Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Never Ending Outfield Part 1

Theo Epstein is losing his mind. That’s right, I said it. I never thought it could happen but I am beginning to lose faith in the Boy Wonder.

The reason: the cast of thousands that would appear to be the Red Sox outfield this year.

As far as I can tell (and this includes players not signed but not claimed by other teams) the Sox have the following players at or around the Major League level:

Jacoby Ellsbury
Mike Cameron
Jeremy Hermida
J.D Drew
Rocco Baldelli
Joey Gathright
Brian Anderson
Josh Reddick

This is before we get to the looming spectre of Jason Bay which has, well prior to the admittedly GREAT signing of John Lackey, dominated coverage of the Sox at the Winter Meetings.

Jason Bay needs to wake up and smell what he and his agent are shovelling. All this talk of mammoth contracts elsewhere is simply wishful thinking for one simple reason: Jason Bay is not THAT good.

Sure the guy raked last year and has put up extremely respectable power and RBI totals throughout his career, but Bay is asking for the sort of money elite players get, the sort of player who could fit into any lineup anywhere money. Bay is not that player. He had the luxury of being the star player in Pittsburgh and was able to cut his teeth and develop as a big leaguer without any of the pressure that comes from playing for a team that actually expects to win. In Boston Bay’s mediocre average, pull-happy swing is flattered HUGELY by the Green Monster. Essentially Bay (who I’d never thought was a big money-grabbing type of player) wants Matt Holliday money, and if that’s the case then why on earth are the Sox not just biting the financial bullet and spending that sort of money on getting Matt Holliday, the superior player.

I also cannot for the life of me work out why the Sox have signed Mike Cameron. Why on earth would we want to pick up another mediocre bat/good defence CF and then platoon him in LF with Hermida (assuming of course, that Bay doesn’t re-sign)? Added to that is the fact that Cameron is known to have violated MLB's substance policy. That’s not innuendo or hearsay, that guy was suspended for it. After the fiasco with David Ortiz last year and the fall-out from Manny’s very high-profile suspension, you would have thought that last thing the Red Sox would want to do is associate themselves with another guy tainted with the steroid, or in Cameron's case, stimulant brush. I certainly hope that getting this guy is part of some higher Epstein plan to lure Adrian Gonzalez to Fenway as I cannot see myself ever rooting for Cameron in a Red Sox jersey. He is a journeyman outfielder at best and the disruption finding somewhere to put him in the OF in 2010 is more trouble that he is worth.

J.D Drew is like the weather, there is simply no point in either praising or complaining about it, it will just do what its going to do regardless. Drew will play 150 or so games, hit .270 16-20HR 65-75RBI, get paid extremely well for doing so, blah blah blah.

Not much to say about Reddick and Anderson either. If Anderson resigns he is a AAAA type guy and won’t be missed much. Reddick has potential but stunk up Fenway Park as a surprise call up last year and belongs back in AA/AAA for another year.

The only remaining point of contention concerns our 4th outfielder. Certainly at this point it would seem that Hermida is going to take this role, presumably alongside Cameron if Bay returns. I’ve no problem with Hermida, always liked the guy when he was coming up with the Marlins and if he can show some of the promise he once had he can’t help to make the team better and could be productive at DH occasionally.

Unfortunately this appears to leave my favourite Red Sox player, Rocco Baldelli, without a job come April. While I know that it doesn’t make any baseball sense to keep a guy on the big league roster who is incapable of playing back to back games, I will be sorry to see Rocco leave and certainly hope that he gets a shot at staying in the big leagues somewhere else. After all this is a guy who, I believe, we would be talking about as the equivalent of Jason Bay and Matt Holliday had he not fallen ill. What’s more Baldelli is a New England guy and everyone I talked to in Boston this October loves the guy.

Still, dollars and cents abide.

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