Saturday, December 18, 2004

Sox sign Clement!!!

The Red Sox signed Matt Clement to a 3 year deal yesterday worth 25 million dollars. It was a great surprise for me last night to learn that the Sox had signed him. I thought he was going to sign with Anaheim. Clement never did visit Boston, as Theo just spoke with Clement's agent over the phone and at the winter meetings. Many people seem to think that Clement was a second tier pitcher that was available this offseason. I think Clement is better than everybody thinks, and to see if my opinion is right, I am going to compare Clement to some other free agent starters that have signed this offseason.

We all know that Pedro Martinez was obviously the best starter available this offeason. No starting pitcher is going to get near the 13 million dollars a year deal that he got from the Mets. Pedro was the only ace that was really available this offseason, as most of the other starting pitchers that were available this offseason are typically a #2 or #3 pitcher. Of the starting pitchers that have signed so far, I think that Clement, as well as Carl Pavano, Brad Radke, Jaret Wright, and Jon Lieber can all be classified as potential #2 pitchers in a rotation. These numbers are the last four years averaged together. Carl Pavano would have had the best ERA if I was just to look at last year, but I think, as do most statistians such as Dan Szymborsk that you must average at least the past 3 years, if not the past 4 to prevent from a fluke from showing up. I chose to average the last four years.

Pavano
ERA K/9 BB/9
4.70 5.91 2.49


Radke
ERA K/9 BB/9
4.16 5.29 1.21

Clement
ERA K/9 BB/9
4.11 8.41 3.90

Looking at these numbers from the past four years a few things stand out. Matt Clement has the lowest ERA of the 3 pitchers. Why if he had the lowest ERA did he draw so little attention? Matt never got any run support last year which resulted in a 9-13 record, and he walks a ton of batters. As can been seen from his BB/9 rate, that is something that Dave Wallace is going to have to work with him on. Hopefully, Clement will be able to make up for it with his strikeouts. He averaged 9.45 strikeouts per 9 innings last year, and over the past 4 years he has averaged 8.41 strikeouts per 9 innings. If Clement can keep his walk rate down, and continue to have the same strikeout rate, the Red Sox will be thrilled.

Brad Radke is a perfect example of control. His walk rate per 9 innings is unbelievably low. If I were a GM, and had to sign one of these 3 starters the first one I would go after is Radke. The Red Sox almost had Radke signed to a 3 year deal, until the Twins came and stole him away. The reason for this is that he is already familiar with the AL, and those numbers that he has put up the past 4 years are from the AL. I expect Clement's and Pavano's ERA to jump from last year to this year. The reason for the ERA jump is the pitcher is no longer getting a free out once every three innings when the pitcher comes up. The DH in the AL makes a huge difference. Clement's ERA was 3.68 last year, while Pavano's was 3.00. Doing an extremely rough estimate, I would expect Clement and Pavano's ERA to jump anywhere between .30-.50 if they have the same kind of year they did last year. It is natural for a pitchers ERA to jump coming into the AL and for a pitchers ERA to lower going into the NL. Curt Schilling, Javier Vazquez, and Kevin Brown's ERA was higher in 2004 than in 2003 and I think a big part of the reason for the jump was the switch the AL and having to face the DH. A few more numbers and some food for thought.

Pavano
BAA WHIP OPS
.284 1.41 .751

Radke
BAA WHIP OPS
.275 1.20 .732

Clement
BAA WHIP OPS
.235 1.31 .696

Hitters have trouble batting against Clement as can been seen by the .235 batting average they hit against him. His OPS(on-base% + slug) is also the lowest of any of the pitchers. Radke's WHIP is the lowest and that can be expected since walks are included in the formula, and he has the least amount of walks of any of these pitchers.

Based on all this information, I would have gone after Radke, then Clement and then Pavano. The Sox almost had Radke, then they stopped pursuing Pavano last Saturday at the winter meetings when they thought that Pedro was going to sign. Pavano signs with the Yanks and the Sox quickly turned to Clement to try and fill the hole left by Pedro. The reason why I would have first pursued Radke as the Sox did is because he is the model of consistency. Year in, year out he gives his team the same exact performance. 30+ starts, ERA around 4.00, and 200+ innings. I am dumbfounded as to why everybody was so high on Pavano. Don't get me wrong, he had an awesome year last year, but that is the first year that he has every had like that. Anybody can have a great year in their last year before free agency. Just take a look around the players who become free agents this year and the type of year they had before it. Adrian Beltre, J.D. Drew, Carlos Beltran along with Pavano had their best year by far this year. It is hard to tell if that last year was a fluke, or if the team signing these players can expect this type of performance for the next few years. The Yankees are banking on Pavano's last year being a breakout performance by him. The Sox almost fell into signing Clement and in my opinion got the more consistent and stable pitcher of the two, and they are paying him 2 million less a season and are only committed to 3 years, instead of the four that they Yankees committed to Pavano.


Matt

















20 Comments:

At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matthew,

I think I would have gone after Pavano, Radke then Clement. One important this I think you forgot to mention about Pavano is that he is the youngest pitcher out of the three, which is an additional reason of why he was so pursued. I think he has some good stuff, but just lacks control sometime. I think that he probably has the most potential out of the three. I would take Radke second because of his consistency, which is something that would benefit the Sox. Even though Clements inconsistency is a gamble, I still think it's good that we got him, even though it may have been by default, or lack of a better option.

V

 
At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clement seems to be a good pick up. All 3 of the pitchers you talked about are pretty close by stats. Maybe being with a bunch of idots will make him play better too. It took A-rod awhile to get use to the pressure in New York.

Andrew

 
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At 1:11 AM, Blogger matt said...

V

Pavano is 29 in less than a month, while Clement is 30 and Radke is 32. I believe that teams consider strongly how old a player is when they are signing him, but in this case these pitchers are so close in age that I dont think it matters. I agree with you that I think its good that the Sox got Clement by default.

Andrew,

Being in a relaxed atmosphere could help Clement as he adjusts to life and the stress of being in a huge baseball town. He did just come from Chicago, where there is almost as much pressure as here, so he should be prepared for the media and the pressure.


matt

 
At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt, I really liked Clement last year and was hoped at the time that he would have come over here in the Nomar deal. But, thats why I'm not the GM and we ended up landing Cabrera and Mientiewitz. However, despite the Clement signing we still don't stack up well against the Yanks assuming they sign the Unit. Why not take a shot at getting D Lowe back?????

Boston SP: Schilling, Wells, Clement, Wake, Arroyo
Yankees Potential SP: Johnson, Mussina, Pavano, Wright, El Duque

-Collins

 
At 11:34 PM, Blogger matt said...

Collins,

Thanks for the comment. I do not think we should sign D Lowe. We already have 5 capable starters that you listed. We have another guy in the bullpen in Halama that can spot start if necessary. If we were to sign D Lowe where would he go in the rotation? Would Arroyo or Wake go to the pen? D Lowe was not starting in the playoffs (in the first round) for a reason. Lowe's ERA in 2003 was 4.47 and last year it was 5.42. I just don't see why we should pay D Lowe 5-7 mil when he really didnt even deserve to start in the postseason until we had to start him in game 4 of the ALCS.

Very interesting that you think we should sign him though. Thanks for commenting and hope you continue to read and enjoy the site.


matt

 
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