Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Another Year, Another Monkee

It's that time of year again - Monkee Time! In which we put some numbers into a spreadsheet and have it spew out a fairly inaccurate projection for the upcoming season. But hey -

C Victor Martinez (age 31)
237 PA: 3364053/507, 8 HR, 43 Runs Created 2009 Red Sox
540 PA: 298/371/464, 16 HR, 82 Runs Created 2010 Monkee

C Jason Varitek (age 38)
425 PA: 209/313/390, 14 HR, 47 Runs Created 2009
464 PA: 223/325/386, 14 HR, 52 Runs Created 2010
200 PA: 223/325/386, 6 HR, 22 Runs Created 2010 Adjusted

Jason Varitek's bat disappeared once again in 2009, especially after the All Star break, but the Red Sox fixed that problem by trading for Martinez. Victor can really hit, and the Sox will definitely benefit by having him in the lineup instead of Varitek. Martinez had an awful, injury-plagued season in 2008, which is bringing the projection down. I think he'll do better than this.

1B Kevin Youkilis (31)
588 PA: 305/413/548, 27 HR, 117 RC 2009
607 PA: 304/402/535, 25 HR, 114 RC Monkee

Youkilis has been pretty consistent over the last couple of years, and there's no reason to think that sill stop. Given his history prior to 2008, I'm still dubious about his long-term prospects as a power hitter, so I think a mid-20's homer total is probably reasonable.

2B Dustin Pedroia (26)
714 PA: 296/370/447, 15 HR, 105 RC 2009
690 PA: 310/372/463, 14 HR, 108 RC Monkee

Pedroia is becoming a steady producer at the top of the order. His batting average dipped a bit in 2009, but I expect a bounceback in 2010. I'm always bullish on Pedroia, but he's getting to that age where he should have two or three really great seasons in him. So let's say that I think the Monkee projection is a little light.

3B Adrian Beltre (31)
556 PA: 268/316/432, 17 HR, 68 RC Monkee

3B Mike Lowell (36)
484 PA: 290/337/474, 17 HR, 63 RC 2009
514 PA: 294/348/477, 18 HR, 73 RC Monkee

As with Varitek, the Sox went out and replaced a member of the starting lineup while he is still on the roster. In this case it's Lowell, who can still hit but whose limited mobility has made him a liability in the field. Beltre gives a little bit back with the bat, particularly in terms of OBP, but his fielding is excellent and should make up for any offensive shortfall. That said, many people believe that Beltre will thrive with Fenway's short porch, and exceed the power numbers projected here.

SS Marco Scutaro (34)
622 PA: 235/294/358, 12 HR, 68 RC (Green, Lugo, Gonzalez, Lowrie) 2009
588 PA: 274/357/384, 9 HR, 75 RC Marco Scutaro Monkee

A good baseball axiom would be that a lot of Nick Green is a bad thing. Last year, the Red Sox saw a lot of Nick Green, with the result that the Boston shortstops combined for an abysmal, sub-.300 OBP. Scutaro is not a great offensive player by any stretch of the imagination, and I think the OBP number here is a little high. But Scutaro is not in the business of giving away outs, so he'll definitely be an upgrade here. His glove work might not be up to the standards of Alex Gonzalez, but he's steady and clearly superior to Green on defense.

LF Jacoby Ellsbury (26)
691 PA: 301/352/415, 8 HR, 99 RC 2009
650 PA*: 296/346/412, 9 HR, 91 RC 2009 Monkee

Ellsbury moved his game forward a bit last year, bringing his OBP up to an acceptable figure for a leadoff man. His modest power numbers were augmented by a ton of speed (70 steals). He's a guy who seems to have the ability to use his speed to be an effective offensive player, and I expect more of the same this year.

CF Mike Cameron (37)
638 PA: 267/384/537, 36 HR, 117 RC (LF Jason Bay) 2009
593 PA: 246/336/455, 24 HR, 83 RC Monkee

Here he is, the guy who has absolutely ruined the Red Sox offense for the 2010 season. Jason Bay was the only "Big Bopper" in the Boston lineup last year (irrespective of 20+ HR guys like Martinez and Youkilis and Lowell and Drew and Ortiz), and there is no way Cameron can replace that offense. Oh, sure, he's a decent bet to hit 20+ homers himself, and he gives you a decent OBP for a low BA/high strikeout guy, but still. The offense sucks because of this guy. Good thing he's so incredibly much better than Bay with the glove. Holistic sabermetric valuation has Cameron just as productive a player as Bay.

RF JD Drew (34)
539 PA: 279/391/522, 24 HR, 96 RC 2009
514 PA: 277/392/499, 20 HR, 87 RC Monkee

Drew's numbers have been remarkably similar the last couple of years, and the Monkee expects more of the same. The calculation goes back three years, so JD's 11-homer 2007 season dampens the power projection. I think he'll slug over .500, but that's picking nits at this point.

DH David Ortiz (33)
627 PA: 238/332/462, 28 HR, 86 RC 2009
590 PA: 267/369/511, 28 HR, 98 RC Monkee

Ortiz' numbers have shown a precipitous decline over the last couple of years. Big Papi struggled mightily over the first two months, especially in terms of power production. Given this dropoff, the Monkee seems a little optimistic showing this kind of bounceback. However, these numbers aren't far off from what Ortiz produced from June 1 on last year (264/356/548), so they should be attainable. I hope.

The Red Sox were third in the American League last year with 872 runs scored (5.38 per game). Because there was a lot of talk about the Sox improving their "run prevention" with the additions of Beltre, Cameron and Scutaro (along with starting pitcher John Lackey), there has been a lot of jabber about how this is going to be a poor offense. I just don't see it. Sure, the Red Sox have given up runs in the Bay/Cameron swap, but they've also added runs at catcher and shortstop, and hopefully will get a bit more production from the DH position.

The Red Sox lineup contains three guys who are among the elite hitters at their position (Martinez, Youkilis and Pedroia), and six other guys who are above average. That's a very good offense, one that will score a lot of runs. I look for the Sox to again be among the top three scoring teams in the AL. Combine that with pitching and defense that should significantly cut back on the runs allowed, and you once again have a powerful team.

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