Boston Red Sox

Closer Report: Red Sox

A closer report on the Red Sox isn't tricky - Jonathan Papelbon is the first stopper off the board in most leagues (he, Mariano Rivera, and Jonathan Broxton start moving in the 6th round).  Papelbon is quite valuable in fantasy leagues, and the 6th round is appropriate if you're not the type to take chances on closers.

If you're searching for a chink in the armor after a 1.85 ERA season, check out Papelbon's 3.2 BB/9.  It was his worst walk rate since his rookie year, and it pushed his WHIP all the way up to 1.15.  He tinkered with his delivery early in the season, so that might've caused the extra walks in the first half.  Regardless, we're nit-picking.

In the seemingly unlikely event Papelbon misses time with an injury, who's next in line?  Hideki Okajima and Ramon Ramirez were used in the highest-leverage situations last year.  Ramirez's peripherals were shaky, however.  Hard-throwing sophomore Daniel Bard could be the guy, assuming he's in the midst of a strong season.

Dark horses?  Scott Atchison dominated out of the Hanshin Tigers' bullpen last year.  Boof Bonser had interesting peripherals in '08 out of the Twins' pen, but that was before shoulder surgery.

You shouldn't worry about Papelbon's backup unless you're really digging for saves in a deep AL-only league.  Bard is the current favorite, but keep an eye on Atchison.

How About Brad Penny?

I've drafted in two mixed leagues so far this year, and one player who was not chosen in either was Brad Penny.  He's looking like a nice pickup if you have the bench space.  Penny was impressive yesterday, touching 95 mph.  Amalie Benjamin's article notes that Boston won't need a fifth starter until April 12th, so Penny may be held back a bit.  Maybe he'll have the typical Penny big first half, and you can slot in John Smoltz thereafter.  Perhaps that's Boston's plan too.

I decided I like Penny a touch more than Clay Buchholz, who makes for a solid post-hype sleeper.  Buchholz's problem is that he is further down the depth chart than Penny or Smoltz.

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Don't Forget About Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz is in Triple A, but with virtually any of the other 29 organizations he'd be in the Majors.  The Red Sox haven't given any indications of an impending callup, but Buchholz is tearing it up.

I am a huge fan of Buchholz, and he is on most mixed league waiver wires.  If you have room to stash him, do it.  If he's less talented than Joba Chamberlain, it's not by much.

Boston's rotation is deep, but they're a smart organization and Buchholz won't be held down in the minors if a veteran is underperforming.

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Pick Up Colon?

Bartolo Colon's Red Sox debut last night was a success, though the Royals have the second-worst offense in the AL according to OPS.  Is he worth a mixed league pickup?

David Golebiewski of The Transaction Guy looks at Colon's start using pitch F/X data.  Sounds like his fastballs were sharp, and his secondary stuff was nothing special.  Colon is experienced and can at least pick up some wins against inferior offenses.

Next on the docket for Colon: the Mariners, Orioles, and Mariners again.  The Mariners rank 11th in OPS; the Orioles are 8th.  I'd probably use Colon for all three starts.

Colon Looking Good

Interesting news from Bartolo Colon's Triple A start yesterday...he was throwing in the mid-90s.  That's Good Colon.  I can see him joining the big club in a week or two, and being a solid pickup for wins assuming you play the matchups.

Book Review: Bill Simmons Now I Can Die In Peace

I just polished off Bill Simmons's new book.  It's called Now I Can Die In Peace: How ESPN's Sports Guy Found Salvation, With a Little Help From Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004 Red Sox.  Yep, that whole thing is the title - it's a little much. 

I didn't know much about Simmons until recently.  I had stumbled across his column occasionally, and it always gave me a chuckle.  His new book kept popping up on my Amazon recommendations, so I gave it a chance.  Also popping up on my list: Lord of the Rings Platinum Series Special Extended Edition.  That three hour creation would actually be my own personal version of hell, so you have to take Amazon recs with a grain of salt.

Not being too familiar with Simmons's past writing made the book far more enjoyable for me.  I definitely didn't feel cheated out of my $15.37 after I finished this book.  If I were a regular Simmons reader, I may have been pissed.  It's just a reprinting of his more interesting and relevant columns as they pertain to the Red Sox eventually winning the 2004 World Series.  Then again, Simmons more than throws his regulars a bone - he includes five hundred lovingly crafted footnotes with his musings and factoids.  Loved the footnotes. 

Bill's style is a breeze to read and never gets boring.  His columns read like a barroom conversation, only more pithy.  The book is mostly Red Sox baseball, but with plenty of amusing digressions.  For example, Bill missed Pedro's 17 K one-hitter to attend a friend's wedding in 1999.  His adventures during the wedding are more entertaining than any description of Pedro's game could've been.  A hilarious Life Goes On reference is the icing on the cake. 

My favorite chapter/column of the book was Bill's breakdown of the ESPN documentary Outside the Lines as they covered the Manny Ramirez free agent negotiations.  I laughed out loud as Simmons described the incredibly awkward interactions between antisocial Boston GM Dan Duquette and man-child Manny.  Another recurring reference that was always effective was The Derek Lowe Face.  This is described as the face you make when you're on the toilet and you realize there's no toilet paper.  I actually laughed out loud more than five times while reading this book.


Honestly, that's all you really need to know.  It's laugh-out-loud funny, packed with pop culture references, and doesn't pull any punches.  Now I Can Die In Peace is probably one of two worthy Red Sox books in a sea of quickie writeups.  The other is Baseball Prospectus's Mind Game, and a review is on the way.

Today's pick: (1-3, -$170)
Paul Byrd (+210) over Randy Johnson (-250)

MLB Trade Rumors: Manny Ramirez

The latest trade rumor whipping the baseball world into a frenzy involves Manny Ramirez.  The Roto Authority thinks it's simply a case of huge trade withdrawal.  When the biggest name on the market is A.J. Burnett, a #2 starter at best, there is a craving for a Manny blockbuster.  But that's half the fun, and the Red Sox truly are exploring a Manny Ramirez trade, so let's have a look at the possibilities.

We all know that Ramirez is a bona fide superstar, well on his way to 600 home runs in his career.  He's a lock for 40 HR, 120 RBI, and a .300 average every year.  The Red Sox paid dearly for the production, and Ramirez is due $57 million for 2006-2008.  Manny is at .275-28-92 this year, numbers that would make a pretty good entire season for most players.  There are two months left in the season for Manny to wreak havoc. 

So, what team could possibly afford Manny's $57 million and has a gaping left field vacancy?  The Chicago Cubs, of course.  The Cubs also have the young talent to draw him in - Rich Hill, Felix Pie, Matt Murton, and Corey Patterson could all be part of a package.  Theo Epstein certainly wouldn't mind getting Murton back after Hendry swiped him.  Imagine a 3-4-5 combo of Derrek Lee, Manny Ramirez, and Aramis Ramirez.  Not that the Cubs need power, but still.  History is on the Cubs' side, as Hendry and Epstein worked out the Nomar Garciaparra blockbuster right before the deadline in 2004. 

The problem with this dream scenario for Cubs fans?  Manny wants out of Boston because he wants more privacy.  Clearly he won't get that in Chicago.  Other possible destinations, like New York, offer the same obstacle.   

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