General Red Sox

Warm Stove

It's been a while since I've found the time to post here — and let's face it, following baseball after a Yankees World Series win isn't all that fun. Tomorrow, the missus and I will head to the hospital to welcome the arrival of Grace-SF, so I don't anticipate being around much in the near future.

Preliminaries out of the way, the Sox have been slightly active in the subsequent days. Here's a rundown:

  • Trade Hunter Jones and Abe Alvarez for Jeremy Hermida. Is Hermida the next David Ortiz or Carlos Pena? The Sox seem to have good luck with scrap-heap, salary-dump acquisitions like this. Of course it seems likely that, if he does eventually fulfill his promise, Hermida could wind up more Pena than Ortiz — failing to get enough playing time in Boston only to break out elsewhere. He'll be just 26 next year, and he was acquired for next to nothing. A solid move. Fun trivia: Before the Sox landed Jason Bay, Hermida's was the name being tossed around in the three-way trade rumors. Talk about falling stock.
  • Decline $6 million option on Alex Gonzalez. A no-brainer of a move. Gonzo provides adequate defense, but it's not stellar like everyone seems to imagine, and his bat is wholly inadequate. Bringing him back wouldn't be a bad idea, but not at that price, and the best-case scenario is that Jed Lowrie's wrist is finally healed, and Gonzalez takes the role he really should have at this point: a sure-handed backup. It's disappointing that the Sox and Brewers couldn't reach an agreement on J.J. Hardy though.
  • Sign Tim Wakefield to a two-year deal. As if Wakefield's $4 million recurring contract wasn't a good enough deal for the Sox, they came back and gave him two guaranteed years that cost even less (presuming his annual DL trip). Wakefield, of course, wants to win his 18 games to set the team victories record. He's won fewer than nine games in a season just once since he was a reliever in the early 2000s (that was the 2006 season, when the Sox seemed incapable of scoring runs for him). 
  • Decline $5 million option on Jason Varitek. Tek has activated his $3 million option, making him quite the well-compensated backup catcher in his likely final season as a baseball player. Now that it's firmly established that Varitek will not be starting 100 games, it just doesn't seem so bad that he'll return.
  • Reportedly offer four years, $60 million to Jason Bay. This is really a fascinating case, given the presence of J.D. Drew and his $14 million annual salary on the roster. Drew and Bay arguably provide similar offensive production, but Bay's comes via the sexier home run/RBI counting stats that seem to be valued more highly in the free agent market. Meanwhile, Drew's defense is much better, and the market for outfielders generally is worse than it was when Drew signed his deal, so by all objective measures Bay should be paid less than Drew. Yet it's virtually certain that Bay will receive more, thanks to the Sox' needs and the paucity of elite bats in left field this offseason. FYI, Bay was worth 3.5 WAR in 2009 and 6.5 WAR since 2007. Drew was worth 4.7 WAR last year and 10.1 WAR since 2007. 

12 replies on “Warm Stove”

good to see wake coming back…
i agree that the bay/drew case is an interesting one…2 stats that i know are near and dear to theo [ops and runs scored] are interesting comparisons: the career ops and ops+ of both players are virtually identical…bay does have an edge in runs scored [103 to 84 in 2009], mostly a direct result of those sexy homeruns, though i’m not sure why runs scored are important, since like rbi’s, scoring runs, with the exception of homers, is a partly a function of somebody else on the team doing something not within your direct control…humor me for a minute as someone who still believes rbi are an indicator of “something” good happening, the disparity of rbi [119 to 68 in 2009] is dramatic…of course that assumes they had the same number of chances…perhaps bay cleared the bases before drew came up to bat, i don’t know…drew has a decided edge in defense as you pointed out, but bay has at least a perceived edge in durability…in other words, i’m not sure i agree that bay should be paid “less than” drew…

I’ve been refreshing YFSF for the last week waiting for a Paul post on the hot stove, and am happy to hear the reason you were delayed. Congrats, Paul!
I like the Hermida deal, but I doubt he’ll see much improvement if he’s only a backup. If we fail to get Bay or Holliday then he’ll do in a pinch. Lots of rumors about the Sox getting Matsui too.
I’d like to see the Sox make a run at Lackey, personally. Especially if we don’t get Bay or Holliday.
And dc, Bay mainly has more runs scored because he had about 100 more plate appearances than Drew.

“…And dc, Bay mainly has more runs scored because he had about 100 more plate appearances than Drew….”
ath, i mentioned the homer disparity only because they do count as a run scored and are directly controlled by the guy hitting the homers…seems worth noting…and plate appearances is why i mentioned the durability factor…if what’s important offensively is for the most part “equal”, doesn’t the number of chances [in this case plate appearances], have some value?…

“…if what’s important offensively is for the most part “equal”…”
let me clarify…obviously i mean equal for ops and ops+…they are decidedly unequal elsewhere, and that’s where games played/plate appearances/opportunities have a direct effect on the counting stats…i happen to think that has some value…ironically, runs scored is a counting stat, but is apparently more highly valued than the others, so i threw it out there for the sake of comparison…is the difference enough to close the defensive gap between the 2 guys?…i don’t know…i just think they’re pretty close, that’s all, when you add up all the stuff that’s supposed to be important, and that’s with throwing hr and rbi “counts” out the window…if you include bay’s knack for making other guys score [as in rbi’s], you get a bigger discrepancy that’s only partly explained by his 100 more plate appearances…my disagreement is with the notion that bay should get less money than drew…not sure he’ll see it that way either…

Allow me to add a little beyond the usual sniping over RBI because I don’t think anyone would deny the value of getting a hit with a runner in scoring position and getting that runner across the plate. The question is more how useful a counting stat measuring those occurrences is when it is so dependent on other factors beyond the hitter. As I’ve said, give me a hitter with a .900 OPS and 75 RBI than one with an .850 OPS and 100 RBI. From any point on, the hitter with a .900 OPS is more likely to drive in more runs. Runs are similar, but unlike RBI, which are awarded for making outs when a runner happens to be at third, runs require the person scoring them to have done the single most important thing in baseball: Not make an out.
Anyway, let’s move away from counting stats.
In 2009, Bay drove in 19 percent of the 445 runners that were on base ahead of him (not necessarily with an RBI, so double plays and errors count in this stat), above his career average and well above the 14 percent MLB average.
In 2009, Drew drove in exactly the average of his baserunners, 14 percent. For his career, Drew is at 15 percent, while Bay is at 16 percent. The difference, though, is the number of baserunners: Drew had just 318 runners on base when he came to the plate. Give him Bay’s 445 and add in the 24 times he drove himself in via home run, and Drew would have had 86 RBI in 2009. Not as good as Bay, certainly, but much better than the 68 his detractors have fixated on.
On runs, there are ways of looking at this, too.
In 2009, Drew scored a run 32 percent of the time he reached base, slightly above the MLB average of 31 percent and a little below his career average of 34 percent. He took the extra base on a hit (two bases on a single, three on a double) 40 percent of the time, also slightly above average but below his career norms.
Bay also scored a run 32 percent of the time he reached base, and he historically has matched that MLB average of 31 percent. This despite nearly setting a career high by taking the extra base 44 percent of the time.
So Bay was truthfully better at driving in runners this year while he and Drew were about even in their ability to score runs once they reached base. But I’m not arguing Drew was better with the bat, just that it’s so close — and that on defense, Drew is so many times better — it will be interesting to see how this plays out, given the differences in their respective styles and given the Sox’ penchant for settling on and sticking to what they determine is the correct value for a player.

thanks for expanding on your points paul, but i think using the percentages of opportunities executed successfully masks the point that drew had fewer opportunities: games and plate appearances…that’s the durability issue…that, and using percentages assumes that he would have achieved that exact proportion of success in those additional hypothetical opportunities…possible, probable, but not a given…i’d call those “missed opportunities”, due to injury, need for rest, platoon, whatever, that devalue a player…i’m not trying to be difficult [i even tabled the rbi argument for the moment], i just didn’t think it was cut and dried that bay is worth less than drew…except for ops, which was a dead heat, bay’s real offensive output was better than drew’s no matter how you slice it, with the defensive nod solidly in drew’s corner…theo’s initial offer to bay was for a little more money than drew’s getting, so that’s a little confusing given that theo’s line of thinking is probably closer to yours than it is mine…but time will tell what he gets in the end…
oh, by the way…more important than this baseball stuff…say hi to grace…i’m happy for you and the mrs….

dc hits it right on the head – Drew simply doesn’t play enough games to be as valuable as his supporters think he is.
Yes, if he played FULL SEASONS, he would be a fantastic player. Unfortunately, he doesn’t, never will, and that’s what truly hurts his value, and why people never mention him in the ‘outfield elite’. And rightfully so.

WAR is problematic in that it relies upon extremely unreliable UZR data for defensive statistics. It also, in my opinion, weighs far too heavily defensive contributions. Unless you really believe Brett Gardner was more valuable than Jacoby Ellsbury this year, and as valuable as Victor Martinez (in his time with the Red Sox).
The statistic you really should use, at least for offensive production, is VORP. That really shows how much Drew drops in value due to his consistent lack of playing time.
In comparison to Bay, they are of similar value. Bay is truly a terrible LFer, while Drew is truly a good, sometimes very good RFer, but Bay has just as much patience as Drew, with more power. Bay also consistently plays entire seasons, while Drew simply doesn’t.
I can see Theo valuing Bay at $15 million while valuing Drew at $14 million. I don’t think he is shortsighted enough to recognize Drew’s health-related shortcomings. I can also see Theo letting Bay walk in favor of Holliday, a player who simply outclasses Bay, as that is what I would do in his situation.
I don’t want the Yankees to go anywhere near Bay. Aside from the whole giving their first-rounder to the Sox, he already makes terrible contact, and as his bat continues to slow, he will quickly drop off in value, especially as he is forced to move to DH. Richie Sexson is a very scary and real comparable to Bay.

Congrats, Paul.
And good choice on the name. My 22-month-old is named Charlotte Grace.

I fear the Sox will overpay for Bay, and I think he’s a guy who could thrive as A piece rather than THE piece. I’m not sold on him. Weak defensively, though not Manny-esque.

Perhaps the off days have warped me and I’m not sharp, but with apologies to Peter King …
I’d think I’d rather the Sox let Bay walk rather than overpay for him, and then position themselves for 2011 where there will be more available on the FA market. I hate to say this but I think I think that given the Sox needs at SS now, 3B or 1B in 2011, DH and LF now, in the rotation in 2011 when Beckett becomes an FA, that given what’s available now, the Sox might be better off getting into position for 2011. I think there’s more potential to waste money than spend wisely (notice I didn’t say “get good value”) in this offseason, unless they can land Adrian Gonzalez, Halladay, King Felix or anyone else who can make the team notably better, especially is the FO continues to be a bunch of cheap-asses.

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