We’ve got to stop using UZR as shorthand for “defense”. It reflects a player’s range – how well a guy converts balls in his zone into outs – and it does that reasonably well. But that’s not the whole defensive picture!
UZR is a little bit noisy in left field at Fenway. Any defensive system that puts balls into “buckets” will be that way for the Green Monster, perhaps because there’s less square footage out there. I’m sure MGL would agree to this. So players who play left field full-time in Boston look at little bit worse than they actually are.
Jason Bay recorded 15 assists in 2009. He also made zero errors in 325 chances over 150 games in left field. How many times in the history of the game has an outfielder recorded at least 15 assists and not made an error in the same season?
Sure, his arm isn’t a rocket. But he plays left field in the shallowest left field park in the game, which mitigates that problem. And his arm is obviously strong enough, and accurate enough, that he’s recorded 46 outfield assists in the last four seasons.
There is value in throwing the ball accurately and fielding the ball cleanly. This guy is not Adam Dunn in left field. Not even close.
Frankly, I trust the Red Sox and their front office to evaluate players and their appropriate dollar value. I’m sure they look at a little bit more complete defensive picture than UZR in their defensive valuation.
There are basically only two available, acceptable left field options for the Red Sox this offseason, assuming they want to attempt to start a first-division player at every spot on the diamond. If Bay could be had for 4 years, $60M (he’ll almost certainly be offered a fifth year by someone and top that figure), and Holliday ends up costing 6 years, $120M-plus, it’s easy to see why Bay appeals to them at that price.
Comment by Jacob Jackson — October 29, 2009 @ 8:40 pm
“Players call that pitch a snap-dragon, pretty good term.”
I haven’t been following the Jason Bay Chronicles, but has he stated he specifically wants to return to Boston? I’d imagine if a player gets the feeling he’s a backup plan, he’d likely be lost to another team. Poor fielding or not, the guy can hit and I’m sure a number of teams will be after him.
“Bay is anything but a black hole in left” makes it sound like Bay is great on defense in left. I think you mean to say “Bay is nothing but a black hole in left,” or maybe, “Bay is little better than a black hole in left,” or possibly even “Bay is everything but a black hole in left.” But “anything” doesn’t mean that.
Heyman is Boras’s mouthpiece, anything that pumps up Bay’s perceived value is good for Holliday. Besides, appearing to make a serious effort to re-sign Bay is a much better PR move for the Red Sox than going after yet another Boras client that the Yankees intend to sign.
This is what I was going to say. Anytime Heyman reports a “rumor” that somehow affects a Boras client, it shoukd be taken with a cubic foot of salt. This rumor doesn’t sound right because it’s most likely a fabrication.
“UZR is a little bit noisy in left field at Fenway. Any defensive system that puts balls into “buckets” will be that way for the Green Monster, perhaps because there’s less square footage out there. I’m sure MGL would agree to this. So players who play left field full-time in Boston look at little bit worse than they actually are.”
If only Jason Bay had ever played for another team and if only there was a way to check his UZR on that team. And if only this very web-site had those numbers….
A black hole would more aptly describe a speedy, instinctive fielder with a feeble arm – all balls hit near him are devoured, nothing is ever ejected.
Comment by neuter_your_dogma — October 30, 2009 @ 8:52 am
I am on a salt restricted diet, so no thanks.
Comment by neuter_your_dogma — October 30, 2009 @ 8:53 am
Comment by neuter_your_dogma — October 30, 2009 @ 8:58 am
Comment by Dirty Water — October 30, 2009 @ 8:59 am
That’s a very, very lazy comment.
Please go look at Jason Bay’s UZR figures prior to playing in Boston. Then, go look at Manny Ramirez UZR figures in Boston, and then look at his 1.5 seasons of data in LA.
UZR makes a full-time left fielder in Fenway look worse than he actually is. Period. Note that I did NOT say that UZR doesn’t adjust for park. I know that it does. That doesn’t mean it adequately adjusts for playing left field in Fenway.
And again, the point of my post, regardless of the three people in defense of R.J. above this, is threefold:
a.) that R.J. is probably overemphasizing Bay’s defensive shortcomings. Bay is a below-average defender in left field. He is not nearly as bad as UZR has made him look the last year and a half.
b.) I trust the Red Sox to make that defensive evaluation, which their reputed offer seems to be doing. I trust that they have a very good handle on the park effect in left field at their home park.
c.) (The issue that no one has addressed yet) They don’t have much of an alternative! They can’t fill left field internally with a first-division player in ’10. That leaves them two external options, excluding trade: Bay and Holliday. If Holliday ends up costing twice as much as Bay, which is conceivable, it isn’t “bewildering” for the Red Sox to sign Bay, to use the author’s word.
Comment by Jacob Jackson — October 30, 2009 @ 10:04 am
Bay would only turn 35 in the last 2 weeks of a 4 yr contract so I wouldn’t expect his production to plummet suddenly. and we’re talking about a player that was a top 20 offensive player last year (wOBA, wRC, OPS, etc…). Other than his disastrous ’07 which seems to be an aberration he’s posted OPS’s of .907, .961, .928, .895 and .921 in his career. Sure it would be better if they could get Holliday instead but if you try for that you end with Bay on the open market taking offers from other teams and risk losing them both since there will be teams out there trying to sign both of them.
I also think that the dollar values here are too often taken to much as a concrete fact. the big reason that Bay doesn’t have a high dollar value is his defense measure by UZR. I’m sure it’s been disussed a million times but these defensive numbers are from only one source. The fielding bible for instance has him 6th best defensive LF’er in their panel voting (2008) and doesn’t include him among their 6 worst LF’ers in plus/minus. I’m not saying that he’s a good defensive OF’er but he’s probably closer to avg than UZR is giving him credit for.
“The Red Sox may employ the smartest front office in baseball, which is why this tweet from Jon Heyman makes little sense.”
If it looks like duck, quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck, then Jon Heyman is quite possibly full of ducksh*t.
Heyman has never had a good source in the Red Sox front office, and as has been pointed out above, he’s quite good at magically finding out things that benefit Scott Boras clients. I’d say this is much ado about nothing.
Bay is not a good defensive player. You can cite stats and anecdotal evidence to decide exactly how bad, but I think the consensus is that he’s below average.
That said, I think Boston is the one team that can afford to carry him for his bat alone. The small LF area means that he has both less area to cover and a shorter throw (on average) when he fields the ball. If Theo decides he’s the best player available without giving out a 100M+ contract, then I think he easily could him 4yr/60M. It may not be the perfect move, but its a good move and the Red Sox don’t have to be financially perfect.
So in the time that Bay has been there he has ranged from as bad as Manny to, well, as bad as Manny.
Something tells me that it is not just the field.
Comment by Sandy Kazmir — October 30, 2009 @ 11:16 am
i cant believe people can make comparisons from manny’s last 2 years in boston to jason bay’s previous 2 years. As a yankee fan, is was blatant that manny wanted nothing to do with the team or city anymore. Obviously once he was traded to LA, his defensive numbers would go back, and you can even his somewhat efforts. Stop making excuses for Bay and just join the bidding war. Honestly, as a yankees fan, i am more worried to see fielder or adrian gonzalez then either of those outfielders, but J.D. Drew doesnt help with his sub-par play, so the Sox do need an OF.
you’re right, my comment was a little too cheeky. sorry.
my point was merely that Bay had a history of below average defense in Pittsburgh as well. i don’t disagree that Fenway could make him appear worse than he really is, but he’s likely still below average, and that probably means he’s not worth $60M/4. which was the point of the article.
I think the Sox have proven that they’ll make moves that are unpopular with the general fanbase when they believe the move will benefit the team. Trading Nomar and not re-signing Cabrera in favor of Renteria are two examples off the top of my head.
This “trust the Red Sox” thing is the same ridiculous argument that was made when they swapped out John Smoltz for Paul Byrd. Look, we understand that the Red Sox have smart people in their front office, but they still screw up from time to time. Giving them a free pass on everything they do is not analysis.
Not real sure what I was supposed to see from looking up UZR numbers for Ramirez and Bay. Bay seems to be challenging for worst UZR along with Ramirez. Bay was avg around -5 UZR from 04 to 06 before dropping off a cliff his last two seasons with the Pirates. Ramirez was a bit worse over that same time (although he had a slightly positive UZR the first half of 08). Fairly sure that Ramirez is infamous for fairly bad defense and he has similar UZR numbers to Bay in Boston. So Jacob, I guess that makes your comments both lazy and wrong.
Of course the whole idea of worth is waking in baseball. According the Fangraphs Holliday was worth $32, $28 and $25 million the pas three years. Is somebody actually worth that much investment to a team?
JD Drew is garbage and has been being over paid since he joined the red sox, even if he is the 5th best hitter in the worst hitting position in the outfield. Is he really only 3 mill a year worse then bay? I think double that. Sox fans are arrogant cause he hit that one home run, but learn from a yankees fan that playoff immortality does not guarantee you a spot even on the next years roster. Drew is a solid player, but I still most definitely think he is overpaid/overrated….only outside of boston
true, signing Renteria was really smart. as was paying a big chunk of his salary and including a solid backup catcher to get Coco Crisp. as was then filling that hole with Julio Lugo. and paying a huge chunk of HIS salary to get rid of him.
first 4 words: JD Drew is garbage. 5th sentence: Drew is a solid player.
And believe me, many Red Sox fans HATE JD Drew, for the same reason you do, which is they don’t understand how valuable he actually is. He’s posted an OPS+ of 134 since 2008. He’s a good (not great, but pretty good) defensive right fielder. If we insist on avoiding nerdy numbers, he’s scored a run in nearly 16% of his plate appearances in Boston. In that same time frame, Ichiro is at 14%, Derek Jeter is at 14.2%, and Chase Utley is at 16.4%.
Pretty much shows one thing: High OBP, good power, high walk, medium BA players are going to be underrated because their skill set fosters to run scoring and not run driving.
Yeah, given the NY treatment of playing like A-Rod and Giambi for years vs. Jeter, I guess it is kind of hard to not think the top three skills of a baseball player are aura, grit, and ranging into short left field, doing a figure skating-like double axel, and two hopping the ball to first base on a ball that a guy like Adam Everett gets to easily.
…says a fan of the MFY who currently employ the HOF triumvirate of Damon, Cabrera and Swisher, none of whom are anywhere near comparable to JD Drew. Or Bay, for that matter.
Comment by Dirty Water — October 30, 2009 @ 12:01 pm
Lugo was stupid, but the fans and media wanted it just as much as the team.
Renteria in the three previous years to Boston had an OPS+ of 110. Cabrera from 2002-04 was an 87. Hindsight’s 20/20, but using the data available in 2004, you would safely say that passing up on Cabrera and his 3 year WAR tally of 7.8 for Renteria and his 3 year of 13.6 was a bad idea? Renteria was also about +5.2 per season with his glove for the three years leading in.
Essentially, there was nothing that said Renteria wouldn’t at least be an average MLB starting SS.
Comment by Dirty Water — October 30, 2009 @ 12:15 pm
He’s not a free agent unless he opts out and I seriously doubt he will do that. He’s not getting more than 20 million anywhere else. He had trouble getting that after a better year than he had this year.
Comment by Dirty Water — October 30, 2009 @ 12:33 pm
I can’t even see a trade that would net them one. The list of good defensive centerfielders with pop is short and most of them are untouchable. Probably the closest they could get would be Alex Rios. He’d probably hit 20 HR’s playing full time in Fenway. Of course, he was a below average right fielder last year according to UZR. (He was awesome the previous season, so I guess he could be ok in center.)
David Wright (923)
Jason Bay (910)
Hideki Matsui (904)
Johnny Frederick (880)
Miguel Cabrera (880)
Chase Utley (879)
Grady Sizemore (874)
Lefty O’Doul (872)
George Selkirk (869)
Hank Leiber (869)
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Wally Berger (950)
Lance Berkman (931)
Magglio Ordonez (925)
Chick Hafey (922) *
Dave Parker (921)
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Tim Salmon (911)
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Mike Sweeney (910)
If we use Berkman (or Bay even) for Holliday’s next few years, yes please.
Berger? No thanks (yes I know he’s an old data point, but similarity scores are supposed to help project out how someone will perform in the future, and Berger was already declining by 31-32).
According to a report I read, he grew up a Red Sox fan (despite being Canadian), wearing Red Sox Onesies (infant clothing with a snap bottom for those who were not parents in the past 20 years or so). So it would be a good assumption that he would love to return there, though probably not enough to give a big hometown discount.
I can’t even remember the last time Heyman was right about something. Remember a couple weeks ago when he said Varitek was going to catch Beckett in the playoffs?
That said, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Red Sox were willing to do that deal. A. Holliday is too much money/years and B. There are really no other suitable FA options. I don’t think Boston is as down on Bay’s offense going forward, so they suffer him in LF for one more year and then he becomes the DH when Ortiz goes.
” I guess it is kind of hard to not think the top three skills of a baseball player are aura, grit, and ranging into short left field, doing a figure skating-like double axel, and two hopping the ball to first base on a ball that a guy like Adam Everett gets to easily.”
Yeah probably that.. OR.. a WAR only bested by Pujols, Zobrist, Mauer, and Utley this year..
Underrating a player is just as silly and biased as overrating them.
I think that anyone acquiring Holliday is going to get the White Elephant award.
Because the team will be paying $20M+ for a hitter they think is an elite hitter, who will probably hit in the mid-800 OPS range on the road, and whatever park he then has at home. Mid-800 OPS hitters are OK, but not great, not $20M+ hitters.
M, you really weren’t able to see a difference when you looked at those? Really?
You didn’t notice how Manny was a -28.3 and a -24.2 in his final two full seasons in Boston…and that he was a -3.2 in ’08 and a -14.7 this year? You don’t notice that, despite aging, his defensive numbers look significantly better over his time in Los Angeles?
Dave, I don’t give the Red Sox a free pass on everything thing they do. I’m just disagreeing with you on where they’ve made mistakes.
Comment by Jacob Jackson — October 30, 2009 @ 1:16 pm
The Red Sox make plenty of mistakes, probably for all sorts of reasons, I just would be completely stunned if they really made any of them because they overvalue BA, RBI, Wins, and ERA, or because they don’t value defense. And I don’t believe that the writers here really believe that’s the reason why they make the mistakes they do, either.
Well dammit now I feel sentimental and I want to re-sign Jason Bay.
Even though obviously for him, if the M’s needed a DH, that would work pretty well, too. Say what you want about the defense, .921 OPS’s (blah blah OPS sucks blah blah) are hard to find.
And FWIW, Bay has a 5.2 WARP-3 on bp. Actually higher than JD Drew. I’m just concerned since TTO hitters not named Jim Thome tend to not age well.
Even if he’s below average he’s not one of the worst defensive LF’ers in the league. And that is how the magic dollar value calculator computes his value which was 15+M last year and 13+M the year before. I’m saying that these numbers which have been referenced in the article and are a main point of reference for him not being worth 4/60M. If he is merely considered a below average OF’er then his value doesn’t take nearly the beating that it does due to his calculated UZR.
For instance according to UZR Bay would be a more valuable player if he was only the DH since DH’s only get a -17.5 adjustment while Bay’s defense is -21 last year including the -7.1 positional adjustment (-25.6 in ’08).
But I do love every article that says that jack wilson isn’t actually overpaid but a good deal. maybe we can get one that says how big of a bargain Joe Crede was this year with his .305 wOBA since he was worth 8M in 90 games.
The point is that Bay is worth 4/60 and that the calculated dollar values are taken too much as a fact. I do think they are a fascinating project with some decent results but they are taken a little too seriously.
Jacob, two bits of anecdotal evidence Bay and Manny, are not nearly enough to support your position that UZR hurts LF in Boston. In Manny’s case, the answer is most likely regression. He may or not have actually played like a -25 run defender those two years in Boston, however, it’s impossible for anyone to sustain that. Him moving to LA simply coincided with him regressing to the mean. Also, in 2008, his UZR was slightly positive for 600 innings in Boston before going to LA. It’s not like he suddenly went from horrible to okay when he moved to LA.
Well, he was worth about 15 million both in 2009 and 2008. If you’re banking on a decline, you may have a point, but listing two 3 win seasons and then saying he’s not worth 15 million is sort of contradictory.
Comment by AInquisition — October 30, 2009 @ 8:18 pm
No, not really, because the year before he was worth basically 0 million. Over his last 1922 plate appearances, he’s been worth exactly 1.99 WAR per 150 games. Because we weigh more recent seasons first, as they are closer to a players current true talent level than previous seasons in isolation, he comes out to about 2.4 WAR before regression (which is basically 0, because 2.4 is already pretty much average). And that doesn’t even include the chance of injury going forward.
We can see that such a player would be worth about 35 million over 4 years, when you factor in age decline, attrition rates, injury risk, and salary inflation. That makes Boston’s rumored deal for him a gross overpayment.
Even if you think that the 2.4 WAR is a little too conservative, he would have to be worth between 3.5 and 4 WAR to warrant a 4/60 deal. Obviously, nobody thinks he is that good.
There have been more than a handful of posts suggesting that the Sox see Bay as a DH post-2010. Is that so? In April of 06, the Sox re-upped DO at 4/52 to be their DH through 2010. And Ortiz was coming off a year where he slugged 600, had 88 extras and a 9.0 RC/G. Oh, and unemployment in New England was 5 percent, consumer spending was growing 2-3 percent a year and NESN ratings were twenty percent higher than what they are now. All that said, do you really think that the Sox are willing to open talks by giving Bay a 15 percent raise over the “2005 Ortiz” just to be their DH? That seems highly implausible and suggests to me that the imbedded numbers are fiction. What seems more likely is Heyman doesnt have a primary source on this story and the figures are either fabricated or represetnt nothing more than baseball heresay.
As a Royals fan I’d love to see the Sox get David DeJesus for LF. Obviously better defense and the type of hitter that would thrive in that lineup. He has a good contract which makes it easy to plug in Reddick if DeJesus doesn’t produce.
Unfortunately, Dayton Moore is too dumb to say yes to something like Navarro and Fife for him.
It may not work that way, but it sure is fun. Holliday had a 980 home OPS this year, playing in two pitchers parks. So he must be on pace to do much better next year if he moves to a hitters park like Fenway!
Again, besides the posters mistake of extrapolating only half of the data, and using raw unadjusted OPS, his reading too much into home/road splits ignores the fact that home/road splits are mathematically required to be much greater when the home park is a hitters park.
I always hope the Red Sox vastly overpay for every player they sign. But, it rarely happens. I suspect they feel Bay is a good DH option now that Ortiz is likely on the way out. Unfortunately, I would agree.
1) Ellsbury – CF (he’ll never get moved from here, RSN loves him too much)
2) Pedroia – 2B
3) Youkilis – 1B
4) Martinez – C
5) Bay – DH
6) Drew – RF (should be #1 or #2, oh well again)
7) Carl Crawford – LF
8) Marco Scutaro – SS
9) Lowell or whatever AAAA guy we find to platoon with him – 3B
Scutaro’s tough to project, though, started his career as a AAAA level player, now has played like an everyday player for a top team since 2008. If he’s a Type A like I think he’ll be, though, I’d probably prefer Jack Wilson, who’s pretty much been the same no walk / light hit / good field SS his whole career.
Jason Bay this season became only the 5th player in MLB history for all regular outfielders to hit 30+HR have 100+RBI’s and have 0 errors all year. I do believe that in the end teh RedSox will add a 5th year and that Jason will sign with Boston. Unless we get another team who is prepared to break the bank to get Jason Bay. I am quite sure than Holliday will get his huge payday from the Yankees. Did you now that Matt Holliday only has a lifetime .290 batting average away from Coors Field in mile-high Denver?
I simply do not trust the fielding assessments and dollar values placed thereon here. Yes, I understand lack of errors is not the be all and end all of fielding, but 15 assists, no errors, 310 putouts. Raul Ibanez, a generally acknowledged poor fielder, 213 putouts, 9 assists, 2 errors (I don’t think he got an error for the ball that hit his glove in the series), lower speed scores, lower range factor…his uzr/150 is 10.7, Bay’s -11.2. Sure, there can be anomalies, but that seems pretty glaring. Bay may not be a great fielder, but I don’t think his fielding could be costing Boston very much, at least this year.
Guy had to cheer someone up there. Little surprised it wasn’t the M’s, but odds are no one up there cared about the M’s until he was a teenager
Well, who you cheer “up there” in Trail is the Canucks or the Flames (and the games you actually go to are the WHL games in Cranbrook or Kelowna, or Junior games in Castlegar.) If he was able to watch MLB on TV in those days he was getting nothing but Jays games until the postseason, so he would’ve seen the Red Sox a lot more often than the Mariners. (Seattle and Trail may be about as far apart as Dallas and Houston, but it takes a solid 8 hr day of driving through mountains to get there.)
But last I checked infants (even future MLB all-stars) don’t choose, buy, and put on their own “onesies” so I suspect there was some parental indoctrination going on. If he joined Red Sox nation as a kid it was via the only legitimate route open to those outside New England: by inheritance.
Not necessarily, if it was a quantum black hole. We’d have to know its mass to figure out whether the inward flux of captured matter was enough to more than balance the rate it was evaporating due to Hawking radiation. A quantum black hole wouldn’t remain in left field, however: it would fall towards the earth’s center, where it would orbit, gobbling a particle now and then (and radiating a particle now and then). But it would take all the fielding data with it, thus compounding the information paradox (and perhaps providing an explanation for the oddities of UZR in left field at Fenway).
Yeah, but because Beltre’s defensive abilities go unseen/underappreciated, and Safeco has blunted his offense, he may actually end up getting paid less than Figgins. Which would be a tremendous value, because you’re right: Beltre is far and away better than Figgins.
There’s always the fact that the Red Sox have $ as well. Maybe they think fair market for Bay is 4 year / $52 mil, but if they have to spend an extra 1 or 2 mil a year to reign him in, or replace him with an inferior player, well, it’s obvious what they’ll do, and what they should do. Given his similar batters, 4 years is pretty much the shelf life of Jason Bay.
FWIW, the Boston media guys who usually seem to know what’s really going on, like Silverman and Bradford, don’t believe that the Red Sox have made Jason Bay any offer of 4 guaranteed years or that they have any intention at all of making him one. I think the most likely scenario here is that the Red Sox have not made and will not make Jason Bay any offer that he is likely to accept, unless the market turns out to be less than anticipated.
UZR is an overrated stat… just look at how well Holliday made that easy play to keep the Cardinals from blowing the gem Adam Wainwright pitched. As for arm, early when he was coming up, Bay was scouted as having a solid, accurate arm. And Holliday is an E-machine. He’s never once had more than 10 assists(Bay 3 times, nearly 4 times) and he makes the easy plays.
You think Holliday can handle the pressure of Fenway? We saw how well he did in the playoffs this last time… and he is going to do definitely overpaid. Holliday is a lil faster on the bases, but Bay is an underrated base runner. Also Bay seems comfortable in Boston. It’d be a huge mistake to bring in Holliday and have have him pull the same sh!t he did for the A’s.