No, I haven’t forgotten about my top five lists. This is actually my favorite part of blogging. And I still have two positions remaining after this: RF and C. And then of course I will come up with some kind of list with the top starters, maybe even the top five relievers after that–although I may stay away from relievers because it will be so difficult to do. Other than my Kevin Youkilis tragedy, I feel that I am doing pretty well with my lIsts, and the number five spot always seems to be the most debated.
On to the list…
- Manny Ramirez: I guess until Manny proves us that he cannot play great, then we must assume that he is great. Manny was a good hitter with the Red Sox IN 2008, but was having a year in which everyone realized that this wasn’t 2004 Manny anymore. Manny posted an OPS+ of 136, which is good, but was the second worst that he posted since 1994–when he played only 91 games at age 22. Ramirez was clearly having trouble with the harder pitching in the game, and then of course the fiasco that followed…Then out of nowhere, whether it was the weaker NL pitching, or another level of being motivated, Manny absolutely killed the ball for a few months. Posted an OPS+ of 219, and it rivaled some of the greatest stretches that I have ever seen as a fan. A .396 average over those 53 games. An incredible .743 slugging percentage. An unheard of 32% of his balls in play were line drives. 32%!!! Over the past 4 seasons, plus his 100 games with the Red Sox, the closest Manny has come to that is 24%. And we are talking about one of the greatest hitters to ever step into the box. Granted, it was a fairly small sample size, as 53 games isn’t 153 games. But it is still pretty remarkable.
- Matt Holiday: It truly is difficult for me to post what I think is such a question mark this high. After all, Holliday isn’t great away from Coors, although his splits have been becoming a bit more comparable, a bit less deceiving, it seems. As far as I have heard and researched, Holliday is a better baserunner than the next guy, and a better defender, which is really what separates him. And both Holliday and the next player will be making difficult transitions to the American League this season, meaning we will really be seeing what kind of players they are.
- Jason Bay: I know Jay Bay sucked in 2007. But in both 2006 and 2008 he was a very good player, maybe not a great player, but very good. Bay has a weak arm and doesn’t exactly play defense all that well. But Bay is a great hitter and has been for a while now. Bay has posted OPS+’s of 132 or greater in 4 of his five years in which he has earned enough playing time to matter. It is funny that some seem to be down on Bay. Pecota doesn’t love him this season, but still thinks he will be a pretty good player. And after seeing what Manny did with the Dodgers, and what Manny has done over his career, Red Sox fans seem to be weary of Jason Bay. Understand that he is NOT Manny. And he will probably hit between .270-.280. But Bay will slug .500 and get on base well above the league average. He isn’t Manny, but it could be much worse, definitely.
- Ryan Braun: Braun could move up after this season, but I cannot go any higher than this yet. And the players he would be passing aren’t exactly finished playing well. Braun is a very good hitter. His 2007 season was incredible in only 113 games, and Braun wasn’t quite as good in 2008. But the guy can swing the stick, posting OPS+’s of 153 and 128 in what is a very young career. I chose him over the next few guys (that ones that could fill slot number 5) because his flaws seem to be less detrimental to a team.
- Adam Dunn: The fifth spot is up for grabs. All Dunn can do well is hit, and hit he does. Gets on base a ton, and hits for lots of power. A simple description, I know. Dunn also hits very consistently, as everyone makes us aware of. But move any of the following names into this spot and I have no problem.
The “stuff your sorry’s in a sack, Mr.” section: Carl Crawford: Hit more. Pat Burrell: You could have been fifth I guess. Carlos Quentin: Continue to play well and you will take away the fifth spot. Alfonso Soriano: Could have been fifth too, I guess.
That fifth spot is not exactly set in stone. None of them are though, I guess. So place whichever player you wish in that last spot, as long as it isn’t too ridiculous.
- Bobby Abreu was found near the bottom of baseball’s bargain bin. And the Angels received someone who can actually take a few pitches. Keith Law explains it well, if you wish to review what he wrote. The thing about Abreu is that he doesn’t fit in with the Angels philosophy, really at all, other than hitting for average. Abreu is patient, something the Angels sorely lack. Abreu is a poor defender, something the Angels shy away from. If he DH’s, as Fangraphs has pointed out, then the team will be better off. But Law also makes another great point, about how if he does spell Vlad in right, how Vlad may swing the bat better with a little less time in the field, and a little more time slotted int he DH spot. But the Angels took a step in the right direction. They don’t have to have nine guys who can see close to 4 pitches per AB, but having a few of those guys is a good thing. Abreu may not fit in well, but he makes the team better.
- I don’t mean to link to Keith “The KLAW” Law all the time, but he is my “go to” analyst. My Lebron James in these situations. And I like to link to whomever’s articles I have read beforehand, giving them credit in case anything has built a home in my subconscious. Anyway, Law’s take. But how do I feel? Similar to he does. Adam Dunn makes the Nationals better, maybe puts a few fans in the seats who want to see a few 480-foot home runs. It isn’t a bad signing. Dunn is a pretty good player. But the team still isn’t even close to competing for a playoff spot. And it is highly unlikely that Dunn will be there when they are competitive, unless they re-sign him when his contract is up.
According to Mike, via my blog’s comment section, the Red Sox have signed Takashi Saito. Hadn’t been aware of that, and actually had to do a little more research then I normally do just to find confirmation. Another low risk, high reward signing…and I like it. I feel that I must defend my position on these signings though, as they do not seem like much to the naked eye, or casual fan, or whatever. But I definitely believe that these moves collectively, are good moves. Saito in three seasons in the Majors, has 245 K’s in 189 innings pitched, versus only 52 walks. Saito is going to be 39, so maybe it is better to look a little more at last season, which was his worst, but he was still pretty good, and note as well that he too, is coming off an injury. No one is asking him to step in and shut down 45 games this season, they are simply hoping that Saito can give some effective innings out of the pen.
The overall age of the team may be going up, yet they aren’t getting any older in their long term plans. The Red Sox brought in four players, on one year deals, for only money, and no draft picks. What they get out of these players is in question. But even if they all fail, and give the team little to nothing, then 2010 rolls around and all of them are gone. That’s the thing, it isn’t always about the money, it is a lot of times, about the years. Especially when dealing with players in there late thirties. This is why I believe it was a mistake to not offer arbitration to Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, and Bobby Abreu. And those three names came from the mouth of Keith Law, but I agreed before and after I read what he said (Just nice to have “experts” agree I guess, because if I am the only one in the world that believes something, it may not be right 🙂 .
Only 2 of 24 players accepted arbitration this season, and each one of those guys were probably going to seek something with a longer commitment then what they would have received with one year of arbitration, had they accepted. And look at the moves since then: Wouldn’t Philly have been much better off with Burrell for one year rather than the aging Ibanez for three? And had Burrell left, a draft pick would have been compensation. Don’t the Diamondbacks need Adam Dunn’s bat for 2009? Yes, indeed, they do. And if Dunn left, the Diamondbacks receive a draft pick. Bobby Abreu, maybe a little different, because the Yankees didn’t need him, but rather than offsetting the draft pick that they lost, they lost each of their first three picks next season. And the likelihood that any one of them would have accepted wasn’t all that high. And if any one of them actually did accept, each orgainzation would have been retaining an above average player.
The point is that a one year deal is very low risk. So bringing in four older, injury prone players (or ones coming off injury), and adding to the depth in the clubhouse is wise. The Red Sox want to rely on pitching from within, and pitching from outside the organization, on short term contracts, because signing a pitcher long term is so risky (especially when they have their core). They probably would have little problem locking up a position player long term if A) the player is good-great B) there is not an appealing solution from within. Because as we know, the likelihood that a position player blows something out and is finished for a few years, isn’t as likely.
In sum, the Red Sox are making low risk moves to give themselves a better chance in an incredibly tough division.
NFL Divisional Playoff Picks:
Tennessee 19 Baltimore 16
Carolina 31 Arizona 20
Steelers 24 Chargers 19