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Turning Point? Sox Get Adam LaRoche

It looks like the Sox are going to add a corner bat to their line-up. Theo has worked out another deal with Neal Huntington. This time he gets Adam LaRoche. It's not clear what Boston is giving back, although Clay Buchholz was seen weeping at his locker as he packed his bags (I kid).  LaRoche has a good record of heating up in the second half.

40 replies on “Turning Point? Sox Get Adam LaRoche”

no would the trade CB – especially to the bucs! CHB maybe, but not CB :)
I don’t suppose they’ll announce the corresponding roster move until later in the day. but really – who do they remove – kotsay, rocco, green?

Sox reportedly give up Class-A pitching prospect Hunter Strickland (good K to BB ratio) and Class AA shortstop Argenis Diaz (all glove, no bat), who is on the 40-man roster.

Nick Cafardo at the Globe says, “The two names we’ve heard going back to Pittsburgh in this Adam LaRoche deal are Double-A shortstop Argenis Diaz and pitcher Hunter Strickland. Diaz is a defensive specialist while Strikcland is a tall righty who is 5-4 with a 3.35 ERA in Greenville. Doesn’t appear the Sox have given up too much if this is the extent of the deal.”
This is also the final year of LaRoche’s contract. Seems a good, albeit low-impact, move.

clears space on the 40 man, but still need to do someting on the 25 man roster. so is it a 15 day for Kotsay and his calf, or rocco and his channel thingy or is it a straight DFA for someone?

The defensive improvement at third base will be tremendous, and LaRoche is a good bet to be healthier and more productive than Lowell going forward. I don’t see this as pointless by any stretch of the imagination.

Fantastic move–I’ve always like LaRoche. And he’s on my fantasy team.
Frankly I think this says that Lowell isn’t as healthy as we think. I foresee another trip to the DL in a few days.

So now all we need is Jack Wilson and Freedy Sanchez and we’ll have the four best players from their 2008 team.

Sorry, but Neyer is on of the best analysts in the game. He’s objective and honest. That’s better than 99% of main stream baseball writers.
On this point, I have to agree. If you’re going to give up anything for a guy like LaRoche, why not give up just a little bit more for Nick Johnson?

The sad thing is the Sox would actually improve their team with Jack Wilson. Actually with his free agency coming up he could be a 2004-style pickup in going with defense.

The sad thing is the Sox would actually improve their team with Jack Wilson.
It is sad, but true. Green/Lowrie are a suitable platoon at the spot for the mean time though, even if it’s not ideal. I like Wilson.

Maybe on Johnson, but with his impending free agency, it may be possible to wait them out. In one week what will the Nationals decide – get a few borderline prospects or, maybe, one supplemental pick?
Jack Wilson’s glove is everything. But I could easily see him poking doubles off the monster. Considering the options, he could be the best available for the Sox.

Jack Wilson’s glove is everything. But I could easily see him poking doubles off the monster.
That’s exactly how I see him too. I haven’t looked at his hit distribution, but I bet he would flourish at Fenway.
Regarding Johnson, you might be right. But is it worth waiting until the last minute, with the possibility of no deal happening and the Sox not improving? I would rather have Johnson, but I’m very satisfied with LaRoche.

Oh, and the biggest reason I like this trade is because we gave up nobody to get him. When I first heard that LaRoche was going to the Sox I thought “Delcarmen or Masterson are gone for sure.” Pleasantly surprised to see we gave up two mediocre prospects for him.

No, he’s not..
It depends on what he writes. If he praises the move, everyone calls him bias and a sox fanboy. If he says he doesn’t understand it, everyone says that he’s fair and balanced. Same goes with whatever he writes and whenever he writes it.
If Gammons comes out later and says this is a good move because the guy averages good power, is cheap, is left handed and a sure defender, people will call him a homer.
The inbreds on Lohud will call it a move of desperation, which is laughable, and guys like Michael Kay will argue that it actually makes the Sox worse to have him.
It all depends on what you think when it comes to agreeing with these idiots.

And, while I was not a fan of Nick Johnson, I don’t think the Sox are done yet. I really expect there to be another move, and this move is just a part of it.

Neyer used to be one of the best analysts in the game. Over the past year, the quality of his work has degraded significantly. I’ve seen multiple analyses of his posted and mocked at SABR-friendly sites like Baseball Think Factory, and while before, he would show up to defend himself or apologize, I haven’t seen him there in quite a while.
His analysis of the move today doesn’t consider the following salient points:
1. That LaRoche currently is outperforming Lowell on offense.
2. That Lowell is terrible and getting worse on defense, while LaRoche is roughly average (and Youkilis is above average at Lowell’s position).
3. That LaRoche is 29 while Lowell is 35.
Wouldn’t this be something you’d expect a decent baseball analyst to consider when looking at which player would better help a ballclub in the second half?
And if the Sox acquire LaRoche for nothing, but would have had to weaken their bullpen to acquire Johnson, the chances are pretty good that the difference in production between LaRoche and Johnson is mitigated by the difference in cost to acquire them.

Are you sure you’re looking at Adam LaRoche? Right now he gives up 30 points in OPS to Lowell. According to fangraphs his defense is also below average. His value is about equivalent overall to Lowell (~$2 million). More to the point, Adam LaRoche with a .770 OPS at first base is horrid. Jeff Bailey or Chris Carter could give that, so why give up anything?
As for Johnson, he’s at a value of $6.8 million based on the strength of his bat being 70 OPS points higher than LaRoche. Even giving up Delcarmen ($2.8 million) Or Ramirez ($1.8 million), you’d still get more value from Johnson.
Sorry, but Neyer is spot on. And I did use the qualifier of mainstream media. Who’s better – at ESPN or any major outlet?

I like this analysis from Christina Karhl at BP:
“Put all of that together, and keep in mind that the NL Central isn’t the AL East. As a result, while LaRoche is a nice enough pickup for a team that needs bench depth, and a worthwhile addition to an organization that has seen far too many of its upper-level farmhand fill-ins falter or felled by injury, it’s important not to overstate his value. If anything, the Yankees may have gotten the better Pirates lefty power source when they traded for Eric Hinske, but where Hinske’s virtues afield away from first base aren’t all that hot, the Sox have the benefit of Youkilis’ better abilities at other positions, allowing them to acquire a first base-only guy like LaRoche on the off chance that he gets hot down the stretch. Given how little it took in talent to land him, and the upside possibility suggested by LaRoche’s hitting in seasons before this one, it was a move well worth making.”
Something for both Sock and Yank fan to like:)

Nothing against Karhl, but it all depends on who else changes teams. In isolation, LaRoche may be a marginal improvement. But could they have done better? I think so. We’ll find out over the next week.

I missed the mainstream media qualifier, Rob, but the answer is Joe Posnanski, for any media.
I think Karl is right, and even she is ignoring the fact that LaRoche is likely to hit far better going forward than he’s hit this season. And even with what he’s hit, LaRoche has an OPS+ of 108. Lowell has an OPS+ of 101. Then add in better baserunning. And better defense. And how well LaRoche has hit against righties (and Lowell against lefties).
I’d love to have Johnson, but the Sox got LaRoche for nothing. Johnson would not have cost nothing. There would have been value taken away from the 2009 Boston Red Sox to bring him here, at least based on the rumors we’ve heard.

Are you sure you’re looking at Adam LaRoche? Right now he gives up 30 points in OPS to Lowell.
Looks like you’re only looking at OPS, and not OPS+.
Jeff Bailey or Chris Carter could give that, so why give up anything?
What makes you think that? Carter is OPS’ing .758 at AAA right now. Not too impressive. Jeff Bailey isn’t much better either.
LaRoche cost us practically nothing to get, and in fact freed up room on the 40-man roster. Plus he’s likely to get hot; just look at his 2nd-half splits.

That OPS+ though is accounting for league differences. It’s how a .770 OPS can be “worth” more than an .800 OPS. Does anyone really believe however that hitting in the NL Central is harder than in the AL East?
Again, you say that subtracting from the major league pen wouldn’t have been worth it. But their respective values say otherwise. Johnson is worth more than LaRoche + Delcarmen.

Assuming Delcarmen is all it would have cost, which baseed on quotes and reports coming out of DC is not the case.
The adjustment factor is unknown, but what we do now is that, relative to his peers, LaRoche has been a better hitter this season than Lowell, a better baserunner than Lowell (no adjustments needed) and a better defender of his position than Lowell. He’s also younger and healthier than Lowell. It’s great to go and say the Sox made a bad move because they could have gotten someone better when you have no idea whether that’s true. It’s unprovable. The fact is the Sox gave up very little for better production on both sides of the ball at an area of need. I’m not going to be unhappy about that.

Just to be clear:
“relative to his peers” = NL hitters
If you buy into OPS+ you also have to buy into the NL being a tougher place to hit. Do you?
It’s unprovable.
Not quite. We’ll be able to look around at other moves that are made. If the Nationals move Johnson for a young reliever and minor league fodder, I think I’ll be justified. If not I won’t.
better production on both sides of the ball
That’s far from certain. I can assent that LaRoche isn’t worse than Lowell, but “better” is a stretch. After all, Lowell has a longer track record than LaRoche.

Does OPS+ take account the pitcher’s hitting? If so, it’s probably easier to get a higher OPS+ just because..
That said, this is a mostly cash deal, owed 3 mil. Another move in the cash-for-upside thing. (Smoltz, Penny)
Eh, at worst, he sucks and sits on the bench..

I thought Posnanski is free lance. So, still, who’s better than Neyer at ESPN? Or at a major daily?

That’s a great question, Lar.
From THT:
OPS measured against the league average, and adjusted for ballpark factors. An OPS+ over 100 is better than average, less than 100 is below average.
So, yes, it would seem that LaRoche gets his OPS+ advantage over Lowell by hitting in a league with pitchers.

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