Epstein Discusses Lowell, Beckett, Offense

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein did an informative interview on the Dennis & Callahan show this morning.  Click here for audio and here for the transcript.  Highlights:

  • Epstein said that by the time the offseason began, the Red Sox evaluated their chances of signing Jason Bay and Matt Holliday at less than ten percent for each.
  • Epstein has not expected a Mike Lowell trade since the Texas deal blew up.  At the time, the Red Sox GM envisioned using the $3MM savings on a hitter, but now expects Lowell to provide that insurance.
  • The team's numbers showed Jacoby Ellsbury as an above-average center fielder in 2009.  Epstein implied that he doesn't put any stock in Ellsbury's UZR.
  • Epstein considers John Lackey's five-year, $82.5MM contract a relevant comparable for Josh Beckett's next deal.  He does not see the Lackey signing as an impediment to retaining Beckett.
  • If the offense is subpar, Epstein is willing to make an in-season acquisition.  He noted that finding a bat at the trade deadline is easier than acquiring an elite pitcher.


Leave a Reply

30 Comments on "Epstein Discusses Lowell, Beckett, Offense"


DarthVader87
5 years 5 months ago

I can’t go against him. He has brought two championships to Boston. Gave us something to actually hope for every year.

Infield Fly
5 years 5 months ago

Theo’s got a great mind and a tremendous grasp of how to provide his team with talent. The Sawx are truly fortunate to have such a capable GM (speaking as a fan of a team that is not so lucky)!

jpfinest
5 years 5 months ago

what is ur team

Infield Fly
5 years 5 months ago

I’m a Mets fan (and also a big fan of the Angels, but the GM thing doesn’t really apply there). Anyway, we got our official GM (Omar) and a shadow GM (Jeff Wilpon), and suffice it to say that the results ain’t exactly amazin’.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Although I think that the Sox will sign Adrian Gonzalez when he becomes a free agent (not a trade mid-season), I can really see a an Adam Dunn trade or a trade for Ryan Doumit.

The Sox could DH V-mart not to mention the fact that Doumit would tear up Fenway. He’s not great defensively. But he is young, a switch-hitter, and has a lot of pop. Maybe like Felix Doubront and Lars Anderson or Junichi Tazawa possibly could bring him to Fenway.

Dunn on the other hand, could very well stay with the Nationals beyond 2010 but if they do decide to trade him, maybe a Michael Bowden-Adam Dunn swap would lure Dunn to the Red Sox.

5 years 5 months ago

So if Ellsbury isn’t as bad as every defensive metric says he is, why are they moving him to LF? Smells like BS to me.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Because if you put Mike Cameron in left, you risk the chance of him coliding with the Ellsbury like he did with Beltran that sent them both to the emergency room.

5 years 5 months ago

I think it’s because of Mike Cameron and the fact that left field would be easier for Ells to handle than Cameron because of familiarity of playing near the monster.

wolf9309
5 years 5 months ago

remember too, he didn’t say he thought Ellsbury was a great centerfielder, he said he is an above-average one who can become great. Cameron is a great centerfielder now, so when you have the two of them, why not put the one who is great now in center?

wutangklanodb
5 years 5 months ago

Oh so Ellsbury must be an above average center fielder cause Theo said so, who cares about -10.6 career UZR in center fielder or his -18.3 from last season. No it can’t matter at all because Theo has his own numbers that some how make Ellsbury an above average center fielder. Maybe Andrew Friedman has some of his own numbers that show Pat Burrell was actually an above average DH last season. Give it a rest Theo you moved him to left cause he wasn’t that good in center and Cameron is clearly better.

5 years 5 months ago

UZR is based on zones. When a player like Ellsbury plays in a field like Fenway where center field goes 420 ft he is likely to play deeper than fielders in other parks. If the team has a philosophy to prevent doubles/triples more than singles then Ellsbury will play deeper in CF giving up more bloop hits that count against his UZR. The UZR is not applicable to him. in fact UZ is about as worthless and trivial of a stat you can find. He made 2 errors last year while covering alot of distance, thats all you need to know.

Cameron does not fair well in LF. Ellsbury has shown the ability to do so. Thats why Ellsbury is being moved. Cameron was the best defensive OF in FA. Boston signed him. It has nothing to do with Ellsbury not being able to play CF.

BaseballFan0707
5 years 5 months ago

UZR takes those kinds of things into account, I believe. It is not a worthless stat at all.

5 years 5 months ago

No it does not take those things into account. If a guy catches a ball out of his zone it is not given credit as being out of his zone. It only punishes people for not getting balls that land in their zone while there is no benefit for going outside of your zone. If you play a deep CF you are going to have a weak UZR because bloop hits will kill you.

DarthVader87
5 years 5 months ago

I’ve always thought of UZR as more of an IF stat than an OF stat. It’s not very OF friendly.

5 years 5 months ago

UZR is only beneficial to guys with average range. If you have above average range you are punished by UZR. Anyone who lists UZR as a factor in determining any players defensive abilities should be questioned. The same can be said for the OF and IF. OF is more susceptible though because of defensive strategies that take place. A team with excellent pitching is going to play a deeper OF to prevent big hits and make hitters go station to station. UZR should really be eliminated as an acceptable method of evaluation.

j6takish
5 years 5 months ago

“If you are above average you are punished by UZR”

How would you rate a guy like Adam Everett? He is an excellent defender, and posts a high UZR rating as well. I agree UZR isn’t the best indicator of fielding talent, but it’s light years ahead of Fielding PCT, or the timeless “he looks good in the field” evaluation

astrostl
5 years 5 months ago

Quoting its introductory article, “UZR rate is a weighted average of a player’s ZR in each of several zones.” In simpler ZR systems, a 60/40 SS/3B split for a zone would have it be defined as a SS zone by majority and say that all the 3B (and other position) plays were out-of-zone. UZR actually processes the percentages for each sub-zone and weights plays made accordingly – if a given CF is fielding many more balls in a given zone than the average one, for example, they will be rewarded for that in the range runs above average (RngR) UZR component.

BaseballFan0707
5 years 5 months ago

Well, the people below me made a few points on the calculations and what not.

However, I was simply mislead on it’s calculation. It still isn’t a bad stat to have. Ellsbury is not as bad as the numbers would say, but at the same time, I find it hard to understand why a player with such blazing speed is playing such a deep CF. He has the legs to reach those deep balls…just seems a bit odd for him to do so.

R_y_a_n
5 years 5 months ago

It was originally created for infielders I believe, with the exception of 1B. But that doesn’t make it completely worthless for OF’ers, because if used correctly (in big samples, not just one season) it can be the best fielding stat available for outfielders. Ellsbury isn’t as bad as last year says he was, but over his career in center he has been below average – which likely means, he is a below average defender.

I’ve noticed most people that dislike UZR, dislike it because it says their favorite player who can make those webgem plays is a below average defender. Generally those players who have to dive for balls and still have a low UZR do not play their position right to begin with, whether it be bad jumps, poor positioning before the play, etc.

bigpupp
5 years 5 months ago

UZR doesn’t take a lot of things into account. One of which being that any ball that hits a wall is a playable ball. In Boston, there is significantly more balls that hit the wall, yet each one of them is referred to as a catchable ball. That is why you see guys like Manny graded as a horrible OF in Boston, but nuetral in LA, or Bay being slightly below average in Pittsburgh yet horrible in Boston.

UZR is just a tool and should never be taken as gospel. It has it’s good things but is far from being perfect (or even good for that matter).

leberquesgue
5 years 5 months ago

Oh dear. Your opinion of UZR is negated in my view by your invocation of Ellsbury’s number of errors in his defence. Errors?! Talking of “worthless and trivial” stats.

putzoo
5 years 5 months ago

Hey if they can make up calculations that show Drew is worth 14mill per year they can do anything. What’s next?? Wins are overrated.

$1529282
5 years 5 months ago

That transcript is awful. It’s riddled with errors and it also completely misses Epstein’s point at some places. The RBI thing for example… the transcript quotes Epstein saying:

“I don’t think RBIs is primitive. I think is extraordinarily relevant to what we need to do which is to predict future performance.”

Watch the video and Epstein says:

“I don’t think RBIs is primitive. I DON’T think it’s extraordinarily relevant to what we need to do, which is predict future performance…”

The transcript has the complete opposite of what Epstein says. Wow…

wolf9309
5 years 5 months ago

Ha, I’m glad you mentioned that because I didn’t get to listen, just read it, and I was wondering what he meant by that.

wolf9309
5 years 5 months ago

he didn’t say he puts no value in defensive metrics, he just doesn’t use UZR- the Sox have their own system. They saw Cameron as the best combination of offense and defense they could sign to a short term contract. He was going for all around good defense in the outfield, instead of weak defense in left and good in the other two positions.

Boston could have afforded Bay but didn’t think he would be worth the contract he would get. Same with Holliday. They offered both of them the money they would be willing to spend on them, but it didn’t get it done in either case. Just because you can afford to throw money at any player doesn’t mean that they’re the best decision for the future of the ballclub.
I doubt that a contender like the Red Sox would move Ellsbury to left solely because they want to keep his trade value up- they build teams to win, not to hide their player’s weaknesses.

johnsilver
5 years 5 months ago

” it’s obvious he wants to build up Ellsbury and not tear him down.” Interesting, another Ellsbury hater that fails to see how a guy that just let the league in steals for the 2nd consecutive season, hit .300, has a career .350OBP and has game changing speed, plus is still fair with the glove to all but the geeks who live and die with stats looks for everything negative…

jpfinest
5 years 5 months ago

what are u talking about. if mauer becomes a FA then the sox and some other teams will be interested. the reason why mauer to the sox has been quite is becuase red sox fans knows that it is a long shot he becames a FA and knows it doesnt matter what they say, its all on mauer and the twins.

jpfinest
5 years 5 months ago

u r right that the twins better get something done with him becuase if he becomes a FA, lookout twins cause u wont finish 1st. one would think he stay with the twins but they are making it interesting.

ellisburks
5 years 5 months ago

Epstein!

BaseballFan0707
5 years 5 months ago

Errors are not completely indicative of a player’s defense. Especially in the case of infielders (Elvis Andrus for example), it is very possible that the error is incorrectly assigned (for example, a ball thrown from shortstop to the first baseman bounces and the first baseman doesn’t come up with it properly and it goes past him. You will often see scorers assign the error to the Shortstop since it will be labeled as a bad throw, though at the same time, one can argue that the first baseman could have positioned himself better to get the ball).