Aaron Gleeman has his picks for the AL East today, and wouldn't you know it, the Yanks and Sox are picked one and two. But, there is a catch: Gleeman thinks the Sox will finish in first, while the Yanks will snatch the wildcard.
My reason for liking the Red Sox so much is pretty simple. They had an excellent pitching staff last year and it should once again be very good. And they had the 2nd best offense in the AL last season and I think they have made several improvements to it during the off-season.
...Basically, I think the Red Sox have a tremdendous offense and I wouldn't be surprised if they topped 900 runs in 2002, possibly even coming close to 1,000.
David Pinto found a terrific article on Bill James over at CBS sportsline. It is the most thorough piece on James since he went to work for the Sox that I've encountered. A must read.
"I'm actually surprised it took someone that long to hire a Bill James," [Oakland GM, Billy ] Beane said during a conversation in his office at Oakland's spring complex in Phoenix. "Obviously, I've read a lot of his stuff and respect him. Someone with his ideas either has or will ultimately revolutionize how teams are put together."
"My challenge is to do what I can do to create for the organization ways of thinking about problems we face," said James, who professed surprise when Boston contacted him last summer about this position. "Theo constantly faces the challenge of 'What is this player worth? What is he worth in dollars, or what is he worth in trade? What is the plan for him?'
"What I'm trying to do is to create ways of thinking about those problems that are orderly and constructive."
..."I just want to stress that we're not re-inventing the wheel," [Theo Epstein] said. "We certainly don't think we're smarter than anybody else. We're cross-checking ourselves. If there's a different way to do things, then let's at least explore it.
"If you spend $100 million every year on your team, it would be irresponsible not to look for every competitive advantage."
James works out of his Kansas house and, the way the relationship currently is structured, he's scheduled to travel to Boston quarterly to meet with the front-office staff and scouts to further analyze the information he researches and analyzes throughout the year.
"It's been a lot of fun," James said. "They're really good people to work with. It's fun to be involved with an organization that has a lot of energy. There are a lot of ideas floating around. People are excited about the job.
"It's still evolving very much. We're still trying to figure out how I can make the best contribution."
Finally, Mark Armour has a great article on the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox team over at Baseball Prospectus. Armour properly credits GM Dick O'Connell for building the 67 team, whose success may not be so shocking after all.
WHATTA YA WANT ME TO DO, CRY ABOUT IT?
Over at Baseball Rants, Mike C has posted "Welcome to the Hall's of Relief" Part VIII, the last installment in his comprehensive study on the history of relief pitching. The work Mike has done is nothing short of breath-taking. If series like this don't lend credibility to the blogging world, I don't know what will.
Baseball Rants also features a guest-columnist today, Chris DeRosa, who pens a lengthy and often hilarious article on the Yankees and competitive balance. I agree with much of DeRosa's sentiment, and look forward to reading more of him as the season unfolds.
...You know what I did when the Yankees lost to the Angels last year? I felt disappointed, and then I enjoyed the rest of the playoffs. I also enjoyed baseball in the years when my team was bad (The Era of Despair, 1989-1992). I didn't just complain about how my team had, sniff, no chance, and how it was so unfair that another team was good. Nor did I just wallow in Yankee crapitude. I watched local amateur ball, I got into cool teams like the A's and Blue Jays, I enjoyed close playoff games, I read about the history of the game, I pulled for the Phillies when I moved to Philadelphia, I gave out Reinsdorf Awards and stuff. There are plenty of ways for fans of bad teams to take pleasure in baseball, if only they would stop being such unbearable crybabies.