked 22 times this year in 328 plate appearances.  22 times, once every 15 plate appearances.  Manny has walked 83 times in 398 plate appearences, an average of 5 plate appearances per walk.

August 13 – Mo’ Willie

August 13 – Mo’ Willie Mo (less Trot)Willie Mo Pena fell within a single of the cycle yesterday, the second time in the last 20 days that he has come within a hit of the cycle. He had a moon shot over the monster seats, his second triple of the year, and a double, as the Red Sox beat the Orioles in 10 innings 8-7.
Manny Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 27 games with his game-winning RBI single, but Willie Moe was the highlight of the game. Although he struck out in his final at bat, he still recieved quite a reception throughout the game after his homerun and triple. As the Red Sox prepare for the return of key players, including Trot Nixon, many fans, including myself, are hoping the Sox can find another place for Trot (the bench?) when he does return.

Since Trot went on the DL, Willie Moe has hit as many homeruns as Trot hit the whole season (he also struck out twice as much). If Willie Moe, who is hitting over .300, can learn some plate discipline, he has the potential to be a 35 HR, .315 AVG player. Imagine the middle of the lineup (Papi, Manny, Willie Mo) having a combined total of 115+ HRs.

PREDICTION: Trot is not wearing a Boston uniform next year. Do you think Theo would have traded for Wille Moe if he planned on being a replacement outfielder for the next few years. Let us not forget, Wille Mo is only 25 years old. With a little bit of coaching on plate discipline he has the potential to be even greater than a 35 homer guy.

In the last week, we’ve seen him collect a dozen hits, hit three 425+ ft. homers, but strike out about 10 times. If he ceases to chase curves that are within a foot of the strike zone, he could evolve into a 45 homer player with an average around .315. Two years ago, with the Reds, Willie Moe hit 26 homers in 110 games: while he was only 23.

August 12 – Wells pulls the Sox within 2

8:06
COCO!  Coco scores the games first run, and Wells has pitched well through the third as the    Sox lead the O’s 1-0.  Corey Lidle is getting hammered as the Angels lead the Yankees 3-0.

Bottom 3rd: Two walks to start off the bottom of the third, Manny chops a base hit into center scoring Loretta: 2-0 Sox. Hits for Lowell and Pena make it 4-0, and Lowens is gone.  Lowell steals third, and Javy Lopez then gets an RBI single: 5-0 Sox.  Gonzalez hits a triple and Loretta hits a single making it 8-0. Manny then strikes out to end the inning.

Top 4th: Orioles do not score as Willie Moe Pena throws out Conine at the plate.

Bottom 4th: With two on, Pena K’s for the second time and Lopez hits into another double play.
In 4 ABs with runners in scoring position, Lopez has grounded into a double play 3 times. Pena chased another curve out of the zone to strike out.

Top 5th: Wells gets Tejada to ground out and strands a runner at third.  8-0 Red Sox.

Bottom 5th: 1-2-3 inning.
Coco Crisp is now just 3-18 in his last 4 games after going on a 14 game tear in which he hit .362.  Coco remains tied with Luis Castillo for the AL lead in stolen bases since the all star break, with 8.

Top 6th: 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 6th: Big Papi hits a double but the Sox don’t score.

Top 7th: Did anybody else notice Jerry Remy’s half-cough half-laugh fit for the duration of the inning?  The Orioles get a run on a Brian Roberts double.  8-1 Red Sox.
David Wells has thrown 95 pitches in seven innings and given up 1 run.

Bottom 7th: Loretta drives in a run, 9-1 Red Sox.

Top 8th: Vladamir hits a homer to put the Angels up 7-3 (yeah for my fantasy team!), but ARod homers to pull the Yanks within 3.  Snyder relieves Wells and throws a scoreless inning.
Snyders ERA is now 5.72 after being above 8 earlier this season.  He has not given up a run since moving back to the bullpen (5.2 innings).  He struck out Gibbons looking on a nasty curve that came down from above Gibbon’s head into the strike zone to end the inning.

Bottom 8th: 1-2-3 inning, game moves to the ninth: 9-1 Sox.

Top 9th: Snyder back on the mound, gives up a homer to Corey Patterson but nothing more, as the Red Sox beat the Orioles 9-2.

It is unfortunate to be so happy about beating a team like the Orioles, but after getting swept by the Royals it is a relief to get the win.  The best part about the win is that everybody in the lineup had a hit, and Wells was fantastic. 

David_wells
Wells lowers his ERA to 6.23, wins his first game of the year (finally!), and has now given up 2 ERs in his last 13 innings pitched.  As I said earlier, the Red Sox hopes rest on the emergence of one of their starters as a quality third pitcher, whether it be Lester,  Wells, Johnson, or Snyder.  Tonight, Wells proved that he may be the pitcher who will help Schilling and Beckett to carry the team into October.

NOTE: Manny extended his hitting streak to 26 games.

Around Baseball
Yankees lose, Twins get beat by the Jays, and the White Sox beat Detroit.  The Red Sox now trail the Yankees by two, and move to within 1/2 a game of the Twins in the wildcard, 2 games behind Chicago.  Toronto remains 5 games behind Boston.

August 2 – Red Sox face impressive Sowers

7:05 The Red Sox face Indian rookie Sowers who started the year in a funk, but has been nothing short of incredible in his last two starts.  Sowers has pitched two consecutive complete game shutouts, giving up just 5 hits in 18 innings.  Interestingly enough, Sower’s has only struck out 15 batters in 40 innings, and is not a ground ball specialist.  Why is he so successful?  Perhaps we will find out tonight.

7:20  Lester has given up a homerun, a triple, and a single.  Indians are ahead 2-0.  Lester also walked one, but picked him off.  The Indians add another run later in the inning to go up 3-0.  Hopefully Sowers is worse than advertised. 

7:37  Sower’s is a traditional lefty.  His fastball isn’t overpowering, his control is great, his slider is very good, and his curve ball is great.  Nobody has been able to get good wood on the ball.  His fastball broke in on Youkilis who hit a grounder to third, and Manny who hit a soft liner to left.  Loretta walked, and Ortiz struck out on a slider.

8:15 Lester has settled down, but Sowers has proved dominant.  Ortiz is up with a runner on on a 3-2 pitch.  Ortiz swings and misses; Youk is going on the pitch and is out by a mile: inning over.  End of the third, 3-0 Cleveland.

8:30 Sowers still going strong after 4, giving up just two hits.  3-0 Cleveland, top of the 5th.

8:46 Gonzalez sits on second after hitting a double, 2 outs, Youkilis hits a run-scoring double, and Loretta hits a single, making it 3-2 Cleveland.  Ortiz strikes out for the third time today.

9:07 Manny hits a homerun off reliver Bill Sikorski, and Pena follows it with a shot of his own after Lowell pops out.  4-3 Red Sox going to the top of the seventh.

9:35 Red Sox don’t score in the bottom of the seventh.  4-3 Red Sox, top of the 8th.

9:48 Travis Hafner hits a two-run homerun off Mike Timlin.  5-4 Indians, bottom of the 8th.

10:02 Ortiz strikes out for the fourth time today, and the Red Sox don’t score in the top of the 8th.

10:12 Paplbon works a scoreless ninth.  The Red Sox have one last chance in the bottom of the ninth, starting with Pena, Crisp, and Merabelli.

10:16 Pena and Crisp struck out, Merabelli was hit by a pitch.  Two outs, Gonzi up . . . and he gets hit by a pitch as well.

10:18 Youkilis draws a walk, Loretta up with the bases loaded.

10:19  LORETTA HITS ONE OFF THE WALL IN LEFT.  RED SOX WIN.

The Yankees’ Chien-Ming Wang worked 8 scoreless innings, following his complete game shutout, as the Yankees win 7-2.  They remain percentage points ahead of the Red Sox.