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Monday, April 16, 2007


E.R.A. is a flawed indication of a starter’s production and for a reliever it is nearly useless. A reliever’s E.R.A. does not account for the outcome of inherited or bequeathed runners. As we saw Friday night from Papelbon, stranding inherited runners is an important skill for any reliever. Baseball Prospectus has statistics that measure pen production, but it should not be solely used to forecast performance. The seven men trying to catch the ball behind the reliever and the small innings sample size make BP’s stats tough to gauge future production. The evaluations of the trained eyes (scouts, coaches, etc.) should be prominent in the decision making process on relief acquisitions, and then those human resources should be held accountable for their evaluations.



Jonathan Papelbon - 60 - 3.04 - 59/18 - 6

After last year’s historic season, PECOTA expects Paps to come back down to earth. The sixty innings looks about right as well as the ratios. The projection is reasonable given the flawed data (minor league starter - major league reliever - relatively limited information) to work with. The impact Paps has will be based on his usage. Tito can earn his new contract by continuing to use the “weapon” in the most critical time of the game.

Mike Timlin - 45 - 4.00 - 25/11 - 4

A healthy Timlin will pitch more than 45 innings. After last season and the start of this one, it is a logical projection for the pen’s elder statesman.

Brendan Donnelly - 55 - 4.05 - 47/22 - 6

Donnelly’s innings and K/BB ratio is consistent with his past performance. But are those number tainted? Regardless, it appears that Tito is reluctant to use him in the late innings. Donnelly seems to be locked in as a sixth and seventh inning guy, even though his production might indicate using him in tighter situations.

J.C. Romero - 50 - 4.47 - 37/26 - 3

Romero could return to his Minnesota form after John Farrell altered his mechanics. He has always had questionable control, but the strikeouts could jump. My glass is half full on Romero and Farrell.

Javier Lopez - 50 - 5.04 - 29/23 - 4

50 innings for Lopez might prove to be disastrous for the Olde Towne Team. As much as the Sox say that J-Lo 2.0 is more than a LOOGY, it is just spin. At least the front office righted a wrong by reacquiring the reliever. They kept Matt White instead of Lopez as their Rule V draft pick back in the day.

Hideki Okajima - 45 - 4.54 - 38/17 - 5

As we have seen, Okajima is not a LOOGY. His best pitch is an over the top curveball with an okay fastball. Who knows about Okajima’s projection, but it might not matter much since he should not be pitching in in high leverage situations.

Joel Pineiro - 55 - 4.09 - 35/16 - 5

Regular readers know my bias feelings, due to Allard Baird’s involvement, on PineiroBread. With that in mind, the PECOTA forecast is right on based on his historical performance, but the system can not fully factor in the mid-season adjustment to Pineiro’s delivery. He could be dominate or be another bullpen bust for the Sox. Other than the relief prospects, Pineiro is the X factor in determining if the Sox have a kick a$$ pen.

Craig Hansen - 40 - 4.66 - 30/17 - 3
Manny Delcarmen - 40 - 4.11 - 34/15 - 3
Kason Gabbard - 25 - 5.48 - 16/14 - 2
And the various other pitchers in Rhode Island and on the 40-man, but here’s hopin’ we don’t see them except for my boy, Deven Hansack.

One aspect that has not been discussed about Paps move back to the pen is that it could be HUGE for the Olde Towne Team in October. “Teams with a couple of great starting pitchers (especially high-strikeout guys), great defense and a great closer tend to fare best in October.” Schilling, Beckett and Dice-K each for seven plus strong innings, and then Paps coming in to shut the door. The worse case scenario is that we would get that pitching combinations in only five out of seven games. I’ll take those odds. Now, the local nine have get to October.


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