Lackey of Thought

I like, but don't love, the Lackey signing. I love having him on the Red Sox, but it's an expensive deal, and it seems unlikely Lackey will be worth whatever he's paid in 2013 or 2014. On the other hand, it's not my money, and he gives the Sox the best 1-5 rotation in baseball for 2010. Likewise, they don't give awards for being the most efficient team in baseball, and signing a starting pitcher on the free agent market is nothing if not inefficient (triple negative!). The Sox are paying Lackey what the Yankees are paying AJ Burnett, and Burnett is older and more inconsistent. So it's a fair deal, I think, for both the Sox and Lackey.

All that said, there is a good deal of risk, and given how rarely the Sox give out big deals like this, I can understand a bit of eyebrow-raising. Gordon Edes does some of it in his column for ESPN Boston, then closes with this odd comparison:

ESPN researcher Mark Simon notes that since 1990, there have been 16 pitchers to sign deals for five years or more. Only two pitchers on that list — Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina – averaged 30 or more starts per season over the life of their contracts. Kevin Millwood and Gil Meche are likely to add to that number, and eventually so could CC Sabathia, Matsuzaka and Burnett, but none are a guarantee.

Almost half of those pitchers have been busts — Barry Zito, Mike Hampton, Chan Ho Park, Darren Dreifort, Denny Neagle, Kei Igawa, Wilson Alvarez and Alex Fernandez.

So of 15 previous pitchers to sign five-year deals, there is a potential for seven who could average 30 starts per season over the life of the deal (really six because it seems unlikely Matsuzaka will reach that average thanks to his atrocious Year 3. Two-year deals only for pitchers!). Eight have been certifiable busts (which is exactly half of the 16, not "almost half," but I digress).

But look at those lists of busts. Barry Zito, whose contract stunk the moment he put pen to paper? Chan Ho Park? Kei Igawa? Darren Dreifort, for goodness' sake?

Just for the record, Dreifort signed a five year, $55 million deal in 2001 after posting his first-ever season with at least 180 innings and an ERA+ over 101. He had a history of arm troubles and didn't even make it through Year 1 of his deal. Is this really the best comparison for John Lackey?

Is Zito, who has actually started 32 or 33 games in each of his three seasons for San Francisco?

Is Igawa, who has never shown that he actually can pitch in the Major Leagues?

Is Hampton, who actually averaged 30 starts over the first four years of his deal and whose biggest problem was pitching the first two years in Coors Field?

Is Park, who posted one season above 115 ERA+ when he signed his deal (versus Lackey's five consecutive years at 118 or better), and missed significant time to injuries at age 30?

Is Neagle, a Mitchell Report player who showed significant decline heading into his contract?

Is Alvarez, a poorly conditioned player with control problems whose contract was based mostly on the career year he had heading into it?

Fernandez may actually be the closest comp, in that he had a string of highly successful seasons before signing with Florida for five years/$35 million, pitched well in 1997 for Florida, then incurred a shoulder injury in the postseason, missed all of 1998, came back to pitch well in 1999, then retired after making just eight starts in Year 4 of the deal. This could happen to Lackey, but it's worth noting that by this point in Lackey's career, Fernandez was already retired. And Lackey has no 243 IP mark at age 23 like Fernandez did.

It doesn't take long to figure out that when your list includes Kei Igawa and Darren Dreifort, you need to start over. I don't know the future of John Lackey. I think it's likely that Year 5 of his deal could look pretty bad. But I also know he's a very good pitcher being paid a fair price. This is what free agency is about: Paying the market rate and assuming some risk. It just feels weird because the Sox seemingly never do it.

125 comments… add one

  • “and he gives the Sox the best 1-5 rotation in baseball for 2010. ”
    We’ll see about that. I remember a post from last december saying something similar and i dont believe it panned out that way. the sox sure have a very good rotation but so will the yanks, phils, and M’s to name a few.

    sam-YF December 15, 2009, 12:12 pm
  • yeah, edes makes some good points, only to end it with that clunker…you’re right paul, what happened with those other players has nothing to do with a projection for lackey…seriously stupid and irrelevant comparison by edes…what does make the trade odd has been pointed out a number of times…the red sox don’t normally offer 5 years to anybody, and for $16-17m per year, to a guy who will finish the contract on the wrong side of 35…very unredsock-like…and a signing that you only “like”…i don’t get it…i wish i knew what beckett was thinking right now…
    “…On the other hand, it’s not my money, and he gives the Sox the best 1-5 rotation in baseball for 2010….”
    oy, how ’bout “potentially” gives you the best 1-5?…there, fixed it for you…sheesh…calling jeff, jeff?
    “…Likewise, they don’t give awards for being the most efficient team in baseball, and signing a starting pitcher on the free agent market is nothing if not inefficient (triple negative!). …”
    ah, i knew you’d come around to our way of thinking…spending lots of money isn’t so bad when you got it…show off a little…splurge…buy some bling, or an $85m pitcher…feels good to blow some cash on yourself once in awhile, eh? ;)

    dc December 15, 2009, 12:25 pm
  • “On the other hand, it’s not my money, and he gives the Sox the best 1-5 rotation in baseball for 2010.”
    This is a very debateable point and no doubt it will be debated here. Between Beckett’s inconsistency, Lackey’s health and home park, Matsuzaka’s disappearance, Buchholz’s youth, and Wakefield’s age, those are alot of questions. Even while Lester is the true staff ace, there has to be a little (just a little) concern about his status as a workhorse.
    Also, seldom does a 1-5 make it through the whole season and the Sox are very thin in pitching in their upper levels. With Wakefield they have cover, but without the borderline arms and with a weaker lineup whatever advantage the staff has is tenuous especially given those questions.
    “The Sox are paying Lackey what the Yankees are paying AJ Burnett, and Burnett is older and more inconsistent. So it’s a fair deal, I think, for both the Sox and Lackey.”
    Burnett also has a much better fastball and that tends to resist the pull of age much better. If Lackey loses 1-3 mph over the next few years he could decline very quickly, especially given his vulnerabilities in Fenway. To put his Fenway problems into better perspective:
    Career: .263 .321 .399
    Fenway: .314 .371 .527
    Of course, the Yankees signed Burnett partly because of his success in Fenway, so take that with a grain of rosin.

    Jeff December 15, 2009, 12:26 pm
  • “trade”…of course i mean signing…ugh

    dc December 15, 2009, 12:27 pm
  • i knew you’d show up for that one jeff…hehe

    dc December 15, 2009, 12:34 pm
  • The other bit about Burnett v. Lackey is Burnett was coming off a fully healthy season. Lackey hasn’t had one since 2007.

    Jeff December 15, 2009, 12:36 pm
  • This is true, one almost has to consider Lackey, who is coming off two consecutive seasons where he missed the month of April, more of an injury risk than AJ Burnett, who is coming off two consecutive fully healthy seasons.
    I think their value is a lot closer than what most people believe.

    AndrewYF December 15, 2009, 12:41 pm
  • His “Fenway problems” are from a very small sample size, surely that’s obvious to even the least cerebral people around, myself included. They should be relegated to the same wastecan that comments about A-Rod as a “choker” and CC Sabathia’s postseason troubles pre-2009 are in.
    Those who cite them are doing their own argument against Lackey a disservice.

    SF December 15, 2009, 12:48 pm
  • Gosh, I sure hope someone told Theo that John Lackey has had three terrible starts at Fenway in seven years! Maybe it’s not too late to call the whole thing off! Ohhhh noes!!!11!1!!!11one

    Paul SF December 15, 2009, 12:51 pm
  • To put his Fenway problems into better perspective:
    Career: .263 .321 .399
    Fenway: .314 .371 .527

    John Lackey vs the Red Sox: 5.25 ERA
    John Lackey at Fenway Park: 5.75 ERA
    Hmm, I wonder if his ERA at Fenway has to do with pitching against one of the best offenses in baseball, or with the park itself.

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 12:51 pm
  • half a run is half a run ath…
    on the other hand, sf is right…small sample size taboo….like saying matsui is one of the greatest world series performers in history because of his game 6 performance earning him an mvp trophy and international acclaim and adoration…that single game was special, but that’s all it was, a single game…

    dc December 15, 2009, 12:57 pm
  • It’s closer to a full run than to a half run, but more like .75 in ERA (51 IP at Fenway, 33 in Anaheim). Still, that’s not that small a sample – that 51 IP is almost like a third of a season for Lackey!
    Also, I don’t know how it helps your case to believe in the signing if you’re saying he struggles against good offenses. He sees at least two of those in 8 – 10 starts a year.

    Jeff December 15, 2009, 1:07 pm
  • Using that login, the Yankees signing Sabathia last year was a horrible move. He had an 8.61 ERA at Yankees Stadium! Clearly it’s the stadium, and not the fact that he was facing the New York Yankees whenever he was there.
    You see why this is stupid?

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 1:17 pm
  • You want to know what’s stupid? Assuming you can’t figure out how a pitcher does against a team independent of the park.

    Jeff December 15, 2009, 1:25 pm
  • Or signing in as different people to flame throw the same bullshit over and over again. Or maybe that’s just pathetic, I’m not sure what to think.

    Brad December 15, 2009, 1:27 pm
  • Its confusing!
    Fenway makes the player!
    It’s not a big move!
    Why did the Indians move Martinez!
    Martinez is horrible!
    Varitek sucks!
    Granderson is the best!
    Good move Cashman!
    Ortiz is in decline!
    I can see the future!
    Burnett had a healthy contract year!
    His fastball is better!
    He’s on decline again!
    Get a grip, guy. He’s a solid pitcher, maybe paid too much, maybe not.
    It’s all about the park!
    All Red Sox moves are confusing!
    It’s not small sample size!

    Brad December 15, 2009, 1:34 pm
  • Did you all miss where I said:
    “Of course, the Yankees signed Burnett partly because of his success in Fenway, so take that with a grain of rosin.”

    Jeff December 15, 2009, 1:35 pm
  • It’s tough to take it with a grain of rosin when the same fuzzy logic is reposted half a dozen times across several threads

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 1:38 pm
  • Fuzzy? That’s rich coming from someone who can’t figure out how to separate park effects from overall performance.
    Facts are facts. Try as you might, you can’t ignore them.

    Jeff December 15, 2009, 1:48 pm
  • Again, you can apply that logic to any number of signings. The Sabathia move looks stupid based on that; 8.61 ERA at Yankees Stadium, yet 4.00 ERA when facing the Yankees at home! Clearly Sabathia had a “Yankees Stadium problem”, even though he went on to post a 3.17 ERA there last season.
    And yes, YS 2.0 and YS 3.0 are not the same place, but they were supposedly identical when the Sabathia signing was made.

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 1:58 pm
  • Who takes a grain of rosin?

    Brad December 15, 2009, 2:01 pm
  • Rob, it’s so hard to take you seriously sometimes. Everyone here can pick any stat they need to pick to show why or why not a signing is bad or good. You’re all smoke and mirrors when it comes to the two teams we’re talking about here.
    No matter the deal, you find a way to shat on it when it happens to the north, and you ride the fence long enough with unsigned or untraded guys to see if they land in pinstripes before you say if it’s good or bad.
    Had the Yankees signed Lackey, you would have been overjoyed, and called him the best FA pitcher available, and talked about how well this makes the NY rotation. But, because it was a Boston thing, you have to find ways to shit on it like it’s not a big deal.
    Take Granderson for example:
    You wrote:
    “I’m not too excited by Granderson. Sure, on the surface he looks great but when you dig into the numbers: a) He’s horrid against southpaws – career .614 OPS b) his career OBP is .344 c) his defense has been sliding to average He does get hurt by his home park, and playing at the new Yankee Stadium could see him hit 30 HRs a year. I just don’t think he’d be a great #2 hitter. Besides, does that mean they simply slide Melky/Gardner to LF? The OF defense would be pretty good, but if they’ve essentially replaced Damon with Granderson, I’m not sure I see the clear upgrade.”
    But then, once the trade happened, you decided it was the best thing ever because you did some “digging” on his numbers, and wrote:
    “It’s trades like these that make me very happy to be a Yankee fan. They win a Series and they go out and get the best position player available”
    or
    The more digging I’ve done the more excited I am. Turns out Granderson has a .731 OPS on the road against lefthanders. That’s the Yankee CFs of the last three years. It really is Comerica that kills him. Now imagine him in Yankee Stadium 2. I can’t wait. What a fantastic trade and for almost nothing..
    Everyone sees through your bullshit flame throwing, man. If it’s NY, it’s good. If it’s Boston, it’s terrible or not a big deal, and you (just as everyone) cites the “facts” and the stats as clear proof to what you argue. It’s tiring.

    Brad December 15, 2009, 2:12 pm
  • Truth is, you have no idea how good or bad this signing is for anyone. What if Lackey wins 20 this year? I mean, we all shat on CC’s playoffs numbers, ’till he put the Yankees on his chubby back and carried them home. Point is, it’s a good move on paper, and that’s all we can conclude about it. It makes the Sox better at reasonable money.

    Brad December 15, 2009, 2:19 pm
  • In Rob’s defense he does criticize Cashman pretty often.
    Having said that, I agree with most of the rest.

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 2:20 pm
  • “Everyone sees through your bullshit flame throwing, man. If it’s NY, it’s good. If it’s Boston, it’s terrible or not a big deal, and you (just as everyone) cites the “facts” and the stats as clear proof to what you argue. It’s tiring.”
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…holy shit, did you really just post all this B-rad??? Really??? Could it be that Jeff is just you but on the other side??? Sorry to break our truce of silence there guy but you do the exact same bullshit so give it a rest…

    krueg December 15, 2009, 2:21 pm
  • Another thing: Rob was one of the biggest guys AGAINST a large Teixeira signing last winter. Yet now he’s mentioning Teixeira as if it were a mistake for the Red Sox not to sign him.

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 2:23 pm
  • I’ve read through Jeff’s posts several times now and I’m still trying to find out why you all jumped on him, Brad-style???
    He basically said the small sample size meant nothing and refuted Ath’s point about pitching against great offenses. He defended AJ versus Lackey…um, what’s the deal SF’s? He disagrees with your deftly crafted opinions and you all lose your minds? Why?

    krueg December 15, 2009, 2:28 pm
  • He basically said the small sample size meant nothing
    No, he didn’t. He cited Lackey’s “vulnerabilities” in Fenway, and cited his statistics in Fenway on numerous occasions, then said 51 innings wasn’t that small a sample. Quite the opposite, krueg, just as an observation.
    It can’t be had both ways, it’s rhetorical flim-flam. Brad points out this kind of positioning, on Granderson, quite deftly, I think.

    SF December 15, 2009, 2:34 pm
  • I agree, K. I do flip-flop sometimes on players, but it’s on both sides. I said numberous times that I thought the Burnett deal was awesome for the Yankees. When it’s a good move, I call it that way, and when I think it’s not, I do the same.
    I was also in the camp on Tex, which can easily be found here.

    Brad December 15, 2009, 2:41 pm
  • “No, he didn’t”
    Um, yes he did. He argued against the Sox having the best rotation in baseball as put forth by Paul, then basically compared AJ to Lackey and THEN he talked BRIEFLY about the Fenway numbers, after which he basically said it was inconsequential.
    You, and your fellow SF’s, jumped all over his post because of things said in the past and it’s lame. You guys never seems to argue his points, you dig up old shit to throw back at him over and over and over and over…you can’t just disagree, you have to DESTROY his posts. Did this start with Paul and trickle into the rest of you or is it just a SF thing?
    And Brad, please. Just because your hating is hidden in your passive-aggressive bullshit posts, doesn’t somehow seperate you from being the exact type of person you accuse Jeff of being. Please don’t act as if you are some moderate commentator bro…you clearly aren’t.
    I think Jeff’s points were, and I’m no genius like Brad, Paul and SF but let’s give it a try:
    The Sox MAY NOT have the best rotation in baseball for the reasons Jeff cited…
    AJ is better than Lackey because of the reasons Jeff cited…
    AND Lackey sucks in Fenway but of course the Yankees signed AJ because of his success against Boston and that didn’t pan out as expected so who cares?
    And this is what incurred the wrath of you guys? Really?? Maybe you guys need to take a look at your…ha, nevermind. You guys are never, ever, ever, ever wrong. I forgot.

    krueg December 15, 2009, 2:57 pm
  • well, at least you ended that rant well.

    Brad December 15, 2009, 3:00 pm
  • I missed you buddy.

    krueg December 15, 2009, 3:08 pm
  • Olney says that the contract is 87.5/ 5 years.
    Thats alot of coin.

    sam-YF December 15, 2009, 3:14 pm
  • How can they afford that??? Being that they are a small market and all??? Second job???Is Theo getting a paper route or something??? :)

    krueg December 15, 2009, 3:20 pm
  • I wonder if the deal is backloaded…it might not be pretty paying Lackey $20 million for his age-36 season.
    But, it really doesn’t matter. The Sox have a humongous amount of payroll flexibility due to not splurging on any superstar free agent since Manny, and can easily afford contracts like these, even if they don’t work out.

    AndrewYF December 15, 2009, 3:21 pm
  • Um, yes he did.
    Maybe I am having a hard time, but I can’t find anything in this thread where that the small sample is acknowledged. dc acknowledged the SSS, on a couple of occasions (to his great credit!).
    All I can find here is this, first:
    If Lackey loses 1-3 mph over the next few years he could decline very quickly, especially given his vulnerabilities in Fenway. To put his Fenway problems into better perspective:
    Career: .263 .321 .399
    Fenway: .314 .371 .527

    then a few posts later when the SSS was cited we get this:
    It’s closer to a full run than to a half run, but more like .75 in ERA (51 IP at Fenway, 33 in Anaheim). Still, that’s not that small a sample – that 51 IP is almost like a third of a season for Lackey!
    So I can’t find it in this Lackey discussion, anywhere. Of course, the Burnett disclaimer is the parachute, where he can claim some sort of objectivity or reliance on “facts”. The problem is that the pin on the grenade was already pulled.
    As far as which team has the best rotation in baseball, who the f*ck knows. I don’t think I would bother asserting they are the absolute best, at least not in December. The Sox have a good rotation, perhaps a great rotation. On paper. In December.

    SF December 15, 2009, 3:22 pm
  • I wonder why the “.5″ is needed?

    Brad December 15, 2009, 3:23 pm
  • I wonder how the side session with Chapman went today? It’ll be interesting to hear the takes on it.

    Brad December 15, 2009, 3:30 pm
  • Yanks supposedly in serious talks with Ben Sheets.

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 3:33 pm
  • Low risk, high potential.

    Brad December 15, 2009, 3:37 pm
  • The Red Sox got bashed to high hell over the last year here for making the same sort of moves in Penny/Smoltz, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens if the Yankees sign Sheets ;-)

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 3:41 pm
  • Olney retracts, corrects. Says the deal is exactly the same as the Burnett deal.
    http://twitter.com/Buster_ESPN/status/6707181148

    SF December 15, 2009, 3:48 pm
  • Thats a false equivalency atheose…
    In seriousness, Sheets has a hell of alot more upside than Penny and arguably Smoltz too. I actually thought it was somewhat smart of the sox to do so last year but I felt they put too much into this strategy last year. For the yankees this would be a part of the season’s strategy just not as much as the sox last year….

    sam-YF December 15, 2009, 3:48 pm
  • Isn’t that another false equivalence, Ath? ;)
    Just kidding…
    No, I’m not going to proclaim Sheets a near-guarantee to be good (he spent his career in the NL), or healthy (he missed the entirety of last year), but if the Yankees sign him, it means as of this moment he’s healthy and ready as anyone else for Spring Training, and I’ll be excited, because Ben Sheets, when healthy, is one of the best pitchers in the game.
    The difference between a guy like him, and guys like Brad Penny or John Smoltz, is that Penny was never the pitcher Sheets was, and was coming off being awful in the NL. Sheets has been excellent for his entire career. Smoltz was a 42 year old guy who wasn’t projected to be healthy to start the season. Sheets likely will be, and he’s 31.
    Of course, the money that will need to be guaranteed to Sheets will be more than both Penny and Smoltz combined.
    I have to say I’m a bit biased when it comes to Sheets, he was one of my favorite pitchers in the game. At his best he was a freak control artist who struck out a metric ton of batters. He’s clearly declined since then, but in 2008 he was a damn good pitcher. This isn’t a reclamation project.
    Great, now I’ll be annoyed if the Yankees DON’T sign him.

    AndrewYF December 15, 2009, 3:52 pm
  • Hey, the only reason I’m mentioning it is so we can all recognize it and avoid such an argument, which would be ridiculously stupid for both sides here.

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 3:54 pm
  • I like Sheets a lot too; he’s fantastic when he’s healthy. He reminds me a lot of Burnett when he was younger.
    The billion dollar question is whether he can stay healthy. I would guess that he gets a two-year deal.

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 3:57 pm
  • Lackey has never lost a game, nor given up a run, to a non-Red Sox team at Fenway. Bodes well.

    RockyMountainSoxFan December 15, 2009, 3:58 pm
  • “On the other hand, it’s not my money”
    I wish more people would accept this rationale from us YFs when the Yankee front office seals large deals. Instead this very same attitude often gets misrepresented as YF’s thinking it is “our birthright” to have every great player, win it all every year, etc.
    And I don’t think I’ve ever seen the phrase “false equivalency” used so often by so many people than in the past few threads on this site.

    IronHorse (YF) December 15, 2009, 4:35 pm
  • I always liked Sheets as well. When healthy, he’s disgusting, and better than anyone in NY right now not named CC.
    That being said, all reports last year was that his arm was barely held together, and that his medical records were a trainwreck.
    At the right price, it’s worth the risk, but buying a name without a decent arm still attached to it is a problem – no matter which team does it.

    Brad December 15, 2009, 4:51 pm
  • “Maybe I am having a hard time, but I can’t find anything in this thread where that the small sample is acknowledged. dc acknowledged the SSS, on a couple of occasions (to his great credit!).”
    Jeff capped off the smallest of his points with…
    “Of course, the Yankees signed Burnett partly because of his success in Fenway, so take that with a grain of rosin.”
    …then his retort to all of you blowing your fucking minds was…
    “It’s closer to a full run than to a half run, but more like .75 in ERA (51 IP at Fenway, 33 in Anaheim). Still, that’s not that small a sample – that 51 IP is almost like a third of a season for Lackey!”
    i.e. the dude is always hurt so that is a lot of innings for him. I actually thought the tongue-in-cheek comment was funny.
    and then this from you…
    “Of course, the Burnett disclaimer is the parachute, where he can claim some sort of objectivity or reliance on “facts”. The problem is that the pin on the grenade was already pulled.”
    Again, you didn’t dispute the argument against the Sox having the best rotation on December 15th, or that AJ was better than Lackey, only some small joke followed by an admission that it was such.
    Am I missing something other than the fact that you and the others just hate Jeff???

    krueg December 15, 2009, 5:12 pm
  • Word is Sheets got the same surgery Pettitte got in 2004. So maybe the Yankees see how well Pettitte recovered from that and are more comfortable than most teams to take the plunge with Sheets?
    That, or Sheets is just a good pitcher when healthy, and they could always use more major league quality arms.

    AndrewYF December 15, 2009, 5:29 pm
  • Word is Sheets got the same surgery Pettitte got in 2004. So maybe the Yankees see how well Pettitte recovered from that and are more comfortable than most teams to take the plunge with Sheets?
    Is that the surgery from which he recovered with the assistance of magic ointment?
    ;-)

    SF December 15, 2009, 5:32 pm
  • Jeff has mentioned Lackey’s “struggles” in Fenway multiple times in multiple threads, Krueg. And you are aware, right, that “Jeff” is the third or fourth incarnation of a poster by a different name?
    Though since we’re discussing those nine starts:
    53.1 IP, 5.91 ERA, .866 OPS allowed.
    That’s Jon Lester’s first nine starts of 2009.
    55.2 IP, 5.01 ERA, .748 OPS allowed.
    That’s Josh Beckett’s first nine starts of 2009.
    54.1 IP, 4.47 ERA, .835 OPS allowed.
    That’s CC Sabathia over nine starts from June to August 2009.
    59.1 IP, 3.64 ERA, .772 OPS allowed.
    That’s a good, if lucky, line from Cy Young winner Zack Grienke over nine starts from May to July, but it’s an increase of about 1.5 runs over his season-long ERA.
    In other words, nine starts/50 innings has just about zero predictive value whatsoever — and even less so when they are spread over a six-year period. So let’s drop this canard once and for all.

    Paul SF December 15, 2009, 5:58 pm
  • And if anyone wants to throw a starting rotation out there that has a realistic, healthy baseline performance better than Lester-Beckett-Lackey-Buchholz-Matsuzaka, I’m all ears, but simply running down all the possible negatives of each starter is disingenuous (shocking, I know, given the person who did that) unless we plan to do this for every team in the discussion.
    So let’s assume health for everyone and have at it: Who’s better than those five as a group?

    Paul SF December 15, 2009, 6:03 pm
  • Has anyone ever researched whether a pitcher who joins a new team against whom they’ve not had success continues to fair poorly in that team’s home park?
    This I would be curious to see since it seems counter-intuitive to judge future success for a team based on success or failure against said team.
    and yes, I run a butcher’s shop. Our special today is the English language

    RockyMountainSoxFan December 15, 2009, 6:05 pm
  • “And you are aware, right, that “Jeff” is the third or fourth incarnation of a poster by a different name?”
    Who, A YF??? Really??
    And to your second question:
    CC, A.J., Andy, ______, _______
    Basically pick from Joba/Hughes/Sheets, other FA, etc. and assuming everyone is healthy and baseline(?) How are the Sox that much better. Seems Jeff’s negatives are more realistic than your “healthy perfect” season, no?
    But never mind, you don’t want to talk about it anymore…of course.

    krueg December 15, 2009, 6:20 pm
  • “And if anyone wants to throw a starting rotation out there that has a realistic, healthy baseline performance better than Lester-Beckett-Lackey-Buchholz-Matsuzaka”
    Is Buccholz really the sox 5th starter? isnt it wakefield?
    Ill take the combination of the yankees starting pitching and offense over the sox starting pitching and offense as structured today any day of the week. Paul made a similar claim about the sox starting pitching last december and I think we all know how that turned out. The yanks rotation is nothing to sneeze at and we’ll have to see how the Chamberlain/Hughes combo performs in 2010 to really know who who has the advantage here. Making “factual” statements like the one in this post was simply inflammatory and its no wonder the tone of the discussion in this post has turned as it has.

    sam-YF December 15, 2009, 7:36 pm
  • “And if anyone wants to throw a starting rotation out there that has a realistic, healthy baseline performance better than Lester-Beckett-Lackey-Buchholz-Matsuzaka”
    san francisco giants or arizona diamondbacks both have a case. But I think, on paper, the Sox rotation is a little stronger than the Yanks.
    “Making “factual” statements like the one in this post was simply inflammatory and its no wonder the tone of the discussion in this post has turned as it has.”
    I disagree with this. A statement like this provokes discussion, and we should be all mature enough to debate it politely. But what happened in the comments here didn’t necessarily follow from the tone of that statement. Anyway, enough with the meta-debates.

    Nick-YF December 15, 2009, 8:41 pm
  • CC, A.J., Andy, ______, _______
    Basically pick from Joba/Hughes/Sheets, other FA, etc. and assuming everyone is healthy and baseline(?) How are the Sox that much better.

    Starter ERA+ over the last 2 seasons:
    New York:
    1. Sabathia: 148
    2. Burnett: 105
    3. Pettitte: 100
    4. Chamberlain: 4.18 (ERA)
    5. Hughes: 5.22 (ERA)
    Boston:
    1. Lester: 141
    2. Beckett: 118
    3. Lackey: 118
    4. Matsuzaka: 127
    5. Buchholz: 87
    6. Wakefield: 108
    San Francisco:
    1. Lincecum: 173 (!)
    2. Cain: 132
    3. Zito: 96
    4. Sanchez: 95
    5. Johnson: 107
    Arizona:
    1. Haren: 142
    2. Davis: 110
    3. Scherzer: 119
    4. Garland: 100
    5. Petit: 88
    Seattle:
    1. Hernandez: 146
    2. Lee: 147
    3. Rowland-Smith: 120 (small sample)
    4. Bedard: 132 (80 IP each season)
    5. Ian Snell: 82
    The Yankees/Sox are essentially a toss up, with maybe a slight edge going to the Sox since they have more depth (barring another New York signing). Apart from that I’d say the Giants are the strongest.

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 9:15 pm
  • Is that the surgery from which he recovered with the assistance of magic ointment?
    ;-)
    Hey now that you have Cameron I’d be careful with the PED jokes…
    ;)

    John - YF December 15, 2009, 9:29 pm
  • Atheose, AZ will have Webb (at least that was what i was assuming) and Edwin Jackson.

    Nick-YF December 15, 2009, 9:30 pm
  • Hey thanks Krueg for nicely nailing the bullshit to the wall. It’s pinned up for all to see like my Cindy Crawford poster (in a yellow bathing suit) in 1988.
    Somehow panties are in bunches because Lackey sucks in Fenway? Of course, it’s a question. How big? Who cares? Across baseball, Sabathia in the post-season was also a question right when he was signed. How many innings was that based on?
    ~ 30 IP.
    Who here questioned that?
    Otherwise, I’m glad to know that nothing else I’ve brought up has been controversial. Some SFs friends would take offense to most of it.
    Great work on the rotation breakdown, Atheose. But two seasons is a highly selective (and noisy) sample (see K, Dice). If there’s not enough info for three seasons or more, then we might as well talk about last season. But the reason I chose not to go into it?
    This about sums it up:
    “As far as which team has the best rotation in baseball, who the f*ck knows. I don’t think I would bother asserting they are the absolute best, at least not in December. The Sox have a good rotation, perhaps a great rotation. On paper. In December.”
    But I do know who has the best lineup. :) And who has the championship belt. :-o

    Jeff December 15, 2009, 10:42 pm
  • Great work on the rotation breakdown, Atheose. But two seasons is a highly selective (and noisy) sample (see K, Dice).
    Two seasons (instead of more) also makes Sabathia look better, and makes Beckett worse. I chose two seasons because it was the easiest to break down for some of the players, not because it was a cherry-picking way to make the Sox look better.

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 11:11 pm
  • Atheose, AZ will have Webb (at least that was what i was assuming) and Edwin Jackson.
    I knew I was forgetting something…

    Atheose - SF December 15, 2009, 11:12 pm
  • Who said you were biased?

    Jeff December 15, 2009, 11:25 pm
  • So by saying my data was “highly selective” you meant to say something else?

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 12:27 am
  • selective [sɪˈlɛktɪv]
    adj
    1. of or characterized by selection
    2. tending to choose carefully or characterized by careful choice
    3. (Electronics) Electronics occurring at, operating at, or capable of separating out a particular frequency or band of frequencies
    I meant meaning #2. It’s a careful choice but ultimately moot because the information is too noisy. A player could average two extremes (3.75 ERA and 5.75 ERA = 4.75 ERA) or have two identical years (4.75 ERA + 4.75 ERA = 4.75 ERA). That’s a coin flip for prediction. You need a third year (and preferably more) to offer an informed perspective beyond 50/50. So either we expect a coin flip after last year or we look at a few year patterns. There’s no in-between.
    You’re being highly selective (or carefully choosing) but ultimately it’s meaningless.

    Jeff December 16, 2009, 12:47 am
  • “Is that the surgery from which he recovered with the assistance of magic ointment?
    ;-)”
    for some reason, i’m in the mood for a kate hudson-flavored milkshake….mmmmm…i don’t know what’s in them, but they make me go…

    dc December 16, 2009, 12:54 am
  • Looking at most of the pitchers, their 2008/2009 years were a lot more “consistent”, with the third year (2007) being the outlier.
    Players ERA+ in 2007, 2008 and 2009:
    Beckett: 145, 115, 122
    Lester: 104 (63 IP), 144, 138
    Lackey: 150, 119, 118
    Burnett: 119, 104, 106
    Beckett and Lackey are both certain to be closer to their 2008/2009 numbers than their 2007 Cy Young stats. The last two seasons were Lester’s first full ones; the year before that he was bouncing back from cancer. Sabathia’s 2007 ERA+ is the exact same as his 2008/2009 combined ERA+. And Burnett only pitched 160 innings in 2007, compared to two full seasons after that. For Chamberlain it doesn’t matter; he didn’t make any starts in 2007.
    So based on all of that, it just made sense to focus on the last two years. The only ones who it doesn’t really fit for is Matsuzaka and Hughes. The former I think we can all agree is one giant enigma as to whether or not he’ll do well in 2010, so the stats don’t really tell much there. The latter was league-average in 2007 and then struggled as a starter after that. And he only pitched 34 innings in both 2008 AND 2009, so that wasn’t enough for me to care. He’s not as much of a question
    So all in all focusing on two years instead of three just made sense. You can talk about probability and extremes all you want, but my sample size was done to manually eliminate such extremes.
    Obviously I didn’t care as much looking at the other teams.

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 7:48 am
  • EDIT: I accidentally put Sabathia as 148 ERA+ when he was actually 141 ERA+. That certainly makes a huge difference, since it shows that he and Lester have both been equally good over the last few seasons.

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 7:51 am
  • I think the D-backs are probably the only team that could have a good case for a better rotation. Of course, they are in an extremely pitcher-friendly dvision, but that is indeed a very impressive 1-5.
    I think I’d bump Matsuzaka down a little from the 127 he had over the past two years. His career average is 117, and that seems right to me. But I’d also boost Buchholz to north of 100 based on his age and performance last season.
    The difference between the Sox and Yanks isn’t just the Matsuzaka/Buchholz vs. Joba/Hughes, which could be a NY advantage but right now is not based on the pitchers’ respective performances over the past two years, it’s that Beckett/Lackey is simply a much stronger 2/3 than Burnett/Pettitte, good as those latter two pitchers are.
    As for my predictions last December, I found a post from January in which I call it “a deep, formidable rotation,” but nothing that says it’s the best in baseball. Given the Sox didn’t sign Smoltz until January I doubt I said very much about it in December. But I also say in the same post that “it’s a stretch to expect all three [Penny, Smoltz, Baldelli] to be healthy and excellent all season.”
    Of course, I’m sure Sam knows the Sox’ rotation problems last year were caused by an injury to the previously healthy Daisuke Matsuzaka, something neither I — nor anyone else — could have foreseen, and which destroyed the depth the Sox had created. A big injury that wipes out the whole season for a full-time starter could very well could happen again, but given that it is unforeseeable, what’s the point of bringing potential injuries up over and over again? The injury risk exists for pitchers. We accept that and prognosticate anyway.
    But, in short, I can comfortably say that Sam is wrong, and I did not say “something similar” about the Sox’ rotation last offseason because the Sox’ rotation wasn’t as good last offseason.

    Paul SF December 16, 2009, 8:45 am
  • paul, you make some good points here…i am grudgingly going to concede to you that your rotation, with the addition of lackey looks better than ours, but perhaps only slightly, and as you’ve conceded, only on paper…too many variables…we can nitpick this stuff to death, but i think cc is a more formidable #1 than lester right now, but that may be more emotional than fact based…you’re right to take the nod on #2 and #3, although i don’t think the difference is that significant…it’s probably close to a push…a wider edge to the sox on #4 and #5, primarily because i’m not convinced yet that either hughes or chamberlain can be consistently effective starters, and one or both will wind up in the bullpen again, or traded…we’ll see…i just reacted earlier in the thread to your rather absolute-sounding proclamation that the sox rotation is the best…potentially?, sure, on paper?, ok…but we’ll need to see how it all washes out…

    dc December 16, 2009, 9:47 am
  • but we’ll need to see how it all washes out…
    #28 from our vastly inferior starting rotation! ;)

    krueg December 16, 2009, 10:03 am
  • #28
    yeah, i keep forgetting that it takes a well-rounded team, with a little luck sprinkled in, to compete at the highest level…all of the “my dog is bigger than your dog stuff” that we kick around waiting for the season to restart is fun, but sorta pointless in a way…

    dc December 16, 2009, 10:26 am
  • 28 from our vastly inferior starting rotation! ;)
    Now you’re just putting words in our mouths ;-)

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 10:31 am
  • Here are the problems with even three year splits:
    What do you expect from Beckett? And contrast that with Burnett. Beckett at his worst is Burnett at his best. It would surprise no one if they flipped (and so better sets up Beckett walking).
    What matters with Lackey and Burnett is you’re missing the innings pitched. They’re not dependable and not with Lackey’s Fenway history. :)
    Matsuzaka last year was so horrid there can be no expectation or prediction that’s knowledgeable. He had a shoulder problem and those kill speed. Whether he recovers is completely up in the air esp. since him and the team struggle to get on the same page.
    Buchholz is no different than Hughes or Joba. The samples are way too small. And for Wakefield, the sample is way too big.
    The only guys that are truly dependable in the two rotations? Lester and CC. But it would shock no one if either lost significant time, especially with their histories.
    For pitchers, we’re all just guessing and flipping coins. They’re too variable. You can’t eliminate noise by relying on smaller samples.
    Of course, if you had told me the Yankees would have won a a world championship (number 27!!!) with Burnett and Pettitte as workhorses and neither Joba or Hughes in the rotation, I would have demanded to see the evidence. That’s why they play the games. Until they do:
    “[W]ho the f*ck knows?”

    Jeff December 16, 2009, 10:40 am
  • It seems like the problems you have with the data above has more to do with other factors (all of which I acknowledged in my post) than the two-year sample size I used.
    If you want to include average innings pitched, go ahead. I was just trying to take a quick look based on ERA+, not break it down with as much extra data as possible.

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 10:54 am
  • “You can’t eliminate noise by relying on smaller samples.”

    Jeff December 16, 2009, 11:04 am
  • I want to point out something about the 2009 Yankees. They were the best team in baseball mainly because their hitting was ridiculously great. That was the strength of the team. Their pitching was decent, but not elite. In fact, the team gave up more runs than the inferior Sox. Meanwhile, the Sox added a front-line starter and have replaced a poor fielding outfielder and shortstop with two very strong fielders. The Yanks have yet too add any one to the rotation that could be described as a top 3 starter, but they might have improved their outfield fielding by adding Granderson. Maybe I’m simple, but this suggests to me that the Sox are likely going to prevent more runs from scoring than the Yanks next year. Of course, even with the expected regressions from Yankee positional players, they’re likely to score more runs than the Sox probably by a good margin given the loss of Bay.

    Nick-YF December 16, 2009, 11:13 am
  • 28 from our vastly inferior starting rotation! ;)
    Now you’re just putting words in our mouths ;-)
    More like acknowledging the intent of the original post… ;)

    krueg December 16, 2009, 11:14 am
  • “…they’re likely to score more runs than the Sox probably by a good margin given the loss of Bay…”
    yeah, let’s have the whole rbi discussion again…woo hoo…just kidding, nick
    i’ll anticipate the comeback:
    full year of martinez
    scutaro will provide some offensive upgrade
    cameron is no slouch with the bat
    all good points actually…

    dc December 16, 2009, 11:20 am
  • Nick:
    Rob Neyer breaks down the value-oriented aspect of the Cameron signing here:
    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/1793/red-sox-spend-less-win-more
    As I said earlier, it’s one of those deals where fans tend to go “blah”, but by some advanced metrics it is nothing but common sensical, particularly if Bay is asking for the moon (or 2/3 of it, even).

    SF December 16, 2009, 11:23 am
  • SF, you don’t need to convince me. I posted about two weeks ago that the smart people were saying Cameron would be a much better value signing than Bay! I can’t believe the Sox are so predictably smart they actually visited our site and took my hinted at advice!
    The point of what I said was that the Sox gained from that signing and Scutaro’s mostly from how they help the fielding of the team and the ability to prevent runs. I think the team’s hitting–as it is constructed now (before the inevitable Adrian Gonzalez trade) is probably not as strong as last year’s version. But the team is better already because of how much they’ve improved on the other side of things.

    Nick-YF December 16, 2009, 11:28 am
  • Except even Neyer forgets that Cameron’s value is tied to playing CF. As soon as he becomes a corner bat, he starts to look more and more like filler rather than value.

    Jeff December 16, 2009, 11:31 am
  • Nick:
    Someone at SoSH did a chart mapping Pythagorean wins based on run prevention differentials and run-scored differentials from the 2009 Sox, in .1 run increments. It was interesting, would need to dig it up. I am curious to know how the Sox’ current lineup, with some assumptions for regressions/improvements, fares player-by-player, to give a better understanding of what the defensive and pitching upgrades do, and what Scutaro and Martinez bring over their predecessors, on both sides of the diamond.

    SF December 16, 2009, 11:36 am
  • “But the team is better already because of how much they’ve improved on the other side of things.”
    That’s very debateable given the noisiness of the pitching and the ages of the players involved. If Damon re-signs, I know I won’t be arguing the Yankees improved simply because Granderson > Matsui offensively and defensively and with more youth. There are too many uncertainties involved. But I do feel very confident they will win 95 – 100 games if not more.
    The Sox have gotten older and with less offense. I don’t see how that’s a good thing, especially since their pitching is now very thin and unreliable. At it’s best, sure it’s great. But who the f* knows if it will be that? Are they a lock for 95 wins? Not now they aren’t.

    Jeff December 16, 2009, 11:37 am
  • Comparing the two pitching staffs is all fine and good, but honestly you cannot compare the two without looking at the complete team. The problem is it’s December, neither team is complete. On paper does the Sox rotation look a little better, sure, but that’s mainly because the Yankees are still looking to add a starting pitcher. If the Yankees add a guy like Sheets or Derek Lowe, I believe they’d be right there in the mix with the Sox. The same can be said for the Sox offense, right now it scares nobody. But if tomorrow they trade Clay and Jacoby for Adrian Gonzalez that all changes. Maybe it’s just me but I’d hold of on the hard core comparisons until all the chips fall into place.
    As for Lackey: He’s a slightly better version of AJ Burnett, with nearly the same level of consistency. I am not going to list all the numbers, if you want to see them go look at them, but look at their K/9 and H/9, both are areas that Burnett is better in. Other than 2007, their ERA+ is very similar, with the clear edge going to Lackey. Their lifetime ERA is almost identical…They are 1 year apart in age, both have had injury shortened seasons and so on and so on. Don’t believe me? Go to baseball reference, Burnett is listed as one of the comps for Lackey. Bottom line, Lackey is a solid pitcher, just like AJ Burnett. Much like AJ Burnett isn’t going to strike fear in Red Sox fans hearts, John Lackey strikes no fear in mine.
    “The Sox are paying Lackey what the Yankees are paying AJ Burnett, and Burnett is older and more inconsistent.”
    As for that statement, who defines what consistency actually is? Apples to Apples Lackey is the better pitcher (not by much), but consistency is really a tough statement to qualify. Other than Lackey’s 2007, they are very similar in many areas, including reliability.

    John - YF December 16, 2009, 11:38 am
  • “some assumptions for regressions/improvements”
    The devil’s in those details. The differences there range from 93 wins to 97 (or 89 to 101) wins. I mean, no one here would argue they’re more than 3 wins better, would they? And I’d love to see where that set of assumptions comes from.
    Even if we assume the Yankees lose 5 wins to age/injuries, that still means at best the Sox are fighting for the wild card. With their resources, you guys are really comfortable with that? And that’s if most things break well.

    Jeff December 16, 2009, 11:45 am
  • If this were a couple of years ago, I could understand why people would think it’s a no-brainer than Lackey is better/more valuable than Burnett, but one of the main reasons why both pitchers now have the same contract is the differences in their recent histories. Things have evened out a bit between them because one pitcher has been more durable the last couple of years. Over the last three seasons (per fangraphs) they’ve essentially had the same value even if Lackey on a per inning basis is better.

    Nick-YF December 16, 2009, 11:46 am
  • http://www.yfsf.org/2008/12/cc-aj-nyc.html#comments
    This is the thread right after the Burnett signing was announced. Seems like almost everyone was praiseworthy of the move by the Yanks, especially as a depth move. It was clear the the Yankees had done a great job extending their rotation with Burnett, and it paid obvious dividends. I don’t really think any differently of the Lackey signing: very good depth move at market rate for talent (free agency market rate, that is). Not an ace, but not signed to be an ace, and not paid free agent ace money either.

    SF December 16, 2009, 11:55 am
  • That thread is fun to look at for a couple of posters’ hilariously wrong takes.

    Nick-YF December 16, 2009, 11:59 am
  • Of course, if the Sox get A-Gon, it’s going to be a great fight for the division…if the pitching for both teams is healthy.
    “Not an ace, but not signed to be an ace, and not paid free agent ace money either.”
    Really? He’s not expected to replace Beckett?

    Jeff December 16, 2009, 12:03 pm
  • The thread i was referring to last year Paul was this one:
    http://www.yfsf.org/2008/12/versus.html
    Granted, it wasnt about the full rotations but it did intimate that the sox top 3 SPs were better than the yanks. My only point was that we never know how things are gonna turn out. I do agree that Lackey was a great pick up for the sox and makes the rotation very formidable. As constructed, Ill take the yanks as a team over the sox but the winter isnt over yet.
    Also, re: Cameron’s defense. The numbers that are being used to “quantitate” his defense are for him in CF. Assuming he is gonna shift to LF, its not clear to me that the defensive value can transfer that seamlessly. Playing LF in boston is a different bag of worms entirely. His range is less important given the size of the field and his ability to judge balls off the wall, etc becomes more important. Im not sure which of these factors drives his excellent defensive metrics but there will be some adjustment next season no matter what in the new park/league.

    sam-YF December 16, 2009, 12:06 pm
  • Shouldn’t Ellsbury move over to left? That’s what I’d do to maximize the fielding potential.

    Nick-YF December 16, 2009, 12:08 pm
  • “Shouldn’t Ellsbury move over to left? ”
    Then aren’t you hurting his development? And his bat doesn’t carry a corner at-all unless his power changes dramatically (.415 SLG; .394 on the road).

    Jeff December 16, 2009, 12:15 pm
  • I like defense at 1B. I like defense in CF. (Simply because it’s the biggest area to cover) I like defense at SS. Ideally you’d have a solid defensive catcher as well. Other than that I can take or leave defense at those other positions. Reason being if their bats are good enough (A-Rod, Damon, Bay, Ibanez, etc…) that offense really trumps anything they can do defensively. Manny, Holliday, Ibanez, Damon, and so on and so on, there wasn’t a LF defensive specialist for any of the playoff teams last season that I can recall. I’d take Bay over Cameron in LF any day of the week. (That of course doesn’t take into consideration contract demands, so I understand that) Bay will be missed simply for his offense. Unless Cameron has an offensive revival I can’t see the Sox or Sox fans being content with that kind of offense vs. what they have had in Manny and Bay.

    John - YF December 16, 2009, 12:15 pm
  • Unless of course Cameron plays CF and the Sox trade for Adrian Gonzalez. Then I think he could hit .210 and not a soul would care.

    John - YF December 16, 2009, 12:18 pm
  • “You can’t eliminate noise by relying on smaller samples.”
    In general, absolutely. But I’m only talking about a few very specific examples in players that we’re all intimately familiar with. Surely we can all agree that there are certain circumstances that can be ignored; or do you think Lester’s 2006/2007 numbers are indicative of how he’ll pitch going forward?
    If I wanted to be 100% accurate I would have found a way to calculate his career ERA+ while weighing the recent years more heavily, but fuck if I’m going to do that much work. As things are I’ll trust some of the more recent numbers more heavily than the older ones, even when it makes the Sox weaker on paper.
    Big disclaimer that apparently I need: this is all just fun speculation because there’s no baseball for another 3 months. Nobody is saying that things are set in stone, or that any one team will without-a-doubt have the best rotation. Do we really have to end each post with “This is contingent on lack of injuries and countless other unpredictable things”?

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 12:20 pm
  • I’d take Bay over Cameron in LF any day of the week.
    I think all of us would agree with you. Like you said, it’s the contract considerations that change things up a bit.

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 12:21 pm
  • As constructed, Ill take the yanks as a team over the sox but the winter isnt over yet.
    Right now me too. But I hate the damn uniform. And no Pedroia or Youks.

    SF December 16, 2009, 12:21 pm
  • Pardon my ignorance, but does ERA+ adjust for league (facing DHs vs. facing pitchers)?
    As far as the Lackey signing and the money:
    I have to assume Theo & Co. compute their cost/benefit analyses with assumptions about injury potential built in. If Lackey is going to be in Boston for five years, then one doesn’t buy in assuming he is going to win 100 games over the life of the contract. Three good years, one down year, one injury year would be more like it. So they are buying more like 19 + 17 + 15 + 9 + 3 = 63 wins.
    Obviously I’m just spitballing numbers here. The point being that I’m sure the Sox and their statheads are not looking at things like “will he be worth 20 million in Year Five, but at the overall value to the extent it can be reasonably projected.
    It’s like playing ace-king unsuited in Texas Hold ‘Em. A very good hand to play over the long haul of many hands, but you know you’re going to get burned on occasion and accept that risk.

    Hudson December 16, 2009, 12:22 pm
  • The other thing nobody has mentioned is insurability of contracts, whether these contracts are even insured, and if so what that premium is.
    That has little to do with on-field performance, but rather it has to do with the financial risks that the teams themselves measure when they offer contracts like this.

    SF December 16, 2009, 12:24 pm
  • Awesome reading the old threads…I was calling for Sheets back then and now we are talking to him per rumors!!! He is VERY interesting to me…

    krueg December 16, 2009, 12:28 pm
  • Ath, my point really was that people were trying to say (take contract out of the discussion) that Cameron’s defense will offset the loss of offense. What I was saying is screw that, I’d sacrifice the D and take the O in LF. I should have elaborated initially.
    Did I mention how much it pains me that Hermida is on the Sox? I can see this kid blowing up Carlos Quentin style, if given a chance. Always been a fan.

    John - YF December 16, 2009, 12:28 pm
  • “The other thing nobody has mentioned is insurability of contracts, whether these contracts are even insured, and if so what that premium is.”
    When people think of how being a general manager would be a dream job, this aspect does not cross their minds.

    Nick-YF December 16, 2009, 12:28 pm
  • Here you go, here are some 2010 player projections (from the Baseball Guru):
    New York:
    1. Sabathia: 3.43 ERA, 202 IP
    2. Burnett: 4.19, 178
    3. Pettitte: 4.19, 162
    4. Chamberlain: 4.21, 148
    5. Hughes: 4.82, 77
    Boston:
    1. Lester: 3.67, 187
    2. Beckett: 3.64, 188
    3. Lackey: 4.08, 153
    4. Matsuzaka: 4.63, 72
    5. Buchholz: 5.28, 83
    6. Wakefield: 4.85, 96
    These are from the Baseball Guru, and you can find the whole spreadsheet here. I’m not sure I agree with some of these projections, specifically Buchholz.

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 12:37 pm
  • Ahh, gotcha John.

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 12:39 pm
  • Those projections make the Yanks’ rotation look comparable, if not better, than the Sox rotation.

    Nick-YF December 16, 2009, 12:41 pm
  • Quick question: Do good center fielders typically get better or worse when they move to left field?
    Quick answer: Better, obviously.
    So while moving to left does indeed negate some of Cameron’s offensive value, it also boosts his defensive value.

    Paul SF December 16, 2009, 12:41 pm
  • I’d sacrifice the D and take the O in LF
    I think this is where the GMs earn their money, and where the smartest ones have more complex readings of the impact of something like replacing Bay with Cameron. Not that all GMs know more than we do (it should be clear that many of them aren’t very good at their jobs), but surely Theo Epstein has to have thought of:
    a) what is Cameron worth in LF vs. CF, considering offense and defense?
    b) what if Ellsbury moves to LF while Cameron patrols center, does this hurt development or marketability?
    c) is Ellsbury now expendable, and if so what repurcussions would there be should he trade Ellsbury for a bat, and not a LF bat?
    I can imagine a scenario where Epstein doesn’t answer these questions correctly, but I cannot envision a scenario where he hasn’t considered them at all. Sometimes there are comments at this site, from fans of both teams, that imply that our GMs don’t even touch topics like these.

    SF December 16, 2009, 12:42 pm
  • And, it should be added, the Sox have not decided where Cameron will play, and they’re paying him half per season what Bay would have cost for likely less than half the long-term commitment.
    Is Jason Bay likely to be twice as valuable as Mike Cameron next season?

    Paul SF December 16, 2009, 12:42 pm
  • Those projections make the Yanks’ rotation look comparable, if not better, than the Sox rotation.
    They do, though it also projects Nick Green to pitch 27 innings in 2010. Whatever formula he’s using looks like it doesn’t work well with prospects, because Buchholz will be a full-time starter next season (in Boston or elsewhere).

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 12:44 pm
  • And John, that last comment was NOT directed at you, despite my quotation from your comment. Just FYI so you don’t think I was targeting you.

    SF December 16, 2009, 12:45 pm
  • Paul, we are talking purely baseball value (or at least I am). I understand that Bay is getting 5 years, putting him at 37 at the end of the contract, a gazillion dollars per, etc…what I am saying is apples to apples, contracts out of consideration Bay’s offense is so much better than A. anything his defense can negate and B. anything Cameron can do offensively and defensively. Now, value wise, sure I suppose at $8 million per for 2 years vs 5 years of a declining Bay then maybe I get it, but otherwise I don’t see it.
    No worries SF.

    John - YF December 16, 2009, 12:56 pm
  • “Is Jason Bay likely to be twice as valuable as Mike Cameron next season?”
    I dont really feel this is the best way to frame this debate. Additional production gets exceedingly more expensive for each little notch up in production at the highest levels. Sure we can argue their relative worths of the two players but its not as simple as just because one player is paid twice as much, he has two be twice as “valuable”.

    sam-YF December 16, 2009, 12:57 pm
  • that should have read: he need not be twice as valuable.

    sam-YF December 16, 2009, 12:59 pm
  • I think the Cameron deal is a good one but it comes with the possibility of it turning in to a sunk cost. That probably can’t be said of signing Bay, Holliday or getting someone younger. But Cameron is 37 and his contact rate on offense is bad. If it gets significantly worse, you have a guy who probably shouldn’t start. That said, he’s been a very consistent player through the years. His age and type of offensive game makes this a bit risky.

    Nick-YF December 16, 2009, 12:59 pm
  • what I am saying is apples to apples, contracts out of consideration Bay’s offense is so much better than A. anything his defense can negate and B. anything Cameron can do offensively and defensively.
    But this is where modern analysis deviates – Neyer, other metrics, etc., are saying that (independent of age-related declines or other things that cannot be predicted) that Cameron CAN provide that value. It just doesn’t seem that he should.
    I feel like this attitude is akin to how Jay Buhner used to go for like $35 in our rotisserie auction when the fact that he contributed nothing but power numbers and either did nothing for or wrecked a team’s batting average (and contributed no steals, a massive demerit) actually made him worth far less. We used to use a program by a guy named John Benson, who gave rotisserie valuations for players based on projections and weighted per category that you used in your league, and Buhner always showed up as worth something like 12-14 bucks, during his prime years, but Buhner would always go for high 20s, low 30s, one year even higher. He stole two bases over the course of six seasons, and his batting average never topped .280, hovering more at the the low .270s and in a couple of years was far lower. I don’t mean to equate rotisserie baseball with real baseball, but the valuations were off in a comparable way: Buhner had nice production numbers, high OPS, but he KILLED your team in categories that our league members undervalued or failed to weight properly, mostly because of habit and the way they grew up watching the game.

    SF December 16, 2009, 1:05 pm
  • I know I am a little biased here, but why not let Hermida play everyday in LF? Is there that much difference between Cameron and Hermida? He’s 26, tons of upside and he makes significantly less than Cameron demanded. Look at the 3 year averages for the 2 players, there isn’t much difference other than HR’s and K’s. (Cameron leads in both) Hermida was once a top 10 prospect in the game, the talent is there. This is why I am convinced Adrian Gonzalez is on his way to Boston. The whole Cameron thing only makes sense to this guy if he’s in CF or if Epstein signed him with another move in mind. Just my opinion.

    John - YF December 16, 2009, 1:06 pm
  • This is why I am convinced Adrian Gonzalez is on his way to Boston. The whole Cameron thing only makes sense to this guy if he’s in CF or if Epstein signed him with another move in mind.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if Gonzalez ended up in Boston (though I don’t see why SD has any need to trade him, or should have any desire to trade him, just yet), but I can see the logic of this move even if Gonzalez doesn’t end up in Boston. Trades take two teams in agreement; there is just no guarantee that SD decides to give up Gonzalez. In the meantime, Theo has made a move that does nothing to hurt his chances at continuing to pursue AG, while also patching holes in his current team with a short-term commitment to a player who has proven value. It’s risky, sure, because Cameron could get hurt. Or suck. But it’s also not that risky since the dollars and years are (relatively) short, and the Sox have proven that they are completely willing to eat dollars in the case that something isn’t working. This is a move that hedges risk, in my mind, because it leaves the Sox utterly flexible in the case that they need to make (or want to make) a future acquisition.

    SF December 16, 2009, 1:11 pm
  • Oh I agree SF, I am on record here as saying it makes little sense to move AG if you are the Padres. He’s cheap, he’s a local guy, he’s young, he mashes, etc…But all signs (MLBTR) point towards serious discussions. I was spot on when I said the Brewers would move Hardy (everyone, including A YF or whatever he was called at the time, said I was wrong) and I get that same feeling here. Especially IF the Padres could get Buchholz, Ellsbury and a 1B prospect. That’s a pretty solid haul. Still I hope the Pads stay strong and hold onto AG.

    John - YF December 16, 2009, 1:16 pm
  • I really hope we don’t send Ellsbury away for AGonz. I would love him on our team, don’t get me wrong, but I have a huge man-crush on Ellsbury and his 70 SB.

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 1:20 pm
  • it comes with the possibility of it turning in to a sunk cost. That probably can’t be said of signing Bay
    Not for next year, no, but Bay at $15m+ in Year 5, when his upside is as a slightly above average DH? I think it’s even money on which player is more likely to be a sunk cost in the final year of his deal.
    But there is no doubt the possibility of Cameron’s signing involving risk, that’s true. It’s a small risk, though, given the numbers involved. Bay offers more surety in 2010 and 2011, but much less so in 2012-2014, and by then, Cameron won’t be on the Red Sox.

    Paul SF December 16, 2009, 1:49 pm
  • “the Sox have proven that they are completely willing to eat dollars in the case that something isn’t working.”
    At what point does it become too much? Between Penny, Smoltz, Lugo, and Lowell that’s almost $30 million in the last year. Sometimes being too clever means being pretty dumb. Those same resources could more than make up for the more solid but expenasive signings that don’t require being cute.

    Jeff December 16, 2009, 2:43 pm
  • Holy shit, Lackey’s contract is actually FRONT-loaded. 18m the first year, and only 15.25 in each of the remaining four.

    Atheose - SF December 16, 2009, 3:55 pm

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