2010 Outlook – New Additions

February 22, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized 

Is it just me or do you feel like the Red Sox front office should be selling used cars? After a winter where we witnessed a halfhearted attempt to re-sign Jason Bay (and the discovery of a knee injury that Bay himself still doesn’t know about) and John Henry actually whining about not being able to compete with Yankee money, we watched the Red Sox perpetrate the greatest fraud on Hub fandom since Danny Cater for Sparky Lyle. When all the dust settled, we were enlightened with the latest statistical paradigm: defensive and pitching wins. What a revelation. Based on this seismic shift away from the previous blind allegiance to OBP and OPS, the Olde Towne Team has been reconstituted with the following additions:

Centerfield:
The defense was markedly improved with the signing of 37 year old Mike Cameron. He was so highly valued in conventional baseball circles that he will begin 2010 with his fifth different club in the last 8 years. The Sox brass contend that his CF defense will far outweigh his .250 lifetime batting average and 150 K’s/year. Jacoby Ellsbury will shift to LF which will of course further improve the defense.

Shortstop:
With the acquisition of another journeyman, they have proffered their latest entry in the SS carousel in the person of Marco Scutaro. For those who don’t know, Scutaro is a 35 year old utility infielder who was the starting SS for a bad Blue Jay team last season. Prior to that, he failed to consistently crack the starting lineup for the Mets or the A’s. When he did play, it was usually at second or third base. Apparently only the Red Sox have the necessary analytical tools to classify him as a “plus” defender at SS. Anyone else getting that Julio Lugo feeling yet? The reality is that Scutaro is quite similar to old friend Alex Cora. In fact they are even the same age!

Third Base:
Finally, after a failed attempt to pay Mike Lowell to play for the Texas Rangers (see Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo to understand the concept), they struck gold with Adrian Beltre. For those who don’t recall, Beltre had a career year in 2004 at the peak of the steroid era (draw your own conclusions) bashing 48 HR’s and knocking in 121 for the Dodgers. He subsequently signed a lucrative free agent deal with Seattle where he put up decent offensive numbers (~20 HR’s and 80 RBI per season) and plays some of the best 3B defense in the game. It should be noted that Mike Lowell put up similar offensive numbers over the same period. The main problem with this signing is that the Red Sox now have $21.5 million invested in third basemen for the 2010 campaign. The health of Lowell’s hip and thumb are still unknown, and much has been made of his lack of mobility defensively. One still has to question the real value of a third baseman with great range. If healthy, Lowell does not have a position on this team and has virtually no trade value. This is another prime example where a slightly above average player (Beltre) was over-valued by the front office (see J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo).

It is difficult to feel optimistic about this club’s offense in 2010. Here is a quick breakdown compared with 2009:

C: a full season of Victor Martinez is a clear upgrade over the Varitek/Martinez duo of last season.
1B: no changes here. Youkilis has matured into a run producer and middle of the lineup anchor.
2B: no change. Hopefully Pedroia can settle somewhere between his 2008 and 2009 numbers.
3B: no change. Unlikely that Beltre’s production will exceed that of Lowell.
SS: no change. If anything there could be a regression as Scutaro is an unproven offensive producer.
LF: Ellsbury does many things well, but he can’t come close to Bay’s numbers.
CF: Cameron is an offensive downgrade.
RF: no change. Who knows from one year to the next what we’ll get from Drew beyond a minimum of 30 DNP’s due to injury.
DH: Ortiz is a big question mark. After a dismal first 2 months of 2009, he seemed to be much luck his old self.

This group will surely produce fewer runs than 2009. It’s hard to believe that the best defense in the history of the game could adequately compensate for this.

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