Thursday, September 21, 2006

Finally, The End

Fun while it lasted, but it sure didn't last long

Last night's loss to the Tigers dropped the Sox playoff chances from improbable to infinitesimal. The last two months have been a frustrating grind and there is some relief in the season's finality. No more hoping and the accompanying disappointments.

A lot of things broke down for the Sox this year (something I'm sure will be talked about at length in the upcoming weeks) but it I don't think it will take much to remain a playoff-caliber team. I look forward to watching Kenny Williams wheel and deal this off-season (just don't trade Sweeney!).

Anyway, let me end this with a picture of happier times:

Friday, September 15, 2006

Frank Thomas Media Relations 101 - Who'll have last laugh in Thome vs. Thomas?

Let me start off by saying Frank Thomas is my favorite baseball player. But man, he seems to have no clue how the media works. For example, when asked to compare your chances to win comeback player of the year compared Jim Thome, the following answers are acceptable:

"I don't care about individual awards, I'm just worried about helping my team get to the playoffs"


"We're both having great years and it's an honor to be considered".

It's not that hard. Here is what Thome had to say about Frank:

"I'm happy for him. He battled an injury, not knowing what was going to happen. We both have had really nice years."

These statements might not be true, and they are certainly cliches, but they are still the proper way to answer such a question. But what does the Big Hurt say?

"I know Comeback Player of the Year comes down to numbers, but personally, I think I was more injured than any ballplayer in America. I was written off. I don't think [Thome] was ever written off. Everybody thought I was done . . . . [Thome] has had an excellent year. I think the past four months my year has been more incredible

Frank, its a stupid award and it's beneath you to campaign for it. For once, try and say the right thing, even if you don't mean it.

By the way, I take it that Rich Lederer is a big Big Hurt fan as he had an extensive essay on Frank's career on his old blog a few years back and had another nice post on Frank a couple of weeks ago at the Baseball Analysts.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sox 7 Cleveland 6

I've been posting irregularly on this blog for just over 3 years now and this is the first time I've ever been compelled to jump on the computer to write about a just completed game.

Watching Bobby Jenks blow a two run ninth inning lead in the middle of pennant race (ok, wildcard) was probably the low point of the season. Four doubles in row?

But you know what, I keep watching. When they blew a 3-0 lead to Minnesota a couple of weeks back I thought to myself that I needed to take a break from the Sox. These losses were were having an effect on my emotional state. But I turned on the game the next night anyways to watch the Twins jump ahead with Johan Santana on the mound. Down 5-1 to Santana, I kept watching. They scored a couple of Santana, a couple more of Rincon and Reyes, and finally Dye hit a game tying 2 run homer of uber-closer Joe Natahn in the ninth. And speaking of Dye, how many players do think have hit game tying home runs of Joen Nathan and Jonathan Papelbon this year?

Anyway, the Sox ended up losing that game too, but I keep watching. They have had some mediocre pitching this year and a lot of the bounces have gone the other way (three of the four doubles off Jenks tonight were blooped or within an inch of the foul line). But they never give up and I'm not about to stop watching.

And I would be remiss if didn't mention AJ's heroics tonight. I've seen too many comments on Sox blogs criticizing AJ for his lack of clutchness. I would think his three-run bomb of Ryan Dempster earlier this year would be enough to earn our eternal gratitude. Hopefully tonight's two-run bomb, which I don't think is an understatement to say kept us in the playoff picture, puts an end to such comments.

Finally, I think Sox fans need to start looking at the positives of our situation and stop wallowing in the inevitableness of missing the playoffs. Four out of five starting pitchers just pitched lights out through the last turn of the rotation and we have a better offense than the Twins and Tigers. We might not make the postseason, but its silly to act like we have no chance when we are only a half game out of the wild card.

This is pretty much the same team that won 110 games last year and played .600 ball for the first half of this season. They certainly have a good shot at the playoffs and I wouldn't be surprised to see them go on a nice run to finish the season.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

2006 Run Distribution

Well, the Sox may still have a pulse (although I heard a dead man once got a hit off Kason Gabbard), but I want to get a head start on the autopsy. Here's a quick look at the Sox run distribution this year compared to last year. First let's take a look at the distribution of runs scored (percentage is of all games played):

There's not much to complain about here. The offense has struggled lately, but it was the catalyst of the great start in 2006. The 2005 Sox offense failed to produce runs in many ballgames. Of course they managed to win a fair share of those games anyways. Here's a look at the team winning percentage by runs scored:

As my two year old daughter would say, "Wowser!" This year's Sox team just can't grind out victories. Last year the Sox won 22 games when they scored 3 runs or less and 57 games when they scored 5 runs or less. Through 138 games this year, those numbers are 5 and 29, respectively.

Some of this is luck, but 95% of it is bad pitching. Let's take a look at the runs allowed distributions:

You can see why the Sox won so many of those low scoring games last year. The pitching staff yielded 3 runs or less in 49.38% of their games last year compared to 37.68% so far in 2006. As for the high scoring games, the Sox gave up 7 or more runs in 32 games last year. This year that number is 41 and counting.

There's not much to learn from the runs allowed win percentage chart as the distribution of runs allowed above tells pretty much the whole story. But since I ran the numbers, here is the chart:

Tonight's game against Boston was the first time the Sox were shutout 1-0 this year. They are now 12-1 when they give up only one run after going 25-1 last year.