Thursday, March 29, 2007

2007 Red Sox Outfield

So we now know that the Sox have decided to go with another arm instead of a bench OF who can actually field a position. I think this is a temporary situation, and I think Alex Ochoa agrees with me. I expect the Sox will look to move either (or both) Romero or Pineiro at some point in the coming months, although to be honest I would expect Lopez to draw the most interest based on his contract and effectiveness. If Pineiro pitches lights-out in April, then, well, his contract looks pretty good too, and he might move. Ironically, if Putz's arm is gone, Seattle would be a team who needs a closer. Reitsma is not that guy, IMO.

So, what are we looking at?

J.D. Drew: 2007 ZiPS Projection BA .266 | OBP .383 | SLG .452

Here's where projections can be insane. Varitek projects to hit as well as Drew, and I think we all know that is about as likely as Varitek changing his haircut/goatee combo. I liked the Drew signing when we made it, and I really like it now. It goes without saying that he could blow his testicles out in a freak ferris wheel accident and be gone all season, but he is a true talent that is exactly what this ballclub needed. I personally think his line will look more like .290 | .390 | .510.

Coco Crisp: 2007 ZiPS Projection BA .299 | OBP .352 | SLG .456

So, naturally, when you look at Crisp's projection, you think "huh?" but this was the guy they signed (at a pretty reasonable rate I might add). I mean, we all loved the idea of Andy Marte hitting 84 dingers a year, but regardless of your feelings about the trade, it was never in question that Crisp was a young athletic kid who was trending the right way (also, Marte can't hit off-speed stuff yet, which can be a problem). I think his batting eye needs to improve for him to reach this level, but there is no reason a healthy Crisp doesn't have the above line by the end of 2007. Of course, the phrase "healthy Crisp" seems oxymoronic at this point doesn't it?

Still, I know we will all be rooting for Coco, if only to force piece of shit non-journalist Dan Shaughnessy to eat crow after his latest hatchet job, which was focused on Coco. What is the common thread of the Shaughnessy hatchet job? The player won't talk to him. What a ginger clam.

Manny Ramirez: 2007 ZiPS Projections BA .299 | OBP .408 | SLG .600

Well, there are few players as easy to project as Manny. This is Manny with a more or less normalized BABIP, I suspect. The guy just hits. Defensively, the debate rages on - is Manny the worst fielder of all time, worth negative 20-plus runs over the course of a season? Is the Fenway Park left-field so twisted that all defensive metrics are crap with regard to playing it? Does it matter at all, as long as Manny shags extra flies during warmup and takes the occasional mid-game leak in the scoreboard? No.

Manny is Manny, and his flailing around the outfield allows Papi's knees to hold up as the DH, and this pretty much makes the whole thing work. Is he kind of nut-job? Sure, but he is a pretty lovable kook, and when his career is done, and CHB is putting the axe to someone ese, and some real journalist takes us back over Manny's career here, we will miss that crinkly-haired genius. If WMP (now known as WMPK) can't put it together, or we don't somehow acquire a Cabrera, an A-Rod, or a Pedro Alvarez in the draft, a Manny departure will be a crippler.

Wily Mo Pena: 2007 ZiPS Projections BA .276 | OBP .331 | SLG .483

Well, the great debate rages on. I am in the camp that the Arroyo for Pena trade was a fair risk-reward deal. We have no power in the system right now, none, that has played a full year of ball (well, maybe Mike James). Arroyo is a fine NL pitcher, and can eat innings, but was a pretty damn craptacular AL East pitcher. Based on what the FO knew then, I think it made sense.

Whatever, it's done. As a quick glance at the names above will tell you, we have a very injury-prone outfield, still, so Wily Mo should get his cuts in. I think we're going to see a drop in his BA, simply because his .411 BABIP (41% of the balls he made contact with were hits!) is just unsustainable for his level of ability. That's Ruthian territory. If Wily Mo gets his 400 ABs, and makes some improvements - and that is the thing I like about the Super Genius, he truly seems to be able to make adjustments - we'll consider 2007 a success.

Good article on projecting Wily Mo here at Baseball Prospectus. It's never good to be compared to Pete Incaviglia, especially now, but still; interesting reading.

5th Outfielder TBD:

One wants to believe Murphy and Moss are in their plans for the near future, but I think Ochoa takes the spot until the late summer. Those two kids are guys that can still benefit from some AAA seasoning. They know there is no immediate spot for them on this roster, and that tearing it up in Pawtucket is their best chance to get a ticket to somewhere they can start (like Florida or Colorado). Ochoa is a good defensive outfielder with a cannon for an arm, and given the Ziegfeld-ian talents we have out there in WMP(K) and Manny, that will be much appreciated in some close games.