Cameron Delivers Titanic Blow to Bay, Holliday

December 15, 2009

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Red Sox sign Mike Cameron, John Lackey

The Red Sox snuck one past me yesterday by signing Mike Cameron to patrol their outfield.  I had been under the assumption that the Red Sox would sign either Jason Bay or Matt Holliday to patrol left field, and was a bit stunned to hear of the signing.  Cameron is a fine defensive player (a three time gold glove winner), but is a big step down from Bay or Holliday offensively. 

Cameron, who will turn 37 in January, is also considerably older than Holliday (who will be 30 in January) or Bay (32 in September).  Players tend to lose a step as they age, and their offensive skills tend to erode.  So it is pretty likely (almost a certainty) that the Red Sox will get less offense from Cameron than they would from Bay or Holliday.  Cameron is a better defender, although defensive range is less important in Fenway Park than in other ballparks because the left field wall is very shallow.  The ability to gauge where balls will ricochet off the 37 foot high Green Monster is more important than foot speed.

On the flip side, the two year deal, worth a total of $15.5 million, is a lot less money than Bay or Holliday will command (easily twice that much, and for five or more years.)  The Red Sox may have simply decided that it would be more cost effective to upgrade a corner infield sport (with either 3B Adrian Beltre or 1b Adrian Gonzalez).  Gonzalez has come into the spotlight a bit in recent years, but Mr. Eyebrows still doesn’t get the respect he deserves.  His raw numbers (3 straight 30+ homer season, 40 homers and a .958 OPS in 2009) are impressive.  When you stop to think that he plays in a park (Petco) that greatly depresses offense, the numbers are even more amazing.  Put him in Fenway, and he’ll win a couple of MVP awards.

The signing is bad news for Bay and Holliday, as it takes a rich suitor off the table. Bay and Holliday will certainly get some serious coin in their deals, but the Cameron deal may end up costing them a couple of million dollars per year. 

The Red Sox also shored up their rotation by signing right handed starting pitcher John Lackey.  This move makes sense on a number of levels.  Other than the cash given to Lackey ($85 million over five years), the marginal acquisition cost was merely a second round pick.  The Red Sox had signed Marco Scutaro (another type A free agent) earlier in the offseason, and were thus bound to lose their 2010 1st round pick.  Signing Lackey merely means that their 2010 first rounder will go to Anaheim as compensation for losing Lackey, while reducing Oakland’s compensation for Scutaro to a 2nd rounder.  Additionally, taking Lackey away from the Angels makes it a bit easier for Boston to get past the Angels, if they were to face them in the playoffs.  While Lackey isn’t as flashy as some of the other top pitchers, he’s definitely an ace-caliber guy.

Phillies Acquire Ace, Trade Away Ace

The Phillies made waves by finally ending Roy Halladay’s long twist in the wind by acquiring Doc from the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Phillies then turned around and traded their existing ace, Cliff Lee, to the Seattle Mariners.  Prospects were the counterweight in both trades.  Halladay is a year older than Lee, but has been a more consistent performer over the course of their careers.  Additionally, Halladay is righthanded (Lee was a lefty), allowing the Phillies to pair him with Cole Hamels for a righty/lefty combination at the top of their rotation.  While the Phillies were able to neutralize teams that were heavily left handed (the Rockies in the NLDS for example) because of the lefty-dominant rotation, having a balance of righty/lefty makes them a bit less susceptible to teams that lean heavily one way or the other.

Kosmo’s Ramblings

November 22, 2009

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So, what’s up in Kosmo’s world?

I avoided the ladder

I encountered one of my more interesting driving experiences this week.  As I was driving into work, an extension ladder suddenly appeared on the road in front of me.  The ladder was in the two right lanes (of three total lanes) and I was in the right land, so I veered sharply right to avoid the ladder, then back sharply left to avoid leaving the roadway.  I felt a little bad about the lack of control the car exhibited during this maneuver – until I looked in my rear view mirror and saw another driver perform a carbon copy of my move.  I really didn’t need my morning caffeine after that – I was wide awake.

Baywatch (and Hollidaywatch)

Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay rejected a 4 year contract offer worth $60 million from Boston this week.  This sets an apparent floor on the value of Bay and fellow free agent outfielder Matt Holliday.  The emerging consensus, based an advanced statistical measures, is that the two players are comparable offensively (albeit with different strengths and weaknesses), and that Holliday is a better defender.

An interesting quirk is that Boston would actually come out ahead in terms of draft picks by allowing Bay to leave and nabbing Holliday as a free agent.  They would forfeit their first round pick to sign Holliday, but would receive a draft pick from the teams that signs Bay (assuming that a contender signs Bay, this would be a first rounder) as well as a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.  The sandwiches are truly a free lunch – they picks are artificially added into the draft.  That’s why there are about 40 “first round” picks every year – in spite of the fact that there are only thirty teams.

There’s one important free agent who might be slipping under the radar of a lot of casual fans.  The name is Rudy Jaramillo.  Never heard of him?  What position does he play, you ask?  Hitting coach.  Jaramillo, widely renowned as the best hitting coach in baseball, is moving from the Texas Rangers to Chicago Cubs.  Don’t be surprised if you see several Cubs players have strong seasons at the plate.  Interestingly, the Rangers lose Jaramillo just one season after poaching standout pitching coach Mike Maddux (brother of Greg) from the Brewers.  What goes around, comes around, I guess.

Novels

I recently broke ground on my novel, Casting Stones.  I’ve been kicking around plot ideas for several months, but finally began the actual writing on Halloween.  I pushed past 6000 words on Friday and am making good progress.  The infrastructure for the plot is developing pretty well, with concrete ideas for seventeen chapters.  I see 15,000 words as a turning point – if I can make it to that point, I think there is a strong chance that I an maintain momentum and finish up with a full sized novel.

I’m not the only one working on a book.  Martin Kelly is working on his, of course.  We’ll see another installment of his NaNoWriMo diary tomorrow) and few other folks I know are either in the midst of writing a book, or are seriously considering one.  Go for it!  If you finish the book, great.  In any case, writing a book is an absurdly cheap hobby.