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Entries in Red Sox (21)


Pull-Happy Ross Heads to Fenway

The Boston Red Sox have signed David Ross to a two-year, $6.2 million deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Ross, 35, has succeeded Gregg Zaun as the game's Practically Perfect Backup Catcher, batting .267/.345/.450 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 512 plate appearances over the past three seasons. With a pull-happy approach, Ross should add plenty of dents to the Green Monster over the next couple of years.

Ross has pulled about 47% of the pitches that he has put in play since 2010, and he has slugged .769 when ripping a pitch down the left field line. That's 181 points above the MLB average for right-handed hitters over that time frame. Not surprisingly, Ross is adept at turning on inside pitches, particularly low-and-inside stuff:

Ross' slugging percentage by pitch location, 2010-12

Ross has slugged .569 against inside pitches over the past three years, placing him between Paul Konerko and Matt Kemp among righty batters (minimum 500 total PA).

Ross has shown something of a reverse platoon split in recent seasons (266/.333/.420 against lefties, and .266/.355/.475 versus righties), but his signing gives the Sox a chance to sit Jarrod Saltalamacchia against some of the league's tougher lefties. The switch-hitting Salty holds his own against righties (.236/.301/.478 since 2010), but the David Prices and CC Sabathias of the world have haunted his dreams (.192/.251/.346 against lefties). Ryan Lavarnway, who has hit bombs in Triple-A over the past two years (.295/.382/.511) but bombed in Boston (.172/.230/.286), also gets the chance to work the kinks out with the PawSox.


Cody Ross: Lefty Masher

Considering that Ryan Sweeney gets jelly-legged against same-handed pitching, Carl Crawford is questionable for the start of the season following wrist surgery and Mike Aviles is expected to be part of a shortstop platoon after Boston shipped incumbent Marco Scutaro to Colorado, the Red Sox were in need of a lefty-mashing outfielder. They found their man in Cody Ross, signing the 31-year-old to a one-year, $3 million deal with plate appearance-based incentives.

After bouncing from Detroit to L.A., Cincinnati to Florida and then to San Francisco, Ross understandably sought some stability and was reportedly looking for a two-year deal this winter. But teams were reluctant to commit multiple years to a guy who doesn't inflict much pain versus the nearly three-quarters of big league pitchers who throw from the right side: Ross has a career .253/.313/.414 line in 1,924 plate appearances against righties.  

Lefties are a different story, though. Ross has raked them for a .282/.349/.563 triple-slash in 759 plate appearances, and most of that slugging comes against pitches thrown above the belt. Take a look at his in-play slugging percentage by pitch location against lefties since 2008:

Cody Ross' in-play slugging percentage against lefties, 2008-2011Ross' lefty lashing should complement Sweeney, who holds his own against right-handers (.296/.352/.402 in 1,319 PA) but struggles to get the ball out of the infield against same-handed pitching (.233/.306/.289 in 362 PA against LHPs). Ross might be a nomad for the rest of his career, shifting from one city to the next as teams seek a guy who creams lefties. Still, there are worse fates than spending the summer making dents in the Green Monster.


Right is wrong for the Red Sox

There is very little good to be written about the right field situation for the Red Sox this season. In fact, the best thing is to start looking at alternatives as written by Nick Cafardo in today's Boston Globe. Nick points out that the days seem to be numbered for the Darnell McDonald and Mike Cameron combo as a right-handed bat alternative platoon to J.D. Drew.

Nick writes, "The Sox will probably do what they never wanted to do — trade a prospect for an established righthanded hitter." The only trouble is that, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (on Twitter), the Red Sox cannot add payroll this season.

Here's why the Sox are in this conflicting situation:

J.D. Drew versus lefties 2011

Drew is hitting .200 this season against lefties and has two extra base hits, a triple and a homer resulting in a slugging pct. of .343.

J.D. Drew versus lefties 2011 on the outer portion of the plate

Lefties have thrown Drew 77 pitches on the outer portion of the plateWhen lefties pitch Drew outside, Drew has gone 1-for-15 (a single) with one walk and seven strikeouts.

So what are the alternatives?

Mike Cameron versus lefties 2011

Cameron is hitting .143 against lefties with one double and three homers among his nine hits

Darnell McDonald versus lefties 2011

McDonald is hitting .129 against lefties with one double and one homer among his four hits

But did it need to come to this?

Here is a frame of reference

David Ortiz versus lefties 2011

Big Papi is hitting .346 against lefties this season and slugging .556 with eight doubles and three homers

Here's why Ortiz has been successful against lefties

When pitched to the outer portion of the plate, Ortiz is hitting .343 with 12 hits, 10 of which have gone to left fieldOrtiz has a 1.003 OPS against lefties this season and when they pitch him outside, his OPS rises to 1.037.

In his contract year, Big Papi has made adjustments to save his job, the same adjustments that neither Drew, Cameron, and McDonald have made and that may cost all them their jobs.