How much did each move yesterday affect the playoff picture? We let PECOTA and our playoff odds answer that.
We can write about the prospects who can’t locate glove-side, we can write about the fantasy implications of a fourth-outfielder logjam, we can write about the strengths and weaknesses of each player traded and we can give our best assessment of each team’s competitive windows. But what you really want to know is this:
Are the Brewers (or the A’s, or the Orioles, or name a team) any more likely to make the playoffs today than they were before they made the TA-worthy trade? Any by how much?
And trying to figure out whether we can do it quickly.
Predicting rookie players’ performances is one of the most difficult tasks for any projection system. By definition, they lack the extensive body of work necessary to analyze their performance. While it’s tempting to foresee a Hall of Fame career in the demeanor of one at-bat, statistics (as well as common sense) caution against it. No matter how locked in or lost a player looks in the sample of a few games, his true skill cannot be inferred from such meager experience.
The ultimate cautionary tale here is Mike Trout, whose first year (2011) MLB stats go like this: .220/.281/.390, in 135 plate appearances. Such a line is not the stuff from which legends are made, and had a lesser prospect posted it, there might have been rumblings of doubt in the media. Trout was decidedly not a lesser prospect, and his raw combination of discipline and athleticism had every scout and fan salivating despite the poor batting average. Even so, it’s still possible to find a few sentences in the press reports of that time which noted his difficulties:
Big days for Papi and Adam Jones, bad days for the Royals and fans of position players pitching.
The Monday Takeaway
On Sunday, the Red Sox hung a career-worst nine hits and six runs on Royals starter Yordano Ventura. On Monday, they treated Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison with similar disregard. But while Boston’s assault on Kansas City pitching ended when Ventura hit the showers, the Sox had no such mercy on Toronto’s mop-up man.
The White Sox lefty tops All-Star Game skipper John Farrell's Red Sox, plus more from Wednesday and what to watch on Thursday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
When the rosters for next week’s All-Star Game were revealed on Sunday, arguably the most glaring omission from either side was the absence of Chris Sale. The lanky southpaw did miss a month of the season with a muscle strain in his pitching elbow, but on a start-by-start basis, he’s been one of the most dominant starting pitchers in baseball. The White Sox are well represented at the Midsummer Classic and Sale is still likely to make the trip to Target Field—he currently leads the American League Final Vote. But their skipper, Robin Ventura, still questioned how Sale’s gaudy numbers didn’t earn him an automatic ticket to the event.
The Red Sox replace A.J. Pierzynski with a talented defense-first catcher.
The Situation:A.J. Pierzynski and the Red Sox seemed like a nice fit over the winter, but neither his season nor Boston's season went as planned. Pierzynski’s free-swinging ways clashed with the selective lineup Ben Cherington assembled, and his glove was a weakness. As a result, the team grew increasing frustrated with the veteran backstop, leading to whispers that the Sox were contemplating jettisoning him as early as April. With Boston's catching prospects having fine seasons in the minors, the Sox finally pulled the plug on Pierzynski on Wednesday, calling up 23-year-old catcher Christian Vazquez. Vazquez’s breakout year at Pawtucket has tempted Boston to make this move for some time, and the hope is that he can inject a new energy with his impact defensive skills.
Background: The Red Sox took Vazquez in the ninth round of the 2008 draft out of Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and signed him for an $80,000 bonus. Even with a top-10-round grade, Vazquez was seen as a project on both sides of the ball, and his short, stout frame gave rise to concerns about his body, though those liabilities can sometimes turn into assets behind the plate in terms of durability. At the plate, Vazquez’s small frame isn't conducive to power. His bat speed isn’t a strength either, and swing-and-miss has been a big issue. Vazquez has always been able to throw, but the rest of his defensive game lagged behind. Concerns about his glove were such that in the low minors he saw time at third base, with a smattering of appearances at first and second. Over the last couple years, however, he's addressed many of these doubts.
Updates on Frederis Parra, Eddie Rosario, Casey Gillaspie, Raimel Tapia, and others.
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