Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Where have you gone Joey Gathright, our nation turns its lonely heart to you...

With the signings of Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron there has, not surprisingly, been an outpouring of dissention from ‘Red Sox Nation’. Of course, this is the Red Sox and doubtless their fans (and I count myself as one of these pitiable people) would have found someway to complain even if we had signed Pujols and Holliday rather than Beltre and Cameron.

I must admit I’m sceptical about the two acquisitions. While I am completely sold on the defensive prowess they bring to the team, I’m less convinced of their offensive value.

While I’m not one of those Sox fans who feels that all that was wrong with the 2009 team can be solved with a ‘big bat’. Upgrading the defence is clearly a priority. Nevertheless, I’m not convinced that, combining both their offensive and defensive value, Cameron and Beltre represent a significant upgrade.

Beltre, one could argue, has 40HR 120RBI potential. After all he did have that stellar 2004 season upon which his subsequent reputation (and salary) have been based. The trouble is he has never gotten close to those numbers again. Frankly, Beltre’s 2004 reminds me heavily of Brady Anderson.

My point is therefore is, does Beltre, who’s offensive production is likely to be around 25 HR 75RBI represent a clear upgrade over Mike Lowell? I don’t think he does.

Lowell is a tricky case. He was dogged by injuries the past two years but I can still remember the chants of ‘MVP’ that echoed around Fenway at the close of the 2007 regular season.

The way the Sox front office has treated Lowell this off-season has been shoddy, even in a sporting environment where mercenary players are the norm. Frankly the guy should be given the opportunity to make the starting 3B job his. Failing that, what is the worst that could happen? Youk moves to 3B, V-Mart spends time at C and 1B. We could call up Lars Anderson..... Plus we’ve picked up Bill Hall on the cheap....

Cameron is more cut and dry a bad idea than Beltre. At least with Beltre one can make the (very sound) argument that he is the best defensive 3B in the game today. No-one is quite as good at manning the hot corner than Adrian. While I doubt bringing him in represents a significant upgrade on a (healthy) Lowell, I don’t deny that it is an upgrade. My concern is that, while saving runs with our fantastic rotation and improved defence is great, we will also need to score some.

Cameron is a CF. The difference between good and bad defence in the outfield is far less noticeable in the OF than the IF. This is why guys like Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter are able to win gold gloves year in year out with seemingly now attention paying to how well they actually perform. Hell, Jacoby Ellsbury had everyone fooled into thinking he was defensively excellent until very recently.

Nevertheless, having Cameron at CF and shifting the web-gem king (and run prevention pauper) Jacoby Ellsbury to LF does represent a significant upgrade on Bay and Ellsbury defensively.

The trouble with Cameron is that he stinks offensively. He hit just .250 last year in Milwaukee (this is around his career average) and struck out A TON! Cameron is in the ten 10 ALL-TIME in career strikeouts. Has Theo Epstein completely abandoned his sabremetric creed?

Anyway, those are my views on the new acquisitions. I shall cheer them roundly when they step out onto the field at Fenway, but still I cannot help but think we could have, should have done better.

P.S. What has happened to Joey Gathright? He impressed me for the Sox last season.

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