Monday, November 9, 2009

Another option at left field?

Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs makes an interesting case for a replacement in left field for Jason Bay. One that would be cheaper, just as valuable, and would not require a long term commitment. His new left fielder for the Red Sox? Mike Cameron.

The key question is how much value to you get out of an excellent center fielder if he plays nearly all his games in left field and one half of those games in Fenway Park. Although I would worry about the Red Sox ability to score runs sporting a league average offensive player in left field, Cameron would certainly help the Red Sox defense, which was a brutal 28th in the majors last year. The Mariner's "3 center fielder outfield" (both in terms of defense and hitting ability) led the AL with a .717 mark, which the Red Sox had a .679. For those unfamiliar with the statistic, defensive efficiency looks at the rate at which balls in play (any non-strikeout, non-walk, non-home run outcome) become outs. It isn't adjusted in any way.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Red Sox would net two draft picks (1st round and sandwich round) from having another team sign Jason Bay. Cameron, a type B free agent, would not require the team to forfeit any draft picks. Cameron would also give the Red Sox a tremendous amount of roster flexibility in the outfield and wouldn't require them to carry a true backup center fielder.


  1. A few disjointed thoughts about Cameron:

    While I think there is a good case to be made that Cameron is underrated, he isn't going to be a top of the order type of guy.

    Cameron's batting average last 3 seasons:

    .250, .243, .242

    Doesn't exactly get me excited to put his bat in the lineup. His is also really old.

    And how important is defensive ability in left field at Fenway really?

    Slugging Percentage between Bay and Cameron, last three seasons
    Cameron / Bay
    2009 - .452 / .537
    2008 - .477 / .522
    2007 - .431 / .418

    It is interesting though - it seems unlikely that the Red Sox will be able to out-hit the Yankees in the foreseeable future, even with Bay, so it might back sense to go towards a more defensive minded approach. However, if you lose Bay and don't upgrade a bat somewhere else, the power divide will get even more pronounced.

    I think the biggest advantage of signing Cameron over Bay is that Cameron would just be a 1 year contract so it wouldn't hurt too bad if he busts.

    Another concern I have is that Cameron hasn't played in the AL since 2003.

    Also, who's to say that the Yankees don't sign Bay if the Red Sox don't? That would suck too.

  2. From what I've heard the biggest bids for Bay are likely to be from the west coast - the Giants and the Mariners.
    I'm not saying Cameron would be as good as Bay, but between his walk rate (which maitains an average OBP despite his poor batting average) and his defense he would come close to a replacement. You are right about the power divide, but the Red Sox defense was so pathetic that the really need to address both offense and defense. That makes losing out on Teixeira sting even more.

    One possible option would be Curtis Granderson, as the Tigers have said they'd be willing to move him in the right deal. I have no idea what the "right deal" would be, but putting Granderson in centerfield and Ellsbury in left would do wonders for the defense. Despite a poor batting average last year, Granderson was pretty much the same player in 2009 as 2008, just a bit unlucky.

  3. One other thing to note, is that Bay's defense really kills his value. In a Fangraph's article about David DeJesus (who might be a worthwhile target if they are looking for a stop gap LF). DeJesus is more or less Cameron lite, though a drawback is that since both he and Reddick bat left handed, it's not a good platoon option. Mike Cameron, on the other hand, destroys lefties, but I can't see him signing a deal where he won't be a starter.

  4. Here is the link to the Fangraphs article.

  5. For those that were still thinking about Brad Hawpe, over the last three seasons, he has the second worst cumulative UZR. He's really, really bad. Note also, that Jason Bay was the 5th worst, though Hawpe is 40 runs worse than Bay. Amazing.