FIRE JOE MORGAN: Pags Me With A Spoon!


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Saturday, September 22, 2007


Pags Me With A Spoon!

I stole that joke from Jay Mohr.

Pags has a new little ditty over at The BaseLine Report. In this one, he lists every transaction Theo Epstein has made since he became the Sox' GM, and rates them on a scale of 1 to 10. I think he's just baiting us, frankly, but consider me baited.

1/14/03 Claimed 1B/OF Kevin Millar off unconditional release waivers from the Florida Marlins.

The Sox pleaded with [Kevin Millar] for months not to go to Japan as if he were the second coming of Babe Ruth. Millar was brought in for his bat but after a solid first half of the 2003 season, struggled tremendously for the next two and a half seasons as a member of the Red Sox. Because of his personality and cozy relationship with both the media and the fans some of his shortcomings are overlooked. Millar was a well below average major league first baseman. He peeked in 2003 with 25 home runs but declined rapidly over his three years culminating in a 2005 season when he hit only nine home runs.

Grade: 3.5

In 2004 Kevin Millar hit .297/.383/.474. An .857 OPS (117 OPS+). That's pretty effing good for $2.65m. In 2003 he made $2m and hit 25 HR. And in order to get him they pissed off some Japanese dudes but actually gave up: nothing.

My Grade for the Millar Deal: 7.0
My Grade for Pags' Evaluation: 38.8 (on the 115-point FJM Writing Scale)

7/29/03 Acquired RHP Scott Williamson from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor league LHP Phil Dumatrait, a minor league player to be named and cash considerations.

This was theoretically the solution to the bullpen problem that had killed Boston all year long. This was easy to predict even before the season started when Epstein decided to Bill James’ “bullpen ace” model for the 2003 season...Maybe [Epstein] was too busy using up the sixth highest payroll in baseball to sign sabermetric studs like Jeremy Giambi and Kevin Millar to address the bull pen properly...Williamson takes the fall because this move symbolizes the lack of a shut down closer in the pen and the feeling that the Sox did not need to acquire one during the season.
Grade: 1

It's hard to judge whether this is a good evaluation of the Williamson deal, because the smoke coming out of Pags' ears due to his fury at non-traditional thinking is clouding my keyboard. More on this insane misreading of Bill James' "Bullpen Ace" model in a minute. For now, allow me only to say that Phil Dumatrait is 26 and made his MLB debut this year, giving up a tidy 39 hits in his first 18 innings. So, I think we can say that this deal is not a "1," because Epstein didn't give anything up except cash. I will also add that in 2004, SWilly gave up 11 hits in 28.2 IP, posting a 388 ERA+. A very small sample size, to be sure, and the guy was always hurt and kind of unreliable. But he gave the '03 and '04 teams some crazy hi-leverage innings, and the image of people flailing at his ceiling-to-floor curve is one of my most lasting memories. (Save your emails, people. Not every single sentence I write has to be fact-based.)

If you're into stats instead of anecdotal musings: in the 2003 postseason, Williamson pitched in eight games, and went 2-0 with 3 saves. He threw 8 innings, giving up 3 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, and 14 (!) Ks. You're telling me that and the 28 innings he threw in 2004 wasn't worth Phil Dumatrait? Oh -- no, you're not. You're actually telling me that on the 10-point PagsScale that trade gets the worst possible score.

My Grade for Williamson: 7
My Grade for Pags' Write-Up of Williamson: -40 Trumpets (on the -500 to 600 Trumpet evaluation system; remember -- 355 is highest)

7/31/03 Acquired RHP Jeff Suppan, RHP Brandon Lyon and RHP Anastacio Martinez from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for INF Freddy Sanchez, LHP Mike Gonzalez and cash considerations.

This was a deadline day deal in which Epstein looked to bolster the starting rotation. The hope was to gain something in the short term while giving something up in the long term. Turned out they were half right: they gave up something in the long term. Suppan started ten games for the Sox and posted a 3-4 record with a 5.57 ERA. Sanchez on the other hand is a two time all star and also the 2006 NL batting champ with a .344 average. He was one of the most valuable prospects in the entire organization and was given up for a pitcher who ultimately hurt the Red Sox. While Suppan would later find some success in the national league, he was a huge bust in Boston and Theo totally misused one of his most valuable trading pieces.
Grade: 2

A lot = bad about this. Yes, Suppan sucked after the trade. But he was the best available starter, and the Sox badly needed one. Second, Sanchez was a decent prospect, but he was blocked in the Red Sox system by Hanley Ramirez, so he was expendable. Third, this was actually a great deal, because originally the Sox were getting Mike Gonzalez, a lefty reliever who could have greatly helped them. I quote from Baseball America:

The Red Sox and Pirates accomplished two things with the trade on Thursday that sent Jeff Suppan, Brandon Lyon and Double-A righthander Anastacio Martinez to Boston and two Triple-A players, infielder Freddy Sanchez and lefthander Mike Gonzalez, plus $500,000 to Pittsburgh. The Red Sox got a much-needed starter in Suppan, while the Pirates got rid of his salary. Secondly, the teams straightened out their July 22 trade.

In that deal, Boston got Scott Sauerbeck and Gonzalez for Lyon and Martinez. The Pirates said Lyon had fraying in his elbow and placed him on the disabled list on July 25. The Red Sox maintained he was healthy and had pitched for them two days before the trade. The net effect of the two transactions is that Boston gets Sauerbeck and Suppan for Sanchez.
When the Bucs started hissing that Lyon had arm problems, the Sox essentially gave them Gonzalez back to soothe their huffy nerves. But the way Pags writes it up here, it seems like the Sox traded Gonzalez and Sanchez for Suppan, which = no. Also, getting to two All-Star Games when you play for the Pirates doesn't mean very much at all, methinks.

My Grade for the Suppan Trade: 4
My Grade for "3:10 to Yuma," Which I Saw Last Night, on the 1-18 Pagliarulos Scale: 14 Pagliarulos

11/14/03 RHP Mike Timlin to a one-year contract.

Epstein game Timlin a two and a half million dollar deal to help improve the bull pen. Timlin was a veteran pitcher who helped with a lot of the younger arms in the pen. On the field he was a reliable, but not shut down, middle relief pitcher. His playoff experience would prove to be valuable down the stretch.
Grade: 5

In 2003 Mike Timlin threw 83 innings with a 133 ERA+ and a 65/9 K/BB ratio and a 1.02 WHIP. How is that not a "shut down" middle reliever? That's a better WHIP than Frankie Rodriguez has had in 3 of the last 4 years. And 83 innings is a lot of innings. In 2004 he threw 76 innings with a 1.23 WHIP. Not overwhelming, but pretty good. And by the way, that deal in 2003 was for $850,000 plus incentives. $2.5m was for 2004. So for $850,000, Theo got a guy with a WHIP of 1.02 over 83 innings. That's a really really really good deal. And every year since, he's been on a 1-year deal, so there's no long-term commitment. Also, as if I need to keep going, the guy's got a 1.12 WHIP in 57 innings this year at age 41. What don't you like about the Timlin deal, dummy?

My Grade for the Timlin Deal: 8
My Grade on my Junior Year AP History Report on the Role of "Neo-Yellow Journalism" in U.S. Involvement in Central American Military Conflicts: A-minus

12/13/03 Signed free-agent RHP Keith Foulke to a three-year deal that includes a vested option for a fourth year.

Real quick: the answer is 9. Maybe 8, but almost definitely 9. Keith Foulke should have been the ALCS MVP. He might have been the Sox' team MVP for 2004. His 2005 and '06 were disappointing and injury-riddled, but the guy was lights-out in the regular season, and sold out his body and soul in some of the most hi-lev innings in team history in the playoffs and came through every single time. So, 8-9, and I'd even kick it up to 10 if I were feeling saucy.

Foulke was brought to Boston to be the permanent shut down closer that the Sox decided they didn’t need in 2003. This was blatantly admitting that Bill James’s “bullpen ace” model just didn’t work.

No. No, sorry. That's not true. Foulke was a "bullpen ace," and the actual theory is that the bullpen ace shouldn't always just pitch the ninth inning no matter what the situation is, but rather should be used in the most hi-lev situations, be they in the 6th, 7th, 8th, what have you. So, no, acquiring a bullpen ace was not "blatantly admitting" that the "bullpen ace" model didn't work; it was an attempt to get a better bullpen ace in order to more effectively use the "bullpen ace" model. And maybe if you had thought about what you were writing for ten nanoseconds, or had bothered to read about the theory, you wouldn't have embarrassed yourself by writing that.

Foulke was being paid like a premium closer making over eighteen million dollars in his three years. Unfortunately he only pitched like a premium closer for one year. Foulke was everything he was supposed to be in 2004 and exceeded all expectations when he dominated the post season opposition. He had a miserable season in 2005 and by the first week of the 2006 season he had lost his job to Jonathan Papelbon. While Foulke has to be given credit for the 2004 championship, he was being paid for three years and only performed in one of them. The Sox did not get good value for Foulke at all.
Grade: 4

How can you say they did not get value for Foulke? They gave up nothing but cash, and in 2004 they got a .94 WHIP in 83 innings. Then, in a postseason that featured back-to-back extra inning games with the Yankees, when the margin for error was exactly zero, he threw 14 innings, giving up 7 hits, and getting 19 Ks. He gave up one run in those 14 innings.

Keith Foulke won the World Series for the Red Sox. I'm not kidding. Go here and read about what he did in the ALCS, if you don't believe me. They never get out of that series -- not even close -- if not for Keith Foulke. The rest of his tenure fell flat, but that one year was easily worth $18m. Easily.

My Grade for the Foulke Deal: 9
My Grade for the Folk Implosion Album "
Dare to be Surprised": 6.8

12/16/03 Acquired IF Mark Bellhorn from Rockies for a player to be named.

Bellhorn was almost the same player as Todd Walker. He was below average defensively and had no range at all. Offensively he was a downgrade. While he did come up with some big hits in the 2004 playoffs, he often went through painful droughts where he wouldn’t be able to hit the ball for weeks at a time. The one positive of the Bellhorn deal was that he came cheap and the Sox were able to get away with him at second for one year.
Grade: 4.5

Theo Epstein paid Mark Bellhorn $490,000 in 2004 and he gave them 6.4 WARP3. Plus, the dude was so the Anti-ARod, banging a key 3-run homer in Game Six of the ALCS against the Yankees in New York. And then another go-ahead late-inning dong in WS Game One. ARod would never do that because he is a choker! He chokes and Bellhorn did not. Bellhorn is better than ARod. Jeter Rules!

($490,000 for six and a half wins = well done, Mr. GM.)

My Grade for the Bellhorn Deal: 6.4
Price for the Bell-horn Composite Wrist Brace: $19.99

12/17/04 Signed SS Edgar Renteria to a four-year contract with a club option for 2009.

This was a classic case of Theo looking only at the talent of a player and not taking into account the player’s make-up and how he would fit into the team. Edgar Renteria is an above average major league shortstop, but he could not play in Boston.

And what, exactly, about Edgar Renteria's past would have indicated this to be the case?

The entire season was a mess all around. At the plate he hit .276 and racked up 100 strikeouts while putting up weak power numbers. He wasn’t any better in the field committing a career worst thirty errors. However, it was letting go of Cabrera that was more of a problem than signing Renteria. Cabrera’s career has taken off since his time in Boston and every Sox fan still dreams of him playing shortstop for the Sox.

I do not dream of that thing.

OCab 2005 EqA: .255
Renteria 2005 EqA: .263

I loved OCab in the stretch run of 2004, because he was fun and energetic and played good defense and did funny handshakes with every member of the team, and also because they traded Nomar to get him, and if I didn't distract myself constantly by saying "Cabrera is good!" I would've ended up crying a lot. Cabrera put up some great AB in the postseason. But if he had been signed to a big 4-year deal, and had put up OPS+ of 82, 95, and 101 in the next three years (like he's done in LA), the love affair would've ended right quick.

Renteria got paid like one of the best shortstops in the game but his play was far from that assessment. Like his former manager Tony La Russa predicted, Renteria struggled mightily under the pressure of Boston.
Grade: 1

Yes. We should all listen to Tony La Russa more. That's the problem.

My Grade for the Renteria Deal: 2
My Grade for Tony La Russa -- Just, Like, An Overall Grade for His Whole "Deal": 0

12/23/04 Signed RHP Wade Miller to a one-year contract.

This was a puzzling move. Epstein decided to take a risk on the often injured Miller. Miller lived up to his reputation making only sixteen starts on the year due to injury. He had a 4-4 record with a 4.95 ERA, average numbers at best.
Grade: 2.5

It was a 1 year, $1.5m contract laden with incentives. For a guy who at one point was dominant. And for whom they had zero expectations. It didn't work out. They non-tendered him. These are exactly the kind of deals that teams with money to throw around should be making.

My Grade for the Wade Miller Deal: Eh
My Wade for the Grade Diller Meal: N/A (nonsense)

There's more of this crap, but I'm going to dinner now. (I do like how he labels the Lugo and Drew deals as "1"s, after one year of 4- and 5-year deals, respectively.)

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posted by Unknown  # 7:48 PM
By the way, Pags' grade for Theo overall is a 5.04. As if this cockamamie and arbitrary system is somehow accurate to a hundredth of a point.
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