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 ā€˜nā€™ roll at ErikJHeels.com. Brevity is not his strong suit.

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Richard Mullen (AKA Mr. Mullen), Cape Elizabeth High School (CEHS) Teacher Extraordinaire

Teaching at CEHS (including English, theatre, and speech & debate) 1976-Present.


My most beloved teachers and mentors were those who challenged me. Junior year at Cape Elizabeth High School (CEHS), 1982-1983, I was challenged by Richard Mullen, AKA Mr. Mullen. Mr. Mullen challenged me to write what I was thinking, not what I thought people wanted to hear. I also participated in theatre and the speech and debate team, but English was my favorite of Mr. Mullen’s classes.

It was an oversight that I had not thanked Mr. Mullen in person.

So this past Father’s Day weekend, I had the pleasure of reuniting with Mr. Mullen, on his front lawn at Higgins (no apostrophe) Beach in Scarborough Maine for a trip down memory lane with my daughter Sonja.

Is was Sonja, you see, who prompted this reunion, as she, too, has a excellent, supportive, and challenging teacher (Mr. Joshua Mishrikey, Acton-Boxborough Regional High School (ABRHS)) who loves what he does. So while Sonja and I were on our college visit “tour” this past April, Sonja encouraged me to get back in touch with Mr. Mullen.

The three of us ate lobster rolls (from Bayley’s Lobster Pound, Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine) and talked of many things. Mr. Mullen had an uncanny memory for teachers, staff, and students.

Mr. Mullen shared with me the story about how he had defended my (admittedly nontraditional) MIT college application essay (which I wrote on the topic of sawdust) to the guidance counselors, who recommended a more traditional approach. Of course I ignored the advice of the guidance counselors and was admitted to MIT. Mr. Mullen has re-told this story many times as an example of the importance of not always coloring inside of the lines.

To make sure that Sonja had learned this point, I quizzed her about what I had taught her about authority. She answered, “That you should have a healthy respect for authority, and a healthy disrespect.” Correct.

As I said in my thank-you letter to Mr. Mullen:

From my years at Cape Elizabeth High School, I have kept my notes from only two classes: senior year calculus and your junior year English class. The former gave me a 15-minute head start on freshman year calculus at MIT. The latter serves to remind me that it was in your class where I learned to write, which is essentially what I now do for a living.

I have always said that my success with [my] first book was due to above average writing skills and perfect timing. The latter cannot be taught. The former I attribute to you.

Our text for junior year English was Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style,” a book I have purchased many times for many people. Strunk & White packed a lot of learning into those (approximately) 100 pages, and Mr. Mullen packed a lot of learning into his class. I, of course, kept my copy from the 1982-1983 school year. I asked Mr. Mullen to write in it. He wrote, in part:

Best from your old English teacher, to whom you give way too much credit.

If I am over-selling my point, then Mr. Mullen is under-selling his.

I have referenced Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style” in half a dozen articles but have never actually written a review of that book (another oversight):

  1. Google’s Antisocial Social Networking http://goo.gl/nb82U (2009-03-12)
    Google Reader’s new Comments feature highlights the major flaw with Google social networks: baffling user interfaces.
  2. LawLawLaw.com Morphs Into ErikJHeels.com: Get To Know Me! (2006-03-23)
    The only thing that’s constant is change. Get used to it.
  3. The ‘Three Full Moons’ Clause (2004-02-17)
    Simplify contracts by omitting needless words.
  4. How To Write, Copyright, And Publish Your Own Book (2002-11-19)
    Self-publishing books is much easier than it used to be. It can also be fun and, if you do it well, profitable.
  5. The Truth About Stats And Dogs (Or Why Most Surveys Are Wrong) (1997-05-01)
    All statistics are hearsay, but some are reliable hearsay.

Teaching is a grand and wonderful calling. I had the pleasure of teaching at Maine Law for a few years and I loved it. I am certain that my story is not unique and that Mr. Mullen’s influence extends far beyond the classroom or stage. If I do end up teaching in the next phase of my career, then I hope to have the same impact on my students as he has had on his.

And for those CEHS Class of 1984 classmates reading this, Mr. Mullen wants to be invited to the next reunion!

Although I tried mightily to “omit needless words” (as Strunk & White would have wanted) from this article, I do note on my blog (ErikJHeels.com) that brevity is not my strong suit.

Erik claims to publish the #1 blog about technology, law, baseball, and rock ā€˜nā€™ roll at ErikJHeels.com. Brevity is not his strong suit.

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