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Nuggetpalooza’s Red Sox Review: Kevin Youkilis

11.29.10 at 9:52 pm ET
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Nuggetpalooza is kicking off the reviews of the 2010 Red Sox players by taking a look at one of the two critical players who was lost to injury during the season, crippling the team’s postseason hopes: Kevin Youkilis. The numbers in here tell me that Youkilis is a superstar who performs at an All-Star level so consistently that he’s in danger of being taken for granted.

Here’s his “Nuggetpalooza Player Card” for 2010:


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* – Kevin Youkilis posted a career high OPS of .975 in 2010.  In fact, his OPS has increased in every season of his career (six consecutive seasons of increases).  Only seven other players in baseball history have increased their OPS in six straight seasons:

Red Schoendienst (1948-1953)
Kelly Gruber (1985-1990)
Joey Cora (1992-1997)
Todd Hundley (1992-1997)
Cliff Floyd (1996-2001)
Jason Giambi (1996-2001)
David Ortiz (2002-2007)

Only Gruber increased his OPS in the six seasons immediately following his first year (as Youkilis has). No player has done it in seven straight seasons.

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* – Youkilis’ 435 plate appearances in 2010 were his fewest in a season since 2005.

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* – Youkilis’ career 4.31 pitches per plate appearance ranks third highest since they began tracking the stat back in 1988 (min. 2,500 plate appearances):

4.47 – Jayson Werth
4.36 – Rickey Henderson
4.31 – Kevin Youkilis
4.30 – Mickey Tettleton

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* – “Youk” not only led the major leagues in batting average against lefties last season (.404; minimum 100 plate appearances against LHP), but he had the highest such average (.404), OBP (.513), slugging percentage (.798) and OPS (1.311) by any Red Sox player in a season since they began tracking the stat in 1974.

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* – Prior to getting injured, Youkilis reached base in 10 of his final 13 plate appearances against lefties.

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* – The Red Sox were just the fifth AL team since 1974 to have multiple players with an OPS over 1.100 against lefties (min. 100 such PA):

1994 White SoxFrank Thomas, Julio Franco
1996 Athletics – Mark McGwire, Scott Brosius
1996 Mariners – Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey, Jr.
2000 Mariners – Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez
2010 Red Sox – Kevin Youkilis, Victor Martinez

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* – Youkilis is the AL career leader in OPS during the month of May (since 1950; minimum 500 May plate appearances):

1.038 – Kevin Youkilis
1.025 – Mickey Mantle
1.006 – Mo Vaughn
.998 – Frank Thomas
.997 – Jim Gentile

His 2010 May OPS (1.204) was the fourth best by a Red Sox since 1950 (same minimum):

1.300 – Mo Vaughn (1996)
1.278 – Ted Williams (1957)
1.214 – Wade Boggs (1986)
1.204 – Kevin Youkilis (2010)

Note that he is the only right-handed hitter on that list.

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* – Youkilis put the ball in play 13 times following 3-and-0 counts last season and collected six hits… and all six went for extra bases.  He’s just the third player since 1988 to get six or more hits following 3-and-0 counts in a season and have all go for extra bags:

Rafael Palmeiro (1999 Rangers)
Miguel Tejada (2001 Athletics)
Kevin Youkilis (2010 Red Sox)

All three had exactly six such hits.

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* – Youkilis hit a career low .258 with runners in scoring position last season, dropping his career average in that category from .344 to .333.  He now stands third in Red Sox history (since 1974; minimum 500 such PA):

.347 – Wade Boggs
.335 – Manny Ramirez
.333 – Kevin Youkilis
.326 – Nomar Garciaparra
.325 – Fred Lynn

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* – Youkilis’ .950 OPS against “star” pitchers (see definition on player card above) ranked second in the AL last season (min. 80 such PA):

1.102 – Miguel Cabrera, DET
.950 – Kevin Youkilis, BOS
.922 – Jim Thome, MIN
.913 – Nick Swisher, NYY

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* – Youkilis put up an OPS of 1.573 after getting ahead 2-and-0 last season, third best in the majors (min. 50 such PA):

1.711 – Joey Votto, CIN
1.615 – Jose Bautista, TOR
1.573 – Kevin Youkilis, BOS
1.514 – Luke Scott, BAL
1.495 – Curtis Granderson, NYY

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* – Youkilis hit a career high .274 on groundballs last season.  Grounders made up 37.0 percent of his batted balls, also a career high.

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* – Youkilis’ swinging strike percentage (4.9 percent) was a career low and was the third lowest last season among the 120 players who hit 15 or more home runs:

3.1% – Victor Martinez, BOS
3.9% – Martin Prado, ATL
4.9% – Kevin Youkilis, BOS
5.4% – Bobby Abreu, LAA
5.5% – Chase Utley, PHI

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* – After creating +2.28 runs above average per 100 fastballs in 2008 and +2.49 in 2009, Youkilis’ created a career high +2.50 per 100 heaters in 2010, ranked seventh in the AL. Chicago’s Paul Konerko led the league at +3.45 (min. 300 plate appearances).

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* – Here’s some context on Youkilis’ RBI averages from his player card above:

Youkilis’ .282 RBI average (62 RBI divided by the 220 runners on base when he batted) ranked 19th out of 195 players who batted with at least 200 runners on last season.  Here are the top three:

.432 – Jose Bautista, TOR
.359 – Carlos Gonzalez, COL
.351 – Joey Votto, CIN

Youk’s .549 RBI average with RISP ranked 18th out of 217 players who batted with at least 100 runners in scoring position.

Again, the top three:

.799 – Jose Bautista, TOR
.686 – Adrian Gonzalez, SD
.671 – Joey Votto, Cin

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As always, I’d love your feedback.  Leave a comment here, email me (gmarbry@weei.com), or tweet me at @nuggetpalooza.

Check back often for more Red Sox Reviews as we count down the days to spring training and the 2011 baseball season!

Read More: Kevin Youkilis, nuggetpalooza, red sox reviews,

Source: Red Sox show interest in reliever Matt Guerrier

11.28.10 at 11:49 am ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox have shown interest in free agent relief pitcher Matt Guerrier. The right-hander, who has spent his entire seven-season major league career with the Twins, went 5-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 74 games with Minnesota in 2010. In the previous two seasons he led the American League in appearances with 76 and 79, respectively.

The 32-year-old had been classified as a ‘Type A’ free agent, but the Twins failed to offer him arbitration thereby not costing any team that would sign the righty a draft pick. Primarily a ground-ball pitcher, Guerrier’s best pitch is a slider, which helped limit right-handed batters to a .210 batting average in ’10. He also walked just 22 in 71 innings last season.

Guerrier made $3.15 million in ’10.

For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox bid on Tsuyoshi Nishioka falls short

11.26.10 at 1:56 pm ET
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According to a baseball source, the Red Sox placed a posting bid for Japanese shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the mid-$2 million range. However, the Sox were outbid by the Twins, who won the right to negotiate with the 26-year-old switch-hitter with a bid that was described by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune as $5 million and that Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com suggested (via Twitter) was “about $5.3 million.

The Twins’ bid will entitle them to have exclusive negotiating rights to Nishioka for 30 days. If they reach a contract agreement with the Japanese star, they will pay the Chiba Lotte Marines the posting fee that they bid. If they fail to reach an agreement with him, the Twins will owe the Marines nothing.

Nishioka hit .346 with a .423 OBP, .905 OPS, 206 hits and 121 runs for Chiba Lotte in 2010.

Read More: tsuyoshi nishioka,

Tigers announce Victor Martinez signing, say he will serve chiefly as DH

11.26.10 at 10:31 am ET
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The Tigers made their signing of Victor Martinez to a four-year, $50 million deal official in a press release on Friday, with Detroit President, CEO and GM Dave Dombrowski heralding the arrival of “a premier hitter” who will slot into the middle of their lineup.

Interestingly, given the degree to which Martinez’ value is tied to his position, the Tigers have already stated that Martinez will serve primarily as a DH who also catches two to three times a week. From the release:

“We expect Victor to be in our lineup on a daily basis, serving primarily as our club’s designated hitter and catching two to three times a week,” Dombrowski said. “He also has the ability to fill in at first base and his versatility allows us to keep a premier bat in our lineup every day. We’ve discussed this role with Victor and both sides are very pleased with what he brings to the Tigers organization.”

Martinez’ ability to play different roles certainly possesses value. Indeed, it was part of what made him such an appealing and impactful acquisition for the Sox in 2009.

Still, if he is to serve primarily as their DH, he becomes a less valuable asset than he would as an everyday catcher. Finding a designated hitter who can add middle-of-the-order production — hello, Vladimir Guerrero — is a less daunting task than identifying a catcher who can do so. That is part of the reason why David Ortiz is viewed as being overpaid for the 2011 season, when he will be playing on a $12.5 million option. Certainly, Martinez retains some added value over a DH in his part-time catching role, but it is not quite as much value as was the case in 2010, when he was the Sox’ everyday catcher.

Read More: Detroit Tigers, victor martinez,

How the Tigers can ruin the Red Sox’ winter (and other leftover Victor Martinez thoughts)

11.24.10 at 7:00 pm ET
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For the Red Sox, there was a silver lining to the fact that the Detroit Tigers signed Victor Martinez to a four-year, $50 million deal. Because the switch-hitting catcher was a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration, the Sox stand to receive a pair of draft picks for his departure, both the Tigers’ top pick and a sandwich pick.

The Tigers actually have the highest unprotected pick in the draft at No. 19 overall. The teams with the worst 15 records in the game cannot forfeit their first-round pick if they sign a Type A free agent; it is only the teams in the upper half who can lose their first rounder. The Tigers, who finished the year with an 81-81 record, were the worst team without a protected pick. Because three teams did not sign their first-rounders, Detroit was positioned to draft in the No. 19 spot in the draft. Now, that pick would appear likely to go to the Sox.

But that is not a certainty. The Tigers could truly play the part of offseason spoilers for the Sox if they elected to sign a free agent outfielder like Jayson Werth. (The Detroit Free Press reports that Detroit may pursue either Werth or Crawford, depending on how much owner Mike Ilitch wants to spend.) Werth (as well as shortstop Derek Jeter, closers Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera and starter Cliff Lee) is rated ahead of Martinez in the Elias Player Rankings used to determine what kind of compensation (Type A, Type B, or none) a player will net if signed as a free agent. If the Tigers signed one of those free agents, then their top pick would go to another club (the Phillies for Werth), while the Sox would get Detroit’s second-round pick, roughly 50 picks later in the draft.

So, if the Tigers were to sign Werth, they would not only be grabbing a player who might hold significant interest for the Sox — a player who arguably rates as the best right-handed hitter on the market, and an excellent defensive outfielder to boot — but also they would be tarnishing the one silver lining for the Sox of Martinez’ decision to head for greener backs (and pastures). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, Detroit Tigers, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jayson Werth

Sox hire former Diamondbacks scouting director

11.24.10 at 4:04 pm ET
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The Red Sox have hired former Diamondbacks director of amateur scouting Tom Allison to be a regional cross-checker. He will cover Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Allison became the director of amateur scouting for Arizona in 2007. He oversaw four drafts for the Diamondbacks. (For a look at his draft record, click here.) He was dismissed by new Arizona GM Kevin Towers in early October.

Before becoming the D-backs director of amateur scouting, Allison was a regional cross-checker for the Brewers under Jack Zduriencik (now Seattle’s GM). He also spent 10 years with the Mets as a player, coach, area scout and assistant scouting supervisor.

For an interesting look at Allison, check out David Laurila’s interview in Baseball Prospectus.

Read More: scouting, tom allison,

Red Sox claim OF Jordan Parraz on waivers from Royals

11.24.10 at 3:45 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced that they have claimed outfielder Jordan Parraz on waivers from the Kansas City Royals. As a 25-year old (Parraz turned 26 in Oct.), he hit .266/.350/.410/.760 with 11 homers and 61 RBI in 123 games for Triple-A Omaha. He played right field in 114 of his 123 games last year, serving as the designated hitter in the other contests.

The 2004 third-round pick by the Houston Astros has hit .289 with an .814 OPS and 54 homers in seven minor league seasons. He is currently playing winter ball in Venezuela.

Read More: jordan parraz, kansas city royals,

Letting Victor Martinez go made no sense

11.24.10 at 12:46 pm ET
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Since the season ended, I’ve said over and over again that I believed that Victor Martinez should be the Red Sox No. 1 priority.

Offensively, he’s about as consistent as it comes. If you take out 2008, in which Vic’s season was cut short due to an injury, you could pretty much pencil in a .300 average, 20+ homers and around 100 RBIs every year. That’s the type of consistency that you invest in long term.

He’s a switch hitter who can hit in the middle of your order. Those numbers are even more impressive when you can get that kind of production from your catcher. Look around the game, how many catchers can you say that about? Of the 30 teams in the league, I can count only three others who would excite me: Joe Mauer, Buster Posey and Brian McCann. Other than that, there may be a few others who you could live with.

But when you have one of the four best hitting catchers in the game, the last thing you want to do is lose that guy for $8 million dollars over the course of four years. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t make much sense to me.

Defensively, is he a great catcher? No, but who is? I’ve talked an awful lot about how splitting time behind the plate in 2009 set Vic back defensively early on this year. He got in bad habits and it took some time to get back to where he felt comfortable throwing the baseball again. If you continued to watch Vic as the year went on, you saw him do just that. He was no longer a liability throwing runners out. As a matter of fact, he was pretty good at it.

It’s obvious that the Sox did not view Victor as someone who would remain a catcher throughout the term of the contract. Maybe they are right. But can’t you at least admit that he would be an above average hitter in this league for the next four years no matter what position he plays? Maybe Vic could catch for the next two years and then move either to first base or DH. That could happen. He could also catch for the next three of four years. How do we know? The bottom line is that even if he does move to first or DH the last two years of his deal, he’s still going to hit. He always has and he always will.

As much as I wanted the Sox to sign Vic this offseason, I would have understood if they had not done so if some team came and completely blew him away with a deal. I was afraid that a team would come in and offer Vic a five-year deal for about $60 million with maybe even an option year. That might scare me away.

But when the Sox come out and say that they were willing to go the four years that Vic signed for, just not for as much money as the Tigers gave him (and other teams were willing to give him), I have problems with that. In years past, I’ve agreed with not going the extra year on guys they’ve let go. It didn’t make sense. But this wasn’t the case.

Now, they may soften the blow and trade for, or sign, a big time left-fielder, but to me, I’ll take the catcher. It’s a specialty position. You can’t take a first baseman or third baseman and put him behind the plate. You can take a right fielder or a center fielder and put him in left. In other words, there are only 30 catchers in this league; there are 90 outfielders you could plug in left field.

I’ve got the emotional side of this move out of me now, so let’s see if I can find a silver lining. Are the Sox trying to accumulate draft picks because there is a major trade in the future and they are trying to replenish their farm system because they know they are going to lose a few of their prospects? Could be.

But that would mean that they would have to actually make a trade. File that one under “we’ll have to wait and see.” The other rational side in all of this is that, if you ask me, I don’t think that scoring runs will be the downfall for the 2011 Boston Red Sox. It still comes down to pitching. Take a look at the World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Their lineup did not scare you at all, but their pitching staff did. That’s how they won the World Series.

You may say that if the Giants were in the AL East they may not have even made the playoffs. I don’t agree. Take a look at who won the AL East this year. The Tampa Bay Rays. Did their lineup scare you? No, they won because of their pitching.

There is a long way to go this offseason. The Sox will eventually put a team out there that they believe can win. That team may not excite Red Sox Nation but it’s not the team’s job to do so. Yeah, their ratings are down, but the only way to get ratings up is to win. That’s it.

The glory days are over. The Sox will never again own the months of April, May or June as long as the Celtics and Bruins continue to make runs deep in the playoffs. What they need to do is own the month of October, and the only way you do that is to play for a championship.

If you ask me, that plan took a hit yesterday when they let one of the best hitting catchers in the game go.

Read More: Lou Merloni, victor martinez,

Sox decline to offer arbitration to Varitek

11.23.10 at 5:20 pm ET
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The Red Sox have declined to offer salary arbitration to Jason Varitek and Bill Hall while offering arbitration to Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez and Felipe Lopez.

The Sox will now receive compensation for Beltre, Martinez and Lopez should they not accept arbitration and sign elsewhere. The compensation would be two draft picks for Beltre and Martinez (both Type A free agents) and one for Lopez (Type B). All players have until November 30 to accept or decline the offer of arbitration.

With Martinez reportedly set to sign with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent, the Red Sox will receive two draft picks, including the 18th overall pick in next year’s draft.

Varitek (and Hall) can still be re-signed by the Red Sox.

Terry Francona on D&H: ‘Real confident’ despite Martinez’ departure

11.23.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley Show on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. His visit coincided with the breaking news of catcher Victor Martinez departure for the Tigers on a four-year, $50 million deal.

“My phone started ringing about 20 minutes ago. I was like, ‘€˜Maybe we need to reschedule,’€™” Francona joked.

Francona praised Martinez as a player and person, and noted his appreciation for the switch-hitter’s efforts with the Red Sox. He did take some solace that Martinez is leaving the Sox for the AL Central, rather than an American League East rival.

“He’€™s going to take that to a new team. Fortunately, it looks like it’€™s not in our division. These things happen. When guys get to free agency, there’€™s a lot of decisions to make. One is by the player, one is by the organization and one is by other teams,” said Francona. “Sometimes it works out where a guy doesn’€™t come back. That doesn’€™t mean we’€™re not going to be any good. I feel real confident. The winter has to play itself out. It’€™s just beginning. It will be really interesting.”

Francona said that he talked to Sox GM Theo Epstein as recently as Monday night about Martinez’ contract status. The manager had no qualms with the organization’s decision.

“We’€™re pretty much on the same page on a lot of things. Being the manager is a little bit different, making the lineup out, is a little bit different than having to be the care-taker for the organization and looking at it four years down the road. I try not to lose sight of that,” said Francona. “Wanting to have Victor in the lineup next April is a no-brainer. When you have to make a decision and you’€™re talking $40, $45, $50 million, four years down the road, that’€™s not quite as easy. I respect that.

“If we went down to Fort Myers and we didn’t have a catcher, I’d be anxious,” said Francona. “I’ve been here long enough to know that this is the way it goes. When you’re the Red Sox and you have a high payroll and veteran players, you’re going to have free agents. That’s just the way it is. Theo and his guys have to walk the fine line of protecting — we talk about loyalty, and we certainly believe in that — but not going too far and have guys maybe in the last couple years of their contracts not doing what you want. It just seems like in this day and age, teams don’t mind paying money as much as they want to limit the years sometimes. … I understand it’s Nov. 22 and Victor is going somewhere else. Saying that, I have a feeling that be Feb. 15, we’ll have a team set in place.”

Francona spoke highly of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, though while he said that the Sox believe he can develop into an everyday catcher, he also cautioned that it might not be ideal to confer that responsibility on the 25-year-old out of the gate. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, David Ortiz, Detroit Tigers, Jacoby Ellsbury
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