Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Analyzing Bill James's Red Sox projections, Part 2

Because Dale and Holley are no doubt desperate for a topic to crib for today's show, we're back with some Sox projections from the Bill James Handbook. Today, the pitchers . . .

Curt Schilling

12-8 3.50 ERA, 177 Ks in 180 innings
Looks like James expects Schilling's age (and girth) to cause him to visit the disabled list once or twice. Given that Schilling has failed to pitch 180 innings only twice since 1996 - in 2003 (broken hand) and 2005 (bloody sock aftermath), I like the odds that he'll throw 200-plus innings and surpass these numbers.

Daisuke Matsuzaka
27-2, 1.33 ERA, 305 Ks in 256 innings, two no-hitters, Cy Young, MVP, World Series MVP, Academy Award winner
Damn, looks like James believes the hype and then some. I guess Dice-K really is going to make us forget all about Pedr . . . oh, all right, I admit it: I made those numbers up. There's no projection for Dice-K, for obvious reasons, though I do think it's worth noting that in his first season stateside, at age 26, Hideo Nomo went 13-6 with 2.54 ERA, whiffing 236 in 191.3 innings while allowing just 124 hits. If Matsuzaka could pitch as well for the Sox as his countryman did for the Dodgers a dozen years ago, I think we'd all be satisfied.

Josh Beckett
13-10, 3.68, 191 Ks in 208 innings
Let's put it this way: If Beckett pitches 208 innings with a 3.68 ERA, he's winning a hell of a lot more than 13 games.

Jonathan Papelbon
14-6, 2.98 ERA, 181 Ks in 184 innings
It's tough to project stats for a closer who's becoming a starter, mostly because the move is so unusual. (John Smoltz is the only recent example who comes immediately to mind.) Still, the numbers seems to favor Papelbon making the transition successfully, and the 14 wins is a comparitively high projection given that James's scale appears conservative; he has no one in either league winning 20 games. For what it's worth, I would not be shocked if Papelbon ended up being the ace of this staff. Does anyone doubt his stuff or his makeup?

Tim Wakefield
8-8 4.14 ERA, 108 Ks in 152 innings.
Wakefield, who turns 41 on August 2, is regarded as a "high injury risk," thus the 152-inning projection. But I have to wonder if that takes into account that he's a knuckleballer, an often ageless specie. Consider: at 40, Phil Niekro threw 342 innings (and went 21-20); Charlie Hough pitched 252 innings; and Tom Candiotti threw 201 innings. If he can avoid another fluke rib injury, I have doubt that Wakefield will devour 200 innings again.

Joel Pineiro
7-9, 4.50 ERA in 92 Ks in 144 innings.
This one should be disregarded - the numbers are based on Pineiro starting for Seattle, not relieving for Boston. He has looked like he's throwing the ball with some bite lately, so maybe this low-risk move will have some reward, if not necessarily a high one.

Brendan Donnelly
3.41 ERA, 64 Ks in 66 innings
Mark it down: The cantankerous ex-Angel is your opening day closer . . . though you, me, and Tito are hoping the Sox won't need one at all in Kansas City.

Mike Timlin
3.86 ERA, 46 Ks in 70 innings
The nagging strained oblique muscle isn't exactly an encouraging sign that last year's woes are behind him.

Julian Tavarez
4.56 ERA, 43 Ks in 75 innings
I actually get a kick out of Manny's completely insane personal spokesman, though I'd like him more if he didn't accumulate most of his highlights during garbage time.

J.C. Romero
4.40 ERA, 36 Ks, 24 BBs in 44 innings
Twenty-four walks in 44 innings? Yep, this talented hothead is the leader in the clubhouse for the title of Reliever Who Is Going to Have Me Cursing At The TV While Simultaneously Sucker-Punching The Cat. Should be a good time.

Manny Delcarmen
3.88 ERA, 77 Ks in 78 innings
The K-rate is certainly encouraging, and if the pride of Hyde Park can just harness his high-grade stuff a little more often, he could really become an integral part of the bullpen in the late innings. Yes, I'm glad he (and Craig Hansen) were dealbreakers in the rumored Todd Helton swap. (FYI: There is no projection for Hansen.)

Kyle Snyder
4.84 ERA, 51 Ks in 80 innings, 97 hits allowed
The Sox could do worse for a spot starter/mopup man, though I really don't want to see Bronson Arroyo With A Pituitary Problem pitch 80 innings unless half of them are at Pawtucket.

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