Thursday, December 07, 2006

OPTIONS AND OPINIONS

Well, at least someone other than me likes the Red Sox signing of J.D. Drew. Going by the numbers (which convinced me, see my blog posted yesterday for details), this deal looks good to Joe Sheehan, the big brain over at Baseball Prospectus. Ripped and second-guessed by every talking-head and writer in the greater Boston area before the deal even went down (we coulda had Johnny Damon for less last year!), Sheehan offers a breath of fresh air and detachment desperately needed to be seen. Sorry, the page is subscription only, so I will not waste time with a link, but here is the gist of it:

December 6, 2006 - Prospectus Today: Dominoes Start to Fall. by Joe Sheehan
A very quiet trip to Orlando got loud Tuesday, as the Red Sox landed the last remaining impact hitter, and did so for a price that makes him perhaps the best signing of the offseason.


Hal B: Repeat after me: BEST SIGNING OF THE OFFSEASON!!!
J.D. Drew agreed to a five-year, $70-million contract with the Sox, effectively making his decision to opt out of his Dodger contract worth an additional $37 million to him.

HB: Drew, rather than spend the next couple of years watching Nomar
tongue-wrestle another man, I mean Mia Hamm, in the Los Angeles clubhouse while Grady Little waxes poetic about frog rear-ends, decided to test the waters of the greatest free-agent off-season feeding frenzy in the history of Major League Baseball.
Despite Drew’s package of OBP, power and defense, he didn’t inspire the feverish bidding that players such as Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano did this offseason.
HB: Let me say, first, that Soriano and Lee are flawed players who fell
into a right-place/right-time scenario. Lee will eat himself out of
Houston and Soriano strikes out way too much, does not walk enough resulting in a low OBP and has enough defensive liabilities that I expect ESPN will be looping non-stop by August Soriano tangled in the vine at Wrigley. Other than that, feel free to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at these two.
Drew carries a number of labels, the most damning two being "apathetic" and "fragile." The data supports the latter to an extent; Drew's 146 games last year were a personal single-season career high, and he’s alternated seasons of fewer than 110 and and greater than 130 games played since 1999. There's no one reason; he was platooned some early in his career (notably in 1999), and he's suffered two traumatic injuries, one in 2001, the other in 2005, each the result of being hit by a pitch. Focus on that last part for a second.
HB: Seriously, focus on that last part: the result of being hit by a pitch. What, is it his fault bones break when a 90+ MPH force impacts them?
Drew's raw games played totals are unimpressive, but in only one of the last six seasons can he be said to have been injury-prone in the sense of plagued by multiple problems. On July 3, 2005, Drew was plunked on the left wrist by Brad Halsey, suffering a break that cost him most of the second half. The injury was an eerie reminder of what happened in 2001, when a pitch by David Wells broke Drew's right hand. That fracture cost him six weeks of playing time, and also shelved an MVP-caliber performance.
HB: So when you listen to Glenn Ordway or some other buffoon mouth-off about J.D. Drew and his injury history without knowing what they are yelling about, remember that the Sox also have the option to let Drew take a day off and DH. Barring bad luck, he should play close to 150 games.
This is not to say that Drew is Miguel Tejada less a break or two.

HB: You know, Ol' Miggy Tejada, the only guy with any kind of extremely remote outside chance to even come close to joining Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripkin in the 2k consecutive games club.

In the years he doesn't put his hands in front of a pitched ball, he deals with enough leg injuries and shoulder owies to make him a 140-game player. But much of his reputation stems from the raw games totals, and a closer examination shows that his missed time is as much a produce of ill fortune as inherent fragility.

HB: Everyone in Red Sox Nation merely need knock-on-wood in regards to J.D. Drew this season and the roll of the dice will go in his favor this
year.
Now, PECOTA doesn't see this, and projects Drew poorly, but I think he can be expected to play in 135-145 games, perhaps more with the DH as an option.
HB: I have no desire to get into PECOTA for the next twenty minutes, so
just know that it is a way of projecting future performance based on a bazillion variables.

If he plays that often, he’ll be a seven-win player and this contract will be a very, very good one for the Sox.

HB: Being a seven win player means that his value over the MLB average
player at his position equals seven extra wins. Let me see, Trot Nixon was a bit below average last year, and how many games behind the Yankees did the Sox finish? Hmm.
Neither Lee nor Soriano are as good a bet to perform at a star level, and both players required longer commitments for a higher average annual value.

HB: Theo is still smarter. IN THEO WE TRUST!

If signing Drew is a clear win for the Sox, it's less clear what the outlay of cash for his services may mean for the other situations facing the team. With Drew, Coco Crisp, and Wily Mo Pena, does Manny Ramirez look more tradable? Keep in mind that Crisp and Pena have extensive injury histories of their own, although like Drew, the ones they've endured have been traumatic rather than chronic. Is it unrealistic to expect the Sox to keep Pena in an extra-outfielder role, even though these four players may only be available simultaneously in a quarter of the scheduled games? Can Pena play some first base to alleviate the logjam? Or does this signing herald the end of Manny Ramirez’s time in Boston? As someone who has long insisted that Ramirez would stay with the Sox, I have to admit the Drew pickup makes me consider the alternative for the first time.

HB: Nahh, the Sox will have a great outfield/DH/1B combo with Wily Mo filling in as some kind of super-sub at all three outfield spots and 1B/DH. Having the option to give guys the day off once in a while is a good thing. Remember, Terry Francona likes to play around with the line-up and keep everyone fresh all season long.

Anyway, the article goes on, but that is the really relevant stuff as long as we Red Sox fans are concerned. Like I said, considering all the negative junk written and spoken about the deal before it even went down, it is nice to see a non-biased view in support of what I believe is a good deal for the Red Sox.

FullPressCoverage.com: New England Patriots’ Top 2019 NFL Draft Picks Show Evolution on Both Sides of the Ball

The New England Patriots may have tipped their hand with their first two 2019 NFL Draft picks. Choosing a bigger, more aggressive outside-...