February 18, 2016 11:49 am
Ever since my parents have been living within spitting distance of Fort Myers, I’ve sent them a quick list of Red Sox storylines going into Spring Training. Seeing as pitchers and catchers report today, I figured today would be a good day to do it. 2016 is going to be an important year for the Red Sox.
- There’s a good chance that manager John Farrell is on a relatively short leash. His World Series victory in 2013 has given him a little benefit of the doubt, but the last two seasons have seen last-place finishes and declining attendance. General Manager Ben Cherington was replaced with his assistant Mike Hazen, so it’s clear that ownership is willing to make changes. I’d bet if we finish in last place again, Farrell would be gone.
- We’ve got lots and lots of young talent, mostly promoted up through the farm system. Mookie Betts (RF) is probably the most prominent, but Jackie Bradley Jr (CF), Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rusney Castillo (LF), and Blake Swihart (C) are all promising kids, too.
- We signed the premiere pitching free agent in December: David Price. He’s making $30 million this year, and then also for the 6 years following that. He won the Cy Young in 2012 and was 2nd in voting and led the AL in ERA last year. He won 18+ games three of his last five seasons and we haven’t had an 18-game winner since Lester in 2010.
- We also picked up a big name closer: Craig Kimbrel. Led the league in saves for 4 years (4th place last year). Both he and Price are solidly in their prime, too: 28 and 30, respectively.
- As for last year’s big signings that didn’t perform as expected, well, we’ll see how they go. There were rumors of trade attempts for Pablo Sandoval ($17M/y) and Hanley Ramirez ($22M/y), but nothing panned out. Ramirez was moved from his usual shortstop (where we’re overloaded) to left field last year (where he looked lost at Fenway, especially compared to the young guys) and this year will be at First Base, where he’s never played.
- The rest of our starting rotation is pretty stable from last year, which is to say: mediocre. Buchholz will look amazing through June like usual, but then will go to 15-day DL and stretch that out to missing a dozen starts. (We exercised his option for this year, and we’ve got another one for next year, but I wonder if we let him go if he can’t stay healthy. Again.) Porcello will hopefully live up to his 4-year $20M+/y extension. E-Rod, Kelly, and Wright will probably get through the year with 4ish ERAs and we’ll have to hope that’s good enough to keep us in games.
- And last, but definitely not least: this will be Big Papi‘s last season. By most advanced metrics (WAR, OPS+, RE24), he was among the top hitters on our team yet again last year and hopefully he’ll go out on top too.
Most statistical projections have us favored to win the division or be in the running for a wildcard, both of which depend on some luck and few injuries. Hopefully it’ll be an exciting year.
January 11, 2013 9:41 am
For the past two years, I’ve subscribed to MLB.TV. It allowed me to stream baseball games to my computer and my TV, and was a way better value proposition than getting the expensive cable package that would have provided me with NESN (the Red Sox’s local network). But I will not be subscribing for the 2013 season. It’s not because I’m no longer a Red Sox fan. It’s not because I’m not interested in watching their games. It’s because I’m sick of jumping through hoops to avoid their stupid blackout restrictions. If I was a Phillies fan, I could watch all of their games (except when they were playing the Red Sox). If I was a Red Sox fan from California, I’d be fine, too (unless the Sox were visiting the Giants or some such).
But because I live in the Red Sox’s “home television territory”, I’m unable to watch any of their games, both at home and away, without resorting to using proxies. Paying nearly a hundred dollars a year for the right to not get to watch any of the games I care about is very stupid. These are based on ancient cable contracts, I’m certain, but MLB has the upper hand in these negotiations. Are the networks really going to say “nevermind, we won’t show your games” if MLB insists on allowing paying customers to watch even local games online?
Until Major League Baseball joins us in the 21st century with their blackout restrictions, I’m not going to be paying for MLB.TV anymore. I’ll just have to enjoy the game at a bar, where Major League Baseball will get none of my dollars.
June 15, 2012 9:52 am
When Matt Cain threw a Perfect Game for the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, he became the fifth pitcher in the last four years to do so (no, Galarraga’s game doesn’t count). Perfect Games are also No-Hitters, and there have been a startling 22 no-hitters in the past six seasons (here I am including Halladay’s post-season no-hitter two years ago).
Since the end of the Steroid Era in baseball, pitching has been under a resurgence. Last year was called The Year Of The Strikeout by some, and this year is, so far, exceeding last year’s number. In addition, runs per game and hits per inning have been in decline for the past decade, too. But this isn’t just because batters aren’t hitting as hard or fielding has improved. Walks per inning, too, are at their lowest point in 20 years.
Improved pitching means a better chance of No-Hitters and Perfect Games. Does that explain it completely? Is the recent surge in pitching gems a coincidence — in which case we can expect the frequency to revert to the mean — or a result of improving pitching? I started collecting data to answer this question myself (which you can see after the break), but during the course of my research I found an article by Rebecca Sichel, Uri Carl and Bruce Bukiet titled Modeling Perfect Games and No-Hitters in Baseball.
May 17, 2012 1:49 pm
Earlier this year, Citizen’s Bank Park (the home of the Philadelphia Phillies) began selling several different brands of beer in 24-ounce tallboy cans. Canned beer (like boxed wine) has been on a resurgence in recent years, thanks to improvements in technology and some open-minded brewers. Harpoon Brewery started canning some summer beers a couple of years ago, but now they are spending more than a million dollars to add canning machinery to their main brewery in Boston.
Canned beer at a ballpark, however, is a good idea in almost every single sense I can think of:
- Since the beers don’t have to be poured, there’s no spillage and no foam to pour off, which means essentially zero waste.
- They get cold faster than bottles.
- The non-beer weight of these cans is far less than that of kegs and carbonation systems, which means less wasted delivery cost.
- Lines will be shorter since all the person behind the counter has to do is pull a can out of the fridge and open it (and they did tests — opened cans don’t fly as far as opened plastic bottles). They’ll also be shorter since the cans are bigger than cups — people won’t head back for more as often.
- Aluminum is just about the most efficient thing to recycle: only about 5% of the energy required for non-recycled aluminum
- You don’t have to potentially toss any extra (like you have to do with kegs). This means that the park could carry a wider variety of beers and not have to worry about what to do with the unsold cans of the less popular brands.
And there’s just something about drinking a cold beer out of a can that says “summer” more than a bottle or a cup.
Here’s a list of what beer is available where in the park. Most everywhere has cans of Stella Artois and Yuengling, two very good lagers. I’m not sure if the Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada brands are in the tallboys or if they’re only available in normal 12-ounce cans. I will investigate when I’m at the game against the Red Sox this coming Saturday, and report back.
Update, 21 May: The 24-ounce cans are pretty much only available in Yuengling Lager, and we only found them on the lower level. Most of the other types of beer are in more-typical 16-ounce cans (500mL in the case of Stella Artois). Still: great selection, decent price, all the above points about convenience still stand.
December 22, 2011 10:16 am
Last April, to no one in particular, I asked the following question:
“What’s the shortest possible trip (in miles) to see every MLB team play at least one game this season?”
It became clear, after a brief discussion with some friends, that the shortest possible trip is somewhere on the order of a hundred miles. Citi Field in the Bronx and Yankee Stadium in Queens are only 6 miles apart. Since the Mets and the Yankees are in different leagues and each team plays one series at home against every other team in its own league, you could just spend the whole season going back and forth between the two stadiums. (In fact, I’d be surprised if at least one New Yorker baseball fan with time and money to burn hadn’t done exactly this.)
In order to avoid this “trivial” solution, a modification to the puzzle would have to be introduced. After throwing around a bunch of attempts, I hit upon the perfect goal: 15 games, 15 stadiums, 30 teams. You’d see no team play more than once, you’d be in no stadium more than once.