A Modest Proposal For The Second Half Of The 2015 Red Sox Season: Start Wade Miley

And trade Clay.

I coached youth baseball (Little League plus Babe Ruth) for ten years. My final year coaching, I took our underdog team to the second round of the playoffs, against the odds. (We were predicted not to make the playoffs.) We did it by using a combination of positive reinforcement, hard work, set plays (including situational hit-and-runs without signs), and statistics. I kept detailed stats (including attendance) on all players. I put our best on-base-percentage players in the 1-2-3 slots, our best RBI players in the 4-5-6 slots, and the remaining players ordered by batting average. My own son got fewer at-bats as a result of this approach, but he did get to be in the starting rotation, which he earned by eating up innings and throwing strikes.

I loved that final year of coaching, and based on the feedback I received from the team, the kids had a great time too.

So it is not in a vacuum that I give the following advice to the 2015 Red Sox as they start the second half of the season: Start the pitchers who help you win games.

I have heard many commentators say, “The Red Sox have to win this series.” Or, “All you have to do is focus on winning each series.”

This is the wrong approach. At this point in the season, the series do not matter. The only thing that matters is winning games. And to win games you have to win the rotation.

Win the rotation, don’t win the series.

In the post-season (i.e. the playoffs), the rotation is set so that your ace pitcher starts Game 1 (and maybe Games 4 and 7). So at the end of the season, winning the rotation equals winning the series. Before then, winning the series does not matter.

In the first half of the 2015 season, the Red Sox used a 5-man rotation for all rounds except for three. For the final round, the Red Sox used a 3-man rotation (due to the All-Star break). For two rounds, the Red Sox used a 6-man rotation. The 6-man rotation occurred when the Red Sox were introducing Eduardo Rodriguez into the rotation.

Looking at the season in terms of rounds through the rotation, here is out the first half played out.

  • 2 wins
  • 4 losses (resulting in the firing of Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves in the middle of round 6)
  • 1 win
  • 6 losses (resulting in NO CHANGES TO RED SOX PERSONNEL, Erod introduced in rounds 10 and 11)
  • 4 wins (resulting in (misplaced?) optimism)
  • 1 loss (before the All-Star break)

The totals for the (unofficial) first half of the season: 7 wins, 11 losses.

This is why, even in the middle of the 4-round winning streak, the postseason probability for the Red Sox never got above 17 percent (http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/probability.jsp).

In short, there is NO WAY that the Red Sox should be buyers at the trading deadline (unless, of course, they are buying for 2016). They should be sellers. They should have traded Clay Buchholz before he got injured (again), but that ship has sailed.

To start the second half, the Red Sox should do what I did as a youth baseball coach. Use the stats. In short, if Wade Miley is not in the #1 slot to start the second half of the season, then both (Field) Manager John Farrell and General Manger Ben Cherington should be fired.

Winning games matters. And, of course, there are intangibles to winning. Clay Buchholz, for whatever reason, does not put his teammates in a winning mood. Perhaps his slow speaking style and his slow pitching style puts his teammates’ gloves and bats to sleep. All I know is that when Clay starts, the team, more often than not, does not win. Wade Miley, on the other hand, does not put his teammates to sleep. When Wade starts, for whatever reason, the team, more often than not, wins.

All year on Facebook, I have been tracking the team’s record based on games started by each starting pitcher.

After 2 rounds:

After 2 rounds through the rotation, the Red Sox are 7-3 overall, 1-1 when Clay Buchholz starts, 1-1 when Rick Porcello…

Posted by Erik J. Heels on Saturday, April 18, 2015

After 4 rounds:

After four rounds through the rotation, here is the #RedSox team record for games started by each starting…

Posted by Erik J. Heels on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

After 8 rounds:

After 8 rounds through the rotation, here is the #RedSox team record for games started by each starting pitcher:2-6…

Posted by Erik J. Heels on Thursday, May 21, 2015

After 10+ rounds:

The 2015 Red Sox, now on track to win only 68 games, are not a very good team. The lack of a pitching ace +…

Posted by Erik J. Heels on Monday, June 1, 2015

After 14 rounds:

After 14 rounds through the rotation, here is what your starting pitching rotation should look like, based on games won…

Posted by Erik J. Heels on Wednesday, June 24, 2015

After 16 rounds:

After 16 rounds through the rotation, here is the Red Sox team record for games started by each pitcher:9-7 = Wade…

Posted by Erik J. Heels on Saturday, July 4, 2015

After 18 rounds through the rotation, here is the Red Sox team record for games started by each pitcher:

  • 10-8 = Wade Miley
  • 8-9 = Rick Porcello
  • 8-10 = Clay Buchholz (DL)
  • 6-3 = Eduardo Rodriguez
  • 5-9 = Joe Kelly (AAA)
  • 4-5 = Justin Masterson
  • 1-3 = Steven Wright (AAA)

Wade Miley is your ace. And that’s a problem. Because in the playoffs, when the rotation and the series are in sync, the other team’s ace is going to be better.

The Red Sox need an ace. The Red Sox need a #2 pitcher. The Red Sox need a #3 pitcher. The Red Sox have won 3 World Series in the last dozen years or so. That is Very Good. The Red Sox will not make the playoffs in 2015. But there is still time to make the best of 2015 (by putting Miley in the #1 slot) and preparing for the future (by getting rid of Buchholz, one way or the other).

I’m also a season ticket holder, if that matters (which it should).

Whether they win or lose, I’m a Red Sox fan for life, but please, in the name of Yaz, stop the madness. Start Miley.

Erik claims to publish the #1 blog about technology, law, baseball, and rock ‘n’ roll at ErikJHeels.com. Brevity is not his strong suit.

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Great Boston vs. Greater Boston

If they can say Great Britain, then we can say Great Boston!

Framed Boston map in Clocktower office.

I have a great deal of affection for Boston, where I was born, where I went to college, and where I call home. When people ask me where I’m from, I never say, “Well, I live in Acton, work in Maynard, both of which are about 20 miles west of Boston. You know Concord? Just west of that.” What I do say is, simply, “Boston.”

The Boston MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), or so-called Greater Boston, basically includes areas within commuting distance of Boston proper. When I lived in Eliot ME (in the very southern tip of Maine), I still commuted to Boston and was still in the Boston MSA.

I grew up with an old map of Boston (a gift to my grandfather, George, from one of his patients) hanging on the wall of our living room in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The Boston map was designed and drawn by Blake Everett Clark (1900-1979) and Edwin Birger Olsen (1902-1996) in the mid 1920s. Blake Clark and Edwin Olsen made similar maps, published by Boston-based publishing firm Houghton Mifflin Co., for Philadelphia and Washington DC.

I recently restored that old map (pictured above), which now hangs in my office, along with lots of Boston Red Sox memorabilia.

The Clark and Olsen Boston map states:

What It's All About! 

This is a map of Boston Town /
A histried city of wide renown /
Rather like a crazy quilt /
of interesting facts and fanc- /
ies built /
Tis no engineering feat /
of surveyed miles and build- /
ings neat /
But in some corner if you search /
You'll find out where to go /
to church /
Baptist, Episcopal Unitarian /
And for the dusty Antiquar- /
ian.. /
Who seeks the spots of legend & fame /
The Cradle of Liberty - illustrious name /
The old North church and State House grand /
And for burial grounds there's quite /
a demand /
For the intellectually inclined /
Libraries and halls we've kept /
in mind /
Theatres, hotels and City Hall /
narrow streets and wider Mall /
Docks, wharves, ferry boats /
swans, cows and billy goats /
... /
All this before your eyes /
Notwithstanding the small /
size /
we offer in this ditty /
of colour of an Old City.

Studying that map on rainy childhood days is likely why I ended up attending school and living in Boston.

When I moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1998, I told folks there that the move was temporary and that I was moving back home to Boston. “But nobody moves away from Denver after moving here,” they told me. Somebody did, just two years later.

One of my lawfirm’s trademarked taglines (The Law Firm Where Everybody Knows Your Name) pays homage to the Boston-based TV show Cheers, whose theme song was “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.”

So yeah, no more Greater Boston. From now on, it’s Great Boston, because Boston is Great!