"I Love that Dirty Water": Dueling Red Sox Predictions for 2010

Yesterday, the New York Times, in their infinite wisdom, printed dueling reviews of the new Apple (don’t call us a computer company) iPad. The review was prefaced as a two-parter with the first section addressed to techies — a slam — was followed up with one addressed to those bereft of technical knowledge. The second review, of course, glowed.

Since it was written by a Times writer, in the tech editorial staff no less, the review itself was predictably humorless (to be expected). Equally puzzling to little-old-me [LOM] was why they were reviewing the device some 3 months after it was unveiled and reviewed by every singly credible digital publication, I found the the Times’ approach to be intriguing to say the least. And really, let’s be honest, when I say the “least” I mean just that.

[[Editors note: next up, the “Venuing Voices Dep’t of Gadgets and Whats-its” review of the Motorola Droid/Google hand-computer thingy.]]

Nonetheless the Times’ novel review of the tablet which Apple hath handed down from the lofty perch of Mt. Jobs got me to thinking about something far more important to me: my ambivalent feelings towards my own Boston Red Sox. So in the spirit of that, let me give you my Red Sox 2010 prediction(s). The first is for the geeks in the sabermetric crowd, and the second is aimed at the hearts and minds of Red Sox nation.

PREDICTION #1:

The Boston Red Sox in 2010 are predicted by most statistical engines to turn out one of their finer season performances in the Epstein Era.

First off, most of the 2004-2008 Sox teams won in Rocky Balboa-like fashion, which is to say they tried to punch out the other team first without blocking any incoming blows. Sure it was fun to watch affairs which routinely ended in scores 55-53 in favor of the Sox. Who cared if Derek Lowe’s sinker ball kept mysteriously winding up in Right Field Bullpens? Bill Mueller was just going to tie it up again in the 8th, y’know? And so went the days of wine, roses, and Big Papi. The end.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Cooperstown for Billy Beane and his OPS-worshipping henchman (ranks which included Theo Epstein): baseball got, err, baseball-like all over again. Gone are the days of picking amongst juiced Giambi’s to lead off and move from station to station en route to record-setting seasons of runs scored. In their place have returned the lost arts of the stolen base, the outfield assist, and the slide-step.

In this back-to-future baseball world, metrics matter just as they did back in the salad days of the roids era, they’re just all upside down. And as so go metrics, so go the Sox. The Sox have something like 15 solid starters to follow up the best big 3 in baseball. Better still, the guys in the field behind them promise to go from spotting the other team some million-bajillion runs a year to taking back a few dozen that should have been. And since the Boston MGMT don’t earn their checks for candle-pin bowling in Theo’s underground Fenway Lair (yes, a former bowling alley), the fielders in question can also get on base and/or hit for a suitable degree of (see:above average) power at clips which are necessary to ensure victories. Goodbye kinda-hammerin’ Jason Bay, hello, kinda-hammerin’ — and sure handed — Mike Cameron.

REVIEW #2

The Boston Red Sox in 2010 are predicted by most statistical engines to turn out one of their finer season performances in the Epstein Era.

And they still scare the be-jesus out of me.

First of all: who stole our bullpen? I woke up yesterday, and I realized, “crap! we had like 4 capable back end/sometime closers last year and now I see Bard, Pap, and Oki and bunch of dudes who no other club even pretended like they wanted. Awesome. It’s going to be fun watching our tricked-out defense defend against late-inning grand slams into the Left Field Monster Seats.” Oh, and don’t even get me started on how much fun it’s going to be watching Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre strike out a combined 7 million times with any of hitters 1-5 waiting patiently (or in Jacoby’s case, impatiently) on second or third base.

And my-god, if Papi takes another three-month sabatical, that’s it, we’re screwed, toast, finito. You know what’s gonna happen, too, you do. Right? Papi becomes a non-factor, and gets unceremoniously discharged. That’s one more beloved Boston athlete who leaves town under a cloud of suspicion and disgust. Within a month the Sox have overpaid via trade for some slugger with an expiring contract and meanwhile, Clay Bucholz and Ellsbury are making the pennant race interesting in San Diego or Florida or some equally annoying town that doesn’t deserve to have a decent baseball team.

Oh, and V-Mart’s contract status.

Oh, and Beckett’s contract status.

Oh, and Mike Lowell’s hip/$12 million contract/lack of position to play.

Oh, and the Yanks AND the Rays look completely stacked with equally awesome motivating factors for kicking-ass in 2010 (Yanks: repeat fever, Rays: last chance to party with the Old Gang before everyone graduates).

Oh, and Dice-K’s completely enigmatic physical status. He could go 18-1 this year and I wouldn’t be surprised. He could never throw another pitch until the next World Baseball Classic, and I wouldn’t be surprised either.

Anyways, heart-and-soul worriers of the Red Sox Nation. Just say it with me, “at least were not the Mets.”

***********

Enough, here’s to sabermetrics, and also, why in PECOTA we trust.

-T*V

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