Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Runs are runs.

John Lackey isn't the sexy name you'd like to hear connected with the phrase "is finalizing a deal with the Red Sox." You'd rather it were Roy Halliday, or Albert Pujols (ha!), or . . . you know, somebody big.

But 175 innings of pitching that's 15 - 20% better than average -- which is what you can expect from Lackey -- is nothing to be sneered at, especially given the rotation the Sox started with.

If we sign Mike Cameron to play left and/or Adrian Beltre to play third, the story will be much the same. I'd hate to overpay for either of those guys (even though Cameron has been a sentimental favorite of mine for many years), but if we understand that they represent adequate bats with super gloves and pay accordingly, we'll be fine.

Here's the thing: runs are runs, and it counts just as much to keep a run off the board for the opponent as it does to tally a run for the good guys. Impact bats are few and far between -- if not completely absent -- in the current free-agent market, so there's no way the Sox can replicate the Scary Monsters lineup of 2004 - 2007. It makes sense, in that setting, to push the run differential in the right direction using the other levers available.

You think?


(Image source.)


Aaron Strout said...

Tim - I'm with you on this one. It will hurt to lose both Lowell AND Bay's bats but they get 70% of Bay's offensive production from Cameron (about 10 HRs less and BA that's 10-15 points lower than Bay). You get some of Lowell's production back from Scutaro by upgrading at SS. If the Sox get Adrian Gonzalez to play 1st and shift Youk over to 3rd, then they actually get net upgrades at short and third with 10 more HRs at 1B. Then you have Lackey representing a net upgrade in the starting rotation which ultimately makes the rest of the starting rotation and the bullpen, then you start shaving 1/4 to a 1/2 run off per game.

The real benefits to going the Lackey/Cameron route vs. landing Halladay (whom you know I'm fond of) or Holliday is that the Sox don't have to overpay with either prospects OR cash. With Lackey, we got him for AJ Burnett money. Okay, that might be a little rich but they didn't lose any prospects. Cameron is coming in for a reasonable $7.7M/year (also fair). This saves prospects and money to pull off a trade like the Adrian Gonzalez deal should they choose to go that route.

Derek Peplau said...

A couple other things to think about: will Cameron be an everyday player? Only vs. lefties? There isn't the greatest need in the world for a stellar defensive star to play left at Fenway (Manny, anyone?). Lackey has missed the first six weeks of the last two seasons and the five year deal for a pitcher always makes me nervous.

I guess the notion of this being the Runnin' Red Sox is a foreign concept. The philosophy has always been with this team: get man with big bat, he hit ball over wall. That they appear to be adopting a philosophy of run PREVENTION as opposed to out-slugging their opponents (to this degree) will be interesting to see if they can pull off.

I liked Bay as a player and always hate to lose a good character guy like that. Hopefully the methuselan Cameron will be durable for his tenure here in Boston and many potential gappers will find his glove.

Our nemeses 200 miles to the south still have a murderers row lineup. If we truly are going the small-ball route it's going to take some getting used to. Adam Cohen wondered yesterday whether this signing would help motivate Dice-K. That to me would make this signing a slam dunk if he could help Matsuzaka unlock the potential the braintrust on Yawkey Way clearly saw in him.