Saturday, April 04, 2009

Trying to Rationalize The Mets Signing Sheffield

So it looks like the Mets have struck a deal with Gary Sheffield. The Fan's first reaction was, "Huh?" The second reaction was, "Why?" and the third reaction was, "Okay, let's see if this makes sense." Got to tell you that the first inclination is to think that it doesn't. But let's take a fair look.

Okay, if we look at the Met's roster, they will probably go with eleven pitchers. They currently have thirteen on their roster, but Wagner and Redding will be on the Disabled List. They have two catchers. That's thirteen. They have five infielders, that's eighteen. In the outfield, Beltran, Church and Murphy should be safe bets, that's twenty-one. You should also include Tatis, the comeback player of the decade who has also had a really good spring. That's twenty-two.

So that leaves three spots. There is Marlon Anderson, 34 years old with his lifetime OBP of .314 and OPS of .705. There is Angel Pagan, 28 years old, with a lifetime OBP of .316 (we're getting a pattern here) and an OPS of .712. Then there is Nick Evans, 22 years old, who only has 109 ML at bats and in a small sample size, has a lifetime OBP of .303 and an OPS of .707. The last one to list is Jeremy Reed, 28 years old, who has a lifetime OBP of .314. Hmm... and an OPS of .679.

Not a very savory group to choose from. Maybe we're onto something here. Can they at least field their positions?

2008 stats from FanGraphs:
  • Jeremy Reed - LF: -0.6; RF: -2.9; CF: -0.8 Not very good there.
  • Nick Evans - LF: 1.8; 1B: 0.1 That's better.
  • Angel Pagan - LF: 0.3; CF: 0.5; RF: -0.2 Well, at least he is above average on two of them, but both were the first above average recordings of his career.
  • Marlon Anderson - LF: 1.8; CF: -0.2; RF: -0.6 Left field is okay. Anderson started as an infielder and can still play second or first occasionally.

In addition, Reed, Pagan and Anderson all have minus arms. Evans' arm is rated above average.

All projections for Gary Sheffield point to him (the Fan is sure the projectionists thought he was going to DH for Detroit) batting anywhere from .236 to .250 with an OBP of .334 to .356 and an OPS of .734 to .818. All those figures should beat the OBP and OPS of any of a collection of Reed, Evans, Pagan and Anderson. Sheffield played 46 innings in LF last year and believe it or not, had a positive number for a UZR (with a minus arm).

As weird as it is to admit, it seems that Sheffield is a better player, even at his age, than any of the four listed with the possible exception of Nick Evans, who is young and unproven. If Sheffield has a league average year at the plate, he could help the Mets. Hard to believe, but this might make sense after all. Of course, the big "IF" is whether he can get out there in the field and "IF" he can hit even a little bit at this stage of his career and "IF" he can be content with a part time role.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Great Article on Fielding Statistics

In one of the best articles the Fan has read on fielding statistics, the linked and long article does a great service on educating fans on how they came to be and how they work. Many writers make mention of these ratings but fail to educate readers on what they mean. It's okay to tell the fans that Derek Jeter had a UZR of -0.1 in 2008, but what does that mean exactly?

The article also points out that these statistics aren't quite perfect in their analysis yet. The creator of UZR admits that his system is only 90% there and they have 10% to go. The 10%, when it comes to statistical analysis is a big deal. The article also points to the future when routes to balls hit and other factors will be analyzed and added to the statistical analysis.

The latter part of the previous paragraph is why, in the Fan's opinion, the current fielding stats have some degree of skepticism built in. While they do help baseball figure out where fielders rank in ability and success rate, there are some variables missing such as positioning and other things that make up what a fielder does.

The article does a great job of pointing to fielding stats to show why the Bay Rays climbed successfully to the top of the food chain last year. And while they make a great case for the Rays, it doesn't totally explain how a poor fielding team like the Yankees finished in first place in 2007. There are some intangibles in the game that are yet to be accounted for.

Don't get the Fan wrong. These stats are extremely rewarding and very encouraging and the more the merrier.

New Way to Evaluate Umpire Strike Zones

In what is a positive step for MLB, there is a new way to evaluate the balls and strikes calls of major league umpires. The previous method was not employed in all ball parks and had some issues. The first issue was that it interpreted home plate as a rectangle, which misses some of the nuances of a five sided plate. For example, a curve could miss the front of the plate and cut across the back portion of it. The ump could correctly call that a strike, but would be judged wrong by the system.

Naturally, the umpires aren't too happy about the whole thing. Nobody likes to have someone looking over their shoulders as they do their jobs. That's understandable. But when the technology is there to improve the game and make it as standardized as possible, MLB has to take that opportunity. Let's face it, fans that watch the game see most of the game from behind the pitcher and to see the inconsistencies of umpires around the league drives fans nuts.

The umpires have three things going against them in their angst. First, there is a perception that the umpires are arrogant and think they are as important as the game and players themselves. Second, most fans think umpires have a great job and get paid really well for what amounts to nine months of work. Finally, umpires are found all over the minor leagues and in colleges and high schools around the country. If these guys aren't happy with their jobs, then there are thousands who could take their place.

Anyone who has watched games over the last ten years knows that the strike zone has been a joke. Most pitches above the belt are considered high by major league umps. Tom Glavine and others made a career of moving the strike zone two or three inches off the outside corner. Anything that improves the calling of the zone by umpires is a great thing.

Umpires may not be happy, but they should just accept this because there is no turning back. The technology is in place and there will be oversight. From the Fan's perspective, it's about time.

Commissioner's Fan Initiative

Just like any other business these days, MLB is going to have to fight for every entertainment dollar they can. To facilitate the fight, the commissioner, Bud Selig, announced an initiative pointing to to where a bunch of special promotions will be listed for each team. While the Fan is usually skeptical of anything Selig does, after reading it through, the initiative makes good business sense.

Selig, who looks like Bill Gates, is rightly concerned about attendance. And this is a correct step to create special programs that make it affordable for a family to attend a game and have a good time. Many of the events listed look like a lot of fun and offer great prices on either special nights or for special occasions. The Fan took note of some of the comments the piece generated, and recognized a whole lot of jaded people out there.

Some mentioned that scalpers can get a hold of those special seat prices and make even more money than they normally make. One thing the Fan learned in business a long time ago is that you can't make policy based on what a few bad eggs might do. Sure, this may happen a time or two. But if hundreds of struggling families can be together and share an American tradition, that's a good thing.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

How Did We Live Before the Internet?

Whoa! That was awful. The FanDome went dark as good old Time Warner went down for 40 hours. It was terrible! The Fan didn't know how much money he had or what was going on in the world. And worst of all, there was a 40 hour blackout of baseball news. Egads, that was the pits!

Yeah, yeah, the Fan could have gone and turned the television on and turned to ESPN or something. But who wants to wait 35 minutes to get through college basketball and the NBA and NHL? And those nice, colorful guys and gals who read the headlines don't always say who got released and who got sent down to the minors.

Shaking vehemently and shivering at the frozen ordeal just lived through. It might be better to lose water or something. The Fan can stand his own smell but to go without baseball news? To go 40 hours without being able to look at a box score?

And this poor site. It was lonely and dark. There was nobody home to write semi-meaningful drivel that a few dozen of you read now and then. But it was probably all good in the end. We are just on a holding pattern until Opening Day Sunday. Is it Sunday!? Holy crap! Call the Fan, Rip Van Winkle!

Never mind the Fan. He's just drinking in a long, on-line drink of water to parch his dry and dusty throat. Whew! Glad that's over.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Just Passing Time...

So the heck with the 30 questions. It was gimmicky and it was just a way to pass the time. It ended up passing gas too because there was no heart in it. Let's face it, we just want the season to start. After the longest Spring Training in the history of baseball and the WorldBullCrap tournament, it's time to sing, man! "Like the winter needs the spring, you know I need you. I need you. I need you."

When nothing real is happening and only fake games have been going on for an eternity, inspiration seems to lag. The Fan wonders if the veteran players feel it too. "Man, I'm tired of this stuff!" The good news is that Wednesday is April 1. Good golly, never thought the month of March would end. But at last it has and soon, the standings won't keep showing every team at 0-0.

Of course, April means different things for different people. Around here, we call April, "Mud Season." It's when the snow starts to melt (though we could have several more storms before it is over) and the frost in the ground starts to loosen and the earth becomes one big mud puddle. And not only do our feet squish wherever we walk, we can think about all those lovely mosquitoes and black flies breeding in that lovely ooze. And the Fan lives in northern Maine because...?

But at least today had some powerful stories. Let's start with Gary Sheffield. Now that one was a shocker. What a bummer for the big man to be out of a job right before the season starts and one homer away from the magic 500. Imagine all the plans Shef was making to celebrate that milestone? Now he's packing his bags and hoping his phone will ring. The Fan can hear the narrator from the Twilight Zone intoning: "Gary Sheffield, you have entered the Frank Thomas, Sammy Sosa zone." DOOdoodoodoodoo doo doo.

That took a lot of guts to throw away that much money. Too bad Sheffield couldn't convince some doctor that he had an anxiety disorder or something. But the Tigers have stunk up the yard all spring and they had to "Man Up" and do something. They did the right thing. Too bad they couldn't dump about eight more players.

This weird headline was found on "Committee to study A's park; Boxer weighs in". Now isn't that weird? How is a boxer weighing in related to the A's park? Or if the boxer is weighing in an opinion about a baseball field, how is that relevant? Okay, just fooling around here. It just looked silly as a headline. Boxer, of course, is Barbara Boxer, the popular junior senator from California. Her husband, Stewart, is a lawyer, which makes an oddity as there are many times when Boxer files briefs.

Oh, speaking of headlines, if any of you English majors are reading, what's up with headlines not being capitalized anymore? Did some law pass or something? It's kind of like growing up when mass was always in latin and then one day we showed up and the priest was playing a guitar and the nuns threw away their habits and everyone could eat meat on Friday. How did that happen? Anyway, if one of youz guyz or galz can shed light on this development, can you let the Fan in on it?

Tom Browning, the former Cincinnati pitcher noted for his perfect game and scuffed up baseballs found himself in jail for back child support. Apparently he owes, $99,000+. Ouch. Before you go calling him a deadbeat, consider that he hasn't had a big paycheck since he retired and that's the problem for athletes. Their career ends and ex-spouses want to keep living the life of luxury. Don't know if that's the case, or if Browning really is just a deadbeat, but, the guy is in a pickle now.

Joba Chamberlain's DUI situation was delayed again. If this keeps up, The Hut will never get his driver's license back. But the Yankees might be happy about that. This is the arraignment that keeps getting postponed. The guy can't even get charged for crying out loud. The Fan has seen millionaire divorces ended quicker than this.

How can you tell that the baseball season needs to start very soon? How about all the major sports sites featuring a headline about a stupid four pound hamburger. Geez, Louise, is the news THAT slow?

And now that the Fan has wasted enough of your time while he muddles (remember, it's mud season) through another pre-season post, here is a nice story to leave you on a high note.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Time to Man Up About Chipper Jones

In the words of Barney of How I Met Your Mother, sometimes you have to "Man Up." It's time the Fan manned up about Chipper Jones. This is an official purging of some inner demons. The Fan has always hated Chipper Jones. It wasn't just a rational hate based on solid reasons, it was unnatural and consuming. The Fan even used the hatred as one of his security questions on an account. In fact, the Fan and the Fan's wife have a long standing joke that whenever we hear his name, we gleefully run around and start mimicking: "Chipper! Here Chipper, Chipper," like we were calling some mythical dog. But it's time to put it away. It's time to Man Up about Chipper Jones.

This whole thought process came about after reading on that Jones was close to a three year extension with the Braves. Well, the guy is 36 and it might not be the smartest move for the Braves. But it is justified as an expense for one of the best players that ever put on a Braves uniform. Okay, for all you therapists in the room, that was a major admission for the FanDome. It just made the morning coffee a little bitter to state, but it's true nonetheless.

Last year, at the age of 35, Jones only won a batting title with a batting average of .364. He had an OPS of 1.014. He has played fourteen full seasons now and has averaged, despite many partial seasons due to injury, 29 homers, 32 doubles, 98 RBIs and 98 Runs Scored. He has a lifetime On Base Percentage of .400. He has a lifetime OPS of .940. He has more walks in his career than strikeouts. He has a lifetime Batting Average of .310. And he's been a fierce competitor and a fierce supporter of his team and his teammates.

While it's doubtful that he gets to some of those "magical" milestones (due to a late career start) that land a player in the Hall of Fame like 3000 hits or 500 homers, his OPS and OBP and overall numbers should make a strong case for inclusion once he is done. He was a major part of the Braves run of first place finishes. He was a perennial All Star. And if Atlanta fans are lucky, will end his career in the same place he started.

So where did this unholy hate come from? It probably goes back to 1996. The Fan was passionately rooting for the Yankees to win their first World Series in many years. After a magical season, Jeter and the boys were down 2-0 in the World Series with the Braves great pitching staff, it seemed the dream would be over. And through it all, watching the games, Chipper Jones just had a way of walking and playing like he was better than anyone else. He just seemed overly arrogant and full of himself.

Now the Fan doesn't know if he was or he wasn't. Several accounts of the series written after the fact state that the Yankee players felt like the Braves' players were acting like the series was already won and the Yankees used that as motivation to come back and take the series. Jones must have been part of that motivation if the Fan's eyes were any indication.

The hatred built from there. It grew to mythical proportions to the point of denigrating anything Jones had accomplished in baseball. "He's a baby and he's just hurt all the time." "He only won one World Series." "Even his beautiful wife, Karin Jones, came to hate him." It has become unhealthy and in the end denies how good a player Jones has been.

As hard as it is to put this away, it's time. Chipper Jones is and has been a great player, one of the best of his generation. The Fan still doesn't like him. But it's time to put the childish hate behind and move on. Not that it means anything in the cosmic world of sports, but the Fan no longer denies the greatness of Chipper Jones.

30 Questions for the American League East

Several posts have been floating around the blogsphere with a series of questions about the upcoming season. Some have focused from team to team, and some on individual players. This is a very normal process of anticipation which all baseball fans feel right now. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, we'll do our own list of questions by division for the next six nights, which will take us to the start of the season! Yesssssss...

1. Will Oriole fans be just passing the time until Matt Wieters comes up and then the real fun starts?

2. Will the Orioles find any pitching at all beside...umm...Guthrie?

3. Can Halladay stay healthy for Toronto and win a Cy Young he seems able to grasp every year?

4. Is Vernon Wells still a star?

5. Will sending David Price to the minors cost the Rays two valuable games in the American League East?

6. Evan Longoria has gotten lost in the shuffle this spring. Will his performance continue to soar and make us all remember how good he can be?

7. Will the post season have any lag affect on the Rays' young pitching?

8. Can Josh Beckett challenge Halladay for the Cy Young and have that big year we've all been expecting?

9. Will David Ortiz, J. D. Drew and Mike Lowell hold up?

10. Will Lugo's absence cost him his starting job once he returns?

11. Is Andy Pettitte's fantastic spring a tease or does he have one more really good year in him?

12. Will Jorge Posada hold up?

13. Will the Orioles finish ahead of Toronto in the standings?

14. Will John Smoltz even matter with the Red Sox so loaded with pitching?

15. Will the Yankees stay patient if Gardner starts slowly?

16. Is Matt Joyce the next big star for the Bay Rays?

17. Will the Rays have trouble finishing games without a clear stud closer?

18. Melvin Mora is 36 years old. Can he make it through the year healthy and put up anything for numbers?

19. Will Felix Pie prove Lou Piniella wrong?

20. Is Nick Markakis destined to be another Mike Sweeney? A great player stuck on a losing team?

21. Will 38 year old Greg Zaun have enough Geritol in his locker to get him until June?

22. Can Derek Jeter make it through the year without getting hit on the hands at the plate which ruins his game?

23. What will happen when A-Rod comes back?

24. Who will break down first, Jason Varitek or Jorge Posada?

25. Does Mariano Rivera have one more dominant year in him?

26. How patient will the Yankees be with Joba Chamberlain as a starter?

27. Does David Purcey's spring give Blue Jays' fans a little hope after days Halladay pitches?

28. Does Scott Rolen have anything left in the tank?

29. Will every series between the Red Sox, Yankees and Bay Rays feel like the playoffs?

30. Which one of those teams will end up on top of the division?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weird Box Score Sighting

It sure was weird to see a fellow named Dent in the Red Sox lineup and he played shortstop. The Dent in this case is Ryan, not Bucky, and apparently, there is no relation?

Dent is the supplemental draft pick from 2007 and is 19 years old going on 20.

The Boone Family Legacy

The Boone family is not only the first family in Major League Baseball to have three straight generations play in an All Star game, the legacy goes all the way back to one of our greatest country heroes.

Let's start at the beginning, or at least as far back as history can take us. The Boone family can be traced back to Normandy, France and a Geoffrey de Bohun was born before 1000 A.C.E. Part of the Norman invasion of England, the de Bohun family were given title and and became noblemen that married into other noble families. No doubt, such a family, if it were possible to identify, was probably originally from the Norsemen who settled in Normandy after an invasion there. Only such descendents would be trusted and given title after the British conquest.

The de Bohun name was gradually anglosized to Bohn and then finally Boone. Almost seven hundred years after such a titled family came in conquest of England, Squire Boone was born in Bradninch, England in 1696. Squire was a humble Quaker and soon sought refuge in the New World.

Squire Boone settled in Pennsylvania in a Quaker community there in New Britain, and later Exeter. There he met and married his wife, Sarah Morgan, and the couple had twelve children. Two of the children married outside of the Quaker faith and when challenged by the Quaker leadership, Squire Boone defended his children and was thrown out of the Quaker church. The humble blacksmith, farmer, carpenter then took his large family to North Carolina where he and Sarah spent their remaining years.

Squire and Sarah would just be another plotline in the building of America but their sixth child happened to be a fellow by the name of Daniel Boone. And Daniel became one of the biggest and best of all of the American legends as an adventurer, war hero and politicion.

Daniel Morgan Boone is a name that every kid of the Fan's generation knew from movies, television shows and books. This space won't be used to recount that history. It's available all over the Internet for those who are interested.

Let's leave it that Daniel, born November 22, 1734, died September 26, 1820, married Rebecca Bryan. They had a son named Daniel Morgan Boone, the "Morgan" of course, in honor of Daniel's mother. Daniel Morgan Boone was born December 23, 1769 in North Carolina and married Sarah Griffin Lewis on March 2, 1800. Daniel Morgan Boone died in Missouri like his father.

Sarah and Daniel had a son named Alonzo Havington Boone who was born in Missouri on March 22, 1817. Alonzo married Elizabeth Treble Stewart in 1840. The couple had a son named Edward H. Boone who was born in 1843 in Missouri. Edward married Georgeann Brown.

Edward and Georgeann had a son named William Shelby Boone, born May 28, 1865 in Missouri. Some time after William was born, the family moved to Kansas. William met and married Lulu Michaels of Kansas and they married in 1891.

William and Lulu had a son named Donald Ernest Boone, who was born in Kansas on July 16, 1901. Donald married Beulah Lagretta Garrison of Kansas and the couple moved to California and had a son named Raymond Otis Boone, our baseball patriarch.

Raymond was born in San Diego on July 27, 1923. He signed as an amateur free agent with the Cleveland Indians in 1943. But due to the war, did not actually play for the team until 1948. He started as a shortstop and though the statistics show good range at short, he made a lot of errors including 87 errors in a stretch of 425 games at short for the Indians. He didn't do a whole lot for the Indians at the plate either. He did hit .301 in 1950, but slumped back to .233 and .263 the following two years.

Ray had another bad start in 1953 and was batting only .241 for the Indians when they traded him to the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers immediately shifted Boone to third base and he had a super season with them, hitting .312 with 23 homers and 93 RBIs in just 101 games. He went to finish eighth in MVP voting.

He had three more very good years with the Indians, making the All Star teams in 1954 and 1956. He hit a homer in the 1954 classic. But he dropped off in production in 1957 and the Indians traded him to the Chicago White Sox. He was never a starter again and bounced around from the White Sox to the Royals and then to the Milwaukee Braves and finished with the Boston Red Sox in 1960. He finished with a lifetime .275 batting average and a .361 OBP. He had great stats as a third baseman, unlike his years as a shortstop and finished his career above league average in fielding percentage and range factor as a third baseman. He played mostly first base for the last five years of his career.

Ray Boone died in 2004.

Ray's son, Bob Boone, was born on November 19, 1946 and spent his childhood surrounded by baseball. He went to Stanford University and was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the sixth round of the 1969 draft. He made his major league debut in 1972 and played for the Phillies until 1981. He never was a great hitter but is credited as a gold glove (he won seven of them) catcher and made four All Star teams (and went 2 for 5 in those games) and was part of the 1980 championship season in Philadelphia.

After the strike of '81 (Boone was a union rep) and a poor showing that season, he was traded to the California Angels where he probably had his best two seasons as a catcher. In 1982 and 1983, he threw out an incredible 115 base runners out of 226 attempts. The Angels won the A.L. West in 1982 with him behind the plate. He also caught Ernie Whitt's no-hitter in 1984.

Boone played for the Angels until 1988 and was released after that season. He signed with the Royals in 1989 and had a good season for them (batting .274) at the age of 42. But he broke a finger in 1990 that cut that season short and he retired as the all time leader in games caught at 2225, a record later broken by Carlton Fisk.

He had a couple of unsuccessful stints as a manager and later served in the Nationals front office.

Two of Bob Boone's sons became major league baseball players, Bret and Aaron. Both of them made the All Star team during their careers making the family four for four. Bret, the older of the two, was born in 1969 and went to USC. He was drafted by the Mariners in the fifth round of the 1990 draft. He made his debut with that team in 1992. He played part time for two seasons with the Mariners and then they traded him to the Cincinnati Reds in 1994.

His first year with the Reds was a good one where he batted .320 in 108 games but he then had three mediocre years with that team until having a good power year in 1998 when he had his first All Star year with 24 homers and 95 RBI. The following year, the Reds traded Bret to the Braves.

Bret had a fair year power-wise with the Braves, but was overall not very good at the plate that year. He did hit .538 in the World Series against the Yankees, but the Yankees won the series. After that one year in Atlanta, they traded him to San Diego. He had an unspectacular year for the Padres in 2000 but filed for free agency after that season.

He was signed by the Seattle Mariners, his original team. His first season there, 2001, was his career year when he batted .331 with 37 homers and 141 RBI. He came in third in MVP voting that year. He had three more productive years with Seattle, but each year was a little less productive than the year before. But his career fell off the cliff after the 2004 season. After a horrible 2005 season, his career was over.

Bret Boone finished with 252 homers and 1021 RBI. He also won four gold gloves during his career.

Aaron Boone is four years younger than Bret and followed his brother's footsteps to USC. After his college career, he was drafted in the third round of the 1994 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He had brief stints with that club in 1997 and 1998 and finally stuck with the team in 1999. He had pretty good batting averages his first three years with the Reds but his batting averaged dropped to .241 in 2002, but had his best power year when he hit 26 homers and drove in 96 runs.

Aaron had a good start to the 2003 season with the Reds and made the All Star team that year in his only selection. The Yankees had a need for a third baseman for the pennant run and traded for Boone for the last 54 games. He was nondescript for them until he hit that fateful home run off of Tim Wakefield that put the Yankees on their way to the World Series (they lost to the Marlins that year). Other than that dramatic homer, he was terrible in the post season and the Yankees released him.

He then signed with the Indians and had two poor seasons there. He signed as a free agent with the Marlins in 2007 and had decent success in limited action. He then signed as a free agent with the Nationals in 2008 and had a poor year in limited action.

Aaron just had open heart surgery this past Thursday which, fortunately, went well. In one of the weirder transaction wire notes, he was put on the 15 day disabled list by the Nationals due to the heart surgery. It is doubtful if his career continues but at least his life will.

And there you have it. Probably more information than you ever wanted about the Boone family, but this author had fun with it and that's all that matters at the moment.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dad says Aaron Boone Doing Well

It is very good news to read this article at that Aaron Boone has gone through his operation successfully and will be released soon from the hospital. The Fan is very happy to hear that Boone has been through the worst of his ordeal and that prospects look good for him to have a healthy life. That's great!

Coming soon in the FanDome will be a Boone retrospective on this longtime baseball family.

Should Wakefield Be Number 4 Starter?

A story at sized up Terry Francona's starting rotation at the start of the season with Beckett on top, Lester following and Dice-K after that. But then the story goes on to list Tim Wakefield, the 42 year-old knuckleballer, as the fourth starter followed by perhaps Penny or Buchholz as the fifth starter. Should Wakefield be listed at Number 4?

There is no doubt that Boston has a monster pitching staff from top to bottom and there really doesn't seem to be a losing combination here. Wakefield is a known commodity. He will get his 30 starts (if things stay as they are) and have an ERA in the 4.00 to 4.50 range. He will win at least half of his games or better. He does offer a known change of pace after three power pitchers ahead of him. The Fan would love to see some stats of what Wakefield does to batter's timing after facing him. A batting average study of teams the day after a Wakefield start would be interesting.

At the same time, you have Brad Penny and Clay Buchholz who have been brilliant all spring. Buchholz in particular had a lot of buzz in 2007 when he came up and threw a no-hitter. But last year was a disaster for him and he could not find the strike zone. That problem has seemingly been resolved if spring results can be relied upon.

Brad Penny is a former All Star who had a miserable year last year with the Dodgers. Not only did he pitch miserably, but he was called lazy by the Dodger's coaching staff. He hasn't appeared lazy with the Red Sox and has looked really good all spring.

So what should the Red Sox do? If you go with: Beckett, Lester, Dice-K, Penny and Buchholz, you have power all the way through. Stick Wakefield in there in place of one of the last two and you have a change of pace. It's an interesting conundrum that most teams would love to face.

Personally, the Fan would go with power all the way and put Wakefield in the bullpen. He's done that before and succeeded fairly well. It would seem the best way to go to have all your best arms 1-5 and just blow teams away.

It remains to be seen how it all plays out, but either way, one really good potential pitcher will be the odd man out. And don't forget you have Smoltz out there too in June. Pity the poor Red Sox for having more pitching than they have room for.