Monday, March 07, 2005

The rotation

The shortstop of the future, Hanley Ramirez, started a triple place with a nice snag yesterday in Boston’s win over the Phillies. Today’s game features the winless Yankees. No one is going to try to convince you that this game will mean anything. Hell, over the weekend several players didn’t even know what team they were playing today when ESPN reporters asked them about the game. And this year you can get a ticket on EBay for less than $100 as apposed to last year when you would’ve paid $500. But this time of the year everything is happening for the first time and that just makes it a little exciting.

There's a really good article over at The Batter’s Box. Johnny German used VORP to determine what your average 1st through 5th starter performs. You can see the average rotation broke down to 55 VORP for an ace, 32.1 for a #2, 20.3 for a #3, 8.2 for a #4, and -5.2 for a #5. Last year our starters did 72.9, 51.2, 24.7, 9.4, and -11.5, above average for the top four with only Derek Lowe sucking more than any man has a right to suck. This year we’re replacing Pedro’s 51.2 and Lowe’s -11.5 with 40.3 from David Wells, 36.9 fromMatt Clement, and 21.8 from Wade Miller. VORP isn’t the only way to rate a pitcher of course. Hell most of us don’t even know exactly what it means. But when you look at it that way, we got a pretty big boost to the rotation even though we lost Pedro. An easier way to look at it? The Sox need to replace 400 IP of a 4.59 ERA. The Sox brought in three pitchers who went a combined 466.1 IP last year with an ERA of 3.63. We’re not going to miss Pedro and we’re definitely not going to miss Lowe. The rotation is the biggest improved area of 2005’s team. You can make a case about age and injury history, but I don’t think that will be as big a problem as some people think it might be. Curt Schilling’s ankle may be a problem. But then again, he’s ahead of schedule and feels good. He should be in the rotation come opening Day. Wells has back problems. In the last 10 years he has failed to pitch 195 or more innings just once. He’s getting old, sure, but the guy is a work horse. Miller is ahead of schedule and already pitching in games. Our three injury risks are looking quite good. And even if one of them falters during the season, we have six starters. If two of them hit the DL? We have two guys in the bullpen that could step in. John Halama and Byung-Hyun Kim aren’t exactly the most reliable starters, but when they’re 7 and 8 on the depth chart, I don’t mind them a bit.

Losing Pedro isn't a killer, just because of who the Sox picked up, but none of those guys are of Pedro's caliber, and you have to remember that all of those numbers were put up in the NL. Even with all the hard feelings that have built up over the last few years, this hurts. At least we lost Lowe too.
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